3 simple tips for a healthier, flavoursome slow-cooked meal or saucy dish

1. Slow cook at least one day ahead and refridgerate. Before reheating, scrape off the solidified fat that has risen to the surface. Throw the fat away.

2. Add lentils, beans or legumes into the slow cooking meal. These boost the health quality, protein, fibre and volume of the meal. The meal will go further and serve more people, or leave you with tasty leftovers for another day. Add drained and rinsed canned legumes and lentils at any stage of cooking or when reheating. If you use dry (uncooked) lentils and legumes, you need to add extra stock or water as well. Allow about 15 minutes to cook dry red lentils which will break up and disappear into the juicy sauce. Black lentils take about 20 minutes to cook and will hold their shape. Other dry legumes and hard beans take at least 60 minutes of simmering and you will need to add more water or stock to the recipe. Better to soak dry beans and legumes overnight (at least 6 hours) to start softening them. Rinse well and add to the recipe. Simmer for 40 minutes or more. The soak and rinse stages help reduce the wind potential (fart-factor). Indian friends tell me the addition of aesofatida and fenugreek also help reduce the wind production due to legumes and lentils.

3. Choose a stock with less salt. Home made stock is rich and flavour-filled without the need for extra salt but when time is against you or fridge space is tight, a commercial stock is very handy. Many commercial stocks, stock powders and cubes rely on sodium salt to boost flavour. In your preferred brand, look for a stock labelled salt-reduced or salt-free. A salt-reduced claim means 25% less salt than the standard stock within the same brand. To replace the flavour of lost salt, add pepper, spices and herbs.