What makes our delicious Braised Lamb with tomato and fennel so healthy?

This week, our dietitian, Shelley takes a look at one of our most popular dishes and breaks it down into the important ingredients that make it healthy for you.

Lamb is a great source of high-quality protein. Protein is important to help us repair cells that are damaged in day to day living. Protein also makes us feel fuller for longer so we need less food throughout the day to feel full and satisfied.

Lamb is a richer source of heme iron than chicken and pork and the iron in lamb is very easily absorbed. Iron is important in transporting oxygen around the body. People with low iron can typically feel tired and lethargic. Women in particular are at risk of low iron so it’s important to eat good sources. Lamb is not only a great source of iron but is also advantageous in that it helps us absorb the non heme iron provided by plant foods. This is due the "meat factor" which research explains is all about the absorption of iron and not just the intake.

The veggies in this dish including tomato, fennel and the side of beans and carrots are all a great source of vitamin C. Vitamin C acts an as antioxidant which is beneficial for our immune system. Other nutrients in the veggies include potassium, folate, phosphorus and fibre. Potassium is an electrolyte and is crucial to heart function, folate is fundamental for proper brain function and plays an important role in aiding your emotional wellbeing, phosphorus is an important mineral used for cell and tissue growth and repair, and fibre is the absolute hero nutrient which helps us to feel full and improves gut health. Fibre also helps us lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar levels which actually lowers our cardiovascular risk. That’s why fibre-packed veggies are so highly recommended by dietitians and nutritionists for good health.

My tips for enjoying this delicious healthy meal:

- I like to thaw my meal throughout the day before eating it for dinner at night. I take it out of the freezer in the morning and I get excited about coming home to a delicious home-style meal

-    I like my veggies crunchy! I heat this dish for 3 minutes in the microwave, take the veggies out at that point and then continue to heat to meal for the remaining 2 minutes. This means my veggies are at the perfect crunchiness

-    I also like to eat my side of veggies first. This ensures I finish every last veggie and get all the nutrient benefits of them. Then I eat the rest of the meal enjoying the slow cooked tender meat.

-    I serve the whole meal on a plate and eat with a metal fork. Research shows that food is more enjoyable when we take in the whole experience of eating.


Shelley Dagger is a dietitian with Hit 100 servicing the Central Coast and Newcastle.