Soup is one of those lunches that keeps me going in the colder, dreary, grey months. I get cold easily, and having a large bowl of warm soup in my belly helps warm me, fill me and I know it’s good for me. A great way to get at least 1 portion of veggies into yourself too. So if you are on a “health kick” here is one way to get those lunches sorted.
Making your own soup really doesn’t have to be complicated and doesn’t take much time. There is no need for complicated ingredients, just use a pile of veggies, some stock, herbs and whatever you have to hand. I like to blend my soups as I find the children prefer them without lumps of vegetables in (but love bits of pasta) and they tend to look nicer! A stick blender, food processor or large jug blender will all do the trick.
Make double and freeze. Having a range of your fav soups in the freezer will make you feel accomplished and healthy.
Soups can also be used as an easy pasta sauce or a pizza sauce.
Here are my fav recipes:
Lentil Soup with Cumin
A soup that we always have the ingredients in stock for, so it’s a super easy standby. The lentils make it low glycaemic index, pack in the veggies and fill you.
Mini-Disaster in our house usually means…. there is no flapjack left, we are out of milk, Miss K cannot find a very important item (insert “really not important in the grand scheme of life but a calamity to her”), or a section of the train track has come apart. I quite love the fact that these really are regular disasters in the eyes of my small ones. How simple life can be!
Today’s disaster led to a distraught 2 year old.
1. The flapjack tin was empty
2. There were not enough oats to make more.
Super Mummy to the rescue. I rarely make the same recipe twice anyway 😉
So I adapted my semi-famous banana and sultana flapjack recipe by adding flour. It comes out less of a flapjack and more of an oat bar. Dense, oaty and firm – no crumbly texture here. A really good option to have with a cuppa, for lunch boxes or to feed a snacking child. They are sweet but not too sweet, if you know what I mean. The oats provide that wholegrain goodness, the banana and sultanas pack in the fruit and there is just a hint of honey and butter to bind it all.
It’s falls into that territory of “Is it a flapjack? Is is a cake? It is a bar?”
You know what? I can’t decide but all that really matters is it is healthy and yummy!
Banana Oat Bars (wheat free, gluten free)
Quick, easy oat bar recipe that is healthy and great for hungry children.
We’ve just returned from a wonderful holiday in France. Imagine staying in a beautiful farmhouse, being cooked amazing food daily, rural runs and enjoying wine, cheese and good company for a week. Sound perfect? It was. Our friends run “New Community La Vay” in Maisoncelles la Jourdan, Vire. A tiny village I had been to when I was 16 on a school French exchange, so quite a déjà vu to go back. I love the self sufficiency ethos of this place – they are growing their own food with a large veggie patch, chicken, ducks, geese, turkeys and sheep.
One of the great pleasures I had was not having to worry about my dietary requirements as Amanda was very able to easily cater for me. It’s not often I find someone who can do that. I therefore enjoyed nosing around her kitchen, cookery books and talking food with her.
One of the recipes I brought back was for Cassis, usually made with blackcurrants but with our glut or redcurrants I decided to try it out with those instead. I wasn’t disappointed! It makes a silky smooth, tangy, delicious liqueur that is a bit too quaffable. Great on its own or with a white wine or some bubbles. I may have to make more 😉
If you have picked your own you need to take the redcurrants off their stems, using a fork is the easiest way, run the form down the stem and the currants will pop off. Little bits of stem left in the currants are fine.
Partially mash the currants in a large bowl using a potato masher, then pour over the red wine and stir.
Leave to macerate for 2-3 days, stir and mash a little more each day.
Strain the liquid through a colander and then through a fine sieve into a large saucepan.
Add 500g sugar, heat gently and stir to dissolve. Now simmer for 15 minutes.
Every now and again I get myself into a bit of a stressful state, life feels like it’s overtaking me, I have lists of things to do, nothing feels like it’s getting done and suddenly I realise I’ve no idea what we’re eating for dinner and am running low on food. DISASTER. You know that feeling?
Hilariously as a dietitian I am often found writing meal plans for others, but then I forget to write my own. OOOPS. I love recipes, food, cooking, meal ideas and all that jazz, so actually for me sitting down and planning out the meals for the week is a relaxing and fun thing to do, it means I have time to think through the week, flick through some recipe books, bring those food ideas to the front of my brain and at the end of it I have at least one part of life under control.
Here’s mine for the next 2 weeks, I’d love to see yours!
5 Reasons to Meal Plan:
SAVE TIME in the long run. Half an hour planning means you won’t be stood in the kitchen later racking your brains for a meal idea.
Use it as a chance to check the BALANCE of your weeks meals, see the tips below.
SAVE MONEY by then planning your shopping list so you don’t end up with random ingredients that you don’t need.
SAVE WASTE by using all the ingredients in your fridge and planning it so you can take leftovers for lunches or fill the freezer.
SAVE STRESS. Having a plan helps my stress levels, I can plan the quicker meals for busy days and know what I’m doing from day to day.
5 Top Tips for Balance over the week:
Meat free Monday: Plan in some meat free days, we usually have 3-4 a week.
Fishy Friday: Aim for fish a couple of times a week, oily fish contains those heart healthy omega 3’s.
Reduce the Red Meat: to just 1-2 times a week.
Veggie Vitality: Eat a range of colourful veggies over the week.
Treats Ahoy: Keep that takeaway or those chips to planned times, so they don’t appear on the menu too often.
Get planning those meals and please share – I’d love to hear how you do things and what meals you include.
Frittata. It’s a great word. Try playing around with it in your mouth. It lends itself to all kinds of twists and turns.
In our house Frittata night usually means it’s been a busy day, the cook of the house is tired and something quick and easy is needed for dinner. This recipe is satisfying to make, satisfy to cook and satisfying to eat. Plus it’s healthy, packed with high quality protein and plenty of colourful veggies. If you are the type of person who eat with their eyes then this will not fail to disappoint.
Personally I think the fresher the eggs the better. We have chickens so are very spoilt. Eggs provide a great protein source, in fact eggs are the benchmark for protein against which other protein foods are compared to. they also contain zinc, iodine and phosporus along with the fat soluble vitamins A,D and E. Although eggs do contain about 11% fat, about half of this is monounsaturated, the healthy fat.
Onto the recipe. This is great served warm, straight from the pan with salad or cold the next day for lunch.
Serves 2 plus 1 toddler (withe leftovers for lunch)
A mix of veggies (e.g. peas, diced carrot, diced onion, finely chopped green beans and cherry tomatoes)
2 medium sliced and diced potatoes or sweet potatoes
salt and pepper
Drizzle about 1/2 tbsp oil into a pan and saute the potatoes first.
After a out 5 minutes add the rest of the veggies and saute for another 3-5 minutes. Add a splash of water if it starts to stick.
Meanwhile beat the eggs, add the seasoning and herbs.
Spread the veggies out in the pan and try to arrange them a little so there is an even mix of them across the pan.
Pour the eggs into the pan and swirl it around a little so the veggies are covered.
Cook for 5 on a medium heat and then put under the grill to cook the top surface. Cook until the top is golden and firm to the touch.
Coleslaw takes me back to my childhood days on the Isle of Wight. My parents had a hotel and every Sunday it was quiche and salad day (and No this wasn’t the 70’s I’m not that old yet!). Now this wasn’t the limp lifeless bit of lettuce and cucumber hanging off the plate, but a colourful array of everything my mum could think of. Think red cabbage, beetroot, rice salads, apple and celery, roasted peppers and always coleslaw.
Now being married to a man who originally said he wouldn’t eat salad (rabbit food as he called it), Coleslaw was one of the first salady things I could convince him to eat. I’m not a fan of mayonnaise in any shape or form…so here’s our home made version. It literally takes 5 minutes to knock this up if you have a food processor and if you don’t….then you get a good arm workout thrown in too with all the chopping action 😉
Recipe: (Serves 4-6)
1/2 white cabbage
4 medium carrots
1 dessert spoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
Using a hand-held grater or a grater attachment in a food processor to grate the cabbage and carrots. You can add onion at this point as well if you like.
Then simply mix in the mayonnaise and white wine vinegar. It won’t be thickly coated in mayonanise but the vinegar helps with this and you are left with a fresh, crunchy, healthier coleslaw. Give it a whirl!
We had ours with jacket potatoes, beetoot, sweetcorn, peppers, cheese and ham. Comfort food that’s good for you too.
Do you ever end up with slightly hard bits of bread? Wonder what to do with them? Well feeding them to the ducks and the chickens is often my response, however now I’m making most of my own bread it makes me really want to get the most out of a loaf. So yesterday I saw a couple of slightly stale slices of bread, some ripe bananas and my mind leapt to banana bread and butter pudding!
I actually made this for my toddler (lucky girl), here’s what I did…
Lightly butter the bread then tear the bread into small pieces.
Slice 1 banana and line the bottom of 3 ramekins with it, cover with a layer of torn up bread, 1 more layer of banana and finish with 1 layer of bread.
Heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 and place a deep baking tray in that can act as a bane-marie.
Heat about 100mls milk in a pan, when it is warm (but not boiling) remove from the heat and add 1 egg and whisk. I chose not to add sugar but you could at this point.
Leave the egg mix to thicken slightly, then pour over the bread and banana ramekins. Leave it to all soak together for 10 minutes and then you may be able to add a little more. Meanwhile boil the kettle
Sprinkle the top with a little sugar and place the ramekins in the baking tray in the oven. Add the boiled water from the kettle to the baking tray so it comes about halfway up the side of the ramekins. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
It should feel set and not liquidy when ready to come out of the oven.
I served half of one of these ramekins with yoghurt as a dessert for my toddler, it went down VERY well!
I’ve had a yearning to make ginger biscuits for a while and today I finally kicked myself into action and did it. My little toddler helper was very pleased to be cooking as we’ve been reading all about Maisy making Gingerbread the past few days, so making Ginger biscuits was the same in her eyes 😉
40g muscovado sugar
50g rice flour
50g cornmeal/ fine polenta
2 tsp ground ginger
1tsp xanthum gum
2 tbsp milk
Mix all the dried ingredients together, then rub in the margarine until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the milk a little at a time and mix to a dough (you may not need it all).
Roll out and cut into whatever shapes you like……ours had to be teddy bears and were cut by my helper.
Cook at Gas Mark 3/160C for 15 minutes. Leave to cool on a rack and enjoy.
I’ve recently got really into beans and pulses. We’ve always eaten a lot of hummus in our house and added beans to casseroles, but since choosing to cut down on our meat consumption bean mania has hit us. So with some friends popping by with their little ones for lunch I needed a quick, easy to make, healthy and tasty lunchtime nibble. A flick around Pinterest inspired me to try falafels.
I find dried beans are 1. Cheaper 2. Tastier 3. Make me feel like I’m healthier 😉 so I often have something soaking ready for use the next day. Although you do have to soak a lot of the dried versions on beans if you are planning your meals in advance anyway then it just helps you get yourself organised. The main key to healthy eating is planning.
I tipped a pile of soaked and cooked chick peas in the food processor with 1 small onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp paprika. After a quick whizz I added some fresh herbs and it was ready to shape into balls and cook. I used 1tbsp rapeseed oil in a non stick pan to lightly brown them. They were REALLY good. Loved by my 1 year old and her friend, plus enjoyed by the mummies. Even my husband enjoyed them later than evening.
We’re not the most traditional family and I must admit I like that. So no roast over Christmas for us, and usually no Sunday roast either. However today, being my husbands weekend off we made the most of it and had a roast. Everytime we do this I remember how tasty it is, how much we all like it (cats included) and how it provides so many meals with just a little effort. Plus we have NO WASTE, nothing is thrown out except the packaging. I LOVE this.
We only buy free range chicken, the chicken has a nice life, the meat tastes like actual chicken and it’s value for money when you use the whole bird. We roasted one chicken with potatoes, carrots, swede, parsnip and steamed broccoli as well. Yes lots of veggies, I am a dietitian after all. I always make sure we have too much, not so we can eat seconds, but so we have leftovers to make soup. It’s amazingly simple and so good.
Once we’ve eaten I remove all the meat off the bird and have several bowl – one for some breast meat for Little Miss Tew, one for the rest of the meat for us for stir fries, soup and risotto’s, one for skin and greasy meat for the cats, one for the bones. My top tip is lock any cats out of the kitchen and put on some beautiful gloves 😉
Once I’ve made the soup I reuse the bones to make stock, probably a complete cheat but I still find I get a tasty stock. This all goes into tubs in my freezer ready for risotto’s and soups. It generally makes me feel like a good person 😉
Finally the cats get the leftover bones, which they go mad for.
Place the chicken bones in a large saucepan and cover with milk (I use a mix of semi skimmed and skimmed), add a bayleaf and simmer for 10 mins.
Strain the milk into a new pan and keep the bones for stock.
Add chopped left over veggies (roasted or steamed any will do) plus potatoes, seasoning and grated nutmeg. I love nutmeg but it is of course optional.
Add some chopped chicken, heat and serve. You can thicken with cornflour however the potatoes do this for you too.
Cover bones with water, add bay leaf, peppercorns, 1/2 onion, 1 carrot chopped and 2 sticks celery if you have them.
Simmer 10 mins.
What I LOVE about this is we buy 1 chicken, get lots of meals and have absolutely NO WASTE. Bones and skin and all are eaten. Give it a go 🙂
Freelance Dietitian specialising in helping those with Eating Disorders and a Media Spokesperson for the profession.