celery

MOROCCAN SPICED LENTIL AND SPINACH SOUP

MOROCCAN SPICED LENTIL AND SPINACH SOUP

My cupboard is always full of spices, that way I can always create a dish with influences from different cuisines. Sometimes I buy pre-mixed concoctions but I do love creating my own blends. They may not be authentic but it is all about the taste.

Last weekend we had a Moroccan feast so perhaps that’s why I reached for Moroccan spices again to make this lentil and spinach soup. It was thick, chunky and filling, just the thing one needs after a long dog walk through mist and fog. I though it could have done with a bit more chilli. Mind you I always have a handy chilli flake grinder or a bottle of chilli sauce within my reach...

This is a great soup for batch cooking, just double the quantities and keep some in the freezer for those “can’t be bother to cook” days. And if you want to shorten the preparation a bit more look out for Moroccan spice mixes such as Ras El Hanout in your spice isle.

I had about a cup of the soup left over for today, due to the lentils it thickened considerably overnight in the fridge. I considered pouring the leftovers over a baked sweet potatoes but had no patience to wait an hour for it to bake... I opted for sauteing some mushrooms, cooked couple handfuls of brown rice pasta and mixed it all together with the leftover soup and few squirts of ketchup. It turned out to be a very yummy lunch for one.


letnil-moroccon-soup

MOROCCAN SPICED LENTIL AND SPINACH SOUP
Serves 3-4

ingredients
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped into fine dice
1 stick of celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp harrisa paste (depending on how spicy you like your soup)
1 tin of tomatoes
1 cup (250ml) red lentils
3-4 cups of vegetables stocks
100g spinach

method
  1. In a large soup pot heat 1/3cup (60ml ) water (or 1 tbs oil) and saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic till soften, add more water if the vegetables are starting to stick.
  2. Add the spices and cook for about 30seconds.
  3. Next add the harrisa paste and tomatoes and cook for couple of minutes.
  4. Add the lentils and vegetable stock and cook for 20min or until the lentils are soft, nearly falling apart and the soup is thick.
  5. Add the spinach leaves and let them wilt into the soup, this will take about a minute.

Leftover magic
leftover-bolognaise

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TRADITIONAL CZECH CHRISTMAS PEA SOUP

TRADITIONAL CZECH CHRISTMAS PEA SOUP

Christmas Eve is the BIG day in the Czech Republic, we have a Christmas dinner and open our presents in the evening. In my Czech/English family we mix customs from both countries. We still have our main meal on Christmas Eve, usually inviting few friends over. Presents, however, we open on Christmas day, as it is customary in the UK.

The same applies to our food, we mix some Czech traditional dishes (split pea soup, braised red cabbage. potato salad), few English ones (bread sauce, sprouts, cranberry sauce, roasted parsnips and carrots) and as there is no turkey or carp (Czech traditional Christmas meal) on our table, we are free to try a new dinner centre piece each year.

Traditional Czech pea soup has definitely earned its place on our international menu. I have had it made the same way, on the same day, for last 40 years! In our house it happened to be purely vegan. The only change I made was the addition of frozen peas, for color and sweetness. Every year I wonder why I only make this delicious soup on Christmas Eve.

splitpeasoup

TRADITIONAL CZECH CHRISTMAS PEA SOUP
You may have to increase the cooking time (each batch seems different), the peas should be very soft before the soup goes into the blender. If you are making the soup ahead make sure you have some water on hand, it thickens as it stands.

Serves 6 as a starter, 4 as a light meal

ingredients:
1 1/4 cup (250g) split green peas, soaked overnight and drained
1 medium to large carrot, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, with the leaves, roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp dried marjoram
6 cups (at least) of water
2 tsp of vegan stock powder ( I use Marigold)
1/2 cup (125ml) frozen peas
bread for making croutons about one small slice per person ( I used a spelt and sunflower loaf, but any good quality bread will do, no pre-sliced white!!!)
1 Tbs of canola or olive oil


splitpeasoup2
method
  1. In a large saucepan (stock pot) combine the split peas, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, marjoram and water.
  2. Bring to a boil, turn down the hear and simmer, covered, for about 1 hr. The peas should be very soft.
  3. After the hour of cooking add the stock powder and cook for further 10-15 min just to let flavors combine.
  4. Puree the soup in a food processor till smooth. Add more water if the soup is too thick.
  5. Return the pureed soup to the saucepan and add the frozen peas, heat up only.
  6. While the soup is cooking cut the bread slices into 1 inch cubes. Place into a bowl and combine with the oil.
  7. Spread the bread cubes onto a baking tray and broil ( grill ) until golden brown, about one on each side. You can make the croutons well ahead.
  8. Serve the soup with the croutons on top.

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BLACK BEAN STEW WITH CASHEW LIME CREAM

BLACK BEAN STEW WITH CASHEW LIME CREAM

Sometimes I stand in front of my fridge or pantry and can’t think of anything to cook. My daughter was standing beside me and said: “Mum, there is pasta, there are lentils; if you have rice you can make that rice and lentil thing we all like. Or I can have giant couscous and you guys have something with chilli...” Simple.

My vegetable box is arriving tomorrow and that is why my fridge veg drawers are looking rather pathetic. One pepper, 2 bunches of celery (what do I do with those???), half a bag of spinach, some fresh turmeric, piece of ginger, chilli peppers and a quarter of hispi cabbage. I have to mention the lovely kale my friend gave me (a much appreciated present indeed), it did already find its way into the dehydrator to be turned into kale chips - I think I have developed a case of kale chips addiction. In my pantry I found 2 tins of shiny South American black beans asking to be transformed into a yummy dish. The wheels in my brain started to turn (squeak squeak) and a lovely spicy black bean stew started to take shape.

Did you know that in Brazil black beans hold its own spot on the country’s food pyramid? The people of Brazil are recommended to eat black beans each day. One rather brilliant idea! Dr Fuhrman also includes beans (legumes) in his G-BOMBS (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, seeds and berries) the magic foods that everyone should be eating daily for optimum health. We know that beans are rich in protein, fibre, minerals such as iron but did you know that also contain antioxidants? Apparently they are as rich in antioxidants as cranberries! And yummy too!

blackbenastew

BLACK BEAN STEW WITH CASHEW LIME CREAM

ingredients
the stew
1 large celery stick, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 red chilli peppers, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red pepper, cut up into pieces about the size of beans
11/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp thyme dried or 1tbs fresh
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs tomato paste (puree)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tins of black beans, drained
375ml (1 and 1/2 vegetable stock)
100g (3.5 oz) fresh baby spinach
the lime cream
1 cup cashews soaked for at least 30min
1/2 and 1Tbs water
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp dried onion
salt to taste

blackbeanstewtortilla

method
  1. In a large deep saute pan heat 60ml (1/4) water. Add the celery, onion, garlic, chilli pepper and saute till softened. Add more water if the vegetables start to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add in the red pepper, spices, herbs and tomato puree. Cook for a minute.
  3. Next add the drained black beans and vegetable stock.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for half an hour.
  5. While the stew is simmering prepare the cream. Drain the cashew nuts. Place them in a blender together with 1/2 cup and 1 Tbs water, lime juice and dried onion.
  6. Process till smooth, test for seasoning. Chill until needed.
  7. Stir the spinach into the bean stew until it just wilts and serve the stew straight away.
  8. Serve the bean stew topped with 2 Tbs of lime cream per person. Brown rice or quinoa make a great side dish, kids will love some organic tortilla chips too.

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SWEETCORN AND CELERY VELOUTE

SWEETCORN AND CELERY VELOUTE

Back from our holiday in Disneyland Paris. We all had a blast and kids wanted to stay at least another five days. I must admit that even before we left for Disneyland I was already dreading the food. Not much understanding of veggie needs in France. Indeed I have returned with a bout of my irritable bowl syndrome which has been a very rare occasion over the last year and a half... Not sure whether it was the much richer food, less fibre or just the stress of a long tiring drive (and I was just the passenger).

Do you remember the book
“French Woman Don’t Get Fat” ? Well, I have to report that they certainly do. I am sure we all have an image of Marion Cotillard type woman in her Channel suit, elegantly lifting a Gitane to her Dior adorned lips while talking about French literature with her charming scarf wearing male companion. None of that in Disneyland. And yes French women, men and especially children are getting larger too. All around the world we seem to be on a slippery slope. I could not believe a young boy I saw in our hotel (about 14). His family were visiting the park from the Middle East. He was so large that he struggled to walk, his breathing was laboured and he was sweating profusely. It was painful to see. This was not a rare sight.

Interestingly in the Middle East, China and India it is the affluent who are putting weight on. Fast food, in these countries, can still be a luxury enjoyed by the well off. I remember when the first McDonald restaurant opened in Prague in the early 90’s the cost of a hamburger was twice of what a decent restaurant meal would amount to. On the contrary, in countries such as the USA, Great Britain and indeed France (even though it only has obesity levels comparable with the USA 30 years ago...), the poorer tend to be larger, due to junk food being cheap.

Sometimes, though, I can’t but think that blaming the cost is only an excuse, healthy food doesn’t need to be expensive. As I don’t go to McDonald’s I am not sure about the prices but I believe that you will have to spend at least £12 to feed a family of four. My veloute soup is for sure a quarter of the price or less. It is filling and much much better for you. This veloute (oh la la, how very French) is as rich as the egg yolk and cream thickened French veloutes. All thanks to the magic of a mere 1/3 cup of cashews. Provided you can get a white sweet potato (I had some from the Sainsbury's Taste the Difference range) the soup has a beautiful pale yellow colour, good enough for a Channel suit :)

sweetcorn-veloute


SWEETCORN AND CELERY VELOUTE

If you are not using a high speed blender make sure to soak the cashews for at least half an hour in some water, drain before adding to the soup.

Serves 4

i
ngredients
3 large stalks of celery
1 medium onion
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato, preferably white variety, peeled and diced
500ml measure (2 cups) sweetcorn (frozen or fresh)
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
80ml measure (1/3 cup) of cashew nuts
cracked black pepper and coriander leaves for garnish

method
  1. In a large sauce pan heat up about 60ml water (1/4 cup), add the celery and onion and cook till softened. Add more water if the vegetables start to stick to the bottom of your pan.
    2 Next add both potatoes, sweetcorn and the vegetable stock.
    3 Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20min or until the potatoes are tender.
    4 Transfer the soup into your blender, add the cashews and process until smooth.
    5 Serve garnished with coriander and cracked black pepper.
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BEETROOT AND ORANGE SALAD

BEETROOT AND ORANGE SALAD

Every Monday deserves a big news in the field of medicine. The one that stands out today is the breakthrough in treating obesity, a “flab jab” (to steel a tabloid headline) or, in a more scientific language, a somatostatin vaccine. This article explains how the jab works:
http://www.news-medical.net/news/20120709/New-somatostatin-vaccines-promote-weight-loss.aspx

We all know the obesity problem is out of control and there is a part of me that thinks this jab may not be such a bad idea. There are many people who, for whatever reason, will not (even though I am sure they can) change their lifestyles. A jab seems like a very easy solution to a very serious and expensive problem that is spreading through many countries around the world.

The other and much louder part of me believes that this is an utter madness. This jab is promoted (by many newspapers) as a way to stay slim on a junk food diet. I am sure that eating diet of junk food without the weight gain will appeal to a lot of people. This will ensure a huge profit for the company making the vaccine and by default to fast food outlets and processed food manufacturers. You may be able to eat rubbish and not put massive amounts of weight on, maybe even stay slim (the mice this was tested on lost 10% of their weight). However, as we know, being slim does not assure person’s good health. If you choose eating a junk food high calorie dense diet the chances are you will be malnourished regardless of your weight. A weigh loss jab surely won’t change this.

In the words of Dr Mark Hyman:
“We can’t medicate our way out of a bad diet.” And he is right, medication is not the answer. Medication has further implications, it is always toxic. For example diabetes medicine increases the risk of dying from heart problems and statins (the cholesterol lowering medication used to reduce heart attacks) increase Type-2 diabetes. This is a vicious circle. I am sure we will find negative side-effects to the above mentioned jab in due course. Instead of waiting 10 years for this jab to be approved just eat yourself to health (and healthy weight ) instead.


beetrootandorange


BEETROOT AND ORANGE SALAD
This salad has an outrageous colour and fresh, fruity flavour. You can use shop bought already pre-cooked beetroot, they tend to be bigger so use about 8.

ingredients
12 baby beetroot
2 oranges
2 small red onion
2 celery stalks
salt
handful of walnuts

method
  1. First prepare your beetroot. Scrub them clean but keep root ends intact. Cook beetroot in boiling water for 20-30min till tender. Cooking time will depend on the size of your beetroot.
  2. Let the beetroot cool down, slip of the skin and cut of the root and stalk ends. Cut each beetroot into 6 wedges. Place in a bowl.
  3. Next segment the oranges. Using a sharp knife (serrated knife works well too) cut off all the peel including the white pith. Holding your orange in the palm of your hand over the beetroot cut segments away from their skins. When you have removed all the segments squeeze the juice from what is left from your oranges.
  4. Thinly slice the red onion and add to the beetroot.
  5. Remove strings from the celery stalks and slice quite thinly. Add to the salad.
  6. Season with salt (optional) and pepper.
  7. Place the salad in a serving bowl and top with the walnuts.
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CHICKPEA AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP

CHICKPEA AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP

Couple days ago I finished reading The Food Revolution by John Robbins. It is one of those books everybody should read, one of those books that can change the way you live your life. I admire John Robbins immensely, not just because he has been able to walk away from life of luxury his father’s business was offering (Baskin and Robbins) but mainly because by doing so he has been able to live according to his admirable principles and thus changing lives of many people.

When I watch John’s talks and interviews I can’t help but feel the love he exudes. He is so passionate about a better more compassionate way of living that it would be hard not to be influenced by his thoughts and ideas. There are many very important topics covered in The Food Revolution. I admit to going through many different emotions while reading this book. John’s exposure of the American meat and dairy industries, their inhumane practices made me weep. Biotech companies and their money grabbing ways without any regard for the disaster in their hands left me speechless and angry. This book also brings hope, renews a belief in the good that is in people. I
loved The Pig Farmer chapter, it made a point of how we should never judge a book by its cover. When shown a different path, people have the power to change their way, and in small steps change the world.

One chapter was very personal to me, in My Friend Mike, John talks about his friend’s unhealthy lifestyle and his consequent battle with cancer that he ultimately lost. John described how angry he felt over what happened to his friend: “Inside I was angry and hurt. Angry at Mike for not taking better care for himself, angry at God for letting this happen, and angry at myself for not having been able to prevent it.” If John only new how I needed to hear these words, I went through the same emotions when we lost my amazing father-in-law to cancer last summer, together with the immense grief and loss, I was angry at him for the same reasons John was angry at Mike, I was also angry at myself for not being able to make him listen to my advice and angry at myself for feeling angry. Anger felt so inappropriate. I could not be sure at all whether my dietary advice would have helped him at all, but that was all I had. John validated for me that it was ok, it was natural to feel that way.

If you haven’t done so yet please read this book, it may just change your life. Let me finish with a quote from The Food Revolution:
“Your life does matter. It always matters whether you reach out in friendship or lash out in anger. It always matters whether you live with compassion and awareness or whether you succumb to distractions and trivia. It always matters how you treat other people, how you treat animals, and how you treat yourself. It always matters what you do. It always matters what you say. And it always matters what you eat.”


caulichickpeasoup

CHICKPEA AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP
This is a very easy soup. You can even omit the step of pureeing part of the soup. It is worth it though, as it thickens the soup and gives it a fuller flavour. You can also puree the soup completely if you so wish.

3 leeks, washed and sliced
1 stick of celery, strings removed and sliced
3 medium potatoes, cut bite size pieces
1 small cauliflower, separated into small florets
1 tin of chickpeas, drained
1l of vegetable stock
plenty of black pepper

  1. In a large sauce pan combine all the ingredients (except the black pepper).
  2. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for about 20min.
  3. Put 3 ladles of soup into a blender and puree till smooth. (I removed all my chickpeas out of the liquid destined for the blender, simply because I wanted as many whole chickpeas in my soup as possible)
  4. Returned the smooth puree into you soup, heat up.
  5. Season with black pepper and serve.

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VEGETABLE STOCK

VEGETABLE STOCK

In the Czech Republic, you could not imagine a Sunday meal without a starter of soup. Most of our soups were based on clear broths usually made out of beef bones but using only vegetables in not uncommon. As a girl I used to spend a large portion of my summer holidays with my step great grandmother at her farm (not a working farm). Everyday we had a soup for lunch, we would go to the garden and pick some fresh vegetables, cooked them in some water and perhaps added homemade noodles and herbs fresh from the garden.

A good stock is a great thing to have lurking around. There are some great vegetable stocks on the market but I do like to make my own on occasion. That way I know it is virtually fat free and I can control the salt content. Homemade vegetable stock is a great way to use up some surplus or tired looking veggies. It is nearly magical how the pile of vegetables gets cooked down into flavoursome golden liquid.

Onions are a must in any good stock. I leave the brown skins on, just remove the very outside layer, make sure you wash the root, or just cut it off. The skins will add to the stock’s colour. My grandma used to use brown onion skins as a dye.

Root veggies add sweetness to your stock, back at home we would always use carrots and celeriac. Don’t forget to use the leaves of celeriac or celery, they are a fantastic flavourful ingredient. Another classic ingredient is parsley use mainly the stalks and keep the leaves for garnish. Thyme and bay leaves add wonderful fragrance of the stock. So does the allspice, which may not be a traditional ingredient in stock making but I love the flavour it adds.

There are so many uses for a home made stock. Soups are the obvious choice, but you can use it for cooking your grains or legumes. I love cooking my brown rice in a vegetable stock, it gives it a lovely colour and of course adds lots flavour. Since I don’t salt my stock it is fantastic for cooking legumes from raw as they should not be cooked with salt. Vegetable stock is also a great base for stews and sauces.

Don’t feel you have to religiously stick the the ingredients below, use what you have in your vegetable drawer add outer lettuce leaves, broccoli or cauliflower stalks, mushrooms, fresh or dried (for a dark savoury broth), few garlic cloves, fennel, rosemary and other herbs. The possibilities are endless.

vegstockingredients


VEGETABLE STOCK
The resulting stock will have a gorgeous light golden colour.

Yields about 2,5l (10cups) of stock

ingredients
5 celery stalks, including any leaves, trimmed and cleaned
3 leeks, half lengthways and wash thoroughly between the layers
1 large onion, washed, unpeeled and quartered
1 celeriac, peeled (cut off the nobbly skin with a knife) and roughly cut up
5 carrots, scrubbed, each cut into 3 pieces
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
15 peppercorns
3 all spice berries
2 bay leaves
parsley, mainly stalks
2 large sprigs of thyme
3 litres (12 cups) of water

method
  1. Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for an hour.
  3. Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl large enough to hold it. Let it cool down completely.
  4. Discard the cooked vegetables ( I keep the carrots to put into my dogs’ dinner)
  5. When cooled place the stock into freezer safe bags or containers. Freeze or keep for 3 days in a fridge.

vegstockfinished
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LENTIL SLOPPY JOES

LENTIL SLOPPY JOES

As a country UK is not doing great in fruit and vegetable consumption, this year we have only achieved 14th position among European countries. it is also known that the widely accepted 5-a-day target was set lower than what it should be. This was done purely because 5 portions is already rather daunting for a lot of Brits, the actual 10-12 would seem a very unachievable goal.


Today 5-a-day made it into 2 headlines:
1. How giving your children five-a-day can actually damage their teeth
2. UK adults are not getting 5-a-day of fruit and veg, and kids are drinking too much fruit juice

The first article warns that too much fruit juice and smoothies can damage children’s teeth. This certainly is a valid point however there is more to tooth decay in today’s children. I remember a documentary about children with rotting teeth by the age of 3, these kids were falling asleep with a baby bottle full of formula toddler milk. Worse you can see coca cola in baby bottles. In my daughters year there is a boy who was famous for bringing Lucozade in his water bottle to school(from 4 years of age). We also can’t forget the sweets and chocolate bars. It is hard to believe that fruit juices and smoothies only are responsible for increased tooth decay in children.

The juice-teeth connection is mentioned in story 2, but more importantly this story highlights the fact that 61% of adults are not getting their 5-a-day, a sad number that has gone up since last year (56%). Economic downturn might be the reason for this, as junk food is so much cheaper than fruit and veggies. But education has a lot to do with it too. These days Brits on average eat only about 3 1/2 portions a day (roughly 280g). And no Terry’s chocolate orange definitely doesn’t count!

Try this recipe to up your portions of veggies. It has onions, peppers, celery and tomatoes. Lentils count towards your daily goal too. Big green salad on the side and you are doing better than the average Brit.

LENTIL SLOPPY JOE
Anything called sloppy will be hard to photograph. Tomato based sauces and artificial light are defeating my photography skills. Must have make this again in daylight! As it disappeared rather quickly, nobody will complain if I do.

Makes 6

sloppyjoe

ingredients
100 g (3 and 1/2oz) brown or green lentils (or use a tin of lentils)
1 Tbs olive oil (or 60ml -1/4cup water)
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 bel pepper, finely diced
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1 Tbs tomato paste
couple sprigs of thyme
1 tin of tomatoes
125 ml (1/2 cup vegetable stock)
1 tsp sweet freedom syrup or 1/4tsp stevia
salt and pepper to taste
6 whole wheat medium sized hamburger buns

method
  1. In a medium sauce pan bring 500ml water (2cups) to a boil, add lentils and cook for 20-25min, or until soft to bite but still holding their shape. Drain and let cool.
  2. In a large wide saute pan, heat the olive oil or water, add the onion, pepper and celery. Cook on medium heat for about 10min or until soft, taking care not to colour.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Next add the tomato paste, cook for about 1 min, this will allow it to caramelize bringing out sweetness.
  5. Remove the tough stalks from the thyme, chop the leaves and soft stalks, add to your saute pan together with the tinned tomatoes, lentils, vegetable stock and the syrup or stevia.
  6. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for about 30min until the sauce is very thick.
  7. Toast your buns under our grill (broiler) or in a toaster.
  8. Top each bun with 1/6 of the mixture and serve with some pickles and green salad.




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MIGHTY 4 SALAD

MIGHTY 4 SALAD

Everyday we are advised to eat new exotic superfood, acai or goji berries, chia seeds, noni juice, Indian gooseberry and many others. How did the generations before manage to survive without these?

No I don’t dispute the health benefits of the above foods, but in my opinion all plant foods have their own super powers. The quick and simple salad I put together today is made of everyday ingredients and according to studies can protect you heart and eyes, lessen tumour growth, help reduce blood pressure, lower risk of asthma and help regulate your blood sugar.

What are these mysterious superfoods? The humble beetroot, apple, celery and walnuts! Combined together in a refreshing salad dressed only with raspberry vinegar. There is a reason why I don’t use any oil in this salad. The walnuts are rich in Omega 3 oils, the kind we all need to get more off. Olive oil, on the other hand, is rich in Omega 6 oils and we tend to have far too much of these in our diets. We need some fats to absorb vitamins from our veggies efficiently, in this salad the walnuts take care of that rather efficiently. Perfect balance.

You do have to put up with the beetroot colouring the rest of your food pink, no surprise there. If you don’t have raspberry vinegar any other fruity mild vinegar will work well. White balsamic would be great. The apple should be crisp and juicy, not too sweet, it needs to offset the sweet mild beetroot.

beetapplesalad

MIGHTY 4 SALAD
I used 1 large beetroot that I cooked till soft (about 45 min) you can use precook beetroot, as they are usually small I would use 3. There is no need to be too precise with the ingredients if you like more apple add more apple...The recipe can be easily doubled, tripled....

Serves 2

ingredients
1 large beetroot
1 large juicy apple
2 celery stalks
handful of walnuts
2 Tbs raspberry vinegar
salt and pepper

method
  1. If using raw beetroot, wash it well but don’t cut of the ends as this would expose the flesh and make the colour leach out. Put in a saucepan cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook till soft. Large beetroot will take about 45 min.
  2. Cool the beetroot and peel, this skin should slide off easily. Cut into 1/2 inch dice.
  3. Cut the apple into 1/2 inch dice.
  4. Using a vegetable peeler or knife remove the strings from the celery stalks. Slice quite thinly.
  5. In a dry frying pan toast the walnuts, take care not to burn.
  6. Mix all ingredients together, dress with the raspberry vinegar, season with a pinch of salt and plenty of fresh black pepper.

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WINTERY VEGETABLE, BEAN AND PASTA SOUP


Yesterday we had our first and probably last snowfall of the season. Kids got excited, dogs were running mad in the rather thin snow cover. I was thinking soup, hot, comforting, chunky bowl of soup.

My kids like tomato soup; smooth, sweet, uncomplicated. I knew I was taking a risk by putting a bowl of chunky vegetable soup in front of them. Adding pasta to it was meant to soften the blow.

To my surprise they ate it, cabbage, peppers and all. Ok I did promise them they can choose a treat from the oriental supermarket if they chomp their way through a bowlful. Whatever works I say.

As most of my soups, this one also has no added oil. I am not against using a olive oil altogether but I have cut down its usage to bare minimum. When I cook an oil free recipe I use the water-saute method. Just heat a small amount of water (about 60ml or 1/4 cup) and cook the veggies in it. It takes a bit longer than oil sauteing, you may have to add additional water, but the veggies soften beautifully. You can also use vegetable stock or wine to saute your vegetables.

wintersoup


WINTERY VEGETABLE, BEAN AND PASTA SOUP

Try to cut your onion, carrots, celery and pepper into same size pieces, about 1cm.

This is an Italian inspired soup, minus the olive oil and Parmesan. Instead of Parmesan I use the Nutritional Yeast Flakes, they taste great and are great source of B vitamins.

Serves 4 as a main meal

ingredients
1 large onion, chopped
2 sticks of celery, de-stringed and chopped
1 carrot, chipped
1 small red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 heaped Tbs tomato puree
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin borlotti beans (drained)
1.24l (5cups) vegetable stock (I used 2 veggie stock cubes)
1/4 medium green or white cabbage (2cups), shredded
100g (3/4 c) small pasta
chopped parsley or basil for garnish
Nutritional yeast flakes for garnish (optional)

method
  1. In a large stock pot heat 60ml (1/4) cup of water and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and pepper, saute until softened, about 10min. Stir occasionally, to prevent sticking, add more water if needed.
  2. Add the tomato puree, stir around for about 1 min.
  3. Add the oregano, tinned tomatoes, beans and vegetable stock.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook gently for 30 min.
  5. After 30min, add the cabbage and pasta. Cook for about 10 min or until the pasta is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent the pasta sticking to the bottom.
  6. Garnish with herbs, nutritional flakes if using and serve with crusty bread (wholemeal of course)
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