New Resolutions……

Happy New Year! 
I know its February-where did January go? January’s often a month that drags but this year my feet hardly touched the ground, with work, family commitments and the shared stresses of my daughters mock exams. One certainty in the New Year, is the threat of the common cold. I’ve made it my mission this month to eat super healthily, drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of fresh air. It cant be good to be inside all of the time, even when its a bit chilly. So far, I’ve managed to ‘dodge the bullet’ and remained ‘cold’ free.
I’ve also been hoping for some snow. I love the way it’s so bright and muffles the sounds of the street. We had a brief flurry recently, but sadly it didn’t settle, still, there’s always next year.
Soup is the perfect thing to have when it is really cold outside. I have this romantic vision of clutching a mug of soup, standing outside in the snow. To date I’ve yet to do that, but maybe next time we have a winter wonderland I will.
Summertime is my favourite time of year, and I really love all the sunshine foods that available, but I don’t just confine them to the summer, and so on a dull grey February day, of which there is usually plenty, I make this colourful soup.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Basil Puree (serves 4 generously)
1.8kg ripe tomatoes (you need to feel them!), halved
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
4 medium onions, sliced finely
4 sticks of celery, sliced
1 medium head of fennel, sliced
1/2 fresh chilli, deseeded (more if you like it fiery)
2 tsp tomato puree
2 tsp honey
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and black pepper

Basil Puree
60g fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar

  • Preheat the grill.
  • Place the tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet.
  • Grill until soft and darkening at the edges.
  • 
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
  • Heat the oil and then add the garlic, herbs and the remaining vegetables.
  • Cook until the vegetables start to soften and then transfer to a roasting tin or baking dish and roast for 30 minutes until soft.
  • 
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • 
Blend until smooth along with the grilled tomatoes, tomato puree, honey and lemon juice, until it is a smooth pouring consistency, adding water if needed.
  • Sieve the mixture to separate the pulp.
  • Heat gently and season to taste.
  • Garnish with a swirl of basil puree.

To make the basil puree

If you have a mini blender, puree the basil with the salt, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
If not use a pestle and mortar, crushing up the basil with the salt first before and the rest of the ingredients.

coll-ee-fl-ow-ah

Ok, I have to admit it- I’m not a massive fan of cauliflower. I’m not keen on the texture or flavour. It’s a brassica like cabbage (which I love) and broccoli (which is ok sometimes) and Brussels Sprouts (NO!)- One group of foods, but not one of them the same as the other, as far as my taste buds are concerned. That is not to say that I don’t eat Cauliflower. I do. It’s so nutritious.
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=13,
It would be wrong not to. I just have to cut it into small pieces and add a different flavour (cauliflower cheese, anyone?) or blend it up and make it into soup. This soup is really spicy, which suits me, but if you really like the taste of cauliflower, then add less harissa paste.

Moroccan Cauliflower Soup– serves 4
1 large cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp. harissa paste
1 litre gluten free chicken or vegetable stock
50g toasted flaked almonds and a little extra to garnish.

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the spices and harissa paste for 2 minutes.
  • Add the cauliflower followed by the stock and flaked almonds.
  •  Cover and cook for 20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.
  •  Allow to cool a little and then puree until smooth.
  •  Pour into bowls and top with a swirl of harissa paste mixed with a little water (otherwise it won’t swirl!) and a sprinkling of flaked almonds. And add a swirl of yogurt if you want to cool it down a bit!

Adapted from a recipe by BBC Good Food

Spicy Chickpea and Tomato Soup with Pesto- serves 4

“I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run…to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.”

Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

Continue reading “Spicy Chickpea and Tomato Soup with Pesto- serves 4”

Coconut Chia Muffins by Ugg Foods

Although I’m not a big fan of Ugg Food’s packaging (I prefer a gentler,’friendlier’ style but hey, that just personal preference) , I wanted to try this mix for Coconut Chia Muffins, as I really liked the bread a made from another packet mix of theirs (see previous review). As the name suggests, they contain chia seeds which are loaded with nutrients and have many health benefits.
http://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds/
The packet states that it either makes 9 large muffins or 18 cupcakes, but my cake tray was for 12, so that’s how many I made. The instructions are very easy and mixture hardly takes any time to prepare. There are two ways to make up the mix, the regular or luxury version (by adding slightly different ingredients) I chose the regular way.
I did wonder whether they needed any frosting, particularly as I overcooked them a little and I thought they would be really dry.
They were delicious though and very moist and great for lovers of coconut.
No frosting needed.

Soup- again?

I always seem to be making and photographing soup. I love it. It’s a great way to get lots of nutrients and now that it’s finally turned cold here in England, it makes the perfect lunch, and this recipe is no exception. Not only does it taste great, it has a really interesting texture. I’m not sure how authentic it is; as I’m never been to the Caribbean, but I can always dream! Continue reading “Soup- again?”

“I don’t like food, I love it. If I don’t love it, I don’t swallow.” — Anton Ego, Ratatouille

Feeding my children is always a challenge. Despite feeding them a wide variety of fresh foods as babies, they have developed very precise likes and dislikes. If only they were the same as each other. I won’t go into the full list, but suffice to say it often gives me a headache! So when I come across a dish that they both like, I feel like shouting it from the rooftops! This is one of those dishes! YAY!

Continue reading ““I don’t like food, I love it. If I don’t love it, I don’t swallow.” — Anton Ego, Ratatouille”