Since we had a Summer Salad Series, I thought it I might treat you to some Winter Warmers over the coming months. Soups are such an amazing way to enjoy seasonable vegetables and to ensure you eat your minimum of 5-a day. Enjoying a big bowl of soup daily is a surefire way of making sure you get at least your minimal dose.
I’m one of these odd people who don’t like having soup as a starter, as to me it’s a meal in itself. However, if you’re having soup as a single meal, make sure you have enough. Otherwise it’s not going to keep you fulled to your next meal. A measly cup won’t cut it (well not for me anyway!), if you’re not pairing it with a whole lot of bread or something…
I think sometimes we become so consumed with what we eat, or simply eat to “fill the gap” as we notice an urgent hunger sensation or running out of steam. But what if we actually took the time to stop and “smell the roses”? Or as in this case, the apples. Perhaps it’s then we really can appreciate the intensity and depth in flavour eating seasonally gives us.
Have you noticed how much more the apples that are around this time of year smells? I love these kinds of winter apples with their sharp and crisp flavour. They pair so well with green salads or as a small snack with some nut butter. Lately I’ve also added finely chopped fresh apples to my morning porridge + some ground cinnamon. Or I’ve used them as a bold pairing, like here, with beetroot.
After getting over my past dislike of beetroot there’s been no holding back! I’ve had it raw, cooked in salads, in hummus, cakes and now soup. It’s such an incredibly powerful vegetable with its liver and blood supporting nutrient content, in form of glutathione, nitric oxide and iron.
I’m also tying this recipe into my last blog post talking about the ROOT Aspect of health. Beetroot, being both a root vegetable growing deep in the earth, being the colour red and being beneficial to the red blood cells kind of IS the perfect “cover face” for the ROOT Aspect. I think there’s nothing more grounding when it comes to food than pulling a beautiful root vegetable out of the ground. It’s a direct connection with the soil, which nourishes us all… Having dabbled in some GIY this year, which I really enjoyed, I’ve discovered for myself how de-stressing it actually is to literally stick your fingers in the soil and to get your hands dirty, when your head is feeling frazzled. I’m sure those of you who already are avid gardeners know this, but I couldn’t believe actually HOW beneficial I found it to be to my own health and wellbeing. Especially these days when a lot of time is spent in front of the computer.
This very bright red soup was something I tried and tested already last year but it never made it to the blog before the seasons changed… I think there’s a picture of the first attempt somewhere waaay back over on Instagram. (Be warned, you will have to scroll back a few hundred images!) Anyway, at that time I didn’t write down the recipe so I’ve made it a few more times since, taking notes (!) with the intention of sharing it here with you all. So now after a few more test rounds, here it is, ready to share!
It may seem like a bold choice of flavours but trust me, it works. The sweetness of the apples marry with the earthiness of the beetroot. I added some shaved coconut on top as a fnish here, but you can use yogurt too.
Apple – Beetroot Soup
3 medium sized beetroot, peeled & finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 small apples, cored & finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground
1 tsp fennel seeds, ground
700 ml vegetable stock
Start with grounding the spices with a pester and mortar. Gently heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan, then add the ground spices and fry off for a few minutes until fragrant.
Add the finely chopped onion and sauté until soft and transparent, but not burnt. Add the finely chopped beetroot and the chopped apples. Let the beetroot and apple soften by gently mixing them with the onion and spices over medium heat, for about 5 min.
Then add the vegetable stock and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover the saucepan with a lid. Let the soup simmer for 45 min until the beetroot is soft. Allow it to cool somewhat before blending it smooth. I use my handheld blender directly into the saucepan (I’m a little lazy like that!)
Serve the soup warm in bowls, topped with some shaved coconut flakes.
P.S If you want to know some more about the health benefits of apples check out this great article!
What is your favourite Winter Soup? Please share, I’d love to know!
A (good) few week’s ago I got sent a lovely box of goodies to try from the superfood company Iswari. The company has it’s head quarters in Kinsale, Co. Cork, not a million miles away from where I live. Teaming up with a company that offers great quality products, sustainable ethos and is based locally kinda feels like a no-brainer. So I’m happy to give you all a delicious recipe made with their raw cacao butter.
If you have never come across cacao butter before, you may be unsure how to use it. Cacao butter is the fat from the cacao bean. It is separated from the cacao liquor and drained away, only to be added back in at a later stage of chocolate-making. What’s left after this process is then grounded into the cacao powder we know
Cacao butter is a fat which is solid at room temperature but melts quiet easily at body temperature, around 34°C. In fact it’s often used in skin and beauty products and with a few simple moderations to this recipe you can make a nice skin moisturiser! Cacao butter, even without the cacao powder has a lovely chocolate aroma.
Even though most of the health boosting properties from chocolate is found in the cacao powder the white solid fat is always added back in later in the chocolate-making process and whether you are making your own chocolate or buying it you want to use cacao butter (or make sure whatever you’r buying has a high cacao butter content) It’s the cacao butter which help make the chocolate creamy and gives it that snappy consistency.
I went for a different kind of chocolate treat here though. For some people the caffeine content of chocolate can make them feel all jittery and not all that awesome. (Luckily I’m not one of them) So a white variety without the cacao powder, may be better suited. Commercial white chocolate is made by adding milk solids, soy lecithin, refined sugar and vanilla and is usually not all that great for you.
Here I’ve paired the raw cacao butter from Iswari with some pure creamed coconut. You can buy creamed coconut in most Asian store for a reasonable price. It comes in a solid block (at room temperature) and is basically pressed coconut meat and nothing else. The beauty of using creamed coconut instead of coconut oil is that the creamed coconut still contains all the fibre from the coconut meat + all the lovely health benefits from the coconut oil.
So what you end up with here is a naturally dairy free white chocolate, not overly sweet and boosted with some super foods.
I added some bee pollen, freeze dried berries and some black sesame seeds, both to boost the nutritional value and to increase the aesthetic appeal. Because I feel we eat as much with out eyes as we do with our other senses.
A short note of Bee Pollen. It comes from the male germ cell of flowering plants. After the bee has pollinated the female flowers, the remainder of the male pollen is collected and brought back to the hive. Back at the hive the bees add enzymes and nectar to the pollen. These lovely tiny golden nuggets are often referred to as “nature’s most perfect food” as they contain all of the 8 essential amino acids we need for survival. Bee pollen also provides B-vitamins, vitamin C, carotenes and mineral. (Source: The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods)
Add some of these little gems on top of your smoothie or as here in your wholefood’s treat for a true super food boost. And bring out your inner artist!
This white chocolate recipe is really easy to make and takes literally no time at all.
Super boosted White Chocolate (dairy free)
Makes about 30 generous pieces
50g raw Iswari cacao butter
200g creamed coconut
1-2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp pure vanilla powder
1 tbsp bee pollen
1 tbsp freeze dried raspberries or blackberries – optional
1 tbsp black sesame seeds – optional
Roughly chop the creamed coconut. Place the coconut and the cacao butter in a bowl over a sauce pan with simmering water. Gently melt the coconut and cacao butter while stirring until you have smooth paste.
Remove from heat. Add the maple syrup and vanilla powder. Continue to stir until the maple syrup and vanilla is fully integrated with the chocolate mix.
Pour the mix out on a small tray lined with parchment paper. Let it cool a little before you add the toppings but don’t allow it to fully set. You want your toppings to sink into the chocolate. Finally allow the chocolate to completely set in the fridge before cutting it into squares.
Store your chocolate in the fridge as it melt in warmer temperatures. Enjoy 🙂
A big thank you to Iswari for allowing me to play with some lovely ingredients! I also tried out this lovely breakfast option and if you are looking for something to take with you on your summer travels / festivals / sporting adventures this is a nice one for sure.
Find out more about Iswari on FB and on Twitter
*This is a sponsored post. No money was received and all opinions are completely my own.
It’s finally starting to feel like Spring here today! A few hours in the mountains, sunshine and a little cooking and it feels like a proper day off. And a little blogging of course 😉
I’m going to keep it short and sweet today as I’m planning to write a nice juicy newsletter to all my dear subscribers later and my last post was a rather long ramble too. So I’m just going to share with you this tasty gluten and dairy free breakfast recipe with you today and leave it at that.
The fact that I love breakfast is no secrete around here. For those who need to stay off gluten and are used to eating cereal or toast for breakfast, things may seem very challenging at first. But if you are willing to stretch a little outside your comfort zone and explore some new flavours, textures and foods you may become pleasantly surprised and the whole adventure will turn into a blessing in disguise.
I’m a big fan of buckwheat but it is probably only in the last year or so it has become one of my pantry staples. It’s one of those intriguing foods you see in the healthfood store and would love to try (because you’ve heard it’s good for you) but you have no idea what to do with it!
Buckwheat is not a cereal grain (it’s not related to wheat at all) it is actually a seed from a plant related to the rhubarb plant. It’s a good source of antioxidants, and contain a good dose of both magnesium and manganese as well as that all important fibre.
The seed has a distinct nutty flavour and cooked whole like here it has a lovely chewy texture and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
This recipe is an inspiration from a breakfast I had back in November when I visited the very hip café The Fumabally in Dublin and had a similar porridge to this, alongside a seriously good Avocado Toast. Yes, I was particularly hungry that morning… Well actually it was more like a brunch but anyway, here is how you can create your own buckwheat porridge magic at home. It’s not as hard as you think.
Buckwheat Porridge with Pomelo, Pomegranate & Passion Fruit
1 cup whole buckwheat, soaked overnight
1 cup nut milk of choice + extra to serve
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 tbsp maple syrup – optional
1/4 fresh pomelo, peeled & broken up into pieces
seeds from 1/2 a pomegrantate
2 passion fruits
Soak the buckwheat overnight do improve digestibility and to speed up cooking time. In the morning drain and rinse the buckwheat well. When soaked they release a mucous so make sure you rinse all of that off.
Place rinsed and drained buckwheat together with nut milk, cinnamon stick and maple syrup (if using) in a small sauce pan. On medium heat bring it up to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10-15 min until the groats become transparent. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
Discard the cinnamon stick before serving and top with fresh fruit and some extra nut milk if needed. I’ve used pomelo, pomegrante and passion fruit here for a lively winter combo but as the seasons change use what ever fruit or berry is in season.
This recipe has sat in the draft section for some time. Turns out posting it now, is good timing still, because it could easily work as a nutritious addition to your menu over the holiday season.
You may have heard of chia puddings by now. You may even be a big fan of them. If you haven’t you are missing out of one of the easiest, nutritious snack/dessert /breakfast ever! I remember a few years ago when these tiny little seeds appeared on the shelves in the health stores and no one had really heard of them, let alone knew what to do with them… These days they are big news! Turns out they are a good source of plant based omega 3 essential fats. They are also high in fibre, potassium, zinc, calcium and phosphorus.
The seeds come from a desert plant, Salvia Hispanica, grown in Mexico and these tiny super seeds apparently featured on the menu of the famous Aztec warriors. In fact the word “Chia” supposedly means strength. When they first appeared this side of the world one of the many marketing claims was how it could help with weight loss. This may be true in some sense, but of course it’s highly unlikely that it would help anyone shed pounds all on its own. Weight loss is a lot more complex than just take one magic substance, unfortunately and the sooner we stop buying in to that concept the better (But that’s a topic for another day…)
I think in those early days, no one really had any clue how to eat them or how to make them taste nice. Thing is they swell a lot in any liquid you leave them in, and when they do, turns out they don’t look all that appetizing… The very first time I tried chia seeds it was a tsp of seeds soaked in plain water, just swallowed down. Not the most exciting thing I’ve ever eaten to be honest. Obviously times has moved on – enter Chia Pudding! I’m not sure who originally came up with the bright idea of serving the little guys this way but let’s just say it’s genius! Their ability to gel makes for a nice consistency and when you eat them in this way they can actually help with constipation rather than hinder it.
I have tried lots of different types of chia puddings at this stage but using a good quality full fat coconut milk is by far my favourite. It even reminds me a little of the Christmas dessert we have back home, rice pudding, well actually more like the cold version of rice pudding; Ris á la Malta.
Here you have a slightly healthier version made with just two ingredients: Chia Seeds and Coconut Milk. I’ve chosen to top this pudding with some winter spiced berries. Here I used the blackberries we picked back in the autumn. Grateful for the abundance back then and for the freezer now! If you, like me, live in the Northern Hemisphere where berries are not in season, then use frozen ones. I’d imagine blackcurrants or blueberries could work to. And if you live some where were it’s berry season, well then make the most of it and use fresh ones!
Coconut Chia Pudding – With Winter Spiced Berries
For the chia pudding:
200 ml full fat coconut milk – organic if possible
2 tbsp chia seeds (whole seeds)
For the berry compote:
1 cup blackberries – fresh or frozen
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1-2 star anise (depending on size of the star)
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
To make the pudding; mix coconut milk and chia seeds together in a small bowl. Make sure it is well mixed together and stir a few more times over the next five min, to remove any lumps, as the seeds start to absorb the liquid. Then move to the fridge and let it set over a few hours.
To make the berry compote; place the frozen (or fresh) berries in a small sauce pan. Add in maple syrup, ground cinnamon. Gently toss the berries in the maple syrup and spices until evenly coated. Add in the star anise. Bring it slowly to a simmer and let it simmer away for about 10 min until fruit is soft and the compote is fragrant.
Serve the chia pudding in small bowls with topped with the warm spiced berry compote.
N.B This dessert (or even breakfast!) is very filling and not very sweet. You can omit the maple syrup if you are looking for an even lower carbohydrate load.
P.S. I hope you don’t mind me throwing in a picture from the beautiful autumn we had. Worth a reminder of brighter days to come as the longest day of the year fast approaches.
You may be right in the middle of the craziness, that seems totally normal this time of year. Or you may be like me, presents bough, wrapped and posted with just a couple more Christmas cards left to write. Chilling, in other words. Though I’m not sure why I still bother with the cards. It’s not like I a get a lot of them anyway. Oh wait, it’s all about giving you say? And less about receiving? Even in the midst of this digital / social media era, I think, you simply cannot beat a lovely card arriving in the letter box from someone you haven’t met in a long time.
I heard someone on the radio the other day talking about giving more presence, rather than more presents. So while we are busy running around getting things done, buying presents, planning party menus and worrying about the cost of the heating bill – life happens. Our children grow up, our parents get older (we too of course), friends come and go. It’s all too easy to get caught up in this busyness and forget to be present. When we think back on our lives, it’s not what anyone gave us inform of material things that tends stand out. It’s those moments when someone was there for us. When we felt heard, listened too, respected and loved. All the things that we can give freely, no matter the size of our wallets… So perhaps its time that we all give a little more of ourselves to others. Time to give some presence. And not just for Christmas.
When I was going through my recipe archives recently, I discovered that there was only one (!) soup recipe up so far. Time to change that I think. I have another soup recipe waiting but today, I’m going to share this Classic Lentil Soup with you.
This soup is so incredibly easy to make. You can throw it together in minutes and it only takes 30 min to get ready. If you are not yet familiar with lentils, this is an excellent way to introduce them. Even the fussiest eater will like this soup, promise. Adding lentils to any soup will make it more filling due to their protein and high fibre content.
I found this recipe in the really excellent Rose Elliott’s New Complete Vegetarian. It’s one of those cook books with very few pictures so you actually need to read through the recipes. But there is many beautifully vegetable dishes to be cooked from it.
So if you are feeling a little overwhelmed by the thought of making healthy meals, while you have another thousand things to get through, just make this soup. It will both fill you up and fuel you over the next few weeks, in between shopping and partying!
Classic Lentil Soup
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
225g red lentils, rinsed well
1 litre vegetable stock or water. If using water add 2 level tsp stock powder or 1 organic stock cube.
1-2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 fresh lemon
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to season
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion for about 5 min until transparent.
Add the lentil and the stock/water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 min until the lentils are soft and golden. They will break down into a mush when cooked.
Blend the soup with a hand blender. You can add more water if you like the consistency to be thinner. Cook’s Note – If you have any leftover the following day you may need to add more water again to thin it as the lentils tend to keep absorbing water.
Add a splash of lemon juice, to taste and season with a pinch of sea salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Serve.