Warm, soothing goodness! You never forget you first tortilla soup. Ancho chilis are a really special ingredient and quintessential to the flavour of the dish. They are not spicy at all but rich and delicious. The problem with tortilla soup, of course, is that tortilla chips are fried in pretty horrible vegetable oil along with containing loads of additives, baddies, and wheat in most conventional brands--not a great addition to a health-oriented lifestyle. I've revamped this to include corn kernels as an optional addition, instead. Same flavour and crunch without the deep-fried downsides. For this recipe, I like to use pre-cooked chicken breasts that I bake in batches and keep ready in the freezer, but I've also included directions for cooking from scratch.
If using raw chicken, pre-heat oven to 175 C/350 F. Place 1 chicken breast in a baking dish and bake for about 15-20 minutes until cooked all the way though. Once done, cut the breast into chunks and place into a saucepan with 400ml chicken stock. If using a frozen pre-cooked breast, place in a saucepan with 400ml chicken stock and bring to a simmer. When the chicken is warmed through, remove from the stock, cut into chunks, and place back into the stock.
To the stock and chicken, add 250g chopped fresh tomatoes, 2 Tbsp tomato paste, 1 tsp ground ancho chilli peppers, 2 minced cloves garlic, and (optional) 50g cooked or raw corn kernels. Bring back to a low simmer and gently cook for about 10 minutes until the flavours develop. Add sea salt and a pinch of chilli pepper to taste. Transfer to a large bowl and top with 1 whole chopped avocado and the juice of 1/4 lime (or more to taste). Perfection!
serves 1 (multiply ingredients to serve more)
Yum, cheddar cheese and broccoli, what better combo? This recipe is a brilliant swap using tangy Brazil nuts and creamy cashews as an alternative to cheese. Something that is incredibly handy if you are genetically sensitive to saturated fats or intolerant to lactose. If you have GST deletions, this recipe also provides 2-3 servings of cruciferous vegetables to get your detoxification going full steam.
In a saucepan, add 1 whole chopped head of broccoli, including the stalk. This will be around 250g for an average head of broccoli. Leave this to sit (20 minutes will maximise the detoxification support) while you bring 350ml stock to a boil in a separate pan. This can be any type of stock, but if I don't have any fresh stock to hand, my favourite is Steenbergs Organic Vegetable Bouillon. I make this by pouring about 350ml boiling water over the broccoli and mixing in 1.5 tsp bouillon powder. Pour just enough liquid over the broccoli so that it is barely covered. Simmer over medium for 5-10 minutes until the broccoli is tender crisp and still bright green. Pour into a blender and add 35g each cashews and Brazil nuts. Blend on medium until smooth but with small bits. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
serves 1 (full meal) or 2 (side dish)
If you're on salmon overload when it comes to oily fish, it can pay to get sneaky with things. And if anchovies seem a bit scary, this deliciously simple fish stew will ease you into the world of the other oily fish. There's just something about traditional French recipes that never disappoints. They are simple, quick, and very, very flavourful. And I've maximised my version to get the most from its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties so that you're brimming with health.
In a medium saucepan, melt 1 Tbsp butter or coconut oil until hot. Turn down the heat to low and add 1 small diced onion (about 75g). Stir, cover, and leave the onions to soften for 5 minutes. When the onions are soft, add 3 medium chopped tomatoes (about 275g), 1/2 small chopped courgette (75g), and 1 Tbsp capers. Turn the heat up to medium, stir, cover, and leave to cook for 5 minutes. When the mix has cooked, add 250ml (1 cup) sodium-free vegetable stock (I like Steenbergs Organic Vegetable Bouillon), 1 Tbsp minced anchovies, and 125g chunked white fish. Bring to a simmer and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the white fish is tender and cooked through. Add black pepper to taste. (The anchovies are quite salty, so you're unlikely to need to add salt!) Serve with a small gloss of olive oil added on top.
The traditional recipe also includes potatoes, and while this isn't an ingredient that I'd normally use, if you would like to add a starchy carbohydrate to the stew, try adding 1/3 cup (80ml) diced raw potato to the saucepan at the same time as the tomatoes.
Craving savoury? This stew will hit the spot! Here in the West, we don't have many foods that supply the wonderful fifth flavour, called umami. But it abounds in this lovely miso and mushroom broth brimming full with green lentils and detox-loving broccoli.
In a large saucepan, combine 60g dried green lentils, 350ml water, a large handful diced mushrooms, and 1 small diced onion. (Give the green lentils a little rinse first.) Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer.
Meanwhile, chop 200g broccoli and let it sit while the lentils are cooking. When the lentils are just about soft, add the broccoli to the lentils, stir, and cover again. Add a bit more water if it has boiled down, enough to just cover the broccoli, but not too much. When the broccoli is tender crisp and the lentils are soft, turn off the heat and add 2-3 Tbsp brown miso paste to taste. Then add a small amount of prepared harissa paste, about 1 tsp, or a little punch of chili flakes--both are optional! Mix until the miso paste is dissolved into the broth. Enjoy!
Chicken and chickpea stew: lovely, warm, and savoury to fill and comfort on a cold evening. In 10 minutes, you can whip up a meal with 4 servings of vegetables per bowl, 35+ grams of protein, and a lovely mix of satiating fats with slow-release carbohydrates. Also perfect as a vegetarian meal simply by leaving out the chicken.
Chop 1 large handful curly kale and set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tsp coconut oil, 1 small chopped red onion, and 100g raw chopped chicken. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through. Add to the pan the kale, 1 tin (400g) chopped tomatoes, 3/4 cup cooked and rinsed chickpeas, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 tsp dried mixed Italian seasoning, and 150ml chicken or vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes until the kale is wilted but still bright green. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste as well as extra Italian seasoning as needed. Place into a bowl and top with 1Tbsp olive oil.
serves 1 (or multiply the ingredients times the number of people required)
Why does butternut squash steal the show? That's what I'd be asking myself, if I were a pumpkin.
We rock out this orange fellow at Halloween and Thanksgiving, and that's often it. Two days each an every year. Why such holiday-based discrimination against this wonderful guy?
My guess is that pumpkins are a bit intimidating. They're big, they've got seeds and stringy bits inside, and they've got that bright orange skin covering them up... But funnily enough, this is actually why pumpkins, indigenous to the Americas, were highly valued for hundreds and hundreds of years over in that neck of the woods. The first European explorers of the region reported being amazed at how widespread these guys were in the daily lives of those native to the Americas.
The flesh of pumpkins is amazing, with loads of beta-carotenes--powerful antioxidants. Pumpkins do contain carbohydrates, but they are mostly in the form of non-digestable fibre. Ever heard of anyone using pumpkin as, eh-hem, a way to get their bowels moving? That's the fibre! So, unless you are very insulin resistant, don't worry too much about the starches in pumpkin.
And the seeds are an incredible source of zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese--all essential minerals for our bodies. Zinc is a co-factor in the absorption and utilisation of a majority of our vitamins, which is why you keep hearing about it for things like immune system health. But the conventional way of cooking with pumpkin ignores the seeds! That's no good!
So, this reinvented recipe for pumpkin soup focuses on 1) taking the fear out of using pumpkins (groan, pun intended...); and 2) ensuring that the seeds aren't ignored.
Bonus: this makes the recipe loads easier than its conventional cousins! Please note, however, that since we'll be using an entire pumpkin (helping remove the fear factor), and pumpkins vary in size, the measurements for this recipe depend much more on taste than on precision portions. But this is a bonus, too! It gives you a chance to trial your own gastronomic chef-y skills in a totally nothing-can-go-wrong kitchen safe space. Because, seriously, it's pretty impossible to ruin pumpkin soup.
Summer is nearly upon us! This means that it's time to pack up the hot soups and swap them for lovely and delicious gazpachos. Possibly the real reason I love gazpacho soups so much is that they take about two seconds to make! Lazy? Always! But they are also a fab way to get in loads of the fresh vegetables just bursting out of the ground this time of year and enjoy them in their fresh, gorgeous, sweet, raw state. Lovely sunshine, lovely vegetables!
However, I don't know about you, but I'm kinda bored of normal old tomato gazpacho. It's sort of like tomato soup someone forgot to cook. Plus, it's summer. Time to enjoy the light, fresh flavours of the season! Ramiro peppers represent this perfectly--bright red, sweet, and crunchy. They taste like sunshine to me (no clue why, they just do). I've combined them with courgettes and tomatoes for the base and then thrown in some nuts, dates, and lemon juice to brighten the whole thing up and add extra creaminess and pizazz.
My favourite way to eat this is with a few chunks of steamed rainbow trout chucked in at the end (tasty AND brings the protein level into good balance). Kind of like a summer bisque! But it's lovely on its own, too, never doubt it.
Food trends are funny stuff. Whoopie pies and cronuts popping up on every street corner, at least until the the novelty value wears off and they become eye-roll worthy... But for those of us in the know, bone broth is one of these recent trends that we hope is here to stay.
Bone broth is made by slowly cooking down over a very long period of time the bones from an animal carcass like beef, chicken, or fish. Exactly how long this takes--anywhere from 6 to 24 hours--depends on the thickness of the bones because the point of bone broth is to break down the natural collagen, gelatin, bone marrow, and minerals found in the bones, tendons, and ligaments so that they are dissolved into an incredibly nourishing and tasty liquid.
Some of the main documented benefits of bone broth are:
So, while bone broth is amazing if you're ill with the flu, it's also brilliant as a normal part of your diet. No joke--your skin really will look younger and firmer, your cellulite might decrease, your joints will feel great, and your iffy digestive tract symptoms will improve. And the reason that bone broth is so critical is that it's the only practical method for converting all of the goodness found in animal carcasses into a form we can eat and digest. The simmering process causes the bones, ligaments, and tendons to release the healing compounds like collagen, gelatin, proline, glycine, and glutamine. And the minerals that leech from from bones are in an ideal bio-available, absorbable form that our bodies recognise. This includes calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and silicon along with chondroitin and glucosamine, which are otherwise only found in very expensive supplement form but are known for reducing joint pain and rebuilding joints. (DrAxe.com)
But here's where it gets top secret and what you won't find in other bone broth recipes: mushrooms, especially of the medicinal variety. One of the amazing hot topics in medical research right now is the beta-glucan molecule contained in mushrooms. Not so much your average button mushroom, but exotic mushrooms like reishi, turkey tail, or chaga. We're learning that mushrooms interact with many of the receptors in our body in a very special way and are incredibly beneficial to the immune system. The best way to take these mushrooms is by drinking them as a tea. Probably not something most people will do regularly. But it is incredibly simple to incorporate mushrooms into bone broth and ensure regular consumption via this method.
You can drink bone broth all on it's own, but my favourite way to use it is as an ingredient in other recipes. It adds a richness and depth that is incredible and that I never experience with store-bought stocks and bullion cubes. (No wonder, since store-bought stocks and broths don't contain any of the health-boosting compounds found in homemade bone broth!) I like to make a concentrated form of bone broth that I freeze into 1/4-cup portions and then use in soups, sauces, and different veggie dishes (like Cauliflower & Cheese). It's in a concentrated form, so if making soup, dilute each cup of broth with 1-2 cups of water (depending on taste).
Making bone broth is also great if you have a bit of frustration or aggression to get out of your system. It's essential to break the bones and joints before putting them on to simmer, which you can do with either a meat cleaver or a mallet. Bam, bam, bam! Whack, whack, whack!
I use only organic, naturally-fed animal carcasses in order to ensure that the broth has anti-inflammatory rather than pro-inflammatory properties. You can try roasting a chicken and using the carcass afterwards, but I like to order fresh carcasses for £1 each along with my weekly vegetable box from Abel & Cole. Bonus: they come with giblets, which you can use for making Italian Meatballs!
I have an organic vegetable box delivered weekly to my flat. Score. It makes eat all organic roughly the same cost as non-organic from the supermarket, plus it saves me said shopping trip to the supermarket. Double Score. It's also all local and seasonal. Triple score. And I can even exclude anything I don't like from being included in the box. Score to infinity!
The challenge, though, even when I do like a particular vegetable, is that I might not be used to eating with it so not have a whole lot of tried and tested favourite ways to use it. Such is the case with Mr Leek.
After failing to use up the leeks in my box two weeks in a row (yes, bad, I know), at 6pm on a Monday, I stared forlornly into my fridge wondering what the heck to do with 1.3 kilos of leeks. Yes, that is almost 3 pounds of leeks! It is a lot!
The classic solution to the excess leek solution is something such as leek and potato soup. A good solution in theory, except for two things. First, I usually find leek and potato soup to be bland, goopy, and generally meh. Second, despite what my carb addiction might whisper sweetly in the back of my mind, potatoes do not make my body happy. This might be because your average potato actually has a higher glycemic index than white bread! Potato rush.
So, would the humble leek and potato soup be the first recipe crush my reinvention skills? "Nev-ah!" I shouted into the open-doored fridge.
And the end result is surprisingly nice. Mild but flavourful, perfect for a chilly evening. Plus, it is embarrassingly quick and easy to make. Just about the easiest soup I've ever come up with. Which is saying a lot. This might be because the potato has gone missing entirely from this recipe. And because the leek is paired with fennel seed to bring out the mutual sweetness. But why question these things?
The leek also has a few interesting and specific health benefits. It's a member of the Allium family--think onions and garlic--and has the major characteristics of this plant group:
Way to go you little leek. One other tip to mention just in case you're not experienced with them. I tend to cut off the full top third and discard (or use for making bone broth). I'm lazy and want to avoid any part of the upper stalk that might have any dirt within the layers.