Happy New Year! Sorry for the lack of blog posts recently. I have been working on some exciting new projects. For more information, you can see my personal blog, here.
I hope you all had a good Christmas. I certainly did, although having enjoyed so much good food over the last, well, month, I am turning my attention to some healthier recipes to start the year.
Although I don’t have any food allergies, I have plenty of experience at cooking for intolerances, as my boyfriend has been allergic to wheat, gluten and dairy for the last eight years. Yes, we eat freefrom when we are together, but I don’t always stick to it, so I am going to completely avoid gluten and dairy for the month of January. And sugar too, as running my own cake company, Go Free Foods, means that I eat more sweet things than I should. So, I will keep you updated on my progress. I want to see if I feel any different. Better? Worse? We’ll see.
Meanwhile, I have been focusing on eating more vegetables. I always get at least my 5 a day as I just adore fruit. But I do think I need to cut back a bit and eat more vegetables instead. I’ve given up drinking fruit juice too. I learnt that fruit juice is processed as sugar by the body, which really surprised me. Buying fresh, natural juices, as I was, I thought they were doing me good, but in fact, your body needs the fibre as well, so as not to process the juice as sugar, so it is always best to stick to whole fruit where you can.
One of my favourite ways to eat vegetables is in soups. Although I am rather fussy about the soups that I like and dislike. I hate anything too watery as it just feels too insubstantial, but don’t like thick, creamy soups either. So below are two of my favourite soup recipes. They are simple, economical and seasonal to make. I use my Cuisinart blender to blitz the soup as it works so well. I often use the puree function, which I find gives and even smoother result.
Although these recipes are some of my favourites, I cannot claim any credit for the recipes, which come by way of my lovely neighbour, Nickie, from her charity cookery book entitled With love from our kitchens and Rose Prince’s excellent The New English Table.
Tomato, apple and celery soup from Nickie’s kitchen
100g onions, finely chopped
150g tomatoes, quartered
150g celery, cut into 2” lengths
150g apples, cored and quartered (I used Cox’s, unpeeled)
50g butter or 4 tbsp olive oil
1 pint chicken or vegetable stock
1) Melt the butter in a large pan or add the olive oil to the pan
2) Add the onions and cook gently
3) Add all the fruit and vegetables to the pan and cover with a well-fitting lid
4) Leave for 1 hour to simmer gently
5) After an hour, the vegetables should be nice and soft.
6) Add the stock
7) Blitz until smooth in a food processor
8) You can sieve the soup for a smoother finish, but I prefer not to, just blend really well.
Chestnut and Honey Soup, from The New English Table by Rose Prince
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I used rapeseed today)
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
½ large swede, cut into chunks
1 large pinch dried thyme
200g chestnuts (I used frozen from Waitrose, but you could use vacuum packed)
2 pints chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon honey (any kind)
1) Heat the oil in a large pan
2) Add all the vegetables and cook gently until they are tender. Do not let them brown
3) Add the thyme and chestnuts, pour in the stock and leave to simmer until the vegetables are tender
4) Blend until smooth and then stir in the honey.