Category Archives: Recipes

Pumkin Soup or My Autumnal Comfort Food

pumpkin soup

In my journey to a healthier me, I have learnt to find alternatives to transform old habits into better ones.

I thought about comfort food last week as I was walking to uni in the rain and wind. When I arrived there I bought a hot chocolate. And I actually found it too sweet. Don’t get me wrong, it went down quite well, but had I made it myself, I wouldn’t have put that much sugar. It’s funny how you can get used to eating certain types of food and how your palate adjusts with changes. Some changes that we force ourselves to make, like swapping white bread for wholegrain, or giving up sugar in tea, for example, can seem hard at first but our taste buds really do readjust. Especially to sweetness I find. I’m sure it’s true for salt too.

Anyway, today I’m making a pumpkin soup, all because of that walk in the rain that made me want comfort food. Something with a nice colour, thick texture and good taste.

pumpkin soup ingredients

I thought about what veggies would go well together and decided for: pumpkin, parsnip, carrot, leek and onion. Very seasonal, and for a bit of a kick, I will add turmeric and chili pepper. And of course a bit of black pepper and salt. I will serve it either on its own, or with a bit of creme fraiche and grated cheddar / gruyère, or chorizo slices. For the exact recipe, scroll down to the bottom of the page :-)

Now for those interested, here is the nutritional content of each ingredient (per 100g):

(source: wikipedia, sorry haven’t got time for deeper research today)

Pumpkin: 26 kcal, pretty much 0g fat, 0g protein, carbohydrate 6g (2.8g sugar), sodium 1mg, potassium 340mg and 170% of your daily needs in vitamin A (remember to eat your vitamin A with fat as it is a fat soluble vitamin).

Parsnip: 75 kcal, pretty much 0g fat, 1.2g protein, potassium 375mg, sodium 10mg, carbohydrate 18g (4.8g sugar), calcium 3% of your daily needs, vitamin C 28%, however that will be lost in cooking because vitamin C is very sensitive to heat.

Carrot: 42 kcal, 0g fat, 0g protein, potassium 320mg, sodium 69mg, carbohydrate 10g (4.7g sugar), vitamin A 334% of your daily needs (great news!) and no need to mention vit C now we know it’s going to be lost in cooking.

Leek: 61 kcal, 0g fat, protein 1.5g,  potassium 180mg, sodium 20mg, carbohydrate 14g (3.9g sugar), vitamin A 33% of your daily needs, vitamin B6 10% of your daily needs, iron 11% of your daily needs, magnesium 7% of your daily needs.

Onion: Antioxidant (so is vit A by the way), 40 kcal, 0g fat, 1.1g protein, potassium 146mg, sodium 4mg, carbohydrate 9g (4,2g sugar)

Turmeric: said to have anti cancer properties and improve the mood :-)

Chili pepper: well, you’ll find over the internet all sorts of health related reasons to eat chili peppers but I haven’t got time to do all the research so I’ll let you do it yourself if you’re dying to know.

Note that potassium contributes to lowering the risks of cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure. And this recipe is full of it! Yey! Chemically speaking, it’s very similar to sodium (the salt we most commonly use) so this soup might not need much added salt, especially if you add cheese to it too, taste before adding any! (source: World Health Organisation)

pumpkin soup ingredients chopped

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 small to medium size pumpkins
  • 3 large parsnips
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 onions
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder (or more)
  • 1 tsp chil powder (or more)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

You know me, I don’t like to complicate things. Just peel and de seed the pumpkin (that’s hard work but worth it). Peel the onions. Wash and chop all vegetables and throw in large pan with a pint of water or 2. Cook until soft. If you would like a thick texture, remove some of the cooking water (you can drink it, it’s yummy!). Finally, blend all, taste and then add the spices and salt and pepper.

Bon appetit!

Child-friendly, Super Easy and Healthy Appetizer

It is possible, and not difficult to have a drink before dinner with kids, of quick preparation and keeping it healthy. Forget the crisps, the crisps of today are mixed nuts, tomato and melon skewers, and grapes!

Obviously, don’t give a skewer to a child under 5 years old! But you can give him each piece of fruit one by one. For older children, it’s a fun presentation, that they can help you make as well. My six year old nephew loved it. If yours doesn’t like tomatoes, make it melon and grapes, or plum and tomatoes, whatever fruits and veg they like.

About the nuts, as long as your kids aren’t allergic, it’s a great appetizer if you get natural ones, not grilled, nor salted. Each nut provides a different set of nutrients and we all should eat more! Nuts are good sources of protein, fibre, unsaturated fat and each provides its own vitamins and minerals:

  • Cashew nuts contain potassium, iron and vitamin B-6
  • Brazil nuts contain potassium, iron and magnesium
  • Almonds contain potassium, calcium and magnesium
  • Walnut also contain potassium, vitamin B-6, magnesium and iron
  • (potassium = healthy salt)

Enjoy, and let me know what you made your skewers with! :-)

Summer Light Plum Clafouti

Hello from France!

I’m still enjoying the sea, sun and… the cooking and have now got with me my nephew. Not that only kids like cakes, but they do enjoy baking don’t they?!

We have made a French traditional summer cake called CLAFOUTI. The most commonly found clafoutis are made with cherries. But this time of year, cherries are no longer in season so we need to get creative and use other fruits, and basically whatever fruits we like. Last year we made one with nectarines, this time, small green plums. You can really chose the fruits you have available locally.

Ingredients (serves 6):

  • 400-500g fruits (as many as you can fit in your dish, they will shrink when baking)
  • 100g flour
  • 25cl milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 70g sugar or to make it lighter like mine, use stevia, half a tsp is enough because the fruits when cooking release a lot of natural sugar.
  • small pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence (optional)
  • 20g butter to butter the dish
  1. Wash and chop the fruits in small pieces.
  2. Butter the dish, then add the fruits.
  3. In a bowl, place the flour in the centre and dig a hole, add the sugar, salt and eggs all together (and vanilla essence if using it).
  4. Mix well then add the milk gradually while stirring.
  5. Pour into the dish and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 180 degrees c, 350 degrees f.
  6. The clafouti is ready when the consistency is the one of a flan and the fruits looked cooked. Inserting a knife, as we do in sponge cakes, won’t work because the inside of the clafouti will stay a bit wet from the fruits.

Three Tomato Salad with Basil

photo(164)

Sometimes, the simplest things are the best. I hope you guys like this recipe. The quality of the tomatoes is key. If they are either organic or close to being organic, come from a garden, or a small producer, and grew with a lot of sun, they should taste so good you don’t even want to add any dressing! Don’t worry though, I have two different dressings here for you, and as I’m spending some time with my parents at the moment, my mum took part in preparing lunch and told me it would probably be nice to mix both dressings together. I disagreed, but without telling me, she did it (stubborn much?), and it was a great surprise! Very nice and flavoursome. A pure taste of summer, perfect to eat whilst listening to the cicadas in the shade of a pine tree :-)

Ingredients:

  • 1 big black tomato
  • 1 big red tomato
  • 1 big yellow tomato
  • Half a red onion
  • basil leaves, finely chopped

Dressing 1:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper

No need to prepare in advance, just add on the top of the salad all the ingredients before serving.

sauce mousseline

Dressing 2 (mum’ sauce mousseline):

  • 1 tsp of Dijon mustard
  • salt, pepper
  • 6-7 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  1. In a bowl, combine the mustard, salt and pepper
  2. Add the oil gradually, slowly while whisking.
  3. Carry on whisking, the sauce should start to foam.
  4. To finish, add the vinegar, only as much as you think tastes right. Vinegar tends to counteract the effect from the previous ingredients and the foamy aspect of the sauce may decrease. That’s why you only need a tiny bit, just for the taste (1 to 2 tsp).

It’s a bit of a gamble to manage to keep it foamy, the sauce mousseline will still taste nice if it didn’t work, but it’s best when foamy.

Strawberries, goat cheese and green leaves

The tastiest recipe I’ve made in a while. I found it on Pinterest from this website: http://www.skylineempire.com/avocado-strawberry-spinach-salad-with-poppyseed-dressing/

My version is a bit different because I couldn’t find baby spinach leaves and I prefer goat cheese to blue cheese. So here it is:

Serves 3

  • half a bag of young mixed leaves
  • 1 avocado
  • about the same quantity of strawberries, washed and cut in halves
  • half a small red onion
  • 6 or 7 slices of goat cheese log
  • a handful of almonds, chopped
  • nothing more nothing less, it’s perfect just like that!

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3 to 4 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider viegar
  • 1 tbsp of poppy seeds
  • half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper

For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together until combined. Toss the salad, add the dressing and serve. If you fancy a bit of animal protein, the salad goes well with Parma ham.

Enjoy!

Cooking with a sea view

Homemade Hummus Nice & Easy

Home Made Hummus

Hello food-loving friends!

Today I am writing to you from the south of France where I am spending the summer. London is a fantastic place to live but nothing beats the south of France for summer holidays!

Holidays… I love cooking while on holidays. I can’t find anything more relaxing than cooking with a sea view, something healthy, something tasty.

Last night I made hummus from a recipe found on BBC Good Food. Ingredients were:

  • 200g/7oz canned ckickpeas

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice or more

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • salt

  • 100ml/3½fl oz tahini (sesame seed paste) optional

  • 4 tbsp water

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • But I didn’t have any cumin or paprika so I used turmeric instead and it worked just fine.

Basically, just throw everything in a bowl and blend using an immersion blender. Taste, add more lemon juice, salt, or oil if needed.

Have you tried eating hummus with carrots instead of pitta bread? It’s a great combination in terms of taste and texture, and carrots are very rich in beta carotene (in vitamin A), which, among other things, is good for your skin and is thought to be useful to prepare skin before sun exposure. And guess what: its absorption is enhanced when eaten with fat. Great news since hummus is made with olive oil !!

Carrots are also a good antioxidant, rich in vitamin c, and contain vitamin B-6, calcium and magnesium in smaller amounts.

I’m going to be cooking with a sea view until the end of August, so come back for more summer recipes soon!

And Bon Appetit bien sur!

Home Made Hummus

Simple Summer Fruit Salad

3 ingredients: nectarine, strawberries and raspberries

2 salads:

  • Add a tbsp of orange juice and 3-4 basil leaves and you have the perfect refreshing summer desert

Simple Summer Fruit Salad + basil

  • Add 2 spoonfuls of organic plain yoghurt, mixed seeds and a Brazil nut (crushed) and you have the perfect summer breakfast or mid-morning snack.

Simple, isn’t it?