These soups will take you from "Blah" to "Hurrah" in no time at all!! So yummy and best of all they are both sugar free, suitable for vegans, lactose free and gluten free. They’re also perfect for people on a 5:2 type eating lifestyle too as the calorie count is kept very sensible. Check them out!!!
Posts tagged ‘vegan’
Here is a recipe for a delicious and speedy curry which is actually pretty healthy but impressive enough to serve to your friends and family and get a major amount of praise lavished on you - yay!! It’s also something that can be thrown together relatively easily so, for anyone who finds the notion of cooking a curry too daunting, this is the recipe for you! We've provided a vegan option as well -- so that this recipe is something for everyone!
We cannot actually emphasise enough just how in love we are with Nakd Bars and Nakd Oatie Bars! These snack bars are a perfect way to satisfy sweet cravings without taking in any refined sugars, processed ingredients or nasty additives. They're the size of a regular chocolate bar -- so very easy to stash in a bag so that you can have a healthy snack on hand for energy emergencies...
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping on your nose…” these famous, festive lyrics were written because, for so many of us, the smell of roasting chestnuts IS winter and Christmas. So it seems only right that we should feature a December recipe which is packed with chestnutty yumminess! This soup is tasty enough to serve as a starter for a fancy dinner but is also satisfying enough to be a light lunch or supper on its own. It is also actually simple and quick to make but it still looks suitably impressive should you want to dazzle anyone with your culinary skills! You’ll need a blender/hand blender to whizz this up with — the result will be velvety, smooth and sinfully sumptuous.
This recipe, by Alicia, is wholesome, nourishing and comforting. Impressively, she was able to pick the chestnuts herself from her local forest. If you’re able to do the same, then you will be eating the freshest produce which is always the most nutritious and delicious. However, if you don’t have the opportunity or the inclination to gather them fresh from Mama Nature, then you can just as easily use the vacuum packed variety or a good quality, tinned, chestnut puree. If you go for the tinned option, then make sure you are buying the unsweetened version — otherwise, trust us, your soup is going to be disgusting!
We feel that this soup is yummy enough to be included in the “Gourmet” portion of our site but it does have some decent “Skinny” credentials too. Chestnuts actually contain less fat than many other nuts and are also relatively well fibre loaded which means they keep you feeling satisfied for longer. Our recipe doesn’t use potatoes or any other thickener which helps to keep the carb levels moderate too. How good is that? Something delicious, nutritious and yummy enough that you won’t feel like you have deprived yourself of anything at all… and your skinny jeans will still love you.
What you need:
- around 450g of peeled Chestnuts or 1 tin of unsweetened chestnut puree.
- 1 Carrot, finely diced
- 1 small Leek, washed thoroughly and chopped finely
- 1 medium Onions, finely chopped
- 1 clove of Garlic, crushed
- 2 small bay leaves
- 1 stick of Cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon of Honey (leave this out if you want a vegan option)
- the juice of half a Lemon (or to taste)
- around 1 litre of liquid (this can be just water or chicken/vegetable stock or a combination of all 3!)
- 1 glass of good, dry white wine or 2 glasses of good white wine (if you want one to drink while you cook!) If you don’t want to use wine at all, then just increase the volume of water/stock being used.
- a tablespoon of olive oil
- optional extras – cayenne pepper for heat, Salt for seasoning (you may not need this if you are using chicken or vegetable stock in the soup), yoghurt to decorate (leave out if making a vegan/dairy-free version)
How to make it:
If you’re using fresh chestnuts, you will need to peel them (obviously!) and there are a couple of ways that you can do this. Firstly, you can use a knife to make a little cut or “X” shape in the skin on the flattest side of the nuts and then simmer them in a pan of hot water for around 15 minutes. The other method, which adds a real depth of flavour to the soup, is to roast the nuts in a moderate oven for 15 minutes.
Whichever method you use, after the 15 minutes is up, the nuts will be soft and ready to peel. Make sure that you take off the shell, which comes off pretty easily, and also the inner membrane too, which is trickier to remove. The membrane will come off much more easily if you peel the nuts while they are still warm. To do this, take them out of the pan/oven in small batches so that they don’t cool down too fast. Be careful though as they are going to be HOT… don’t burn your fingers, please! If you’re using the tinned or vac-packed variety, then you should be pretty safe!
Keep your peeled chestnuts/puree to one side. In a large pan, add the tablespoon of olive oil and heat it for a few seconds and then add your chopped carrots, onions, leeks and your crushed clove of garlic. Add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick and gently fry for a couple of minutes. (TOP TIP — Alicia ties the bay leaves and cinnamon stick together with some cooking string so that she can fish them out easily later on! Smart, huh?)
Once the veggies have softened a little, add your chestnuts/puree to the pan and warm them through. If you want to add a little honey to the pan now, go ahead — you may not need the whole tablespoon — so add less first as you can always add more later. Vegans – feel free to use any other vegan-approved sweetener you would like to. Continue to cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes and the chestnuts will become a little sticky (if you are using fresh ones) — if you’re using puree, then just stir the honey in.
At this stage, add your glass of wine to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes on a medium to high heat so that the alcohol cooks off. If you have drunk your glass of wine accidentally before you have reached this step — naughty naughty! — then add around 2/3 of your stock/water to the pan and simmer on a medium heat for around 20 minutes. If you’re using fresh chestnuts, just use a knife to gently poke one or two of them to check they are tender and cooked through. If they still feel a little firm, then cook for 5 minutes longer and try again.
Once the chestnuts are soft, take the pan off the heat, remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick and then use your blender to blitz the mixture into a smooth soup taking care not to splash yourself with hot liquid if you are using a handheld blender. If the soup seems too thick, add some of your remaining stock/hot water to it until it reaches a consistency that you like. Then, give it a taste and then consider whether you want to add some/all of the lemon juice and also whether you want to add some salt to it. If you have used stock, then you may not need any salt as stocks do tend to be quite salty (because of this, we advise using lower sodium versions or homemade stock with no added salt at all.) Feel free to add some pepper and/or cayenne for an extra kick.
Finally, serve in your prettiest soup bowl and get stuck in and enjoy! If you want to be all fancy, your can add a swirl of yoghurt to the top to pretty it up even more! We will leave the arty presentation to you!
If you have any queries, please feel free to message us. If you liked what you read and have taken time to look at some of the other posts on the site – please click the “follow us” button which you will find on the bottom right hand corner of each page — you will litreally make our day! (If you sign up to follow by email, then you will receive an email to your inbox which you will need to acknowledge/confirm.) We’d love for you to share our site’s details via your social networks too to help us build our readers and to create a happy, healthy GDSJ family!
For many of us, December is a month of over-indulgence and increased socialising, both of which can play havoc with our waistlines, energy levels and immune systems. Studies are showing that many people put on around 2lbs/1kg over the Christmas period which they then NEVER fully lose. How annoying!
With this in mind, we think you should try fortifying your more hectic/social/indulgent months of the year with some nutritious smoothies or juices which will fill you with vitality, boost your immune levels and will get you looking absolutely radiant. We know that there is debate in the healthy eating world about “smoothies vs juices” but we think both have their merits and can be enjoyed equally.
Drinking a glass of pure vegetable juice every day is like an instant hit of High Dosage Feel Good Factor. Aside from this, each ingredient in this juice does something to help with our seasonal PIR (Post-Indulgence Recovery.) We all know we need it! Each ingredient supports the immune system in its own way but each veggie here also works specifically to help you.
Beetroot supports the body to detox and repair, carrots and their natural sugars help gently boost energy levels, lemon will perk up the immune system with Vit C and ginger helps indigestion and feelings of nausea or actual sickness. The dash of oil is because one of the key nutrients in carrots (Vitamin A/retinol) is fat soluble — so oil will ensure your body sucks up the carroty goodness like a big, old, thirsty sponge! Whether you have over-indulged on the food side or have a self-inflicted hangover (naughty naughty)… this is the juice for you.
You do need a juicer for this recipe but, honestly, if you’re new to juicing, you don’t need to go out and spend a fortune and, for many of us, this is the perfect time of year to add it to your Christmas Wish List! Get the one that seems the best for your budget, making sure that it can juice a good variety of fruits/vegetables (ideally including leaves like spinach, lettuce and kale.) Also, get one that you can clean easily/stick into the dishwasher (saves on time and manicures!)
You don’t need to drink gallons of the stuff – just a medium glass will do. And you don’t need to drink this daily as it’s better to try different juices/smoothies during the week rather than sticking to one type… your tastebuds will respond by appreciating the new flavours and your body will respond by sucking in as much of the nutrition as it can. If you’re not yet converted to pure veggie juices, this is a good one to start with because carrots are actually very sweet when juiced (diabetics/those watching blood sugar levels take care.)
One little side effect to warn you of… for those of you not used to taking in concentrated beetroot… beetroot does not lose all its colour as it passes through your digestive system… so, keeping in mind that “what goes in, must come out” we’ll leave you to work out the rest! (On a serious note — we just want to mention it as genuinely some people have really become quite scared by this beetroot side effect!)
What you need (for one glass):
- 1 medium sized, raw Beetroot (ideally organic, well washed and unpeeled)
- 2 large, raw Carrots (ideally organic, well washed and unpeeled)
- Fresh, raw Ginger to taste – aim for around 1/2 an inch
- Lemon juice to taste
- 1 tsp of oil of your choice (e.g.. flax, extra virgin olive, rapeseed, coconut)
- Optional – echinacea tincture if you use it, a handful of fresh parsley (it’s an amazing cleanser/detox booster), matcha powder if you want an energy boost (read our write up on our favourite Matcha on our “obsessed” page.)
How to make it:
Follow the guidelines for your particular juicer in terms of how much you need to chop the veg up (don’t peel it though) and how much you can put through the chute/feeder. Then push the beetroot, carrots and ginger through the juicer and watch the juicing magic happen! Finally add the fresh lemon juice, oil and any of the other optional extras that you would like to add!
If you have any queries, please feel free to message us. If you liked what you read and have taken time to look at some of the other posts on the site – please click the “follow us” button which you will find on the bottom right hand corner of each page — you will literally make our day! (If you sign up to follow by email, then you will receive an email to your inbox which you will need to acknowledge/confirm.)
We’d love for you to share our site’s details via your social networks too to help us build our readers and to create a happy, healthy GDSJ family!
This brand delivers some of the most incredible cacao and chocolate you can possibly imagine and is set up by a chap called Willie Harcourt-Cooze (we kid you not — that is his real name!) He is utterly obsessed with the stuff and appreciates cacao in the way some people learn about wine, coffee and cheese. Much of this brand’s range is vegan approved as well – so it is suitable for anyone who is following that way of eating and/or cannot tolerate dairy products.
What does this cacao mean for a chocoholic? It means that you get the most sublime, chocolate fix possible and, because of its purity, a little goes a very long way. It is so intense that it is virtually impossible to binge on it, which does make it a healthier choice. You won’t have those awful feelings of “why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why did I just eat 2 bars of milk chocolate back to back without even stopping to breathe?!”
100% cacao is totally unsweetened and is available in different single origin varieties –all of which deliver an intense, chocolatey hit packed with goodness. Initially 100% might be too intense for some people, and the adjustment to no sugar could take some getting used to — but you can start with a good 80% variety and then begin to work your way up as your tastebuds begin to acclimatise to the intensity of this exceptional product.
Unlike regular chocolate bars, high percentage cacao can quite proudly wear its underwear on top of its trousers… not because it is some sort of weird exhibitionist but because it really is quite the culinary Superhero. You’ll find that Cacao is increasingly being referred to as a “superfood” because of its composition of antioxidants, minerals and “feel good” compounds which can leave you pleasantly energised and with a nice sense of well-being.
Cacao contains many things — Antioxidants which keep us looking young and beautiful, Phenylethylamine which elevates the mood gently and Theobromine which is a mild stimulant and helps with the “feel good” factor and will increase your energy levels (some research also suggests it can also help the body push out toxins more efficiently too.) Cacao can also increase our serotonin levels which can help with anyone who is feeling a little down and/or low in energy. On top of all that, it also provides magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, manganese and vitamins A, B1/2/3, C and E.
Cacao is a hugely versatile ingredient and can be used for baking, chocolate truffles, adding to smoothies and also, because it is unsweetened, can be added into casseroles, sauces and gravies to provide a really deep, background flavour which is absolutely delicious. One of the quickest ways to enjoy this though is just to make an incredible hot chocolate — grate it into hot water (you don’t need milk but could use it if you wanted to), stir it over heat, flavour it with anything you like (chilli, cardamon, orange zest) — or have it plain — and then, if you want to, add honey/stevia/unrefined sugar. Then sit somewhere quiet, turn your phone to silent, come offline and drink every last drop of it!
Priya drinks hers unsweetened and it really is like drinking a great espresso — the flavour is just as powerful but it is also mellow and rounded and it definitely leaves you with a nice buzz of energy. Just a word of caution, cacao does contain caffeine — and so too much of it is going to take you from feeling nicely energised to bouncing off the walls like a squash ball. So be sensible.
We’re not telling you to suddenly start eating huge quantities of this stuff — we’re telling you that you can eat a better quality of product, enjoy it in moderation, reap some super health benefits from it and not have to feel quite so guilty about enjoying it. They key is moderation and a healthy approach to this. We’re just showing you that a healthier life does not mean a life without the chocolatey loveliness of cacao. Thank God.
Check out the range at www.willieschocolateshop.com
Breathe the Watermelon... Feel the Watermelon... Be the Watermelon. A fast and easy salad (there’s a smutty joke to be made somewhere here) which can be used as a canapé, starter, accompaniment, part of a mezze or as a light lunch or dinner. It’s refreshing, hydrating, nutritious and it's pink and pretty!! What's not to like?