Gazpacho Soup

With the end of summer approaching, and the (mostly) warm summer days still gracing us with their presence, we enjoyed this antioxidant rich Gazpacho soup for lunch over the weekend.  Quick and easy to pull together and so refreshing.  No cooking required!

tomatoes pepper

There are a few variations of the Gazpacho recipe, I prefer mine with a little texture to it, but you can pass it through a sieve if you prefer a much smoother soup.

Gazpacho Soup

Ingredients

1 kg of ripe, large vine ripened tomatoes
1 red pepper, deseeded and diced
½ large cucumber
small red onion
clove of garlic, crushed
1 tblspn cider vinegar (or vinegar of your choice)
1 tblspn extra virgin olive oil
Seasoning to taste

Method:

Score the tomatoes at both ends and place in boiling water to remove skins, cut into quarters and then remove seeds and core.  Put all the juicy insides from the tomatoes into a sieve over a bowl to catch all the liquid and use the liquid in the soup.

Place the tomatoes and all the extra liquid, red pepper, cucumber, onion, garlic, olive oil and vinegar into a food processor and process to the texture of your choice.

Put the blended soup into the fridge and chill for a couple of hours, once chilled add seasoning to your own taste.  Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and extra diced cucumber and tomato.

Serve with crusty French bread.

 

Gazpacho Soup

Nutritional Info:

Tomato – Vitamins A, B3, B5, B6, C, E, K, Beta-carotene, Biotin, Folic Acid, Lycopene, Calcium, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Fibre.

Red Pepper – Vitamins B3, B6, C, E, K, Beta-carotene, Biotin, Folic Acid, Lycopene, Calcium, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Fibre.

Cucumber – Vitamins A, B3, B5, C, K, Beta-carotene, Biotin, Folic Acid, Calcium, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Silica, Sulphur, Zinc, Fibre.

Onion – Vitamins B2, B6, C, Folic Acid, Chromium, Copper, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sulphur Compounds, Quercitin, Flavonoids, Fibre.

Garlic – Vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, C, Biotin, Folic Acid, Calcium, Copper, Germanium, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sulphur, Zinc, Amino acids, Fibre.

Olive oil – Vitamins E, K, iron, Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids.

 

Gazpacho Soup

Savoury Cheesy Lentil Muffins

With the Bake-Off back this week, I thought I’d get in the baking mood again, haven’t done any for a while, it just doesn’t appeal to have the oven for too long on in the very hot weather.  And with my quest to bake with less or no sugar, these Savoury Cheesy Lentil Muffins fit the bill exactly with no added sugar.

lentil muffins 3

These muffins contain 3 different cheeses and Lentils which belong to the same legume family as beans which means they share similar nutritional benefits being rich source of lean protein and fibre.

Lentils also have  a good mineral profile with generous amounts of iron, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium.

Savoury Cheesy Lentil Muffins

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Baking Time:  25 minutes
Makes:  12 large or 24 mini muffins

Ingredients

50g red lentils, cooked
300ml skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
150g Ricotta
2 medium sized eggs
50g tomato purée/paste
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
30g Parmesan, grated
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
225g wholemeal self-raising flour
70g white self-raising flour
50g Cheddar cheese, grated

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 180C, 160C fan, Gas 4.

In a large bowl whisk together the milk, Ricotta, eggs and tomato paste, once completely blended add the cooked red lentils, chopped red onion, Parmesan and parsley and stir in well.

Sift both white and wholemeal (include the husks after sifting) flours into the bowl and stir until combined.  Don’t over stir or the muffins will be heavy.

Spoon the batter into a greased muffin tin, I split the batter into a few full size muffins and some mini, bite-sized muffins for little fingers.  Sprinkle grated Cheddar cheese onto the muffins in the tin.

Bake for around 25 minutes until golden brown, do the cocktail stick test to make sure they are cooked through.

Serve warm or cold.  These muffins are moist and soft and are great halved and slathered with butter or tomato chilli chutney.

lentil muffins 2

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Tomato Chilli Relish

Is this a chutney or a relish?   Chutney’s and relishes are often used interchangeably as condiment terms.  I think of relishes as needing less cooking time and using little or no sugar, so I’ve called this recipe Tomato Chilli Relish.

Picture 155

My tomatoes are still green and growing on my tomato plants but we do have a lovely red, ripe Cayenne Pepper, the second to ripen on our plants, we used the first in a spicy pasta dish and boy was it good!  Fiery hot but fabulous too!

cayenne

I’ve used powdered Cayenne for this batch as I want the chilli pepper for a chilli, madness probably in this hot weather but I have 14 more chilli peppers ready to ripen in the next couple of weeks so will use a fresh, homegrown one to make more relishes and chutneys.

tom cay relish

Tomato Chilli Relish

Ingredients

1 medium red onion. finely chopped
½ teaspoon Paprika
½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ teaspoon ground Cumin
375g Tomatoes, finely chopped
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon demerara sugar (optional)
ground black pepper to taste

Method

Gently fry the red onion in olive oil for 2-3 minutes or until soft.

Add the Paprika, Cayenne Pepper & ground Cumin and cook out for a minute or so.

Add the tomatoes, I like to leave the skins on my tomatoes for chutney’s and relishes, balsamic vinegar and sugar to the pan with the onion and spices and simmer until it thickens up, around 20-25 minutes.  The sugar will bring out the flavour of the tomatoes.

tom relish

Serve with cold meats and cheeses, I pop some in chicken sandwiches, delicious and perfect for summer eating!

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From the Seed to the Pepper

I wrote about planting Cayenne Pepper seeds earlier this year, a handful germinated successfully and they are now nearly ready for picking!

cayenne

At the moment there are around 12 peppers of varying sizes on the plants, with more flowers still appearing so hopefully a steady supply over the summer.  I will dry a few too to extend their use over the Autumn months.

cayenne 1

So far only one of the peppers is turning red, I’ll be very interested to cook with it to see just how hot it really is!  I first read that it was the seeds that gave most of the heat to a dish when left in, but recently I heard a TV chef say that it was the white pithy membrane inside the pepper.  We like our chlli hot so whatever it is, it all goes in!

cayenne red

There is something so satisfying in planting seeds, watching them push their way through the soil and grow into strong plants that bear fruits or vegetables that are free from pesticides and could not have been grown in a more simpler way.

I am very proud of my herbs this year too, I have parsley, sage, thyme, basil and oregano all sunning themselves on my kitchen window.

Cayenne Pepper

 

Power Food Pairs

It is quite a well-known fact that taking vitamin C assists absorption of iron, think a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a boiled egg for breakfast. But there are many more combinations that will do your health the power of good.

Leafy Greens and Lemon juice – adding lemon juice as a dressing over leafy greens such as watercress or spinach are another example of the vitamin C and iron connection.   Any vitamin C rich fruit paired with a leafy green such as watercress or spinach will help the plant-based iron absorb more easily.

Avocado and Tomatoes – tomatoes contain the carotenoid lycopene, this cannot be easily absorbed by the body unless eaten with some fat and avocado is a great (and delicious) pairing.  Or try Tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, same effect.

avocado  tomatoes

Chickpeas and Onions/Leeks/Garlic – onions, leeks and garlic can help you absorb more iron and zinc from grains and legumes, including chickpeas.

Yogurt and Banana –  By increasing our beneficial bacteria eating probiotic and prebiotic foods we can help ward off  tummy aches.  Bananas supply inulin and oligofructose, these are the prebiotics that the probiotics in your gut like to munch on which equals a happier tummy.

Rice and Beans - when consumed together, rice and beans form a complete protein (think Chilli and Rice).   A protein is “complete” if it contains all nine of the essential amino acids (those that must be eaten as our bodies cannot make our own).  

Eggs and Broccoli –  Broccoli surpringsly contains one of the best absorbed forms of calcium, whilst eggs are good source of vitamin D.  Vitamin D and calcium are essential for bone health.  Make a Broccoli quiche or frittata for a perfect pairing.

There are many more dynamic duo food pairings out there. certainly food for thought.

 

Power Food Pairings

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chia, Date, Walnut Slice

My kind of sweet treat this week, there is no refined sugar in this Chia, Date, Walnut Slice, no wheat or dairy either if that is what you need to avoid.  So easy to put together and no cooking required!  I came across the recipe on Woman and Home and had all the ingredients to hand which I’m trying to do more of, use what I’ve got in!

Chia sweet treat

You literally put all the ingredients except the dates into a food blender and blend until you have fine crumbs, then add the dates a few at a time and blend until it all comes together. Then put into the tin of your choice and refrigerate for an hour or so, it will keep up to 2 weeks.

dates

 I’ve made mine in a flan tin with a loose bottom and have cut into slices and cubes for a little sweet, sugar-free treat.

chia slice

chia bites1

These will definitely become a staple here,  I thought they would be super-sweet with the amount of dates required but not so and really tasty according to the 3 year old!

Quick Nutritional Info:

Chia – This article by the Huffington Post highlights the benefits of eating Chia seeds.

Dates – contain magnesium selenium, manganese and copper which are important for healthy bone development and strength.  Other minerals include iron and potassium plus vitamins B2, B3, B6, Folic Acid and K.

Walnuts – very high in Omega 3, this chart from California Walnut shows what just 1 oz of walnuts will do for your health.

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Carrot, Ginger, Orange Soup

All change with the weather again, the sun got his hat on again last week and we were all enjoying the benefits of lighter eating, being out doors and not having the heating on!

With the exception of the sand blown over from the Sahara this week (my car and windscreen were covered in it and my eyes have been feeling gritty too), the warmer weather, even if temporary, is so welcome.  

carrots

I’m still eating a lot of soups, mostly for a quick, light lunch, this soup literally only takes chopping the onion, carrots, ginger and juicing the orange to prepare, then can be left to bubble away until all the flavours have infused.

carrots ginger orange

Soups are also brilliant for using up produce or even just making use of food already in the cupboard and fridge.  The basic soup recipe is good for all the family and as you know I like a little heat  so I do add a touch of cayenne pepper to mine once served.

My oils of choice are Coconut and Olive, when choosing an oil to cook with you want an oil that will not be damaged by high cooking temperatures and Coconut oil can be used at higher temperatures without heat-induced damage to the oil.

carrot ginger orange soup

Carrot, Ginger, Orange Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: around 1 hour
Serves 4

Ingredients

I medium red onion, finely chopped
450g  carrots, sliced fairly thinly
750ml vegetable stock 
1″ fresh ginger, chopped
pinch or two of cinnamon 
1 medium orange, juiced

To garnish:
seeds of your choice 

Method

Gently steam fry the onions in a large saucepan until softened.

Add the sliced carrots and cook for 10-15 minutes on a medium heat, stirring frequently.

Add the vegetable stock, bring to a rolling boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for around 25 minutes or until the carrots are soft.

Add the chopped ginger and cinnamon and simmer for a further 5 minutes to infuse the flavours.

Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending to a smooth consistency.  Whilst blending add the orange juice.

Serve garnished with a selection of seeds – I like Neals Yard Omega Sprinkle, a mix of pumpkin, sunflower, golden linseeds, brown linseeds and sesame seeds.

carrot ginger orange soup

 Quick Nutritional Info:

Carrots contain valuable amounts of the phyto-nutrient antioxidant beta-carotene which gives carrots their bright orange colour.  Beta-carotene is absorbed in the intestine and converted into vitamin A during digestion.  They are an excellent source of vitamin A plus vitamin C, E, K, folic acid, calcium, potassium, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc and some iron.   

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Getting your 10 a day?

These days I don’t take too much notice about what the news has to say about what we should or should not be doing/taking/eating.  When the headlines roar one day that red wine for example is not recommended then the next we should be imbibing a certain amount each night, it does make me wonder.  

Another new study has suggested that 7-10 and not the usual recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables every day should be the target for those looking to reduce the risk of passing away prematurely and reduce the risk of certain diseases.

superfood

“7 a day fruit and veg ‘saves lives’” reports BBC News, while The Daily Telegraph states that “10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day” is best.

Vegetables should be the first 5 on the list, followed by a couple of fruits.  All good so far but the expense of making sure each family member has this level of intake daily can be prohibitive financially.  

What’s the answer?  Blending fruit and veg into smoothies like this Kale, Avocado Superfood smoothie, but it can be most things like apple, pear, carrot, cucumber, celery, tomato, banana, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.  I’ve even blended salad leaves, just keep tasting along the way if making for little ones, keeping it sweet (apples and carrots are great for this).

Smoothies don’t have to be expensive or exotic, but are a great way to get your 5 or is it 7 or 10 a day!  and remember Avocado’s are technically a fruit (they grow on trees) and Tomatoes (botanically) too!

 

Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is said to have magical properties when you are have a cold, I rarely get them but the Little One attends nursery or Pre-School Academy as it is now known and it is a breeding ground for bugs and sniffles.  She has a streaming cold, but it is not bothering her in the least, but to get it out of the way fast I thought I’d make a Chicken Soup which is very easy to throw together and a welcome supper especially as the weather has gotten colder this week.

chicken soup

Chicken Soup 

Prep & Cook TIme: around 1 hour
Serves 4

Ingredients

2 litres of chicken stock (I used Maggi Stock Pot)
3-4 medium-sized chicken thighs (I used skin and bone on)
1 red onion, chopped
2 Bay leaves
Thyme, good sprinkling
I used: 2 large carrots, 2 large celery sticks, butternut squash, 1 small
sweet potato, all chopped and 1 medium courgette, sliced
125g pearl barley
50g short grain brown rice

Method

Bring the stock to the boil, then add the chicken thighs, onion, bay leaves and thyme.  Simmer covered for around 20 minutes.

Take the chicken out of the stock and put aside.

Add the vegetables into the stock with the pearl barley and rice, bring to the boil, then simmer again for 30 minutes.

Pull the chicken off the bones and shred.  Add the chicken to the soup, season to taste and simmer for a further 10 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves before serving.

This makes a wonderfully filling chunky healthy soup and a well balanced meal, the pearl barley and rice will absorb all the flavours and add fibre.  Pearl barley is a very good source of molybdenum, manganese and selenium plus a good source of copper, vitamins B1, B3, chromium, phosphorus & magnesium.

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