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Serves 4

Winter root vegetables - packed full of fibre and vitamins

Winter root vegetables – packed full of fibre and vitamins

Well, I don’t know about you but I had seriously (maybe a little on purpose because I loves ‘em!) overbought on the brussel sprouts and parsnips this Christmas. This recipe is a fab way to use up your leftovers by putting them into an awesome hearty Wintery warming stew which is jam-packed with fibre, vitamins and flavour and is a perfect lunch or evening meal that is low in fat (especially if you make the vegetarian version using Quorn sossies) and really filling and therefore useful if you are on a post-Christmas/New Year weight loss programme. The sausages add some lovely meaty taste and protein and, as if the veggies didn’t fill you up enough, the pearl barley provides the carbohydrate element which will help you to feel fuller for longer post-scoff! Tasty enough to eat twice a day, if you ask me!!!

INGREDIENTS

4 medium-sized good quality (at least 70% meat) pork sausages (200g)

 – use the extra special Chef’s Selection Quorn sausages for a lower saturated fat or vegetarian version

1 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil (10g)

1 clove garlic, chopped fine

1 large onion, peeled and chopped (150g)

2-3 large carrots, peeled and chopped (230g)

250g brussel sprouts, ends and brown leaves trimmed, sliced (you could use cabbage instead)

2-3 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped (300g)

125g pearl barley or scotch broth mix

1.2 litre vegetable or chicken stock (made with 1 x 10g stock cube)

Ground black pepper

A handful fresh parsley, chopped

 

Scotch broth mix - full of fibre and starchy carbohydrate so makes a stew filling and helps with weight loss

Scotch broth mix – full of fibre and starchy carbohydrate so makes a stew filling and helps with weight loss

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Grill or ovenbake the sausages until brown and cooked through, allowing as much fat as possible to run off.  Set aside and leave to cool.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and fry for approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add the carrot, sprouts and parsnips and fry for 8-10 minutes or until softened and browned slightly.
  • Add the pearl barley or scotch broth mix and the stock.
  • Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables and pearl barley/scotch broth mix are softened. Keep the vegetables on this side of over-cooked though!
  • Slice the cooked, cooled sausages and add to the stew with the chopped parsley and black pepper to taste.  Stir well and serve piping hot.

 

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Per Batch (70% pork sausages / Chef’s Selection Quorn sausages)

Energy                  1250 kcal (5230 kJ) / 1164 kcal (4870 kJ)

Carbohydrate    126.7g / 138.7g

Total sugars        56.1g / 53.5g

Fat                          60.5g / 43.2g

Saturates             17.4g / 4.8g

Protein                 44.8g / 48.4g

Fibre                      41.4g / 45.4g

Salt                         6.1g / 8.9g

 

Per Serving –  (70% pork sausages / Chef’s Selection Quorn sausages)

(Serves 4)

Energy                  313 kcal (1308 kJ) / 291 kcal (1218 kJ)

Carbohydrate    31.7g / 34.7g

Total sugars        14.0g / 13.4g

Fat                          15.1g / 10.8g

Saturates             4.4g / 1.2g

Protein                 11.2g / 12.1g

Fibre                      10.4g / 11.4g

Salt                         1.5g / 2.2g

 

SERVING SUGGESTIONSsausages

Try with:

A slice of seeded bread = 120 kcal (502 kJ)

A crusty roll = 130 kcal (544 kJ)

 Instead of sausages you could use shredded turkey or chicken meat, pork or beef to really help you  use up those festive leftovers!

 

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Serves 6

I was once a resident, for a fabulous 18 months, of Framingham, Massachusetts.  If you don’t know Framingham, well, it’s ok as towns go – they conducted the Framingham Heart Studies there, people were super friendly, there are some lovely places to visit around there like the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) in Dorchester, Conchord and Walden Pond and I seem to remember a story about the first arrest of a man for wearing a beard taking place in Framingham!  The Chicken Bone bar was fantastically welcoming and fun too but on the whole there wasn’t much of note to shout about, although I should mention that it was 11 years ago that I was forced back to the UK so I can’t speak for current day Framingham!

However, Framingham has excellent rail links to the wonderful Bean Town, or Boston to non-residents and residents alike! I hung out there…A LOT…and I miss it terribly.  Having recently been catching up on my U.S. TV series, namely ’30 Rock’ and ‘American Horror + Asylum’, I have been having a terrible lusting for ol’ Bean Town (there are some convincing and not so convincing Boston accents going on in both programmes!) and having found some black beans in the back of the cupboard – one of my favourite beans in the world – I had to make something in homage.

Bean Town is honoured in this north african inspired black bean, chicken and spinach stew- GO BRUINS!

Bean Town is honoured in this north african inspired black bean, chicken and spinach stew- GO BRUINS!

Serve with a delicious crusty roll or have as a main with rice or tortillas

Serve with a delicious crusty roll or have as a main with rice or tortillas

This is a non-vegetarian soup as I realise that I have posted an awful lot of veggie soups on the blog so far and, although I am a pescatarian (that’s not my religion – it means I eat fish but not meat!) I know that not everybody is and so….tada…concession!  To make it vegetarian just use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and quorn chucks instead of chicken.  If you don’t like or have never heard of quorn – not sure how global its reach is – just leave it out. There’s plenty of protein in the beans and this soup is low fat and full of fibre too.

Ingredients

350g soaked, cooked and drained black beans

1 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (10g)

1-2 x cloves garlic, peeled, finely diced (7g)

½ – 1 x green or red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (6g)

 250g chicken breast, fat trimmed, cut into mouth-sized chunks

**or**

250g quorn chunks, defrosted

1 x white onion, peeled and diced (155g)

1 x red pepper, de-seeded, chopped into small pieces (125g)

2 small carrots, topped and tailed, peeled, cut into 1cm cubes (120g)

½ tsp. powdered cumin

½ tsp. smoked or regular powdered paprika

½ ground black pepper

800 ml chicken or vegetable stock (1 x 10g cube)

400g canned tomatoes, chopped

300g frozen spinach (about 10 balls)

1 tsp. powdered cumin

½ tsp. smoked or regular powdered paprika

Black pepper to taste

4 cloves (optional)

Instructions

  • Soak the black beans in cold water overnight – unless you are lucky enough to live somewhere where you can buy ready-cooked black beans in cans – I’m well jell of you do! Cook in boiling water for approximately 1 – 1.5 hours until soft. Drain and set aside for later.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the chilli and ginger and fry for 30-60 seconds to infuse the oil with their flavour.
  •  If using chicken, add to the pan with ½ tsp. cumin, ½ tsp. paprika and ½ tsp. ground black pepper. Stir regularly until browned on outside.
  •  Add the onion, red pepper and carrots and the quorn chunks, if you are using this instead of chicken.  Fry for approximately 6-8 minutes, until softened.
  •  Add the stock, tomatoes, spinach, cooked black beans and the rest of the cumin and paprika. Add more black pepper if desired.
  •  Add the cloves to the soup. I got creative and put them into one of those loose leaf tea strainer things so that I didn’t have to fish around for them or risk chomping down on one halfway through eating my stew!  If you don’t have one then you may just need to take this risk!
  •  Bring to the boil then reduce heat, cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.
You haven't had beans til you've bean to Boston!

You haven’t had beans til you’ve bean to Boston!

Nutritional Information

Per Batch

Energy                 2000  kcal (8368 kJ)

Carbohydrate    138.8g

Total sugars        44.7g

Fat                          25.9g

Saturates             3.4g

Protein                 107.0g

Fibre                      47.0g

Salt                         6.1g

Per Serving (Serves 6)

Energy                   334 kcal (1398 kJ)

Carbohydrate     23.1g

Total sugars        7.5g

Fat                          4.3g

Saturates             0.6g

Protein                 17.8g

Fibre                      7.8g

Salt                         1.0g

Suggested Additions

1 x tbsp. of reduced fat fromage frais = 30 kcal/ 125 kJ

1 x tbsp. of soured cream = 62kcal/ 260 kJ

1 x white crusty bread roll (50g) = 130kcal / 545 kJ

150g of boiled white/brown rice = 210kcal / 880 kJ

30g nacho/tortilla chips = 140 kcal / 586 kJ

200g sweet potato chips or wedges (cooked in 1/2 tbsp. oil) =220 kcal / 921 kJ

–          Use butternut squash instead and it will be only 72kcal / 302 kJ

Suggested Ear Candy

So, with the promise of a delicious bean-laden dinner of stew on the horizon and thoughts of Boston, MA on my mind, I had to pay yet another visit down Memory Lane. 

Cake were a band I discovered whilst I was living in the U.S. thanks to the fandom of my particularly lovely friend, dancing buddy and housemate, Dan from Canada. Nostalgia is a passion of mine and part of the reason I started this blog was so I could make myself opportunities and excuses to listen to the old, forgotten CDs of my lesser years. 

Fashion Nugget by Cake is one that I get out on a fairly regular basis.  It’s fun, quirky, incredibly danceable and singalongable and has 2 of the best cover songs on it that I have ever heard – especially ‘Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps’, originally a Doris Day number I believe.

 

 Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps by Cake, with a hilarious video and English/Italian subtitles in case you want to do any wooing!

Cake – official band website

 

Here’s a wee something from Boston locals, The Dropkick Murphys too – some great views of the Charles River with the Pru’ and John Hancock towers in the background – *sigh*

 

The Dropkick Murphys – official band website


Serves 4

Stay with me, now….!  It may sound strange, and that is exactly what I thought when I found the recipe in the Hamlyn book of soups and that was exactly why I had to try it out!  I have an inquisitive tummy!

Also, having lived in Boston, Massachusetts for 1.5 years as a vegetarian I was anxious to try out a fishy chowder of any description as I had missed out on the Boston classic, clam chowder!  Smoked fish is much easier to come by when you’re slap-bang in the middle of the North of England!

Well, I tried and I liked very much!  I have since made it with 3 different types of smoked fish I had lurking in my freezer and all were equally as creamy, smoky, fragrant and delicious.

It tastes a lot like a fish pie, only the potatoes are not mashed but included in the soup so they soak up all the scrumptious smoky flavours. If you’re a fan of fish pie then I highly recommend you try this.

I have tweaked the recipe a bit, adding sweetcorn and prawns and missing out the butter which it used to fry the onion and potato to make it a little lower in saturated fat, although I imagine it does add a little something to the flavour.  Parsley might be a nice addition too. If you wanted this as a main meal you could cook the potatoes separately and mash for a topping, reduce the amount of milk to around half, add in some cornflour to thicken the sauce and double the amount of fish and prawns. Nom!

Taste of the sea - smoky and delicious!

Taste of the sea – smoky and delicious!

Ingredients

1 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (10g)

2 x small-medium sized onions, peeled and chopped (220g)

350g potatoes, cut into 1cm cubes

800ml semi-skimmed milk

1 fish stock cube (10g cube)

2 bay leaves

¼ tsp. nutmeg

Black or white pepper to taste

250g smoked white fish (haddock, cod, river cobbler, etc.)

Fish Pie Soup - smoky fish, prawns, spinach and sweetcorn

Fish Pie Soup – smoky fish, prawns, spinach and sweetcorn

150g spinach (fresh or frozen)

100g sweetcorn, canned or frozen

100g large prawns, peeled and cut in half

Instructions

  • Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for approximately 5 minutes, until softened but not browned.
  •  Add the diced potatoes and fry for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the potatoes are browned slightly.
  •  Add the milk, bay leaves, nutmeg and pepper.
  •  Place the fish fillets whole in the milk. Bring to the boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
  •  Remove the fish fillets and set aside until cooled. Continue to allow the milk to simmer to cook the potatoes.
  •  When cooled, remove any skin and bones from the fish.  Flake the fish and stir it back into the milk.
  •  Add the spinach and sweetcorn, stirring it into the milk. If frozen simmer for 3-5 minutes until defrosted. 
  • Add the prawns and cook for a further 3-5 minutes.
Smoking Fish

Smoking Fish

Nutritional Information

Per Batch

Energy                  1337 kcal (5594 kJ)

Carbohydrate    145.4g

Total sugars        63.4g

Fat                          32.7g

Saturates             13.0g

Protein                 126.0g

Fibre                      12.1g

Salt                         12.3g

Per Serving (Serves 4)

Smoking Fish

Smoking Fish

Energy                  335 kcal (1402 kJ)

Carbohydrate    36.4g

Total sugars        15.9g

Fat                          8.2g

Saturates             3.3g

Protein                 31.5g

Fibre                      3.0g

Salt                         3.1g

Suggested Additions

A crusty roll (50g) = 130 kcal / 545 kJ

1 rasher of bacon, grilled and sliced = 80 kcal / 335 kJ

1 hard-boiled egg, peeled, chopped into 4-8 pieces = 80 kcal / 335 kJ

A moat of mashed potato, made with semi-skimmed milk (2 scoops or 120g) = 125kcal / 523 kJ

Suggested Ear Candy

I was feeling surprisingly nautical so had to stick on some Seasick Steve – gotta stick with the theme!

You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks by Seasick Steve


Seasick Steve – offical website

Of course, if you really wanted to stretch that sea-faring theme as far as possible there’s always Climie Fisher!

Love Changes Everything by ClimieFisher


 


Serves 6

Delicious - packed full of spring and summer vegetables and beans

Delicious – packed full of spring and summer vegetables and beans

Spring has sprung…at last!…in the U.K. The leaves are finally starting to appear on all of the trees, I have finally spotted some ducklings and goslings on the canal, the sun is making the occasional appearance and there is blue sky up above us at least parts of the day on most days!  We have even turned the central heating off and removed the electric blanket from our bed for the first time in about 5 months!

In honour of this lovely spring weather and the sheer joy on people’s faces that we are finally feeling warm enough to remove our scarves and hats I decided to make a spring-like soup today because, let’s face reality, how long is it going to last?!  I had to ride the warmer vibes while I could before it starts clouding over and raining again – good old Blighty!

I had a lot of green veggies to use, some fresh and some not so much although they were in no way past their prime! I found a couple of lovely recipes for Minestrone Verde soup, a minestrone soup hailing from Italy traditionally made with asparagus, lots of greens, beans and herbs and rice instead of pasta.

I made a few adjustments to the recipes, using my habitual improvisation skills quite a lot, because I didn’t have asparagus, cabbage or any parmesan and I liked the idea of using up some macaroni that I own but never really use! Instead of asparagus I used a courgette, in place of cabbage I used broccoli and to make up for the parmesan I used some pesto.

This is a really lovely, chunky, filling soup – more of a stew or broth really.  I think parmesan would add a little something to it and if I had asparagus I would definitely add this as it is traditional and a mighty tasty veg to boot. I think this would serve equally well as an evening meal.  As it’s so filling it’s not really necessary to eat bread as well (the pasta and beans are more than satisfying for the growling hunger). This is packed full of fibre, vitamin C and protein, so great for an after-exercise lunch, and because of its satisfaction rating it should help with weight loss too if you can avoid eating additional carbohydrate (bread) with it.

Great for weight loss - filling, balanced meal full of fibre, protein and vitamin C

Great for weight loss – filling, balanced meal full of fibre, protein and vitamin C

Ingredients

1.5 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (15g)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (6g)

1 large courgette, ends trimmed, sliced and quartered (260g)

1 leek, ends trimmed and sliced (150g)

1 x small white onion, diced (85g)

2 x sticks celery, sliced (100g)

½ head broccoli (flowers and stalks), diced into small chunks (185g)

1.5 cans peeled plum tomatoes, chopped (600g)

1000ml vegetable stock (made using 1x10g stock cube)

210g green beans, topped and tailed, sliced into ½ inch pieces

200g macaroni or broken pasta

150g frozen peas

120g butter beans (½ can, drained)

195g broad beans (1 small can, drained)

Handful of fresh parsley, chopped, (12g)

Handful of fresh basil, chopped (10g)

2 tbsp. green pesto (52g)

Black pepper to taste

 

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan – make it really large because I had to transfer mine into a wok halfway through because there was no room for beans! – heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic and fry for 30-60 seconds to infuse the oil with flavour.
  •  Fry the courgette, leek, onions, celery and broccoli for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them burning. Cook until they are softened but not browned.
  •  Add the canned tomatoes, stock, green beans and pasta. Cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.  
  •  Add the peas, butter beans, broad beans, parsley, basil, pesto and black pepper. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the green beans and pasta are softened.

 

Nutritional Information

Per Batch

Energy                  1770 kcal (7405 kJ)

Carbohydrate    256.6g

Total sugars        51.8g

Fat                          49.5g

Saturates             7.3g

Protein                 88.1g

Fibre                      55.5g

Salt                         5.1g

 

Per Serving (Serves 6)

Energy                  295 kcal (1234 kJ)

Carbohydrate    42.8g

Total sugars        8.6g

Fat                          8.3g

Saturates             1.2g

Protein                 14.7g

Fibre                      9.3g

Salt                         0.9g

 

Suggested Additions

1 level tbsp. grated/shaved parmesan (10g) = 42 kcal / 176 kJ

 

Suggested Ear Candy

After listening to The Apples in Stereo last week and loving it so much I did a bit of research to try and find similar bands. Amazon recommended me a band who have been around for a while called Beulah so I picked up one of their albums ( When Your Heartstrings Break). 

Cooking this soup was the first chance I got to listen to it – I liked it!  It didn’t remind me of The Apples in Stereo though, more reminiscent of Pavement or Built to Spill.

When Your Heartstrings Break by Beulah – band website

 

There’s one obvious alternative to listen to whilst cooking up a storm with this soup….Life is a Minestrone by 10cc!

 Offical 10cc band website


Serves 4

Love healthy eating

**WARNING TO OTHERS – DON’T DROP YOUR PLASTIC MEASURING SPOONS INTO THE FLAME ON YOUR GAS HOB, THEREBY RENDERING IT IMPOSSIBLE TO EVER MEASURE QUANTITIES OF HALF A TABLESPOON AGAIN – DURRR! **

Ingredients

½ – 1 x green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (4g)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (7g)

1 x white onion, peeled and roughly diced (140g)

1 x red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped (150g)

120g carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 x sticks celery, sliced (70g)

1 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (10g)

2 tbsp. tomato puree (30g)

1 x can kidney beans, drained (240g)

400g can chopped tomatoes

600ml vegetable stock

1 tsp. cumin, powdered

1 tsp. paprika

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

Black pepper to taste

 

Instructions

  • In a large pan heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for 30-60 seconds to infuse the oil with their flavour. Add the onion, pepper, carrots and celery and fry for approximately 5 minutes, until softened.
  •  Add the tomato puree and fry this, stirring it in with the vegetables, for 1-2 minutes.
  •  Add the kidney beans, tomatoes, stock, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Mix all ingredients together.
  •  Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and simmer for 45 minutes until the sauce has reduced down.

Nutritional Information

Per Batch

Energy                  580 kcal (2430 kJ)

Carbohydrate    96g

Total sugars        51g

Fat                          6.3g

Saturates             2.3g

Protein                 29.6g

Fibre                      26.8g

Salt                         7.0g

 

Per Serving (Serves 4)

Energy                  145kcal (608 kJ)

Carbohydrate    24g

Total sugars        12.8g

Fat                          1.6g

Saturates             0.6g

Protein                 7.4g

Fibre                      6.7g

Salt                         1.8g

 

Suggested Additions

1 x white crusty bread roll (50g) = 130kcal / 545 kJ

150g of boiled white/brown rice = 210kcal / 880 kJ

2 x taco shells = 140kcal / 587 kJ

1 x tbsp. of soured cream = 62kcal/ 260 kJ

chicken breasts

**If you want a more meaty feast in your belly try the following**

Fry 250g lean beef/steak mince, cooking the meat through until browned (you can skim off excess fat if you want to keep it healthy) before adding the vegetables.  This will add 450kcal/ 1885kJ per batch so if you are dividing your batch by 4 then this would be an additional 115kcal / 472 kJ per portion.

 Fry 2 x chicken breasts, chopped into chunks (300g), and cook until browned before adding the vegetables. This will add 330kcal/ 1382 kJ per batch so if you are dividing your batch by 4 then this would be an additional 85kcal / 346 kJ per portion.

Suggested Ear Candy

I gave my ears a bit of a fiesta with In the Reins by Calexico (with Iron & Wine) and Sonido Amazonico by Chicha Libre

Casa de Calexico – website

Chicha Libre – website

Suggested Alternatives

El Vez, the mexican Elvis is brilliant….he’s been around for years but I have only just got round to listening and he’s ace!