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Tag Archives: vegetarian

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!!!


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


  • 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.



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



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!



Serves 4

I ate a lovely, warming, filling brunch of huevos rancheros (or mexican ranch-style beans) in a Chiquitos restaurant near the O2 in London recently. This was in preparation for my ascent to the top of the O2 – that’s right, you can climb it to a viewing

Delicious, spicy mexican style ranch eggs.  Guaranteed to perk you up in the morning

Delicious, spicy mexican style ranch eggs. Guaranteed to perk you up in the morning

 platform mountaineering style and get fab views of London City and the river on a clear day (we got lucky with the weather)! Awesome fun, and the breakfast set me up a treat!

I digress!  This is my own home-cooked version that I have only just got round to making 2 weeks later because I’ve not had time to soak and boil my beans!

This is a well-balanced brekkie plate with plenty of fresh anti-oxidant-rich veggies for fibre and vitamins, black beans for muscle-building protein and a bit of a kick to wake you up for the day.  Who said hot breakfasts had to be bland, unhealthy, stodgy and full of saturated fat?! Black beans are high in fibre (aids weight loss because it fills you up, and boosts the health of the gut), low in fat, and contain a decent amount of iron (important for building red blood cells and preventing anaemia), folate (important for red blood cells and transport of oxygen to the muscles and prevents spina bifida in unborn children), magnesium and potassium.

If you have to get the dried black beans that need soaking I would recommend preparing more than you need as you can always freeze them once cooked for easy use at a later date.



400g black beans, cooked (use canned pinto beans, drained, if you cannot find black beans)

200ml vegetable or chicken broth, made with ½ a 10g stock cube

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. jalapeno pepper, finely chopped



Black (turtle) beans. High in fibre and carbohydrate but low in fat.  Contain iron, folate, magnesium and potassium.

Black (turtle) beans. High in fibre and carbohydrate but low in fat. Contain iron, folate, magnesium and potassium.

1 large red onion, chopped (185g)

1 large red pepper, chopped (145g)

1 clove garlic, minced (4g)

1 can chopped tomatoes or 4 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped (400g)

1 can of sweetcorn kernels (160g)

1 tbsp. jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

2 tbsp. fresh coriander or cilantro, chopped

2 tbsp. fresh lime juice

salt, to taste


4 tortillas (40g each)

4 eggs


  • Soak the black beans in cold water overnight (24 hours). Place in a large saucepan, cover with double the amount of water, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and leave to cook for at least 2 hours or until the beans are softened but not breaking apart. Add more water if it starts to dry out. Drain and leave to cool.
  • To make the salsa, stir the tomatoes, red onions, red pepper, sweetcorn, coriander or cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, minced garlic, and salt to taste, together in a bowl until well blended. Cover, and refrigerate until needed (at least 1 hour).
  • Place the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Stir in the garlic, and cook 1 minute until light brown. Mix in the black beans or drained pinto beans if using these instead, the broth and 1 tbsp. jalapeno pepper. Simmer until beans are heated through (about 5 minutes). Turn off heat, and keep warm.
  • Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F / gas mark 5. Place tortillas on a baking sheet with greaseproof paper underneath. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until warmed through and softened.  Alternatively, heat in microwave on full power for 30 – 45 seconds.
  • Poach or scramble the eggs and cook to desired firmness.
  • To assemble huevos rancheros, place a tortilla on each plate. Top each tortilla with black bean mixture, a layer of salsa, and an egg (or ¼ of the scrambled eggs). Serve immediately.


Healthy, nutritious and perfect for brunch

Healthy, nutritious and perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch or tea


– Add 1 inch of chorizo, chopped into small squares = additional 68 kcal / 285 kJ

 For a main meal, per portion:

–       Add 20g of grated cheddar cheese = additional 83kcal / 347 kJ


– 50g of shredded roast chicken (instead of the eggs) = 89 kcal / 372 kJ

– 50g of shredded roast pork (instead of the eggs) = 91 kcal / 381 kJ

– 50g of shredded roast beef (instead of the eggs) = additional 110 kcal / 460 kJ


per whole recipe

 Energy                         1495 kcal / 6255 kJ

Carbohydrate              229.7g

Fat                               38.2g

Protein                         64.2g

Total sugar                  53.3g

Saturates                    12.0g

Fibre                            48.4g

Salt                              8.4g (check canned beans for added salt)



per serving (if serving 4)

 Energy                         374kcal / 1565 kJ

Carbohydrate              57.4g

Fat                               9.6g

Protein                         16.1g

Total sugar                  13.3g

Saturates                    3.0g

Fibre                            12.1g

Salt                              2.1g (check canned beans for added salt)


If you love food and hate the idea of wasting anything then I am starting a series of ‘Waste Not Want Not’ blog posts, in honour of the ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ national campaign to get people shopping and cooking smart to prevent food waste and save people money.

In the UK the average household throws away £480 of food waste per year (£680 for a family with 2 children) and almost half of this is estimated to be food that we could have eaten. The foods we waste the most are vegetables, fruit, drinks and bakery items such as bread and cakes.  A lot of the wastage is down to either preparing too much food and having to throw it away or buying too much food in the first place.

The Love Food Hate Waste website has some brilliant ideas, including recipes and ways to store food better, to prevent waste and save us all money.

Here are my suggestions for something that tends to sit in the fridge for a long time in our house….the humble jar of mint sauce (please note, this is not the same as mint jelly – mint sauce is more of a vinegar-based dressing usually used with lamb).

A zesty, tangy way to use up courgettes

A zesty, tangy way to use up courgettes

1. Courgette and mint salad
Serves 2-4

  • Trim the ends off 1 courgette and grate it lengthways into wide(ish) strips.
  • Thinly slice 4 spring onions. 
  • Make a dressing out of 1 tsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar, 2-3 tsp. lemon juice (fresh or bottled), fresh black pepper and a tsp. of mint sauce. 
  • Mix courgette into the dressing. 
  • You could add bits of diced red pepper too. 



A delicious warming, low fat dish

A delicious warming, low fat dish


2. Pea, Mint and Ham Soup

Serves 4

This is a recipe I have previously posted on Relish Health’s blog (September 2013)

Pea Mint and Ham Soup




3. Yogurt and mint dip

Mix 4 tbsps of low fat plain or greek yogurt with 1 tsp of mint sauce, 1 tsp lemon juice, ¼ – ½ tsp of ground chilli powder and a handful of coriander chopped fine. 

Use this as a salad dressing for tinned chickpeas mixed up with diced spring onions, red pepper, and shredded roast chicken or as a dip for falafel or samosas.  If you want to have a thinner sauce, blend – it will go a nice shade of green.


4.  Mix 1/2 – 1 tsp. of mint sauce into a portion of fresh or frozen garden peas to serve as a side to your sunday roast.


5.  Mix 1/2 – 1 tsp. of mint sauce with 1/2 – 1tsp of melted butter or olive-oil based spread. Dress some boiled new potatoes with this mixture and serve with your sunday roast or on the side of some baked or grilled white fish (haddock, cod, bass, bream, etc.)


Serves 2 (just double ingredients and use a larger baking dish to feed 4)

A high fibre and high protein post exercise meal

A high fibre and high protein post exercise meal

This is a real humdinger of a leftovers dish. It allows you to use up your roasted chicken meat leftovers (or omit the chicken for a vegetarian dish) and any odds and ends of Mediterranean vegetables that you might have (courgettes, aubergine and mushrooms would work just as well in this dish).

 The real beauty of this lasagne is that you can pack in as many vegetables as you like and, because you are roasting them, they don’t need to be in perfect form – you can catch them as they’re starting to wilt or shrivel a tad and they’ll still taste delicious roasted in oil and covered in pesto. No need for food wastage and, even better than that, one portion packs in half of your daily fibre requirements and is low in salt and saturated fats. It would make a great post exercise meal as it is high in protein to help repair muscle.  Serve with a salad or some steamed green beans or mange tout.


110g lasagne sheets (approximately 6 sheets)

1 tbsp. olive oil (10g)

½ butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1.5cm cubes (700g)

1 medium red or yellow pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped (160g)

1 medium red onion, peeled and roughly chopped (150g)

100g pre-roasted chicken, shredded

25g pine-nuts

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine

1 small red chilli, deseeded and chopped fine

125g fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped

1 tbsp. green pesto (25g)

2 tbsp. reduced fat crème fraiche (30g)

30g grated parmesan cheese (you could use a mature cheddar if you prefer)

Pinch nutmeg

Freshly ground black pepper



  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
  •  Boil a kettle of water. Place the lasagne sheets (separated from each other) in a large deep flat dish and cover with the boiled water. Place in the bottom of the oven to allow them to soften and par-cook in the hot water. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t overcook and break apart (they shouldn’t do).
  •  Heat the olive oil in a large, deep roasting tray in the oven for 3-5 minutes. Add the butternut squash cubes and stir to coat them in oil.  Roast for 20-25 minutes.
  • Add the chunks of onion and pepper to the roasting butternut squash. Stir all the veg round to coat in oil and replace in the oven.  Roast for a further 20 minutes, until all are softened and starting to brown slightly.
  •  Add the chicken, pine-nuts, garlic and chilli to the roasted veg and stir round to coat in oil.  Place the shredded spinach leaves on top of the veg and replace in the oven. Roast for a further 5-10 minutes to wilt the spinach and allow the vegetables to become infused with the chilli and garlic flavours.
  • Remove the roasted chicken and vegetables from the oven (leave the oven on though cos the lasagne is going back in!) and stir the pesto through until they are all coated.
  • Remove the lasagne sheets from the oven and drain off the water carefully, making sure the sheets don’t stick to each other.  Hopefully they are par-cooked at this point. 
  •  Start to assemble the lasagne. Place half of the roasted ingredients in a square or rectangular glass dish (one roughly 7” x 7” / 18cm x 18cm). Place half of the lasagne sheets on top – you can cut them to make them fit.
  • Add the rest of the roasted ingredients on top and then another layer of lasagne sheets. Squash it all down as much as possible to allow the juices in the veg to cook the pasta through.
  • In a separate bowl mix the low fat crème fraiche, half of the grated parmesan and nutmeg together and add black pepper to your own taste.
  • Spoon this mixture on top of the lasagne and spread out smoothly to the edges.  Sprinkle the rest of the parmesan evenly over the top.
  •  Return to the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned.


Delicious Mediterranean flavours

Delicious Mediterranean flavours


Per whole lasagne

 Energy                          1132 kcal / 4737 kJ

Carbohydrate              81.9g

Fat                                   61.7g

Protein                           62.1g

Total sugar                    62.5g

Saturates                      17.2g

Fibre                               18.0g

Salt                                  1.3g


Nutritional Information

Great for using up leftover roast chicken and veg

Great for using up leftover roast chicken and veg

Per portion (serves 2)

 Energy                           566 kcal / 2369 kJ

Carbohydrate              41.0g

Fat                                   30.9g

Protein                           31.1g

Total sugar                    31.3g

Saturates                       8.6g

Fibre                                9.0g

Salt                                   0.7g

Serves 4-6

I call this Spanish Omelette because that’s what my Mum always called it when we were kids!  It’s similar to a Spanish tortilla omelette but they don’t tend to have all of the extra vegetables in, just potatoes.

High in protein and packed full of vegetables - an excellent post-exercise meal

High in protein and packed full of vegetables – an excellent post-exercise meal


This is a brilliant, tasty and healthy meal that you can eat either hot or cold, for lunch or for an evening meal.  It’s packed full of protein so, with the addition of the potatoes, it is very filling.  It also manages to cram plenty of your 5 a day veggies in there too so there’s lots of fibre and vitamins.

 If eating as an evening meal, I would have a quarter of the omelette with some side salad.  If you are having it for lunch then just have a sixth but with more salad.  It’s great for packed lunches too as it holds together well in Tupperware! If you want to make a vegetarian version, just leave out the bacon or you could just as easily use the Quorn veggie bacon strips. An alternative to bacon might be grilled chicken pieces / Quorn chicken pieces.




380g potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes

Brilliant for lunch or an evening meal

Brilliant for lunch or an evening meal

6 rashers of lean bacon, parma ham or chorizo

1.5 tbsp. vegetable or olive oil (15ml)

1 medium-sized onion, peeled and diced (100g)

½ red pepper, deseeded and diced (80g)

½ green pepper, deseeded and diced (80g)

1 courgette, cut into 1cm cubes (100g)

120g mushrooms, sliced

1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced finely

½ red chilli, deseeded and sliced finely

100g frozen sweetcorn

A vegetarian treat too - Spanish omelette without bacon

A vegetarian treat too – Spanish omelette without bacon

100g frozen peas

2 tbsp. fresh or dried thyme

8 eggs

100ml semi-skimmed milk

1 tbsp. dried mixed herbs

½ tsp. paprika

Fresh ground black pepper

50g grated cheese



1. The dish you need to fit all of these ingredients in needs to be 10.5 inches (26cm) in diameter and at least 1.5 inch (4 cm) deep. For less washing up the ideal would be to cook the omelette all in one frying pan.  If you don’t have a frying pan large enough then you can use a ceramic flan/pie/tart dish with these dimensions.

 2. In a saucepan, cover the cubed potatoes with boiling water.  Cook for 10 minutes until softened but still firm. Drain well.

 3. Grill the bacon until done, but not too crispy.  Cut into strips and set aside on a plate for later.

 4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, preferably the one you’ll use to finish cooking the omelette in, over a medium heat. Fry the potatoes for 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides.

 5. Add the rest of the vegetables and fry for 8-10 minutes further until all are softened. Turn heat off or just keep it over a low flame.

 6. Stir in the fresh or dried thyme.

 7. In a jug prepare the omelette mix. Beat the 8 eggs together with the milk. Add the dried herbs, paprika and black pepper. Beat again until the herbs and spices are mixed through with the eggs.


  • Heat the grill on full, allowing enough space for the frying pan to fit comfortably under the grill with the handle (especially if plastic or wooden) pointing outwards so that it does not burn.
  •  If you are using the frying pan to cook the omelette, return the vegetables to a medium/high heat. Stir in the bacon, if using. Spread the vegetables as evenly as possible over the base of the pan. Pour the omelette mixture over the vegetables and allow it to settle down into the spaces.
  •  Cook the base of the omelette until you can see the edges browning – approximately 5-8 minutes. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top of the omelette.
  •  Place the frying pan under the grill. Leave to cook for 10-15 minutes, checking occasionally to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  •  Stick a knife into the centre of the omelette. If it comes out without raw egg on it, it’s done!


  • Heat the oven to 180°C.  Use just a little oil to grease the flan dish.
  •  If you are using a flan or pie dish, stir the bacon into the vegetables. Spread the vegetables as evenly as possible over the base of the pan. Pour the omelette mixture over the vegetables and allow it to settle down into the spaces.
  •  Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top of the omelette. Place the dish in the oven and cook for 40-50 minutes, until the omelette is firm on top.
  •  Stick a knife into the centre of the omelette. If it comes out without raw egg on it, it’s done!



(Per whole omelette)

 Energy                                  1877 kcal / 7854 kJ

Carbohydrate                    125.5g

Total Sugars                        33.3g

Fat                                          104.1g

Saturated Fat                     35.2g

Protein                                 112.0g

Fibre                                      17.2g

Salt                                         7.6g


(Per serving, serves 4 (6))

 Energy                                  470 kcal / 1963 kJ (313 kcal / 1309 kJ)

Carbohydrate                    31.4g (20.9g)

Total Sugars                        8.3g (5.6g)

Fat                                          26.0g (17.4g)

Saturated Fat                     8.8g (5.9g)

Protein                                 28.0g (18.7g)

Fibre                                      4.3g (2.9g)

Salt                                         1.9g (1.3g)

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.


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


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)


  • 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 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


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



  • 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