Feel Good Spinach & Broccoli Soup

Eating well can make you happier but it’s always just so much hard work!

January Edit: I’ll not lie to you, this has been sat in my drafts for well over 6 months! Every time I make it I’m too lazy to take a picture of it. Well I’ve finally got my backside into gear, and here it is! A tasty soup jam packed with vitamins, iron, calcium, folic acid and much more.

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Who has the time or willpower to eat well? 

In a bid to try and create more energy and a happier mood I’m hunting for simple meals packed with monstrous amounts of veg that even a lazy bones like me can manage. They have to be healthy, nutritious and very easy to do! If the ingredients list is a mile long or the method is complicated then i just won’t bother.

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It’s taken 26 years to notice that what I eat has a direct influence on my mood. I get mardy, irritable and tired probably more so than others (or they just hide it better). It usually starts at 2pm and can sometimes last until the next day. I’ve always just put this down to not enough sleep, life in general, my job or other people, but what if it’s the food I’m eating?

Now I’ve never been one who could stick to a diet and I’ve learnt the hard way that dieting is the worst thing EVER, it makes me so miserable! I’m purposely not restricting any indulgent foods, I’m just on a mission to add healthier ones. The theory is that if I fill up on ‘goods’ there’s less room for ‘not so goods’ and I’ll see a positive effect on my mood and energy levels. (January edit: Mission still not complete)

Now please let me say that If like The Farmer (My other half) soup just doesn’t cut it as a main meal then it’s perfect for a starter or lunch.

This recipe is not mine so credit due where credits due – I found this gem in a Slimming World veggie cookbook.

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Spinach & Broccoli Soup

Serves: 4 (2 in my case. I ate half one day and half the next, but then i can eat a lot)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 litre boiling veg stock
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 400g broccoli florets
  • Small bag of baby spinach leaves
  • large handful of fresh basil
  • 4 tbsp fat free natural fromage frais 

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Method:

Start by putting the onion, garlic, chilli, stock and potatoes into a large saucepan. I’ve had to learn to cook using an Aga (when you haven’t grown up with one it takes a lot of burnt food to learn) I put the pan on the hot plate until boiling, covered it and then moved it over to the simmering plate to simmer for another 8-10 minutes. (For a normal hob just boil on high heat and then reduce the heat once boiling)

Adding the broccoli I then let it simmer for another 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile popping outside to pick my handful of basil. I planted a herb tub outside rather than my usual kitchen windowsill and it’s been an absolute recipe saver. (Nick waters the outside plants so it doesn’t matter if i forget they exist until i need them)

After those 6-8 minutes I stirred in the spinach leaves until wilted and then off the heat I added the basil. This is when the magic happens, I blitzed it all with the hand blitzing thingamajig mum gave me.

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I popped the saucepan back on the simmering plate for 2 minutes and bobs your uncle, you’ve got soup. Pour and serve – now’s the time to add that fromage frais if you want to make it posh and pretty.

I really hope you enjoy this. Dip some brown bread in if you’re feeling extra hungry or just greedy like me.

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If you make this then please let me know what you think!

Written with love

Brooke

xxx

January further edit: On my recent attempt at this recipe I had no potatoes in the house so I used sweet ones instead. I also had no fromage frais so improvised with mint yogurt. It was yum. I also have no herbs, basil doesn’t seem to like winter outside, it still tasted delicious. 

Eggnog Truffles

The quintessential Christmas drink! Eggnog or “Snowball” was the only drink me and my sister were aloud at Christmas. Every year we used to beg and plead for dad to make us a Snowball. We’d sit with our big girl glass filled with what looks like exploding custard and pretend to be adults. Then every year after about 5 sips we’d say Daddy, I don’t want anymore, can you drink it?

I can tell you that 20 years later nothing’s changed! I still get excited about drinking a Snowball and I still every time think ‘I can’t finish this, it’s not as nice as I remember’.

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I was a little sceptical when I tried to make these, I’m not a huge fan of putting alcohol in chocolate, chocolate is perfect all on it’s own. However, because it’s Christmas and because they look so divine I thought I’d give them a go!

I can’t take credit, I found this recipe in my favourite mag however I can confirm they are much nicer than Eggnog!

Eggnog Truffles

Ingredients

  • 75ml double cream
  • 300g white chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 20g butter
  • 2 tbsp brandy or spiced rum
  • 1/2 tsp vanillia extract
  • A generous grating of nutmeg

Method

  1. Put the double cream, 200g chocolate and butter into a large heatproof bowl, set over a pan of barely simmering water. Heat gently until melted.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the brandy, vanilla extract and the nutmeg.
  3. Leave to cool and refrigerate overnight until firm.
  4. Great the remaining chocolate.
  5. Using a teaspoon, spoon out the mixture into small balls and roll through the grated chocolate,  place in small paper or foils.

Enjoy!

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Written with love
Brooke
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Lest we forget – Apple Batter Pudding.

There’s nothing I can write in this blog post that can convey how much both me, my family, and everyone else in this country owes the generations alive in 1918. From the brave men who gave their lives, to the grieving loved ones at home who lost Sons, Husbands, Fathers, Uncles, Nephews and still managed to carry on. We owe them everything.

I can’t possibly imagine what the suffering and cold must have felt like, or how much courage it must have taken to climb those mud walls and run head on into barbed wire and whistling bullets. I can’t imagine the courage of the women at home who received that dreaded telegram and still managed to work the land. I can’t imagine living in a Britain full to the brim of sweat and grief. We owe them everything.

It’s been 100 years to the day and If I can’t possibly imagine how they lived through that time, then I guess the least I can do is learn and remember. I need to learn as much about those dreadful years and remember so I can pass it on to future generations.

I haven’t always thought like this. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been rather ignorant of The Great War. We covered it a little in school, I knew they battled in the trenches and I’d dutifully stand in silence every November at 11am. For a whole two minutes every year those brave soldiers had my full attention. But, if i’m honest it really didn’t take long until I’d forget and get back on with everyday life.

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Our New Tradition
This year I acknowledged my ignorance and made more effort to learn what World War 1 was all about, why it happened and what it was like for the brave people who sacrificed their lives so we can live ours. (Dan Snow’s BBC Podcast is brilliant by the way! I’ll link it at the bottom.) I’m still pretty ignorant, I’m sure I can learn much more but at least to help me and Nick appreciate the sacrifice made for all of us I want to start a little new tradition in our house. In addition to buying a poppy (which I admittedly usually lose or wash or just completely forget to put on in the morning), I want to do something that will bring a little bit of 1914-1918 into our home.

Every year on the night before Rememberance Day, I hope to bake or cook something that would have been eaten by our torn and grieving nation during The Great War.

This year I’ve started the tradition with…

Apple Batter Pudding.
Using only 1 egg and two tablespoons of flour this recipe was a creative way to sustain the hardworking nation during the food shortage. This is how they would have eaten it back then but Tesco do have a modern recipe online, i’ll provide a link at the bottom.

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Ingredients…

  • Some apples
  • Dash of lemon juice
  • A little sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 3/4 pint of milk
  • 1 egg beaten

Method…

Peel, core and slice apples, place in a pie dish…
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Pour over a little lemon juice and sugar.
Mix together milk, egg and flour in a separate jug and pour mixture over the apples.
Bake in a hot oven for 1.5 hours.
Serve, enjoy and REMEMBER!

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This tasted surprisingly delicious! And because the apples were from a garden tree it cost us pittance.

Next year i’ll share the ingredients and recipe earlier so other people can join in if they wish.

Written with love
Brooke

Links…

Voices of the First World War

Tesco’s delicious looking modern recipe

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Spiced Pumpkin and Apple Soup

Before you read on I’d like to establish that I am aware the following enthusiasm for soup isn’t normal, but I don’t care, I really like soup.

To me there’s nothing better than coming home from a freezing cold dog walk in the bitter wind when you can’t feel your hands and feet and tucking into a really warm bowl of seasonal soup, presented to Pinterest standards of course, served with warm bread and a rather too large knob of butter.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm advocate for soup all year round. I feel no shame in tucking into a hearty bowl of carrot and coriander mid July, but there’s just something about autumn and winter that makes any soup taste so much better.

This liquid magic makes complete economical and effective sense to me, it’s such an easy way to get lots of veggies in your belly. All those vitamins minerals and nutrients blended together so you can wolf it down in record time and get back to scrapbooking, painting that table, using an old typewriter or whatever it is that your belly dragged you away from. It’s taken me 26 years to realise that how much and what I eat has a direct effect on my mood, and being of a moody inclination anyway it really is best for everyone that I get my five a day.

So now that I’ve established I’m a fan of soup I’d like to introduce this good old friend I got for Christmas a few years ago…

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365 soups, even enough for a leap year! Most of the recipes I’ve tried from this have always worked out really well so given the time of year I thought I’d give this Pumpkin and Apple one a go – it hasn’t disappointed.

Full credit goes to New Covent Garden Food Co. By only writing up a few recipes from a book I think it can be called sample advertising rather than a breach of copyright? However this is my opinion and if anyone at The Covent Garden Soup Company feels deeply offended please get in contact.

Spiced Pumpkin & Apple Soup (with or without pumpkin seeds)

Ingredients

  • 1 small pumpkin
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 25g of butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bramley apple peeled and finely chopped.
  • 675m veg/chicken stock

Optional extra not in the book.

  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • salt and pepper to taste

To garnish

  • Flavoured Pumpkin seeds

Method

Quarter the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. (Place in a colander if making the garnish or saving them for the garden)

Brush olive oil over pumpkin flesh

Cook on 230 for 25 mins until soft. 

Leave to cool….. (A great time to be cooking the seeds!)

Once cool scoop out the flesh, melt the butter in a pan, add onions and cook for 5 mins until soft. Add stock, flesh and spices, simmer for 15 minutes.

Add apple and gently simmer for another 5 mins.

Blend and serve

For the pumpkin seeds. 

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Rinse seeds in colander with cold water, remove any sticky orange pumpkin goo and pat dry with paper towels.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil into a pan and gently fry the seeds. Add some salt or if you prefer more flavour also add a splash of balsamic vinegar and a dash of paprika . Gently stir until they expand and brown.

Enjoy as a snack whilst continuing with above recipe, remember to save some to make your soup look pretty.

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Hope you enjoy!

Written with love

Brooke