Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Sweetcorn & Spinach Soup

This is a great recipe for those with busy lives as you can create a huge batch and freeze for another day. It’s easy to make too as you can throw all of the ingredients into a pan or a slow-cooker and leave it to cook while you get on with other things. The spinach and sweetcorn off-set each other beautiful and will fill your bowl with vibrant, mouther-watering colours.

Ingredients:

  • 500g Fresh finely chopped spinach
  • 400g Sweetcorn
  • 1 Sweet potato (finely chopped)
  • 2 Finely chopped onions
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 3 Cloves of garlic
  • 400ml gluten-free vegetable stock
  • ½ Tbsp rosemary
  • ½ Tbsp thyme
  • ½ Tbsp coriander
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Deseeded Birdseye chilies (optional)

Method:

Heat a large pan and add the onions and celery, and fry until golden brown.

In a separate pan add bay leaves to the stock and bring to the boil. Prepare all of your ingredients and place into a pan with the vegetable stock. Season and leave the ingredients to cook for 45 minutes on a low heat. Over the next 45 minutes, stir every 5 minutes or so to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. You want to give it long enough for all of the ingredients to blend and infuse. I like to throw it all into a food-warmer and leave it on high for 3 hours while I get on with other things.

You’re ready to serve. I often make up a big batch and freeze a lot of it down as it’s great for taking to work as a simply soup. I also keep some in the freezer for those times when I have no time and need good food fast. On occasion I’ll cook a chicken breast and have this with it to give it a bit of protein if I’ve just had a session in the gym.

 

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Gluten-Free Lentil and Rosemary Soup

This is one of my favourite winter recipes. It has a warming taste and at least two of your portions of veg! It is the easiest thing in the world to make and it’s perfect for freezing or taking to work for lunch. The sautéed garlic, onions and celery blends perfectly with the lentils too…delicious!

Ingredients:

  • Spinach
  • 400g of green lentils
  • 2 Onions
  • 3 Cloves of garlic
  • 300ml gluten-free vegetable stock
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Bay Leaves

Method:
Allow the vegetable stock to start warming on the stove. While this is  warming up hallow fry the garlic, onions and celery and then transfer this into the vegetable stock. Add in the spinach, green lentils, fresh rosemary and bay leaves and season. Leave for 45 minutes to cook on a low heat and allow the flavours to infuse.

Beetroot Chicken

 

A delicious winter-warmer that blends sweet and sour flavours together perfectly…

If you’re looking for a scrumptious and relatively healthy option for dinner then this is exactly what you need! The mix of beetroot, cranberries and purple grape gives it a wonderful sweet and sour taste and the spinach gives you a great portion of leafy greens. So eat up and enjoy!

  • Purple grape juice
  • Whole chicken or 12 Chicken thighs
  • 80g dried cranberries
  • 4 beetroot
  • 1 tin of kidney beans
  • 500g spinach

Wet ingredients

  • 2 heaped teaspoons of green seasoning
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 1/4 tsp almond butter (or regular butter if you eat diary)
  • 2 tbsp dark soy
  • Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Lea & Perrins
  • 2 Bird’s eye chillis
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Spices:

  • 1/4 dried ginger
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp provincial herbs
  • 1/2 tsp five spice
  • 2 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of turmeric

Green seasoning (a Trinidian must-have):

  • 2 heaped teaspoons of chopped spring onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 1 onion
  • 1 Birdseye chilli
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Chives
  • Coriander

Method:

Combine all the wet ingredients and spices in a blender so they all begin to infuse. Then pour this mixture over the chicken thighs and leave it to marinate for one hour.

Heat a dash of oil in a pan and add the thinly sliced beetroot and the chicken with all the marinade. Allow the chicken to cook until it’s golden brown.

Add the kidney beans, spinach and cranberries to the above and stir in 300ml of purple grape juice. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on.

Then serve with brown rice, sweet potato or quinoa.

Great British Bread

GBBO 2015 is now over, the cakes have been eaten and the winner announced (Go Nadiya!). Rather than feel empty this Autumn as I search for something to replace my Wednesday night treat I’ve been inspired to bake!

I am following a low sugar diet at the moment so Paul Hollywood’s crusty loaf recipe is ideal… I thought I’d share it below so you can try it too (dip it in Olive Oil with a sprinkle of salt – heaven)…

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g/1lb 1oz strong white bread flour, plus a little extra flour for finishing
  • 40g/1½oz soft butter
  • 12g/2 sachets fast action dried yeast
  • 10g/2tsp salt
  • About 300ml tepid water
  • A little olive or sunflower oil
  • Additional cold water, for creating steam in the oven

METHOD:

  • Weigh out the ingredients.
  • Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the butter. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and add the salt to the other – the salt will kill the yeast if they come into direct contact. Stir all the ingredients with a spoon to combine.
  • Add half of the water and turn the mixture round with your fingers. Continue to add water a little at a time, combining well, until you’ve picked up all of the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all of the water, or you may need to add a little more – you want a dough that is well combined and soft, but not sticky or soggy. Mix with your fingers to make sure all of the ingredients are combined and use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl. Keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
  • Use about a teaspoon of oil to lightly grease a clean work surface (using oil instead of flour will keep the texture of the dough consistent). Put your dough onto the greased work surface. Make sure you have plenty of space.
  • Fold the far edge of the dough into the middle, then turn the dough by a quarter turn and repeat. Do this several times until the dough is very lightly coated in olive oil.
  • Now use your hands to knead the dough. Push the dough out in one direction with the heel of your hand, then fold it back on itself, turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Kneading in this way stretches the gluten and makes the dough elastic. Do this for about 4 or 5 mins until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Work quickly so that the mixture doesn’t stick to your hands. If it does get too sticky you can add a little flour to your hands.
  • Clean and lightly oil your mixing bowl and put the dough back into it. Cover with a damp tea towel or lightly oiled cling film and leave it on one side to prove. This gives the yeast time to work and the dough will double in size. This should take about an hour, but will vary depending on the temperature of your room.
  • Stage two: Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size you can scrape it out of the bowl to shape it. The texture should be bouncy and shiny. Put it onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back – use your hand to roll the dough up, then turn by a quarter turn and roll it up again. Repeat several times. Then use your hands to gently turn and smooth it into a round loaf shape.
  • Place onto the lined baking tray, cover with a tea towel or lightly oiled cling film and leave to prove again until it’s doubled in size. This will take about an hour, but may be quicker or slower depending on how warm your kitchen is.
  • Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan assisted)/425°F/gas mark 7. Put an old, empty roasting tin into the bottom of the oven.
  • Stage three: After an hour the loaf should have risen again. Sprinkle some flour on top and very gently rub it in. Use a large, sharp knife to make shallow cuts about 1cm deep across the top of the loaf to create a diamond pattern.
  • Put the loaf on the baking tray into the middle of the oven. Pour cold water into the empty roasting tray at the bottom of the oven just before you shut the door – this creates steam which helps the loaf develop a crisp and shiny crust.
  • Bake the loaf for about 30 mins.
  • The loaf is cooked when it’s risen and golden. To check, take it out of the oven and tap it gently underneath – it should sound hollow. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

How to boost your energy…

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Do you feel like you are constantly running low on energy? It’s no great surprise that 60% of women claim to feel tired all the time. Unfortunately jobs, family and social lives often cannot be put on hold. Here are a few ways to give those energy slumps the boot:

  • Just a spoonful of…honey?

Porridge with berries and honey is a great way to give you sustained energy, as the honey delivers a quick lift just 5 minutes after consumption

  • Find your inner peace…

A short mediation session can help you to feel more with it. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for as long as you can. A five minute session everyday with help you to feel more relaxed and energetic

  • Have a brew…

Switch your normal tea or coffee for a uplifting red ginseng the nutrients in ginseng help to increase your body`s ability to adapt to stress which can help you feel more motivated in even the most pressured situations

  • Indulge in chocolate (yes, chocolate!)

A little chocolate will help you to reboot your brain if you’re tired – but the darker the better. So take five and have a bite!

  • Time for a cherry shot…

I’m not suggesting that you indulge in a shot of cherry that is laced with vodka every time you have a night out. Research suggests that 30mls of (pure) cherry juice twice a week can help you to sleep better and for longer, so you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. (You may not feel so fresh if you decide to opt for the vodka version).

  • And so to bath…

After a long, hard day unwind with a relaxing bath to bank plenty of energy for tomorrow. Add uplifting essential oils like lavender or May Chang with full-fat milk to your bath water for extra indulgence, and relax…

Recipe: Tom Yum Soup

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Time to share the recipe for one of my favourite dishes Tom Yum Soup. I discovered this on a trip to Thailand and have to admit that I ate it nearly every day during my two week holiday. It is packed with delicious flavours and spices and it is brilliant for boosting your metabolism.

To start this dish pour 600ml of water into a pan and add 50g of Tom Yum paste, 100g button mushrooms, 2 kaffir lime leaves, 1 crushed stick of lemongrass, fresh ginger to taste and bring it to the boil.

Simmer for 5 minutes; then add in prawns (and any other seafood you fancy) and leave to cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add a dash of fish sauce and a 1tbsp of brown sugar and lime juice to taste.

Divide between two bowls and enjoy with coriander on top. Not bad for just 250 calories!

Acne Solutions 

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Spots are a pain to deal with no matter how bad you get them. Everyone wants clear, picture perfect skin but it isn’t always that easy. Good cleansers, toners and moisturisers can be expensive so it is worth try a few at home remedies to see if you can get them working for your skin.

 

It is true to say that home remedies aren’t as glamorous as industry cosmetics, and there is nothing beautiful about putting lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or crushed garlic on your skin. They all smell a little funny and tend to be messy to apply. Lemon juice has a drying effect that can calm problem areas and apple cider vinegar is packed with lactic acid that can soften skin – it’s a great alternative toner. Garlic can be the real winner for your skin though, with zinc and calcium properties it acts as an antibiotic and cleans the skin. It’s great for a weekly treat for your face (disclaimer: the smell might linger for a few days!).
 
 
An old favourite is honey – used for many at home remedies – but have tried it with cinnamon? Honey is antibacterial, hence why we use it for sore throats, so it can kill the bacteria that causes acne. Cinnamon is anti inflammatory so when paired together you can soothe and repair your skin.
 
 
Two surprising at home antidotes are tomatoes and potatoes. Tomatoes are great for your skin and the natural acidity in them can dry your acne out. You could mash them up to create a face mask or slice then up and place them on your face – although it is a task try to get the slices to stay in place! Potatoes are high in vitamin C (which repairs your skin from the sun) and vitamin B (which is great for skin regeneration). Shred a potato up and wear it as a mask to prevent wrinkles (you could even add a dash of honey into the mix to glue it all together and heal your skin).
 
 
Finally, the most soothing of the bunch CUCUMBER! It’s perfect for hydrating as cucumber is 95% water. It will remove dead cell and clear pores. Grind it up with water and use as a face wash to moisturise your face.
 
 
Not all of these treatments will work for everyone and let’s face it you won’t want to try them all. But I find some of them a real treat for my skin and enjoy making them for a little at home pampering session every now and then.
 
Do you have any beauty remedies for acne that you can share?
 

Seven of the best homemade remedies for your skin, hair and nails

olive oil

To me it is important to look after your skin, hair and nails but this can be an expensive habit with the amount of products available. It could be easier to make all the products you need at home. Forget putting cucumbers on your eyes, you can get avocado, olive oil, honey and even eggs to work wonders for your hair, skin and nails, and save yourself a bit of money at the same time.

Here are a few easy remedies that you could make at home:

1. Use olive oil as make up remover

This may sound counter-intuitive, as oil is known to be the natural enemy of skin, but olive oil actually counteracts greasy skin by naturally dissolving excess skin oil. It also gently removes make up, leaving you fresh faced.

  1. Make a hand cream from coconut milk

If you keep coconut milk in the fridge for a few days, it will thicken and become the consistency of a hand cream.  It smells delicious too!

  1. Create an exfoliator with honey and sugar

Sugar may be in the dieting bad books, but it’s great for replenishing skin cells. Make a quick exfoliator by mixing brown sugar granules in honey and rub away dead skin in a moment.

  1. Cure split ends with chamomile tea

Chamomile can also calm your hair; simply boil a cup of chamomile tea, let it cool and soak your hair with it before washing and conditioning to smooth down split ends.

  1. Strengthen your nails with beer

Simply mix equal amounts of beer, olive oil and cider vinegar to make an invigorating nail soak that will leave you with stronger nails after just fifteen minutes soaking.

  1. Make your own shampoo from egg whites

Whip egg whites up to a meringue-like thickness, it actually makes a fantastic shampoo, sucking up grease and dirt. Apply to your hair and rinse off with cold water – don’t use hot water or the egg will start to cook!

  1. Cure cracked cuticles with honey

Mixing honey and olive oil makes a wonderful home cuticle cream. Apply it to your cuticles for five minutes twice a week for quick results thanks to the smooth oil and energising honey – and adding aloe vera will heal cracks and cuts quickly.

 

 

My SUPER secrets…

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I’ve started a new health regime that starts with me enjoying a fresh homemade (by me) smoothie every morning. My wake up drink is packed with goodness; I use a small avocado, a banana, a handful of strawberries and my secret ingredient Maca powder! Maca powder is full of calcium, iron, vitamin C and amino acids and it is just what you need to help you feel ready for the day ahead.

Another little gem is Rose Water as it helps to aid digestion and detoxify your body, and all you need to do is add a dash to your drink. Who doesn’t want beautiful skin and a trim body? I am now addicted to it as my skin has never felt so good.

One ingredient that I’m still trying really hard to love is Cacao. Most refer to it as raw chocolate (I still can’t see how it compares in taste to a bar of Galaxy!). It’s a natural sugar fix that provides a smoother lift than coffee and acts as a reminder to be more sensitive. I am still trying to integrate this into my diet but it’s hard when you try to replace chocolate for Cacao. Do let me know if you’ve managed to make this transition and how you feel now?

My final secret is hemp-seed oil. It is a delicious superfood that I add to salads or smoothies as I’m fussy when it comes to eating too much meat. Hemp-seed is the perfect alternative as just 10g can provide as much protein as an egg.

What are your health secrets? Have you recently discovered a new superfood that’s really working for you? Let me know below.

 

Salmon Salad

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The summer may be drawing to a close (an awful thought) but keep the summer spirit alive with fresh, inviting food. At this time of year it’s nice to look to the Mediterranean for recipe inspiration and create dishes that are both healthy and delicious. I’m not a great lover of salmon but this delicately season salmon recipe is packed with healthy omega oils, plus the mustard dressing adds a refreshingly tangy twist to really by your taste buds going.

Did I mention that it’s simple too?

All you need is:

Salad >

  • 100g green beans
  • 100g mangetout
  • 80g peas
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 salmon fillet steaks
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 basil leaves
  • 40g rocket
  • 1 lemon, for garnishing the salad with

Dressing >

  • 3 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp English mustard

Time to cook…

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 and bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the green beans and mangetout, cook for five minutes, then add the peas. Boil for two more minutes, then drain.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the salmon with the lemon zest, basil and onion. At this stage add pepper and salt to taste. [It is best to fry the fillets skin-side down for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a lined baking tray and bake for 4-5 minutes for rare, a bit longer for well-done].

Now mix all the dressing ingredients and toss it in a large bowl with the vegetables and rocket. Serve with the salmon and a wedge of lemon. It is as easy as that!