recipes for healthy living

Category: Soups & Starters

Carrot Soup with Star Anise served with Croque Monsieur Toasts


I got given out to recently for having hard to get ingredients in my recipes. Hands up straight away, there is star anise in this one, NOT a show stopper if you don’t have it but it really elevates the carrot soup from a nice everyday flavoured soup to something altogether more delicious. Not that I think it is terribly difficult to get but I do get that you might not just have it handy!. I have always given any recipe a go even when I didn’t have absolutely everything on this list. When I was young, I couldn’t wait for my mum and dad to go out as the kitchen became my domain, I’d take out her recipe book (An old General Electric book which came with the cooker) and decide what delights I was going to make. The upside was being able to offer a plate of delicious biscuits or cake when they arrived home, the downside was often trying to hid the fact that I had used all the eggs in some disaster now hidden at the bottom of the bin. Years later my mum told she she would often be out with my dad wondering (worring) what on earth I would be up to in the kitchen while she was out.

Carrot Soup with Star Anise provides delicious flavour but also immune boosting nutrients, anti viral and anti fungal healing properties.

Carrot Soup with Star Anise
Serves 5
3 tablespoons butter
1 large chopped onion
2 whole star anise,
1 large garlic clove, chopped and mashed
2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 heaped tbsp chopped Coriander

Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, thyme, star anise, bay leaves, and garlic. Sauté until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and broth. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 30 minutes.
Remove and discard the star anise and blend the soup until very smooth; return to same pot.
Season well to taste and serve with Croque Monsieur Toasts
Perfect brought to work the next day too!

Croque Monsieur Toasts

Easy method – Pile thick slices of country bread high with grated gruyere, season well, sprinkle over a few dashes of worcester sauce and grill under a high heat until bubbly melting and deliciously gooey.

If you have the time and the inclination to make a bechamel based Croque Monsieur then read on!

Serves 4
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
1.5 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcester sauce
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 (¼”-thick) slices country bread, Gluten Free preferably lightly toasted
8oz. Gruyère cheese

Melt butter in a pan over medium-high heat.
Whisk in flour and nutmeg and cook out for about 2 minutes.
Gently heat the milk then whisk in and work until smooth.
Reduce heat to medium-low; add the grated cheese and work until it has incorporated – continue to cook until it has thickened about 6 minutes.
Whisk in mustard,Worcester and season well.
Place 4 slices bread on a baking sheet. Thickly spread the cheese sauce over the bread and toast until the grill until the sauce is brown and bubbly – worth the effort as it is unbelievably yummy.

OO&L Cheese

Read here if you would like my list of store cupboard essentials which I think make the difference to everyday recipes.

Prawn spring rolls

Prawn Spring rolls and Mango

Yummy crunchy spring rolls and HOME MADE, not from a dodgy takeout enjoyed at 3am . These are easy to make, great for when you want to impress your loved ones with your cookery skills as people always think they are harder to make than they really are. Make a big batch and keep them in the freezer as they cook from frozen really easily and quickly….(great at 3am, by the way).

They are a great source of protein as well as being great for Omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce the risks of heart disease by reducing triglyceride levels in the bloodstream. They also contains selenium, essential for proper thyroid and immune system function, paired with a delicious green salad and you have a pretty good party meal that won’t do too much damage to a healthy diet.

Prawn Spring Rolls with Mango
Makes 16-20

2oz Chinese cabbage/ Bok Choy Shredded
2 spring onions thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion chopped finely
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Zest of one lemon
Salt and pepper
1 lb cooked peeled prawns
about 5 spring roll wrappers each cut into 4 squares (Keep under a damp towel when not in use)

Heat 2 tbsp rapeseed oil in a pan on a medium heat
Add the spring, onion and bok choy and cook for about 3 minutes until just softened.
Tip into a bowl, season and add the prawns (thanks D), chilli sauce, coriander and lemon zest.

To fill the spring rolls lay a wrapper out so that it is on the diagonal with a point upwards.
Lay 2 tsp of the mixture just below the centre of the paper (horizontally).
Fold the top down so that it covers the mixture, turn the sides in like an envelope,
Brush the bottom edges with egg wash, then roll downwards to form a cigar shape.
Continue to roll until you have sealed the pack.
Place under a damp tea towel until you have completed for each wrapper.

These can be open frozen like this then placed into a bag and stored in the freezer.
Cook by shallow frying in rapeseed or coconut oil for about 2 minutes until golden brown all over.
Drain on kitchen paper and serve with some mango coulis, more sweet chilli sauce and side salad.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Basil Oil


This is a really delicious warming soup full of the lycopene goodness of tomatoes as well as the great healing properties of garlic. Roasted garlic adds a delicious sweetness which goes perfectly in this soup. I made this soup for a Christmas family gathering but I come back to it a lot as it is really delicious and great for these cold days. Make a big batch and freeze for a lazy day, if the snow really hits (or it you are off work sick!). While I use Basil Oil, tarragon works amazing with tomatoes also so try that for a change.

Serves 6
3lbs mixed ripe tomatoes
1 head of garlic
4 tbsp rape seed oil
salt and pepper
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 onion finely chopped
1 pt vegetable stock

Basil oil to serve

Quarter the tomatoes
Cut the garlic head in half
Spread all on a baking tray, season well with salt and pepper, drizzle over the oil and roast for about 30 minutes
Meanwhile sweat the onion in a big pot in a little oil until softened
Remove the garlic, tip all the tomatoes and juice into the onion mix
Squeeze the garlic out of their skin into the pot of tomato.
Add the puree, sugar and stock,bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes
Season more if it needs it
Liquidize and sieve, pushing as much as you can through the sieve
Serve with a drizzle of basil oil on top.

Broccoli and Beetroot Salad

Dish of Beetroot Broccoli Salad

Balsamic Glazed Beetroot and Broccoli Salad with Quinoa and Feta

For some reason I have been craving veggies all week, particularly broccoli which I have been eating by the pot full with a Thai style dipping sauce. It’s probably a reaction to all the Christmassy food – just as well as I need something light and tasty (I swear I’m not going to use the dreaded detox word in this post – I’m a bit sick of that January bandwagon every magazine and health blog seem to have jumped on).

Instead, think of this salad as a perfect lunch or light dinner – add some fish or meat and you would have a great evening meal. It was perfect food today, filling and full of flavor without having to work too hard to produce something.The bonus is that it is rich in antioxidants, nutrients and vitamins, and great if you are on that dreaded detox wagon! •°*””*°•♥

Oven at 180C
1 Small head of broccoli in florets & steamed until slightly tender
1 cup of red quinoa cooked in 250ml water until soft and fluffy
90gr feta or goats cheese
3 tbsp sesame seeds (toasted)
1 small head of bok choy shredded
2 small cooked beetroot quartered

50ml Balsamic Vinegar (I used a pomegranate flavoured one)
100ml olive oil
1 tsp brown sugar

Whisk the dressing ingredients and reserve 2 tbsp of it.
Toss the broccoli, bok choy and beetroot in the rest of the dressing & tip into a deep baking tray.
the oven for 15 minutes
Toss in the sesame seeds and stir in the cooked quinoa
Tip onto your serving place and sprinkle over the last of the dressing

Thai sweet potato soup

This isn’t so much a recipe, more a oh I fancy something spicy, hot and sour. Paired with some pickle because there is nothing better with Thai food…..anyway the resulting bowl of soup was so good I had to share. Great texture, lovely flavour and a good bang of heat.

2 tbsp red curry paste (I used mai ploy)
1 tin coconut milk
250ml chicken or veg stock
2 sweet potatoes cut into small dice
1 tbps Palm sugar
1 tbsp Fish sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime

2 tbsp fried peanuts
1 spring onion chopped
1/4 chilli julienned

2 radishes sliced thinly
I spring ontion thinly sliced
30ml each of water and white wine vinegar heated gently to dissolve 1 tbsp sugar
Take off the heat, put in the radish and spring onion and set aside until needed

For the soup
Add the curry paste to a medium pan with some oil and cook out for about 2 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and stock and mix to combine and cook on a medium heat for about 3 minutes.
Add the diced potato,season and continue cooking until the vegetable is tender.
When the soup is ready, season with fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar.
Serve topped with chopped spring onion, chilli and some of the pickled veg

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