recipes for healthy living

Tag: healing

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.

Natural Highs….Nature’s Anti Inflammatory Healing Gifts

Arthritis, Neuropathic pain, Chronic pain, there are huge numbers of people who suffer from significant amounts of pain caused by these and other conditions.
Unfortunately for many sufferers there is no cure and while doctors prescribe many treatments including physiotherapies and painkillers the don’t always help and I know unless the pain is extreme I’ve always tried to avoid the drugs as I hate the fuzzy out of body feeling they leave you with.

The right diet and lifestyle including exercise has had a significant impact on my condition but many people dont yet know about the gift from nature of these healing foods. They don’t cure but they definitely alleviate symptoms and coupled with a good supplement regime, I’m able to live my life to the full including taking adult gymnastics classes….not bad for someone whose idol was Nadia Comaneci at the ’76 Olympics!

These are some of my favourite healing foods and i make a concerted effort to get loads of these into my daily diet.

Avocados Full of monosaturated essential fatty acids and vitamins including Vit E, these are a great option to suppressinflammation and are believed to contribute to repair of cartilage.
Nuts Brazil and Macadamia being my favourites, Monosaturated fatty acids, vitamins and selenium all essential to heal inflammation
Spices natural pain relievers and anti-inflammatory agents, fill your dishes with ginger, turmeric, fennel, cloves, cumin, chili. Amazing taste too.
Green Leafy Veg Broccoli, Spinach, Kale full of antioxidant carotenoids, Vitamins, Calcium and Magnesium – all great for happy joints and bones
Dark fruit Grapes, plums, cherries, blueberries, full of antioxidant anthocyanins to reduce pain and inflammation.
Fish Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel, (Look for line caught if possible) Full of Omega 3 Fatty acids and amazing for heart health and joint inflammation

If you are fit healthy and pain free then you are probably already including lots of these in your diet, if not then do try to include at least one every day.

Finally….try a gluten free trial. As a self confessed carb hog, I absolutely adore bread with so many childhood memories associated with the comfort of warm buttered toast or making bread with my lovely Mum.
The reality is though that Gluten aggravates my symptoms. If I avoid it, I feel better. Trouble is that shop bought gluten free products, generally speaking bear no resemblance at all to homemade bread, more akin to cardboard than bread.

These are some of my recipes using Healing Ingredients:-
Halibut and Green Beans
Griddled Salmon and Veg
Cold remedies and Smoothies
Nut Burgers with Chutney

Check my recipe index for a full list of all my recipes here

Is roast chicken the ultimate comfort food ?

I went to gymnastics today, the first class in quite a while and I’m already feeling the effects. My legs are jelly and my arms are starting to feel it after lots of handstand turns… and falls.  I like it thought, reminds me that my body can still work hard,When you think of when you were little and could do handstands all day and not feel any pain! So I need something comforting and I immediately think of roast chicken, the easiest meal to get in the oven and nothing like it, soft juicy flesh, and full of flavour if you have the right bird. I had a corn fed free range chicken, more expensive than the usual but twice the size and doesn’t shrink during cooking. Stuffed with a mediterannean style stuffing, some fondant sweet potato and fennel parmigiana, just the job for a sore body…

I haven’t given a cooking time for the chicken, I use a meat thermometer and cook the bird using that. Ensure your juices run clear if you don’t have one. For a 2kg chicken it is about 1.5 hours if stuffed.

 Stuffing for the chicken
1 onion finely chopped
4 Cloves garlic finely chopped
9oz cherry tomatoes deseeded and chopped
3oz feta cheese
10oz good quality bread crumbs
3 tbsp of mint and parsley chopped
1 egg beaten
1 tbsp tomato puree mixed with 2 tbsp olive oil
Fry the onion gently in 2 tbsp olive oil
Add the garlic and gently fry for a few more minutes
Add the cherry tomatoes and continue to fry gently until soft
In a bowl mix the stuffing, the feta and herbs,
Add the tomato puree and olive oil, the beaten egg and the tomato mix
Mix well and use to stuff the bird, in the cavity and or under the skin of the 2 breasts.,
Season the bird and rub with olive oil and roast until cooked through.

Fennel Parmigiana ‘’Finocchio alla parmigiana”
Serves 4
1 lb fennel
3oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
4oz butter
Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Meanwhile, wash and trim the fennel, by removing the tough outer leaves and then cut in half and cut each half in three. Ensure you keep some root on so it does not fall apart.
When the water begins to boil, add salt and the fennel.
Blanch for about 7 minutes
Remove and let cool slightly Meanwhile, grease a baking dish with butter.  Put the fennel into the dish, season and place a good few pats of butter on top of each piece and sprinkle with the cheese.
Bake the dish at 170 ° c for about 25 minutes.
The dish is ready when the surface is golden brown.

Fondant sweet Potato – serves 4
4 tbsp butter
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 4 * 2” rounds
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
100ml boiling water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Add the butter and water to the frying pan and when butter is almost melted, add the sweet potato rounds and garlic, season and cook on a medium heat until the potato starts to absorbe the butter and liquid and begins to caramelise from the bottom up . At this point, put the pan in the oven and continue cooking until the sweet potato is tender- about 15 minutes.

Remove from the pan, carve the chicken and serve with the fennel and feel the body heal!…. (Helped by a dark rum Daquiri- well it is Oscar weekend!)

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