Thursday, 28 November 2013 - , , , , , , , , 0 comments

SOMETHING FOR NOTHING: Jerusalem Artichoke Soup


This delicious, smooth, nutty-tasting soup is a gorgeous one for this time of year. Its made of mixed vegetables but features the rather unusual Jerusalem artichoke. I've finished it with some clementine juice to give this dish a real exotic zing.
Sprinkled with sumac which also has a citrus flavour, this is good enough to grace the Christmas lunch table! I'm making it as my starter this year, it's completely delicious.

Jerusalem artichoke is a tuber or root vegetable. It's not very pretty, in fact its appearance reminds me of gnarly ginger. However, it has a really distinctive sweet, nutty flavour reminiscent of a combination of globe artichokes and chestnuts.


This soup is 0pp/approx.50kcal per bowl 

This recipe makes enough for 4 portions at a total of 1pp for the WHOLE batch, so if you have 2 or more portions in a day, you will need to charge 1pp.


YOU WILL NEED:(Serves 4)

6 tubers of Jerusalem artichoke
1 diced onion
2 small cloves garlic
1/2 a diced butternut squash
1 low salt stock cube (chicken or veg)
Pinch white pepper
1 tablespoon low salt soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg/mixed spice
1 litre/2 pints water

To finish;

Juice of 4 clementines
Ground sumac
Fresh mint leaves/chopped chives


Peel the Jerusalem artichoke using a potato peeler. Cut into chunks and pop into a large saucepan or soup maker with all the other main ingredients. Bring to the boil and cook for around 30 minutes until the vegetables are really soft. Blend to a very smooth consistency using a hand blender.
The addition of the butternut squash makes this soup really silky and a vibrant orange colour.

If using a soup machine, add water up to the maximum fill level after adding the vegetables.
Set on the 'smooth' setting.


Once blitzed, add the clementine juice. This keeps the flavour really fresh and gives a real 'Christmassy' feel to the dish.

To serve, pour into soup bowls and sprinkle generously with sumac. Add a fresh mint leaf for a pop of colour.


This will dance on your tongue!


Thursday, 21 November 2013 - , , , 1 comments

CUPBOARD LOVE : Danio 0% fat strained Yoghurts

Sometimes, the vast array of brands and types of foods can be overwhelming in the supermarkets, so I tend to stick with brands I know and love.

So, when I was lucky enough to attend the Nutrition & Health LIVE conference a couple of weeks ago, one of the stands I visited was promoting Danone Danio yoghurt, so I had a little tasting session.
As you can see, it was a beautiful, vibrant display…but I was really blown away by their product too, especially their 0% fat yoghurts.

At the moment, their 0% fat strained yoghurts come in 3 flavours; cherry, strawberry and my personal favourite, passion fruit.
The fruit is totally natural and forms a delicious layer under the thick, creamy yoghurt.
They contain no artificial preservatives, flavours or sweeteners and are suitable for vegetarians.
They are extremely rich and filling.

Each 160g pot is 3pp/128kcal.

Dolloped over fresh fruit for breakfast, this makes a satisfying and filling start to the day. For a naturally sweet fix between meals or for dessert, they really hit the spot.
I can highly recommend them.



SOMETHING FOR NOTHING : Warm Autumnal Rainbow Salad

This spectacular, vibrant dish looks like a lot of work but it really is very simple as the beautiful ingredients do all the work for you.
I was inspired to make this after one of my brisk walks in the Autumn sunshine a couple of weeks ago.

I was always one of those children who loved the nature table during my Primary school days. So to have the excuse to connect with my inner child and collect handfuls of multicoloured leaves to bring home for inspiration made me very happy!
I just couldn't believe the variety of colours in the leaves I found...and it fired me up to design a salad containing the same rainbow spectrum.

The following recipe is really a guide to inspire you. Use what you have at home but try to make the colours as varied and bright as possible.
Heap the vegetables you have available into a large bowl to gather them together and assess them. You will find that some of the vegetables are more suited to being roasted, some steamed or blanched and others left raw.
The beauty of this dish is that you can use these various cooking techniques, then combine everything to make a spectacular, warm salad or side dish-perfect served with grilled fish or meat.

This salad is 0pp/approx.220kcal according to the vegetables used in this recipe.
(Adjust kcal accordingly if you alter the variety).


You Will Need : (Serves 5)

Any or all of the following Vegetables for roasting;

1 small butternut squash
5 red onions
Mixed baby peppers
10 small tomatoes


Any or all of the following vegetables for steaming;

1 small cauliflower
(I used an amazing green Romanesco variety)
10 baby sweetcorn
1 small packet sugarsnap peas


Any or all of the following raw vegetables;

1 carrot cut into julienne strips
1 courgette cut into ribbons
5 sliced radishes
3 sliced Spring onions
Juice of 1 lime


To serve:

1 bag rocket leaves
5 red cabbage leaves
1/4 bag mixed leaf salad
2 small cooked beetroot, diced

2 tablespoons 0% Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1-2 teaspoons beetroot juice
(from the cooked beetroot packaging)


Halve the onions and tomatoes, dice the butternut squash and leave the baby peppers whole. (Cut the stalk off and deseed). Mist with Frylight oil and roast for approx. 40 minutes at 200C/400F/Gas6.
Leave to cool slightly before serving.

10 minutes before you wish to serve the salad, cut the cauliflower into small florets. Pop in a steamer or pan with a little water with the sugar snap peas and baby corn.
Steam for 4-5 minutes then run under plenty of cold water so that the vegetables keep their vibrant colours. I like to serve the steamed vegetables slightly warm.

Combine all the raw salad vegetables in a bowl and toss in the lime juice.

 Add the warm, blanched vegetables to the lime-drenched raw salad ingredients.

To serve, scatter rocket leaves over a large platter.

Arrange the raw red cabbage leaves in a circle. These will act as little 'dishes' to house some of the vegetables.

Start building the rainbow effect by filling the red cabbage leaves with the warm roasted vegetables. Heap most of the the blanched and raw vegetables into the centre of the platter.

Pick out a few of the remaining sugar snap peas, cauliflower, carrot and radish and add them to the roasted vegetables to build the spectrum of colours in the cabbage leaves. Add the diced beetroot at this stage.

Mix the yoghurt, vinegar and beetroot juice to make a pink dressing.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad from a teaspoon, completing your edible work of art.
Pick some specimen leaves from the bag of salad to scatter and add to the finished effect.

This makes a really impressive starter or a fabulous accompaniment to some grilled salmon, chicken kebabs or a chargrilled steak.


Show-stoppingly spectacular!


SMASH & GRAB : Hot Cinnamon Banana

I have a really sweet tooth so I'm always looking for easy ways to satisfy my cravings without doing too much damage!
This simple little pudding is great because it feels really decadent but is really low in propoints/kcal, very healthy and to top it all, costs you nothing on Filling & Healthy or Simple Start!
I love it this time of year because it's a lovely, warming way to eat a piece of fruit too.

It works out to 2pp/approx.180kcal per portion (including the yoghurt)


YOU WILL NEED : (per portion)

1 medium banana
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons Total 0% fat Greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon artificial sweetener 


Slice the banana into chunky slices.
Heat the oil in a small pan and add the banana. Sprinkle with the cinnamon.
Fry for a minute or two until the banana forms a crispy coating on one side. Then flip gently to repeat on the other side of each slice. Handle carefully.
(Mist with a little Frylight oil if required to stop it sticking).

Mix sweetener into the yoghurt.

Pop the hot banana onto your serving plate then dollop with the cool creamy yoghurt.





This would be delicious for breakfast with a couple of slices of hot, crispy Parma ham for an extra 2pp/approx.60kcal. 
Kind of like an American pancake breakfast without the pancakes!



This vibrant tomato soup will brighten up any dull day and warm the cockles of your heart! It's a wonderful zero propoint dish. Perfect as a starter or light meal-or just a stop-gap to keep you going any time of day.

One serving is 0pp/approx.85kcal 

This recipe makes enough for 4 portions at a total of 1pp for the WHOLE batch, so if you have 2 or more portions in a day, you will need to charge 1pp.

Perfect for Filling & Healthy or Simple Start.


YOU WILL NEED : (Serves 4)

6 large fresh tomatoes
(skin left on)
2 red onions
1 clove garlic
250ml passata
1 low salt stock cube
1 tablespoon low salt soy sauce
1 tablespoon artificial granular sweetener
1 sprig fresh basil
black pepper to taste
1 litre or 2 pints water
(For soup makers, fill to the maximum level once vegetables have been added)

To Garnish;
(This amount is for all 4 bowls)

2 teaspoons half fat cream
(For Filling & Healthy or Simple Start, substitute for Quark or 0% fat yoghurt)

2 teaspoons skimmed/soya milk
Fresh basil leaf/chopped chives


 Chop the onions and tomatoes into quarters then pop them with all of the soup ingredients into a pan or soup-maker if you have one.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes, then blend until smooth using a hand blender.
(If using a soup-maker, choose the blended setting).

Taste and season again. This is really important-some people prefer it a little sweeter, others more tangy or peppery.

To serve, mix the half fat cream/quark/yoghurt with the milk to thin it slightly. You can just drizzle the cream from a teaspoon to make a random swirl which will sit beautifully on the surface

...If you're feeling 'cheffy', simply drag a cocktail stick through the cream swirls to make a feathered finish.
(Don't worry about blobs or imperfections-it will still look great!)

Finally top with a single basil leaf or some chopped chives and tuck in!



You could make this into a creamy soup by adding milk, yoghurt or half fat cream to your personal taste. Add the pp/kcal according to the amount you add.


 To transform this into a filling meal, cook some pasta in the soup so that it soaks up all the flavours.
Remember to add the propoints/kcal for this.

(If on Filling & Healthy or Simple Start just use wholewheat pasta freely)


Tangy tomato loveliness.


Thursday, 7 November 2013 - , , , , , , 2 comments

RECIPE : Quorn 'Meat balls' in Tomato & Mushroom Sauce

This is one of the simplest dishes you will ever make! It is something you can literally throw together as you walk in the door after a long day. You will be eating a delicious hot meal within 10-15 minutes.


Two members of my family are vegetarian, so we use quite a few meat replacement products. Although I'm not vegetarian, I have to say that I am a huge fan of many of the Quorn lines.

These 'Swedish Style Balls' are an extremely low fat option and the texture and flavour are really good- preferable to other brands I have tried. They are good value and really low in propoints.

This recipe works out to 2pp/approx.250kcal per portion for the 'meatballs' in sauce.
(Assuming a portion is 5 meatballs)
You could serve with pasta, rice or vegetables and calculate the extra pp/kcal accordingly.


This recipe is also perfect for a
Filling & Healthy day
(Serve with wholewheat pasta or brown rice)


YOU WILL NEED : (Serves 4)

500g carton passata
(with or without herbs & garlic)
1/2 teaspoon dried mixed Italian herbs
1 large clove garlic
1-2 teaspoons artificial granular sweetener
A few grinds of black pepper
300g bag frozen Quorn Swedish Style Balls
6-8 mushrooms


Empty the passata into a medium frying pan.
If it appears to be very thick, add a little water to thin it down slightly.
Heat gently.

Add crushed garlic, herbs, black pepper and sweetener. 
(The sweetener takes the acidity away from the tomatoes)

Add the frozen Quorn 'meat balls' to the hot tomato sauce. The number in a bag seems to vary from 18-20. If you eat 4 or 5 'meat balls' in a portion, this won't affect the propoints.
(For calorie counters, they are 44 kcal each).

Slice the mushrooms finely and add to the sauce.

Stir, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until piping hot.

Serve with rice, pasta or vegetables.


Easy, delicious, tasty!



If you like a chilli kick, add a little chilli powder or sauce to this recipe.


If you like your 'meatballs' with a more crisp coating, fry or bake first according to the packaging before adding to the sauce.


If you want a recipe for authentic meatballs, try my Polpettine.

(Click HERE for link)


Monday, 4 November 2013 - , 4 comments

CUPBOARD LOVE : M&S 5 Grain & 3 Seed Porridge

Sometimes, nutritional and dietary information can be really confusing to consumers. We hear conflicting reports about the foods we should be eating. One week we are told something is good for us only to be told another week that they are not so good after all.
I find, because I'm not nutritionally trained, that I get bemused and muddled so I tend to buy the foods I am used to and sometimes forget to try new ones, or introduce new foods into my diet.
One overwhelming message to consumers is that we should be adding less salt and more grains and seeds to our diets in order to be healthy and stay full up for longer.
This is helpful information, but sometimes I just forget to do it!


So, when I found this porridge in M&S recently, I thought it would be a great and simple way to easily increase the wholegrains in my diet without getting too 'faffy' or technical. I like this porridge because it's still only 3pp/154kcal for 30g
(not including milk-I make mine with water), so no different to the brand I usually buy.
It also means I don't have loose bags of various seeds spilling all over my larder which I forget to use!

This porridge is just one of the simple ways we can make small changes to our diet without really noticing. The seeds give a lovely crunch and nuttiness to the porridge experience and I just know that the other additional ingredients are going to do me good and keep me full up throughout the morning.
I add a chopped banana and cinnamon to mine, a sprinkle of sweetener and a splash of soya milk.
You can customise as you wish, adding honey, grated apple, sultanas etc. Just remember to calculate and add the propoints/kcal if you do this.


Feeling virtuous!