Slimming World friendly Broccoli & Cheese Soup

Pre-Slimming World I used to make a mean broccoli and cheese soup.  It started with a roux (lets face it, most of the best recipes do), and consisted of simmering broccoli and leek in a creamy milky base, then throwing in a decent amount of strong cheddar, a bag of spinach and blitzing until smooth.  Delicious, but definitely not on plan.

Not surprisingly this is my six year old’s favourite soup, and I love that she gets so much goodness from it, but the way I was making it was very rich and calorific.  So, since starting Slimming World I’ve been tweaking my old recipes so we can be on plan, but still eating the food we love.

Today I made a huge batch using one massive leek, two onions, three heads of broccoli and the stalks, and two bags of baby spinach – it really is crammed full of goodness and it couldn’t be simpler.

Simmer all the ingredients apart from the spinach in good quality stock of your choice (my go to is  the Essential Cuisine range which just happen to be gluten free to – they are the absolute best ready made stocks I have come across) for 20-30 minutes until they’re all soft.  Season with salt and pepper, and throw in the baby spinach.  Leave to cool for a while before blitzing.  I always use my Nutribullet for this as it gives such amazingly smooth results and a natural creaminess which my stick blender just doesn’t compare to.

Now to give the cheesy element of this I portioned out the soup into six large separate portions then added 37.5g of Primula Light to each portion.  75g of Primula Light counts as a healthy extra A choice (hexA) so each portion of soup is syn free if you use the primula as half of your hexA for the day. If you like you can reserve a bit of the cheese to do a swirl on top like I have, but obviously this is optional and purely done for aesthetic purposes in my case. I always top with some (fat removed) crispy smoked bacon which just elevates it to another level.

So there you have it, absolutely delicious, flavour packed, on plan soup which is pretty enough to to serve up at a dinner party, but comforting enough to enjoy midweek in front of the telly having had a hard day in the office. Enjoy!

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Thai Inspired Crab Noodle Soup

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Having just returned from my parent’s home in beautiful Pembrokeshire, my freezer is now stocked with a plethora of home-caught crustaceans courtesy of my fisherman father. He put the boat to sea for the season while we were there, and P and I were on board for the first lobster pot pull up! Here she is enjoying the ride.

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I decided to dress one of the edible crabs as well as a spider crab to use some of the white meat in this humble yet incredibly satisfying crab noodle soup.

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Firstly, dress the crabs. If you’re unsure how to do this Delia’s step by step photographic instructions will guide you through it. The most important thing to remember is don’t eat the gills, or dead man’s fingers as they’re more commonly known. Although not actually poisonous, they’re very tough and hard to digest.

Once you have a bowl of nice white flakes of meat in front of you you’re ready to proceed with the soup.

Firstly, I boiled the shells in a pan of water for a good hour to give me a nice light stock.

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I drained the boiling stock, through a sieve and into a jug which had a bundle of flat rice noodles in it. The reason for soaking the noodles in stock rather than plain water is because, in my opinion, it allows them to absorb extra flavour as they soften.

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While the noodles were soaking I fried off some finely minced lemongrass, galangal, garlic and shallots in a little coconut oil.

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Once softened I added a couple of minced Thai chillis (don’t go overboard as you don’t want to drown out sweet and subtle flavour of the crab).  Once the noodles were soft, I fished them out of the stock and put them in a bowl before pouring the stock into the pan. At this point I added a tablespoon each of fish sauce, rice wine vinegar and light soy sauce, some lime leaves, a small chunk of rock sugar and about 100ml coconut milk. Simmer to allow the flavours to get to know each other before seasoning further with lime juice, salt and pepper. For extra protein I threw in a handful of frozen prawns (fresh would be best in this instance, but unfortunately I only had cooked in) and some of the crab meat.

Once I’d ladelled the broth over the noodles, Thai basil, chopped coriander, spring onions and a sprinkling of red chilli finished it off nicely. Delicious! Even our 5 year old enjoyed it!

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Cinnamon Banana Bread (gluten free)

banana loaf 3Last year I stumbled across the most lovely cake recipe book. I fell in love with it, not just because of the recipes, but because the layout and feel of the book sings of English springtime and afternoon teas. The most intriguing thing about this book though is the fact that beautiful, delicious cakes are created using vegetables instead of fat. Yes, vegetables! Amazing! The book is ‘Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache’ by Harry Eastwood, and boasts of containing within its whimsical pages “natural cakes that taste naughty”.

The first recipe I tried was this Cinnamon Banana Bread. Light, moist and gloriously spiced with sweet cinnamon, it’s hard to believe this little gem of a cake is actually pretty low in fat and gluten free.

Here’s what you need:

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140g banana, mashed
2 medium eggs (I used 3 as mine were pretty small)
140g caster sugar
150g grated courgette (the book says to peel but I don’t bother, largely because most of the goodness is in the skin)
150g rice flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. mixed spice (I didn’t have any of this so added a little extra cinnamon)
25g finely chopped brazil nuts
25g finely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 180oC and grease a loaf tin. Whisk the eggs and sugar until light in colour and creamy. Add the mashed banana and whisk until completely incorporated. Add the grated courgette, the flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla, cinnamon and mixed spice (if you’re using it). Carry on whisking until completely blended. Mix in 3/4 of the chopped nuts and then pour the mixture into the tin and sprinkle the remaining nuts on top.banana loaf 2

Bake for about 45 minutes, leave to cool and enjoy with a cup of tea. This cake is great on its own or buttered if you’re feeling extravagant.

Enjoy, and please check out the book on Amazon. I cannot rate it highly enough.