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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Spiced Leek & Sweet Potato Soup

Apologies for not posting in a while. I’ve been busy making countless cookie jar gifts and various balms in the run up to the festive season. These are just from today…

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Anyway, after a productive day of jar layering and labelling, I realised that the school run was looming, we had a parents evening appointment and the church prayer meeting, and I hadn’t thought about dinner. It had to be quick, it had to be nutritious and it had to be warming; it’s freezing today in the North West!

I sliced two large leeks and sautéed in a saucepan with some coconut oil and a couple of cloves of garlic. After a few minutes I threw in two diced sweet potatoes leaving the skin on. A teaspoon of ground coriander, one of madras curry powder, salt, pepper and a couple of dashes of lemon juice provided the seasoning. When the spices had had a couple of minutes to cook out I added some stock, tossed in a good handful of frozen spinach and left to simmer until the sweet potato was tender.

Meanwhile I roughly chopped some cavalo nero, sprinkled it with rapeseed oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin seeds and a little ground coriander.

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Spread the greens out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 160oC for about 10-15 minutes until crisp.

I love using my nutribullet to blend soups, it makes them beautifully silky smooth.

To serve I mixed some non fat Greek yoghurt with chopped coriander, salt, pepper and a little lemon juice and put a dollop on top of the soup, added a little mango chutney for sweetness, topped with the cavalo nero crisps, some more coriander and some finely chopped red chilli. We enjoyed a little treat of peshwari naan to dunk too. Delicious.

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Enjoy!

Watermelon "Cake"

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On my eternal quest to provide healthy but interesting cake alternatives at the social action and outreach events our church puts on, I had a go at a watermelon “cake” I’d seen on Pinterest, adapting the recipe to use a healthier buttercream alternative.  I say “cake” as it is actually just fruit, yoghurt, vanilla bean paste, cream cheese and toasted flaked almonds.

Cut a watermelon into a rough cake shape.

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Beat 100g light cream cheese then add 250g fat free Greek yoghurt and a tablespoon of vanilla bean paste.  Taste the frosting and if it’s not sweet enough for you add in one or two tablespoons of icing sugar. I don’t think it’s necessary  really as the vanilla sweetens it beautifully.

Cover the melon with the frosting.

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Lightly toast a couple of handfuls of flaked almonds in a dry pan, allow to cool then sprinkle on around the base. Decorate with whatever fruit you fancy and leave in the fridge for the frosting to set a little. Slice and enjoy… Guilt free!

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Avocado, banana and Nutella ice lollies

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This is an incredibly easy healthier treat for those of us with a sweet tooth.  You’ll need just three simple ingredients:

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Mash a couple of bananas until pretty smooth.

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Put in a nutribullet cup (a regular blender will work fine), top with half a mashed avocado and three tablespoons of Nutella. For those of you who would prefer a more natural alternative to Nutella you could try adding coconut oil and manuka honey chocolate instead, although I’ve yet to try it.

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Blitz until smooth and well combined.

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Pour into moulds and leave to set in the freezer.

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Run the mould under a little warm water to release the lolly and enjoy.

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Vegetable Bake

This is a proper old school recipe I remember my mum making when I was growing up. My dad would always groan that there was no meat, but since I married a pescatarian I don’t have that problem!

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It’s a hearty, no fuss midweek dinner which everyone will like (our three year old is a big fan).  It is a meal in itself, however it makes a delicious side to roast chicken or gammon too.

You can use whatever vegetables you have to hand, but my mum recommends the following:
2 leeks
1 large potato
3 sticks celery
3 carrots
6 cauliflower florets
2 parsnips
1 cup green beans or broad beans

I also add broccoli and a couple of cloves of garlic.

Wash and chop all the veg. Fry off the leeks and garlic if you’re using it in a little olive oil. Add the rest of the veg and season with salt and pepper. Cover while you make a cheese sauce, but remember to stir regularly to prevent sticking.

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In another pan melt 2oz salted butter and stir in 2oz pain flour and a crumbled vegetable stock cube to make a roux. Cook the flour out for about 30 seconds, before pouring in 3/4 pint of milk a little at a time, stiring continually to avoid lumps. Finally add it a couple of handfuls of strong grated cheddar. Take off the heat. 

Now pour a can of chopped tomatoes over the vegetables.

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Pour the white sauce over the vegetables.

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In a blender make a crumble topping by blitzing up a handful of mixed nuts, four slices of wholemeal bread, a large handful of parsley and salt and pepper.

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Sprinkle on top of the cheese sauce.

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Bake, uncovered, at 160oC for about 45 minutes.

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Homemade pot noodles

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I love the idea of convenience food, it’s just a shame that with a lot of commercial brands what you gain in convenience you lose in nutrition.

I first saw these on Pinterest and thought they were a brilliant, and very cute idea.  I find it hard to resist anything in a flip-lid jar.  Portable,  healthy and convenient, the list of what you can add to these noodle soup pots is endless. Today for the soup base I mixed a tablespoon of dark soy sauce, with a tablespoon of oyster sauce, one of sweet chilli, a teaspoon of hot sauce, a crumbled chicken oxo cube, a tablespoon of lime juice and some Szechwan pepper. I mixed it all together and divided between two 500ml flip-top jars. 

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Next place a handful of pre-cooked egg or rice noodles on top of the soup base.

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Top with thinly sliced veggies of your choice.  I used spinach, spring onions, sugar snap peas, baby corn, fresh red chilli, a few fresh mint leaves and coriander.

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Add some cooked shredded chicken and a few more coriander leaves. 

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At this point you can close the lid, put it in the fridge, take it with you to work or for a picnic. So long as the chicken is in date and everything else is fresh they will last for a few days in the fridge.  When you’re ready to eat it, pour on hot, but not boiling water up to the lower rim, give it a stir and close the lid for three minutes. Check the seasoning and add more chilli, lime, coriander or soy according to your tastes.  Enjoy!

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Nutribullet breakfast blast

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I recently discovered the joys of the Nutribullet after my juicer broke down. As much as I love juicing, the hassle of cleaning the machine afterwards is not appealing at all. I wanted something simpler and easy to clean. Although not strictly a juicer (it’s marketed as an extractor), the Nutribullet came to my rescue. So unbelievably quick and easy with minimal clean up, I still feel like I’m getting all the benefits of juicing with the added perk of the fibre still being included, as the pulp is filtered out with a juicer. You can still use raw veggies and the Nutribullet will pulverise them into delicious smoothies, even if they’re frozen!

I’ve used beetroot, broccoli, apples, avocado, berries, spinach, banana and carrots all with great results. This morning I had spinach, frozen blueberries, strawberries and half a banana with a piece of fresh ginger to give it some bite, all topped up with coconut rice milk. A perfect pre-workout pick-me-up.

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Aside from the fact it will literally blend anything (nuts and seeds included), the cup and blade are the only things that need cleaning! Perfect on so many levels. I’d highly recommend if you’re looking into buying a smoothie maker or juicer.

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