Slow Cooker Bacon, Broccoli and Potato Soup

I have been experimenting with vegan cooking lately, but this is decidedly not veggie friendly. It is, however, very simple, inexpensive and spoonie-friendly.

Serves 6

You will need:

2 onions, chopped

2 tins potatoes

300g frozen broccoli

1kg cooking bacon

Handful of fresh rosemary

Handful of fresh thyme

Black pepper

1 vegetable stock cube

Water, boiled

Splash of vegetable oil

 

1. First, remove the fat from the cooking bacon with a very sharp knife, then place in a frying pan with a splash of oil. Heat over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. It will become a greyish pink when it is cooked thoroughly.

2. Meanwhile, place the broccoli, boiling water and potatoes in the slow cooker along with the herbs, stock cube and seasoning.

3. When the bacon is cooked, drain off the fat and and discard. Add the bacon to the slow cooker.

4. In the same frying pan heat the chopped onion until waxy, then add that too to the slow cooker. Top up the slow cooker with water to cover by a centimetre or two.

5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.

6. When cooked, blend until smooth.

7. Serve with warm, freshly baked bread and a sprig of parsley.

 

TOP TIPS

  • Make use of all the functions of your food processor, if you have one. I used mine to chop the onions and later to blend the soup. For spoon-counters like me a food processor is a real blessing!

Sunny Salad

A mix of traditional carrot salad and Waldorf salad, this is quite hearty, if you can say that about a salad. Serve with jacket potatoes or rice.

 

You will need:

3/4 cup / 180ml mayonnaise (egg-free mayonnaise is to be found in many supermarkets and there are also many vegan mayonnaise recipes online)

2 tsp lemon juice

8 small carrots, grated

2 small, tangy apples, chopped

3 celery sticks, chopped

1 handful sultanas

2 handfuls cashews

 

1. Mix together the lemon juice and the mayonnaise with a fork.

2. Add the chopped apples and mix.

3. Add remaining ingredients and stir well until everything is blended.

 

TOP  TIPS

To save time and energy I use a food processor with a grater attachment to grate the carrots, then I switch to the slicer attachment to slice the celery. I choose to chop the apples so that they still have some bite to them, but if you need to conserve energy you can use a slicer attachment on a food processor. There is a little washing involved in cleaning the food processor, but it’s still less than grating and chopping by hand.

 

‘Instant’ Hearty Veg Soup

This recipe is not ‘instant’ in the sense that it is immediately edible, but sometimes on a bad day (especially if you’re a Spoon counter) you need something that is both extremely easy to prepare and healthy.

You will need:

500g no-soak soup mix (this will typically consist of red lentils, yellow split peas, green split peas, dried onion, dried carrot, dried pasta, etc.). It’s vital that this is a no-soak soup mix otherwise you’ll make yourself very poorly. If you buy a soup mix in the UK that needs soaking, it will say so on the packet.

2 tbsp powdered onion

2 tbsp dried mixed herbs

2 tsp garlic powder

2 stock cubes, crumbled

2 handfuls small dried pasta (or larger pasta, crumbled a bit)

2 tins chopped tomatoes

Serves 6

 

1. Place all the dry ingredients in a large jar. Twist and turn the jar so the ingredients all mix. Make sure the lid is tightly sealed.

2. Put a label on the jar, then stick it in the cupboard and forget about it.

3. When you need a tasty, easy family meal, put the contents of the jar in a large saucepan with the two tins of chopped tomatoes and add about 2 litres of water (you will need plenty of water because the dry ingredients will swell and absorb a lot).

4. Bring to the boil and let it bubble vigorously for 10 minutes, then turn down the heat and let it simmer for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Serve with bread and grated cheese (I wonder if a sprinkling of nutritional yeast would work well here, for a tasty vegan option?).

 

TOP TIPS

You can adjust the seasonings to suit your tastes and that of your family. If using half, or less than half, of the dry mix, add only one tin of tomatoes and adjust the amount of water. Cook for exactly the same length of time. If more than half, follow the instructions above.

Creamy Asparagus Soup

I found some asparagus in the reduced section of the supermarket and came up with this very tasty soup. Tis the season for asparagus, so I like to make the most of it.

You will need:

1 tbsp vegetable oil

200g silken tofu

680g asparagus spears

2 onions, chopped

2 vegetable stock cubes

1 tsp garlic powder

250ml white wine

2l water

1 handful fresh rosemary, chopped

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion. Cook until waxy.

2. Snap off the bottom of the asparagus spears, discard (or save to make homemade vegetable stock) and chop the remaining spears.

3. Add asparagus to the pan along with all the remaining ingredients, except the tofu.

4. Bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat for thirty minutes or so.

5. Spoon the soup into a blender with the tofu and whizz until it is smooth.

6. Serve with fresh, homemade bread.

 

TOP TIPS

Spoonie friendly tip: I use the food processor with the chopping blade attached to save energy and time when chopping veggies.

Carroty Cheese & Potato Pie

You will need:

5 carrots, chopped

1.5kg potatoes, chopped

250g cheese (or vegan alternative), grated

3 tbsp natural soya yoghurt (I like to make my own but today I used a store-bought version)

2 medium, ripe tomatoes, sliced

 

1. In a large saucepan, place the carrots and potato. Cover with water.

2. Bring to the boil and cook until tender.

3. Remove from the heat and drain, retaining the liquid.

4. Add 2/3 of the cheese along with the yoghurt and enough of the drained water to mash.

5. Using a potato masher, mash until soft and creamy.

6. Place into a casserole dish and arrange the tomato slices on the top.

7. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top.

8. Place under a grill until the cheese has melted and the tomatoes have softened.

9. Serve immediately with a green salad.

Apple, Onion and Potato Parcel-Pies

2 packets ready-made puff pastry (dairy free)

1 tin potatoes, drained and crushed (not mashed)

3 red onions, finely chopped

2 dessert apples, chopped

100ml red wine

300g grated cheese (or vegan alternative)

1 egg, beaten (you can use soya or almond milk instead)

Handful fresh thyme, chopped

Handful fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tbsp oil

 

SERVES 6

 

1. Put oil in pan over medium heat.

2. Add red onion and apple.

3. When the onion is translucent add the red wine and potato.

4. Heat through for 5 minutes and then remove from the heat and set to one side.

5. In a roasting tin or baking tray, roll out one of the pastry pieces. Do the same with the second piece of pastry in a second tin.

6. Place half the onion mixture onto one half of one of the pieces of pastry. Do the same with the second half of the mixture onto the second piece of pastry.

7. Sprinkle half the cheese over one and half over the other.

8. Sprinkle half the thyme and rosemary over each.

9. Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg and fold the pastry over to make large parcels. Press the edges together all the way round.

10. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (fan), 200°C (no fan), for 30 minutes or until risen and golden.

11 . Serve slices of ‘pie’ with baked beans and a green salad.

Heavenly Healthier Chocolate Cake

I have been experimenting with gluten free, grain free and dairy free cakes for a while now, and I think I’m finally getting the hang of it.

Lower in fat and sugar than typical chocolate cake this recipe even contains fruit, yet still tastes decadent with its blend of vanilla, cinnamon and coffee. It also contains cacao powder, which is a good source of nutrients and is naturally sweet. Go ahead: try it warm from the oven with homemade yoghurt and blueberries. Mmm…

You will need:

4 small apples

1 tbsp lemon juice, fresh or bottled

2 tbsp coconut oil, softened (vegetable oil will work here too)

2 tsp instant coffee (I use cafedirect fair trade organic decaffeinated  coffee – caffeine doesn’t like me)

3 medium eggs

2 tbsp powdered stevia

30ml almond milk

2 tbsp rice malt syrup

65g coconut flour

50g raw cacao powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

7″ baking tin with a removable base, lightly greased

 

1. Chop the apples and remove the cores. Put the oven on to 180°C (160°C fan).

2. Place apple pieces in a small saucepan with the lemon juice and just enough water to cover.

3. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for 10  minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a food processor place the coconut oil, coffee, stevia, rice malt syrup, milk and eggs. Whizz on a high speed until well combined using the blade attachment.

5. Add to the food processor the flour, cacao, baking powder, vanilla extract and cinnamon.

6. Strain the cooked apples and add to the mixture.

7. Whizz again for a full minute, scraping down the sides as needed.

8. You should have a soft dropping consistency. If not, add a tablespoon of almond milk or apple water.

9. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in a pre-heated oven for 35 minutes or until a metallic skewer comes out clean. The top of the cake should be crackled but not burnt.

10. Store in the fridge (if it lasts that long).

 

adapted from this recipe: 

http://www.theculinaryjumble.com/2016/02/24/deeply-rich-chocolate-cake/

Healthy No Grain Chocolatey Breakfast

I initially tried this with wheatgrass powder instead of the cacao powder. It was disgusting. It looked like dried pond scrapings. It tasted worse. So revolting was it, indeed, that I ate a bowl on two consecutive mornings and then decided to throw the rest away. I hate wasting food, but it really was vile! However, this altered recipe is very palatable.

Yes, it’s possible to combine healthy eating and chocolatey-ness and have it for breakfast! This takes just a few minutes to prepare but will last for many breakfasts. Although the initial ingredients are expensive, a little goes a very long way, so this does not become too uneconomical.

 

You will need:

150g chia seeds

150g raw buckwheat

50g banana chips, crushed

50g dried cranberries

50g pumpkin seeds

30g popped amaranth

20g gogi berries

15g dried apple pieces

1 tbsp raw cacao powder (or more, to taste)

 

1. Wash buckwheat and leave to dry on a clean tea towel or kitchen roll paper. If you do this last thing at night it will be dry by the morning.

2. In a bowl combine the chia seeds, banana chips, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, popped amaranth, gogi berries, apple, cacao and fully dry buckwheat.

3. Stir gently to combine.

4. When fully combined, place in an airtight container.

 

TO USE:

Place one tablespoonful in a bowl. Add around 150-200ml water or almond milk and leave to soak for at least 15 minutes (you can even leave it overnight) before eating.

 

TOP TIPS

Watch this YouTube video for how to pop amaranth (you can also buy it ready-popped):

https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=sqbQDKxDyW4

 

 

 

 

Simple Salad

Takes 10 minutes to prepare.

You will need:

1 cucumber, cubed

250g cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered (or salad tomatoes, diced)

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

3 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)

1/4 tsp Dijon, whole grain or French mustard

 

  1. Combine the cucumber, tomatoes and carrot in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together the oil, vinegar and mustard.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad.
  4. Mix well.

 

Serve with rice, jacket potatoes, quiche, etc.

 

PIZZA WRAPS

A tasty, quick midweek tea inspired by my daughter’s school dinners. Serves 4.

You will need:

8 tortilla wraps

Olive oil (or vegetable oil)

100g frozen onions

75g frozen chopped peppers

Tin of chopped tomatoes, drained

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 ball of mozzarella (or cheese of your choice – I use lacto-free cheese or soya cheese)

1 courgette, chopped

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over a medium heat and add the onions, peppers and courgette.
  2. Cook through gently until soft and glistening.
  3. Add all other ingredients except tortillas and cheese.
  4. Heat through on a medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and piping hot, about 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 200°C (180°C fan) and put a large casserole dish in to warm up.
  6. Chop the mozzarella into strips or grate if using another cheese.
  7. Lay out a tortilla wrap and add 1/8 of the tomato mixture in a dollop just below the centre.
  8. Add a little mozzarella or other cheese on top.
  9. Pick up the left and right sides of the circle and fold inwards to create a rectangle.
  10. Fold the bottom up, and then continue rolling upwards.
  11. Take casserole dish out of the oven and lightly grease with oil (carefully as it is hot).
  12. Place pizza wrap into casserole dish, folded side downwards.
  13. Repeat with remaining seven tortillas until all of the tomato mixture is used up.
  14. Drizzle the wraps with a little olive oil.
  15. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  16. Serve with a green salad.

TOP TIPS

Why not try wholemeal, herb or garlic wraps

Chapatis would also work well in place of the tortillas, or indeed any other kind of soft flatbread