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Cajun Chicken in a Paper Bag

It’s enough to make even the toughest of us panic…

You’ve just taken a big bite. You didn’t think it was going to be too hot. And then the burning feeling starts to build. And build. And build.

You brace yourself for the onslaught…


Or as Fergal would say… ‘Ouchies!’

I still remember my worst chilli burn like it was yesterday…

I was working in my first ‘real job’ as a young food scientist in the Kellogg Australia product development department and was out to dinner with a big group of friends. It was Friday night. We’d been at the pub for a few hours before heading in search of a good curry.

Squeezed around the table, it was noisy and the wine was flowing. Happy days.

Until the food came out.

I was starving and reached for what I thought was a lone green bean on top of one of the curries. I took a bite.

It definitely wasn’t a harmless green bean. My world closed in on the inferno in my mouth.

Luckily I knew what to do. (Food science to the rescue!)

And no I didn’t reach for the water. Or another slug of vino.

I knew better.

So I grabbed the raita, creamy yoghurt flecked with cucumber chunks.

I held the mixture in my mouth, swirling it around before swallowing and starting with more life-saving yoghurt.

Thankfully things calmed down in my mouth. And dinner went on.

Although I didn’t enjoy it because I couldn’t get over the fact that I’d been so stupid. When do Indian restaurants ever use a ‘lone green bean’ to garnish their beef vindaloo? It’s always a chilli. How could I be so foolish?

So why did the yoghurt work?

Simple chemistry.

The component of chillies which makes them hot is called capsaicin and it’s only soluble in fats and oils. While water and wine may give momentary relief from the temperature difference, the capsaicin doesn’t dissolve and stays in your mouth causing all the pain.

Full fat yoghurt on the other hand, has enough oil to dissolve the culprit and move it on. Problem solved.

Of course it doesn’t have to be yoghurt.

Fergal recently had is own chilli experience when he rubbed his fingers on my chilli-infested chopping board and popped said fingers in his mouth. Luckily a big glass of cold milk sorted him out straight away.

But basically anything with some oil will work. Coconut milk or coconut yoghurt or even a mouthful of a creamy mild curry will do the trick.

What about you?

Ever had a ‘green bean’ chilli moment of your own? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Cajun Chicken in a Paper Bag-2

Cajun Chicken in a Paper Bag

There’s something really magical about dusting cooked food in a spice mix just before eating. Not only do you get the beautiful spiced flavours, it also coats the chicken to give a slightly crunchy crust. So good and so little effort!

enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes

450g (1lb) chicken thigh or breast fillets
3-4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 large cabbage
3 green onions (optional)
3-4 teaspoons cajun spice

1. Chop chicken in to bite size strips. Heat a frying pan on a medium high heat.

2. Rub chicken with a little oil and salt. Cook chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side or until browned on the outside and just cooked through.

3. While the chicken is cooking, slice cabbage as finely as possible and toss in a bowl with the mayo and green onion (if using). Season with salt and pepper.

4. Divide cooked chicken between 2 plates and serve each person with a paper bag. Serve cajun spice in the middle of the table so each person can toss it in with their chicken.

5. Serve cabbage salad in the middle of the table.

6. Get each person to pop their chicken in their paper bag and add their share of the spice mix. Shake bag and eat spiced chicken with the salad.

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Video Version of the Recipe.


no cabbage – serve spiced chicken with baby spinach or other salad greens on the side.

vegetarian – replace chicken with sliced halloumi or poached eggs. For the eggs, just serve on a plate and sprinkle with the spice (instead of tossing in the bag).

egg-free – use a vegan mayo for the salad dressing. Or replace with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.

vegan – follow the egg-free suggestions and replace chicken with 1-2 drained cans of chickpeas. Warm in a little oil in a pan then serve with a paper bag and the spice as per the chicken.

no cajun spice – try another spice blend like moroccan, ras el hanout, pirri pirri or just use a little salt, black pepper and mild chilli powder (you won’t need as much as the cajun blend).

different meat – feel free to use chicken breast fillets, pork fillet or some plain pork sausages.

hot! – add a little chilli powder to your spice mix.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. There are only a few days left…


To join us for the ‘Mind Body Detox Online Summit’.

Join me (and 17 other experts) from 1st October for this FREE Virtual Event and discover how to:
* Conquer your cravings
* End bloating and fatigue
* Have glowing, radiant skin
* Tap into greater energy and vitality
* And more!

For more details go to:

I hope you can join us!

NOTE: The links to the MBD Summit are affiliate links. If you purchase an optional VIP upgrade for the summit, I’ll get a commission. So you’ll be supporting Stonesoup too!

Coconut & Almond 'Cereal'-2

The first time I tried going paleo there was one meal I really struggled with.

If you’ve ever had an attempt at eating low carb or going ‘full paleo’, I bet you’ve struggled with this too.

Yep. Breakfast. Breakkie.

Now I think about it, when I went vegan for a week, breakfast was the most tricky then too.

This time, my experiment of eating full paleo for a month, breakfasts have been relatively easy.

Since moving to our little farm last year and getting a flock of chooks (that’s chickens for you non-Australians!), I’ve become a huge fan of having eggs for breakfast.

There’s something so great about having a proper breakfast of poached eggs and some veggies.

I love it.

But even I can’t have eggs for breakfast every single day, so I thought I’d share my fave breakkie ideas for when eggs aren’t an option…

6 Egg-Free Low Carb / Paleo Breakfast Ideas

1. Green Smoothies
I don’t have a high speed blender so I find my green smoothies tend to be a bit fibrous… not exactly smooth! So I haven’t really gotten into this craze. But they can be a brilliant way to start getting some veggies in your breakkie.

If you’d like a FREE ebook dedicated to vibrant green smoothie recipes, then have a look at the Body Mind Detox Summit which I’m participating in this year.

2. Coconut Yoghurt
If only I’d known about coconut yoghurt back during my vegan week! I’ve been enjoying a commercial one but if you’d like to make your own, there’s a recipe over here.

I’ve bookmarked a page from the My New Roots cookbook for cashew yoghurt which I’m really eager to try.

3. Chocolate ‘Granola’
I’d forgotten about this recipe until I was doing research for this blog post. Looking forward to whipping up a batch this weekend as a treat for my last days of paleo month!

4. Overnight ‘Chia’
In Summer I do love to soak rolled oats to make bircher musesli or ‘overnight oats’ but you can get great results with chia seeds as well.

For one person, just soak 2-3 tablespoons chia seeds in 2/3 cup coconut milk, almond milk or other milk. Either leave in the fridge overnight or as long as you’ve got. The longer you soak the less crunchy the chia will be. Serve straight up or with fresh fruit such as blueberries.

5. Paleo Toast + Avocado
I’ve been making my paleo bread, which is based on coconut flour (and does contain some eggs!) to have with avocado. Fergal isn’t convinced (he spits it out!). But I do like having it as a quick change from my eggs.

6. Coconut & Almond ‘Cereal’ (recipe below)
This grain-free Paleo cereal mix (pictured above) has been a life saver during my month of eating paleo for those days when I don’t feel like cooking eggs. See below for the recipe…

Need more ideas?

If you’re happy to include some legumes and / or eggs, check out My 9 Favourite Healthy Breakfast Ideas and 6 Slightly Unusual Healthy Breakfast Ideas.


Coconut & Almond 'Cereal'

Coconut & Almond ‘Cereal’

This grain-free Paleo cereal mix was inspired by the lovely Eleanor Ozich from over at Petite Kitchen.

I generally have it with coconut yoghurt and sometimes a handful of blueberries or raspberries. But you could eat it with milk or your favourite dairy-free milk if you prefer a more traditional ‘bowl of cereal’ experience.

takes: about 20 minutes
makes about 2 cups

1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup sliced almonds
4 tablespoons psyllium (optional)
2 tablespoons chia seeds, whole or ground (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Spread almonds on a baking tray and toast for about 10 minutes. Stir and cook for another few minutes until the almonds are just lightly golden.

2. Cool the almonds on the tray then toss in the coconut, psyllium (if using) and chia (if using).

3. Store in an airtight container in the pantry for a few months.

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raw ‘cereal’ – don’t worry about toasting the almonds.

sweet – feel free to add your favourite dried fruit. Or serve with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

more! – feel free to double of triple the recipe.

nut-free – replace almonds with sunflower seeds or pepitas or both. Skip the toasting step.

different additives – any whole, chopped or ground seeds or nuts like hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, linseeds, sunflower seeds or pepitas. You could also add rolled oats or oat bran for a more cost-effective cereal but it won’t be paleo any more.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. While I’ve got you, just wanted to let you know about an online event I’ve been interviewed for…


It’s called the ‘Mind Body Detox Summit’ and is being run online in early Oct.

I invite you to join me (and 17 other experts) for this Free Virtual Event
and discover how to:
* Conquer your cravings
* End bloating and fatigue
* Have glowing, radiant skin
* Tap into greater energy and vitality
* And more!

Here’s your invitation:

I hope you can join us!

NOTE: The links to the MBD Summit are affiliate links. If you purchase an optional VIP upgrade for the summit, I’ll get a commission. So you’ll be supporting Stonesoup too!


Paleo Carrot Cake w Maple Cream Cheese Frosting-4

I‘ve been imagining writing this blog post for a long time. Like over 18 months.

Anyway here we are. And I have good news!

So last week I celebrated my birthday. And the best birthday present? Like, Ever?

I’m having another baby!

In February!

Yes, Fergal is going to be a big brother. (He’s really excited too!)

As is the tradition here at Stonesoup, I have a killer birthday cake recipe to celebrate (recipe below).

And a Birthday Sale!

2MMP 3D Cover

For the next 72 hours*, you can pickup a copy of the 2-Minute Meal Plan for 30% OFF.

Each year I choose a different ebook to celebrate with. This year I wanted to celebrate with the 2-Minute Meal Plan because it’s still the best selling of all my eCookbooks.

And it’s a really unique book as the subtitle says, it’s a revolutionary approach to help YOU plan & cook healthy food fast…

To find out if the 2-Minute Meal Plan is right for you before the Birthday Sale ends go to:


UPDATE: The Sale is now over.
Thanks to everyone who took part!

ingredient thesaurus logoPLUS! As an added bonus, everyone who buys during the sale will also get a FREE copy of the Stonesoup Ingredient Thesaurus. Which is designed as a go-to guide for when you need to substitute ingredients. You can’t buy this book alone. It’s only available as part of the sale.

Paleo Carrot Cake w Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Paleo Carrot Cake

Since my neighbour Heather gave me the recipe for her Stupidly Easy Banana Bread, I’ve been having a great time experimenting with baking without sugar or stevia and using fruit as a sweetener instead. Lots of fun!

This processed sugar-free cake uses dates pureed with a little water and I must admit, I love it even more than the sugar-laden original recipe! The dates add a lovely caramelly flavour. So good!

enough for 6-8
takes about an hour

200g (7oz) pitted dates
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
3 eggs
250g (8 1/2 oz) almond meal
250g (8 1/2 oz) carrots, coarsely grated

1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Grease and line a 20cm (8in) cake pan.

2. Place dates in a heat proof bowl. Cover with 150g (5oz) boiling water and allow to stand for a few minutes.

3. Transfer date and the soaking water to your food processor and whizz until you have a smooth paste. Stir in the oil, eggs, almond meal and carrots. Mix with a spoon until just combined.

4. Scoop the cake mixture into your pan and bake on the middle shelf for 45-50 minutes or until the cake feels springy when touched and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

5. Cool in the tin. Or enjoy warm.

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nut-free / budget – replace almond meal with 200g (7oz) flour. And expect the baking time to be reduced.

different veg – grated zucchini are lovely or try using the same amount of roasted sweet potato or beets.

no coconut oil – use melted butter or an oil with a neutral flavour.

vegan / egg-free – your favourite egg replacer will probably work. I’d try 2 mashed ripe bananas to start but I haven’t done this yet!

Paleo Carrot Cake w Maple Cream Cheese Frosting-3

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

I know this isn’t Paleo but it’s totally my first choice for those rare occasions when I do want to add some frosting to my cake. Normally I’m more of a ‘just serve it with double cream’ kinda girl.

enough for a VERY thick layer 1 x 20cm (8in) cake
500g (1lb) cream cheese
2-4 tablespoons maple syrup

1. Remove the cream cheese from the fridge to soften about an hour before you want to make the frosting.

2. Whizz the cream cheese in the food processor until smooth. Add maple syrup and whizz to combine. Taste and add more maple syrup as needed.

3. Spread on your cooled cake.

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sugar-free – skip the maple syrup or replace with a teaspoon of vanilla extract or the seeds from a vanilla bean pod.

less thick frosting – use half the recipe or make a bigger cake!

paleo / dairy-free – just serve your cake without frosting. Or try chilling a few cans of coconut cream and whipping the solid cream that forms on the top.

Big love,
Jules x

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Fish Wraps with Limey Avocado-2

This doesn’t happen very often, but let me tell you about a time I had to break my word. In public.

It all started back in 2010…

It had been about 9 months since I’d left the corporate world to turn my blog into a business. I had just finished writing my book ‘5 Ingredients 10 Minutes’ and with all the recipe testing and photography pretty much everything I was eating contained 5 ingredients.

As I shared at the time, night after night my Irishman and I were blown away by how good my simple 5-Ingredients recipes tasted.

And so I made the ‘5 Ingredients’ pledge. To only ever cook recipes with 5 ingredients. That’s it.

Fast forward two years and you can see from this post, I went public with my decision to break my pledge.


Was it because the meal weren’t tasty enough? Was I getting bored with the constraint? Was I missing the ‘variety’ of larger ingredient recipes?

No. No. AND No!

If anything we were eating better than ever.

The problem was I got sick of counting.

And stressing about an extra ingredient here and there. Which kinda defeated the point of making life easier.

The other problem was it’s hard to find other recipes out there with so few ingredients. So it pretty much ruled out cooking from my cookbooks, magazines and fave food blogs – something I love to do.

But recently, when I was following one of my Soupstones Meal Plans as part of a dinner challenge, I was again reminded of my pledge. And all the joys that come from cooking simply.

Especially now I have a 2 year old in the house.

So what’s the number 1. way to simplify your meals?

You’ve probably guessed it…

Keep the number of ingredients to a minimum.

I like 5 but you don’t necessarily need to stick to a certain number.

As one of my students said,
“I can’t believe that cooking with so few ingredients could be so tasty… and easy!”


Fish Wraps with Limey Avocado<

Fish Wraps with Limey Avocado

While a more complicated guacamole can be nice, I just adore the simple freshness of creamy avocado with lashings of lime juice. So good here with fish but feel free to use the limey avocado anywhere you’d normally use guac.

This is definitely one of those recipes that even I thought… might need something else. But trust me, with the crunch of the lettuce and zestiness of the lime contrasting the rich salmon… It’s soo good just as it is.

enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes

450g (1lb) salmon or other fish fillets, sliced into bite sized pieces
2 medium avocadoes
2 limes
2 green onions (shallots / scallions), finely sliced (optional)
iceberg lettuce leaves or tortillas to wrap

1. Heat a medium frying pan on a medium high heat. Add a little oil, season the fish with salt and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, or until the fish is cooked to your liking.

2. While the fish is cooking, halve both avocados and discard the seeds. Scoop out the avocado flesh and place in a medium bowl. If there are any brownish bits, remove them.

3. Mash avocado with a fork and stir in the juice of one lime. Season with salt and taste. Add more lime juice and salt as needed. When you’re happy, stir in the green onion (if using).

4. If using lettuce, wash and break into individual leaves. If using tortillas, wrap and warm them in the oven.

5. To serve divide fish between 2 plates. Pop avocado mix into two small bowls and give one per person. Serve lettuce leaves or tortillas in the middle and let each person make their own wraps.

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hot! – add a little chilli to the avocado or serve with chilli oil or your favourite hot sauce at the table.

vegetarian / vegan – soften an onion and then add a drained can (or home cooked) black beans or lentils. Cook on a medium heat until beans are hot then season with a half teaspoon of ground cumin and salt, if needed. Finish with a drizzle of peppery extra virgin olive oil. Use the bean mix instead of the fish.

more veg – serve the wraps with chopped crunchy veg like carrots, snow peas, red capsicum (bell peppers). Or toss in some corn kernels to warm with the fish. Also see ideas in the herby section.

herby – serve with chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), mint or both.

no avocado – mix the zest and juice of a lime into your fave mayo and use as the sauce.

carnivore – replace fish with steaks or pork fillet. Or even chicken thigh or breast fillets.

Big love,
Jules x

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Chinese Beef & Beans

Ever ‘resolved’ to start eating healthy only to have the wheels fall off after a short time?

Well you’re not alone!

There have been plenty of times where I’ve tried (and failed) to make healthy changes in my life.

The good news is it wasn’t your fault your resolution didn’t stick. Pretty much everyone struggles to succeed if they’re relying on willpower.

As Kelly Mc Gonigal Ph.D writes in her book, ‘The Will Power Instinct’ willpower is something we all only have a finite amount of. This is why it can be so difficult to exert self control at times.

Especially when we’re tired. Because our willpower ‘reserves’ are at there lowest at the end of the day.

So what’s the alternative?

In a word. Habits.

By making healthy habits a part of your everyday life you can essentially ‘automate’ daily decisions. And avoid the need for willpower.

This way, eating healthy isn’t something you battle with every meal. It’s on autopilot so healthy choices become effortless. Even enjoyable.

What sort of habits are we talking about?

For me, my weekly shopping habit is the foundation because without it I wouldn’t have lots of veggies in the house. And you can’t eat something that isn’t there.

Cooking for my family on a daily basis is another key. As are getting 8 hours sleep and making sure I eat my meals sitting at the table (no snacking on the go).

It’s different for every person of course.

We don’t all need to follow the exact same habits. The secret is working enough healthy habits into your life so your ‘autopilot’ is steering you in a healthy direction most of the time.

That way you can not only indulge in that Friday night pizza, you can enjoy it completely guilt-free. And without any ill effects.


Chinese Beef & Beans-3

Chinese Beef & Beans

I’ve never really been excited about green beans. Until now. I’m not exaggerating when I say, halving and roasting the beans transforms them from ‘ho-hum’ to ‘OMG-are-there-any-more-beans’. I’m not kidding. They’re that good. The only thing is halving the beans takes a lot of time, but it makes a difference to the results. The halved beans end up crispier and way more tasty so it’s worth it. But if you’re really pushed, see the ‘short on time’ variation below. I like to serve with cauliflower ‘rice’ (grated raw cauliflower).

enough for: 2
takes: 25 minutes

450g (1lb) green beans, halved lengthwise
450g (1lb) ground (minced) beef
2-6 fresh chillies, chopped
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 bunch mint, leaves picked (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 250C (480F). Trim the stalks and discard the bean stalks then halve the beans lengthwise. It’s a bit fiddly but worth it.

2. Toss beans in a little oil and place on a baking tray lined with paper. Bake for 15 minutes (stirring half way through) or until tender and really well browned.

3. Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a wok or frying pan and stir fry the beef and chilli on a really high heat until the beef is well browned.

4. Remove beef from the heat. When the beans are ready, stir in beans, soy sauce and mint (if using). Taste and season with more soy if needed.

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short on time – skip halving the beans (they wont be as crispy though) and allow an extra 5 minutes for them to cook in the oven.

vegetarian / vegan – I’d use crumbled firm tofu instead of the beef. Or try tossing in drained cooked white beans. Or stir fry some some mushrooms instead.

more veg – add in any of your favourite stir fry veg to cook after the beef is done. Red bell peppers (capsicum), snow peas, carrots or green onion would all be lovely. Serve with cauliflower ‘rice’.

more complex – toss in some chopped garlic and ginger in with the beef.

tiny person-friendly – either skip or deseed the chilli to keep the heat down (you could add the chilli at the table for any adults).

soy-free – replace soy sauce with coconut aminos or fish sauce (careful, you may not need as much!).

carb lovers – serve with steamed rice or rice noodles cooked according to the packet.

Big love,
Jules x

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Zucchini with Butter Beans & Goats Curd-2

After our trip to Ireland I fell into some bad habits.

I’d managed to find a great balance between healthy eating and not missing out on any treats (hello Parisian baguettes!) on our trip. And had even come home the same weight I’d left.

But back ‘down under’ things stated to fall apart…

There could have been a few reasons.

But I’m blaming having a sick toddler in the house and a resulting forced extended stay in ‘Sleep Deprivation’ City.

Whatever the cause, I found myself with some serious carb cravings. Resulting in pasta, spuds and tortillas on an almost everyday basis.

Oh yeah, and our veggie intake? Way down.

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Stir-Through Mac & Cheese-2

Are you a precise, measure-every-single-ingredient cook? Or more someone who likes to just add ‘a little bit of this and that’?


I’m somewhere in the middle…

Now ‘fence sitting’ isn’t normally my style. But in this case, there’s a very good reason…

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Green Lime & Fish Soup-2

You’re probably not going to believe me. But I swear I’m telling the truth. I’ve just done my shopping list for the week.

And I only need 7 ingredients.


Yep really. 7. That’s all. Well for dinner for the next 5 nights at least. Oh, and it includes 1 healthy dessert as well.

Best of all, I’m getting them all from my local mini-supermarket.

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Cheesey Quinoa

You come home after another huge day at work. You’re tired. You’re hungry. You think about cooking but do you have the energy?

It’s tough. Isn’t it?

But today I have a bit of inspiration for you. A new ‘scientific’ reason to help you resist the temptation to skip cooking.

Something I’m really excited to share!

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Yoghurt & Kofta Curry

Ever had that feeling where you’re bored with cooking?

Well it may surprise you but even though I’m completely obsessed with food, there are times when I do feel a little ‘meh’.

Bored even.

This doesn’t happen often. But it does happen.

Like last week when Fergal was sick and I was running on less than 3 hours sleep a night.

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Irresistable Mashy Peas

I hate peas.

Actually, I should rephrase that. I used to hate peas. Ever since my mother forced me to eat them, I’ve had a few pea ‘issues’.

I’ve always known my pea phobia was totally irrational. And I often wished I loved peas like my Irishman does.

I’d gotten to the stage where I didn’t ‘freak out’ whenever they were served. And I thought this was as good as things were going to get.

But recently I came across a recipe for Mashy Peas which rocked my world.

And turned me into a pea fan.

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Spiced Chickpeas with Cauli Mash-3

I‘m not a fan of ‘hiding’ vegetables. Even with a toddler in the house who is becoming more and more a fan of the word ‘No’.

Basically I believe that vegetables taste delicious when prepared properly and ‘sneaking’ them into things sends the wrong message.

But recently I was talking to my best mate in Melbourne and she made me reconsider my stance on stealth veg…

About 4 months pregnant, my friend was really worried because she had completely lost her taste for eating vegetables. She knew she should be eating loads of fresh produce but the thought of broccoli, kale or salad was leaving her cold.

Which got me thinking about my favourite ways to eat veg that don’t feel particularly ‘healthy’. I hope you find this helpful next time you have a fussy pregnant lady (or 2 year old) in the house…

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Turmeric Tea-2

Each month I like to choose 1-2 habits to focus on for improving my health. For a very long time, ‘quitting sugar’ has been on my list, but for some reason I kept putting it off.

My main rationale was that I normally only have sugar once or twice a week. Surely I didn’t have a problem with it?

But there was something in my hesitance to give up the white stuff which made me curious. So in April I committed to quitting sugar for a month.

Before I share my experience lets have a look at some of the reasons why sugar has been getting such a bad rap lately…

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Super Easy Baked Salmon

One of the things I still miss about living in Sydney is being able to visit the fish markets.

When we were in Cooma I used my lack of access to the fish markets as an excuse not to cook fish very often. But to be honest a large part was the reaction my Irishman would have when faced with a steaming plate of salmon or snapper…

Fish for dinner? Really? (with a really unhappy look on his face).

No fun for anyone.

When we moved to our little farm, much closer to fresh fish, we made a deal to try and have fish at least once a week. With no complaints.

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Blueberry Yoghurt Cake-2

This week, if Stonesoup feels a little different it’s because I’m writing from the Northern Hemisphere.

For the first time in three years we’re back in Ireland for one of my Irishmans mates weddings. So! Excited!

The timing is great because on Sunday Fergal turned two!

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Spiced Cauli 'Couscous'-3

Before I learned about the perils of eating lots of carbs and started (mostly) avoiding grains, I used to LOVE couscous.

I mean its so quick and easy to prepare and has all that carby comforting goodness. What’s not to love?

But as I’ve discovered, couscous didn’t love me.

So it’s been literally years since I made couscous. I had tried using grated raw cauliflower as an alternative. It was fine but didn’t really look or taste like couscous.

Recently I was inspired to try it again. But this time I did a few things differently…

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Bean Soup-3

Back just after Christmas, I had this crazy idea. My Irishman had given me a copy of David Tanis’ brilliant book ‘A Platter of Figs’ and I had devoured it. Cover to cover in almost one sitting.

There were so many meals from the book that I wanted to cook which got me thinking…

Maybe I should have a project to cook them all?

Something like Julie and Julia where a New York blogger cooked everything from Julia Child’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’.

I sat with it for a few days and the idea only grew stronger. And so the ‘Jules & David Project’ was born.

Six months later, I’m happy to report that I’m half way through the meals and I’m so glad to be doing it. There have been so many lessons I’ve picked up along the way.

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Bean Soup-3

A few weeks ago I was reading the Guardian newspaper online. The food section, of course, not that depressing current affairs stuff.

Anyway there was a link to an article about ‘cooking once and eating all week’, which instantly grabbed my attention.

Great concept. Isn’t it?

Basically the article consisted of a recipe for how to cook a big pot of beans and then 4 different recipes for how to use said beans during the week.

I’m already a huge fan of this way of cooking.

I use it pretty much every week.

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Bean Soup-3

When I was 11 years old my parents sent me to boarding school. It actually wasn’t as bad as it sounded. In many ways it was a big adventure to make new friends and be out in the world on my own.

I learned some big lessons that year.

But the thing that really stuck with me was how amazing my mum’s cooking was. And just how bad boarding school food could be.

It’s easy to trace my fear of over-cooked vegetables back to that time. I distinctly remember beans and broccoli always having that dull army green thing going on. Ick

And the texture. Always of mush.

So it’s not surprising that I grew up to be a fan of ‘al dente’ crunch in my vegetables.

But recently I’ve had a change of heart.

Especially with my broccoli.

It all happened, as the best cooking discoveries tend to happen… by accident.

I was ‘steam-frying‘ a pot of broccoli to have with my poached eggs one morning and got distracted with Fergal. Next thing I knew my broccoli had nothing resembling any crunch left.

But here’s the thing…

I LOVED my super tender broccoli ‘mistake’. The flavour was more subdued and it just melted away in my mouth. I couldn’t wait to have more.

Moral to this tale?

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Bean Soup-3

You know that guilty feeling you get when you uncover an ingredient that’s on its last legs?

Well a few weeks ago I had a case of it. Big time.

The ingredient in question was a bunch of bok choy (why is it always a vegetable?).

For almost a week, every time I’d see it lurking in the crisper drawer, I’d think ‘Man, I really need to use that bok choy’.

And promptly forget about it.

Then one day I noticed the outer leaves were starting to turn yellow. Which made me feel guilty enough to take my sorry-looking bok choy out of the fridge.

With dinner already organized, I couldn’t think of a way to use the bok choy then. So I decided to ‘prep it’ so my future self would be able to find it a home before the yellow took over…

It only took a few minutes to wash, discard the incriminating yellowish leaves and finely chop the rest. But the best part? I instantly felt better.

Then I popped my prepped bok choy in the most visible place in the fridge. Done.

And you know what?

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