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Fresh Pea Pasta-2

A few months ago I had an illuminating conversation with the other mothers at playgroup. We were talking about how much we spend on food.

It was amazing how different the range was. And it reminded me that it’s been ages since I wrote about the financial side of cooking.

So here we are.

3 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Food Costs

1. Cook from scratch
Convenience is expensive because the more processing (and especially packaging) a food goes through, the more it costs to produce. So it’s best to cook things yourself where possible. Baking your own bread or making your own yoghurt or even your own wine vinegar are excellent places to start.

I find that apart from the financial benefits, home made food often tastes better. Plus it’s generally better for you because you know exactly what ingredients were used to make it.

2. Reduce your meat intake
We all know that animal products tend to be expensive. If you do find cheap meat, you’ve got to question why it’s so cheap.

Interestingly, in my playgroup discussion it was the ‘mostly vegetarian’ family who had the lowest monthly food costs.

There’s no need to turn completely vegan overnight. Try going meat-free a few times a week. Another great option is to decrease the amount of meat in a recipe by supplementing with lentils, beans or even tofu. Or think of ways to use a little meat as a garnish to keep the carnivores happy without the cost of a steak.

3. Consider frozen veg
Years ago I read a study comparing the nutritional content of ‘fresh’ and frozen veg. In many cases the frozen veg actually outperformed the ‘fresh’ vegetables. Especially when the non-frozen veg were on the older side.

Frozen veg are also brilliant from a waste persepctive because they’ll happily hang out in your freezer until you need them. Unless you’re like my Dad and put the frozen veg in your refrigerator when you get them home…

budget class logo

Like more help reducing your food costs?

Then check out the ‘Mastering the Art of Cooking on a Budget‘ program at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School.

The program is ‘pay what you can afford’ and I created it as a chance to help people who can’t afford my other programs.

While cooking real healthy food on a budget may seem difficult, it’s not impossible and in this class I’ll show you exactly how to do it.

For more details go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/budget/

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Fresh Pea Pasta

Fresh Mint & Pea Pasta

Along with Fergal’s Fried Rice, this is one of my backup quick dinners for my boys. I usually have cooked pasta in the freezer so all I have to do is remember to defrost the pasta a few hours before dinner. This has the added bonus of reducing the impact of the pasta on our blood sugar because the cooking and cooling process creates ‘resistant starch’ which our bodies use as fiber – something especially great for gut health.

enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes

200g (7oz) pasta
4 tablespoons butter
3 handfuls frozen peas
mint small bunch (optional), leaves picked
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Bring a big pot of salted water to the boil. Add pasta and set your timer according to the packet directions.

2. Meanwhile, warm butter in a small saucepan on a medium heat. Add peas and cook for a minute or until the peas are hot. The less cooking the fresher everything will taste.

3. Remove peas from the heat and mash using a stick blender or a fork until you have a chunky saucy puree.

4. When the pasta is cooked, drain and toss into the peas along with the mint and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste and season with more lemon, salt and pepper if needed.

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Variations

cheesey – serve with lashings of grated parmesan or toss in crumbled feta or goats cheese.

different herbs – replace mint with basil or parsley.

less mess / one pot – cook pasta and drain then make the sauce in the pasta cooking pot.

more fiber / more veg – soften an onion or leek in the butter before adding the peas. Toss in a few handfuls of baby spinach or cooked greens with the cooked pasta.

low-carb – replace some or all of the cooked pasta with spiralized zucchini (courgettes).

more substantial – use more butter, or more pasta or serve with roasted nuts such as pinenuts or almonds.

dairy-free – olive oil instead of butter.

carnivore – serve the pea sauce with cooked sausages, roast chicken or BBQ lamb chops.

________________

budget class logo

Like to learn more about Cooking on a Budget?

Then I highly recommend taking the ‘Mastering the Art of Cooking on a Budget‘ program at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School.

The program is ‘pay what you can afford’ and I created it as a chance to help people who can’t afford my other programs.

While cooking real healthy food on a budget may seem difficult, it’s not impossible and in this class I’ll show you exactly how to do it.

For more details go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/budget/

With love,
Jules x

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ps. I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to keep offering the class as a ‘pay what you can afford’ so signup today to make sure you don’t miss out on this great deal.

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Savoury Cheese Cake-2

Before we get to this weeks recipe, I’m going to let you in on a secret. Here at Stonesoup ‘head quarters’ I have a little tradition. Around the time of the ‘birthday’ of each of my eCookbooks I have a once-a-year sale to celebrate my ‘baby’ becoming a year older.

This month it’s one of my most favourite ‘book children’, The 2-Minute Meal Plan – A Revolutionary Approach to Planning and Cooking Healthy Food Fast.

Do you struggle with meal planning?

Then the ‘2-Minute Meal Plan’ can help!

So how does the ‘2-Minute Meal Plan’ work? And how is it different?

Basically it’s all about ‘reversing’ the meal planning process. Instead of deciding what to cook first and then buying ingredients, the 2-Minute Meal Plan teaches you to do your shopping first and THEN deciding what to cook.

This is a game changer for 3 reasons.

1. It takes a fraction of the time that a traditional meal plan takes. No sitting down and writing a big list.

2. It allows greater flexibility, you’re not locked in to a particular meal that you may or may not feel like on the night.

3. It allows you to shop with the seasons based on what looks best (and is generally less expensive) rather than having to buy what’s on your list.

If this seems a bit to scary, you can take baby steps. And I’ll show you how in the ‘2-Minute Meal Plan’.

Like to try this new approach to meal planning?

2MMP 3D Cover

For the next 48-hours only you can get the ‘2-Minute Meal Plan’ at 30% OFF in the ‘Book Birthday’ Celebration Sale.

To make sure you don’t miss out go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/2mmp/

UPDATE: THE SALE IS NOW OVER.

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OK good. Now let me tell you about this cheesecake…

I’m a huge huge fan of cheesecake in all its forms but had never even considered the idea of turning it into a real cheesey salty affair until I was reading one of my Christmas presents, Honey & Co. – Food From the Middle East. (A brilliant book which is well worth checking out if you like Middle Eastern food).

Anyway when I spotted their Savoury Cheesecake I just had to try it.

And what a winner!

We had it for Sunday brunch and I remember wishing I had made more. The texture is surprisingly light, almost like a souffle. And the salty cheese makes it so so satisfying.

It’s super delicious here with the roast zucchini but feel free to use any of your favourite pizza toppings to top it instead. I’ve also made it with chunks of roast eggplant. Yum!

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Savoury Cheese Cake

Melt-in-the-Mouth Savoury Cheesecake

I love this cheesecake so so much. I’ve served it multiple times for brunch but it’s also fab as a simple vegetarian weeknight meal. I like it best when still warm from the oven but am totally happy having cold leftovers for lunch the next day. If it’s not zucchini season where you are, see the ‘variations’ for alternative topping ideas. And if you’re short of time you can easily roast the zucchini at the same time you cook the cheesecake and then serve it on top.

enough for 4 as a light meal
takes: 30 minutes

3 small zucchini (500g / 1lb)
small bunch mint, leave
250g (9oz) cream cheese (Philadelphia), softened
200g (7oz) feta
3 eggs

1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Slice zucchini into rounds and pop in a roasting tray. Drizzle with a little oil but don’t add salt because you’ll be getting lots from the feta.

2. Roast for 20 minutes or until zucchini has softened and started to brown. Remove from the oven and toss in the mint.

3. Meanwhile, place cream cheese, feta and eggs in a food processor and whizz until well combined. There will still be a few tiny lumps from the feta. Grease a 20cm (8in) oven proof frying pan or spring form pan. Spoon the cheesey mixture into the pan and smooth out the top. Press the cooked zucchini into the top.

4. Bake cheesecake for 15 minutes. Turn and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until browned around the edges and puffed up a little. Serve warm.

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Variations

short on time – bake zucchini at the same time as the cheesecake and serve on top. Or skip the zucchini and just serve with a side salad for greenery. Or try a big dollop of pesto just before serving.

different veg – roast eggplant is really good, grilled red peppers, roast mushrooms, roast diced root veg like sweet potato, wilted greens.

carnivore – top with salami or proscuitto as well as or instead of the zucchini.

no food processor – just mash the cheeses and eggs together with a fork and go for a more chunky, rustic style.

different cheese – replace feta with goats cheese or ricotta.

more substantial – serve with a side of bacon and/or hot buttered toast. For a more middle eastern vibe serve with warm pita bread.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. Not sure if the 2-Minute Meal Plan will help you?

2MMP 3D Cover

Here’s what Daniela and Kate said about it…

“The most helpful part for me was the different approach to shopping, shop for veggies with freshness in mind, not a recipe. What a great idea! I’m finding it easier to use all the veggies I buy this way…”
Daniela, 2-Minute Meal Planner.

“The whole system was very useful to me. I learned better planning of meals for a week and, besides that, to improvise with ingredients. Preparing food ceased to be stressful factor and became a joy!”
Kate, 2-Minute Meal Planner.

To make sure you don’t miss out on the ‘48-Hour Birthday Sale
go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/2mmp/

UPDATE: THE SALE IS NOW OVER.

__________________

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Zucchini Fritters

I have an evil plan. I like to call it ‘how to get small boys to eat more vegetables without resorting to hiding them’.

Like most plans, evil or otherwise, some days there is progress. Other days it feels more like regression.

One of my recent ‘progressive’ days was when I made these Crispy Zucchini Fritters for Sunday brunch. I had already had success with potato rosti, so I figured crispy fried treats may be tempting enough for Fergal to overcome his moratorium on green vegetables.

It worked!

They were so popular with all my men there weren’t any leftovers. And when I suggested to my Irishman that they might make a nice St Patrick’s Day celebration, he agreed with the proviso that they be served with Guinness, of course.

Happy St Patricks Day!

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Zucchini Fritters-2

Crispy Zucchini Fritters

I find fritters a bit fiddly to make. They’re not the sort of thing to serve a huge crowd. But I’m happy to take the time on a Sunday morning for our little family so my boys are enjoying some vegetables rather than just scoffing the bacon or black pudding. Normally I’m all about the mayonnaise for dipping but after ‘extensive’ testing my Irishman and I agreed that the fritters are actually better with refreshing natural yoghurt or some labneh.

enough for: 2 as a light meal
takes: about 30 minutes

3 medium zucchini (500g / 1lb)
pinch salt
2 eggs
150g (5oz) almond meal
small bunch mint, leaves picked and chopped (optional)
oil for frying
natural yoghurt, to serve

1. Grate zucchini using your food processor or a box grater. Add a pinch of salt, stir and stand for a few minutes. Pat with paper towel to remove some moisture but no need to get it really dry.

2. Combine the salted zucchini, eggs, almond meal and mint (if using) until thoroughly mixed – I just do this in the bowl of my food processor.

3. Heat 1cm (1/3in) oil in a large frying pan on a medium high heat. Test a little drop of mixture, when it starts sizzling vigorously, start scooping heaped tablespoons of the mixture into the pan. I usually cook 5-6 at a time. Shallow fry until well browned on both sides. Drain on paper towel and keep warm in a low oven while you continue cooking the rest of the mixture.

4. Serve hot fritters with a good dusting of sea salt flakes and cold yoghurt on the side for dipping / drizzling.

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Variations

with potato! – replace some o the zucchini with spuds. Or for a whole potato experience, these rosti are a total winner.

different veg – if you can grate it, you can probably use it in place of the zucchini. Think sweet potato, potato, carrots, butternut pumpkin (squash) or parsnip or any combo of the above.

different herbs – mint and zucchini are a match made in heaven but feel free to use some chives, parsley or even basil.

nut-free – replace almond meal with ground sunflower seeds or use your favourite flour my choice would be chickpea flour.

lighter – use 3 eggs whites instead of the whole eggs.

burgers – form the mixture into 4 burger patties and pan fry in the oil until well browned and cooked through.

baked – not as tasty as fried but definitely lower maintenance! Drizzle oil in a baking tray and top with scoops of the fritter mixture. Bake 200C until well browned – about 20 minutes as a guess.

zucchini nests – use your spiralizer instead of grating.

brunch! / more substantial – serve with poached eggs and a salad. A bit of bacon or black pudding wouldn’t go astray.

Big love,
Jules x

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___

ps. Want to win a copy of my print book ‘5-Ingredients 10-Minutes?

I really want to hear from you! What have you enjoyed about Stonesoup? Do you have any ideas how I could make it better? Did you like the sound of this recipe? Let me know in the comments below.

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Pav Baji

I was feeling a bit down when I sat at my desk to write this post. You know one of those days where it’s just a bit ‘blahh’.

Anyway, I found myself reading through the comments on my most recent blog post.

Instantly I felt better!

Hearing from Stonesoup readers always lifts my spirits. With two small children in the house I don’t get to respond as often as I’d like, but I love the interaction that blog comments allow. Even if it’s hearing from someone who has had problems with one of my recipes. I genuinely love the feedback.

Which brings me to the something ‘new’…

The Stonesoup ‘Commenter of the Month’ Award!

To give you an extra incentive to share your thoughts on Stonesoup, I’ll be giving away a copy of my print book, 5-Ingredients 10-Minutes the first week of every month.

And the winner for March is Jo Crosby!

To be in the running to win, all you need to do is leave a comment anywhere on Stonesoup.

I really want to hear what you think. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It can be feedback on a particular recipe or a general comment on anything that’s resonated with you. Or not!

Entries are open to anyone from around the world.

Really looking forward to hearing from you!

Magical Low Carb Burger Buns!

Before I go, this week’s recipe is something I’m currently in love with. It’s not something I normally say about food but I really love these buns! Yes they’ve changed my life in the last few months.

It’s been so lovely to have an easy-to-make soft bread roll in my repertoire (and my freezer). They were a winner for sandwiches with our leftover Christmas ham, cheese, pickles and mustard. And my old lunch favourite tuna and mayo rolls have been popping back.

Plus they’re brilliant for proper burgers without worrying about my blood sugar levels.

All this talk about sandwiches and I just realized I haven’t tried them in a BLT – need to get onto that ASAP!

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Low Carb Burger Buns

Magical Burger Buns (Low Carb)

These burger buns are the real deal. They’re now my go-to whenever I’m in the mood for a low carb sandwich or, of course, a burger! Don’t be tempted to try them without the psyllium – it’s really the critical ingredient for getting the light soft, burger bun texture (it also adds lots of fiber!)

makes: 4
takes: 60 minutes

100g (3.5oz) almond meal
25g (1oz) psyllium
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites* (120g / 4oz)
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
sesame seeds to sprinkle (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Line a tray with baking paper.

2. Mix almond meal, psyllium, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add egg whites, boiling water and vinegar. Stir until just combined. Stand for 5 minutes to allow the mixture to cool and the psyllium to absorb the water.

3. Divide mixture into 4 and form each into a little disc about the diameter of a burger bun. I find using wet hands helps stop it being too messy. Place discs on your prepared tray. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using).

4. Bake buns for 55-60 minutes or until well browned and risen. To double check they should sound hollow, like a loaf of baked bread when you tap on the bottoms with your finger tips.

5. When the buns are cooked, cool on a rack to stop the bottoms going soggy.

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Variations

* no egg whites – you can use 2 whole eggs instead (the buns texture will be slightly heavier but still delicious!)

nut-free / budget – Replace almond meal with finely ground sunflower seeds (I use a little coffee grinder) – no need to change the baking time.

larger batch – I often double the batch to make more for freezing. Cut in half cross wise before freezing so you can easily defrost in the toaster.

no apple cider vinegar – you can skip it, or use another wine vinegar – something that tastes good but not balsamic!

no psyllium – Don’t be tempted to try them without the psyllium – it’s really the critical ingredient for getting the light soft, burger bun texture (it also adds lots of fiber!)

Shelf Life / Storage

Keeps for 1 week in the fridge or indefinitely in the freezer. Just warm in the toaster or oven before serving.

Big love,
Jules x

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PS. Want to win a copy of my print book ‘5-Ingredients 10-Minutes?

I really want to hear from you! What have you enjoyed about Stonesoup? Do you have any ideas how I could make it better? Let me know in the comments below.

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Zucchini 'Noodle' & Pesto Salad

There aren’t many things I’d go back and change about my life if it was possible. I’m a firm believer in the idea that there is value in all our life experiences. Even the things that seem really ‘shite’ at the time.

But there is one thing I wish I’d figured out at a much younger age…

The power of habits.

I wish I had known that habits are the key to putting healthy eating (and other parts of life) on ‘autopilot’. I wish I’d known that habits make healthy choices second nature so you don’t have to ‘think’.

It would have saved me so much struggle, effort and pain.

But at least I know now. And so do you!

So if habits are the key to making healthy eating almost fool-proof, it begs the question ‘Which habits Jules?’

My Top 5 Healthy Eating Habits

1. Eating real food.
The rate of obesity has increased at the same rate as our consumption of processed factory food. Coincidence? I think not.

So what is real food?

Michael Pollan recommends not eating anything your grandparents wouldn’t recognize as food. But that would rule out sashimi for me! I prefer to think of real food as anything that you can buy without an ‘ingredients list’ on the pack.

2. Having a shopping habit.
No, not retail ‘therapy’… Shopping for food. If you’re going to be cooking real food, you need ingredients in the house.

Basically once a week I do some sort of food shop. Usually on a Thursday for the supermarket or the fresh produce market in Canberra. Or on Saturday for the farmers market where I stock up on fresh veg and meat direct from the farmers so I know it’s been raised humanely.

More recently, I’ve been able to do some of my ‘shopping’ for fresh herbs and veg in my garden – but we’re a long long way from self sufficiency in that arena.

3. Eating low carb.
With my gestational diabetes I was already in the habit of keeping my meals as low carb as possible. And after learning that unlike most women with GD, my diabetes had decided to hang around for good, I’ve just kept going with the low carb thing.

To be honest I really enjoy eating like this. I find the less carbs I eat the less I want to eat them. Plus I’d much rather have healthy stable blood sugar than a bowl of pasta any day.

4. Eating LOTS of fat.
If you’ve tried eating low carb and have struggled it was probably because you weren’t eating enough fat. Basically we can either burn carbs or fat for energy. If you choose to avoid the blood sugar roller coaster that comes from eating carbs (especially if you’re diabetic) then you need fat.

My favourite fats are home made mayo, grass-fed butter, olive oil, home made chilli oil and coconut oil.

5. Mindful Eating.
Want to know the easiest way to enjoy your food more AND avoid over eating? It may sound like it wouldn’t help, but I’ve found eating mindfully makes a world of difference.

It takes some practice but it’s a habit I highly recommend you experiment with. I have two techniques that really help.

First I focus on chewing. When I feel the urge to swallow I get myself to chew a few more times.

The second technique I learned from my friend Darya Rose is to wait before there is no more food in my mouth before loading up my fork for the next mouthful. So when I pick up my fork I try and remember to check that my mouth is empty.

Simple and soo effective!

Need some help with your healthy food habits?

Well you’re in luck!

HMM2013 square logo large

Registration for my online cooking program ‘The Healthy Meal Method’ is still open for a few more days.

It’s a 6 week online training program that teaches simple healthy cooking habits.

It arms you with simple tools and strategies to help you make real lasting changes to your life so you can ‘eat well, be well’ with minimal effort.

For more details go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/hmm/

Note: Doors close 3 March 2017.

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Zucchini 'Noodle' & Pesto Salad-2

Zucchini ‘Noodle’ & Pesto Salad

This is going to sound like a big call but I’m willing to ‘go there’ anyway. This was my favourite thing on our table this Christmas. Yep better than the deep fried turkey – although only just. Man was that one tasty turkey. But back to the salad, it has such freshness and vibrancy yet the noodles provide the comfort you’d normally expect from a bowl of spaghetti. I’ve been serving it mostly as a side salad this Summer but it would only take a poached egg, some sardines, a generous handful of shaved Parmesan or a little cooked chicken to turn it into a meal.

And another thing I love about this salad is that it’s not a ‘delicate flower’ that will wilt if you don’t serve asap. It’s actually happy sitting around at room temperature for an hour or so. And the leftovers keep really well in the fridge!

enough for: 2 as a side
takes: 15 minutes

2 medium zucchini
6 tablespoons pesto
2 tablespoons lemon juice
bunch basil, leaves picked
handful pine nuts

1. Cut zucchini into spaghetti-like noodles using a spiralizer, vegetable peeler or mandoline. Sprinkle with some fine salt and stand for a few minutes to soften.

2. Combine pesto and lemon in a large bowl.

3. Toss zucchini noodles in the pesto dressing along with the basil. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt or lemon, as needed.

4. Serve with pine nuts scattered on top.

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Variations

dairy-free – use a dairy-free pesto or basil oil.

carb lovers / more substantial – toss in some torn sourdough croutons, boiled new potatoes or cooked spaghetti.

complete meal – add some protein like poached eggs, some sardines, canned tuna, a generous handful of shaved parmesan or feta, or a little cooked shredded chicken.

different herbs – if it isn’t basil season use flat leaf parsley, mint or some salad leaves instead – you just want some leafy fresh greenness.

different nuts – pine nuts can be expensive so feel free to use almonds, brazil nuts or cashews instead.

nut-free – skip the pine nuts or use shaved parmesan, crumbled feta or slices of fresh goats cheese instead.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. Not sure if The Healthy Meal Method can help you?

Here’s what Julia and Nancy said about their experience…

“After using HMM I am enjoying cooking more simply and wasting less food, which saves lots of money. I am more organised and plan meals around using the most perishable items in my fridge first. HMM is great for anyone who enjoys food. It takes the stress out of cooking, especially for busy people, including families.”
Julia, HMM Student

“I am almost 60 y.o. and until now had no consistent shopping habits or plan. I knew what was healthy but not how to make it simple. I am thrilled to have found an approach that deals with habits so well. I’ve given myself permission to keep it simple and use the recipes as templates for adaptation.”
Nancy, HMM Student.

pps. Here’s the link again:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/hmm/

Note: Doors close 3 March 2017.

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Roast Broccoli & Chicken Caesar Salad-2

1. Healthy Habits

As you probably know from first hand experience, when it comes to eating healthier, change is really hard if you’re relying on will power.

This is because we only have a finite amount of willpower each day. As the day wears on, our will power reserves get depleted which is why it can be so difficult to exert self control when we’re tired.

So what’s the alternative? Habits.

By focusing on building healthy everyday habits, you automate your decisions. This way eating healthy isn’t something you battle with at every meal, its on autopilot so healthy choices become effortless.

2. Your Pantry

I grew up on a sheep farm and the closest supermarket was a 40 minute drive away. So the concept of a well stocked pantry is something that comes naturally to me.

Just the knowledge that I am prepared saves a heap of stress AND it means I can usually find something to make, even on nights when I feel like I don’t have the energy to cook.

We’ll be covering a detailed step-by-step guide to setting up and actually using your life-saving pantry / fridge / freezer in the Healthy Meal Method which I hope you’ll join me for.

3. Investment Cooking

There’s a ‘secret’ weapon I’ve discovered for avoiding waste, an idea I stole from the restaurant world.

Chefs call it ‘mise en place‘ but I think of it as ‘investment cooking’. It’s where chefs prepare ingredients up to the point where they’re ready to be used during food service.

It may be as simple as washing and chopping vegetables. Or more complicated like roasting veg or cooking up a big pot of lovely lentils.

The main benefit in a restaurant (and your home!) is that it makes it quicker and easier to get food on the table after the customer has ordered (or got home from work!). It also usually extends life of fresh produce.

This is a key component to the ‘Healthy Meal Method’ which is why I’ve included step-by-step plans to get you into the habit of ‘investment cooking’ on a regular basis.

And the best news is, it can take as little as 1/2 an hour a week to make all the difference.

4. The Art of Adaptation
(Learning to Cook with What You Have)

They say there are 2 types of cooks: those that like to follow recipes and those that consider a recipe to be nothing more than a gentle suggestion.

Which camp do you fall into?

These days I’m definitely a recipe-is-just-for-inspiration type of cook. But it wasn’t always the case. When I first started to get into cooking in my early 20s I always followed the recipe. As my confidence grew, I began to tweak a few things here and there.

Then during my wine making days, I started leaving recipes behind. Each week, I’d go the the local farmers market and buy whatever looked good. During the week I’d experiment and cook from the heart based on the ingredients I had in the house. It was liberating and so much fun!

Don’t worry, I’m not saying it’s wrong to follow a recipe. But there can be a few problems with a recipe-centric approach to cooking on a daily basis…

Thankfully, the art of adaptation is a skill that anyone can learn. I’ve helped hundreds of cooks like you make the transition. And you can take baby steps to get there.

If you join us for ‘The Healthy Meal Method’, you’ll discover all the tools you need along with 10 of my favourite most ‘adaptable’ recipes which will give you a starting point or ‘training wheels’ to help you flex your own adaptation muscles.

With time you too will be able to cook with what you have.

Like to put your healthy eating habits on ‘autopilot’?

HMM2013 square logo large

Then join me for the 2017 edition of my online cooking program, ‘The Healthy Meal Method’ – an online training program that teaches simple, healthy cooking habits.

It arms you with simple tools and strategies to help you make real lasting changes to your life so you can ‘eat well, be well’ with minimal effort.

For more details go to:
http://thestonesoupshop.com/hmm/

“HMM has really given me the tools to eat healthier and cook for myself at home more.”
Martha, Healthy Meal Method Student.

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Roast Broccoli & Chicken Caesar Salad

Amazing Roast Broccoli & Chicken Caesar-ish Salad

Roast broccoli is one of my all time favourite things to eat. I’d take it over roast spuds any day (although the men in my house are firmly in the potato camp). It’s especially tasty when cooked in a hot oven like this because you get the lovely charred crispy bits on the outside. Plus its quicker to cook. So even if you’re not a Caesar fan, I really encourage you to try the broccoli!

enough for: 2
takes: 30 minutes

2 heads broccoli
4 chicken thigh fillets
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
handful grated parmesan
shaved parmesan, to serve

1. Preheat your oven to 250C (480F). Chop broccoli into bite sized little trees and finely slice broccoli stems. Slice each chicken thigh into 4 strips.

2. Place broccoli and chicken in a roasting pan and drizzle with a little oil.

3. Pop in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, combine lemon, mayo and grated parmesan in a medium bowl to make the dressing. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

5. After the 10 minutes, stir the chicken and brocc to move the outside pieces into the middle so everything cooks a bit more evenly.

6. Roast for another 5 – 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and broccoli is tender.

7. Toss hot chicken and veg in the dressing. Divide between two plates and serve with extra shaved parmesan on top.

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Variations

mayo-free – replace mayo with extra virgin olive oil, sour cream or natural yoghurt.

vegetarian – skip the chicken and serve with a poached or boiled egg instead. Or toss in drained canned or cooked white beans or chickpeas.

more veg – toss in chopped cos or romaine lettuce, baby spinach, finely chopped raw kale or fresh parsley leaves.

more classic Caesar – replace roast broccoli with chopped Cos or Romaine lettuce. And add some chopped anchovies to the dressing.

carb-lovers / more substantial – toss in cooked pasta, cooked chickpeas or torn chunks of sourdough bread.

dairy-free / paleo – replace grated parmesan with grated brazil nuts and replace shaved parmesan with roast almonds or pine nuts.

With love,
Jules x

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ps. I’d love to hear from you.

What are your biggest struggles when it comes to healthy cooking? Let me know in the comments below.

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Miso & Harissa Roast Cauliflower-4

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 or Sunday afternoon ice cream, you can enjoy it completely guilt-free. And without any ill effects.

Like to put your healthy eating habits on ‘autopilot’?

HMM2013 square logo large

Then join me for the 2017 edition of my online cooking program, ‘The Healthy Meal Method’ – an online training program that teaches simple, healthy cooking habits.

It arms you with simple tools and strategies to help you make real lasting changes to your life so you can ‘eat well, be well’ with minimal effort.

For more details go to:
http://thestonesoupshop.com/hmm/

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Miso & Harissa Roast Cauliflower-2

Miso Harissa Roast Cauli

I can’t remember where I got the inspiration to combine Japanese miso paste with Moroccan harissa. But I’m so so glad I did. Talk about a flavour bomb. To be honest I love roast cauliflower on its own, but with this dressing it is seriously one of my favourite things to eat. Ever. And I take these things seriously. Very seriously. You definitely need to make this one!

enough for: 2 as a side
takes: 30 minutes

3 tablespoons white miso paste
2 tablespoons harissa
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cauliflower, chopped into florettes
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 small bunch kale, finely sliced

1. Preheat your oven to 250C (480F).

2. Combine miso, harissa and olive oil in a small bowl.

3. Place cauli in a roasting pan. Toss half the miso-harissa dressing over the cauliflower. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until cauli is cooked through and browned around the edges.

4. Meanwhile, add the vinegar to the remaining dressing. Taste and season, adding more miso, harissa, vinegar or just some salt if needed. Although it’s probably delicious just as it is.

5. When the cauli is cooked, toss in the kale and extra dressing and serve warm or at room temp.

Variations

different veg – also lovely with broccoli instead of the cauli. I can imagine the dressing would also be brilliant with roast sweet potato, butternut squash, zucchini or even roast spuds. If you’re not into kale, try a bunch of flat leaf parsley or a handful of baby spinach leaves to add the leafiness.

more substantial / carb lovers – toss in some cooked couscous, quinoa or brown rice. Or serve with warm flat bread.

complete meal – serve with grilled or pan fried chicken or fish. Or crumble over some feta or your favourite goats cheese. A handful of roast nuts (I’m thinking almonds, pine nuts or macadamias) would add excellent crunch and some more substance. A few poached or fried eggs wouldn’t go astray either. And one day I’m going to try it with cooked lentils and on another day with cooked chickpeas.

no miso – my supermarket stock white miso (shiro) in the Japanese section, but if you don’t have any, just use 2 tablespoons soy sauce instead.

no harissa – OMG you really should try and get some. It’s a Moroccan chilli and spice paste that adds incredible flavour. But substitute any chilli paste or chilli sauce or even some chopped fresh red chillies. Just add a little at first if you aren’t sure of the heat intensity.

With love,
Jules x

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ps. Not sure if changing your habits could help you?

Here’s what Nancy and Julia said about the ‘Healthy Meal Method’…

“I am almost 60 y.o. and until now had no consistent shopping habits or plan. I knew what was healthy but not how to make it simple. I am thrilled to have found an approach that deals with habits so well.
Nancy, Healthy Meal Method Student.

“After using the Healthy Meal Method I am enjoying cooking more simply and wasting less food, which saves lots of money. I am more organised and plan meals around using the most perishable items in my fridge first. The Healthy Meal Method is great for anyone who enjoys food. It takes the stress out of cooking, especially for busy people, including families.”
Julia, Healthy Meal Method Student.

What do you think?

I’d really love you to join us for this years program!

To see if ‘The Healthy Meal Method’ is right for you go to:
http://thestonesoupshop.com/hmm/

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Simple Roast Chicken & Spuds-2

My parents are really crazy. They’re always talking about food. And music. And wine.

And I know my mum has this food blog, so I thought I’d sneak in and tell you a bit about the food that I like to eat. Just to give you a different perspective…

Breakfast

This may be TMI (too much information) but ages ago I had some problems with being a bit ‘blocked up’. So I started having prunes every morning. A habit I’m still loving.

Some mornings I just have toast with Kerrygold Irish butter. Actually I think my mum changed her mind about letting me eat gluten. For ages she used to give me this gluten-free bread which was OK but I’m much happier when there’s real sourdough in the house.

Other mornings it’s yoghurt. Even though my mum makes her own yoghurt, like any self-respecting kid, I’d prefer flavoured yoghurt with cartoon characters on the label. Between you and me I’m surprised she buys it for me.

Last week we had some friends stay and their little girl, Sofia had this really yummy muesli. So Mamma and I made our own muesli on the weekend and it’s my new favourite breakkie! Especially with the sultanas, dates and prunes (yep still lovin’ the prunes).

If there’s black pudding or bacon or sausages, I make a bee line for the pork products! Every now and then I’ll have some eggs (scrambled are my favourite) but I’m not ready to have them every morning like my folks.

OMG and we had the best breakfast the other day… Potato rosti. So so good! Almost as good as potato chips (my all time favourite food after dark chocolate).

Lunch

Most days we have leftovers from dinner which is fine by me. Especially leftover pasta or potatoes.

On other days I have cheese on toast sometimes with some calabrese salami (so good!). My favourite cheeses are Parmesan, Manchego (from Spain) and Ossu Iraty (from the Pyrennees).

And I’ve recently been enjoying cheesey chickpeas and these beans with rosemary.

I think my mamma wishes I could eat canned fish like her sardines, tuna or salmon. But the last few times I ate fish it made me sick – hopefully something I’ll grow out of.

If I’m still hungry I love eating peanut butter on a spoon.

Afternoon Tea

My mamma is working on a new sugar-free baking book at the moment which is awesome because it means there are always tasty treats in the afternoon. I especially love her brownies but this moist chocolate & zucchini cake is really good too (even though it contains vegetables).

Since it’s Summer here at the moment ice blocks made with pureed fruit are one high rotation. The mango ones are my faves but the watermelon and the cherry and yoghurt were pretty tasty too.

Dinner

In the last month we’ve started having family dinner all together. It’s way more fun and I’m finding I’m getting to eat a wider variety of foods. Mamma and Dadda always make me have ‘one little taste’ of everything on my plate.

Luckily there’s still always something on the table that I love to eat like spuds or pasta or sweet potatoes or fried rice or tortillas. So I’m not forced to eat the kale or cauliflower or sauerkraut or broccoli or other crazy veggies my mamma loves.

What Finbar Eats

My little brother Finbar is still a baby. He can’t tell you what he eats so I’ll fill you in.

Mostly it’s the same as me but he just uses his hands and makes a really big mess. Like food goes everywhere. Although now he’s nearly one he’s getting more in his mouth and less on the floor.

Mum usually gives him some fruit at the end of each meal. Blueberries are his favourite but he also loves raspberries, strawberries, mango, watermelon, pears, peaches, kiwi fruit, oranges. Yeah he pretty much eats all fruit, so my folks are always calling him our ‘little fruitarian’.

Anyway I’d better get back to playing with my Lego before anyone notices I’ve been using the computer.

Love,
Fergal
xoxo

ps. Did you enjoy reading this?
I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below… If enough people like it I might risk breaking into Mamma’s studio again ;)

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Simple Roast Chicken & Spuds

Fast Roast Rosemary Chicken & Veg

Tray bakes like this are brilliant for family dinners because you just pop everything in the oven and let dinner practically cook itself. Especially great on those evenings where there are a lot of demands on the cook’s attention! They’re also great because you can load up the plates of any little (or large) carb-lovers in the house and save the other parts for the low-carb fans.

enough for: 2 adults
takes: 40 minutes

6-8 new potatoes
450g (1lb) chicken thigh fillets
2-4 sprigs rosemary or thyme
2 handfuls snowpeas (mangetout), sliced
mayo, pesto or hummus to serve

1. Scrub and halve potatoes and pop in a pan of water. Simmer until just cooked, about 15 minutes.

2. Preheat your oven to 250C (480F).

3. Drain spuds and place in a roasting pan with the chicken and rosemary / thyme. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle over some salt.

4. Roast spuds and chicken for 15 minutes.

5. Add snow peas and cook until everything is well browned and the chicken is no longer pink in the middle. Serve in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves with your sauce of choice on the side.

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Variations

lower carb – replace spuds with 1-2 heads broccoli or 1/2 cauliflower chopped into florettes (no need to boil first).

lemony – halve a lemon and roast with the chicken and veg. Squeeze over the lemony juices before serving.

vegetarian – replace chicken with a truckload of veggies! I’m thinking mushrooms, eggplant (aubergine), capsicum (bell peppers), zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower. Just make sure they’re chopped small enough so they’ll cook quickly. I’d serve with some roast almonds or other nuts for extra protein.

garlicky – pop a few unpeeled cloves of garlic in with the chicken.

carb-lovers / more substantial – increase the spuds or serve with crusty bread and butter.

different meat – also brilliant with good quality sausages

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Hearty Bacon & Cabbage Soup-2

My Irishman and I were talking about the secrets to happiness last night. We both agreed that gratitude and, as Massive Attack put it, ‘being thankful for what you’ve got‘ is super important.

Which is why I’m sitting at my computer now thinking about how lucky I am. All the reasons I have to be thankful.

One of those is my work. I love what I do.

And even better than the fact that ‘cooking’ and ‘eating’ are ‘key result areas’ in my job description, I actually get to help people enjoy all the goodness that comes from eating delicious, real, home made food.

So today I wanted to share a lovely email I got from Sherrill, who uses my ‘Soupstones’ meal planning service

Sherrill, Soupstones Meal Plans Member.

“Prior to joining Soupstones I had determined that …once again… something needed to be done about my weight. Other than chubby, I’m quite healthy with much thanks given to the genetics that have pretty much overridden my self-abuse. And, seeing as how I recently became a member of the 65-year old community, figured this is a last hurrah to really enjoy feeling, being and looking well.

Intrigued by Soupstones and Jules’s ever-growing, non-preachy beliefs about eating, I initially purchased one of her e-cookbooks, eventually becoming a member of the Weekly Meal Plan “club”. Jules’s recipes, philosophy, research, weekly e-mails and general chattiness continually feed and stoke the fires of my becoming more mindful, educated/questioning and cooking creatively.

In addition, shopping with the Meal Plan lists makes cooking sooooo much easier while at the same time helping cut food and money waste way back. As a single person, I am particularly happy to move from the 20-ingredient, calorie-laden, 4-to-6 servings meal to a 5-items-or less, healthy meal for two.

Having always considered myself to be a good food eater [while eating too much of that good thing!] even some of the small changes [Cauliflower Rice or Zucchini Pasta] are really satisfying substitutes.

Combining Soupstones Meal Plans and Recipes with a new, regular exercise program has had the extra added benefit of making me even healthier — and 25 pounds [1.78 stone] lighter!!!

Happy Birthday Soupstones!!!”
Sherrill, Soupstones Member.

Sound like something you’d like to try?

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Then you’re in luck…

To celebrate the 3rd Birthday of Soupstones Meal Plans, I’m having a quick 50% OFF Sale.

The sale ends in less than 48-hours.

To make sure you don’t miss out, go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/ss/

“I’ve been using your meal plans and recipes and in just two months I feel like a new person. I’ve gained confidence in the kitchen I could’ve never imagined, saved tons of money, and as a surprise bonus, lost almost 15 pounds! I couldn’t possibly thank you enough for what you are doing.”
Shannon, Soupstones Member.

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Hearty Bacon & Cabbage Soup

Hearty Bacon & Cabbage Soup

Bacon and cabbage is one of my favourite food combos. Up there with tomatoes and basil or fish and lemon. I love it cooked as a meal on it’s own but this soup makes for an even more comforting treat.

enough for: 2
takes: 30 minutes

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, peeled & diced
1/2 small cabbage
3 cups chicken stock
2-3 tablespoons sherry or wine vinegar
shaved parmesan cheese, to serve

1. Heat a large saucepan on a medium high heat. Add a little oil and your bacon and cook, uncovered, stirring every now and then for 5 minutes or until the bacon is crispy.

2. Remove bacon from the pan, leaving behind the oil.

3. Pop your onion in the pan (add more oil if you think it needs it). Cover and cook, stirring periodically until the onion is soft and golden. About 10 minutes.

4. While the onion is cooking finely slice your cabbage. Then add to the pot when your onion is soft.

5. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered until the cabbage is no longer crunchy – around 15 minutes.

6. Remove from the heat. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar. Taste and season with extra vinegar, salt and pepper as needed. Remember you’re going to serve with salty bacon and cheese.

7. Divide soup between two bowls. Top with parmesan and bacon.

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Variations

5-ingredients – either skip the parmesan or use water instead of the stock.

short on time – use two pots and cook the bacon at the same time as the onion – will save you 10 minutes.

vegetarian – double the onion, use vegetable stock, skip the bacon and use lots of parmesan. Add some cooked lentils or beans to make it more substantial.

more substantial / high fat – serve with a big dollop of home made garlicky mayo or top with a poached egg.

more substantial / carb lovers – toss in cooked pasta or serve with hot buttered sourdough toast. Or better yet some Irish soda bread buttered with Kerrygold.

herby – add some rosemary, sage or thyme with the cabbage.

different veg – try with kale, collard greens, spinach, or chard.

different pork products – crumbled pork sausages, sliced chorizo or salami would all work.

With love,
Jules x

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——————————-
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ps. Not sure if a meal planning service will work for you?

The only way to find out is to try it! You can cancel your membership at any time with one quick email.

And the birthday sale ends in less than 48 hours!

To make sure you don’t miss out, go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/ss/

Still not sure?

Here’s what Donna said about her experience:

“I’m loving it! It makes week nights less stressful, frees up mental space as I’m not stressing over what to cook – and it’s keeping our meals healthy.”
Donna, Soupstones Member.

For more details use the link below:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/ss/

——————————-

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Miso & Lemon Salmon-2

Three years ago I did something I wasn’t sure would work.

It all began when my friend Caroline was telling me about one of those weight loss programs that comes with an exercise schedule and detailed meal plans.

With her new, more slender figure Caroline was looking amazing. So I asked her how she had found the whole experience.

Her answer surprised me.

While the motivation and commitment to exercise had really helped, the thing she loved the most were the meal plans. Each week she’d just print out the shopping list and buy what was on it. Or better yet, get her husband to do the shopping.

Each night she’d walk into the kitchen, look at her notes and just start cooking.

No agonizing over what to make.

No having to ‘think’ at the end of a long day.

Then she said,
‘You know what would have made it even better? Some of the recipes were a little time consuming, and the shopping lists were really long. It would be brilliant to have meal plans using your simple Stonesoup recipes.’

Sound good?

Soupstones banner logo

If you’re like my friend Caroline and could do with some meal planning help, then you’re in luck…

To celebrate the 3rd Birthday of Soupstones Meal Plans, I’m having a quick 50% OFF Sale.

To make sure you don’t miss out, go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/ss/

“What I love most about it is that I don’t need to think of what’s for dinner. Thinking of a healthy meal for the family during the working week is tricky so I really appreciate the inspiration from your meal plans. The hard work is done”.
Emma, Soupstones Member.

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Miso & Lemon Salmon

Lemony Miso Salmon

I am completely addicted to this lemon and miso dressing at the moment. So much so that I’ve been making it by the bottle and keeping in the pantry ready to add a zesty freshness to salads, vegetables, fish – whatever I’m cooking really. It’s soo soo good!

If you haven’t used miso paste before, it’s really worth experimenting with. Like soy sauce it adds those super tasty complex savoury (umami) flavours that takes food from OK to absolutely delicious. See here for more ideas for using your miso.

enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes

2 teaspoons white (shiro) miso paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 salmon or other fish fillets
1 bag salad leaves

1. Combine miso and lemon juice in a jar or small bowl until smoothish. Whisk in olive oil. Taste and season if needed – a little more miso or lemon.

2. Rub fish with a little oil and pan fry or BBQ for about 3 minutes each side on a medium high heat, or until you’re happy with how it’s cooked.

3. Divide salad and fish between two plates and drizzle over the lemony miso goodness.

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Variations

no miso – soy sauce is a good substitute.

big batch of dressing – mix 1/2 cup lemon juice with 2 generous tablespoons white miso paste until smooth. Gradually mix in 1 cup extra virgin olive oil. Taste and adjust if needed. Store in a bottle in the pantry for a month or so (if it lasts that long!).

vegetarian – toss the dressing onto grilled veggies – think eggplant (aubergine), zucchini (courgette) and peppers and serve with some goats cheese, feta, poached eggs or toasted almonds for extra protein. The dressing is also wonderful on cooked lentils.

extra lemon kick – add the finely grated zest of your lemon.

carb-lovers / more substantial – serve with steamed rice or cooked rice noodles.

different fish – great with most fish so don’t feel the need to stick to salmon.

extra layer of flavour – marinate the fish in half the dressing for an hour or so before cooking. Use the remaining half to dress the salad.

With love,
Jules x

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——————————-
Soupstones Square Logo no border

ps. Not sure if a meal planning service will work for you?

The only way to find out is to try it! You can cancel your membership at any time with one quick email.

And the birthday sale ends next week!

To make sure you don’t miss out, go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/ss/

Still not sure?

Here’s what Dyann said about her experience:

“I am so glad I signed up for this, but I think my husband is even happier! Every night I’m hearing comments like, “I have been eating so good lately,” “This tastes like it came from a [Thai, Indian, etc] restaurant!” “That looks like a picture in a magazine” and “The house smells soooo gooooood.”
Dyann, Soupstones Member.

For more details use the link below:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/ss/

——————————-

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Simple Kimchi

This sounds really silly but I used to be afraid of kimchi. I know, Even reading the words ‘kimchi’ and ‘afraid’ in the same sentence seems a bit of overkill.

But it’s true.

Hi my name is Jules and I used to be scared of fermented cabbage.

It started years ago when I was living / holidaying in New York City. A bottle of kimchi ‘followed’ me home from Whole Foods.

When I opened it there were bubbles. This thing was definitely alive. I reminded myself of my policy of ‘trying anything once’ (at least when it comes to food). And besides it had to be good for my gut microbes.

Right?

It wasn’t a love-at-first-bite story. And I guiltily left the unfinished jar in the fridge when I left town.

Fast forward 5 years and I’m in Sydney at a workshop with Sandor Katz, a champion of fermented foods. We’re learning about fermented vegetables and beverages. I’m excited about trying the sauerkraut and fermented veg.

But when he starts talking about making a paste of flour and water and korean chilli for the kimchi, I tune out.

Way too hard.

However, once I start my fermenting experiments, I realize I can control the level of ‘funky’ flavours. It doesn’t take long before I get an itch to give kimchi another try.

You know where this is headed.

So I’ll just get straight to the recipe…

But before I do… if you have any fear around fermenting at home, just remember fermented vegetables are the safest place to start. As Sandor assured us… No one has ever died from fermented vegetables. True story.

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Simple Kimchi-2

Simple Crunchy Kimchi

This kimchi is by no means authentic in that you don’t get the gassy bubbles as you eat it. However it is spicy, tangy and adds a refreshing crunch to any meal you feel needs it – asian or non-asian.

The best part about home ferments is that you get to control the amount of ‘funk’. I tend to keep it on the cleaner side, but you’re in charge. If you want funk, just leave it out to ferment for longer.

makes 1 large jar (about 1L / 4 cups)
takes about 30 minutes active time + a few days fermenting

1/2 large white, savoy or napa cabbage
1 bunch bok choy (optional)
2-3 teaspoons chilli flakes
5cm (2in) piece turmeric, grated
5cm (2in) piece ginger, grated
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1.5 – 2tablespoons fine salt

1. Get yourself a clean, dry jar about 1L (4 cups) plus an extra little jar in case you need it.

2. Remove outer leaves from the cabbage. Finely slice either by hand or use the slicer blade on your food processor (which is what I normally do). Place sliced cabbage in a large bowl.

3. Finely slice bok choy (if using) and add to the cabbage.

4. Add chilli flakes, turmeric, ginger, fish sauce and salt to the cabbage. Toss and cover with a tea towel. Stand at room temp to allow the salt to soften the cabbage. I leave it at least an hour but you could leave overnight.

5. Pack cabbage mixture into your large jar. I use a combo of clean hands and a spoon. You want to really squash it down to release the cabbage juices. If it won’t all fit, put the extra in your backup jar. Leave a little room at the top of each because it will expand as the fermentation happens. Divide leftover juice from the bottom of the bowl between your jars. You want the cabbage to be covered by liquid. If there isn’t enough, top with a little filtered water. Top with lids.

6. Place your jar(s) on a plate to catch any juices that overflow (this happens frequently to me). Stand at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 2-3 days or longer.

7. Every day open the jar to release any gas. Once I can see evidence of bubbles I usually seal the lids and pop in the fridge. Typically this is on the 3rd day but in winter it might be longer and less in Summer. If you’re not sure, I’d err on the side of putting it in the fridge earlier. If you taste and decide it’s too bland you can always leave it out again to get more funk happening. But once it’s too funky there isn’t much you can do.

8. Keep in the fridge for a few months.

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Variations

no turmeric – if you can’t find fresh turmeric, use 1 tablespoon turmeric powder. You can skip it but it give the kimchi it’s beautiful yellow colour.

no chilli flakes – you can use any form of chilli you like, dried, powdered or fresh. Just err on the side of not enough spicy heat because you can always add more. And you could skip the chilli if you prefer a milder pickle.

vegan / vegetarian – skip the fish sauce.

different veg – grated carrot, grated daikon, chopped green onion (scallions / shallots) can all be added.

salt – salt keeps the texture crunchy. So I tend to err on the side of more but you could try less if you needed to. I use finely ground Himalayan rock salt but any salt apart from Iodized salt is great. I’ve read the iodine can hinder growth of the lactic acid bacteria.

With love,
Jules x

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ps. Are you into fermenting?

I’d love to hear about your triumphs (and tribulations) in the comments below.

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Turkish Poached Eggs with Sumac & Yoghurt

It happens to the best of us. Yes even the food-obsessed like myself sometimes run into a rut with our cooking.

So how do I dig myself out of the boredom ditch?

Usually picking up a favourite (or new) cookbook is enough but sometimes I like to set a little challenge for myself.

Here are two of my current go-to anti-boredom ‘games’.

1. Add a Spice.

Using different spices is by far the quickest and easiest way to make a boring old dish taste new and exciting. They don’t take up much space and last for ages in your pantry.

Here are some of my favourites:

Dried Chilli (flakes or powder) – probably the most versatile but there are plenty of other options which I’m finding myself veering towards now I have sensitive little mouths to feed.

Sumac – a Middle eastern spice that is brightly coloured red. It adds beauty and a lemony fresh flavour. Use it anywhere you’d normally think to add a squeeze of lemon. You’ll probably need to order online or go to a specialist spice store – but it’s totally worth the effort of tracking down.

Smoked Paprika – from Spain does exactly what it says on the label – adds a complex smoky flavour. Brilliant with anything tomato based, red meat and pork.

Garam Masala – my ‘go-to’ Indian spice if I’m in the mood for a bit of curry. I tend to reach for garam masala over a generic curry powder. See here for substitutions.

Ras el Hanout – a Moroccan spice blend with an exotic flavour. Works really well with fish and chicken and vegetables like eggplant (aubergine). See here for substitutions.

Baharat – a Lebanese blend of 7 spices including paprika, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg. It’s a bit darker and more intense than Ras el Hanout but still works well with meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables. See here for substitutions.

Shicimi Togarashi – a spicy Japanese spice blend usually used as a sprinkle to season food instead of salt and pepper. I love it on avocado or eggs or in these spiced cashews. For more ideas see here.

Fennel Seeds – great with fish or pork or to add a boost of fennel flavour to fennel dishes like this one.

2. Add a Herb.

One of the things I love most about our little house in the country is my herb garden just outside my kitchen door. Ever since reading ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’, I’ve dreamed of this little luxury. While I’ve always cooked with fresh herbs, I’ve been using them even more now I have a free supply.

Here are some favourite combinations:

Flat Leaf Parsley – on everything and anywhere you want some fresh greenness. Literally everywhere. In salads. If you’re not sure add parsley.

Rosemary – beef, lamb, potatoes.

Tarragon – with eggs (I stir it into mayo) or chicken. Works well with orange.

Dill – with fish.

Mint – in salads, with lamb, Middle Eastern dishes, Vietnamese.

Coriander (cilantro) – with chicken, Mexican dishes, Asian dishes.

Basil – tomatoes, eggplant, in salads, on pizza, Italian dishes, Thai dishes.

Sorrel – in salads (finely chopped if leaves are large), with fish.

Want a simple way to enjoy your time in the kitchen in 2017?

If you’re interested in learning how to simplify not just your cooking, but the whole of your life, then I recommend checking out A Simple Year.

It’s a 12 month program which focuses on simplifying a different area of your life each month. If you join us I’ll show you even more ways to simplify not only recipes but your kitchen and your approach to healthy eating.

For more details, go to:
www.simpleyear.co/

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NOTE: Registration for 2017 closes 15th January.

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Turkish Poached Eggs with Sumac & Yoghurt-2

Turkish Poached Eggs with Yoghurt & Sumac

OMG, I can’t tell you how much I’m in love with the Turkish idea of combining yoghurt and melted butter as a sauce. It’s soo soo good. You get all the tangy creaminess of the yoghurt and then the nutty richness of the caramelised butter. It’s brilliant here for your breakfast eggs but it’s also genius with vegetables. One of my faves is to add it to charred eggplant. Also great with grilled chicken or fish.

If you’re nervous about poaching eggs, I used to be as well. Just use lots of vinegar and the freshest eggs you can get.

takes: 10 minutes
enough for: 2

4 tablespoons white vinegar
4 eggs
8 tablespoons natural (Greek style) yoghurt
4-6 tablespoons chilli oil or melted butter*
pinch sumac (optional)
salad greens

1. Bring a medium pot of water to the boil. Add vinegar and bring back to a rapid simmer.

2. Crack eggs into the water. Simmer gently for 3 minutes (longer for well done). Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and pat dry on paper towel.

3. Meanwhile, divide yoghurt between two plates or shallow bowls.

4. When eggs are cooked, pop 2 eggs on each plate on top of the yoghurt. Drizzle with chilli oil or melted butter. Sprinkle with sumac (if using) and serve with salad leaves on the side.

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Variations

*melted butter – if using melted butter I like to slightly caramelize it to add extra nutty brown flavours (although straight melted butter is good too). Just melt butter in a small saucepan and let it sizzle on a medium high heat for a minute or until it looks brown and lovely but not burnt.

dairy-free – use chilli oil and replace yoghurt with hummus.

different eggs – I adore poached but fried, boiled and peeled or scrambled would also work.

carb-lovers / more substantial – serve with warm flat bread or hot buttered toast for dipping.

crunchy – add some toasted nuts like almonds or pine nuts.

different vinegar – you just want something to make the cooking water nice and acidic to help the whites solidify as soon as they hit the cooking water. I use cheap white vinegar for this but you could use any vinegar you have – although it’s a bit of a waste of your fancy vinegars.

With love,
Jules x

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ps. This is the 4th year we’ve run ‘A Simple Year’.

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It’s something I’m really proud to be a part of not only sharing my expertise but also learning from the other contributors.

I love how there’s a different focus each month to keep me on track without feeling overwhelmed.

To find out more go to:
www.simpleyear.co/

NOTE: Registration for 2017 closes 15th January.

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Roast Peaches

Last year I had a huge ‘a-ha’ moment about my business and my blog. One of those big ‘lightbulbs-flashing’ realizations.

Basically I’ve been doing you a disservice.

I’ve been apologizing for asking you to spend time in the kitchen (I did write a whole book of 10-minute recipes) instead of inspiring you to enjoy your time cooking.

I still believe that delicious, healthy food need not be complicated nor take hours and hours. And I still believe in the power of keeping things simple.

But from now on I promise to lead by example. And inspire you to enjoy one of (my) life’s biggest pleasures more often.

So let’s get the year started in a positive way with the 5 biggest reasons I just love hanging out in my kitchen (with a baby playing on the floor).

5 Reasons I LOVE Cooking

1. It’s fun.

I love that cooking give me a chance to be creative and indulge in some ‘play’ time – something we adults could do with a lot more. I adore losing myself in the rituals of chopping, stirring and tasting.

2. It’s delicious.

When you’re cooking you get to choose what you make AND what goes into each dish. You also get to choose the quality of the ingredients. So it’s easy to make things that are the most delicious to you.

Love chilli (like I do)? Then add more. Love sharp, acidic flavours (like I do)? Then add a splash of vinegar or a squeeze of lemon.

Think of it as a choose your own (tasty) adventure.

3. It’s good for your body.

The more I learn about nutrition the more I’ve come to realize that the most important factor for healthy eating is to avoid processed food and focus on using real ingredients.

And the best way to do this? Cook for yourself as much as you can.

4. It’s good for the soul.

Spending 30 minutes in the kitchen preparing dinner will put me in a much calmer, less frazzled mood than sitting on the couch for the same amount of time.

Plus it gives me an opportunity to nurture my family and friends. To express my love and take care of them.

5. The praise!

As much as I’d like to think that all these lofty benefits were what first got me into cooking, really, it was the praise.

Hearing the words ‘this is amazing’ was a huge motivator for me to keep spending time in the kitchen when I was learning to cook.

And still is.

Want a simple way to enjoy your time in the kitchen in 2017?

If you’re interested in learning how to simplify not just your cooking, but the whole of your life, then I recommend checking out A Simple Year.

It’s a 12 month program which focuses on simplifying a different area of your life each month. If you join us I’ll show you even more ways to simplify not only recipes but your kitchen and your approach to healthy eating.

For more details, go to:
www.simpleyear.co/

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NOTE: Registration for 2017 closes 15th January.
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Roast Peaches-3

Sunny Roast Peaches

I only became a huge fan of peaches a few years ago when I started roasting them. It’s almost magical how a little spell in the oven transforms them into super sweet sunny globes of goodness. Now they’re one of my favourite Summer fruit.

Roasting fruit like this is brilliant for enhancing the natural sweetness without having to rely on adding processed sugar.

Fergal and Finbar just loves these peaches and will happily gobble up as many as I keep feeding them. But they make a super lovely dessert for adults too. The quantities are totally a guideline, you can double or halve the recipe depending on how much fruit you have.

takes: about an hour
makes: enough for 4-6

4-6 peaches

1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F).

2. Rinse peaches and layer in a baking dish. Cover with foil and baked for 30 minutes.

3. Remove foil and return to the oven uncovered this time and bake for another 20-30 minutes or until the peaches are soft and squishy.

4. Serve warm or cold.

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Variations

different fruit – my favourite way to cook all stone fruit (think apricots, nectarines, plums, cherries), apples and pears. I usually quarter apples and pears to remove the seeds. And sometimes I halve apricots or plums and remove the stone, if I can be bothered. I usually pit cherries first because I’m feeding them to little ones (who I must really love because it takes for-ev-er). Smaller fruit will take less time to cook.

different flavourings – feel free to add a chopped vanilla bean or some lemon zest.

more ‘saucey’ – leave peaches to cool with a foil cover on.

short on time – serve fresh berries or peaches with ice cream or cream.

paleo (gluten, grain + dairy-free) – serve peaches with coconut cream or coconut yoghurt.

With love and best wishes for the new year!
Jules x

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ps. This is the 4th year we’ve run ‘A Simple Year’.

Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 1.16.45 PM

It’s something I’m really proud to be a part of not only sharing my expertise but also learning from the other contributors.

I love how there’s a different focus each month to keep me on track without feeling overwhelmed.

To find out more go to:
www.simpleyear.co/

NOTE: Registration for 2017 closes 15th January.

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Chocolate & Zucchini Cake

I‘m sooo excited about Christmas this year!

Having a 3.5 year-old in the house definitely helps. Then there’s the fact that I get to deep fry a turkey.

And I’m not pregnant so there’s Champagne in my future. Actually there’s already a bottle of Pol Roger in my fridge. Yay!

To celebrate my last blog post of the year I bring you cake.

Not just any old cake. A super moist chocolate cake (which also happens to have vegetables and won’t spike your blood sugar – but no need to mention these things, especially if you have a 3.5 year-old in the house).

I also have a request…

I’m looking for recipe testers for my new baking book that I’m working on. If you’re interested in sugar-free / low carb / gluten-free treats and you wouldn’t mind doing some baking over the next few months, I’d love your help!

Either leave a comment below or email me (jules@thestonesoup.com) to volunteer your best baking services.

There will be a little surprise thank you bonus to everyone who helps out.
______

Chocolate & Zucchini Cake!

Moist Chocolate & Zucchini Cake

One of the first food blogs I ever discovered was Chocolate & Zucchini by my lovely Parisian mate Clotilde. I’m still a huge fan and I just love the idea of combining two seemingly opposite ingredients to make a cake that ticks all the right boxes.

I’ve used pure stevia powder to sweeten but see the variations below if you’d prefer to use something else.

makes: 1 loaf
takes: about 60 minutes

150g (5oz) unsalted butter
200g (7oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids or higher)
300g (10) zucchini, grated
4 eggs
250g (9oz) almond meal
1/4t pure stevia powder (see note below)*
2 teaspoons baking powder

1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) fan assisted. Line a loaf pan 24cm x 12cm (approx 9.5in x 5in) with baking paper.

2. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate. Stand to allow the chocolate to melt.

3. Meanwhile, grate zucchini using your food processor or a box grater. When the chocolate has melted add to the grated zucchini then add the eggs, almond meal, stevia and baking powder. Mix with a spoon until just combined.

4. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until the loaf feels springy when you touch it. And a skewer inserted into the middle come out without any gooey cake stuck to it.

5. Cool in the pan then slice and serve (preferably with lashings of double cream).

Variations

important note about stevia! – there are two types of stevia:
1. Pure stevia powder (not an affiliate link) which looks like icing (powdered / confectioners) sugar. It’s expensive but a tiny amount goes a long long way. We’re talking 1/4 teaspoon to sweeten a whole cake.
2. Granular stevia like Natvia or Truvia which looks like regular white sugar. It’s a blend of erythritol and stevia.
I’ve used the pure powder in this recipe but if you wanted to use granular stevia you would need 4-6 tablespoons (add to taste).

sugar lovers – replace stevia with 75g (3oz) caster sugar (superfine). If you have a super sweet tooth you might need more – taste and add as needed.

no stevia – use you favourite sweetener… Honey, maple syrup or white sugar! Just add and taste until you’re happy with the sweetness level. If I didn’t have diabetes I’d totally be making it with brown sugar.

dairy-free – coconut oil.

nut-free – you could try replacing the almond meal with regular flour, I haven’t tried this but start with 125g (4.5oz) plain (all purpose) flour.

no fan assist on your oven? – increase the set temp to 200C (400F). Check after 35 minutes just to be sure.

________________

Thank YOU so much for reading Stonesoup this year! I really appreciate it.

I hope you and your loved ones have a really lovely Christmas.

Looking forward to sharing lots of deliciousness in the new year.

With love,
Jules x

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Turmeric & Togarashi Cashews-2

There’s a bad habit I’ve been trying to overcome for a long time now. Like most bad habits it’s a case of steps forward and backward.

One thing I’ve found super helpful is to stop feeling guilty or beating myself up. Instead, I use ‘slip ups’ as an opportunity to be a ‘detective’ to help me improve.

It’s a subtle mind shift but it makes a huge difference.

Oh yeah so the bad habit?

It’s ‘nibbling’ and picking at things while I’m cooking which means when I sit down to eat I’m not hungry.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of snacking, but I am a fan of experimenting. So I’ve been trialling sitting down and having a proper snack when Fergal and Finbar have their dinner (at the moment my Irishman and I eat after the boys are in bed).

Mostly I think it helps. But it’s still a work in progress.

One side benefit of this experiment is I’ve been having loads of fun exploring new snacking ideas

These spiced cashews are my current favourites. Although I should note they come with a warning! (see note below).

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Turmeric & Togarashi Cashews-3

Turmeric & Togarashi Cashews

This snack comes with a warning (!). The turmeric looks pretty but it does like to stain things. Especially clothes. So don’t do as my Irishman did and wipe your fingers on your jeans.

The other warning is that they’re super delicious – addictively so. Don’t be surprised if they disappear much faster than you’d think. Although with all that turmeric you can be happy they’re doing good for more than just your taste buds. They also make a great edible gift.

makes: 2 cups
takes: 15 minutes

300g (2 cups) roasted cashews
2 tablespoons schchimi togarashi*
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4t fine salt

1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). In a medium bowl toss cashews, togarashi, turmeric, oil and salt until well mixed.

2. Spread cashew mixture on a baking tray (I line mine with baking paper for easier clean up).

3. Bake for 5 minutes. Check and stir. If cashews are golden, remove from the heat. If you like a darker roast leave in for another 5 minutes or so.

4. Cool. Store in an airtight container. Will keep in the pantry for weeks to months (depending on how fresh your cashews were to begin with).

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Variations

raw cashews – I usually buy pre-roasted but if you have raw cashews, just roast in the oven until lightly golden before tossing in the spice mix and roasting further as per the recipe.

no schichimi togarashi – It’s a Japanese spice mix with sesame seeds, different chilli powders and occasionally some chopped nori (seaweed). It’s super delicious and if you can be bothered tracking some down you won’t have any problems finding uses for it. It’s brilliant on avocado or soft cheese (especially labneh) or poached eggs. If you don’t have any just use sesame seeds and a little chilli powder or crumbled dried chillies and if you like toss in some chopped nori but it’s not essential.

different nuts – almonds, macadamias or brazil nuts would be the best substitutes or use a mixture.

no sesame oil – it adds a lovely roasted flavour but any oil you’d normally cook with will work.

black pepper – is meant to help with the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric so feel free to add freshly ground pepper to your roast nuts.

no turmeric – most commercial ‘curry’ powders have lots of turmeric so you could use a curry powder instead.

With love,
Jules x

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ps. What about you?

Got any snacks you’re loving at the mo’? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

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Spring Onion & Ginger Sauce

A few months ago I made a big decision around where I buy my meat. No more flavourless supermarket chicken and lamb, even if it was ‘grass-fed’ and ‘organic’.

I realized I cared too much about how the cattle, pigs, chicken and sheep are treated to trust it to the supermarket supply chain. I wanted to buy direct from the farmers I could build a relationship with and trust.

To be honest I wish I’d made this ‘rule’ for myself years ago.

And apart from the odd sausage, chorizo and black pudding, all the meat I’ve cooked since September has been from the farmers market.

It feels really good.

Mostly the price evens out about the same.

But I’ve really noticed is how much better everything tastes. Especially chicken. Especially now I can get my hands on thigh fillets with the skin on. Yum!

So today I thought we’d have a little look at my favourite chicken recipes on Stonesoup as well as share a new recipe for one of my current favourite sauces that is brilliant with (you guessed it) chicken.

Enjoy!

19 Delicious Ideas for Chicken

1. Roast Chicken Soup
My simple take on the classic way to use up leftover roast chicken bones and meat.

2. Citrus Roast Chicken & Fennel
A match made in heaven. Roast fennel and chicken with orange and lemon. Amazingly fresh and, dare I say it, finger-licking good.

3. Quick Warm Chicken & Parmesan Salad
When you’re in the mood for something quick and light but not a cold meal. This is just the thing.

4. Chicken & Basil Stir Fry
Uses minced (ground) chicken so it’s super quick to cook and you don’t have to worry about over cooking the chicken. A great place to start if you’re not a confident meat cook.

5. Pesto Chicken with Zucchini
An easy Summer favourite.

6. Flattened Chicken with Parsley Sauce
If I’m cooking whole chicken, I generally ‘butterfly’ it like this because it cooks much faster.

7. Chicken & Peppers
My friend Ellen made this recently and like me was blown away by how two simple ingredients can cook down into such a delicious dish.

8. My Simple Kung Pao Chicken
A simplified version of one of my Irishman’s all time favourite things to cook.

9. Dad’s Butter Chicken Curry
So easy even my Dad can make it. And mild enough to be family friendly too (it was the first ‘curry’ Finbar ate!).

10. Coq au Vin
A French classic, it’s something I make at least once every Winter.

11. Chicken with Pine Nut Sauce
A recipe that didn’t make it into my print book 5-Ingredients 10-minutes because I wasn’t happy with the original photo and was too lazy to re-shoot. Still a favourite sauce especially now I’m having a Middle Eastern food renaissance.

12. June’s Chinese Chicken
One of my mum’s most exotic recipes from my first print book ‘And the Love is Free’.

13. Roast Chicken with Carrot Top Pesto
A brillant way to actually use your carrot tops. Especially great with home grown ones.

14. 5-Ingredient Chicken Caccitore
My super simple take on the Italian family-favourite.

15. Moist Roast Chicken with Yoghurt & Crispy Sage
An old recipe from way back in 2008, this pre-dates my 5-ingredients philosophy so is way more complicated than most Stonesoup recipes. But it’s super super delicious and really lives up to its name so if you’re up for a bigger project this is for you!

16. Salt Baked Chook
Another from the archives, this is a spectacular way to cook a good chicken! Basically you make a salty dough and wrap the chicken and bake. It’s a bit nerve wracking getting the timing right but well worth the effort if you want to impress your guests. Definitely not one for a Tuesday night after a long day at the office!

16. Spanish Meatballs with Zucchini ‘Noodles’
Gotta love a good meatball. Made lighter with the use of chicken instead of beef.

17. Super Green Saag Chicken
An Indian-inspired curry with an amazing sauce based on wilted greens. So good!

18. Cajun Chicken in a Paper Bag
Such a brilliant way to ‘jazz up’ your favourite cut chicken. Basically just toss the cook chicken and some spices in a paper bag and shake to coat. Instant flavour hit!

19. Chicken with Spring Onion & Ginger Sauce
Recipe below!

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Spring Onion & Ginger Sauce-2

Ginger Spring Onion Sauce

OMG this sauce is the business! It’s fresh. It’s zesty. It’s got lovely warmth from the ginger. And I love the crunchy texture you get from the spring onions. You have to try it!

I’ve adapted the recipe from three sources, the brilliant Momofuku cookbook, my friend Aggie (whose family are Hong Kong Chinese) and Melbourne chef Andrew McConnell who writes for the Saturday Paper.

The first time I made it we had it with chicken steamed in the slow cooker (remind me to tell you about that another time). Just loved how the moist clean chicken flavours were brought to life by this vibrant sauce. It’s also great with pulled pork (in a Korean style Bo Ssam). But you could pretty much use it with any chicken… stir fried, roast or BBQ. It’s also a great way to dress up good old egg fried rice.

makes about 1 cup – enough for 4
takes 15 minutes

1 bunch ‘spring’ onions*, whites and greens, finely sliced
thumb sized piece ginger, grated
1 tablespoon sherry or rice vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning as you think it needs it. A little more soy for extra salt, more vinegar if you think it’s a bit lifeless. Or just regular sea salt if it’s lacking something you can’t quite put your finger on.

2. Stand for at least 10 minutes or up to an hour before serving with your choice of chicken (see note above). If you need to store for longer pop it in the fridge and bring back to room temp before serving. Will keep for a week or so.

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Variations

warm sauce – heat oil in a small saucepan until hot to touch then pour over the remaining ingredients. (This is good but I prefer the freshness of my recipe).

different vinegar – sherry vinegar is totally my favourite here but you could use any wine vinegar. If you have Chinkiang vinegar it would be good too.

* a note about ‘spring onions’ – in Australia they’re often sold as ‘shallots’. The ones you need don’t have the big bulby onion bit at the bottom (which I call ‘spring onions’). I think the correct term is green onions but I didn’t want to confuse you! What do you call them?

soy-free – just season with sea salt. If you have access to coconut aminos they would be the best substitute.

With love,
Jules x

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ps. Looking for Christmas gift ideas for the food-lovers in your life?

Then I have just the thing!

5 ingredients 10 minutes cover image

The print version of my cookbook ‘5-Ingredients 10-Minutes’.

For more details go to:
www.5ingredients10minutes.com/

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Peanut Butter Cheesecake
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake. Recipe here.

Ages ago I got a lovely request from a Stonesoup reader…

Hi Jules!
Stone Soup is my go-to recipe blog–in fact, I have no other I regularly visit! Since I am so very obsessed with your cooking style and love ALL of your recipes, I was wondering if you would possibly write a post about YOUR favourite food blogs and recipe books! I–and I imagine many other fan of yours–would be extremely interested in your own inspiration!

In my not-so-meticulous note taking style, I forgot to record the name of the lovely person who said such kind things. Which I’m kicking myself for now.

The good news is I have some of my favourites to share with you today.

And of course I’d love to hear if you have any sources of inspiration that you’d like to recommend. Please share in the comments below!

5-Favourite Food Blogs

Dishing Up the Dirt. My latest food blog crush! You have to check out the deliciousness from Andrea a self-described farmer and foodie from the Pacific North West. One of my Stonesoup readers put me on to this brilliant blog and I’m so so glad she did!

Arthur Street Kitchen – all about local food for local people. Formerly from Surry Hills in Sydney (where I used to live) now based in Brooklyn, I adore Hetty’s approach to salads and vegetables.

Orangette. Still my favourite food blogger when it comes to her writing skills. There’s something so welcoming about the way Molly writes about food and life. If you’re ever in the Seattle area, I highly recommend visiting Delancey – the fabulous pizza mecca run my Molly and her husband Brandon. I just hope for your sake they have Molly’s chocolate chip cookies on the menu for dessert.

101 Cookbooks. Another oldie but a goodie, especially if you’re looking for creative vegetarian recipes. Recently inspired my obsession with combining miso and harissa (watch this space!). Love Heidi’s travel tips as well.

Green Kitchen Stories. Even though I’m definitely an omnivore, I seem to have a thing for vegetarian blogs. I guess it’s because I love veggies! Written by Stockholm couple, David and Luisa, Green Kitchen Stories is beautifully photographed. Their recipes are on the complicated side but still super inspirational.

5-Favourite Cookbooks

Cornersmith by Alex Elliott-Howery & James Grant. Based on the delicious offerings from their Sydney cafe and picklery, I love both the ethos of the Cornersmith team as well as their mouth-watering recipes. Plenty of pickles and preserves too! This has been the book I’ve gifted the most this year.

Moro by Sam & Sam Clarke. With recipes from their London restaurant, this book has really stood the test of time. I hadn’t opened it in years but was inspired one Sunday morning when I was looking for new ideas for Sunday brunch. It’s completely rekindled my love affair with Moroccan / Spanish food. Their other books are worth checking out too.

Kitchen by Mike by Mike McEhernenry. I love Mike’s food! Every time I go to Sydney I try and squeeze in a visit to his restaurant. It’s fresh and modern and traditional all at the same time. As far as chefs go, Mike keeps things relatively simple and lets the ingredients ‘speak for themselves’.

The Agrarian Kitchen by Rodney Dunn. I’ve taken the ‘Cooking with Fire’ and ‘Charcuterie’ cooking classes at the Agrarian Kitchen in Tasmania and thoroughly enjoyed both. Rodney is seriously one of the nicest guys and a super talented chef. I’ve cooked more than half of the recipes from this book which is really saying something!

The Kitchen Diaries Volumes III by Nigel Slater. Still my favourite food writer of all time. I could happily just keep starting from the beginning every time I finish one of Slater’s books.

5-Favourite Food-Related Books

Cooked by Michael Pollan. The man who has been championing a return to eating ‘real’ food, or just ‘food’, as he calls it, is back. This time he’s extolling the benefits of home cooking. Love, love, love that as I listen to his journey to learning to cook from scratch he’s reminding me of all the reasons I love spending time in the kitchen. Super inspirational.

Foodist by Darya Rose. I love Darya’s approach to healthy eating. After years of intense dieting Darya took a ‘leap of science’ and decided to stop dieting and instead focus on eating real food and building habits. And she hasn’t looked backed. If you’re looking to change your relationship with food I can’t recommend Foodist enough. Plus Darya is a friend and all-round lovely person! Her blog Summer Tomato is also a favourite of mine.

The Good Gut by Justin & Erica Sonnenberg – A fascinating look at the importance of our gut in overall health. And how to treat yours well. I found it especially helpful in getting back on track after having to take antibiotics earlier in the year.

Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink. A researched-based look at why we eat more than we think and how to eat less without noticing or feeling deprived.

Grain Brain by David Perlmutter. Written by a neurologist who also has qualifications in nutrition. I was surprised by the link between carbs / high blood sugar / diabetes and brain health including alzheimers and dementia. Frightening (and super motivational) stuff for someone like me who had gestational diabetes and now type 2.

56-Favourite Productivity Tools / Apps

Trello. If you love lists and keeping yourself organized like I do, then you’ll love Trello. I have their apps on my phone and iPad and it’s by far the best tool I’ve used for organizing my ‘to do’ lists and projects.

Evernote. I’ve been using Evernote for years now but it wasn’t until I went ‘all in’ and spent a few hours setting up my Evernote to capture ALL my notes, that I really realized how useful and powerful this tool is. The best thing is that I can create notes in many different ways, writing text, forwarding email and clipping web pages. You can also save pdf documents into Evernote so I keep any ebooks I buy (or write) in there too. Everything ends up in the one place, which is also searchable.

Audible. I don’t know where I’d be without audio books. I certainly wouldn’t be able to average reading 1 book a week like I have for the last few years. Their membership pricing model makes audio books super affordable. Great for when you’re out running (or walking as I am these days), car trips or even when you’re hanging out in the garden or doing things around the house.

Instagram. Of all the social media, I find I spend the most time on Instagram. I’m @jules_stonesoup if you want to pop over and say ‘Hi’.

5-Minute Journal Their tag line is ‘a happier you in 5 minutes a day’ and I couldn’t agree more. If you’ve ever wanted to be someone who keeps a journal but have struggled to stick to it, this is the ap for you! I’ve found it especially helpful this year because I can type into it while I’m breast feeding.

Sweat with Kayla. I’ve been looking for a way to add some resistance training to my workouts without having to join a gym. I’ve really noticed that now I’m in my 40s my muscles aren’t the same as they used to be! Building muscle mass is important for insulin senstitivity too. I’ve only been using it for a few weeks but I love, love, love sweating with Kayla. Worth checking out the free 7-day trial.

kale 'cabonara'-3
Kale ‘Cabonara’. Recipe here.

What about you?

Have some favourites you’d like to share? Please, please let me know in the comments.

Big love,
Jules x

ps. Looking for Christmas gift ideas for the food-lovers in your life?

Then I have just the thing!

5 ingredients 10 minutes cover image

The print version of my cookbook ‘5-Ingredients 10-Minutes’.

For more details go to:
www.5ingredients10minutes.com/

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no-bake chocolate pecan 'pie'-3

There aren’t many things I regret about living in Australia. Apart from when I’m face-to-face with a tiger snake, I love living here.

But I do wish we celebrated Thanksgiving.

When I lived in California, I really embraced the holiday. I love the whole concept. I mean, taking the time to get together with your loved ones and give thanks for all the joy in our lives, with a big feast thrown in.

Now that’s what I call a holiday!

So to celebrate Thanksgiving from afar this year, I have two treats for you!

Treat Number 1. – THE ‘PIE’!

There’s chocolate. There are pecans. And you won’t have to turn on the oven.

Need I say more!

Treat Number 2. – THE ‘BLACK FRIDAY’ SALE!

After all the indulgence of the holidays, I figured some simple, delicious recipes might be just the thing you need…

h&t 3D cover

So I’m having a 72-hour sale on my ‘Healthy & Tasty Meals Made Easy‘ eCookbook. Which is packed with ideas for mouth-watering, flavoursome meals using real, fresh ingredients.

The SALE ENDS in less than 72-HOURS!

To make sure you don’t miss out go to:
http://thestonesoupshop.com/handt/

Made With Love 3D CoverPLUS! If you buy during the Black Friday Sale you’ll also get a FREE bonus copy of my ‘Made with Love‘ eCookbook – my go-to guide for edible, home made gifts.

This 124 page ebook isn’t available to buy on Stonesoup, it’s only available as a free bonus to people who purchase ‘Healthy & Tasty’ during the Black Friday sale.

________________________

no-bake chocolate pecan 'pie'-2

No-Bake Chocolate Pecan ‘Pie’

I’ve used the term pie very loosely here. While there isn’t any pie ‘crust’ the pecan topping give a lovely crunchy nutty contrast to the silky chocolate filling, so you definitely won’t feel like you’re missing out! It’s perfect for entertaining because you can get it all ready well in advance and just leave in the fridge until it’s time to serve.

enough for 6-8:
takes: 15 minutes + 2 hours to set

250g (1 cup) whipping cream (35% milk fat)
200g (7oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
200g (7oz) whole pecans, roasted

1. Line a loaf tin with baking paper so the base and sides are covered.

2. Place cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.

3. Meanwhile, roughly chop the chocolate into chunks and place in a bowl.

4. Pour hot cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes so it melts.

5. Stir until smooth then pour into the prepared pan. Arrange pecans on top, only using the best looking ones.

6. Refrigerate until set – about 2 hours or more.

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Variations

milk or white chocolate – don’t be tempted to substitute in milk or white chocolate because there won’t be enough cocoa butter coming from the chocolate to ‘set’ the pie.

dairy free / paleo – replace the cream with coconut milk OR other dairy-free milk like soy milk or almond milk. The flavour profile will change, but not necessarily in a bad way.

proper ‘pie’ – either pour the mixture into a pre-cooked and cooled pie crust. OR crush about 120g (4oz) of plain sweet biscuits (cookies) and mix with 30g (1oz) melted butter and spread over the base of the pan before filling with the chocolate mixture.

different nuts – feel free to use other nuts like almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts or cashews.

With love,
Jules x

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h&t 3D cover

ps. Not sure if ‘Healthy & Tasty Meals Made Easy is right for you?

Here’s what Eve and Wendy said about it…

‘I am so excited about this eCookbook, congratulations! I love how you always find ways to make tasty food in all its simplicity!’
Eve, H&T Reader.

‘Importantly, the recipes are tasty – food has to be delicious as well as healthy for me.’
Wendy, H&T Reader.

pps. The sale ENDS in less than 72-hours.

I won’t be sending any reminders.

To make sure you don’t miss out go to:
http://thestonesoupshop.com/handt/

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Spaghetti Squash_

The first time I read about spaghetti squash, I dismissed it as one of those ‘too good to be true’ ideas.

A low carb vegetable that looked like spaghetti?

Impossible!

But the more I saw it around, the more I wanted to try it. At the time there wasn’t anywhere I could buy this magical vegetable so I ordered myself some seeds and had a crack at growing my own.

Long story short, my growing attempts were unsuccessful.

Then about a year ago my local veggie shop started selling them. Experimentation began.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

At first I just roasted it whole until really soft then halved and scooped out the seeds once it was cooked. This was OK but I found separating the seeds from the flesh once it was cooked a challenge.

My current favourite method is to halve crosswise (which results in longer ‘strands’ than halving lengthwise). Scoop out the seeds with a spoon (much easier when the flesh is still hard). Drizzle with oil and roast, cut side up for about 45 minutes at 200C (400F). It’s done when you can easily separate the strands with a fork.

I have seen recipes where you roast cut side down but find this not as good because
(a) you don’t get any lovely browning flavours.
(b) there’s less moisture loss so you end up with more watery flesh.

7 Super-Yum Ideas for Spaghetti Squash

1. A Low Carb Bangers & Mash.
Stir in a heap of salted butter to the warm cooked squash and serve anywhere you’d normally serve potato mash. Or favourite is with good quality butchers sausages.

2. Rosti or Fritters.
Use the roast flesh instead of potatoes in these rosti. I haven’t tried this yet but imagine it would be super delicious.

3. Topping for Shepherds Pie.
Use roast spaghetti squash instead of cooking the cauliflower for this Simple Shepherds Pie. Would also be lovely as a topping for a classic fish pie too.

4. With Your Fave Pasta Sauce.
The knee-jerk reaction is to serve it with a bolognese or ragu. But it pretty much works with any pasta sauce, especially creamy ones like in the boscaiola recipe below.

5. Soup
Use instead of roast butternut in this wonderfully warming soup.

6. Noodle Soup.
Stir into an Asian-style noodle soup instead of the zucchini ‘noodles’.

7. Rice Replacer.
Use a big pile of roast spaghetti squash to serve as a low carb alternative to rice. Brilliant with curries or stir fries.

Are you a spaghetti squash fan?

I’d love to hear about how you cook yours. Let me know in the comments below…

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Spaghetti Squash 'Bosciola'

Spaghetti Squash Boscaiola

OK so this recipe is very heavy on the mushrooms and lighter on the squash. Just how I like it. If you’re not a super big mushroom fan, like my Irishman, you might be better following the ‘less mushroomy’ variation below.

While this recipe only calls for half a spaghetti squash, I always roast the whole thing because leftovers keep really well. If you’re stuck for ideas for how to use it, just serve with your favourite pasta sauce on top.

enough for 2-3
takes 60 minutes

1/2 spaghetti squash
4-6 slices bacon, chopped
1kg (2lb) button mushrooms, sliced
6-8 tablespoons cream
2 handfuls grated parmesan + shaved to serve
1 bag salad leaves, to serve (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F). Scoop out seeds from squash and drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast for about 45 minutes or until flesh is tender and separates into spaghetti-like strands easily with a fork.

2. While the squash is cooking, brown bacon with a little oil in a large frying pan on a medium high heat. Remove bacon from the pan and keep warm.

3. Add more oil to the pan and add mushrooms. Cook, stirring every few minutes until mushies are well browned and tender. Add cream and simmer for a few minutes then remove pan from the heat.

4. When the squash is cooked, use a spoon to scoop out the ‘spaghetti’ strands and add add these to the pan with the mushies. Bring everything back to a simmer then stir through bacon and grated parmesan. Taste and season with salt as needed.

5. Divide between 2-3 plates and top with extra shaved parmesan and salad leaves (if using).

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Variations

vegetarian – replace bacon with smoked tofu or toss in a handful of roasted almonds at the end. Or just skip it.

dairy-free – try a tomatoey sauce instead. Use a can of tomatoes instead of the cream. And serve with shaved brazil nuts in place of the parmesan.

carb-lovers – toss in some cooked pasta or serve with garlic bread.

less mushroomy – halve the amount of mushrooms and double the amount of spaghetti squash.

herby – toss in some chopped chives or flat leaf parsley at the end.

no spaghetti squash – use 2-3 spiralized zucchini or carrots instead. Just cook them in the pan with the mushies until the zucchini / carrots are warm and no longer crunchy. Or serve the creamy mushroom sauce on baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.

With love,
Jules x

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Peanut Butter Granola

Want to know one of my favourite favourite things to eat?

While I adore oysters (preferably with champagne) from time to time, my current addiction is a bit less sophisticated.

Yep. I love, love, love me some peanut butter. Mostly straight from the jar on a spoon. Yum.

So when one of my Instagram friends posted a photo of her peanut butter granola, I just had to get myself into the kitchen and make my own low-carb / gluten-free version.

It took a few goes to get the peanut butter intensity right, but I persevered. I know. The things I do just for you.

I like it to use as a crunchy topping for a bowl of natural unsweetened yoghurt and berries for a quick breakfast.

But it’s also great as a dessert with lashings of double cream or ice cream. With or without fresh fruit or a drizzle of melted chocolate.

You could also add some sea salt flakes and serve it as a snack to have with drinks.

So many delicious possibilities!

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Peanut Butter Granola-2

Crunchy Peanut Butter Granola

In our house we go through at least a jar of peanut butter a week. So it’s a huge understatement to say that we LOVE it. Especially Pics from New Zealand. While we happily eat is straight from the jar on a spoon, we also love it in this super crunchy granola.

This is one of those rare cases where I find smooth peanut butter works slightly better than crunchy. Although if you’ve only got crunchy in the house, it will be good too.

And I should note the peanut butter seems to slow down the browning process without slowing down the roasted flavours. So it can get over-roasted quite quickly. I tend to pull it out before the colour is as brown as I would normally let it get to be on the safe side.

takes about 45 minutes
makes 1 large tray

50g (2oz) butter or coconut oil
200g (7oz) peanut butter
250g (9oz) coconut flakes
500g (1lb) roasted peanuts
200g (7oz) flaked almonds

1. Preheat your oven to 150C (300F). Melt butter or coconut oil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter.

2. Place coconut flakes, peanuts and almonds in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle over the peanut butter mixture. Toss until the everything is coated in the peanut butter goodness.

3. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Spread over the nut mixture into an even layer.

4. Bake for 15-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until the granola is golden brown or slightly darker. Cool on the tray before storing in an airtight container in the pantry.

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Variations

vegan / dairy-free – use coconut oil.

traditional granola – if you’re OK with carbs and gluten replace some of the coconut with rolled oats.

chocolate granola – try the recipe over here.

different nuts – feel free to replace some or all of the peanuts with other chopped nuts.

no coconut – I use coconut flakes because they’re inexpensive compared to other nuts and lighten the texture but you could just use more flaked almonds or other nuts if you aren’t into coconut.

sweeter – I like to keep it on the more savoury side but feel free to add a little stevia, honey or maple syrup to the melted butter mixture.

snacky – toss in sea salt flakes and serve with drinks.

Big love!
Jules x

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ps. ‘Early Bird’ registration for ‘A Simple Year’ ENDS THIS WEEK!.

If you’re interested in learning how to simplify not just healthy eating, but the whole of your life, then I recommend checking out A Simple Year.

It’s a 12 month program which focuses on simplifying a different area of your life each month. If you join us I’ll show you how to simplify not only your approach to healthy eating but also your kitchen and your cooking.

I love how there’s a different focus each month to keep me on track without feeling overwhelmed.

For more details, go to:
www.simpleyear.co/

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NOTE: ‘Early Bird’ discount on registration ends 13th November.

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