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Soy & Honey Tofu with Sweet Potato Noodles-2

Honey & Soy Tofu with Sweet Potato ‘Noodles’

Sweet potato is one of the few vegetables (side from potatoes) that my boys love. Needless to say, I’m always trying to come up with new ways to use the sweet spud.

While chopping into chip shapes and roasting in coconut oil is my go-to move, these spiralized ‘noodles’ are a close second. They do take a little more active time to prepare, but I’ve found little fingers love getting the spiralizer out. And they only take 10 minutes in the oven so they’re pretty quick.

I was surprised how much they both love tofu. It’s a great staple to have in the fridge for when you need some last minute protein. My favourite ways to use tofu are in an easy tofu scramble, as a tasty ragu, these tofu ‘steaks’ or pan fried and given a flavour boost with some honey and soy like in the recipe below.

Make sure you buy firm tofu (rather than silken) and organic so there’s less likelihood of the soy being genetically modified.

enough for: 2-3 children
takes: 20 minutes

1 medium sweet potato
1/2 pack firm tofu (about 175g / 6oz)
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 small bunch coriander (cilantro)

1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Scrub sweet potato and spiralize into medium ‘noodles’.

2. Place noodles on an oven proof baking tray. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Bake for 10 minutes or until ‘noodles’ are tender and cooked through.

3. Meanwhile slice tofu into 3 bricks about 1cm (1/3in) thick. Pan fry on a medium high heat with a little oil until golden brown on both sides.

4. Mix honey and soy sauce in a medium bowl. When the tofu is cooked, chop into bite sized chunks and toss in the honey and soy sauce.

5. To serve, divide warm sweet potato between 2-3 bowls. Top with tofu and sauce and coriander leaves (if using).

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Variations

extra crunch – serve with roast cashews or sesame seeds.

green-free – skip the coriander or replace with cashews or sesame seeds.

soy-free – replace with chicken thigh or breast fillets and adjust cooking time as needed.

carb-lovers – toss in cooked noodles or spaghetti with the sweet potato. Or serve everything with steamed rice.

low carb – replace sweet potato with 2 medium zucchini. And consider the chicken instead of the tofu. For more low carb ideas, see my other website Deliciously Diabetic. If you’re keeping things super low carb use a pinch of stevia instead of the honey.

no spiralizer – chop the sweet potato into shoestring fingers and increase the cooking time until they are tender (about 20 minutes depending on your knife skills). If you’re thinking about investing in a spiralizer, you might enjoy this article: Do You Need A Spiralizer?

other veg – carrots are also good.

sweeter – feel free to increase the honey.

gluten-free – use tamari or other gluten-free soy sauce.

different sauces – oyster or hoisin sauce can be used instead of the honey and soy.

more grown-up – toss in a little grated ginger and/or finely chopped garlic with the soy. And chopped green onions add lovely colour to the noodles. A few finely chopped red chillies wouldn’t go astray either. Or serve with Marco’s Chilli Oil.

Enjoy!

With love,
Jules x

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Roast Onions-2

When someone subscribes to the weekly Stonesoup email newsletter, I ask a couple of questions so I can get to know my new readers better.

One of them is how they discovered my blog. Every now and then I get an email saying they were looking for soup recipes and that for a blog called StoneSOUP, there weren’t as many soups as they would expect.

I take my reader feedback very seriously. So this year I’ve been on a mission to make more soup.

My plan is pretty simple. Monday night has become ‘soup night’.

It’s been brilliant for many reasons. Of course I’ve been making loads more soup. But it’s also made meal planning easier. Now I love Mondays!

But before we get into this week’s soup recipe (which is a total winner), I have a quick favour to ask.

I’m toying with the idea of making some changes to the focus of Stonesoup but before I do anything rash, I’d love to get your input.

So I’ve created a quick survey.

To share your thoughts go to:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GCJGSTJ

It would mean so much to me to get your input to guide the direction of Stonesoup.

With love and thanks!
Jules
xoxo

ps. If you need more reasons to start upping your own soup intake, you might enjoy 7 Surprising Reasons to Eat More Soup.

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No-Cry Roast Onion Soup-2

No-Cry Roast Onion Soup

I did toy with the idea of calling this soup ‘Aussie Onion Soup’, as opposed to the French variety. But the idea of roasting the onions first so you’re avoiding all the pain and tears involved in slicing your onions is just too brilliant (if I do say so myself) not to allude to it in the title.

Beef stock is traditionally used with French onion soup but I prefer the milder flavour of a chicken stock here. Of course vegetarians are welcome to use vegetable stock.

enough for: 2
takes about 60 minutes

4 red onions
1/2 cup white wine OR 1-2 tablespoons sherry or wine vinegar
3 cups stock
grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Cut the onions in half lengthwise. Remove any papery skins that are easy to discard but don’t worry about peeling.

2. Place onions cut side up on a roasting tray. Drizzle generously with oil and roast until well browned and soft – about 45 minutes.

3. When the onions are soft allow to cool for a few minutes before slipping them out of their skins. Slice cooked onion and place in a medium saucepan.

4. Add wine or vinegar and simmer for a few minutes before adding the stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 5-10 minutes.

5. Taste and season generously with salt and pepper. Serve in deep bowls with parmesan grated over.

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Variations

different onions – use whatever onions you like. I prefer red for their sweeter flavour and because they look so pretty.

short on time – peel and slice onions and cook on the stove top with lots of butter or oil on a medium heat until soft. Then proceed as per the recipe.

herby – some thyme or rosemary can be lovely.

hot! – serve with a good drizzle of Marco’s Chilli Oil. OR add some chopped red chilli with the stock.

carb-lovers – toss in some cooked pasta, croutons or cooked beans or lentils.

more traditional – melt some cheese on slices of sourdough toast and float these on top before serving.

more veg – feel free to wilt in some greens jsut before serving. Fine ribbons of kale are lovely as is baby spinach.

dairy-free – replace parmesan with grated brazil nuts or roast pine nuts.

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Avo on Toast with Smashed Olives & Tahini-3

Do you ever feel confused by nutrition? I know.

Even though I’ve studied nutrition at university as part of my Food Science degree, I sometimes feel a little overwhelmed. When I read the latest study comparing different diets it can be a bit much. Low fat, paleo, vegetarian, LCHF, plant based, low carb?!

What’s a girl to eat?

When I start to feel that overwhelm I come back to some simple principles to guide my eating:

  • Eat real food (adapted from Michael Pollan)
  • Eat lots of veggies (adapted from Michael Pollan)
  • Watch the carbs (not adapted from Michael Pollan!)
  • Experiment with what works for you.

Since being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and then Type 2, I’ve found that for me, eating Low Carb with a generous dose of healthy fat works best.

Of course that may not be what works for you! We truly are all different and it’s so important to find the approach that is best for your situation.

3 Reasons I LOVE Eating Low Carb

1. Low Carb is Delicious!
As a huge huge food lover, there is no way I could stick to a Low Carb lifestyle if it didn’t taste amazing. The pleasure of food is a non-negotiable in my world.

Luckily I’ve discovered that it’s super easy to really enjoy Low Carb food, especially when you include all the delicious, flavour-carrying fats. I never feel deprived.

2. Low Carb Keeps My Blood Sugar Stable
I still test my fasting blood sugar every morning and it’s easy to tell when I’ve let the carbs creep in (hello whole bottle of Proscecco!). But a day of Low Carb eating easily puts the old glucose back on track.

3. Low Carb Helps Manage my Weight.
Apart from the year I spent backpacking around the world and living on beer and bread, I’ve never been really overweight. But I have always struggled with a bulge around my waistline.

When I started eating Low Carb and my body shape stopped being a constant struggle. Maintaining a healthy weight became so much easier.

I really noticed this with my pregnancies. For my first I wasn’t diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and I gained 20kg (40lb). With my second I really focused on eating Low Carb and monitoring my blood sugar after every meal and guess what? I only gained 15kg (30lb) even though I was exercising less.

Are you looking for EASY Low Carb recipes?

DD Free eCookbook 3D cover

Then check out my NEW website, Deliciously Diabetic!

Make sure you don’t miss the FREE eCookbook with 24 EASY Low Carb recipes!

Grab your FREE copy at:
https://www.deliciously-diabetic.com/

Enjoy!
Jules xoxo
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Avo on Toast with Smashed Olives & Tahini

Avo on Toast with Smashed Olives & Tahini

We Australians love to abbreviate everything. In case you’re wondering ‘avo’ is actually avocado. While there aren’t many things I miss being Low Carb, ‘Avo on Toast’ was one of them. So happy to have found a Low Carb bread that means I can enjoy my avocado AND keep my blood sugar happy. Of course you’re welcome to use whatever bread you prefer.

You don’t really need a recipe for this idea but the contrast of the salty piquant olives with the creamy avo and tahini really takes this to the next level!

enough for: 2
takes: 10 minutes

1 slice broccoli bread
1 small avocado or 1/2 large
squeeze lime
4-5 kalamata olives, smashed
2 tablespoons tahini

1. Toast your bread.

2. Halve avocado and scoop flesh onto the toast. Smash roughly with a fork to cover the surface. Sprinkle generously with black pepper and some sea salt flakes (remembering your olives will add salt too).

3. Squeeze over lime. Smash olives with the side of your knife and remove stones. Scatter smashed olives over the avo and drizzle over tahini.

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Variations

more simple – just use avocado and lime with lashings of black pepper.

no tahini – just skip it or try sprinkling with dukkah, roast pine nuts or sesame seeds instead.

carb-lovers – use your favourite bread. True carb lovers might like to spread their toppings over 2 slices!

another fave avo on toast topping – sprinkle with Shicimi Togarashi.

no avo – replace with regular hummus or my Low Carb Roast Cauliflower Hummus and skip the tahini.

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Dukkah

Do you go through phases with your cooking? Are there dishes you make all the time until you move on to the next shiny (I mean delicious) new thing?

I’m totally guilty too.

While I like (and it’s my job!) to keep coming up with new ideas, sometimes there’s a downside to always exploring new flavour sensations.

Sometimes I forget about things I really love to eat.

Which has pretty much been the story of me and dukkah for the past 4 years.

Luckily, this story has a happy ending in that we were reunited a few months ago. And now I can’t get enough!

What is Dukkah?

Dukkah is originally an Egyptian blend of spices, seeds and nuts that is served with olive oil and bread for dipping.

But it’s so much more than just a dip! Dukkah adds lovely crunch and a flavour explosion where ever you use it. And it keeps in the pantry for months!

10 Tasty Things to do with Dukkah

1. With Eggs
My most frequent use for dukkah is to sprinkle on my poached eggs (see below for my current obsession). But it’s also awesome on scrambled or fried. The spices and crunchiness makes a heavenly contrast to rich creamy yolks.

2. With Soft Cheese
Dukkah is amazing with all soft cheese especially a creamy fresh goats cheese, labneh or ricotta. It’s also good with feta but you need to watch you don’t get too much salt from the dukkah and feta combo.

If you’re feeling fancy, you can roll cubes or scoops of the cheese in a dukkah crust.

3. With Yoghurt
When I snack, I love to reach for some home made natural yoghurt. If there’s dukkah in the house I love to sprinkle some on top to take it to the next level.

4. On Salads
Just sprinkle on before serving so you get maximum crunch. The sesame seeds and hazelnuts in the dukkah are a quick way to make your salad more substantial and filling.

5. On Soups
Especially good to add flavour and texture to creamy vegetable soups like my:

6. On Vegetables
Where do I begin! So many ideas! Here are some fave vegetable recipes that would benefit from some Dukkah treatment:

7. As a Crust for Poultry, Meat or Fish
This isn’t something I do often because I worry about burning the nuts. But if you’re up for a technical challenge, you’ll be rewarded with succulent meat / fish and a flavour-packed crunchy crust.

8. On Cooked Poultry, Meat or Fish
Dukkah works with most protein. I especially like to sprinkle it on post-cooking. Will liven up good old halloumi or tofu too!

9. On Avocado
If you’re looking for a way to jazz up your avo on toast, you definitely need to make some dukkah! Avocado and dukkah are friends wherever they find themselves though, so don’t feel like you need to be a toast eater to enjoy the experience. If you’d like to try a Low Carb Avo & Dukkah on Toast I highly recommend my Broccoli Bread.

10. With Fruit
This one takes a little more finesse to get right, so only use a little bit (you can always add more!). I like the earthy cumin and citrussy coriander to enhance the flavours of more subtle fruit like cooked apples, quince or pears. But can imagine it working with strawberries or blueberries as well.

As you can see, I pretty much use my dukkah everywhere. Well, at least anywhere I’d normally add black pepper.

Which reminds me, I need to make more dukkah!

With love,
Jules x

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Poached Eggs with Mushrooms & Dukkah

Buttery Mushrooms with Poached Eggs & Dukkah

This breakfast / lunch / dinner is all about some of my favourite things. Poached eggs! Buttery, garlicky mushrooms! Crunchy nutty, dukkah! And some leaves for greeness. It’s soo soo good.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to make the dukkah, see the ‘no dukkah’ variations below. I’ve just used large button mushrooms in the photo but pretty much any mushroom will work cooked this way.

enough for: 2
takes: 30 minutes

4 tablespoons butter
500g (1lb) mushrooms, sliced if large
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 poached eggs
6-8 tablespoons dukkah (recipe below)
salad leaves to serve

1. Heat a large frying pan on a medium high heat. Add butter and allow to melt and coat the bottom of the pan before adding the mushies and garlic. Cook, stirring every few minutes until the mushrooms are well browned and tender. If the butter starts to burn, turn the heat down.

2. Taste and season mushrooms with salt, remembering the dukkah is going to add some salt too.

3. Divide mushies between two plates. Top with poached eggs. Sprinkle dukkah over and pop the salad leaves on the side.

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Variations

no dukkah – you really need to sort that out! But in the mean time, the eggs and mushies are amazing with a dollop of home made mayonnaise or just sprinkle over some roasted nuts or seeds to give you that extra flavour and crunch.

carb lovers – pile everything on hot buttered sourdough toast. Or serve with warm flat bread.

different veg – pretty much any roast or pan fried veg will work with the egg and dukkah treatment. I especially love roast broccoli, cauliflower or brussels sprouts.

egg-free – replace poached eggs with some soft cheese. And add a handful roast hazelnuts or almonds for extra substance.

Dukkah

Dukkah

Dukkah is originally an Egyptian blend of spices and nuts that is served with olive oil and bread for dipping. It’s an excellent starter because it can be easily made well in advance. But as you can see from my list above, there are so many more ways to use this flavour and texture explosion! Trust me, you won’t have any problems using it up. The dukkah will keep for a few months in an airtight container in the pantry.

makes: about 2 cups
takes: 15 minutes

300g (10oz) roasted & peeled hazelnuts
100g (3oz) sesame seeds
60g (2oz) ground coriander
60g (2oz) ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

1. In a food processor, blend nuts until you have a chunky meal. Or coarsely chop by hand.

2. Stir in sesame seeds, coriander, cumin & salt. Taste and season with extra salt if needed.

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Variations

to roast the hazelnuts – I usually cheat and buy pre-roasted and peeled because peeling hazelnuts is a pain! Sometimes I pop them in the oven for 5 minutes (200C / 400F) to freshen up before making my dukkah. To roast from scratch pop on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes or until golden brown and tasty. It’s usually somewhere around the 12 minute mark but may take 15 minutes, depending on your oven. Make sure you set your timer because there’s nothing worse than wasting burnt nuts.

nut free dukkah – replace hazelnuts with a mix of seeds such as sunflower, lindeeds (flax) and pepitas.

different nuts – replace the hazelnuts with roasted almonds, macadamias or cashews or a mixture of your fave nuts.

budget – replace some or all of the hazelnuts with fine bread crumbs.

With love,
Jules
xoxo
www.thestonesoup.com

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

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I really want to hear from you!
What do you like about Stonesoup? Do you have any ideas to make it better? What would you like to see more of?
Let me know in the comments below.

The winner for this month is Daryle in VT.

A new winner will be chosen early Sept.

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pork & broccoli-2

Asian Pork & Broccoli

I discovered this recipe by accident one night. I was cooking some pork and fennel sausages and had originally been planning an Italian-style dish but the smell of the fennel had such and ‘Asian’ vibe that I just had to change direction. I love when inspiration strikes mid meal!

enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes

2 smallish heads broccoli, chopped
450g (1lb) pork and fennel sausages, skins removed, meat crumbled
1-4 small red chillies, chopped
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
handful cashews (optional)

1. Preheat a wok or frying pan on a medium high heat. Add broccoli and stir fry until the broccoli is bright green and no longer crunchy. About 5 minutes.

2. Place cooked broccoli in a clean bowl then add a little more oil. Stir fry the sausages until browned and cooked through.

3. Add chilli and return broccoli to the pan. Add oyster sauce and stir fry another minute or until everything is hot.

4. Taste and season with salt and/or more oyster sauce. Serve in bowls with cashews on top (if using).

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Variations

no pork and fennel? – just use plain pork sausages and add 2 teaspoons fennel seeds to the pan. Or a tiny piece of star anise.

vegetarian – replace sausages with crumbled tofu or diced eggplant (aubergine). You’ll need to cook the aubergine with a lid on and for much longer – until it is soft about 15-20 minutes. And use vegetarian oyster sauce or soy sauce.

no oyster sauce – just use soy sauce or hoisin.

more flavour – add a little crushed garlic and/or ginger to the sausages at the end of cooking.

different meat – use any stir fry meat such as chopped chicken breast or thigh fillets, sliced steak, pork fillet or peeled green prawns (shrimp).

more veg – add in any veg that you like to stir fry such as red capsicum (bell pepper), carrots, zucchini, snow peas, sugar snap peas, frozen peas, even baby corn (if that’s your thing). Or serve with baby spinach, cauliflower ‘rice’, coriander leaves (cilantro) or fresh mint.

more substantial – serve with steamed rice or rice noodles cooked according to the packet.

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Lemony Kale with Smoked Trout & Almonds-2

Have you ever wondered how restaurants are able to deliver so many different dishes to your table in a small amount of time?

Well today I’m going to share their ‘secret’.

Basically apart from having lots of staff, restaurants do most of their prep ahead of time. So when the ‘heat is on’ during service they only need to put the finishing touches on each dish.

The technical term is ‘mise en place’.

What is ‘mise en place?’

Ever eaten at a restaurant with an exposed kitchen so you could watch the chefs at work? And ever noticed all the little containers and bottles of sauces they have at their work stations?

Well you’ve seen ‘mise en place‘ in action.

Mise en place is a French term that roughly translates as ‘put in place’. It’s used to describe the practice of chefs preparing food up to a point where it is ready to be used in a dish during food service.

It may be as simple as washing and picking herbs into individual leaves or chopping vegetables. Or more complicated like caramelizing onions, cooking dried beans or slow cooking meats.

The main benefit in a restaurant is that it makes it much quicker and easier to get food on the table after the customer has ordered.

The secondary benefit is that the preparation can help to extend the shelf life of fresh produce, meaning less waste.

How can this ‘secret’ help you?

1. Save you time.
By taking the time when you can to do a little ‘mise en place’ preparation, we can make it much quicker and easier to get dinner on the table when we come home from work late and everyone is hungry.

2. Reduce waste
Happily, a little bit of preparation can actually extend the shelf life of fresh produce. Which means you have more time to use your precious veg before they go bad.

3. Makes it easy to just ‘throw something tasty together’.
I’ve found that prepping ahead and pretending I’m a chef* with my ‘mise’ has an unexpected benefit… It makes it much easier to look in the fridge and actually get inspiration for what to make for dinner.

There’s something about having at least some of the work done that makes the decision process much easier.

Could you benefit from our little ‘secret’?

Then I invite you to join me for The Organized Cook online program.

THD 2016 square logo

The Organized Cook is a 4-week online training program that shows you my simple system for:

  • Getting on top of cooking at home
  • Eating more vegetables
  • Pulling meals together quickly without the ‘last minute’ stress…

To see if it’s right for you go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/toc/

UPDATE: REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED.
_________________

“I LOVE the whole ‘Mise en Place’ concept and use it all the time now, it’s saved me so much time. This was a really terrific class!”
Kathleen, The Organized Cook Student.

_________________
Lemony Kale with Smoked Trout & Almonds

Lemony Kale with Smoked Trout & Almonds

Some of my favourite meals involve some take on this quick and easy bowl of goodness. Basically we’re talking a truck load of greens, given a flavour boost with some lemon and garlic and made more substantial with some protein and almonds. For me this is comfort food, like putting on my uggies and getting a big hug.


enough for 2
takes 15 minutes

1 large bunch kale
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
1-2 lemons
250g (9oz) smoked trout
2 handfuls flaked almonds

1. Wash kale and slice crosswise into ribbons about 1cm (1.3in) thick, discarding the woody stems. Don’t worry about drying, the extra moisture helps the kale to steam.

2. Heat a large pot on a medium high heat. Add a very generous glug of olive oil, the sliced kale and garlic. Cover and cook, stirring every few minutes until the kale is tender and wilted. If it starts to burn add a splash of water.

3. Remove pot from the heat. Season kale generously with salt, pepper and a big squeeze of lemon (or more if you like it really zingy).

4. To serve, divide kale between two bowls and top with fish and almonds.

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Variations

vegetarian – replace fish with extra almonds, cooked chickpeas, crumbled feta or blue cheese, or poached eggs.

nut-free – skip the almonds or replace with toasted bread crumbs.

different greens – I love Tuscan kale here but any greens are good. Try different types of kale, collard greens, spinach or chard (silverbeet). Frozen spinach can also be used – no need to slice, just defrost and cook uncovered so you get rid of the excess moisture.

different protein – anything cooked will work. Think smoked salmon, pan fried sliced chorizo or other spicy sausages, crispy bacon, shaved parmsean, canned fish (hello sardines!), leftover cooked meat or poached or fried eggs.

creamy – stir in a few tablespoons double cream with the lemon juice.

extra zesty – add the zest of the lemons with the juice.

carb-lovers / more substantial – toss in cooked pasta or serve the kale piled on hot buttered sourdough toast.

different nuts – I really love almonds with the trout but feel free to use whatever nuts you have, it will taste better if they’re roasted but it won’t be the end of the world if you can’t be bothered! I often don’t.

With love,
Jules xx

(*for the record I’m not a chef. Just a self-taught cook with a degree in Food Science.)

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Super Tender Broccoli

When I was backpacking around the world in my 20s there were 2 things that I really missed…

My own bed.

And my own fridge.

I guess I also did miss having a proper kitchen. But every time I tried to squeeze my fresh ingredients into a smelly, chaotic youth hostel shared fridge, that was the part I really struggled with.

Ever since then I’ve always been so thankful for having my own cold storage space. And while it isn’t clean and tidy 100% of the time, I do take a certain pride in keeping it organized.

So today I’m going to share the 5 key principles I follow.

How I Organize My Fridge

1. Keep most in need of using items visible.
It’s so easy to forget what you have. So my first rule is to place anything that needs ‘eating up’ where you can’t miss seeing it each time you open the fridge.

It’s a small thing but makes a HUGE difference to how much food I waste.

2. Keep like things together.
This is just how my brain works. I have separate places for my cheese, my raw meats, fresh veg, prepped ingredients, my fermented veg and of course my champagne!

3. Have a regular place for different ingredients.
This just makes it easier to find what you’re looking for. So I know that half used jar of curry paste will be in he fridge door instead of having to rummage around to find it.

4. Really look once a day.
I don’t know about you, but my memory isn’t the greatest these days. So I try and have a good look in all parts of the fridge at least once a day.

This way I remember what I have and get heaps more ideas for what to cook. Plus I can move things that really need eating to a more visible position so I’m less likely to waste food. Win win!

5. Keep things covered.
The air in the fridge is really dry. The number 1. cause of food spoilage is dehydration, especially for fresh produce. So I keep all my fruit and veg in plastic bags either in the crisper or on the bottom shelf. It doesn’t look so pretty but really makes a difference to how long things last.

For leftovers and my prepped ingredients I use glass containers with plastic lids.

A Video Tour of My Fridge

Watch on YouTube

Like more?

Then I’d love you to join me for The Organized Cook!

THD 2016 square logo

Registration is NOW OPEN CLOSED for The Organized Cook, a 4-week online training program that shows you my simple system for:

  • Getting on top of cooking at home
  • Eating more vegetables
  • Pulling meals together quickly without the ‘last minute’ stress…

To see if it’s right for you go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/toc/

With love,
Jules xx

ps. Not sure if you have time to sign up?

Think about it, you’re always going to have lots going on. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if you had your kitchen organization handled? Imagine if you could free up some time for other areas of your life?

That’s why you get access to the program for life. So you’ll always be able to fit it into the timing that works best for you.

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

——

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salt & vinegar steaks

Over the last few months, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to students from my online cooking school.

I always enjoy chatting on the phone or Skype with my students from all over the world. It’s fun but more importantly it gives me valuable insights into what people need help with.

One theme that kept coming up was getting to the end of the day and having that feeling of panic or dread…

‘Oh no! I’ve got to pull a meal together. What will I do?’

One of the best antidotes to this ‘affliction’ is to be a bit more organized. But I know there are some myths that hold people back from getting on top of it.

So let’s get into some myth busting!

The 3 Biggest Myths about being an Organized Cook

Myth 1. If you’re organized there’s less flexibility and freedom.
This ties in with the misconception that being organized means you have to pre-cook loads of complete meals.

But there is another way!

If you focus on prepping ingredients instead there can be loads of room for flexibility and creativity. I find it actually sparks ideas.

And even better, cooking this way means you can ‘pull together’ healthy meals really quickly which means you’re much more likely to eat at home.

As André said:
“Since completing The Organized Cook I am eating more at home because now I need less time to cook.”

Myth 2. You have to spend hours in the kitchen sacrificing your precious weekend time.
People often tell me that a lack of time is their biggest obstacle on the path to organization.

But here’s the thing, you don’t need to dedicate huge chunks of time to make a difference.

The key is to develop a strategy to help you be more efficient with the time you’re already spending.

For example, I often pop on some veg to roast (1 hour but 2 minutes active time) or cook up a pot of rice for Fergal and Finbar (15 minutes) while I’m cooking for today.

If you’d like to explore more strategies for being efficient in the kitchen I’m going to be going much deeper in my new online program, The Organized Cook, which I hope you’ll join me for.

Myth 3. Pre-prepared food is not as healthy as fresh.
Just because fresh food is healthy, doesn’t necessarily mean that food cooked in advance is not.

Whenever we cut or cook food we’re exposing it to oxidation and light or heat. So any light, oxygen or heat sensitive nutrients will be lost during food prep.

Whether we eat the food straight away or store it and eat in a few days time doesn’t make a significant difference. Most of the sensitive nutrients will have already been lost either way.

The way I look at it, if prepping ahead means I’m going to eat more veggies, this totally outweighs any slight loss in nutrition from prepping and storing.

Ready to be feel more Organized?

Well now’s your chance!

THD 2016 square logo

Registration is NOW OPEN CLOSED for The Organized Cook, a 4-week online training program that shows you my simple system for:

  • Getting on top of cooking at home
  • Eating more vegetables
  • Pulling meals together quickly without the ‘last minute’ stress…

To see if the Organized Cook is right for you go to:
http://thestonesoupshop.com/toc/

_________________________

salt & vinegar steaks-2

Salt & Vinegar Steaks

When I was growing up ‘salt and vinegar’ was my favourite flavour of potato chips (crisps). But it wasn’t until my brother was staying with me and cooked his version of these salt and vinegar steaks that I had the inspiration to use that classic flavour combo in my cooking. Thanks Dom!

enough for: 2
takes: 30 minutes

1 bunch broccolini or broccoli, chopped
2 steaks
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
sea salt flakes

1. Remove steaks from the fridge preferably an hour before you want to cook them, or as long as you’ve got.

2. For the dressing, combine vinegar with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.

3. Heat a frying pan on a medium high heat. Add a little olive oil and the broccoli / broccolini and a splash of water. Cover and cook stirring every few minutes until the veg are no longer crunchy, about 5-10 minutes. Place veg in a clean bowl.

4. Increase heat to medium high. Rub steaks with a little oil and sprinkle with salt.

5. Cook steaks for 3-5 minutes each side, or until cooked to your liking.

5. Place steak on 2 plates. Drizzle over dressing and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving with the broccolini / broccoli on top and extra sea salt flakes.

Variations

different salt – my brother loves commercial garlic salt or onion salt with his steak.

vegetarian – replace steaks with sliced halloumi cheese. Pan fry halloumi on a medium heat until golden brown on both sides. No need to rest the halloumi before tucking in. OR replace steak with hummus + a handful of almonds.

vegan – try salt and vinegar beans. Replace steaks with a drained can of your favourite beans. Warm in the pan and serve with the veg and dressing. Consider adding a handful or roasted almonds or pine nuts for some extra protein and crunch.

different veg – replace broccoli or broccolini with sliced zucchini, snow peas, frozen peas, sugar snap peas or red bell peppers (capsicum). Or just serve steaks with salad leaves on the side.

more substantial – lovely with mashed potatoes, roast potato or fries, cauliflower mash or a packet of your favourite potato crisps (chips). Or just serve some crusty bread and butter.

different meat – also great with pork chops, lamb chops or lamb cutlets. I also love salt and vinegar sausages (simmer sausages in water for 10-15 minutes before draining and browning in a little oil in the pan).

pescetarian – replace steaks with fish and replace balsamic with lemon juice.

different vinegar / sugar-free – I love the sweetness of balsamic here but you could use any wine or rice vinegar. Sherry vinegar is also a hit.

more veg – serve a green salad on the side.

low carb – I use a cheap balsamic which is lower carb. For strict low carb use 2 tablespoons wine or sherry vinegar instead. For more easy Low Carb ideas check out my new website Deliciously Diabetic.

With love,
Jules x
www.thestonesoup.com

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ps. Not sure if The Organized Cook can help you?

Here’s what Samantha and Pat said about their experience…

“I’m planning more often and are more confident in trusting my instincts. Being better prepared has kept us from eating out too often.”
Samantha, The Organized Cook Student.

“I am planning ahead more often and have less anxiety when it come time to cook the evening meal. The Organized Cook helps simplify the meal planning and preparation process. And access to all of the healthy recipes is great!”
Pat, The Organized Cook Student.

For more details use your link below:
http://thestonesoupshop.com/toc/

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Hummus with Chorizo & Roasted Hazelnuts-2

Have you ever dreamed of being able to walk into the kitchen, look in the fridge and go ‘I’ve got this and this and this. I’m going to put these things together and make something that tastes good’?

Well you’re in the right place!

When I was first learning to cook I followed recipes religiously because I didn’t have the confidence to cook on my own. But I remember wishing I could just ‘throw something together’.

These days that’s pretty much how I cook most days. I see what I have and take it from there.

So how did I make the leap?

It was a few things. Practice and being willing to give it a try certainly helped.

But one of the biggest game changers was developing the habit of prepping my ingredients.

Why ingredient prep?

Because there’s nothing like opening the fridge and seeing loads of possibilities. Being able to grab out a tub of this and a jar of that and know you’re going to be eating something truly tasty and healthy soon!

There’s something about having about having the broccoli already chopped and roasted or the lentils already cooked and seasoned that makes it easier to imagine what you can make.

It really gives confidence that you can throw a meal together. Not to mention making you feel on top of things as you look into your beautifully organized fridge.

But apart from the creative, inspirational side of things, there are plenty of practical concrete reasons…

Saves time – prepping ingredients in advance makes it so much quicker to get weeknight (and other) meals on the table.

Plus cooking in bulk generally doesn’t take much more time. For example making a big pot of quinoa and freezing the extras means you’ll have quinoa ready to go without spending much more time than packing it up.

And there’s no extra cleanup either!

Keeps thing flexible – unlike making a whole meal in advance, prepping ingredients doesn’t ‘lock you in’. For example some roast sweet potato could become a warming soup for a cold rainy day. BUT if the weather is unseasonably warm it can just as easily turn into a sweet potato salad.

Reduce waste – for many ingredients, especially fruit and veg, prepping and partially cooking makes them keep for longer. This is because cooking destroys enzymes and reduces the presence of spoilage microbes.

For example, where that bunch of organic kale may start to go yellow and sad looking after a week in the fridge, if you cook it down it will easily keep for two weeks or more.

Not only is wasting less fresh produce good for your conscience and your wallet. It’s much better for the planet too!

How to master the art of ingredient prep.

1. start small & plan for success.
So you’re probably all excited to get going but the worst thing you can do is buy a fridge full of fresh produce, get overwhelmed and forget about them.

The real power of the art of ingredient prep is turning it into a habit so it becomes practically effortless.

So focus on taking baby steps and focus on really building the habit first. You can always upscale your ingredient prep efforts later, once you have the habit embedded.

2. Choose 1-2 ingredients to prep.
I’ve included a ‘cheat sheet’ to download and keep. Use it to get ideas. If you’re not very confident in the kitchen it’s a good idea to decide how you’re going to use them. And make sure you get any other ingredients you need.

3. Buy your ingredients and prep them.
See the ‘cheat sheet’ for instructions. Download link below.

4. Use your ingredients one night this week!
And congratulate yourself for taking the first step to becoming more organized in the kitchen!

Your ingredient prep ‘cheat sheet’

StonesoupIngredientPrepCheatSheetIMage
Click HERE to download your cheat sheet.
You may need to ‘right click’ and ‘save link as’..
_______________________

Hummus with Chorizo & Roasted Hazelnuts

Hummus w Chorizo & Almonds

‘Things’ on a bed of creamy hummus are some of my favourite quick, healthy mid-week meals. While the Spiced Beef with Hummus from my FREE eCookbook will always be one of my go-to meals, this version using chorizo is a close second. Love the contrast of the hot spicy sausage with the cool creamy hummus, the crunchy hazelnuts and the fresh greenness of the salad. So good!

enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes

2 chorizo, sliced or crumbled
1 cup hummus
2 handfuls roast hazelnuts
1 bag baby spinach leaves

1. Heat a little oil in a medium frying pan and cook chorizo until well browned on both sides and cooked through.

2. Divide hummus between two plates. Top with cooked chorizo, hazelnuts and salad leaves.

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Variations

no chorizo – use other spicy sauasage, salami or ground meat. Add a little chilli if you want more heat.

no hummus – to make your own, whizz 1 drained can chickpeas in the food processor with 1 clove garlic,

vegetarian – replace chorizo with roast veg and serve with a drizzle of chilli oil or your favourite hot sauce.

low carb / paleo – use the Roast Cauliflower Hummus from my new website, Deliciously Diabetic.

nut-free – replace hazelnuts with extra chorizo or crumble over some feta or goats cheese.

more substantial / carb lovers – serve with warm tortillas or flat bread.

With love,
Jules
xoxo

ps. Want to be more organized in the kitchen?

Introducing…

THD 2016 square logo

The Organized Cook, a 4-week online training program that shows you my simple system to get on top of cooking at home, eating more vegetables and pulling meals together quickly without the ‘last minute’ stress…

To see if the Organized Cook can help you go to:
http://thestonesoupshop.com/toc/

_________________________

“I am planning ahead more often and have less anxiety when it come time to cook the evening meal. The Organized Cook helps simplify the meal planning and preparation process. And access to all of the healthy recipes is great!”
Pat, The Organized Cook Student.

_________________________

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blat salad

Years ago, when I was a young food scientist working in product development for Kellogg, the company introduced a ‘clean desk’ policy.

I hated it.

Before the new policy I was happy to be the most messy person in the department. Life was good except I could never find what I was looking for.

After the new policy, my boss started to ‘remind’ me constantly to change my ways. It’s never a good idea to have your boss on your case, so I chose the lesser of two evils and started putting away my things at the end of every day.

You probably know where this is heading.

Yep.

I ended up loving having a clean desk. It made coming to work much more pleasant. It helped me think clearer. And I could find things quickly when I needed them.

It took a while but over time this policy spread into other areas of my life. Including of course my kitchen!

So here they are…

6 ‘Golden Rules’ of an Organized Kitchen

1. Simplify.
If I was only going to give you one rule this would be it. I can’t stress enough how having less equipment in your cupboards and less ingredients in your fridge and pantry makes is so much easier to feel organized.

So how do you simplify?

This is a huge topic on its own but the first place to start is just being mindful of what you bring into the kitchen.

Ask yourself:

‘Do I really need this?‘

The next step is to clear out and review what you have. Any out-of-date ingredients or equipment you haven’t used in months should go.

If you’re struggling with letting things go, do what I do and create a ‘things to donate to charity box’. Keep this in your garage (or shed).

Having this step makes it easier because you can change your mind if you find you are actually missing that hot dog warmer or popcorn maker.

2. Keep like things together.
I find it best to keep similar items together. For example I have one cupboard for plates, another for mugs, another for pots, another for cleaning supplies etc.

3. Keep things where you use them most.
Easy access makes being in the kitchen a smoother experience so you’ll want to spend more time there!

For example, I keep salt and pepper on our dining table so they’re always there when we eat. And I have salt and pepper in the pantry for seasoning when I’m cooking.

Other examples are keeping a jar with utensils next to the stove so they’re easy to grab when I’m cooking. And I have my knives on a rack on the wall in the middle of the kitchen so they’re within arms reach.

4. Clean as you go.
One of the worst feelings is walking into a dirty kitchen and having to spend precious time cleaning before you can even start cooking.

I’m afraid that apart from getting a cleaning robot or a live-in maid, the only way to avoid this is to have a personal rule to clean on an ongoing basis.

If you find yourself with a minute to spare, ask yourself ‘what can I clean now?’ It can take a while to build this habit but you’ll never regret it.

5. Do it now.
This is a trick I picked up from Gretchen Reuben in her brilliant book ‘The Happiness Project’.

Whenever you see something that could be put away or cleaned, say to yourself ‘do it now’ and follow through. This really worked for me so now I automatically pick things up and put them away.

6. Build habits.
I’ve saved this for last because after golden rule No. 1, simplify, habits are the next biggest game changer.

By building habits you put being organized on autopilot. It becomes automatic – something you don’t have to think about.

This is HUGE because you get the benefits of feeling in control and ‘on top of it’ without having to think or try too hard.

Some of the habits that make my life so much easier (and more organized) include:

  • shopping on a regular basis
  • keeping a running shopping list on my phone
  • doing things ‘now’ as I mentioned above
  • putting my groceries away as soon as I get home
  • really looking in the fridge every day so I know what needs eating up
  • prepping ingredients on the weekend or whenever I can (usually when I’m already in the kitchen).

There you have it!

My 6 ‘golden rules’ which really help me be organized in the kitchen (and other areas of life).

Want to be more organized in the kitchen?

Introducing…

THD 2016 square logo

The Organized Cook, a 4-week online training program that shows you my simple system to get on top of cooking at home, eating more vegetables and pulling meals together quickly without the ‘last minute’ stress…

To see if the Organized Cook can help you go to:
http://thestonesoupshop.com/toc/

_________________________

“The Organized Cook means less last-minute stress, more relaxed cooking. I would recommend it because it reduces stress when it comes to cooking and shopping”
Anke, The Organized Cook Student.

_________________________

blat salad-2

Bacon & Avocado Salad

I’ve really been getting into flavour pairings lately inspired by a fab book, The Flavour Thesaurus by Nikki Segnet. It’s hard to go past salty crispy bacon and cool creamy avocado as an match made in heaven. I love this salad because the bacon and avo make it nice and filling yet it’s still fresh and bright. Perfect for lunches or brunches.

Enough for 2
Takes: 15 minutes

4-6 slices bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
3-4 handfuls lettuce leaves
1 avocado
large handful semi dried tomatoes

1. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook bacon on a medium high heat until crispy.

2. Combine vinegar with 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large bowl. Season.

3. Toss leaves in the dressing. Sprinkle over chunks of avocado, tomatoes and the hot crunchy bacon before serving.

Variations

vegan – replace bacon with sliced grilled or roast mushrooms.

vegetarian – skip the bacon and serve with a poached or boiled egg on top.

more substantial / carb-lovers – toss in a drained can of white beans such as cannellini or butter beans to warm up in the bacon fat and add to the salad. You could also just toss in torn sourdough.

no semi dried tomatoes? – replace with halved fresh cherry tomatoes instead.

more veg – add chopped raw veg like snowpeas to the salad.

Big love,
Jules
xoxo

ps. Stay tuned for the next installment of my 6 part series on Kitchen Organization where we’ll go deeper into the Art of Ingredient Prep – one of my key personal habits!

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fiery harissa paste from Made With Love

Don’t you hate it when you get home from a long day and your dinner isn’t a good as it should be? Don’t you hate it when getting a weeknight meal on the table becomes another source of stress?

Me too.

The good news is preparing dinner can actually be a chance to relax and unwind. A chance to nourish yourself and your loved ones with good food and good company.

Even on busy week nights.

The secret is to harness the power of meal planning without falling prey to the common mistakes…

3 Meal Planning Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

1. Complicated recipes
If you’re a food lover like me, you’ve probably made this mistake more than once (like I have!). Choosing overly ambitious recipes means when it comes time to cook you’re either going to struggle to find the energy OR you’re going to be eating really late.

Happily, building a repertoire of recipes that are both simple (hello 5 ingredients!) and satisfying is something I’ve been doing for years and years. I’m still surprised how allowing each ingredient to speak for itself can be so delicious.

2. Inflexible plans
If there’s one constant in our modern lives it’s that things are always changing. So you need to allow some flexibility otherwise you’re going to end up with lots of waste.

For my meal plans I take two approaches to add flexibility.

Firstly, I include a ‘waste avoidance strategy’ for every ingredient so if your plans change, you’ll know what to do with your ingredients so you don’t end up wasting them.

The second part is including a ‘wild card’ night rather than planning every single meal. This way you can adapt as needed.

3. Not planning!
At the other end of the spectrum is the problem of not having a plan at all. You know where this leads… no food in the house which means you’re far more likely to eat out or order takeaway. Which is fine occasionally but not when it’s happening most nights.

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Like Some Help with Your Meal Planning?

Now is a great time to try a different approach!

To celebrate the 3-and-a-half Birthday of Soupstones, my simple done-for-you meal planning service, I’m having a quick 50% OFF Sale.

To make sure you don’t miss out on the ‘1/2 Birthday Sale’
use your link below:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/soupstones/

NOTE: Sale ENDS in less than 48-hours!.

_____________________

“I nearly cried when your planner came through today! My life is really hectic at the moment, lots of stress. To have the planner with recipes that are easy and scrummy, portion controlled and a shopping list it was such a relief. Thank you, thank you!”
Cecelia, Soupstones Member.

_____________________

Harissa Chicken

Firey Harissa Chicken

When I was first learning to cook I once made a ‘fiery’ harissa chicken from a recipe in a magazine. There was a huge ingredients list and it took forever but the thing I remember most was using 50 red chillies in the marinade. My fingers burned for days after preparing so many chillies with no gloves. This version is a much more simple (and just as tasty) homage to that dish. See the variations if you’re not sure about harissa.

enough for: 2
takes: 35 minutes

8 tablespoons Greek style yoghurt
1-2 tablespoons harissa
450g (1lb) chicken thigh fillets
1/2 small cauliflower, chopped
2-4 tablespoons butter
1 bunch mint, leaves picked

1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Combine yoghurt and harissa. Taste and season.

2. Chop each thigh fillet into 2 pieces. Toss chicken in half the yoghurt mixture. If you have time you could let it marinate for up to 24 hours in the fridge. Or just keep going!

2. Place chicken on a baking tray. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through.

3. Meanwhile, whizz the cauliflower in the food processor until you have really fine ‘grains’ that look like couscous.

4. Melt butter in a large frying pan. Add cauli and cook until the cauli is hot. Season.

5. Serve chicken on a bed of the cauli ‘couscous’ with mint leaves on top and remaining spicy yoghurt spooned over.

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Variations

no harissa? – harissa is a Tunisian spice paste. You can get it online or from good delis. My supermarket stocks it. It usually comes in a tube or a jar. You could substitute and chilli paste like sambal oleck or even your favourite hot sauce. Another option is to finely chop a heap of fresh red chillies.

dairy-free – make a marinade using 1-2 tablespoons harissa and 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Serve drizzled with tahini or mashed avocado instead of the yoghurt sauce.

vegan / vegetarian – replace chicken with firm tofu. The yoghurt and harissa really add loads of flavour to tofu. Or replace chicken with sliced eggplant. You may need to cook a little longer. Another option is to replace chicken with a trimmed bunch of baby carrots for fiery harissa carrots. Vegans will need to see the ‘dairy-free’ suggestions.

more substantial / carb-lovers – serve with cooked quinoa, cooked lentils or couscous cooked according to the packet. You may also like to serve flat bread.

pesetarian – lovely with any fish fillets. Reduce the cooking time to about 20 minutes or less, depending on the size of your fish.

different meat – also great with lamb chops or steak.

different herbs – coriander (cilantro), flat leaf parsley, chives or basil.

paleo (gluten, grain + dairy-free) – use coconut yoghurt or replace yoghurt with olive oil and a little extra harissa.

more veg – toss diced red onions, red peppers (capsicum) and carrot through the cauli couscous.

With love,
Jules
xoxo

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ps. Not sure if my meal plans would work for you?

Here’s what Dyann, Emma and Stephanie said about their 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.

“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.

“The meal plans are simple, easy to prepare, tasty and healthy. I love that it comes in a simple PDF format with a shopping list already broken down. You’ve made it SO simple to actually cook meals 5 nights a week – it’s wonderful!”
Stephanie, Soupstones Member.

pps. There’s really only one way to find out if they’ll work for you…

Try them!

To make the most of the ‘1/2 Birthday Sale’ and try the meal plans out, use your link below:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/soupstones/

NOTE: Sale ENDS in less than 48-hours!.

____________________

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spicy carrot salad

Where I live there’s an awesome local play group. We’ve been blessed to meet many other families in the area.

The other day, our playgroup talk turned to food and cooking as it often does when I’m around. (Why is that?)

We were chatting about the challenges of mid-week family dinners.

There seemed to be two camps. One group was resigned to putting up with ‘sub standard meals’ during the week and the other resorted to having dinner really late.

My heart really went out to them.

It made me realize how lucky I am. Most of the time I don’t have either problem.

Sometimes I have the problem of trying to cook with a hungry one-year-old attached to my leg. But that’s a whole other story.

It got me thinking why our mid-week family dinners are (mostly) pretty tasty and are (mostly) on the table by 6pm.

Working from home definitely helps but I think the biggest factor is that I’m pretty organized. I love thinking about what I’m going to cook and I usually have some sort of plan.

So I thought today we’d have a look at some of the benefits of meal planning…

6 Reasons to Use a Meal Plan

1. Better Tasting Meals.
I’m a food lover. The most important thing for me is that my meals taste good. Life is to short to put up with sub standard dinners.

When I was talking to members of ‘Soupstones‘ (my done-for-you meal planning service) a little while back, many people mentioned their meals had been tastier and they’d been getting more compliments since using my meal plans. There you go.

2. Increase your likelihood of cooking at home.
Cooking for yourself is one of the biggest game changers to help you look and feel your best. Having ingredients in the house and some idea of what to make with those ingredients makes it much, much easier to cook. Especially when you’re tired at the end of a long day.

3. Variety
Getting stuck in a food rut is no fun and not the best from a nutritional perspective either. Using some sort of plan is a great way to inject some fresh ideas and ensure you try new recipes from time to time.

4. Reduce Waste and Save Money
Having a meal plan that works means you’ll be buying the right amount and types of food each week and actually using them. So you’ll be less likely to be throwing out ‘veg gone bad’ at the end of the week. Both result in more dollars in your pocket and a happier planet.

5. Saving Time
By planning ahead you can save yourself time on many levels. First you can buy more when you do shop, saving you extra trips to pick up ‘this and that’ at the store.

Plus having a plan allows you to prep ahead and prep in bulk (if you like), meaning less time to get dinner on the table on those busy week nights.

6. Less Deciding What to Cook
It’s much harder to make decisions when you’re tired. Following a meal plan means the pressure is off having to ‘decide’. The decision part has already been done so you can just walk into the kitchen and immerse yourself in the soothing world of chopping and stirring.

It’s my favourite way to relax at the end of the day (apart from when there’s that one-year-old-leg situation I mentioned earlier ;)

Soupstones Square Logo no border

Like Some Help with Your Meal Planning?

Then you’re in luck!

To celebrate the 3-and-a-half Birthday of Soupstones, my simple done-for-you meal planning service, I’m having a quick 50% OFF Sale.

To make sure you don’t miss out on the ‘1/2 Birthday Sale’
use your link below:

www.thestonesoupshop.com/soupstones/

NOTE: Sale for a strictly limited time.

_____________________

“I nearly cried when your planner came through today! My life is really hectic at the moment, lots of decision making needed, stress etc and to have the planner with recipes that are easy and scrummy, portion controlled and a shopping list it was such a relief. Thank you, thank you!”
Cecelia, Soupstones Member.
_____________________

spicy carrot salad-2

Spicy Carrot & Chicken Salad

Harissa is a very hot paste made with lots of chillies. It’s commonly found in Tunisia and Morocco and is one of my favourite ingredients. You can buy it online or from good delis. My supermarket stocks it. It comes in a tube and is brilliant to keep in the fridge for an instant chilli hit. If you can’t find commercial harissa you know I’ve got you covered in the variations below.

enough for: 2
takes: 45 minutes

2 onions finely sliced into 1/2 moons
1 bunch baby carrots, tops reserved
4 chicken thigh fillets, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon harissa
1 tablespoon sherry or wine vinegar

1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Place onion, carrots and chicken in a roasting tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil.

2. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring about half way through.

3. Meanwhile, combine harissa, vinegar and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Taste and season.

4. When the carrots, onion and chicken are cooked remove from the oven and drizzle over the dressing. Serve with carrot tops sprinkled over.

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Variations

side salad – skip the chicken if you prefer.

no carrot tops – if your carrot tops aren’t nice (or a non existent) replace with a bag of salad leaves or bunch of flat leaf parsley or coriander leaves.

grown-up carrots – replace baby carrots with 4 regular carrots halved lengthwise.

vegetarian / vegan – replace chicken with a drained can of chickpeas, white beans, mushrooms or eggplant.

no harissa – replace with any chilli paste or hot sauce such as sambal oleck or sriracha. You could also substitute 2-4 large fresh red chillies that have been finely chopped.

different veg – also lovely with sweet potato, parsnip, regular potatos, swede or beets. Some veg may need cooking for longer.

more substantial – serve with flat bread or couscous that has been cooked according to the packet with some extra butter added or serve with cooked quinoa, brown rice or boiled potatoes.

short on time – pan fry chicken and onions instead and serve with the dressing raw grated carrots.

more veg – serve with a green salad or add mushrooms or eggplant with the chicken.

family friendly – use less harissa or serve dressing on the side.

low carb – replace carrots with 1 large head broccoli or a small cauliflower. And use baby spinach or salad leaves instead of the carrot tops.

_______________________________

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ps. Not sure if my meal plans would work for you?

Here’s what Marjorie and Emma said about their experience:

“It took me a bit to get going on it, but when I made a leap and just went and shopped from your list — Voila! It was marvelous. I made everything like you said, even if I thought, we are not going to like this recipe. It’s pretty amazing, but my husband and I have liked every single meal. I’ve heard him talk about Soupstones Meal Plans to people and he says, You read the recipe and you doubt it’s going to taste good — but it ALWAYS does! He gets very excited now to see what’s in store for the week.”
Marjorie, Soupstones Member.

“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.

To make sure you don’t miss out on the ‘1/2 Birthday Sale’
use your link below:

www.thestonesoupshop.com/soupstones/

NOTE: Sale for a strictly limited time.

____________________

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Roast Cabbage with Chunky Bacon Gremolata-2

This week I have not one but two special treats for you.

The first is a simple idea. But one it’s taken me a while to cotton on to. Sometimes I’m a slow learner.

We’re talking one of my favourite vegetables, cabbage. And we’re talking one of my favourite cooking techniques, the fast roast.

To cut a long story short, we’re talking match made in heaven.

Even if you think you’re not a fan of cabbage, I really encourage you to try it. Seriously, cabbage cooked like this is the business.

The second idea probably won’t need as much convincing because, yes, there’s bacon. (Although if you’re vegetarian, like my friend Dominica, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Just skip down to the variations below).

Gremolata is usually an Italian topping of parsley, garlic and lemon zest used to add freshness to slow cooked dishes. This bacon and almond version takes the idea to a whole new level and has a million and one uses.

My favourite is to use it on simply cooked veggies like this cabbage but it’s also fab to add crunch to soups or as a salsa to serve with cooked chicken. It’s also a brilliant way to jazz up poached or fried eggs for a super tasty brunch.

It’s so, so good!

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

5 ingredients 10 minutes cover image

I really want to hear from you!
What do you like about Stonesoup? Do you have any ideas to make it better? What would you like to see more of?
Let me know in the comments below.

The winner for June is Ferryn from Austria.

A new winner will be chosen early July.

With love,
Jules
xoxo
www.thestonesoup.com

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Roast Cabbage with Chunky Bacon Gremolata-3

Roast Cabbage with Crunchy Bacon Gremolata

Inspired by the lovely Andrea Bemis from my favourite vegetable-loving blog Dishing Up the Dirt.

We’ve had this for breakfast and dinner on different days and it’s great at any time of day. I’ve also made it with white and red cabbage and have a slight preference for red because it looks prettier.

enough for: 2
takes: 40 minutes

1/2 medium red cabbage
4 slices bacon
2 handfuls roasted almonds
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
zest 1 small lemon

1. Preheat your oven to 250C (480F). Slice cabbage into 4-5 slices each about 2cm (3/4in) thick. Place sliced on a baking tray. Drizzle generously with olive oil or duck fat.

2. Roast cabbage for about 15 minutes. Turn and keep cooking for another 10-15 minutes or until cabbage is crispy around the edges and no longer crunchy in the middle.

3. While the cabbage is roasting cook bacon in a frying pan on a medium high heat until well browned and crispy. Cool for a few minutes.

4. When the bacon isn’t too hot chop coarsley. Chop almonds and parsley (stalks and all) and combine with the bacon along with the lemon zest.

5. Divide cabbage between 2 plates and top with bacon gremolata.

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Variations

more substantial – serve with poached or fried eggs or as a side to roast or pan fried chicken or fish. A dollop of home made mayo is also lovely.

carb-lovers – Toss in some cooked pasta, serve with crusty bread and butter or pile everything on a slice of well buttered sourdough toast.

vegetarian – make an almond gremolata by doubling the almonds, skipping the bacon and adding a small clove of finely chopped garlic. If you have smoked almonds even better.

pescetarian – replace bacon with a drained can of tuna in chilli oil.

budget – use chunky sour dough bread crumbs instead of the almonds (or substitute some).

different veg – brussels sprouts are an obvious choice and won’t need as long in the oven. Also brilliant with regular broccoli, broccolini or cauliflower – just adjust roasting time as needed. The gremolata is also great on cooked greens like spinach, chard or kale.

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Bone Broth

Do you struggle to get organized to make broth or stock on a regular basis? Well as my friend Rico says, ‘I hear ya honey‘!

I used to be the same.

Having a good supply of home made stock seems like such a great idea because the store bought stuff is never as good. But there’s also the ‘too much effort (and waste) for not enough reward’ perception.

These days, however, I’ve been loving my stock making. Especially with my Monday Night Soup project I wrote about recently.

What Caused the Change?

1. I got a good system for collecting bones.
Basically I have a large ziplock bag in the freezer labelled ‘bones’. Yes, I thought long and hard about that one ;) So now whenever I cook something with bones, they go straight into the freezer bag.

2. I developed a good workflow.
Like most of cooking (and life) having a good system and practicing makes a huge difference. Now that I have my system I look forward to my stock making days.

3. I discovered the ‘remy’.
One of my gripes about broth / stock making was disposing of all the bones afterwards. It seemed like so much waste. Then I discovered the idea of a remouillage or remy for short. Basically, it’s a weaker broth / stock you make with the bones after you’ve made the original batch of full strength broth / stock.

There are still the bones to discard at the end but it feels more worthwhile when I’ve made this extra batch.

What’s the Difference Between Bone Broth and Stock?

There’s a lot of talk about bone broths these days and really the two terms can be used interchangeably. Although for me a broth is something you’re planning to be drinking on it’s own or as a simple soup. Whereas a stock is something you use as an ingredient.

When making stock / broth the bones provide the minerals and gelatine (to give the body) and meat on the bones provides the flavour. So broths tend to include more meat but I don’t get too worried about it.

Bone Broth-2

How I Make Bone Broth (Stock)

Like my recent post on making muesli for my boys, this isn’t so much a recipe as a work flow. There are no right or wrong ways to go about this. Every batch I make is slightly different but that’s part of the beauty.

makes: how long is a piece of string?
takes: 1-2 days

enough bones to fill your stock pot
2 carrots, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 bay leaves
optional extras (see variations below)

Day 1.
1. Place bones in your pot (mine come straight from the freezer). Cover with cold water, leaving about 2 inches from the top so the broth won’t boil over.

2. Place on a high heat and bring to the boil. If you can be bothered, skim any foam from the top and discard it. I often don’t bother but removing this fat and protein makes for a clearer stock so I try and do it a couple of times.

3. While the stock is coming to the boil prep your veg and add to the pot.

4. When the stock has boiled, reduce heat and simmer gently uncovered for 4 – 12 hours. Top up with some boiling water if the level reduces too much. Remove from the heat and cover. You can refrigerate in the pot or just leave on the stove top like I do.

Day 2.
1. Remove bones from the pot using a strainer or skimmer and place in another large pot or a really big bowl (like I do) and save for your remy. Bring broth to a rapid boil to kill off any bacteria that have grown overnight.

2. Pour stock through a fine sieve into a heat proof jug (I do this in batches). And then transfer the strained stock into storage containers (I use glass jars about 2 cup capacity). Remember it will expand when frozen so leave some space. Seal jars / containers and pop in the fridge to cool.

3. When the fat has solidified you can remove it and save for other cooking. Or just leave it on (like I mostly do).

4. Broth will keep in the fridge for up to about 5 days (sometimes I leave it longer but I always make sure it gets a good boiling before consumption). Keeps for months in the freezer.

Day 2. The Remy
1. Place your saved bones back in the stock pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for as long as you’ve got (4-12 hours). Don’t top up with water because you want to concentrate the flavours.

2. Remove and discard bones. Strain remy through a fine sieve into storage containers or directly into a large saucepan to make a batch of soup (like I usually do.). If storing, refrigerate or freeze as per the full-flavoured broth.

Variations

optional extras – bunch thyme, bunch flat leaf parsley, can diced tomatoes, vegetable peelings.

more chicken flavour – include some chicken wings with your bones.

more flavour – roast bones in the oven until well browned. 200C / 400F for about 60 minutes is usually enough. I generally don’t bother but sometimes I do and it makes a richer darker stock.

more body / gelatine – add some (well scrubbed) chicken feet!

short on time – You can do everything in the one day if you like. Or skip making the remy at the end.

stronger flavoured remy – add an extra carrot, onion and stick of celery to the bones.

Like to learn more?

The best resource I’ve come across is a little book called ‘Brodo – a bone broth cookbook‘ by New York Chef Marco Cannora. It contains a whole host of broth and soup recipes (including vegetarian broths) and is well worth checking out.

And you might enjoy my 7 Surprising Reasons to Eat More Soup.

With love,
Jules xoxo
www.thestonesoup.com

__________________________

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

5 ingredients 10 minutes cover image

I really want to hear from you!
What’s your favourite Stonesoup recipe?
Let me know in the comments below.

The winner for June will be judged on and announced next week.

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-Honey & Almond Zucchini Cake-2

My friend Suzie, a seriously talented baker, popped in the other day and we were chatting about baking (as you do).

I was completely blown away (and honoured) when she mentioned that she had tried a few recipes from my new low carb / sugar-free baking book.

(Full disclosure: I’d given Suzie a copy to say thank you for lending me some beautiful photography props. All the pretty things in the book are hers.)

I was so, so happy to hear she enjoyed having a collection of healthier recipes that she knew were going to work. Instead of having to experiment on her own.

If you’ve ever tried removing sugar, you know, it’s tricky because sugar doesn’t just provide sweetness. It also provides bulk and binds up moisture.

It got me thinking about the mistakes I’ve made on this low carb journey so I thought I’d share some today so you don’t have to learn the hard way like I did!

3 Biggest Mistakes of Low Carb Bakers

1. Trying to Adapt Without a Proven Recipe.
This book was easily the toughest I’ve ever written. Even though I’ve studied food science and worked in baking product development, it was a challenge to find the elusive balance between deliciousness and keeping the carbs and sugar low.

While some recipes came together relatively easily (like the cake below where zucchini is used to take the place of sugar), others took many many attempts to perfect. And there were many that didn’t make it into the book, like the Double Chocolate Cookies based on black beans and cocoa powder. If my chocolate-loving 3-year-old wouldn’t eat them (and he didn’t) I couldn’t include them.

Only recipes I was 100% happy with made the cut.

2. Using Hard-to-Find Ingredients.
As a minimalist, I like keeping my pantry streamline. Baking is one area it can easily get complicated, especially when sugar and flour are off the list. So I challenged myself to avoid any obscure ingredients and stick to the basics. With the exception of pure stevia powder (which I buy online), all the ingredients I use in the book are available in my supermarket.

3. Assuming It’s Impossible.
Of all three mistakes, this was the one I most suffered from. In the past I believed that in order for sweet treats to taste any good you needed to use real sugar. But having Gestational Diabetes gave me an incentive to try sugar-free baking again, otherwise I was looking at a very long 9 months without cookies or cake.

I’d be lying if I said it was easy to make things taste amazing AND meet my health standards. But I kept being pleasantly surprised which gave me the courage to keep experimenting and ultimately write the Sunday Baking Sessions.

As Audrey Hepburn said…
‘Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m Possible!’.

Like to try my ‘tried and tested’ collection of healthy baked goods and treats?

SBS 3D cover FINAL

Then check out my new book, the ‘Sunday Baking Sessions‘.

To find out more go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/sbs/

Love,
Jules
xoxo

_______________________________

-Honey & Almond Zucchini Cake

Honey & Almond Zucchini Cake

From the ‘Sunday Baking Sessions‘.

What!? Honey in a sugar-free baking book!? Believe me, I know honey is pretty much just sugar and I treat it as such. I spent a long time tossing up whether to included this recipe in the book and decided to leave it in because a zucchini and almond cake doesn’t sound as good. AND I’ve included a honey-free variation so that if you do want to keep your cake completely sugar-free you can. Plus it’s only 2 tablespoons in the whole cake.

serves: 6-8
takes: 70 minutes

400g (14oz) zucchini
250g (9oz) almond meal
1/4 teaspoon pure stevia powder*
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons honey
2 eggs
100g (3.5oz) neutral flavoured oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Line a loaf pan 24cm x 12cm (approx 9in x 5in) with baking paper.

2. Grate your zucchini (I use my food processor). Mix zucchini, almond meal, stevia, baking powder, honey, eggs, oil and vanilla (if using) in a medium bowl or just add it to the food processor. Mix with a spoon to combine but don’t stress if you end up with a few lumps.

3. Scoop the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the cake is deeply golden brown and feels springy. And a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. The honey will cause it to brown more than you’d normally expect.

4. Cool in the tin before serving.

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Variations

honey / sugar-free – replace honey with an extra teaspoon vanilla extract to make 2 teaspoons total.

*important note about stevia! – there are 4 types of stevia:
1. Pure Stevia Powder – looks like icing (powdered / confectioners) sugar. It’s expensive but a tiny amount goes a long long way. We’re talking 1/8 teaspoon to sweeten a whole cake. This is what I use.
2. Granular Stevia (like Natvia or Truvia) – looks like regular white sugar. It’s a blend of erythritol and stevia. Usually 1/4 teaspoon = 4-6 tablespoons granular stevia.
3. Fresh or Dried Stevia Leaves – from a real stevia plant! I haven’t baked with them but they will behave similar to the pure stevia powder. Just add to taste.
4. Liquid stevia. I haven’t used this. But add to taste.

granular stevia – replace pure powder with 4-6 tablespoons granular stevia.

no stevia – use you favourite sweetener… Honey, maple syrup, xylitol or white sugar! Just add and taste until you’re happy with the sweetness level.

sugar lovers – use 75g (3oz) sugar instead of the stevia. If you like things on the sweeter side double the sugar.

nut-free / budget – replace almond meal with plain (all purpose) flour. Reduce baking time to 25-30 minutes. Or replace almond meal with finely ground sunflower seeds (I use a little coffee grinder) – no need to change the baking time.

different veg – zucchini is my favourite because it’s low carb and mild in flavour. But feel free to experiment with carrot, parsnip, sweet potato or butternut squash.

muffins – divide mixture between 8-10 lined holes in a 1/2 cup muffin tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

round cake – use a 20cm (8in) round cake tin. Baking time should be closer to 40 minutes.

extra pretty – sprinkle with a handful of whole or sliced almonds before baking like I have in the picture.

Shelf Life / Storage

Can be kept for 1-2 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge. Keeps for months in the freezer. I like to slice before freezing and defrost slices in the toaster (really delicious with lashings of butter or ricotta) but it can make a mess of your toaster!

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SBS 3D cover FINAL

ps. Not sure the Sunday Baking Sessions is for you?

Here what Ben, Ros and Kathryn had to say about it…

“My fiancée is intolerant of both dairy and gluten, so I had almost stopped baking. Unusually dense cakes, rock-hard slices and uneven bread were all typical results. However, from the “Lemon Delicious Cake” using cannellini beans and “Ginger Tahini Cookies” to the “Stupidly Easy Banana Bread” from the Sunday Baking Sessions, I’ve had success and compliments for everything!”
Ben, Sunday Baking Sessions Owner.

“All of my friends are anti sugar and I will be encouraging them to buy the Baking book, and I am looking forward to some healthy baking sessions with my granddaughter.”
Ros, Sunday Baking Sessions Owner.

“I purchased your ‘Sunday Baking Sessions’ and I am so so happy I can bake treats again without having to deprive myself.”
Kathryn, Sunday Baking Sessions Owner.

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

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Broccoli Sandwich Bread-3

I have a strong memory of when I first decided to experiment with eating grain-free. Back in 2010 I was heavily into baking my own sourdough. This meant toast for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch most days.

But it also meant I often felt bloated and gross (especially after lunch). And I was finding it harder to manage my weight even though I was running 50km+ (31 miles) each week.

So after reading about the paleo diet, I decided to put my bread making addiction on hold, and experiment with this whole grain-free approach.

After trying it for a month, I was pretty happy with the results but found the lack of dairy and legumes too restrictive. So I created my own ‘almost-paleo’ way of eating with a focus on vegetables and including legumes and a little dairy.

I also decided to avoid ‘bread-like’ packaged products, even if they were ‘paleo’ and just focus on enjoying delicious real food. Simple.

To be honest I didn’t really miss bread. And when I ‘treated’ myself to a slice of amazing sourdough from one of my favourite bakers, the icky feeling afterward didn’t justify the pleasure. So I didn’t feel like I was sacrificing anything to avoid bread.

Then earlier in the year I came across this bread recipe using broccoli, eggs and almond meal. Since I was writing a baking book I decided to investigate.

What a revelation!

Satisfyingly bready yet also low-carb and a serve of veggies? Brilliant.

It’s been so great to have the occasional sandwich for lunch. Or a slice of avocado toast. Definitely a keeper!

Like to try more low-carb / gluten-free breads?

SBS 3D cover FINAL

Then check out my new book, the ‘Sunday Baking Sessions‘. There’s also my ‘Life-Changing’ Cauliflower Seed Loaf, Rosemary & Almond ‘Sourdough’, Coconut Flat Breads, Low-carb Tortillas and plenty more…

To make sure you don’t miss out on the special introductory price go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/sbs/

NOTE: Special launch price available for a limited time only.

Love,
Jules xoxo

________________________________
Broccoli Sandwich Bread-2

Broccoli Sandwich Bread

From the ‘Sunday Baking Sessions‘.

When I’m in the mood for a sandwich or a slice of toast, this is my go-to recipe. I love how something that feels and tastes quite ‘bready’ is actually a serve of vegetables. I slice and freeze so I can just defrost in the toaster as needed.

This broccoli bread does look very green, which I love but I’ve found my boys are much happier eating the white, cauliflower version instead. What is it with kids and green food?

makes: 6-8 slices
takes: about 40 minutes

500g (1lb) broccoli, 2 small
4 eggs
100g (3.5oz) almond meal
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F).

2. Whizz your broccoli using your food processor until it looks a bit like fine couscous. Or chop as finely as possible.

3. Add eggs, almond meal and salt to the food processor bowl. Stir with a spoon until combined.

4. Line a baking tray with baking (parchment) paper. Tip the broccoli mixture onto the lined tray then using your hands smooth into a rectangle about 1cm (1/3in) thick.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the bread is slightly browned and feels firm and springy when touched.

6. Cool on the tray. Cut in half crosswise and then into 3-4 lengthwise to make 6-8 slices (or cut to your preferred size).

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Variations

different quantities – the 500g (1lb) broccoli is a guideline but if you only have 400g (14oz) or up to 600g (21oz) it will be fine.

higher fiber – Add 1-2 tablespoons psyllium, oat bran, ground chia seeds or ground flaxseeds (linseeds). I’ve also made it with whole linseeds.

nut-free – replace almond meal with bread crumbs, ground linseeds (flax seeds) or ground sunflower seeds. Each of these will soak up different amounts of moisture so you’ll need to be prepared for different baking times. When I made it with ground sunflower seeds the texture was wetter and it took 30 minutes.

different vegetables – cauliflower works really well. You could also replace up to half the broccoli / cauliflower with grated raw veg like carrot, beets, sweet potato, parsnip or zucchini. I wouldn’t use all root veg though.

other flavours – I like to keep this simple so my sandwich flavours come through but you could play around with some grated parmsean, garlic or chopped herbs.

Shelf Life / Storage

Will keep in the fridge for a week or so. I like to keep it in the freezer and just warm slices in the toaster as needed.

_______________________________

ps. Like a sneak peak?

Here are some samples from the book…
SBS 3D cover FINAL
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SBS 3D cover FINAL

pps. I normally don’t like to play favorites…

But the Savoury & Breads chapter in the ‘Sunday Baking Sessions‘, is the one I’ve found myself using the most since I downloaded the finished book to my phone.

And the cool thing is that since there’s no gluten or flour, there’s no need to knead! Or mess around with yeast.

To make sure you don’t miss out on the special introductory price go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/sbs/

NOTE: Special launch price available for a limited time only.

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5 peanut butter chocolate fudge-3

During the week I had a conversation that reminded me of one of my ‘past lives’. It was an interview for an ABC podcast talking about my experience with gestational diabetes.

I was asked about my time working in the chocolate product development team for Arnotts, Australia’s largest biscuit (cookie) manufacturer.

While I’m glad my career has evolved in a different direction, I look back on those days fondly. Working with chocolate was awesome fun. I learned so much.

You know, important life lessons like tasting a variety of chocolate biscuits for breakfast meetings is not good for your waistline (I shudder to think what my blood sugar would have been like back then). More counter-intuitive was how different factors impact the way we perceive flavours and sweetness.

We used to do our tastings ‘blind’, so no one knew what the differences were. The results frequently surprised me. There were many more ‘levers’ I could pull to increase the deliciousness of a particular product than just adding more sugar.

I’ve been super grateful for those lessons while creating the recipes for my new sugar-free baking book. In fact, I wouldn’t have been able to successfully transition to baking without sugar without my Arnott’s experience.

There’s a reason why most sugar-free treats don’t live up to expectations. It’s not easy to replace sugar.

But as I’ve learned during my journey with gestational diabetes and now type 2, it is possible!

So today I wanted to share some of my ‘secrets’ so you can make your baking taste better too.

4 ‘Secrets’ to Cooking Without Sugar

1. Use sweet real food ingredients.
There are plenty of real foods that taste sweet without being packed with sugar. Some of my favourites are berries, coconut (especially coconut oil), pears, apples, stone fruit, carrots, prunes and dark chocolate.

Very occasionally I use dates or bananas but I know they pack a pretty big sugar-punch so treat them with the caution they deserve.

What I don’t do is use honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar or (heavens forbid) brown sugar and pretend to myself that because these sweeteners are ‘natural’, they’re good for me. Sugar is sugar people. For me these sugars masquerading as ‘healthy’ is actually worse than plain old white sugar. They’re all going to have the same impact on your blood sugar.

2. Master the power of seasoning.
Just as in savoury cooking, it’s super important to get your seasoning right when creating sweet treats. Generally salt balances out sweetness so using less salt will make things taste sweeter, without any actual extra sugar. So I use unsalted butter and avoid adding anything salty.

There is a special (and very important) exception to the no salt rule… Chocolate!

Salt masks sweetness but it also masks bitter flavours like those found in dark chocolate. This is why salted chocolate can actually appear to be sweeter than the same chocolate eaten without salt.

3. Use sweetness ‘enhancers’.
Vanilla is my favourite way to increase the perception of sweetness without adding actual sugar. I use both real vanilla beans and vanilla extract (which I make myself by soaking vanilla beans in vodka).

But there are plenty of other options. Cinnamon, fennel and star anise are all spices which add the perception of sweetness. Licorice root also does the same.

4. Use a natural sweetener.
When I’m not able to get enough sweetness from following the ‘tricks’ above, I reach for my favourite natural sweetener, pure stevia powder.

I like stevia because it comes from the stevia plant and doesn’t contain any sugar or carbs. And when used sparingly, I like the taste.

BUT I know it’s not for everyone. If you don’t like stevia, it’s OK!

One of the best parts about pure stevia is the only function it provides is sweetness. This means that for recipes based on pure stevia powder, it’s easy to substitute your favourite sweetener (or even good old sugar) just based on taste.

Like to discover more tricks for sugar-free baking without sacrificing the ‘YUM’ factor?

Then check out my latest eCookbook!

SBS 3D cover FINAL

To pick up your copy before the launch discount ends, go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/sbs/

With love,
Jules x
www.thestonesoup.com
____________________________________

5 peanut butter chocolate fudge-2

Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge

Fudge isn’t something you’d normally associate with healthy treats. But this version is super special, with no added sugar and hidden ‘fiber’ in the form of oat bran. I love how the little flecks remind me of the nougat ‘bits’ in Toblerone chocolate.

makes 16-20 squares
takes: 20 minutes + setting

200g (7oz) coconut milk
200g (7oz) dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, chopped
100g (3.5oz) peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons oat bran (optional)

1. Bring coconut milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, line a loaf pan with foil or baking paper.

2. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stand for a few minutes so the chocolate melts.

3. Stir in the peanut butter, vanilla and oat bran (if using). I like to leave a few chunks of peanut butter in the mixture.

4. Transfer fudge mixture to the prepared tin and refrigerate for a few hours, or until set.

5. Chop into small squares.

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Variations

nut-free – just skip the peanut butter.

no coconut milk – replace the coconut milk with regular whipping cream.

fiber plus – double the level of oat bran.

gluten-free / no oat bran – skip the oat bran or replace with psyllium husks, chia seeds or linseeds (flax seeds).

super crunchy – mix in a handful of roasted peanut halves.

different nuts – use your favourite nut butter – all nuts love chocolate!

lower carb – use higher cocoa solids chocolate (90% is great). You might need to add a little sweetener but then again you may not.

Shelf Life / Storage

Can be kept for months in an airtight container in the fridge. Keeps for years in the freezer.

_______________________________

SBS 3D cover FINAL

ps. Don’t tell your family and friends these recipes are good for them!

It can be our little secret ;)

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

NOTE: Special launch price available for a limited time only.

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SBS 3D cover FINAL

You know that feeling when you’ve been looking forward to something for months and months? And when the big day arrives you can’t believe it’s actually happening…

Well that’s how I feel today as I sit down to tell you about my new eCookbook.

I’ve been dreaming about writing a baking book for the longest time. I’ve always wanted to have all the recipes for my favourite breads, cookies, cakes and go-to desserts in the one place. But writing a baking book would mean a lot of baking and a lot of tasting. While baking and tasting are some of the best parts of my job, I wasn’t so keen on the impact this would have on my waistline.

But then I had gestational diabetes. And that turned into type 2 diabetes.

Along the way, I discovered that it is possible to bake your cake and enjoy eating it too (without wreaking havoc on your blood sugar).

I discovered that drool-worthy baking without sugar, gluten or loads of carbs isn’t some impossible dream.

It’s easy (when you know how).

And so without further ado, I give you the ‘Sunday Baking Sessions’!

SBS 3D cover FINAL

To pick up your copy today, go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/sbs/

With love,
Jules x

ps. Just don’t tell your family and friends that these recipes are actually good for them.

It can be our little secret ;)

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

___________________________________

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Fergals Natural Muesli-2

Back in the Summer, I had a huge ‘why-didn’t-I-think-of-that?’ moment.

We had some friends come to stay for the weekend with their 2-year-old girl Sofia. I love having other children in the house. Mostly because it’s so fun to see how Fergal and Finbar interact with them.

But also because I like to see what other kids will (and won’t) eat. I often get great ideas for new things to try with my boys. Like this muesli.

Anyway, given that I used to design muesli (and other breakfast cereal) for a living back in my old food science days, I lept at the chance to have a crack at making a natural muesli.

Plus it was a great way to get Fergal involved in this new breakfast idea. Of course, the added incentive of sultanas (raisins) didn’t hurt.

Making your own muesli is so much fun.

Plus unlike commercial muesli makers, you can focus all your money on using the best quality and quantity of tasty ingredients. No need to have conversations like, ‘we can only afford 0.005% almonds’. And no need to allocate any of your museli budget for packaging, marketing or distribution.

And you get to make it exactly how you like. Endless possibilities!

With love,
Jules x

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Fergals Natural Muesli-3

Fergal’s Muesli

This is really more of an idea than an actual recipe. I love that each batch is slightly different based on what we have and how heavy handed my ‘kitchen assistant’ is.

I keep my muesli mix separate from the dried fruit because it gives everyone the ability to control their fruit quantity. Plus it avoids the moisture transfer problem of the oats getting soggier and the fruit getting harder during storage. But if it makes life easier, you can store them in the one jar.

Keeps for 6 months+ in the pantry, provided your ingredients aren’t too old.

enough for: as many as you like!
takes: 10 minutes

rolled oats
seeds
nuts
fruit (optional), to serve
milk or yoghurt, to serve

1. Fill a glass or other large jar about half way with your oats.

2. Add your choice of seeds and nuts, mixing as you go. There’s no wrong way to do this. I generally pop the lid on and shake to mix but a spoon can work as well.

3. Serve your personal muesli in a small bowl with fruit (if using) and milk or yoghurt.

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Variations

different oats – I started using quick or instant oats because they’re the easiest for little mouths, but my last batch was using regular (traditional) rolled oats and everyone was still able to eat them. Steel cut oats are the least processed and have the lowest GI but are also the hardest to chew!

different nuts – I usually use almond meal so there’s no choking hazard to worry about, but any whole or chopped nuts will work. I like to be generous with the nuts because they add good fats and some protein and make the muesli even lower GI.

different seeds – linseeds (flax) and sunflower are our favourites. But feel free to add pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and chia if you like. Seeds are awesome because they tend to be less expensive than nuts but still give that satisfying flavour and interesting texture.

different fruit – I make up a dried fruit mix of sultanas (raisins), chopped pitted dates and chopped prunes that we keep in a separate jar and add before serving. Any dried fruit is great but the boys do love their sultanas. Dried apricots and apples make a lovely fancy change. You can also serve with fresh fruit.

wintery – serve with warm milk or use your oat / seed / nut mix to make a porridge (oatmeal).

bircher museli – soak oat mix over night in milk or water. Stir through grated apple and serve with more milk or some yoghurt.

higher fiber – replace some of the oats with oat bran, psyllium husks or other bran. Be generous with the seeds too!

low carb – replace the oats with finely sliced almond flakes or flaked coconut (or a mix of both). Like my paleo Coconut & Almond ‘Cereal’.

extra crunchy – serve with some Chocolate Granola or Peanut Butter Granola.

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Like to discover my ‘secret’ for actually enjoying getting dinner ready?

Wish it was easier (and more fun) to get dinner on the table night after night? Then have a look at my ‘Simple Dinners’ online cooking program.

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

DOORS CLOSE 26MAY 2017

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Soup Love

Leek & Kohlrabi Soup with Chilli Oil-2

I‘ve been experimenting with a new habit recently. You see, I’m on a mission to expand my soup repertoire. Especially now the days are shorter and we’re lighting the fire in the evenings.

Yes! Soup season is here! (Sorry Northern Hemisphere readers).

My habit is pretty simple.

I’ve been making soup for dinner at least one night each week. Usually it’s Monday. And usually it’s some sort of vegetable based soup like this fab little low-carb alternative to leek and potato.

I love soup night.

There’s only one pot to clean up. I can easily add bread or cooked pasta to keep my tiny (and big!) carb-lovers happy. And I always feel warm and contented afterwards.

If you need more reasons to start upping your own soup intake, you might enjoy 7 Surprising Reasons to Eat More Soup.

With love,
Jules x

ps. And the winner of the Stonesoup ‘commenter of the month’ prize is Bette.
If you’d like to be in the running to win a free copy of my print book ‘5-Ingredients 10-Minutes‘ all you have to do is leave a comment anywhere on Stonesoup. I’d really love to hear what you think.

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Leek & Kohlrabi Soup with Chilli Oil-3

Leek & Kohlrabi Soup


If you’ve ever wondered about a low-carb version of the old classic Potato & Leek Soup, look no further! Inspired by the lovely Andrea over at Dishing Up the Dirt, this super comforting soup is like a hug in a bowl. And better yet it isn’t going to weigh you down.

Of course, if you don’t have access to kohlrabi, there are plenty of other options in the variations below.

enough for 2-3
takes 30 minutes

1 onion
2 leeks
2 medium kohlrabi (450g / 1lb)
2 cups stock or water
chilli oil (recipe below), to serve

1. Place a medium saucepan on a medium high heat. Peel and chop onion and add to the pot with a generous glug of olive oil. Cover and start cooking while you slice the white and light green parts of the leeks.

2. Add leeks to the pot. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally until leek and onion are soft.

3. Meanwhile, trim kohlrabi (save tops for another use – you can cook them like chard) and chop into a medium dice.

4. When the onion and leeks are soft, add diced kohlrabi and stock or water. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook covered until kohlrabi is tender about 15 minutes.

5. Puree cooked soup with a stick (immersion) blender. Taste and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Serve in bowls with chilli oil passed separately.

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Variations

no kohlrabi / different veg – replace with potatoes or sweet potatoes (if you don’t mind the carbs). Good low-carb alternatives are celeriac (celery root), swede (rutabaga), zucchini (grate and don’t puree) or cauliflower.

carb-lovers / more substantial – use potatoes! Or serve with crusty bread and butter or hot buttered toast.

family-friendly – toss in some cooked short pasta and skip the chilli oil for the little ones.

creamy – replace stock / water with a 400mL can unsweetened coconut milk and 1/2 cup water.

thinner soup – I like this quite robust. If you prefer a thinner soup add more water or stock until you’re happy.

no leeks – replace with an extra onion.

loads of leeks – replace onion with an extra 2 leeks.

herby – add a few sprigs of thyme or sage to cook with the onion.

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Leek & Kohlrabi Soup with Chilli Oil-4

Marco’s Chilli Oil

For years my favourite chilli oil recipe involved frying fresh chillies and garlic in olive oil. But after reading Marco Cannoras fab little bone broth bible, ‘Brodo’ I’ve found an even easier method that’s just as delicious.

Chilli oil is brilliant for family dinners because it allows the chilli lovers to get their fix and the little ones to enjoy their meal without the cook having to make two separate dinners. We use it on practically everything from burgers to stir fries to our morning eggs and of course on soup!

makes: 1 cup
takes: 5 minutes + 2 hours cooling

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red chilli flakes
1 teaspoon hot chilli powder or cayenne pepper

1. Place oil, chilli flakes and powder or cayenne in a small saucepan. Warm over a medium heat for about 3 minutes or until the chilli flakes start to move around in the pan.

2. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. This allows the heat to transfer to the oil so don’t skip the cooling.

3. Strain the oil to remove chilli flakes and store in a well labelled glass bottle in your pantry (or keep it on the dining table for easy access). Keeps indefinitely.

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Variations

smoky – add a teaspoon smoked paprika with the chilli powder / cayenne.

no red chilli flakes – use large dried red chillies and crumble them so you can measure about 2 tablespoons.

milder – skip the cayenne / chilli powder

__________________________________

Wish it was easier to get dinner on the table night after night?

simple dinners logo

Like to discover my ‘secret’ for actually enjoying getting dinner ready? Then have a look at my ‘Simple Dinners’ online cooking program.

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

__________________________________

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