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OK, I’m super excited and a little nervous because it’s been almost 2 years since my last new eCookbook.

Anyway, here goes…

‘Healthy & Tasty Meals Made Easy’ is now ready!

For all the details go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/handt/

With love,
Jules x
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slow roasted lamb shoulder-6

I love this time of year.

Here in Oz, Summer is just around the corner and the lure of long lazy days on the horizon. Yay for holidays.

Even though we don’t officially celebrate Thanksgiving here, I love the concept of this holiday.

When I lived in California, I really embraced it. Taking the time to get together with your loved ones and give thanks with a big feast thrown in.

What’s not to love about that?

But the holidays can come with their fair share of stress.

So I thought I’d talk about the 2 biggest mistakes most people make when it comes to entertaining. And of course my tips for avoiding them…

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Zucchini Mac & Cheese

Today I have a bit of a favour to ask…

In a few weeks I’m going to be releasing my new eCookbook called ‘Healthy & Tasty Meals Made Easy‘. I’m super excited about it because it’s been almost 2 years since my last new book.

But before I put my latest ‘baby’ out into the big wide world, I’d love to get some feedback on it.

That’s where you come in.

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yogic green salad

This time 5 years ago I was at a big crossroads.

I loved my job designing Tim Tams (chocolate cookies) for Australia’s largest biscuit manufacturer. I mean who wouldn’t love working with chocolate?

However, earlier in the year I’d had a glimpse of another life. Writing my first cook book was an experience that I’d loved so much.

Maybe it was my calling to write about food?

At first I dismissed the idea. How on earth could I earn as much money as I did in the corporate world?

But like most good ‘scary’ ideas, it kept coming back.

About the same time I’d discovered the blog, Zen Habits. I was getting deeply into the concept of simplicity in life. As I read about Leo’s own transition from a job he hated to full time blogger, it dawned on me…

I didn’t need to match my 6-figure corporate salary. If I put my mind to it, and really simplified my life, I could live on a fraction of the amount.

All of a sudden the change seemed within reach and in January 2010 I quit my job.

I haven’t looked back.

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easy fish curry-2

Do you ever feel ‘too tired to cook’ after a long busy day? Well you’re certainly not alone!

A few years ago I surveyed Stonesoup readers for their biggest cooking challenges. The number 1 response was being ‘tired at the end of a long day’.

We all know what that feels like.

But how do you make it easier to cook when you’re tired AND hungry?

Or as one of my students calls it…’HANGRY’.

So here’s my simple 2-step process to make it easier to get into the kitchen and cook the delicious, healthy meals you and your family deserve…

STEP 1. Have actual food in the house

If there isn’t food in the house we’re all more likely to pick up takeout than go to the store, buy ingredients, come home and cook. Food in the house gives you a HUGE head start.

I find there are 2 parts to this.

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moroccan meatball tajine-3

When I was getting into cooking, one of the few things I found really intimidating was working with spices. I’m not sure what caused my ‘spice phobia’ but I do remember only using spices if the recipe called for them. I’d always use exactly the types and amounts listed.

Talk about restrictive.

Over the years, with a lot of trial and a little bit of error, I’ve adopted a more liberated approach to cooking with spices.

Why Use Spices?

If you’re ever short on time or short on space in your pantry, spices can be an absolute life saver when it comes to making food taste amazing.

Not only that, using different spices is by far the quickest and easiest way to make a boring old dish taste new and exciting.

What’s not to love about spice?

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easy chinese chicken

If I mention the words ‘mindless eating’, what thoughts pop into your head?

Probably nothing healthy, right?

For me ‘mindless eating’ normally evokes thoughts of chowing down on junk in front of the TV or computer. Big bags of chips or pop corn at the cinema. Or shoveling ice cream straight from the tub.

While I’m a huge fan of the concept of MindFUL eating, I’ve also come to appreciate that there’s a place for mindLESS eating in a healthy lifestyle.

Really? Mindless eating = healthy?

Mindless Eating for good is a concept I discovered via the lovely Darya Rose. It was coined by researcher Brian Wansink in his awesome book, ‘Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think’.

Basically Wansink’s research team have found that our bodies aren’t very good at accurately keeping track of how much food we eat. Most people can eat 20% less and not actually feel like they’re missing out on anything.

Wainsink calls this the ‘mindless margin’. It’s basically a ‘buffer zone’ where our brains don’t detect whether we’ve eaten more or less.

Over time, the extra (or less) food eaten in the mindless margin adds up to weight gained (or lost!).

So today I wanted to share some tips from Wainsink’s book that I’ve found helpful.

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kale 'cabonara'-4

I‘m a huge believer in the power of habits for helping to put everyday decisions on autopilot, making it much easier to live a healthy life.

One of the things I’ve learned in my study of habit formation over the years is the power of public commitment.

Earlier in the year, I joined Febfast and committed to a month without alcohol.

It was tough. Especially the night we were staying with friends in Sydney and everyone else was drinking really lovely wine.

One of my friends tried to persuade me to have some. They weren’t going to tell anybody…

It was tempting.

But you know what kept me from caving?

The thought of having to sit down here and admit to you that I had broken my promise.

While Febfast is long gone, I have a few bad cooking habits that I’ve been trying to kick on my own. And if truth be told, I haven’t been having much luck.

So today I’m ‘outing’ myself on my 3 worst habits. I’ll report back in a month or so to let you know how I’ve gone.

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bacon & cabbage-2

A few weeks ago, my Irishman was in a lift with a family with a sick baby. He mentioned that he has a one-year-old and the other parents were like, ‘Oh you must be used to him being sick’.

My Irishman was a little taken back by this.

Over dinner he told me about his encounter with the sick child.

We both realized we’ve been very lucky with Fergal. Apart from the odd runny nose, he hasn’t ever been really sick. (Excuse me while I just go and touch some wood!)

But is this just good luck? Or good genes? Or something we’re doing or not doing?

In all likelihood, it’s a combination. However, our habits and lifestyle must be having an impact.

4 Ways I Keep My Family Healthy

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

What do I mean by ‘real food’?

Basically, it’s anything without a complicated ‘ingredients list’ on the pack. Or better yet, food that doesn’t come in packages. Like vegetables, fish, meat etc.

While most of our food falls into the ‘real’ category, we don’t obsess. I’m happy for occasional processed conveniences like commercial curry pastes or tomato ketchup.

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kale with pistachios-3

You know when you come across someone who is a kindred spirit? Someone who has similar philosophies to your own?

I love when that happens.

Like when I discovered Darya Rose from the fab little blog summertomato.com.

Darya and I share a lot in common including a love of vegetables and legumes, a background in science (Darya has a Ph.D) and a firm belief in the power of healthy eating. We’ve both written guest posts for Tim Ferrissblog, which is how I discovered her.

Anyway, Darya’s book Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting is one of the best books I’ve read on healthy eating.

Actually I love it so much I’ve read (listened to the audiobook version) about 5 times in the last year.

If you’re at all interested in how to use real food and healthy habits to control your weight, or even just after some inspiration to help you eat healthier, I can’t recommend Foodist enough.

But in case you need more convincing, I contacted Darya and asked her a couple of questions…

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red velvet brownies-3

Can you believe it’s September already?

I know!

I really love this time of year. Spring is just beginning to make an appearance both in the weather and the produce available at the farmers market. The days are getting longer.

And it’s my birthday(!)

This year, I’m continuing my birthday traditions of sharing a new cake recipe with you and having a birthday sale. So let’s dig in!

The Birthday Cake!

In case you’re new to my Stonesoup birthday tradition, previous celebrational treats have included a lemon delicious cake, a croissant surprise cake and last year’s birthday ice cream sandwich.

I actually started developing this year’s recipe over 12 months ago because I take my Birthday cake very seriously. I wanted to make a sweet treat using one of my favourite vegetables, beetroot.

Most baking recipes that use beets just call for grated beets, similar to carrot cakes. But I’ve always found the results disappointing. As much as I adore the earthy flavour of beets, it’s too much for me when used raw in a cake.

So the solution?

Easy, just used cooked beets.

And combining them with dark chocolate in a rich squidgy brownie doesn’t hurt. At all.

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VIDEO 1.
6 Keys to Healthy Meals

___________________________

VIDEO 2.
7 Secrets

[COMING SOON]

___________________________

VIDEO 3.
Behind the Scenes

[COMING SOON]

___________________________

Like to win one of 5 FREE places in the
Healthy Meal Method program?

Here’s how to enter…
1. Watch the FREE training videos above.
2. Leave a comment below the video telling me the story of how the Healthy Meal Method could make a difference to your life.

THE FINE PRINT
Entries will be judged by me. I’ll be looking for creativity and enthusiasm!
Entries close Tues 8th September 2014.
Winners will be notified by email.

___________________________

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sauerkraut-3

So I was very pleasantly surprised with the response to my previous post on fermenting vegetables.

It made me super happy to hear that so many of you are interested in fermentation and put in a request for my sauerkraut recipe.

So today that’s exactly what I have for you.

But before we get to that I have a quick favour to ask…

A Favour

It’s been over 18 months since I last released a new cookbook. A long time, I know.

So I’m super excited to announce that I’m working on a new eCookbook. The only problem is I have so many ideas of what I’d like the book to cover, after all I’ve had 18 months to think about it!

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fish with asparagus & goats cheese-2

Without a doubt, the saddest day of the year for me is the 20th August.

You see it’s the day that nine years ago my family huddled in a little hospital room and watched my Mum breathe her last breath.

I still really miss her.

This year I’m feeling it even more than usual. I think it’s because now that Fergal is getting more interactive I often imagine how much my mum would have delighted in spending time with him.

I also wish she was around so I could ask her questions about this whole motherhood thing.

But I didn’t sit down today to make myself or you cry.

I just wanted to share a trick that’s really helped me deal with the loss of someone so special.

Whenever I’m feeling lost and wishing I could call Mum and ask her for help, I ask myself a question instead. ‘What would June do?’

The funny thing is as soon as I ask it, I usually feel exactly what the answer is.

Just something that I’ve found useful. If you’re ever missing someone, try it. It might just help you too.

And of course I wanted to remember my Mum. So I have a little June-friendly recipe that includes some of her favourite things (asparagus and fish) and lots of her favourite colour (green).

Enjoy!

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fermented carrots-3

A few months ago took an online course called ‘Debunking PCOS‘ which is all about improving fertility and conquering Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome which I was diagnosed with over 10 years ago.

The thing that really surprised me about the course was that the number 1 action we were encouraged to take was to heal your gut.

Not exactly the most glamorous topic, but when you consider how important the gut is to helping you absorb and use the nutrients you need, it really makes sense.

A healthy gut isn’t just important for fertility. It impacts everyone’s health.

So I hear you asking…

“OK Jules, so how do I make my gut healthier?”

Well funnily enough, earlier in the year I went to a workshop on how to ferment vegetables. It was led by Sandor Katz, author of ‘Wild Fermentation’ and ‘The Art of Fermentation’. And was completely inspirational.

But I’m jumping ahead of myself…

So what is the number 1. way to improve your gut health?

Easy. Eat more fermented foods!

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kale gratin-2

Not long after we moved into our little farm house earlier in the year, I was beginning to question my ability to cook without burning something.

It started one night when I was making a bolognese sauce…

Somehow I got side tracked and forgot I had the pot on the highest setting. The next thing I know my Irishman (whose nose is much more sensitive than mine) was asking ‘Is something burning?’

It was. Not good.

Then to make matters worse, the next morning I was warming up some cavolo nero (black Tuscan kale) to have with our eggs and the same thing happened. Another burnt disaster.

For someone who has a degree in Food Science and writes cookbooks for a living, this was starting to get embarrassing.

But as I was scrubbing my poor burnt pots that morning, I realized there could be one good thing to come out of my kitchen disasters. I was getting a lot of experience in how to rescue burnt food.

A great blog post topic!

So here we are…

6 steps to rescue a burnt kitchen disaster

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I love Winter. The frosty mornings. The crisp clear days. Snuggling up by the fire with a good book and a glass of red.

And then there’s the food. Soups and slow cooked delights. Self saucing ginger puddings with ice cream.

If I was forced to choose my favourite season it would be a toss up between Winter and Autumn (Fall).

That being said, it’s about this time of year when I get a little nostalgic for long, sultry Summer evenings. And not having to pile on wellies and layers just to go and feed the chooks.

I also get a little nostalgic for basil. Especially in the form of verdant green pesto.

Of course, I can still buy bunches of basil at an exorbitant price all throughout the Winter but it’s just not the same.

The good news is I’ve discovered a Winter-friendly alternative. If you’re a stickler for tradition, it’s probably best if you stop reading now and check back next week.

But if you like to try new things, read on!

It uses mint and almonds instead of basil and pine nuts. And it’s just the thing to liven up Winter soups and stews.

Although if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere at the moment and are sick of eating basil, this could be just the thing for you too!

I can also imagine it sitting proudly on an outdoor table waiting to accompany a piece of fish or chicken from a Summer evening BBQ…

What about you?

What’s your favourite season and seasonal foods? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

mint & almond pesto-2

Mint & Almond Pesto

Serve this pesto pretty much any where you’d serve regular pesto. Dollop on soups or salads. Use as a sauce for pan fried fish, chicken breasts or even steak. My personal favourite is to team it with lamb… Either lamb cutlets cooked until still rosy pink or slow roast lamb shoulder literally melting off the bone. It’s also great to liven up some steamed green beans or peas.

Enough for about 1 cup
large bunch mint, leaves picked
1 small clove garlic
3 handfuls almonds
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Whizz mint, garlic and almonds in a food processor until finely chopped.

2. Add oil and a little lemon juice and mix. Taste and season with salt, pepper and extra lemon if needed.

VARIATIONS
summery – replace mint with basil. You can replace the almonds with pine nuts but I’m also a fan of cashews because they’re delicious and much more affordable.

nut-free – replace almonds with half soft breadcrumbs and half finely grated parmesan.

other herbs – flat leaf parsley, carrot tops, coriander (cilantro) are all possibilities. I’m also a fan of a little bit of sage or oregano combined with parsley.

garlic-free – sometimes I can’t be bothered with garlic and it’s still lovely but I do find it needs more salt and lemon to make up for that garlicky sharpness.

no food processor – just finely chop everything and stir together for a more rustic chunky pesto.

With love,
Jules x
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Yesterday morning I decided to do something a little differently. I’ve been trying to get into the habit of waking up early. I used to think I wasn’t a ‘morning person’ but when I make the effort, I love having that extra quite time to meditate and get a little work done.

So what did I do differently?

Basically I just moved my phone / alarm out of reach so I had to get out of bed to turn it off.

Of course I was up then, so it wasn’t hard to light the fire, make a pot of white tea and let the day begin.

My job yesterday morning was to read through the entries of people looking to win a free spot in my new online cooking program ‘The Organized Cook‘. It was lucky that I got up early because there were 225 people who had left comments.

After reading through all the ways that you guys are struggling with being organized cooks I felt a bit emotional. But thinking about it another way, I had to smile.

You see, it’s my job to help.

So in a funny way knowing that you need help feels good on some level. I guess it’s nice to feel needed :)

Anyway, there were a few themes that kept coming up so today I wanted to ‘debunk’ the most common myths about being an organized cook.

But before we get to that, I’d better announce the winners!

Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School 12 Months Membership

It was tough trying to decide. A huge THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to share your thoughts.kindvall_stonesoup_school_B

And the winners are:
Alex
Niall Sheridan
Julie B
Sue S
Pal

Congratulations! You should have an email in your inbox with details on how to claim your prize.

The 3 Biggest Myths about Being an Organized Cook

Myth 1. You have to spend hours in the kitchen sacrificing your precious weekend time.
Lack of time is often cited as the 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.

In fact, unless I’m cooking for a dinner party, I rarely spend extra time in the kitchen getting ready for the week ahead.

What I do is use the time I’m already in the kitchen to get extra items prepared.

I’m not a big fan of ‘multi-tasking’ as a rule. But there is a time for it in the kitchen.

I often pop on some veg to roast (1 hour but 2 minutes active time), cook up a pot of quinoa (15 minutes) or make a quick ragu (20 minutes) like the one below for the future while I’m cooking for today.

If you’d like to explore this more, I’m going to be going much deeper in my new online program, The Organized Cook.

Myth 2. If you’re organized there’s no room for flexibility
This ties in with the misconception that being organized means you have to eat loads of the same reheated meals. If you focus on using ‘mise en place‘ or preparing certain ingredients rather than pre-cooking whole meals, there is loads of room for flexibility and creativity.

And even better, cooking this way means you can pull together healthy meals in very little time.

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 devoid of nutrition.

Whenever we cut or cook food we’re exposing it to oxidation and light in the case of the former and heat in the latter. 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.

The other thing to consider is if we’re talking pre-cooked home meals vs takeout you know who will win in the health department.

All that being said, I think it’s important to serve something raw and fresh if possible with every meal; both freshly cooked and pre-cooked. For example, add a handful of fresh parsley leaves or some baby spinach to the ragu below or serve it with a green salad.

Need more help getting organized?

Well you’re in luck!TOC2014 square logo NEW

Registration is NOW OPEN for ‘The Organized Cook‘.

You have less than 72 hours to join us for The Organized Cook because Module 1 will be released this Saturday.

To make sure you don’t miss out, use the link below:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/toc/

UPDATE: REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED.

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quick pork ragu

Quick Pork Ragu

Today’s recipe is an example of the types of things we’ll be covering in The Organized Cook. It’s a quick meal that can be made in advance if you prefer. It’s the type of one pot meal you can get going and have simmering away while you do something else in the kitchen.

Enough for 2
4 thick pork sausages
1 can tomatoes (400g / 14oz)
2-3 tablespoons butter

1. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan or skillet on a medium high heat.

2. Remove sausage meat from the casings and crumble into the pan. Discard casings.

3. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring to break up the chunks, until the meat is starting to brown.

4. Add tomatoes and butter and cook for another 10 minutes for the sauce to reduce a little. Taste and season.

Variations

vegetarian – replace pork with drained canned chickpeas.

vegan – replace sausages with 1 drained can of lentils or about 250g (9oz) of cooked red or green lentils and swap the butter for olive oil.

different sausages – pork are a firm favourite in our house but feel free to use other sausages such as beef or chicken if you like them.

pescatarian
– replace sausages with peeled green prawns (shrimp) simmer until just cooked.

herby – cook a few thyme leaves or rosemary in with the sausages.

budget – replace half of the sausages with cooked or canned white beans.

more substantial – feel free to serve the ragu with your favourite cooked pasta, preferably something short like rigatoni or penne.

gluten-free – use GF sausages or replace with about 400g (14oz) minced (ground) pork or other meat.

Do Ahead Potential

Excellent! Takes 15-20 minutes. Will keep in the fridge for a week or so. Or can be frozen for up to 12 months.

Usage Suggestions

paleo / low carb – serve on a bed of baby spinach (pictured above) or grated raw cauliflower (aka cauliflower ‘rice) or grated raw broccoli. Also good on top of a big plate of wilted greens.

carb lovers – serve on top of your favourite cooked pasta. I like it with rigatoni. Hot buttered toast is also good.

slow carb – serve on top of canned or cooked legumes such as lentils or cannellini beans or even chickpeas.

cheesey – A grating of fresh parmesan can be a welcome addition.

herby – in Summer I like to serve with a crowning of fresh basil leaves.

With love,
Jules x
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ps. Not sure if the Organized Cook can help YOU?TOC2014 square logo NEW

Here’s what Gerry and Rebecca have said about classes at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School…

“I LOVE THE SVCS!! I have completely changed my eating habits AND am LOVING IT! What I especially love about your recipes, is the versatility if I do not have something available, there’s always something else I can use instead.”
Gerry, Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School Member.

“I really appreciate how your (classes) have freed the way I cook. From reducing the number of ingredients, to using what I have on hand, and to your many, many other ideas: thank you. I love your approach and imagination. You have inspired me.”
Rebecca, Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School Member.

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

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It may surprise you to learn that we actually eat lots of do ahead meals in our house.

Even though I love cooking. And would be happy to cook every day, I’ve found that when I’m taking photographs for my blog, or a book or a new online cooking class, it’s much easier to batch the work and have a big cooking and photography day.

This means we often end up with a fridge full of pre-cooked meals. Especially when there’s a new class on the horizon.

Over the last 4 years I’ve had a lot of experience in the best way to store and reheat all sorts of meals. Even the ones you wouldn’t normally think of as make ahead dinners.

And before I forget, I wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to all of the 888 people who took the time to complete last week’s survey about my upcoming online class, ‘The Organized Cook’.

When was going through the results and saw ‘do ahead meals’ as the second most requested topic, it sparked some inspiration. So today I thought I’d share with you my ‘golden rules’ for making sure do ahead meals taste their best…

The 3 Golden Rules of Do Ahead Meals

Rule 1. Just make more of what you’re making.
The thought of getting extra meals ready in advance can be off putting. The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to be ‘captain organized’ to get the benefits of having some extra meals prepared in advance.

The easiest and most efficient strategy is to cook extra of whatever you’re already making. Eat some now and store the rest. While there is sometimes a bit of extra work in doubling or tripling a recipe, it’s rarely double or triple the effort. And usually doesn’t take any extra time.

Rule 2. Keep the components separate to store.
This is all about making sure the texture and temperature of each component aren’t compromised.

Keeping the components separate enables you to store, reheat (if needed), and serve each in the best way for each component. This means your slow cooked lamb shanks can be served piping hot with a cool crisp salad on the side for contrast and maximum deliciousness.

It also makes it easier to ‘mix it up’ and add variety so you’re not serving a carbon copy of the original meal each time.

Rule 3. Serve with something fresh.
Whenever I’m serving a pre made meal, I always try to add something fresh just before it goes to the table. This helps to make the whole meal feel fresh and new. It also helps balance things from a nutritional perspective.

Sometimes it will be a green side salad as in the example above, other times it’s some fresh herbs scattered on top. Or even some toasted pine nuts for some extra crunch.

kindvall_stonesoup_school_B

Like some help becoming more organized in the kitchen?

Do you want to win one a FREE spot in my upcoming online program?

To celebrate the launch of ‘The Organized Cook (how to prepare for the busy week ahead)’ next week, I’ve decided to have a little competition and give away 5 FREE spots in the Organized Cook with 12 Months Membership to the whole Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School.

To enter you just need to leave a comment below answering this question…

What do you struggle with when it comes to being an Organized Cook?

_______________

UPDATE: The Competition is NOW CLOSED
A huge THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to share your thoughts.

And the winners are:
Alex
Niall Sheridan
Julie B
Sue S
Pal

Congratulations! You should have an email in your inbox with details on how to claim your prize.

_______________

Entries close Friday 18th July 2014.
The winners will be chosen by me and announced here on Stonesoup…

________________

whole roast cauli-2

Whole Roast Cauliflower with Almond Tabbouleh

I think cauliflower is one of the most underrated vegetables. I love that it packs the same nutritional punch as its cousins broccoli and cabbage, yet its white colour gives it more flexibility than green veg.

And I should mention, if you’ve been looking for a gluten-free tabbouleh recipe that’s also ‘paleo’ then this almond tabbouleh is for you. We’re just using almond meal instead of the cracked wheat. I love the softer texture and creamy slightly nutty flavour you get from the almond meal.

Enough for 4-6
1 cauliflower
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup (60g / 2oz) almond meal
hummus, to serve

1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Trim outer leaves from cauli and place the head in an oven proof pot that holds the cauli snugly.

2. Drizzle generously with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Bake uncovered for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cauliflower is well browned and tender enough to cut with a butter knife.

3. Meanwhile, for the salad, combine lemon juice with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a bowl. Season. Toss in the parsley and almond meal.

4. Slice the cauli into wedges and serve with hummus, tabbouleh and more extra virgin olive oil drizzled over. Plus lots of salt and pepper!

VARIATIONS
do-ahead – roast cauli then cool and refrigerate. To reheat just pop back in the oven for 15 minutes or until warm. The tabbouleh is one of those rare salads that can be made ahead and will keep in the fridge for a few days, just give it a good toss before serving.

carnivore – Serve as a side to roast chicken or brown some minced (ground) beef and scatter it over the hummus before serving.

nut-free – replace almond meal with cooked quinoa, cooked couscous or bulghur wheat that has been soaked in water until soft and then drained.

spiced cauliflower – combine a tablespoon each of cumin seeds, coriander seeds and dried chilli flakes with a few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Drizzle over the cauli before roasting. If you have some baharat (Lebanese 7 spice blend) it works really well too. Or try some finely chopped red chilli.

make your own hummus – whizz 2 cans chickpeas with 6 tablespoons each of the canning liquid, lemon juice, tahini and 2 cloves garlic. When you have a creamy paste season and add in a little extra virgin olive oil.

different herbs – feel free to mix up the herbs in your tabbouleh. Mint, coriander (cilantro) and basil are all worthy additions.

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

With love,
Jules x
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Since becoming a Mum just over a year ago, there have been many changes in my life.

Easily the biggest one, from a food perspective, is that I just don’t have as much time to spend in the kitchen as I used to…

So meanwhile I’ve been relying on the quicker recipes in my repertoire like the ones in 5 Ingredients 10 Minutes.

The other habit I’ve really found life saving is a little technique or ‘secret’ I like to call ‘mise en place‘.

What is ‘mise en place?’

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 caramelising 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.

How can this ‘secret’ help you?

1. Save you time during the week.
By taking the time on weekends 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. Prolong the shelf life of your produce
Happily, there’s another side benefit… A little bit of preparation can extend the shelf life of fresh produce. This is usually because the preparation involves some sort of heat which reduces any microbes present.

Just think of a slow cooked meat dish which will last for a week or longer in the fridge, compared to a piece of fresh meat that may only keep for a few days. Same goes for wilted kale vs a bunch of fresh kale.

Like to go deeper with this?

I’m in the process of revamping my online cooking program that focuses on ‘Mise en Place’ or building block recipes. It’s going to be released in a few weeks and before then I’d love to get your input to make sure the class is as useful as possible.

I’ve created a quick 2-question survey below, I’d really love to get your thoughts…

quinoa with broccoli pesto

Quinoa with Broccoli Pesto

Most weeks I either cook up a big pot of lovely lentils or quinoa to use during the week for breakfasts, lunches or dinners. I’ve also more recently been getting into grating raw veg like broccoli or cauliflower in the food processor and keeping it in the fridge for a quick veg hit to serve with my poached eggs in the morning or in a salad like this.

If you’re not a fan of raw broccoli, see the ‘more wintery’ variations below.

Enough for 2
1 head broccoli
400g (14oz) cooked quinoa
6 tablespoons pesto
squeeze lemon juice
8 tablespoons ricotta

1. Chop broccoli into small bite sized pieces or grate it using a box grater or your food processor.

2. Toss prepared broccoli in a bowl with the quinoa and pesto. Add lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Taste and add more salt / pepper / lemon, if needed.

4. Serve with ricotta on top.

VARIATIONS
not-so-organised – cook 200g (7oz) quinoa from scratch, just boil in a big pot of water like pasta for 10 minutes. Then drain and you’re good to go.

warm salad / more wintery – follow the ‘not-so-organised’ instructions above and add broccoli to the cooking water after 5 minutes. Drain and toss in the pesto and lemon and serve warm with cold ricotta on top.

make your own pesto – whizz one bunch basil leaves with 1 clove garlic, a handful pinenuts and large handful grated parmesan. Add enough extra virgin olive oil to make a chunky paste and season well with s&p.

no quinoa? – replace with any cooked grain or legume. Barley or brown rice would be my first choices.

dairy-free / vegan – replace ricotta with hummus or a drizzle of tahini and use a dairy-free pesto like this Sicilian Nut Pesto.

With love,
Jules x
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