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Coconut & Almond 'Cereal'-2

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

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

Yep. Breakfast. Breakkie.

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

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

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

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

I love it.

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

6 Egg-Free Low Carb / Paleo Breakfast Ideas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Need more ideas?

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

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Coconut & Almond 'Cereal'

Coconut & Almond ‘Cereal’


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

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

takes: about 20 minutes
makes about 2 cups

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

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

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

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

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Variations

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

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

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

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

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

Big love,
Jules x

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Paleo Carrot Cake w Maple Cream Cheese Frosting-4

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

Anyway here we are. And I have good news!

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

I’m having another baby!

In February!

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

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

Paleo Carrot Cake w Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Paleo Carrot Cake

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

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

enough for 6-8
takes about an hour

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

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

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

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

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

5. Cool in the tin. Or enjoy warm.

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Variations

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

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

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

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

Paleo Carrot Cake w Maple Cream Cheese Frosting-3

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

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

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

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

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

3. Spread on your cooled cake.

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Variations

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

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

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

Big love,
Jules x

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Fish Wraps with Limey Avocado-2

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

It all started back in 2010…

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

No. No. AND No!

If anything we were eating better than ever.

The problem was I got sick of counting.

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

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

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

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

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

You’ve probably guessed it…

Keep the number of ingredients to a minimum.

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

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

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Fish Wraps with Limey Avocado<

Fish Wraps with Limey Avocado

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

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

enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Variations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big love,
Jules x

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Chinese Beef & Beans

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

Well you’re not alone!

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

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

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

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

So what’s the alternative?

In a word. Habits.

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

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

What sort of habits are we talking about?

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

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

It’s different for every person of course.

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

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

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Chinese Beef & Beans-3

Chinese Beef & Beans

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

enough for: 2
takes: 25 minutes

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

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

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

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

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

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Variations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big love,
Jules x

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Zucchini with Butter Beans & Goats Curd-2

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

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

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

There could have been a few reasons.

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

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

Oh yeah, and our veggie intake? Way down.

No prizes for guessing the effect this had on my waistline.

Not pretty.

So when I was in Melbourne a few weeks ago, I found a copy of Pete Evans’ book, ‘Going Paleo’ jumping off the shelf and talking me into buying it.

I first wrote about my experiments with eating Paleo back in 2010. And since then I’ve been following my ‘mostly paleo‘ version – basically skipping grains but including dairy and legumes.

I feel like ‘mostly’ paleo is really the optimum way to eat for me. And until a few weeks ago when we had the ‘carb fest’, I was feeling as good as I’ve ever felt.

If not better.

But I do like to experiment.

Just to know what different ways of eating are like for me.

So I’ve decided to go ‘full paleo’ for the month of September.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I know the importance of public accountability when it comes to changing behaviour. Like the long, long dry month I went without alcohol. There’s no way I would have stuck to it if I hadn’t told you about it first on Stonesoup.

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Zucchini with Butter Beans & Goats Curd-3

Zucchini with Butter Beans + Goats Curd

This was the best thing my Irishman and I ate when we were in London. Hands down. And there was some pretty stiff competition. We had the zucchini as part of a lovely little lunch at St. John Bread & Wine. Next time you’re in London, make sure you eat there. Truly inspirational.

And yes, this ain’t paleo, but of course I’ve got you covered in the variations below if dairy and/or legumes aren’t your thing.

enough for: 2
takes: 25 minutes

4 medium zucchini (courgettes), thickly sliced crosswise
1 can butter beans (400g / 14oz), drained + rinsed well
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sherry or wine vinegar
8 tablespoons goats curd or other soft cheese

1. Heat about 8 tablespoons of olive oil on a medium heat in a large frying pan. Add zucchini and over medium heat, turning every 5 minutes or so until the zucchini is golden brown and very soft. (Take at least 15 minutes, ‘slow and steady’ is the key here to concentrating the zucchini flavour).

2. Drain and rinse butter beans well then add to the pan when the zucchini is soft. When the beans are hot, remove the pan from the heat.

3. Combine mustard and vinegar in a little bowl then toss over the hot beans and zucchini so they get mixed with the cooking oil to make an irresistible sauce.

4. Divide zucchini and beans between 2 plates and top with goats curd.

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Variations

paleo (legume + dairy-free) – replace beans with a handful of roasted almonds and replace cheese with chunks of avocado or a drizzle of tahini sauce (equal parts tahini and lemon juice).

carnivore / more substantial – serve as a side to roast or pan fried chicken or fish.

more veg – toss in some baby spinach, salad leaves or parsley leaves before serving. Add other summer veg like red peppers (capsicum) or eggplant (aubergine).

vegan / dairy-free – replace cheese with chunks of avocado or a drizzle of tahini sauce (equal parts tahini and lemon juice).

butter bean alternatives – replace beans with other white beans, chickpeas, cooked quinoa or cooked pasta.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. One more thing

It’s my birthday in September so I’m going to take a ‘paleo leave pass’ on that day only so I can celebrate with some really smelly cheese. Because what’s a birthday without good cheese…

Thanks! I knew you’d understand.
xx

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Stir-Through Mac & Cheese-2

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

Me?

I’m somewhere in the middle…

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

Sometimes (actually more often than not), especially in savoury cooking, the exact amount of an ingredient doesn’t matter.

Sure more cheese in the recipe below will give you a richer, more cheesey pasta, but it’s not going to ruin it. And if you love cheese, will probably be the best outcome.

Then there are times when precision means the difference between ‘delicious’ and ‘disaster’…

This tends to happen more often when you’re baking but it can happen in savoury dishes too.

What does all this mean?

Essentially, if a recipe writer calls for a ‘handful’ or a ‘pinch’ of something, they’re really telling you it doesn’t matter so much exactly how much you add.

You’re free to use your own judgement. Really.

But if there’s an exact measurement, generally this should be read as ‘please use this amount so everything works out and you like my recipe and keep coming back for more‘.

Got it?

I’m so glad we had this chat.

So back to my earlier question?

What type of cook are you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below…

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Stir-Through Mac & Cheese

‘Stir-Through’ Mac & Cheese

We normally don’t eat a lot of pasta but I must admit, I love having this simple stir-through dish in my repertoire as a treat for Fergal or when I have a hoard of hungry toddlers to feed. For some healthier ideas see the variations below.

enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes

200g (7oz) pasta
4 tablespoons cream
2 handfuls grated cheese (see below for options)
salad leaves, to serve

1 Bring a medium pot of salted water to the boil.

2. Add pasta and set your timer for the time indicated on the packet. Simmer, stirring every few minutes until the pasta is no longer crunchy.

3. Drain and return the hot pasta to the pot.

4. Stir in the cream and cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed (the cheese may be salty enough).

5. Serve hot with salad leaves on the side.

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Variations

different cheese – my fave combo is parmesan and emmental for flavour and ooziness. But any good melting cheese will work like gruyere, cheddar or even mozzarella. Or if you want to use processed sliced cheese, knock yourself out!

more veg – add a few handfuls peas frozen peas or snow peas to the pasta cooking water a minute before the timer is due to go off. Or toss in roast or grilled veg in with the cheese.

gluten-free – use GF pasta (I like ones based on quinoa flour) or replace pasta with cooked or canned chickpeas or white beans. Just warm the drained legumes in a little oil in a pan before adding cream and cheese.

dairy-free – replace cheese and cream with a few handfuls of a dairy-free pesto like this Sicilian Nut Pesto (it’s really good and I often prefer it to traditional pesto). Or replace cream with a peppery extra virgin olive oil and replace cheese with sliced grilled veg like eggplant, zucchini and / or red bell peppers (capsicum).

paleo – replace pasta with diced roast veg like sweet potato, parsnip and carrot. And use one of the dairy-free options instead of the cheese and cream.

carnivore – toss in some cooked bacon or sausage or finely sliced prosciutto.

Video version of the recipe.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. I know you might still be thinking…

But come on Jules, how big are YOUR handfuls?

So for the record I have quite long fingers. I’ve often had people tell my I have ‘piano playing’ hands. Also for the record, I’m crap at piano.

But I did just measure out a ‘Jules handful’ of almonds and they were a generous 1/4 cup. Now what am I going to do with all these almonds?

xx

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Green Lime & Fish Soup-2

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

And I only need 7 ingredients.

Really?

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

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

Why am I telling you this?

Because the Soupstones Dinner Challenge starts this week!

And I’m following along.

I’m really looking forward to it!

Especially the part where I walk into the kitchen at dinner time, look at my dinner challenge meal plan and just cook what’s on the list.

No having to ‘think’.

Bring it on!

Want to join me?

It’s super easy! And it doesn’t cost a thing.

Just enter your email below to get your FREE weekly meal plan!

UPDATE: The Soupstones Dinner Challenge is over for 2015.

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Green Lime & Fish Soup

Green Lime & Fish Soup


One of the things I adore about this soup is the intense lime-ness from letting the whole limes simmer in the soup and release all their zingy juices. Perfect for when you have limes that are a bit on the hard side. My Irishman thought the lime was a bit too much though so if you think you’d prefer a less instense soup, go for 1 lime rather than 2.

enough for: 2
takes 15 minutes

2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
1 can coconut milk (400mL / 14oz)
1 bunch broccolini or broccoli, chopped
1-2 limes, halved
450g (1lb) white fish fillets, chopped

1. Bring the curry paste, coconut milk, brocccolini, limes and 1/2cup water to a simmer in a medium saucepan.

2. Simmer for 3 minutes then add fish and cook until fish is just cooked through – about another 3 minutes.

3. Carefully remove the limes, squeeze the lime juice into the soup and serve hot.

Variations

hot! – add a few chopped fresh chillies or use more curry paste.

tiny-person friendly – make the soup without the curry paste. Serve up for your child then add the curry paste and heat through before serving the adults.

more fragrant / herby – add a handful kaffir lime leaves to simmer or serve with a handful fresh basil or mint leaves.

no thai curry paste – replace with 2-6 chopped large green chillies for a more simple soup.

no coconut milk – replace with a fish stock for a less creamy soup.

more veg – add peas, snow peas, chopped red or green peppers (capsicum), chopped carrots or finely chopped cauliflower.

carb-lovers – toss in some rice noodles cooked according to the packet just before serving.

vegetarian / vegan – replace fish with chopped tofu, a heap of extra veggies or some cooked egg noodles. Make sure your curry paste doesn’t have any shrimp paste or fish sauce.

different protein – replace fish with chopped chicken thigh fillets, green peeled prawns (shrimp) or thinly sliced beef.

Big love,
Jules x

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Cheesey Quinoa

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

It’s tough. Isn’t it?

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

Something I’m really excited to share!

Recently I stumbled across a study linking home cooking with a healthier diet.

Basically the study found that people who cook at home more frequently ate less overall kilojoules (calories) and sugar than those who cooked at home less.

Not really surprising though. Is it?

But there’s more!

When these people did eat out, the home cooks tended to consume less kilojoules (calories) out of the home as well.

Bonus!

Wish YOU cooked at home more?

Then you’re in luck because the ‘Soupstones Dinner Challenge’ is starting SOON! And now is your chance to be one of the first to join us.

Soupstones banner logo NEW

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How does the ‘Dinner Challenge’ work?

1. Enter your email address below.

2. In the next week I’ll send you a FREE copy of one of my done-for-you meal plans with simple 5-Ingredient recipes and a grocery list.

3. You go shopping, cook up a storm and enjoy the goodness (and health benefits!) of cooking at home.

UPDATE: The Soupstones Dinner Challenge is over for 2015.

That’s it!

And it won’t cost you a penny.

For bonus ‘points’

(and a chance to win meal plans for the next 12 months)

Just share a photo of one (or more) of your creations on Facebook, Pinterest and/or Instagram AND add the tag #soupstones so we can find you. Or email me a link to your post (jules@thestonesoup.com) to be sure, to be sure.

UPDATE: The Soupstones Dinner Challenge is over for 2015. And the competition is over. The winners have been notified.

THE FINE PRINT:
Entries close 18th August 2015.
There is one prize of 12 months Membership to Soupstones Meal Plans for each social media platform (3 prizes total).
The winners will be contacted via social media OR email.
Entries will be judged by me

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Cheesey Quinoa-2

Cheesey Quinoa

I love the chewy texture of quinoa any time but especially in this dish when you add in the oozy goodness of just melted cheese. A healthier twist on the old comfort food special mac & cheese.

takes: 30 minutes
enough for: 2

1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup (120g) quinoa
1 cup stock or water
large handful melting cheese*, sliced
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped

1. Heat a medium saucepan on a medium heat. Add a good splash of olive oil and cook onion, covered, for about 10 minutes or until the onion is really soft.

2. Add quinoa and stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the quinoa is soft. Keep an eye on the pot and add extra water if it dries out before the quinoa is cooked.

3. Stir in the cheese and stand the pot off the heat with the lid on for a few minutes.

4. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Toss in the chopped parsley and serve warm.

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Variations

paleo – replace the quinoa with 1/2 small grated cauliflower (I use the food processor for ease) and skip the stock. Just add the raw cauli to the softened onion and cook for a few minutes or until the cauli is warm. Then toss through a handful or two of roasted nuts (brazil, almonds or pine nuts would be my pick) and toss in the herbs.

*different cheese – I used emmental but gruyere, cheddar or mozzarella are all good. Basically anything that’s going to melt.

different grains – replace quinoa with couscous (only simmer a few minutes) or white (15 minutes) or brown rice (simmer about 30 minutes and expect to add extra liquid).

short on time / onion-free – skip the onion and toss through a bunch of chopped chives with the parsley.

more veg – toss in a handful of defrosted frozen peas when you add the cheese. You could add any grilled veg at the end such as eggplant, zucchini (courgettes) or red peppers (capsicum).

dairy-free / vegan – Toss through a handful or two of roasted nuts (brazil, almonds or pine nuts would be my pick) instead of the cheese (no need to stand – the nuts aren’t going to melt!).

Big love,
Jules x

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Yoghurt & Kofta Curry

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

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

Bored even.

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

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

What do I do when I’m uninspired?

1. Open the fridge.
Usually I’ll see something which inspires me enough to get cooking. It could be leftovers or an ingredient I’d forgotten about.

But when this doesn’t work, I try one of the following.

2. Consult an expert.
This could be flipping through a food mag like Australian Gourmet Traveller or picking up a cookbook from my shelf.

Current go-tos are ‘Four Kitchens’ by Sydney chef Colin Fassnidge, ‘Kitchen by Mike’ by another Syd chef Mike McEnearney and ‘Mr Hong’ by Dan Hong (to complete my trifecta of Sydney chef books).

And there’s always ‘A Platter of Figs’ by David Tanis OR ‘The Kitchen Diaries’ by Nigel Slater when I’m in the mood for some smooth food prose.

Or I open up my Instagram feed or check out the blogs I follow via email.

3. Visit the markets.
An early Saturday morning pilgrimage to my local farmers at EPIC in Canberra never fails to inspire.

Even on these frosty morning when we are rugged up with scarves, hats and gloves. There’s something about seeing all that fresh produce and fellow food lovers…

What do you do when you’re in a rut?

I’d love to know!
Share your tips in the comments below…
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Yoghurt & Kofta Curry-2

Yoghurt & Kofta Curry

Inspired by an Emma Knowles recipe in a recent edition of Australian Gourmet Traveller. I’m always a little nervous about yoghurt splitting in cooked dishes but in this case the results were just so tasty! And I loved the tangy flavour and chunky texture of the curry sauce.

My Irishman even said it was the tastiest thing he’d eaten in ages. And he doesn’t say such things lightly…

enough for: 2
takes: 30 minutes

2 onions, peeled and sliced
450g (1lb) lamb mince (ground lamb), or beef
3 teaspoons garam masala
250g (9oz) natural (unsweetened) yoghurt
1 bunch coriander (cilantro)
cauliflower ‘rice’ or steamed rice, to serve

1. Place onion and a little oil in a medium saucepan. Cover and cook on a medium heat until the onion is soft. Stir every now and then to make sure it doesn’t brown too much.

2. While the onion is cooking, season the meat well and roll into little bite sized balls.

3. When the onion is soft, add the garam masala and cook for a minute or so. Add yoghurt. Stir then add the meatballs.

4. Pick a few of the coriander leaves to serve and reserve them. Chop the remaining coriander leaves and stems and add to the pot.

5. Bring the meatballs to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until just cooked through.

6. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper. Serve meatballs and sauce on a bed of cauli ‘rice’ or steamed rice with the reserved coriander leaves on top.

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Variations

extra flavour – drizzle over a curry oil to serve (to make the oil warm 2 teaspoons curry powder and 1 chopped green chilli in 1/4 cup olive oil in a small saucepan until hot to touch).

curry leaves – if you have access to fresh curry leaves, add a handful to simmer in the sauce.

dairy-free – replace yoghurt with coconut milk.

vegetarian / vegan – replace meat with canned or home cooked chickpeas. You’ll need about 450g (1lb) cooked chickpeas. OR try these lentil balls.

paleo – replace yoghurt with coconut milk and serve with the cauli ‘rice’ (raw grated cauliflower).

different meat – feel free to use chicken, turkey or even pork mince.

different herbs / spices – you could use mint instead of coriander (cilantro) and your favourite curry powder if you don’t have any garam masala. Hot heads might like to add some chilli.

Big love,
Jules x

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Irresistable Mashy Peas

I hate peas.

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

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

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

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

And turned me into a pea fan.

Never. Say. Never…

3 Steps to Learning to Love Any Veg

1. Find the right way to prepare them.
I’m convinced that 90% of our food dislikes come from never having the particular ingredient prepared in a way that best suits it (and us). So if you don’t like boiled peas, maybe my Irresistible Mushy Peas (below) will do the trick like it did for me.

This isn’t fool proof. I keep ordering tripe in fancy restaurants where you’d think they’d make it taste amazing. Still yet to find tripe I enjoy… but I’m working on it (at a very slow pace).

2. Keep trying.
I’ve read it can take 8-10 exposures to new flavours before we ‘acquire’ the taste. So if something doesn’t work for you, just try again in a few weeks or months. And be prepared to try again. And again.

3. Be kind.
There are no prizes for loving all vegetables (as far as I know). So there’s no need to beat yourself (or any stubborn toddlers in your care) up if you can’t bring yourself (or them) to love [insert vegetable nemesis here].

As I’m only too aware, forcing yourself (or others) to eat vegetables you don’t enjoy tends to cause more harm than good.

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Irresistable Mashy Peas-2

Irresistible Mushy Peas


The first time I made these peas it was more something that I thought my Irishman would enjoy. But he wasn’t alone! I couldn’t get enough of this verdant green mash. So good.

Inspired by Sydney based chef, Colin Fassnidge from his brilliant book Four Kitchens.

enough for 2 as a side
takes: 20 minutes

1 small onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 bag baby spinach
250g (9oz) frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 teaspoon stock powder (optional)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1. Pop onion and butter in a medium saucepan and cook, covered on a medium heat until the onion is soft but not browned. It will take about 10 minutes and best to stir a few times.

2. When the onion is soft, add the baby spinach and peas and cook, stirring for the few minutes it takes for the spinach to just wilt and the peas to warm through.

3. Remove from the heat and puree to a rough mash using a stick blender (or transfer to your food processor).

4. Add stock powder (if using) and vinegar. Stir well. Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper.

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Variations

dairy-free / vegan – replace butter with olive oil.

less ingredients – skip the spinach and add extra peas.

no vinegar – use a splash of lemon juice instead.

less butter – by all means use less but I find butter makes most veg so much more tasty. Which means you’ll be more likely to eat more veg… surely more healthy than skimping on the butter!

fresh peas – by all means use freshly podded peas but they’re much more work and unless you’re growing your own, unlikely to taste better than frozen.

Video Version of the Recipe.

What about you?

Got any vegetable ‘pet peeves’? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below…

Big love,
Jules x

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Spiced Chickpeas with Cauli Mash-3

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

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

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

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

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

5 Stealthy Ways to Eat More Veg

1. Add an onion
There are few nicer smells than an onion sweating down with a generous dose of butter. Apart from adding beautiful flavour, they’re a great source of inulin, a type of fiber that’s brilliant for feeding the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut.

2. Use tomato puree or canned tomatoes
Tomato based sauces can be really comforting. If the acidity is a bit too much for you it’s easy to balance it out with a generous glug of olive oil or butter before serving.

3. Cauliflower mash.
Cauliflower is a wonderful veg to have up your sleeve because even though it looks all white and tastes fairly mild, it packs just as much of a nutritional punch as broccoli. One of my all time fave ‘comfort food’ ways to eat my cauli is pureed into a creamy mash. To be honest I prefer it to potato mash but I may just be the only one in my household who does!

4. Cauliflower ‘rice’ or ‘couscous’.
My other fave ways to use cauli. Cauliflower ‘rice’ is just raw cauliflower grated in the food processor. So easy and so good! For a healthier alternative to couscous see this recipe.

If the thought of using cauliflower straight up is too much for you, you can always substitute half / half with steamed rice or couscous.

5. Include legumes.
Chickpeas, lentils and dried beans all count as a serve of veg. Another reason I choose them over grains (which don’t count as a serve of veg, even whole grains).

What about you?

Got any stealthy ways to include vegetables in your cooking? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Spiced Chickpeas with Cauli Mash-2

Spiced Chickpeas with Cauli Mash

This is pure comfort food for me… A creamy rich mash with spicy chickpeas. But the best bit is there are 4 serves of vegetables! And you wouldn’t know it to taste.

If you’re not familiar with Baharat, don’t worry, I’ve got alternative spices listed in the variations below.

enough for: 2
takes: 30 minutes

1/2 medium cauliflower, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon baharat (see below for alternative spices)
1 can chickpeas (400g / 14oz), drained
4 tablespoons tomato paste

1. Bring 2cm (1in) water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add cauli and simmer covered for 10-15 minutes or until cauli is really tender. (Be careful not to let it dry out and burn – add more water as needed).

2. Meanwhile, melt half the butter in a small frying pan. Add onion and cook over a medium heat until soft but not browned, about 10 minutes.

3. When the onion is soft add the spice, chickpeas and tomato. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, taste and season with salt and pepper.

4. When the cauli is cooked, drain and return to the pan you cooked it in with the remaining butter. Puree with a stick blender or mash well with a fork.

5. Serve spiced chickpeas on a bed of cauli mash.

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Variations

different spice / no baharat – Baharat is a lebanese blend of 7 spices and a favourite of mine. The best substitute is to use equal parts ground cumin, ground coriander and smoked paprika. Or try curry powder or garam masala for a more Indian vibe. I also like to use the Moroccan spice blend, ras el hanout

carnivore / paleo – Replace chickpeas with ground (minced) beef of lamb. Brown well before adding the spice and tomato.

more veg – add a chopped carrot and celery stick to the onion. Serve with loads of fresh herbs such as mint, coriander (cilantro) or parsley. Add a handful of frozen peas with the chickpeas. Serve everything on a bed of baby spinach.

vegan / dairy-free – replace butter with olive oil or coconut oil.

different legumes – replace chickpeas with white beans, black beans or cooked lentils (you need about 250g / 9oz cooked legumes).

extra protein
– add a handful of cashews to simmer with the cauli.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. Is cooking at home something you wished you did more?

Then keep an eye out for the ‘Soupstones Dinner Challenge’ which will be coming in a few weeks.

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Turmeric Tea-2

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

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

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

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

Why is sugar so bad?

1. It gets stored as fat.
Regular table sugar (sucrose) is made from half fructose and half glucose. Most people in the ‘quitting’ sugar camp are focused on the negative effects of fructose. Basically the concern is that fructose can only be digested by a special pathway in the liver which stores the fructose directly as fat. Without giving us a chance to ‘burn’ it for energy first. Ouch.

2. It gets stored as fat.
Yes, repeating myself here! But you know the glucose that makes up the other half of table sugar? When it gets digested it goes into the blood stream and when the levels get high enough, insulin is released to help bring blood glucose (sugar) levels back to a safe range. Whenever insulin is around the glucose is getting stored as you guessed it… our old nemesis fat.

3. It feeds cancer cells.
I was really interested to learn last year that the only source of fuel that cancer cells use is glucose. Preliminary studies have shown that reducing the amount of glucose in the body reduces the incidence of cancer. For more on this see Potential Tactics for Defeating Cancer. It’s fascinating stuff.

So did I manage to quit sugar?

Actually no I didn’t make it through my month sugar-free.

There was one night when we had friends over. I’d asked them to bring dessert and was planning on sitting it out. But when the time came, it felt wrong to not at least taste the lovely apple pie. Which was delicious for the record.

It did surprise me because normally I’m happy to say no to the sweet treats in social settings.

But apart from that, I made it through the month.

How did it make me feel?

To be honest I didn’t really feel any different at the end of the month. But given my regular sugar intake it pretty minimal, I wasn’t surprised.

The only positive I did notice was that normally my weight does up after a weekend of sugary indulgence and returns to normal around Wednesday.

But during my sugar-free weeks I didn’t have any of these spikes.

What I learned

My experience confirmed my suspicion that sugar is a little like alcohol. Definitely not good for you in large quantities. And definitely good fun.

I also think that just as some (unlucky) people are prone to becoming alcoholics, there are some people who are more likely to suffer from sugar addiction.

And that just as there are people who can enjoy 1-2 glasses of wine a day in a healthy way, there are people who can treat sugar in a similar manner.

I feel like I’m not in the ‘sugar-holic’ class. Although wine is a whole other story for another day ;)

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Turmeric Tea

Turmeric Tea

Why turmeric? As I mentioned in my post about anti-cancer foods, turmeric is a super powerful anti-inflammatory and has been shown to decrease tumour growth in lab tests.

A hot cup of something spicy and slightly sweet is just the thing to ward off sugar cravings. Or when you feel like a treat that isn’t going to way you down and may actually do some good!

makes: enough for about 12 cups
takes: 5 minutes

4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons turmeric
2 tablespoons granulated stevia
1 tablespoon ground ginger (optional)
milk, to serve

1. Make the tea ‘mix’ by combining the cinnamon, turmeric, stevia and ginger (if using) in a jar or other airtight container. Keeps in the pantry for months.

2. To make your ‘tea’ place 1-2 teaspoons of the mix in a cup. Top with hot water and a splash of milk. Relax and enjoy!

Variations

dairy-free – use your favourite nut milk instead.

richer – instead of using boiling water use hot milk.

no stevia? – replace the stevia in the mix with sugar OR skip it and serve the tea with 1-2 teaspoons of honey stirred though after adding the milk.

fresh or dried stevia – skip the granulated stevia and add a few leaves to your cup when making the tea.

What about you?

Is sugar something you struggle with? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Big love,
Jules x

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Super Easy Baked Salmon

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

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

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

No fun for anyone.

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

I wish I could say we’re a family of pescetarians. But while Fergal and I would be happy to have fish every day, another member of the family still has a long way to go.

I have, however, noticed one thing that increases the likelihood of getting a favourable fish dinner review from my Irishman.

It’s simple really.

Just serve the fish with potatoes. The old spud ‘trick’. Works (almost) every time.

So today I have the recipe for one of my favourite super easy ways to cook fish (and spuds).

Enjoy!

Super Easy Baked Salmon-2

Easy Tray Baked Salmon with Spuds

This recipe was inspired by Jamie Oliver. I used to think something like this would be a bit dry but I’ve found the solution! Serve with home made mayo AND make sure you include a lemon which will release the most delicious juices after it’s cooked.

enough for: 2
takes: about 40 minutes

2-4 medium spuds, scrubbed
2 bulbs fennel, + tops to serve
2 salmon fillets
1 lemon, halved
mayo, to serve

1. Chop spuds into big bite sized chunks and pop in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil.

2. Simmer spuds for 15-20 minutes or until just tender.

3. Meanwhile, crank your oven to 230C (450F). Trim and discard fennel stalks (keeping any leafy fronds). Slice fennel bulb finely and place in a roasting pan with the lemon. Cut 3 shallow ‘score’ lines on the skin side of the salmon so they look pretty and help to cook more quickly.

4. When the spuds are cooked, drain and toss in with the fennel. Drizzle with olive oil and top with the salmon. Season generously.

5. Bake for 10 minutes or until fish is just cooked through. Serve fish and veg with mayo on top and fennel fronds sprinkled over (if you have them).

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Variations

short on time / slow carb – replace spuds with a drained can of chickpeas or white beans. No need to simmer, just pop them in the baking tray with the fennel.

different veg – green beans, asparagus, capsicum (re bell peppers), snow peas, or chopped zucchini can be added straight to the pan like the fennel. Other veg will need simmering or roasting first until tender like baby carrots, beets, sweet potato, pumpkin, parsnip or swede (rutabaga).

different fish – any fish fillets can be used but if they are quite thin be prepared to adjust the cooking time. At this temp some delicate fish will only take 5 minutes. You could also cook a whole fish like plate sized snapper or rainbow trout this way (adjust the cooking time upward – around 15-20 minutes).

carnivore – replace fish with chopped chorizo, sausage or chicken thigh fillets (sausages and chicken will need a little longer, around 15 minutes)

egg-free – you could skip the mayo or use a vegan (egg-free) mayo or serve with a drizzle of lemon pressed olive oil.

more veg – serve with a green salad or lots of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (also see the different veg for more ideas).

vegetarian – replace fish with poached or fried eggs.

hot! – add in some chopped fresh chilli with the fennel.

Video Version of the recipe

Big love,
Jules x

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Blueberry Yoghurt Cake-2

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

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

The timing is great because on Sunday Fergal turned two!

I know.

So we’ll get to have a party with his Granny and Grandad. And his twin Irish cousins who are a month older.

To celebrate I have a special new cake recipe for you. It’s something Fergal and I have been working on during our Sunday Baking Sessions. Easily one of our favourites.

Enjoy!
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Blueberry Yoghurt Cake-2

Blueberry Yoghurt Cake

This is my gluten-free version of the classic French yoghurt cake that I discovered in Pamela Druckerman’s brilliant little book ‘French Children Don’t Throw Food’. It’s one of Fergal and my go-to cakes for our Sunday Baking Sessions. The yoghurt makes it super moist but also surprisingly light.


serves: 6-8
takes: 50 minutes

250g (9oz) almond meal
50g (2oz) sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
250g (9oz) natural yoghurt
2 eggs
50g coconut oil or other neutral flavoured oil, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 handfuls blueberries (frozen are fine)

1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and grease and line a 20cm (8in) cake tin with baking paper.

2. Mix almond meal, sugar and baking powder in a medium bowl. Make a hole in the middle and add the yoghurt, eggs, oil and vanilla. Mix to combine but don’t stress if you end up with a few lumps.

3. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Scatter over the blueberries and bake for 40 minutes or until the cake it golden brown and feels springy. And a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

4. Cool in the tin before serving.

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Variations

budget / nut-free – replace almond meal with plain (all purpose) flour.

choc-hazelnut – replace half the almond meal with hazelnut meal and replace blueberries with chopped chunks of chocolate.

different fruit – feel free to use your imagination! Raspberries are lovely.

diary-free – use coconut yoghurt or coconut cream instead of the yoghurt.

vegan – use the dairy-free option and try replacing the eggs with large mashed banana (I haven’t tried this so let me know if it works!)

sugar-free – replace the sugar with a granular stevia or your favourite sugar substitute.

Big love,
Jules x

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Spiced Cauli 'Couscous'-3

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

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

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

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

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

First, I pulsed some cauliflower in the food processor until it was broken down into couscous sized grains.

Then I did the most important thing for making practically anything taste more delicious… I added lots of butter to the pan before warming my cauli ‘couscous’.

To give it better colour and some extra flavour, I added some spice and plenty of salt and pepper.

And the result?

When we sat down to dinner my Irishman asked, ‘is this couscous?’ So it definitely looked the part.

It tasted great. Buttery and comforting like a good couscous should with the added bonus of a bit of spice. So good!

And even better I felt great after eating it. No ‘couscous bloating’… so now I love my cauli couscous and it loves me.

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Spiced Cauli 'Couscous'-2

Spiced Cauliflower ‘Couscous’

Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend of over 20 spices so it’s got a lot going on. You’ll need to get it from your favourite spice merchant but if you prefer to keep it simple just use a 50:50 blend of ground cumin and ground coriander. Serve as a side anywhere you’d normally serve couscous or rice or see below for ideas to turn it into a whole meal.

enough for: 2 as a side
takes: 15 minutes

1/2 small cauliflower
3-4 tablespoons butter
1-2 teaspoons Ras El hanout
1 bunch coriander – leaves picked (optional)
handful pinenuts (optional)

1. Whizz the cauli in your food processor until it looks like little grains of couscous.

2. Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add cauli and the spices and stir fry over a medium high heat until everything is warm.

3. Taste and season with lots of salt and pepper. Serve with coriander leaves and pinenuts on top (if using).

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Variations

no food processor? – you could try hand cutting or grating with a box grater but it will take a while!

no ras el hanout – use a 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin and coriander OR substitute the Lebanese spice blend baharat if you have it.

more complete meal
– serve with pan fried or BBQ chicken or fish. Or for a veggie meal top with poached or fried eggs or a drained can of chickpeas.

nut-free – just skip the pinenuts or replace with a little chopped red onion for crunch.

carb-lovers – replace some or all of the cauliflower with couscous or quinoa cooked according to the packet.

different herbs – mint, basil, chervil, sorrell or flat leaf parsley are all great.

more veg – soften an onion in the butter before adding the cauli. And stir in chopped red bell peppers (capsicum) or halved cherry tomatoes with the herbs.

What about you?

Got any foods that don’t ‘love you back’ that you’d like to find an alternative for? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Big love,
Jules x

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Bean Soup-3

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

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

Maybe I should have a project to cook them all?

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

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

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

I’ve written about the detailed lessons for each meal so far in my individual meal posts which can all be found over here.

And the biggest lesson so far?

Trust. The. Recipe.

There have been so many times I’ve had my doubts about one of David’s meals and they’ve ended up being delicious. Or better yet, my Irishman and I have been completely blown away (in a good way).

Here’s the thing…

As a person who writes recipes for a living myself, I know how much care and thought goes into a recipe. I don’t write about a particular dish unless I know it tastes really delicious. To do otherwise would be pretty short sighted right? I mean who wants to follow someone who writes terrible recipes.

So the Jules & David Project has taught me something I would never have anticipated… Just because you think a recipe won’t taste that great doesn’t mean you’ll be right.

I’m looking forward to more ‘surprises’ in the next 6 months!

____________

Bean Soup-2

Davids Bean Soup

The first time I made this soup I posted a photo on Instagram and immediately got requests for the recipe. Always a good sign. And I’m happy to report it lives up to expectations!

I prefer to soak my beans because I find them less ‘gass-inducing’ but if you’re short on time you can skip it… David does.

enough for: 4
takes: 2-3 hours plus soaking beans

500g (1lb) dried white beans
1 ham hock or large piece spec or bacon
4 onions, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Place beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Soak beans for 8 hours or as long as you’ve got.

2. Place hocks or bacon and onion in a large soup pot. Add 8 cups water and bring to the boil. Simmer for one hour.

3. Drain the soaked beans and add to the pot. Simmer for another 1-2 hours or until beans cooked and the ham is falling off the bone.

4. Allow soup to cool then shred the meat from the hock and return it to the soup, discarding the bones. Taste and season well. Either refrigerate or bring back to a simmer.

5. When you’re ready to serve, make the rosemary oil by placing the rosemary and oil in a small saucepan on a medium heat. When it starts to sizzle, remove from the heat.

6. Serve hot soup with rosemary oil drizzled over.

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Variations

no soaking time – just add the dried beans to the pot at the beginning with the ham and an extra cup of water.

vegetarian – skip the ham hock and use vegetable stock instead of the water.

more veg – add chopped carrot, celery, sweet potato, potato, tomato and/or parsnip with the onion. Before serving stir through finely sliced kale, spinach or other greens.

rosemary oil alternatives – replace rosemary with sage leaves, thyme or 2 tablespoons chopped dried or fresh chilli.

different legumes – replace beans with lentils (no soaking), split peas (no soaking), chickpeas (soak) or other
dried beans (soak).

What about you?

Got a project or quest you’re working on? I’d love to hear how you’re finding it in the comments below.

Big love,
Jules x

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Bean Soup-3

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

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

Great concept. Isn’t it?

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

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

I use it pretty much every week.

Whether it’s prepping a big bowl of grated rainbow veg like I wrote about recently, or cooking up a pot of versatile lentils, or roasting a batch of butternut squash, or just boiling up some quinoa. There’s usually something prepped in the fridge.

It really makes my life so much easier.

Basically there are 2 key benefits:

1. Save time

Having ingredients prepped so they’re almost ready to eat is a huge time saver. It means I can literally pull together a healthy AND delicious meal in a few minutes.

2. Waste less
There are two parts to this. First, if I have my veg prepped and ready to eat I’m far more likely to use them before they go bad.

There’s also the bonus that prepping can actually increase the shelf life of an ingredient. For example a lovely bunch of kale will usually start getting yellowy leaves after a week in the fridge, but if the kale has been cooked down with a little garlic, it will happily sit there for weeks.

And the best bit?

I don’t necessarily spend hours of my precious weekend getting all this done.

More often it’s on a Sunday or Monday night while I’m cooking something else for dinner (ie. already in the kitchen).

And you know what else?

It stops you being bored because you can use the building blocks in different ways so you’re not sitting down to the same old meal night after night.

Love it!

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Quick Chickpea Curry-2

Quick Chickpea Curry

For years I used to think that a curry had to have more than just curry powder added to make it taste delicious. But then I realised the whole point of curry powder is that someone else has done the blending for you. All the complexity you need is in that little jar or tin. Such a great discovery!

Enough for: 2-3
Takes: 20 minutes

2 red onions, sliced in half moons
3-4 teaspoons curry powder
1 can tomatoes (400g / 14oz)
400g (14oz) cooked chickpeas (or 2 cans)
1 bag baby spinach

1. Heat a little olive oil in a medium saucepan on a medium heat. Add onions, cover and cook until the onion is soft but not browned. Stir every now and then. Will take about 10 minutes.

2. Add curry powder and cook for about 30 seconds then add the tomatoes and chickpeas. Simmer covered for 5-10 minutes or until everything is piping hot.

3. Taste and season with salt, pepper and extra curry powder if needed. Serve on a bed of baby spinach.

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Variations

short on time – skip the onion and serve with chopped chives instead.

carb lovers – serve with steamed rice.

more veg – add chopped veg with the tomatoes such as zucchini, red bell peppers (capsicum), eggplant or mushrooms. Simmer until all veg are cooked. Or serve with cauliflower ‘rice’ (grated raw cauliflower).

extra flavour – add come chopped ginger and garlic with the onion.

Big love,
Jules x

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Bean Soup-3

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

I learned some big lessons that year.

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

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

And the texture. Always of mush.

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

But recently I’ve had a change of heart.

Especially with my broccoli.

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

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

But here’s the thing…

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

Moral to this tale?

Try cooking your broccoli a little longer. You might be surprised how delicious and interesting good old ‘broc’ can be…

Super Tender Broccoli-3

Super Tender Broccoli

I love this broccoli with a poached egg and some home made mayo for breakkie. But lately, I’ve found myself doubling up for more super tender ‘broc’ with sardines or tuna and lashings of lemon juice for lunch or a simple supper.

enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes

1 bunch broccoli, chopped
2-4 eggs
3 tablespoons white vinegar  
mayo to serve

1. Place a medium saucepan on a medium high heat. Add a drizzle of oil, the chopped broccoli and a big splash of water.

2. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes and adding more water if it starts to burn.

3. Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to the boil for the eggs. Add vinegar then break in your eggs. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and allow the eggs to gently bubble for about 3 minutes or until they feel soft and pillowy to your finger. (I set a timer otherwise I forget them!)

4. When the broccoli is no longer crunchy, season generously with sea salt and pepper.

5. To serve, divide broccoli between two plates and top with poached eggs and mayo.

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Variations

vegan – skip the eggs and serve broccoli with a big dollop of hummus.

different protein – i love sardines, tuna or salmon instead of the egg. Its also lovely with shaved parmesan or a sharp goats cheese. Great with grilled steaks or pork chops.

side dish – skip the egg and mayo and serve broccoli with a splash of lemon juice anywhere you’d normally serve a green salad.

different veg – try asparagus, kale, cabbage, chard (silverbeet), spinach or broccolini.

Video version of the recipe

What about you?

Got a fave way of cooking broccoli? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below…

Big love,
Jules x

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To enter, just take a minute for my survey over here. And don’t forget to include your email address so I can contact you if you’re the lucky winner!

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Bean Soup-3

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

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

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

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

And promptly forget about it.

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

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

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

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

And you know what?

The next day I used my bok choy with some canned tuna in a quick salad for lunch. It was delicious, fresh and crunchy. A happy end to the story.

So what is the secret to using that ingredient you’ve been procrastinating about?

There are two basic steps…

1. Prep your ingredient
This can be as simple as washing and chopping a bunch of bok choy. Or more complicated like soaking and cooking a pot of beans. The key is to get your ingredient to a state where it’s ready to be used with minimal effort.

Chefs call this ‘mise en place’. It’s critical for enabling a restaurant to get your meal on the table ASAP.

Of course, this chef ‘trick’ is something that we home cooks can really benefit from as well. Especially when we come home from a long hard day and need to get something delicious and nutritious on the table right when we have no energy left.

2. Make it visible
You can’t ‘decide’ to use an ingredient if you’re not thinking about it. And if you’re anything like me, your probably not going to remember its there unless it’s staring you in the face.

It’s a simple idea but I can’t tell you how much it’s helped me avoid waste!

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Rainbow Veg

Rainbow Veg

This is really more of an idea than an actual recipe. The possibilities are endless not only for the types of veg you use but how you incorporate them into your cooking. This is without a doubt the number one habit I’ve developed which has helped me eat more veg across all my meals, especially breakfast and lunch.

enough for: 2
takes: 10 minutes

1 carrot, peeled
1 beetroot, scrubbed and peeled
1/4 cauliflower

1. Grate veg using your food processor or a box grater. Toss together. 

2. Use as per one of the suggestions below or store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Usage Suggestions

breakfast – serve with poached egg or two and a good dollop of homemade mayo (one of my all time favourite breakkies).

side salad – toss in a little lemon juice and olive oil and season generously. Lovely with BBQ or pan fried fish or chicken.

quick n’ easy lunch – toss in a drained can of tuna, salmon or sardines and serve with lashings of lemon juice.

another lunch salad – make a quick dressing of 1 part vinegar and 2 parts olive oil. Toss in the grated veg and crumble over some marinated or regular feta. Finish with toasted almonds, hazelnuts or pine nuts.

rice / couscous alternative – serve grated raw veg as an alternative to steamed rice or couscous. I just serve my hot curry or Tajine on a bed of the cold raw veg and enjoy the temperature and textural contrast.

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Variations

different veg – also good with broccoli but for some reason grated broccoli goes slimy after a couple of days so I only make enough to eat in the next 24hours if I’m using broc. Zucchini or other summer squash are brilliant as is fennel. 

don’t grate – asparagus unless you want asparagus soup!

hand chopped veg – great with capsicum (bell peppers), snow peas, sugarsnap peas, green beans, bok choy, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, asparagus.

herby – toss in fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, mint or coriander (cilantro).

Big love,
Jules x

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Fish & Fennel

A few months ago I was really excited about discovering frozen edamame (soy beans) in my local supermarket. So I wrote a blog post about my new love.

As you do.

What really surprised me was the amount of people leaving comments and emails warning that edamame were soy beans which are GM. Something I hadn’t even thought of.

Anyway after doing some investigation, (aka reading the label!) I realised my edamame were from China. So probably were GM. So I decided to stop buying them and made a mental note to write a followup blog post about my thoughts on genetic modification of food…

So here we are!

My Experience with GM Foods

Back when I was studying Food Science in the 90s, ‘Biotechnology’ was a relatively new field. I found it fascinating and elected to take a subject on Food Biotechnology in my final year of university.

So what did I learn?

Firstly that there’s potential for genetic modification to be helpful.

For example, enabling bacteria to produce the ‘rennet’ required for some cheese making rather than getting it from the traditional source of calves stomachs.

But there was also a lot of potential for harm.

To my mind there are 3 main aspects to this…

1. The Testing.
When we go inserting genetic material from one species into another, we’re doing something that cannot happen in nature. The effects can be difficult to predict.

So rigorous testing is really critical to ensuring no unwanted side effects. Which is relatively easy in a tank of bacteria but more difficult when we’re talking about releasing or even trialling GM crops out in nature.

2. The Politics.
The best way to explain this is with an example. Lets look at the humble soy bean.

The genetic manipulation with soy was to make soybeans resistant to a particular herbicide, namely Round-Up.

The ‘benefit’ here is that weeds can easily be controlled in a soy crop by spraying with said herbicide.

Then farmers have to buy their seeds from the same company that sells them the Round-Up.

And they can’t ‘save’ the seeds to use for next years crop. They must buy fresh seeds (and herbicide) every year from the one company and no one else. Sounds like a brilliant marketing strategy to me.

3. Biodiversity.
If everyone is growing genetically identical crops, regardless of whether they’re genetically modified or not, all our proverbial eggs are in the one basket.

Seems a risky move to me.

So Am I Afraid of GM Foods?

Afraid? No. Wary? yes. Pro-labelling? Absolutely.

And do I personally choose to eat GM foods? Yes and No. It depends.

I’m happy to eat parmesan made with GM rennet but ‘Round-Up-Ready Soybeans?’ No thank you Monsanto. I’d rather have frozen Australian broad beans.

What About You?

How do you feel about GM foods?
I’d love to hear in the comments below.

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Fish & Fennel

Double Fennel Fish

I have a goal to eat fish at least once a week for dinner this year. And while my Irishman is still pretty fish-phobic, I’ve really been enjoying the change. This ‘double fennel’ dish with fennel seeds as a crust and then fresh fennel as a salad has been one of my favourites this year. I should mention the idea to grind fennel seeds and use them on fish came from a David Tanis recipe I made for the Jules & David Project.

enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes

2 teaspoons fennel seeds
450g (1lb) fish fillets
2 tablespoons lemon juice + 1 lemon, halved
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves picked

1. Grind fennel seeds with a spice or coffee grinder. Or bash with a mortar and pestle. Rub fish with a little oil on both sides and sprinkle over ground fennel and lots of sea salt and pepper.

2. Heat a frying pan large enough to hold the fish in a single layer on a medium high heat. Cook fish for 3-4 minutes on each side or until just cooked through and golden on the outsides.

3. While the fish is cooking combine 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a salad bowl with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Season.

4. Trim and discard fennel stalks then finely slice the bulbs using a mandoline or sharp knife. Toss sliced fennel and parsley leaves in the dressing.

5. Serve fish hot with the fennel salad and half a lemon on the side.

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Variations

carnivore – replace fish with pork chops or chicken thigh fillets and adjust the cooking time as needed.

vegetarian – serve fennel salad with marinated feta and roast almonds.

vegan – toss cooked chickpeas or lentils in with the salad and serve with a tahini sauce drizzled over (2 tablespoons each tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and water).

more veg – toss any crunchy salad veg in such as red capsicum (bell peppers), grated carrot, grated beets, sliced snow peas.

carb lovers / more substantial – toss torn rustic sourdough in with the salad or serve with roast or pan fried potatoes or home made fries.

no fennel seeds – just skip it or try coriander or cumin seeds instead. Or serve cooked fish with sumac sprinkled over.

no fennel – my fave alternative is white cabbage or Brussels sprouts but you could use finely sliced snow peas or shaved zucchini.

And if you’re following the Jules & David Project, the latest installment is called menu fifteen: THE BEAN SOUP LUNCH

Big love,
Jules x

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