Tag Archives: detox

Japanese Pumpkin and Azuki Bean Soup

29 Dec

Feeling a little bit nasty after over-indulging over Christmas? You need a bowl of nutritious soup that makes you feel all virtuous and healthy inside.

Kabocha squash (or Japanese pumpkin) has dark green skin with lighter stripes. Inside, the flesh is a bright yellowy orange colour and it has a natural sweetness that makes it delicious as well as nutritious. I saw this one growing in the fields where we walk the dog but have been unable to find them to buy here. Apparently they are readily available in Australia, New Zealand & the US as well as in Japan obviously.

Azuki beans (or adzuki beans) are small, reddish-brown beans with a white ridge along one edge. Cooked, they have a sweet, nutty flavor. They originated in China but are also popular in Japan. Here are the nutritional benefits of eating these amazing little beans. Taken from Natural Health Articles Continue reading

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Sweet Potato and Lentil Dhal

18 Dec

So here it is, as promised, the recipe for my Sweet Potato Dhal that makes the perfect accompaniment to the crunchy Spiced Red Cabbage that I posted yesterday.

This is actually a combination of two of the very first recipes that I posted on this blog about a year ago, Sweet Potato Curry  and Indian Dhal Soup with Potato Stuffed Parathas. I love both of these dishes so much that I couldn’t choose which one to cook which is why I decided to combine them. Continue reading

Indian Spiced Smashed Pumpkin

7 Oct

I’ve found a new blog that I love, it’s called Veg Recipes Of India. There are so many things that I want to make I didn’t know where to start. The first recipe that captured my soul, and my stomach though, was this one. It’s real name is Kaddu Sabzi but I couldn’t resist The Smashing Pumpkins reference.

Continue reading

Green Bean, Lentil and Potato Curry with Green Chilli and Mint

23 Sep

Watching these green beans growing in the fields where I walk the dog made me think about using them in a dish as the main ingredient. We eat quite a lot of green beans but always as a side vegetable. I wanted to give them the chance to be the star.

I found a Madhur Jaffrey recipe for Green Lentils with Green Beans & Fresh Coriander in another magazine clipping The Washer Up’s dad, Jim had sent to me. I used that as a base to work from and added a lot more spices and some of my homegrown green chillis.

I had some new potatoes in my fridge so I added those and I used mint instead of coriander because that was what I had. The mint works really well with the beans and the potatoes and gives the whole dish a lovely freshness as well as being a cool partner to the fiery chilli.

This is surprisingly delicious, by that I mean that humble everyday ingredients can be brought together with a bit of spice and chilli heat to create something really special. And you don’t need to serve anything with it, so less washing up!

Green Bean Lentil & Potato Curry with Green Chilli & Mint

Serves 3-4 vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Curry Easy by Madhur Jaffrey

  • 250 gr green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
  • 200 gr dried lentils
  • 750 ml water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 425 gr new potatoes, quartered
  • 1 tsp Punchpooran (An Indian whole spice mix that includes: cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, black mustard seeds and onion seeds) Available from East End Foods.
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, then crushed in a mortar & pestle
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves, garlic
  • 2 green chillis, finely chopped (deseeded if you like it milder)
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 500 ml veg stock (maybe more)
  • 1 tin (400 gr) chopped tomatoes
  • salt & black pepper
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves, (about 15) finely chopped plus some sprigs for garnish

Put the lentils and water in a medium pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered for about 20 minutes until the lentils are nearly cooked and most of the water has been absorbed. Then season with salt & black pepper.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large pan that has a lid over a medium heat. Add the punchpooran, cumin, mustard and crushed coriander seeds and cook until they start to pop. Add the onion cook for about 5 minutes until softened then add the garlic, ginger, chillies and cook for 2 minutes more.

Add in the quartered potatoes, turmeric and garam masala and season well with salt & pepper. Stir to coat the potatoes in the spices then add the stock and tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Next add in the beans and cook for another 5 minutes with the lid on (If it is dry you may want to add some more stock). Then add in the cooked lentils and cook for a further 5 minutes. By this time the potatoes should be cooked, if not add a bit more stock and give them another 5 minutes.

Squeeze over the lemon and stir in the chopped mint. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Serve in warmed bowls garnished with the mint sprigs.

This is actually really good served cold/room temperature as a salad for lunch the next day too.

Have a great weekend…

Ezogelin- Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Mint and Sumac

11 May

I had to make this soup when I read the story behind it. It sounds like an ancient myth but is actually from the 20th century. I love a tragic love story that includes a recipe don’t you?……

Ezo-gelin translates as Ezo The Bride. The origin of this soup is attributed to an exceptionally beautiful woman named Ezo, who lived in the village of Dokuzyol near Gaziantep in the early 20th century. Legend has it that Ezo, with her rosy cheeks and black hair, was admired by travellers along the caravan route who stopped to rest in her village. Many men longed for her hand in marriage and Ezo’s family hoped to secure a worthy match for their daughter.

Unfortunately, Ezo the bride, didn’t have much luck when it came to finding marital bliss. Her first husband was in love with another woman and she divorced him on grounds of maltreatment. Her second marriage took her to Syria where she became homesick for her village and had to deal with a difficult mother-in-law who couldn’t be pleased. It is for her, the story goes, that Ezo created this soup. After bearing 9 children, poor Ezo died of tuberculosis in the 1950s and has since become a Turkish legend, depicted in popular films and lamented in folksongs. Her name lives on in this popular soup, which is now traditionally fed to brides to sustain them for the uncertain future that lies ahead.

It kind of reminds me of Princess Diana’s story with the husband in love with another woman and the very difficult mother-in-law. Maybe they should have fed it to Kate before her wedding to William!!

I love the idea of a tradition where the modern brides in Turkey are fed a soup with a story to prepare them for their married life ahead. It’s in stark contrast to the custom in the UK where the bride dresses up as a tart in a veil with  L plates stuck to her drinking as many shots of Tequila as possible while watching a slimy male stripper with a can of squirty cream. Give me the soup any day…..

The original soup contains bulgur wheat which I have replaced with quinoa to keep it gluten-free. Sumac is a crushed dried berry used in Middle Eastern cooking. It is sold in powdered flakes and has a smokey, spicy, lemony flavour. See picture below. If you don’t have any leave it out, just make sure you have the lemon wedges to squeeze over and fresh mint for the top.

Ezogelin Corbasi- Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Mint & Sumac

serves 4-6, vegan, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  •  1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp tomate frito (tomato paste)
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1  tbsp dried mint
  • 150 gr (1 cup) dried lentils, red lentils if possible
  • 50 gr (1/4 cup) wholegrain rice
  • 50 gr (1/4 cup) quinoa or bulgur wheat
  • about 1 1/2 litres veg stock (or a mix of water & stock)
  • 1 tbsp sumac (optional)
  • salt & black pepper
  •  fresh mint leaves, chopped for garnish
  • sumac for garnish (optional)
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over a medium heat. Cook the onions, carrots & celery with a pinch of salt for 4 or 5 minutes until softened and lightly golden. Then add the garlic, cumin seeds, paprika, chilli flakes, cayenne, tomato & tomato paste and cook for a further 5 minutes

Add in the lentils, rice & quinoa (or bulgur wheat) and stir to coat in the tomatoey spices. Add the veg stock/water, season well with salt & black pepper, add the dried mint and bring to the boil.  Turn the heat down, cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes everything is tender.

If you like you can remove a ladleful of the soup and blend it until smooth, then add it back into the soup. This gives it a smoother thicker consistency. Add the sumac, taste for seasoning, add more salt or mint if necessary. Bring back to the boil.

Serve in warm bowls sprinkled with chopped fresh mint leaves, a little sumac and some lemon wedges to squeeze over.

I would think this soup could be a good hangover cure for the bride recovering from a few too may tequilas as well.  Just remember poor Ezo….

Lentil and Spinach Dhal with Cashews and Coriander

9 Apr

This is my kind of comfort food.  All the flavour of a take away curry with none of the fat. It is easy, quick to cook (after the chopping) and really delicious. You could serve it with some whole grain rice if you like or poppadoms but on its own is just fine and filling enough. The soft spicy lentils with the irony richness of the spinach are topped off with toasted crunchy cashews, fragrant coriander and all the flavours are brightened by the zingy lime juice.

Lentil & Spinach Dhal with Cashews & Coriander

serves 3, vegan, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  •  1/2 tsp panch pooran (an Indian whole spice mix) use fennel seeds if you can’t get any
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • about 250 ml veg stock
  • a 400 gr jar/ tin cooked lentils, rinsed
  • a tin of chopped tomatoes 400 gr
  • about 150 gr fresh spinach leaves (about half a bag)
  • 125 gr cashew nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • 1 tbsp lime juice (about 1/2 a lime) and some wedges to serve
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped and leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and panch pooran/fennel seeds until they start to pop. Then stir in the onions, celery, carrot, a big pinch of salt & grinding of black pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes until softened but not browned then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for another minute being careful not to burn the garlic. Add in the ground spices and a splash of stock if it seems dry and cook for another minute.

Tip in the lentils, tomatoes, veg stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes then add the spinach, put the lid on and cook for another few minutes until the spinach has just wilted.  Season with salt, stir through the chopped coriander and lime juice and taste for seasoning.

Serve in warmed bowls sprinkled with a handful of toasted cashew nuts and coriander leaves with some extra lime wedges on the side.

 From the lentils you get an excellent balance of protein and complex carbohydrate as well as iron, B vitamins and soluble fibre that provides sustained energy and balance blood sugar levels. The carrots & spinach are super rich in beta carotene, which helps to protect the body from cancer and benefits the skin. The spinach also provides lots of vitamin C, folate and iron. Tinned tomatoes contain lycopene, another powerful anticancer nutrient and the cashew nuts supply protein, zinc & fibre.

I really didn’t know it was this easy to eat more healthily. I thought it would be a lot more difficult to give up cheese but I really don’t miss it and, as I said yesterday, I am not hungry, which is amazing if you know me. I am always hungry!! If you are not interested in the health benefits just ignore the paragraph above and enjoy the food. I just think it’s surprising/interesting how many good nutrients you can get from food and how good it tastes. And I haven’t even started on the health benefits of turmeric yet…..

Buen fin de semana!!

Green Bean Pilaf with Toasted Almonds, Pine Nuts and Raisins

8 Apr

I’ve decided to go on a detox diet for a month to see if I can lose some weight. It means no meat (obviously), eggs, dairy, wheat, sugar or alcohol for a month. My friend has lent me a Carol Vorderman detox book that has some good recipes in it that I am using as a base to work from. They are all quite basic in the flavour department so I will be amping up the spices to make sure every dish is delicious and full of flavour as well as healthy. I don’t want it to feel like I am on a diet or that I am being deprived and I definitely don’t want the food to be boring in any way.

I started about a week ago and I am definitely noticing a difference. I feel less bloated, lighter and less hungry, which is surprising. This is my breakfast smoothie that I am having every day. It is one or two crushed ice cubes blended with 1 banana, 5 or 6 strawberries, a big slice of pineapple, the juice of half an orange and a handful of oats. It is a lovely way to start the day and keeps me full until lunchtime which is great because I walk/jog 4.5km every morning with the dog.

This was my first vegan gluten-free meal, as you can see there is a little bit of crumbled Feta on the top, but that was the last of it I promise… Well I’m not promising anything really. That’s too much pressure and there is an amazing vegetarian “Scotch Egg” & piccalilli recipe that I am desperate to try. The only thing I am promising is that there will never be a boring, tasteless, bland recipe on this blog so don’t worry. I have plenty of exciting South American, South East Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian recipes up my sleeve that you wouldn’t even know were detox, so here we go…

Green Bean Pilaf with Almonds, Pine Nuts & Raisins

serves 4, vegan & gluten-free without the Feta. Adapted from Carol Vorderman’s Detox Recipes

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced in half lengthways, rinsed & finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 300 gr wholegrain (brown) rice
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 225 gr green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 30 gr pine nuts
  • 30 gr flaked almonds
  • 50 gr raisins (I used moscatel they are bigger & juicier)
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped plus leaves for garnish
  • a handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • greek feta (optional)

Toast the pine nuts and almonds in a dry frying pan, shaking occasionally until browned. Don’t take your eyes off of them or they will burn. Set aside to cool.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, leeks and a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes until softened but not browned then add in the garlic and cook for a minute more.

Add the coriander, cumin and rice and cook, stirring for a minute until the grains are glossy. Add the veg stock and the raisins and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the liquid is almost absorbed and the rice is nearly cooked. Add the green beans, salt, pepper,stir, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes until the beans and rice are cooked. Stir through the chopped herbs, taste and serve sprinkled with the toasted almonds, pine nuts, a few parsley leaves and some crumbled feta (if using).

Wholegrain rice provides fibre, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and iron that white rice does not. Leeks and onions are rich in allyl sulphides which are protective against heart disease and cancer as well as providing folate and vitamin C. Pine nuts & almonds provide protein & calcium and are super-rich in heart healthy vitamin E and monounsaturated oils.

All that and it tastes great too, enjoy!!

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