Gorging on Winter Side-Dishes

I’ve eaten a lot this evening. It’s been a binge day. But thanks to my rule of not buying any bread/potatoes/sweets/crisps for my own flat, the worst I could binge on was buttered rice cakes… and I certainly did that, after my celery dipped in salsa, oatcakes dipped in pesto and corn thins dipped in almond butter. However, the most delicious thing I ate were these wonderful bowls of vegetables, otherwise known as the “winter side-dishes” (even though they played the role of protagonist in my mealtimes today).

Firstly the spinach:




I got the idea for this from my favourite food porn website. Firstly I fried a small handful of pine-nuts and a small handful of raisins in about a teaspoon of coconut oil. Then I steamed a whole 240g bag of spinach, drained it, chopped it up and added it to the pan. All the ingredients were sizzled around a little, salt and pepper was added, and voila. Delicious and nutritious.


The second dish was the hot mushroom and carrot dish:

ImageA large carrot was grated, and a box of mushroom were sliced. An onion was fried in a small dash of olive oil, and a chopped chilli pepper was added. Then the mushroom and carrot was added, along with a handful of cranberries (keeping it festive, and adding a bit of tang to the dish). A dash of worcester sauce and a slop of teriaki sauce joined the party, and finally a generous teaspoon of paprika was thrown on top. The bowl was garnished with some chopped coriander, and I was ready to go.



Festive Cosy Health

Whenever December hits I get incredibly excited. I know a lot of people get excited by Christmas, but I am particularly strict about festivities not seeping into November or, god forbid, October. So when December 1st hits, I go at christmas full throttle. Everything must have a christmasy twist to it, and appropriate music should be continually playing in the background. Right now, Frank Sinatra is singing “I’ll be home for christmas” to me with his dulcit tones.

Yesterday my very good friend Tom came for dinner. You haven’t met him yet, but he’s very important and deserves a mention. In January he is getting married! And I am reading at the wedding. I have written a poem for the event and I’m hoping it goes down well.

Tom is an ex-rugby playing, proper lad’s lad of a man when it comes to food. It was his stag doo a couple of weekends ago, and one of his primary requests was that they dine at one of these brazilian all-you-can-eat meat feasts. That gives you an idea. So I wanted to cook him something suitably full-on (would I ever do anything different?) but also healthy, and now also festive. This is what I came up with:


Large lamb meatballs

served with tumeric cauliflower egg-fried rice

and cranberry brussell sprouts

The large lamb meatballs were basically just lamb burgers, but cooked in delicious tomatoey juices. I fried up an onion and a handful or 2 of cranberries (festive – boo ya!) in a splash of good old olive oil, then added garlic (as much as you wish) and half a tin of chopped tomatoes. When this mixture had begun to thicken, I added the burgers, turning occasionally. Once they seemed brown on both sides I placed the dish in the oven at 200 degrees C for about 15/20 minutes while I prepared the sides.

The cauliflower egg-fried rice I served with the lamb was a much simpler version than that which I wrote about earlier in the year, because this was a side rather than a full meal. I just grated up a whole head of cauliflower and then fried it in a little sesame oil, before adding a tsp of tumeric, a tsp of cumin seeds, a tsp of paprika and half a tsp of black onion seeds (I love these little fellas). Be sure not to cook the cauliflower gratings for too long – it is nicest when still a little crunchy.


For the cranberry sprouts, I took a very little bit of advice from the notoriously un-healthy american holiday of Thanksgiving. I haveheard tales of brussell sprouts dripping in oil, and sweetened. This sort of sounds fantastic, but slightly defeats the object of serving this incredibly nutritious vegetable! So I didn’t go quite so far. I steamed my brussell sprouts, then tossed them around in a pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil and another handful or 2 of cranberries. Cranberries are a beautiful and nutritious festive addition to any meal. Read all about them here.

It certainly created a very colourful plateful, which Tom subsequently cleared away. Must have been alright then!


Home-made Soups

Making home-made soup is one of the most notoriously easy but underdone cooking activities. I owned a blender for over 2 years before I made my first home-made soup, but I have never looked back. All it involves is bunging together various vegetables/stock/spices/herbs, and stewing them for a while, before liquidizing! It really is that simple. And they are brilliant when trying to eat healthily or trying to lose weight. They feel substantial and filling, because when you make it yourself it is often thick and chunky. And they are full of nutritious vegetables. This is very appropriate after my last post – home-made soup is actually good for you.

My flatmate and I are now huge fans of home-made soup (it’s rare for there to not be a random coloured concoction brewing on the stove), and I’ve been meaning to do a soup post for months. Here it finally is. This is the first, but it will definitely not be the last. Here is my recipe for Courgette and Pear Soup. (The amounts are estimates, and as with all home-made soup, a little freedom to experiment is always allowed).

Lucy’s Courgette and Pear Soup


130g sliced courgette

40g spring onion

150g pear

160g cauliflower

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

A sprinkling of tumeric

1/2 a chilli pepper (if you want it spicy)

1 chicken stock cube

Simply fry the courgette and spring onions with the sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, tumeric and chilli. Then add about a cup of hot water with chicken stock dissolved. Finally put in the cauliflower and pear and let it all simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the pan, and pour the stew into a blender to liquidise. Once it has all been blended put the soup back in the pan and add water as necessary, until it is the consistency you prefer.