food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

intense roast tomato soupI often get funny looks when I suggest this at my weight management groups and my cancer nutrition classes. No one quite rolls their eyes, but I do feel a collective will not to laugh; a suppression of an exasperated “you’ve got to be kidding me.”

I eat tomatoes like candy. At least at this time of year when tomatoes are at their delectable and nutritious peak. And I suggest that others give it a go, too.

At home I put out a plate or bowl mounded with freshly washed small tomatoes and we pick away to our heart’s content: ridiculously perfect supermarket ones; bulbous, misshapen heritage ones; slightly split homegrown ones. What gets the eyes almost rolling is the suggestion that people bring this idea to work. To compete with the homemade cakes and the vending machines. I know. Hilarious.

Perhaps I shouldn’t encourage snacking, or at least mindless snacking, but it is hard to be mindless when these little red, green, yellow, purple or striped orbs scream ‘notice me!’ with every bite.market tomatoes by food to glow

What’s not to love? Who in their right mind can shun the pleasure of that initial resistance of the tight thin skin, teeth sinking in to bursting and succulent sweet savouriness? The seeds sometimes not quite staying in the mouth? At this time of year I can easily eat a few fruit-packed stems of cherry tomatoes in one go. I’m not picky but they do need to be warm, fresh, fragrant and seasonal. Not picky at all then.

Mostly I like them as they are. But a very close second is roasted. Not charred and chewy roasted. But gently heated over a slightly long time so as to intensify the flavour without burning the sugars (bad for the teeth – these would be like candy!).

roasting tomatoes by food to glowIf you are going to the ‘trouble’ of roasting tomatoes, may I suggest a big batch? Not only to keep in the fridge for eating in salads, dips, smashed on toast with ricotta, with breakfast bits, between bread, and as a perfect side dish, (phew) but also to make the most gloriously intense and ridiculously easy – if not quite instant – soup.

In my recipe I have tarted up this intense tomato soup with hearty, chewy maftoul (giant wholewheat couscous), but just leave it out if you fancy complete smoothness. And change out the herbs too if you like. I have a couple of different thymes growing right by the house, so that’s what I tend to use, but I also have oregano, rosemary, marjoram, basil, tarragon, sages and sorrel in the garden- all of which would be excellent.

maftoul by food to glow

maftoul – giant, hand-rolled wholewheat couscous

Incidentally, I got my soup perfectly and creamily smooth with my new Froothie Optimum 9400 blender. Although I have a Vitamix, I must say that this new-to-the-UK, Australian high-speed blender is even easier to use, and with faster results. The diamond-sharp blade pulses, which I think makes a huge difference to how well and quickly it blends. It also reduces the amount of times one needs to stop and scrape down the sides (they include a long-handled silicone scraper). In fact I have made a few things since receiving my blender from the good people at Froothie and not had to stop and scrape once. I am sure I will with nut butter though. ;-)

I will give a proper review soon – once I put it through its paces. In the meantime I will entice you a little with the fact that although the Optimum 9400 is about half the price of a Vitamix (the top high-speed blender in the UK) the Optimum 9400 is more powerful: 1492 watts for the Vitamix Pro 500 versus 2238 for the Optimum 9400. See the comparison chart here. Both gadgets are great and a boon to the home cook, but so far the Froothie has the edge.

Look out also for recipes using my new Optimum 400 Slow Juicer. Although I will mainly be posting these in my cancer nutrition pages I will also pop some of the recipes here too. Coming soon. :-)

Disclaimer: I was sent a Froothie Optimum 9400 to use and review but like other Froothie users I love mine and am starting to use it for loads of quick and simple recipes. I am not obliged to give a positive review but one will be coming anyway! It’s quite simply a great machine.

intense tomato soup

Simple, Intense Tomato Soup with Maftoul

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Sun-ripened, summer tomatoes are, of course, best. But insipid, hothouse tomatoes will perk up no end with a spell in the oven. Chuck a couple of halved and deseeded peppers or a sliced fennel bulb onto the baking tray too, if you like. Add a little more stock if you add more veg.

I’ve included maftoul – wholegrain, giant couscous – for added heft and a little chew. However, it goes without saying that straight from the blender is heavenly.

Note: I used ‘ordinary’ tomatoes but heirloom (i.e. not hybridised) are well-known for being especially tasty – and good for agriculture. Find them at farmer’s markets.

1.5kg (3 lbs) ripe tomatoes, halved, quartered or in sixths, depending on size

6 garlic cloves, skin on

1 ½ tbsp fresh thyme leaves or a several sprigs of fresh thyme (lemon thyme is especially lovely)

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp maple syrup (optional, but really complements the roasted tomatoes)

1 tbsp fennel seeds, lightly toasted in a pan

700ml hot light vegetable stock, or hot water

45g (1/3 cup) maftoul, couscous or freekeh

Optional: diced avocado (as croutons) and extra herbs and evoo

Special equipment: high-speed blender such as Froothie’s Optimum 9400 (not absolutely necessary but will make the most velvety-smooth soup)

1. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F.

2. Pop the tomatoes, garlic, thyme leaves, oil, maple syrup and fennel seeds into a large bowl and mix gently; slide onto two baking trays. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes.

3. Slit the garlic skins and pop out the sticky, gorgeous garlic; discard the skins. Use a silicone spatula/wooden spoon to slide everything into the blender jug, making sure to scrape in all the gooey juices.

4. Add about one-third of the hot stock and secure the blender lid. Blitz until the soup is completely smooth. Add in the remaining stock and blend. If you aren’t adding any uncooked grains, the soup is ready to eat!

intense roast tomato soup

tomato soup, pre-stock. See how smooth it is?

5. Pour the blended tomato soup into a medium saucepan and heat until just boiling; add the maftoul/couscous/freekeh. Return to the boil then turn down the heat. Simmer until the grains are just done (time depends on which grain you use). Serve.

Note 1 : if you don’t have a high-speed blender or food processor, I would grind the fennel seeds, adding the thyme leaves only when blending the roasted ingredients. Hand blenders work pretty well; better than food processors for something like this.

Note 2: This makes a fantastic pasta sauce and baked fish/chicken sauce, too. Just leave out the stock and the grains.

roast tomato soup by food to glow

roast tomato soup by food to glowA few other vegetarian and vegan soups on food to glow (more in Index):  ‘Creamy’ Broccoli and Basil Soup with Wonton TwistsFreekeh and Greens SoupLove Your Greens SoupLemony Broccoli, Leek and Tarragon Soup; Butternut Squash and Tofu Curry Laksa.

 Other vegetarian soups to try:

Cook Sister: Runner Bean Soup

Franglais Kitchen: Butternut Squash Soup with Garlic Crostini and Parmesan  

Greedy Gourmet: Courgette and Avocado Pear Soup

Tinned Tomatoes: Madras Curried Tomato Soup

Fab Food 4 All: Tomato, Carrot and Dill Soup

A Mummy Too: Roast Tomato and Garlic Soup

The Botanical Baker: Courgette Soup with Feta, Parsley and Cumin Gremolata

 

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green shakshukaThis post should have been subtitled, “How To Deal with a Glut of Greens.”

The long and short of it is that I have planters and planters full of green things. Big green things. Sword-like black kale, great frothy tufts of curly kale (redbore and Pentland), umbrella-like rainbow and Swiss chards, two types of sorrel (Buckler leaf and some mysterious big-leafed variety) as well as wine boxes of over-spilling herbs. {The less said about the black pak choi, the better.}. I have other bits and bobs growing in the garden, but it is pretty much a case of macheteing back the rampant greens to get to these smaller, less bold edibles.

I am not bragging here. I have done nothing other than sow some seeds and plant them out in bought compost. I’ve not fed, clothed or otherwise shaped their upbringing. Save for early morning slug patrol when all were in their vulnerable infancy, I have left them to it  Does that make me a bad plant mother?  Continue Reading

fig and labneh tartinesDon’t let the fancy name fool you, tartine is just French for ‘open-faced sandwich’. And I find it easier to say than the Danish smørrebrød, or the Finnish voileipäthe latter of which I have eaten when ages ago I did some work in Helsinki. Cured herring and butter as I recall. I ate it to be polite but I will admit it did taste better washed down with some local beer and perhaps a shot of Finlandia vodka.

I wasn’t working while I was eating/drinking, btw.:-).  Continue Reading

all-fruit ice lollies by kellie's food to glowIf it is hot where you are, eating cool foods and sipping iced drinks will be high on your agenda. Ice lollies are always a hit – whether bought or made; whether you are young or old. Why not keep it healthy and fun by making these all-fruit ice lollies?

It’s a hectic weekend for many of us so I shan’t keep you with one of my typical rambling posts. I will let the pictures and wee recipe – such as it is – speak for themselves. Enjoy your weekend. K x

all-fruit ice lollies by kellie's food to glow

All-Fruit Ice Lollies

  • Servings: depends on the lolly mould but at least 6 of each
  • Time: 15 minutes plus freezing time
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

I don’t wish to be bossy but if you want to keep these as all-fruit you MUST have the ripest sweet fruit. Otherwise add a touch of date syrup, good acacia honey, maple syrup, or even a stock syrup (sugar-water). I’ve added lime juice and a little kaffir lime leaf to the pineapple puree, but pure and simple is our favourite.

Special equipment: Ice lolly moulds or small suitable cups (such as small paper ice cream cups) and wooden lolly sticks (available at WH Smith or hobby stores)

all-fruit ice lollies by kellie's food to glowPineapple and Strawberry

½ medium ripe pineapple, trimmed, cored and large dice

¼ tsp finely whizzed kaffir lime leaf or finely grated lime zest

Juice ½ small lime

3 tbsp Greek yogurt or vegan/coconut yogurt (optional)

1 cup chopped ripe strawberries – finely chop 2 tbsp of the strawberries

Any sweetener, to taste

1. Add the pineapple, lime leaf/zest, lime juice and yogurt to a blender or food processor and process until mostly smooth. Taste and add any sweetener if necessary, bearing in mind that frozen fruit tastes less sweet. Scrap the mixture into a jug with a lip. A jug makes it easier to pour the mixture into the moulds.

2. Rinse out the blender/food processor, then add all but the 2 tbsp finely chopped strawberries and process to a crimson pulp. Taste for sweetness and adjust as needed. Scrape the strawberries into another lipped jug.

3. Line up your ice lolly moulds or cups. Add a little of the finely chopped strawberries to the moulds, top with some of the pineapple, followed by some of the strawberry, and then finally a little more of the pineapple.

4. Top with the ice lolly stick covers (they usually have the stick integrated) or – as I did – push in the wooden sticks. The mixture is firm enough not to need any foil, cling film or card to steady it, but you may wish to use one of these. If so, I would top with some cling film and secure it with a rubber band then make a small nick where you want your stick to go and then follow this with the lolly stick.

5. Freeze for two hours before dipping the moulds/cups in warm water and loosening.making all-fruit ice lollies by kellie's food to glow

DSC_0352Four-Fruit Ice Lollies

The raspberries and especially the blackcurrants are fairly nippy fruits so you may wish to sweeten them up a bit, either keeping with the fruit theme using banana or dates, or pouring in a little of your favourite liquid sweetener. Oh, and I forgot to take photos of the making of these lollies, so don’t think you aren’t looking hard enough. ;-)

3/4 cup each cup each raspberries, halved strawberries and blackcurrants

1 small banana (a small one won’t make the lollies taste of banana)

Maple syrup, honey, date syrup or stock syrup to sweeten as needed

1. Blend until smooth and fill ice lolly moulds. Freeze for 2 hours before enjoying. 

nectarine saladHappy 4th of July! Once again, a holiday sneaks up on me and I am here, at the last gasp, tippy tapping away trying to write a relevant post. My excuse is that as an ex-pat American living in the UK we of course don’t celebrate the 4th. While the US is celebrating getting away from past religious intolerance and heavy taxes (no comment), we – the offending country – might have a little shelf at Tescos with red, white and blue foods. Aside from fresh berries, it is all unnatural. Of course.

But I know that Stateside the only way to not know it is The Fourth of July (it has to be in caps, btw) is to be in sedated in hospital, or living deep in a wood somewhere with only bears and wolves for company.  I trust none of you fall into those categories. Continue Reading

spicy kale crisps

spicy and tangy kale crisps + foamy matcha green tea – my perfect snack

I don’t know if you are into gardening, or have the opportunity to garden, but certainly here in the UK we are having a good growing season. Drive anywhere just outside of cities and towns and you see fields and hillocks covered in vegetables plots, neat rows of climbing raspberries and sprawling strawberries, waving ripples of wind-tossed grains. In Scotland I’ve already spotted tell-tale tassels of sweetcorn.

Aside from the washout of Glastonbury last weekend, we have been so lucky with the weather – warm, a little rain and not too much drying wind. In fact it has been so nice that it has been difficult to stay indoors and do proper work and chores. Consequently I have a dusty house and bits on the carpet but great-smelling line-dried laundry and a swept deck. It is almost painful to be indoors when the sun is out and the air is balmy. Do you feel that way? Continue Reading

IMG_20140630_122453A few weeks ago on Instagram I posted a pic that had a number of you intrigued, titled #foodiepenpal.

“What a great idea!” “What’s a Foodie Penpal?” and “How can I get involved?”was the gist of the responses to my pic. A few of you were quite excited about the concept. Well, all is revealed here.

I have recently signed up to participate in a monthly foodie penpal exchange. The basic idea is simple: each month the organiser (founder Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean for the US and Canada, and Carol Anne at This Is Rock Salt for the UK/EU) assigns each person someone to send food goodies to and receive from in US and Canada, and in the UK/EU a person to send you foodie goodies and a different person for you to send to. Hope that makes sense.

To make life easy there is a list of stuff to ask your recipient, such as any food allergies, likes and dislikes, that kind of thing. But really it is up to you what you wish to send, including a handwritten note. There is a budget limit – for US/Canada it is $15 and UK/EU, €10/£10, plus posting – just to keep everyone on even footing.

This was my first month and I was lucky to get a terrific package from Chiara on the island of Capri. How exotic for me! My mail person was dead-impressed. :-). Not only had she sent me a lovely email in the first instance to sound out what I might want, but her food gifts were so thoughtful, including a handwritten chocolate cake recipe that is on my must-make-soon list. Thank you so much, Chiara!

My recipient wasn’t so lucky as I was just down the road from her (well, she’s near Leicester) when speaking in global terms – hi Elina! She said she liked raspberry flavoured things and liked to bake so I sent some freeze-dried raspberries, some pretty baking cup papers and matching gift boxes, as well as a couple of healthy things (including a Weck pot of my coconut bacon) and some Scottish thistle tea, just to give her something Scottish. I got a really lovely thank you email back from her. I think I did alright for a first-timer!

So, to the package from Chiara. Well she knew I was a bit of a healthy blogger but that I also wanted a wee treat too. She did great on both scores with some delectable, locally-made limoncello biscuits – very treat-ish – some oregano grown on ‘her’ mountain, the hand-written cake recipe (now pinned to my fridge to remind me to make it soon) and the biggest surprise – liquorice! Not just any liquorice but pure liquorice – liquirizia – no sugar, just concentrated taste in tiny ebony nuggets. Initially they are a surprise in the mouth and then you think, well I will just have another. And another! Both treats are on my rather shabby coffee table (I really need to sand that down…).IMG_20140630_014718

I really enjoyed my first month of Foodie Penpals. If this has you intrigued, either contact Lindsey or Carol-Anne, depending on where you live. As far as I understand it is only for Americans, Canadians and Europeans for now but some of you others might like to start something like this yourself. It is a fantastic way to meet new people and experience new foods too. The special touch of the hand-written note is also pretty awesome.

Oh! And you don’t have to be a food blogger, or even a blogger, to join in.

All being well I’ll be back tomorrow with a recipe and a giveaway.IMG_20140630_015121

 

pakistani gooseberry pickleDespite my advanced (advancing?) age I love Instagram. Any downtime (standing in a queue, riding the bus) I will scroll away on my phone, staring happily at hazy beaches peopled with the lithe and the tanned; folks’ daft dogs coming way too close to the camera; style parades of impossibly impractical shoes and smart city shorts. Sigh.

I don’t get jealous, but I do sometimes wonder how close to real life-perfect are these mesmeric images. Do these stunning people eating sushi in neon dens of cool have zits? Or suffer heartache?

Are there filters for these? Continue Reading

summer berry skinnifreddoIt’s summer time and, for some, it is bikini weather. But before one packs that tiny Easyjet-sanctioned bag full of minuscule bathing suits and not much else, some yearly rituals to attend to.

Summer Ritual Checklist

(as dictated by fashion/women’s magazines)

At least two months’ worth of eating salads and not much else: check.

Daily litres of cleansing, cellulite busting water. Green tea, if you are feeling fancy: check.

Crossfit/PX90/Zumba/parkour as if your life depended on it: you betcha.

Scaly Winter body: buffed, waxed and sprayed.

Healthy, cooling frozen desserts cos you deserve it: um, hang on a sec. Continue Reading

breakfast tostadosSo, this is what I’ve been blowing my sacred jar of coconut bacon on. Other than picking it straight from the jar, or sprinkling the toasty smoky shreds on top of another (upcoming) breakfast concoction, this is how I’ve been spending the bacon.

It has everything I desire in a breakfast item: contrasting textures and tastes, banging nutrition cred, and ever so slight weirdness. Oh, and heat. Heat is my caffeine.  Continue Reading

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