I love soups! They are a great way of filling up before your main course, or make a perfect lunch. They can showcase all kinds of vegetables and elevate them to become star ingredients. They are a great way of increasing your veg intake, so helping you to have more fibre and get your five-a-day.
I make my own stock quite often, but if not, a good quality bouillon powder or cube is perfectly acceptable – especially on a fast day, the extra salt can be very helpful at balancing your electrolytes, so keeping headaches and light-headedness at bay.
Most of these soups are easy to prepare and quick to cook and can be simmering gently while you get on with making a main dish. I often make a larger quantity than I need and freeze leftovers for another day.
Vary your textures, from a clear broth such as in Hot and Sour Soup, to a hearty chunky soup such as the Spicy Chickpea and Spinach, with a variety of smoother textures in between. A stick blender is a really useful but inexpensive tool that helps to make smooth soups easily, right in the pan, without extra washing up.
Make the most of herbs and spices to add flavour and depth – a little sprinkle at the last minute is appealing to the eye as well as to the palate. Try a grating of strongly flavoured cheese, such as parmesan, a spoonful of pesto, a few toasted slivers of almonds, a swirl of yogurt, finely chopped fresh herbs, some drops of chilli sauce or some freshly roasted and ground spices.
Here they are, in order of calorie counts and with links to the recipes.
Salmon is one of my go-to ingredients for a fast day, when I focus on “mainly plants and protein” and I always have some fillets in the freezer. This recipe makes a good change from my usual technique of putting it on a pile of sliced vegetables and wrapping it in paper parcels. I will defrost the fish first.
This recipe is in my book 5:2 Healthy Eating for Life, but as I had included it in this week’s meal plan, and highlighted the photo, I thought I should share it here.
The original idea came from a New Zealand cook, Annabel Langbein, from her excellently-titled 2003 recipe book “Cooking to Impress without Stress”.
You can use walnuts instead of pine nuts and vary the herbs. I plan to serve it with a spoonful of tsatsiki (greek yogurt with salted, drained, finely chopped cucumber and mint), but it would be lovely with a chilli and tomato salsa or on a non-fast day, a hollandaise sauce would be super.
A rainbow of steamed seasonal vegetables and perhaps a few baked mushrooms add visual appeal, flavour and plenty of fibre. Today we will be having swiss chard and carrots, plus some slivers of raw vegetables – my new kitchen gadget, a super-duper Mandolin, is going to be put to use!
Salmon Stuffed with Pine Nuts and Herbs
A delicious and simple way to jazz up a fillet of salmon - it's quick too! You can prepare the stuffing while the oven is getting up to temperature.
Since early January we have been working on evolving our lifestyle with the aim of getting our bodies back to normal, i.e. not ‘overweight’, improving our fitness level and hopefully increasing our chances of living to a ripe old age in good health.
We are following a 5:2 diet (5 days eating normal, healthy meals: 2 days restricted calorie intake – 500 for women/ 600 for men), inspired by Michael Mosley’s “The Fast Diet”
With this in mind I am preparing a lot of our meals from scratch and trying to eliminate unnecessary calories.
I’m going to start trying to photograph our meals, especially when it is something new.
Each week I am planning our meals for the week, so I’m going to share those meal plans here and link to recipes or include my own as and when I can.