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This soup came about because of a pile of root veggies sitting in my veggie box. When I have beetroot, I usually bake it and make a salad with avocado, nuts, seeds, that sort of thing. Or steam it and serve it as a veggie. But I wanted to do something different, and this was the result.
This is a really delicious soup – and fantastically good for you, too. A combination of sweet, earthy beetroot and carrot, with the creamy cannellini beans and herby parsley make a great flavour combination. What’s more, this soup is great for cleansing and boosting your immune system. Beetroot has powerful detoxing qualities (mainly from the antioxidant betacyanin) as well as being rich in iron and folic acid (which help prevent anaemia and fatigue). The humble carrot is one of the richest sources of beta-carotene which helps fight infection and colds, as well as enhancing vision, skin and digestive function. Carrots and beetroots are also fantastic sources of fibre – as cannellini beans are, too. And this is a great example of how you don’t need to spend tons of money on ingredients to eat nutrient-dense food. Excellent!
gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free
Serves 4 Preparation time 10 minutes, plus soaking the beans Cooking time 1½ hours
- 200g/7oz/1 cup dried cannellini beans
- ½ tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 celery stick, chopped
- 4 beetroots, peeled and diced
- 4 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1.25l/44fl oz/5 cups gluten-free and dairy-free vegetable Stock, boiling, plus extra if needed
- 1 handful parsley leaves
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- dairy-free yogurt, to serve (optional)
- coriander leaves, to serve (optional)
- Put the cannellini beans in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice, cover with warm water and leave to soak, covered, for 12 hours or overnight.
- Drain and rinse the beans and put in a large saucepan. Cover with 1.2l/40fl oz/4¾ cups water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes, skimming any scum that rises to the surface, then turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for 1 hour, until the beans are tender. Drain and leave to one side.
- When the beans are nearly cooked, heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat until hot. Add the onion and fry for 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until starting to turn golden, then stir in the garlic. Add the celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2–3 minutes, then add the carrots and beetroot. Pour in the stock and season lightly with salt. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 15–20 minutes until the carrots and beetroot are soft.
- Add the cooked beans and parsley, then blend the soup until smooth and add more salt, to taste, and pepper. Serve hot with a spoonful of yogurt drizzled over and some coriander leaves sprinkled on top, if you like.
Zoe loves nori which is great because it’s amazingly good for you. Like other sea vegetables, it is high in B vitamins, beta-carotene, calcium, iron and zinc, so it is brilliant at boosting your immune system. And it’s particularly high in vitamin A which helps prevent colds and sore throats, as well as maintaining healthy skin. She’ll eat the sheets of nori by themselves (and I’m inwardly cheering as she nibbles all those fantastic nutrients!) and is particularly keen on having it as sushi, especially with this avocado/mayonnaise filling.
I used to make sushi the more standard way, by rolling the nori over the filling and then cutting each roll into pieces. But then Renée Elliott showed me how easy hand rolls are to make – in fact, you can put all the ingredients on the table and let everyone (kids included) make their own rolls. This recipe is adapted from Renée’s latest book, Me, You & the Kids, Too – you can use any combination of veggies – we used the cucumber and carrots we had in the fridge this time (and added extra avocado), instead of the asparagus, sprouts and beetroot in Renée’s recipe.
The additional bonus about this recipe (like all the recipes in Me, You & the Kids Too) is that you can also make nutrient-dense purées for your baby, from this recipe. There’s no need for additional ingredients, you just take from the main amount. And bingo – a meal that feeds all. However, as Zoe told me this morning (on her first day at nursery/school), she’s not my baby any longer. So no more purées for her… Sob!
gluten-free, wheat-free, yeast-free, dairy-free, soya-free, nut-free, seed-free
Makes: 20 Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus 40 minutes cooking the brown sushi rice Cooking time: 5 minutes
- 10 asparagus, woody ends removed and halved
- 40 green beans, trimmed
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 200g/7oz/1 cup brown sushi rice or brown short grain rice
- 10 nori sheets, halved lengthways
- 12 tbsp wasabi (optional)
- 1 beetroot, grated
- 50g/134oz sprouts such as alfalfa, broccoli or mung (optional)
For the sauce:
- 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and mashed
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- Put the rice and 455ml/16fl oz/scant 2 cups water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes until the rice is just cooked but still retains a slight bite.
- Put the asparagus and green beans in a steamer and steam, covered, for 5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still slightly crunchy. Add the salt to the cooked brown sushi rice and mix well.
- To make the sauce, mix together the avocados and mayonnaise in a bowl until smooth.
- To make a hand roll, spread 1 tablespoon of the sauce diagonally down the centre of one nori sheet, then add a little wasabi on top, if using. Put 1 tablespoon of the cooked brown sushi rice, 1 piece of asparagus, 2 green beans and 1 tablespoon each of the beetroot and sprouts, if using, on top of the sauce. Take the nori sheet in your hand and roll into a cone shape. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and serve.
Green bean, Avocado & Rice Purée for a 6–9 month old baby
- Put 4 tablespoons of the cooked brown sushi rice and 135ml/4½fl oz/generous ½ cup boiling water in a saucepan and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 10 minutes. Add 4 green beans and cook, covered, for a further 10 minutes until completely soft. Transfer to a blender and add 2 tablespoons of the avocado and 3 tablespoons water. Blend for 30 seconds, adding extra water 1 teaspoon at a time, until smooth. Serve warm.
Vegetables, Avocado, Sprouts, Beetroot & Rice for a 6–9 month old baby
- Put 4 tablespoons of the cooked brown sushi rice and 135ml/4½fl oz/generous ½ cup boiling water in a saucepan and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 10 minutes. Add 2 green beans and 1 asparagus piece and cook for a further 10 minutes until completely soft. Transfer to a blender and add 2 tablespoons of the avocado, 1 tablespoon each of the beetroot and sprouts, if using, and 3 tablespoons water. Pulse for 15 seconds, adding extra water 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture forms a lumpy purée. Serve warm.
One of the brilliant things about this dish is that the beetroot is soft and sweet. I usually either roast or juice beetroots but when I roasted some the other day, they came out of the oven really dry and uninspiring. So this dish started because I wanted to poach the beetroots and get a lovely tender result. Fennel seemed a natural partner because, although it takes on the colour of the beetroot, it keeps its beautiful aniseed taste – so when you add the wonderfully rich soya cheese, this dish becomes a great collection of flavours, rather than just a mixture. The flavours soak into the quinoa, making this supergrain delicious and the puy lentils give it some bite.
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free, citrus-free
- 150g/5½oz/heaped 1 cup quinoa
- 200g/7oz/1 cup puy lentils
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into quarters
- 3 beetroots, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup gluten- and dairy-free stock
- 2 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
- 100g/3½oz soya cheese, crumbled
- sea salt and black pepper (optional)
- Rinse the lentils thoroughly and put them in a large bowl. Cover with water and leave to soak overnight or for at least 12 hours, then drain, rinse well and drain again.
- Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for 40 minutes until soft. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the fennel, cover the pan with a lid and cook, shaking occasionally, for about 5 minutes until the fennel is starting to brown. Add in the garlic and fry for about 30 seconds, then add the beetroot slices, making sure that everything sits on the base of the pan. Pour in the stock, add the thyme, and season lightly if you want. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and leave to simmer for about 40 minutes, until the beetroot is tender.
- Meanwhile, put the quinoa in a sieve and rinse well. Transfer to a saucepan and pour over 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup cold water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for 15–20 minutes until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed. If there is any water left, drain the quinoa thoroughly. Transfer to the serving bowl and mix together with the puy lentils.
- Heap the cooked fennel and beetroot on top of the quinoa and puy lentil mixture, taking care not to break up the fennel when taking it out of the pan. Scatter the cheese on top and serve either hot or cold.
I’m now in week 3 of the 4-week Cleanse 28 from Arise & Shine – the Power Phase. Peter says I look glowing (yay!) and I’ve now lost a total of 5½ kilos. I’m finding that I’m full of energy – and definitely more clear-thinking. When I get tired at the end of the day, I’m really tired (which is how it should be, I guess) so I’m sleeping incredibly deeply.
On this week’s the schedule, I’m having 4 shakes throughout the day and veggie juices and lunch. (Next week will just be shakes and veggie juices.)
What’s still amazing to me is just how do-able this all is. It sounds daunting and yet I’m not finding it too difficult to do. One of the things that’s lovely about following a diet like this is how much you start to appreciate the taste of the food you eat. Without any seasoning, sauces or other ingredients, you start to really appreciate the pure, natural taste of the fruit and veggies. I remember when I did this detox before, I had just bought a fantastic new saucepan that had a very heavy base. I cooked some veggies in it over a very, very low heat and they steamed very gently in their own juice. This method brought out the sweetness of those veggies and made them utterly delicious. I’ve been doing this again this time, and I’ve also been having a lot of steamed veggies, too. My favourite, I’ve decided, is definitely broccoli – and the combination of beetroot, carrot, broccoli and spinach is awesome!
- 3 beetroots, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut into large batons or slices
- 1 head of broccoli, cut into large florets
- 200g/7oz baby-leaf spinach
- extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Put the beetroots in a steamer and steam, covered, over a high heat for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and steam for another 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and steam for another 2 minutes, then add the spinach and steam for 1–2 minutes until wilted. By now, all the vegetables should be cooked but still either firm or crunchy. Serve hot with a little oil drizzled over.
The combination of the mildly sweet, aniseed flavour of the fennel, the earthy sweet beetroot and the beautifully bland potatoes in this recipe is wonderful. The creamy sauce with cheese flavour offsets all the flavours and adds a soft richness to the dish. Great for a simple midweek supper, with salad and/or a crunchy coleslaw, or with a roast for Sunday lunch.
Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 1 hour 15 minutes, plus 15 minutes resting time Serves 4
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free, citrus-free
- dairy-free margarine, for greasing
- 2 fennel bulbs
- 4 potatoes, peeled and sliced fairly thinly
- 3 beetroots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 500ml/17fl oz/2 cups soya cream
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 200g/7oz dairy-free soya cheese, grated
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200˚C/400˚F/Gas 6 and grease a large baking dish. Trim the leafy fronds at the top of the fennel and leave to one side. Slice each bulb fairly thinly lengthways. Cover the base of the dish with a layer of half of the fennel slices, season lightly with salt and pepper and then repeat with half of the potato slices, then all of the beetroot slices, then the rest of the potato slices and finally the rest of the fennel slices, seasoning throughout.
- Pour the soya cream into a jug and add the garlic and half of the grated soya cheese. Pour the cream mixture over the top of the vegetables and sprinkle the remaining grated soya cheese over the top. Bake for 40–45 minutes until the cheese on the top is golden brown and the vegetables are tender. Serve hot.
I’ve started a detox this weekend. I haven’t done one since before I got pregnant with Zoë and I fell like a really need to do one. Over the summer I ate lots of sugary foods and I’m really noticing the effect – I’ve put on weight and I’m feeling really tired, especially after eating, and I don’t feel refreshed when I wake up in the morning. Of course, when you have a small child, it’s hard to tell whether tiredness is due to broken nights or your general health. But the fact that I’m really craving sweet food and I’m also waking up at the classic sugar-rush time during the early hours of the morning are telling me that it’s time to detox.
I’m going to do a combination of the detox plans from one of my all-time favourite books, Clean Up Your Diet by Max Tomlinson and herbs from the A Vogel Detox Box. I first met Max about 10 years ago and he has been an incredible inspiration in my life ever since – and he recommended this detox kit. It is made up of tincture mixes of Milk Thistle, which is meant to help your liver function, which in turn helps your body to eliminate toxins, Solidago which is a traditional tonic for your kidneys, helping to reduce fluid retention and things like puffy eyes, Frangula which is said to aid digestion and is a mild laxative and Calendula which is wonderful for boosting your immune system.
So, I’m going to cut out all alcohol, sugar, packaged, tinned or processed foods and red meat. And I’m going to seriously boost my intake of fruit and veggies and eat just organic chicken or fish. On top of that, I need to drink 2 litres of water a day, minimize my salt intake, do food combining, try not to eat after 8pm, and try to make lunch my biggest meal of the day. I’ll probably have a juice for breakfast every day and have a handful of nuts and seeds, too. And then I think I’ll try to do the protein/veggies combo – with probably a huge salad – for lunch and then the low-GI carbs/veggies combo – again with a large salad – for as early a dinner as I can possibly do. And I’ll snack on fruit and veggies during the day.
Here goes – wish me luck! This was my juice this morning. It’s a classic but I love it because of the taste and also the beautiful colours –
- 3 beetroots, scrubbed and ends removed
- 4 large carrots, scrubbed and ends removed
- 2.5cm/1in piece of root ginger
- Push the ingredients through an electric juicer and serve immediately.