Many moons ago I lived in California and one of my favorite things to do was going to the local beach caf and have soup n’ sandwich for lunch. In those days, soup was inevitably a creamy chowder and the sandwich a mountain of bacon, lettuce and tomatoes with lashings of mayo. Needless to say I loved it! These days, however, I still love the soup n’ sandwich concept but I try to use ingredients that nourish rather than clog my arteries.
Since childhood we’ve been told to eat three hearty meals a day at regular intervals. As children this is a necessity as we need the regularity until we are old enough to fend for our selves. As adults, however, this childhood habit tend to linger whether we are hungry or not. We have breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks in between – in essence, we are grazing our way through life. Whether it has got anything to do with hunger or not is debatable – according to Dr. Alejandro Junger, the frequency of eating in the Western World may in part be fuelled by boredom, habit and/or addiction but it is not doing us any good. Our constant grazing means that our bodies never gets proper time to digest and detox naturally. In his book, Clean, Dr Junger tells us it takes 8 hours for solids to digest (less for liquids) and another 4 hours for the body’s natural detoxification process to finish. 12 hours in other words – how many of us get more than 8!
The point, according to Dr. Junger, is that today’s eating habits are a social construct – and a fairly recent one at that. Historically, the body was used to feast and famine. Something was hunted/picked and eaten, then the body would ‘starve’ a little before something else appeared. This approach enabled the body to fully digest the intake, distribute the nutrients, and eliminate that which was not needed before the next meal arrived. With current eating habits however, we may have lost the body’s natural ability to detox as we are constantly snacking.
Dr. Junger’s 21 day cleanse, which he advocates to reboot the body’s natural ability to detox, may not be for the fainthearted. But some of the ideas related to this detox programme stuck in my mind. Such as the point that a liquid meal at night is far easier for the body to digest than solids. Therefore, the quicker the digestion process kicks in – the quicker the detox can take place. Hence, the evening is the WORST possible time to have a big stodgy meal – quite the contrary to how most of us live. Soup, I decided, was the way forward. I made up my mind to look at my veg drawer in the same manner as I did when making a green juice, ie. take whatever you’ve got at home and turn it into a soup.
I started out with Kallo’s vegetarian and organic bouillon which is a favorite anyway in the house. Added all the veg and turned the heat off, letting the veg steam for about 20 mintues. You are left with a lovely, flavourful broth packed with vegetables that are gently steamed yet have a slight crunch. I didn’t want to liquidise with a hand blender as I like chewing the veg but the option is entirely yours. Afterwards I felt light yet remarkably filled up at the same time. A win-win that I will revisit often – it was super delicious.
Mellow Veg Broth
1 stock cube Kallo organic and vegetarian
6-7 Shiitake mushrooms
1 bit handful of green cabbage – cut into strips
3-4 broccoli florets
2 small carrots
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 handful chopped celery
Bring a pot to the boil – just as much as you would like to eat so one of two bowls full. Once water has boiled, turn off the heat and add all the vegetables at once. Cover with a lid and let vegetables steam for about 20 minutes. Enjoy. X
At first, this evening’s meal may appear slightly ambivalent. Is it a salad, a stir fry, prawns and why so much all at once? Good question. In my family, we tend to eat all kinds of different food combinations simultaneously. Although this can be fiddly at times I belive in enjoying what you eat much more than rigidity.
Which means that last night, in true family style, my mother had Beetroot/Kale Salad, Stir Fried Veg and Garlic Prawns whereas I had only the Beetroot/Kale Salad as a main course. My children, on the other hand, bypassed the salad altogether going straight for the Stir Fried Veg, Garlic Prawns and rice. I figure that sooner or later they will be kale aficionados but in the meantime I eat it on their behalf!
The recipe below is a take on the Asian Kale Salad and is really fresh and crunchy. It includes the wonderfully nutritious beetroot that can ultimately make anything look appetising and colourful, which comes in handy if you are serving it as a side dish at a dinner party. Mixed vegetables are of course always yummy but this salad really comes into its own when you add the fabulous Tamari and Ginger dressing generously on top, courtesy of Cookie and Kate. Here goes:
Beetroot and Kale Salad (serves 2 generously or 4 small portions)
2 handfuls of chopped kale,
2 handfuls of spinach
1 large carrot, ribboned with Julienne peeler
1 large handful of fresh coriander
4 small beetroots, cut into wedges
Cut out the thick stem of the kale and discard. Take a few minutes to manipulate the chopped kale with your hands until leaves have softened. Then add all of the above ingredients.
Tamari and Ginger Dressing
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lime, juice of
1 tbsp tamari or shoyu sauce
1 tsp grated ginger root
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp rice vinegar
Place all ingredients in tall jug and mix with a hand mixer until slightly emulsified. Mix into the salad and let sit for a bit until leaves have wilted and dressing is generally distributed. Now you could stop right here and just enjoy this gorgeous salad or you can continue with the stir fry below as well…
Stir Fried Veg + Garlic Prawns (serves 2 generously, 4 smaller portions)
500 g French green beans
250 g long stemmed broccoli florets
250 g mange tout beans
1/2 cup of green petit pois
6 asparagus, cut into large pieces
3 garlic cloves
1″ ginger root, chopped
200 g oyster mushrooms, sliced
300 g organic king prawns
Tamari or Shoyu sauce to taste
Steam the green beans for about 5 min until a bit tender. Heat the oil in a wok and add 1/2 the garlic and ginger with the mushrooms until softened. After a minute or two add the rest of the ingredients with a bit of tamari/shoyu. Add a splash of water if it is heating to quick. Stir continuously for about 4-5 minutes. Remove vegetables and add the rest of the garlic with the King prawns and cook until pink, about 3-4 minutes. Add the vegetables to the prawns and stir gently until mixed. Serve immediately with the Beetroot and Kale Salad and brown or white rice according to taste. Enjoy X
This curry is marvellous if you are struggling to figure out what to cook for dinner. It is very simple and only requires coconut oil, coconut milk and a few spices mixed in with whatever vegetables you may have lingering in the fridge – that’s it!. Now that our sunny bank holiday weekend is coming to an end, cooking may not be at the forefront of your mind. And that is when this dish comes in handy. It requires minimum investment and maximum return – a win/win scenario if there was one.
I happened to have some left over butternut squash, lentils, potatoes and celery at home, all of which went into the curry. Another combo, like tomatoes, courgettes, sweet potatoes for example, would have worked equally well. There are no limits here. The spices were reminiscent of my Mung Bean Casserole from the other night and worked equally well in this curry. I would have liked to have had more fresh coriander in this dish so if you make it, make sure you add plenty of it just before serving. I added a piece of salmon to my plate which I cubed and tossed in the spices and coconut oil until just cooked, approx. 5 min. If you are a strict vegan, however, it is just as good without the fish. If you can tolerate dairy then a bit of yoghurt on the side would work too. Only you know what works for your body.
Coconut Curry with Lentils and Butternut Squash (serves 2)
1 can organic coconut milk
3/4 butternut squash, deseeded and cubed
5 – 6 broccoli florets
1 cup puy lentils, cooked
2 potatoes, cubed
3 celery sprigs, chopped
1 small onion or charlotte
1′ ginger root, finely chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
sea salt and pepper to taste
Fry the onions, ginger and spices in the coconut oil until soft. Add all the chopped vegetables bar the lentils and broccoli – stir until coated with the oil and spices. Add the coconut milk and bring to boil, simmer under lid for about 10 – 15 minutes – veggies should be soft, not mushy. Add the broccoli and lentils and cook for an additional 5 min (if you like your broccoli a bit crunchy cook for less time). Serve with brown rice and fresh coriander. Enjoy! x