It’s beginning to look a little more like spring outside. The freak snow storms of April have passed and I’ve got fingers crossed for warmer, sunnier weather this month. Despite leaving the house still armed with a brolly and gloves, bikini season still has potential and so people everywhere will be starting their prospective summer diets.
I have a hatred for fad diets which leave you feeling miserable, famished and which almost always end in a guilty late night binge.
Even the word “diet” has gained negative connotations and now practically translates as “starvation”. After advising friends for years on how to simply improve their diet and exercise routines to help lose a couple of pounds or simply feel better, I find myself repeating the same golden rules.
1. You shouldn’t think of your new regime as a diet, simply healthy eating and feeding your body properly so that it burns off what you eat efficiently.
2. Everything in moderation really is the key. You shouldn’t deny yourself the foods you love, just opt for the lower fat versions and don’t eat them everyday. If you constantly have to distract yourself from eating treat foods, its inevitably going to end in over eating, followed by self-deprecation and a tummy ache. That hardly fits in to your attempts to feel better about yourself and your body.
3. Improving your knowledge and understanding of food and cooking will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle in the long run.
Every so often a healthy detox can help to kick start weight loss or simply replenish your body and cleanse your digestive system. In my opinion ‘detox’ does not involve surviving on a sugary, liquid for weeks or only eating certain colour foods on different days of the week.
But after a glutinous weekend with friends, filled with stodge and sugar, a 3 day soup detox is an ideal remedy and encourages me to eat well the rest of the week.
My favourite, never fail recipe is one which I have adapted over time and can change slightly in taste and ingredients depending on my mood or ailment.
For years chicken soup has been described as a super cure when you’re feeling sluggish. But for a pescetarian with limitations on ingredients, this works a treat and tastes great!
1 white onion, diced. 2 large carrots thinly sliced. 2 sticks of celery thinly sliced.
2 dessert apples skinned and cubed. 1 garlic clove, crushed. 1 tbsp crushed ginger.
1 tin chopped tomatoes. 1 ½ pints vegetable stock oregano smoked paprika
black pepper 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1. Heat the oil in a large pan and lightly fry the onion. Add the crushed ginger and garlic and stir for a couple of minutes.
2. Add the freshly chopped fruit and vegetables. Reduce the heat a little and sweat the ingredients off for 5 minutes, stirring regularly to avoid catching the base of the pan.
3. Pour in the vegetable stock and chopped tomatoes, ensuring all the vegetables are covered and can easily be stirred in the liquid. There may look like a lot, but the soup will reduce and thicken. Add as much or as little oregano, paprika and black pepper as you like and bring the soup to the boil.
4. Reduce to a simmer and leave to cook for about twenty minutes or until the vegetables are soft enough to cut with a fork. You can taste and alter the seasoning if necessary whilst the soup simmers.
5. Remove from the heat once the vegetables are soft and leave to cool a little.
6. Using a blender or hand held, electric whisk, blend the soup, changing the seasoning or adding more vegetable stock to loosen the soup if it’s too thick.
This version is less than 100 calories per mug (my preferred way of eating soup!) So I choose to regularly delve in to the pan of aromatic, amber goodness throughout the day.
This soup works as a detox on so many levels. Its low in calories, contains hardly any fat at all, re-heats well and keeps you feeling satisfied when eaten at regular intervals.
The celery, pepper, garlic and ginger are all fantastic for cleansing your digestive system and help to boost your metabolism and weight loss.
I experiment every time I make this soup, but the ingredients and method given always provide the base.
Occasionally I add chilli flakes for an extra kick, which are also beneficial for speeding up the metabolism.
If I’m not detoxing and just want to make a batch for a few hearty lunches, I add my favourite canned beans and lentils five minutes before the soup is ready. Black eye beans and red lentils are delicious with the paprika, and a topping of pumpkin, sunflower seeds and toasted pine nuts works wonderfully.
Healthy eating never has to be boring. Feeling hungry and deprived in order to be happier with how your body looks or feels is simply defeating the object.
Feel free to use this recipe, adding or taking away any ingredients you wish, just make sure that if you’re using it for a detox, you make 1 or 2 large batches to keep you going for a few days and don’t completely cut out all other foods, just make healthy decisions which your body will thank you for!