Parsnip and cauliflower soup

I love parsnip soup. And I love cauliflower soup. So it only seemed like a natural progression to try the two together. And it was definitely worth doing!

When cooked, parsnips are naturally ‘creamy’ – and so is cauliflower. When cooked and blended together, it creates a lovely rich and unctuous texture that is wonderfully comforting, perfect for those grey January days.

I’ve used both a curry powder mix that contains turmeric as well as a little additional turmeric. This is to ensure that as well as super tasty, this soup also gives the immune system a bit of a helping hand.

Turmeric is a beautifully golden yellow spice (or root rather) that contains some powerful medicinal compounds that have been well researched for their positive effects on both the body and the brain. The main compound studied is curcumin, although there are many more within turmeric that all work together as a team, so as always, trust nature and consume turmeric as a whole rather than an individual compound.

To maximise absorption of these helpful compounds, it’s best to consume alongside some black pepper (for the compound piperine that massively aids absorption) and a little fat. As you know, all my food is cooked without oil, but I have included some almond milk plus I like to garnish my soup with a drizzle of cold-pressed flaxseed oil. This provides some healthy omega 3 fatty acids and helps absorption of the turmeric compounds.

This soup keeps in the fridge for up to 3 days plus it freezes well, so you can make a big batch and have portions on hand when you need a tasty lunch that will hug you from the inside out! Enjoy.

Parsnip and cauliflower soup

A deliciously thick and warming soup perfect for chilly winter days.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Soup
Servings 4 big portions

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 4 medium parsnips peeled and diced
  • 1/2 medium cauliflower chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1.5-2 teaspoons medium curry powder
  • 700 ml vegetable stock
  • 100 ml almond milk or dairy-free milk of choice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • drizzle cold pressed flaxseed oil optional

Instructions
 

  • Place a medium-sized pan on a medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and sauté for 5 minutes until the onion starts to soften.
  • Tip the parsnips into the pan and sauté for 3 minutes, then add the cauliflower and garlic along with a little extra water to stop it sticking to the base of the pan. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the ground turmeric and curry powder and stir in to coat the veggies. Pour over the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
  • Pop on the saucepan lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the veggies are soft.
  • Turn off the heat and add the almond or dairy-free milk of choice. Using a stick blender, blend to smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Gently reheat if necessary then serve piping hot with a little extra black pepper and glug of flaxseed oil
Keyword cauliflower, gluten free, healthy soup, OMS friendly, parsnip, plant based

Rainbow roasted carrot and thyme salad

I’m a big fan of carrots. And of rainbow eating. So you can imagine how excited I get when I find rainbow carrots!  I’m like a kid in a sweet shop, much to the embarrassment of whoever I’m with.  Sometimes hard to find in mainstream supermarkets (although I have noticed them appearing more, along with a premium price), they seem to be easier to find at farmers markets and farm shops. Or even better, try and grow your own – they’ll taste so good! Continue reading “Rainbow roasted carrot and thyme salad”

Brain food

Have you ever thought about how the food you eat directly affects your brain? As its Brain Awareness Week, it’s worth sparing a minute or two to do just that. Do you give your brain what it needs?

The brain is the hungriest organ in the body. Mind you that’s not surprising really as it’s always on the go, managing and controlling everything else in the body, even (and particularly) when we’re asleep. 25% of the body’s energy supply (in the form of glucose, its fuel of choice), is used in the brain Continue reading “Brain food”

Celebrating garlic

Out of all the ‘national days’ and ‘awareness’ weeks that pop up during the year, National Garlic Day (19th April) is one that really is worth celebrating. As well as adding flavour and pungency to even the most simplest of dishes, this small, stinky bulb also has some wonderful medicinal properties too. Food as medicine is certainly true when it comes to garlic!

Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world, with Sanskrit records documenting its use 5000 year ago. Ancient Chinese and Egyptian also document it’s use, and it has been used around the world to treat coughs, colds, dysentery, heart disease and toothache to name a few. And that’s not forgetting it’s magical powers to ward off vampires – or at least a bad date! One of my books about food quotes this 17th century poem by Sir John Harrington about the pros and cons of garlic, although I’m not sure why it ‘maketh men wink’!

There is so much to write about garlic, more for a book than a blog post. Instead, I want to share a couple of top tips about making the most of garlic’s beneficial properties, as well as a couple of alternative ways to use it in cooking plant based dishes to add more flavour and depth.

Garlic has a multitude of different health-giving active compounds that work together. Many of these are sulphur-containing compound which activate enzyme functions within the body. One particularly beneficial substance is alliinase (yes, two i’s!), an enzyme that is released when a garlic clove is crushed. This aids the formation of allicin, one of the active organo-sulphur compounds in garlic, that is associated with many of garlic’s healthy attributes, as well as the recognisably pungent garlic aroma.

Cooking for more than a few minutes can kill off the alliinase and therefore reduce the health giving properties within the garlic, so a top tip is to crush garlic and leave it to stand for 10 minutes before frying or boiling in a sauce to enable the alliinase to do it’s job and activate the allicin before it’s killed off.  It seems that baking, however, keeps many of the active properties intact – research done in 2007 found that baking did not significantly affect it’s anti-clotting properties, although over cooking did. This is good news for those who find raw garlic rather indigestible but still want to get the goodness in.

Amongst its many medicinal uses, raw garlic has been shown to be effective in the treatment of cancers, particularly in the digestive system. It is also has anti-fungal effects and can be used to treat candida infections. This requires more than your normal clove in a pasta sauce though, and often adding garlic into a green juice is recommended. Not that I have tried this as yet, I’m not that brave! But my trusty healing foods encyclopaedia suggests wrapping the garlic up in a green vegetable like parsley. The cloves are juiced more effectively, and this also helps reduce some of the after odour, as the chlorophyll in the greens binds up some of the sulphurous compounds. Good to know if you’re planning on trying it and socialising the same day!

I use a lot of garlic in my recipes, raw and cooked, as it’s a great way to infuse flavour. To add extra depth, I often add roasted garlic. Roasting is easy to do and, as we have seen above, preserves it’s medicinal properties. Just wrap a clove or two up in tin foil and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes or so whilst you are cooking something else – you’ll know when it’s ready as delicious, garlicky wafts start emanating out of the oven! Leave to cool then wrap in clean foil or baking paper and keep in the fridge until you want to use it. Add it to dips, plant based patés, sauces, mashed veggies – even spread it directly on toast, it’s delicious! The flavour is sweeter, less pungent and doesn’t linger in the the same way as raw.

The other way of infusing strong flavour into dishes is to use smoked garlic. If you haven’t already done so, this is really worth a go – but be careful, it’s powerful stuff and will create a flavour explosion with only a small amount. Previously I have bought mine from farm shops (if you’re ever visiting the Isle of Wight, the Garlic Farm is amazing and has some wonderful smoked garlic), although I did see it recently in my local supermarket as well. I have some garlic growing in my little veg patch, and want to smoke my own, but think I’ll wait until BBQ season to give it a go, as creating an indoor smoker looks like a major fire hazard!

So enjoy National Garlic Day, and don’t forget to crush your garlic and leave it to activate before cooking. And if you happen to have a friend who has their own smoker in their shed, then let me know!