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

Summer skin smoothie

The weather over the last few days has been beautifully sunny and warm, the perfect temperature for enjoying summer food offerings like this gorgeous pink watermelon that I ordered with my veg box last week.

I always associate watermelon with hot weather; maybe it’s just because I ate so much when we were in India! 92% water, it’s really rehydrating on a steamy hot day. The fantastic nutrients found in its gorgeously crisp flesh help to minimise the damage caused by too much sun, as getting the right amount for us Brits is a tricky thing!

The majority of vitamin D that circulates in the body is created through the skin being exposed to sunshine. Vitamin D is not only essential for strong bones and teeth, but also supports the immune system and low levels can lead to a whole array of health problems ranging from asthma to multiple sclerosis. So we really need to get outside and catch some rays. Too much sunshine though can lead to skin damage and potentially skin cancer.

Our weather in the UK is so unpredictable getting regular sun exposure can be difficult. So when the sun does come out, it’s tempting  to expose lily white skin a bit too long and burn – that’s where the damage occurs. Fortunately, food like watermelon can help.

As well as rehydrating the skin, watermelon is packed with vitamin C and betacarotene that act as anti-oxidants, mopping up damaging free radicals created by the damaging rays. It also has large amounts of lycopene that also helps reduce inflammation and can help protect the skin from lasting damage – marvellous!

Apart from just eating it as a chunk, watermelon is delicious in salad (see this old blog post http://thesensitivefoodiekitchen.com/wonderful-watermelon/) and also works as a fantastic base to green smoothies, making it completely dairy free and plant based.

To add in some extra anti-inflammatory power (as well as awesome flavour) I’ve blended ginger and turmeric into this spinach and watermelon smoothie, and added a good squeeze of lime to help absorption of the vitamin C.

Both ginger and turmeric have amazing medicinal properties. Ginger is thought to help with digestive issues, reduce pain from muscle soreness to arthritis to migraine and also help stabilise blood sugars. Turmeric is being hailed as a wonder spice, a surprise to the western world but not to anyone hailing from India where it’s amazing properties have been used for thousands of years. It’s not only anti-septic but also helps reduce all sorts of inflammation in the body. There is so much to say about turmeric it needs it’s own blog post (and more!) but for now it’s a good idea to include some in your diet every day.

So as we bask in possibly the last of the summer sun, why not try this super healthy smoothie and give your skin a super summer treat.

Summer skin soother smoothie

A couple of handfuls of spinach leaves, washed and roughly chopped
1 quarter chunk watermelon (from a small one) chopped
2 cm chunk fresh ginger chopped
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric or 1 cm chunk of fresh turmeric chopped
juice of 1 lime

Place all the ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Drink straight away.

Steve’s Saturday night squash curry

As much as I love cooking, it’s always a treat when someone else does it for a change. Because of work and travel commitments, my hubby Steve doesn’t get many opportunities to get creative in the kitchen, so when he offers to cook it’s always a treat, especially as I was out all day yesterday, so it was a real relief to come home and be served with a piping hot dinner.

Steve does what I call ‘man’s cooking’ – lots of ingredients all prepped before hand (often with lots of washing up!), loud music and always a beer on the go. Not that this is a criticism, just a little observation – whatever is needed to maximise the cooking experience (although the number of beers could potentially be directly linked to the outcome of the dish – “hic!”).

Having lived in India and spent time in South Africa, Steve has picked up a few tricks and makes a mean veggie curry, all dairy free of course. Aware of my veg box blogging challenge, he did check what I had planned to make – a sweet mama squash and chickpea curry – so now I’m writing about his version of what I had planned in my head!

Squash and chickpeas go together really well in terms of flavour, texture and nutrition. I’ve already talked about what nutritional powerhouses they are (Thursday stuffed squash and Friday’s pancakes), as well as fabulous sources of fibre that your gut will love. They also both work wonderfully with spices, and complement each other superbly.

Of course, spices add more than just colour and flavour to a dish; they contain amazing healing properties that have been used for thousands of years, but science is only just beginning to understand how.

Cumin, for example Turmeric has long been used for it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties, but the active ingredient – curcumin – has only recently been identified and researched. It seems that the amazing properties in turmeric can help relieve all sorts of ailments from period problems, to IBS, to joint pain to cancer. In fact, there is so much to say about turmeric, there’s no way enough room here, so let’s just say it’s amazing and should be included in your diet as much as possible!

Steve likes the base of his curry sauces to cook down over a period of time to concentrate the flavours; this doesn’t take that much longer, but really does deepen the flavour.

There are a couple of interloper ingredients again, but from the veg box he used an onion, two of the carrots and the second half of the sweet mama squash. There was (and still is!) loads, so this recipe feeds a hungry crew easily.

Play around with the spices to get the heat level you desire – I’ve only given approximations here, as I’m not really too sure exactly how much was put in! Needless to say, it was super tasty, and all the more special as I didn’t have to cook!

Steve’s Saturday night squash curry
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1-2 red chilli, chopped
3-4 tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder/garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
water
1/2 sweet mama squash cut into smallish chunks
2 carrots, diced
1 courgette, diced
1/3 small cauliflower, chopped (optional)
400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper
Heat a dash of olive oil in the bottom of a pan and cook the onion for a couple of minutes until soft. Add the garlic, ginger and chill and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring all the time so it doesn’t burn. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and let it cook down for a few minutes. Stir in the spices and add some water to make a thick sauce. Cook down on a low heat, adding a bit more water for 15 minutes or so until the flavours have developed.
Add the squash and carrot chunks, covering them well with the sauce, adding a little more water to almost cover. Pop on a lid, bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 -10 minutes until the veg begin to soften. Add in the courgette, cauliflower and chickpeas and simmer until all the veg are soft and the sauce has thickened up nicely. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with popadoms and steamed brown rice.