Quick And Easy Vegetable Soup Recipe

Brought up on my mothers home cooked traditional meals, I am no stranger to soup… honestly, I can ramble a good 20 odd straight off the top of my head at any given time. However, it seems to me there are a lot of people around me these days who don’t know how to make soup, or hold of a lot of misconceptions about soup. Despite what people may think soup doesn’t have to be labourious or take hours to make, instead, soups can be one of the simplest, easiest, heartiest things you can make.

Vegetable Soup

Bonuses

  • Great for bulk cooking
  • Freezes well
  • One-pot cooking
  • Versatile
  • Healthy
  • Quick and easy *ready in approx 15 minutes

Ingredients (per serve)

  • 200 grams of cauliflower (approx. 1/3 of a large cauliflower or packed 2 cups)
  • 50 grams (about ½ a medium) carrot
  • 50 grams of frozen peas
  • 50 grams red capsicum/bell pepper
  • ½ medium tomato
  • ¼ medium onion
  • 500ml vegetable or chicken stock – or water with a stock cube added
  • Drizzle of oil – for cooking
  • Other recommended ingredients that can be included include – green beans and/or corn; replacing a portion of stock with canned/pureed tomato for a richer soup; and/or adding shredded chicken, beans or red lentils (which will require additional liquid) for a protein boost.

Herbs and Spices *Please adapt the spices to your taste preferences. You can simply double the quantity of spices/herbs if you like them.

  • ¼ teaspoon of sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder – you can use fresh garlic if you prefer
  • ½ teaspoon of Italian herbs – I used oregano, basil, thyme and marjoram
    *You can also use herbs like dill, rosemary or fennel to suit your taste preferences
  • ¼ pepper
  • Pinch of salt – if your stock is salty you might not need this
  • Other recommended spices/herbs that can be included include – cumin, turmeric, chili and/or cayenne or bay leaf, dill, rosemary and/or fennel.

Equipment

  • 1 small pot with a lid – if you’re only making a single serve. If you don’t have a lid, you may need to use more stock/water
  • Kitchen knife
  • Chopping board
  • Blender – I used a handheld blender
  • Spoon
  • Knife or fork

Nutrition

  • 200g or cauliflower is approx 50 calories
    A great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6.
  • 50g of carrot is approximately 20 calories
    A great source of vitamin A
  • 50 grams of peas approx 30 calories
    A good source of vitamin C, B1, K, Manganese and fibre.
  • 50 grams red capsicum/bell pepper approx 30 calories
    A great source of vitamin C as well as B6 and A
  • ½ medium tomato approx 10 calories
    A good source of vitamin C, biotin, molybdenum, and vitamin K
  • ¼ medium onion approx 10 calories
    A good source in vitamin C, was well as dietary fiber, and folic acid
  • The nutritional content and health benefits of the remaining ingredients including stock, herbs and spices will depend on the type you use.
    However, according to my research, 500mls of the average supermarket stock will set you back approx 40 calories.

Process

  1. Chop cauliflower, capsicum, onion and carrot roughly. The size of your cutting will determine the cooking time, the smaller the quicker it will cook so I recommend small florets for the cauliflower, 1.5cm cubes for the carrot and ½ cm strips for the capsicum and onion.
    Note: To speed up the process, I cut my onions, and whilst sautéing them I cut the rest of my vegetables.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, herbs and spices and sauté until onions are transparent, approx 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add stock. When the liquid boils, add the carrot and cauliflower. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the capsicum and tomato. Cook until the carrot and cauliflower is tender. This should take approx another 3-5 minutes depending on how small you cut your vegetables.
    Note: To test of vegetables are tender, simply taste a vegetable or place a sharp knife on a vegetable, and applying very minimal pressure, the knife should enter the vegetable with little give. If the knife meets resistance in the middle of the vegetable, more so than the outer portion of the vegetable it is not quite ready.
  4. Once tender. Turn off heat, and add peas.
  5. Vegetable SoupBlend soup to desired consistency. I use a handheld blender and simply give it a quick 5-10 second buzz.
    Note: Be careful of any splash back if you are blending the soup whilst it is still hot.
  6. Serve immediate, or let cool and pack away in the fridge for tomorrows lunch, or freeze for an evening you can’t be bothered cooking.

Cauliflower Rice Recipe

Cauliflower rice has become the core to of many of the dishes I have recently been making. My new found obsession with Instagram really opened my eyes to just how much of a staple this simple idea has become. And I’m not surprised, because if I can get my traditional Polish family enjoying it to the point it gets requested I’m sure you and your family or friends will enjoy it too.

10306478_10152522355171871_2023850728592781835_nWhy It’s Great

  • Great for bulk cooking
  • Freezes well
  • Can be made the day before
  • Versatile
  • Healthy – It’s a vegetable!

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower (or however much you want to make)

Nutrition

  • 600g or 1 medium head = approx 150 calories
  • 4 serves of 150g = approx 37.5 calories per serve
  • A great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6.
  • Also contains choline, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, phosphorus, and biotin (B7).
  • When compared with cooked white rice, 600g will set you back 780 calories, or 130 calories per 150g serving.
  • Nutritionally is doesn’t even come close. Whilst white rice is a good source of folate, thiamine (B1), niacin (B3) as well as containing some magnesium, manganese, and iron, its 90% carbohydrate content really fails to provide fiber.

Process

1) Cut your cauliflower into several pieces. This will help you get it into your food processor and process more evenly.

Blending Cauliflower Rice

2) Process fresh cauliflower until it is the size of rice. If your food processor has a pulse setting I recommend you use this. Otherwise, blend for 2 seconds, pause, check the texture and keep doing this until it’s the right texture.
Note: If you don’t have a food processor you can use a hand grater or cut the cauliflower using the knife, however this can get quite messy.

3) You can serve it raw, however I don’t enjoy the taste of raw cauliflower, and I find it doesn’t quite act like rice as well as it does when cooked. You can cook your cauliflower rice in a couple ways. My personal preference (for textural, bulk cooking and nutritional reasons) is to steam it over the stove, using a pot with a lid, water and a colander.

Cauliflower Rice BowlNote: If you don’t want to steam your cauliflower rice over the stove you can microwave it in a bowl with a cover. The moisture from the cauliflower will steam in the bowl and cook the cauliflower accordingly.

Note: With both options I do recommend stirring the cauliflower rice half way through the cooking process to ensure even cooking. I find it usually takes about 5 minutes to steam, however it may take longer depending on your equipment etc. It’s definitely worth giving it a try at 2.5 minutes when you stir it, and then again at 5 minutes and leaving it to cook further if required.

Cauliflower Stirfry

4) If you are looking to cook a dish such as a stirfry with cauliflower rice it is worth letting it sit and dry a little before using it… As you would with regular rice. Day old is best, but even 5-10 minutes to cool will do if you’re in a rush. This simply ensures the integrity of the texture is kept in tact.

5) Freeze it. Store it in the fridge. Serve it straight up. But most importantly, no matter how you choose to serve it, enjoy!

Time For A Healthier Grizzly Bear

Eva and AppleRecently many of you will have noticed some changes in the types of foods I’ve been blogging about, and those of you who follow my Facebook page, profile or Instagram account will have noticed a significant shift in the types of food I have been enjoying… particularly towards vegan, vegetarian and paleo foods. And though I am none of these things, I have in-fact recently started to rediscover my passion for the healthier things in life. And whilst my passion of food and cooking remains, the types of things I am looking to share with you are now inspired by my goal to find a healthy balance in my life… something that seems to elude so many of us.

As many of you know, I was born into a love filled Polish family where I was brought up on my mother’s freshly made traditional Polish food. To this day I can remember spending a lot of time in the kitchen watching my mum cook schnitzels and pumpkin soups. This kick started my love of food and cooking, which then led me to spend my childhood dreaming of becoming a chef and opening up my own cafe or restaurant. Though my passion for food developed early on, I was actually known to be one of the fussiest eaters around until I hit my twenties.

Porridge With Kiwi Fruit, Banana, Strawberries, Blueberries, Cinnamon, Chiaseeds and Ground FlaxseedsIn my early twenties I spend just over a year living in a vegan/vegetarian orientated household. This was initially a shock to my system, as I was coming from a home were meat, carbohydrates and butter were at the core of most meals. After a short period of time my body adjusted, and I found myself thriving on a whole new world of flavours and healthy dishes. I was exercising regularly and smiling every day. What I didn’t foresee happening was just how badly my body would react to all foods I use to enjoy so much when I moved back to my family home. But once again my body adjusted, my food habits shifted and I never did quite get back to that lively place I once stood.

Spicy Chicken, Green Bean, Carrot, Capsicum, Onion And Cauliflower Rice StirfryNow in my mid-twenties, I find myself looking back over the years and discovering that I’ve never truly had a healthy relationship with food. Over the years my relationship with food has seen me go through many things from thriving and smiling to being sick and depressed, from having great times and meet new people to exploring new passions and learning a lot. And alongside all that I’ve been critisised through it all. I’ve been told throughout the years that I’m too thin to be healthy, too heavy to model, too obsessed with health and fitness, and not caring enough in regards to finding myself malnourished. Every opinion under the sun, no matter how polarising, believe me when I say that I’ve been on the brutal and soul destroying receiving end of it.

I Love South Trigg BeachTaking those experiences and discussing them with the people currently in my life I’ve come to the realisation that unhealthy relationships with food, health and fitness are a very common trend. Over eating, under eating, undernourishment, unhealthy food choices, restricted eating, losing too much weight, gaining too much weight, poor body image, self loathing, eating disorders and so much more. If you can name it, I can probably find someone in my life that has or still struggles with it to this day… and I find that to be a sad and scary thing.

Tasty SaladSo as a result of my new found awareness I’ve decided to make some changes in my personal life, in an attempt to find a healthy balance in my life for the very first time. I’ve been training a lot more, making better food choices, and most importantly, I’ve learning about so many new and exciting things along the way. I hope you’ll stay with me on my journey as share with you some of the new foods, tasty restaurants and general health and fitness things I discover as I develop a truly healthy perspective on my life here in Perth.

All my love and wellness wishes. xx

PS. I recently managed to get my mum and dads taste buds enjoying my cauliflower rice, and that says a lot. Keep an eye out for my upcoming paleo stirfry recipe, because I think I might just be onto something here.

How To Save More Than A Dollar – 5 Practical Tips

Being a full time student whilst working part time for as long as I can remember has taught me many things. One of these lessons –recited by parents throughout history- is that money does not grow on trees and is very often hard to come by. So after noticing my bank amount was never going up no matter how much I worked –and realising that no one was stealing my money- it was time that I had a good look at my situation. Out of that examination I have come up with my 5 favourite and realistic quick tips & tricks to save money. No, you don’t have to re-use your teabags or cut down to 1 piece of toilet paper per visit just have a quick read below and maybe put into effect an idea or two that suits you. I couldn’t believe how simple and second nature these following 5 tips have become for me, and the proof of their effectiveness is in my bank account numbers which are in fact now back on the increase.

Yearly
Roll your superannuation into one super fund account.

This is something that is often overlooked and not thought about. Many people have work several jobs, and to save time ticked that little box on their induction form that says ‘use companies recommended super fund”. But did you know that each super fund charges  a membership fee. The more super accounts you have, the more memberships you are paying each year costing anywhere between $50 to over $100 per account.
Websites such as http://www.canstar.com.au/superannuation/ can help you select one.

Quarterly
Don’t be afraid to move banks/accounts.
It will be no surprise to most of us that every bank and every bank account offers different interest rates and charges different fees. Taking a minutes on a website like http://www.moneybuddy.com.au/compare/bank-accounts can help you find a bank account that not only suits your needs, but can offer you the best deal –be it the lowest fees or the highest interest rates- for your money.

Monthly
Second hand does not mean second best.
Recently I decided to stop at a local Salvos store to pick up some bits and pieces for a costume party, little did I know that I would be leaving with several brand name dresses for less than the cost of 1 item in a regular store – less than $50 for the lot! Yes, some of these second hand shops can be a little hit and miss, but many areas have several –I have 3 within 1km from my house. So pop in to a couple and I’m sure that very soon you will have your favourite bargain hunting retailer too.
After using Google maps to pin your house, use the ‘search nearby’ function and try typing in ‘op shop’ and see just how many are in your surrounding area… You may be surprised.

Weekly
Sell it, don’t bin it.
I know it sounds like a lot of effort but the truth is it’s no more time consuming or complex than driving to your local store. Free online local classified websites such as http://www.gumtree.com.au/ allow you to quickly and with ease sell your ‘junk’. Recently I popped my university textbooks on Gumtree and sure enough made a couple hundred dollars without trying. The key is to not be too greedy, offer your product for a reasonable price and soon enough cash will replace it. Websites like these are always great for picking up a bargain too. I’m always amazed when I look around my room and realise how much I’ve saved by purchasing items from local classifieds. As they say, one mans junk really is another mans treasure… My numerous surfboards, wetsuits and various household bits and pieces will attest to that.

Daily
Learn to cook.
Even the laziest, most untalented cook can cook, they just don’t know it. If you ever take a good look at where your money goes, many of us will notice that a very large portion goes on food. Food is not cheap, and eating out on a regular basis can leave people living from pay check to pay check. Cheap, no-fuss, even no cooking recipes are out there. My favourite faultless recipe is a Moroccan Tuna CousCous that requires no cooking, takes less than 10 minutes to make, can be made in bulk and costs less than $2-$3 a serve… Yet has plenty of flavour. Other cheap dishes that require extremely low levels of cooking talent include soups. A simple vegetable or chicken stock can be made in bulk for next to nothing and countless varieties of soup can be made from the same stock and 1 or 2 additional ingredients. Soups/stocks also freeze really well once made, so freeze your left overs and you’ll never be short of a cheap and quick home cooked meal even after the hardest day of work.
Try typing ‘easy budget recipes’ into your favourite search engine and see what delights await you.

Dim-Sum Yum!

One evening my sister-in-law decided to put her thermomix to the test try making some dim-sum for dinner. For a first attempt at BBQ buns and gyozas it was quite impressive, but like every first attempt of cooking a new dish there were -as expected- some hits and misses.

Dim-Sum1
Just over a week later whilst trawling through Facebook I stumbled across a post from a company called Red Hot Spatula offering a dim-sum/yum-cha cooking class for only $60! Coming from a European background I’ve never had the chance to learn many Asian cooking recipes and techniques myself, but this has not stopped my love and appreciation for Sunday dim-sum from growing. So I quickly grabbed my sister-in-law and booked us 2 places.

Finally the day came, we packed our chopping boards and knives and headed off to Swan View. I had been corresponding with Yvonne who runs the cooking classes (and catering) with her mum Taryn, butstill had no idea what to expect. We turned up at 6pm on the dot and kicked the class off right away. There were 5 other ladies participating in the class, all with different cooking abilities.
A class of 7 –with 2 instructors- turned out to be a great number for the class.

Dim-Sum2Dim-Sum3We all sat down whilst Yvonne handed out the recipes we’d be cooking and explained how the evening would run. We we’re encouraged to take notes and as many photos as we wanted to during the process. We got ourselves into pairs and were asked to each select one of the following dishes: Prawn Gyozas, Char Siew Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns), Glutinous Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf and Siew Mai. Needless to say it took me the whole of 2 seconds to jump at the chance to learn to make Chinese BBQ Pork Buns. And so kicked off 2 hours of cooking, laughing and delicious-ness.

Yvonne first went through many of the ingredients we’d be using along with throwing in a lot of tips about the ingredients and brands as well as shopping for the products. In our teams of 2 we all began our dishes.
Dim-Sum4Dim-Sum6
We shared a communal bench in the centre of the kitchen which allowed us to view and interact with all the 
participants and the dishes they were creating. So whilst we were waiting for our dough to rise and pork to cool we were able to jump around to another group and have a go at putting together their dishes. Everyone was friendly, really getting into the class and enjoying themselves.

My favourite part of course had to be the conclusion, where all the completed dishes were placed on the table and we all got to tuck into our creations.

My favourite dish as you can expect were the Pork Buns. The flavour of the pork was the same as –if not better than – that you’d get from your favourite Chinatown store or dim-sum restaurant. The texture of the dough was to die for and complimented the filling well. (And yes, me & my sister-in-law did make them).

Dim-Sum7Dim-Sum8Dim-Sum9

The class was truly brilliant. Both Yvonne and Taryn were very insightful, helpful and created a great learning environment. The classes were very hands on and small meaning that we could ask questions and get help when required as well as getting stuck right into it and being able to to take part in the creation of every dish even if it was in some small way. Yvonne offered advice during the class and drew our attention to the noteworthy parts of each dish.
Dim-Sum10 IMAG0176
For more information regarding the classes visit:Where some classes cost $120, this class only cost $60, and where some classes are spilling out the door, not allowing you be hands on, this class was small and hands on so you left full of new skills, knowledge and with of course a full belly.

http://www.redhotspatula.com.au  or http://www.facebook.com/RedHotSpatula