going green broccoli soup

Ok, so it’s been a while since I submitted a post and for that I am sorry – mostly to myself, but also to anyone who might have been following me. I did that life-upheaval thing and dropped my job, my home and my life in Australia and moved across the other side of the world to London. But there’s a happy ending to this particular story – I did it all in pursuit of love. More specifically, my love of acting and the pursuit of a career; and the whirlwind love of a crazy Irishman who happened to be setting sail back home. And so here I am in the theatrical homeland with a warm heart.

But this is where the warm and fuzzy ends and the war on winter begins… Now, I was warned about the cold and the rain and the grey, grey skies, but the realisation of what that actually means is only just setting in to this little Aussie. As someone with bad circulation, a weak immune system, and a general preference for sunshine and warm weather, I’m on the lookout for some extra strength winter warmers this year. The mittens, the coats, the scarves, the beanies, the stockings under the socks, the triple-topped, double-jumpered partridge in a pear tree act just ain’t gonna cut it.

And so my first plan of attack is possibly a predictable move – but a good one, nonetheless. Enter my favourite immune-boosting, creamy, Going Green soup.

  • 2 broccoli heads and stems roughly chopped
  • 2 tblsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped (or 1 tsp of crushed)
  • 1 tsp lemongrass, crushed
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, chopped finely (optional)
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 handful fresh mint or coriander
  • 1 handful fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (optional)
  • handful of slithered almonds to garnish (optional)

In a large heavy bottom saucepan heat coconut oil and add garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chilli (if using) for about a minute. Then add the celery and cook through
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Add the broccoli, including the stems, and pour in stock.

Bring to boil, reduce heat and add seasoning and herbs
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Simmer for 15 minutes and stir in coconut milk
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Place in blender or blitz with a stick and blend together until smooth. I like to leave mine a little chunky as a little reminder of all the goodness I’m eating.

Garnish with slithered almonds and enjoy!

Alternatives and options…

I often mix things up by substituting a broccoli head for a range of different green vegetables. For this particular brew I threw in kale, spinach, zucchini…the list is endless!

I also don’t always have lemongrass or ginger on hand. These are interchangeable or alternatively easily left out, but they add a little extra zing and goodness that I, for one, can’t go passed. Chilli is another of those ingredients that you can take or leave, but again, I say the hot and spicier, the better!

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egg and bacon muffins

All you ever wanted for breakfast in one neat little parcel! These are adapted from Sarah Wilson’s recipe – I’ve just used persian fetta because it’s the best – fetta in oil (so there’s no need to grease the muffin tray), marinated with thyme, garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns. Brilliant.

These tasty protein pockets were a great favourite at the breakfast table on Easter morning. My folks are always looking for ways to use up the copious amount of eggs their chooks lay about the farm. While I always buy free range, nothing beats the bright yellow yolks and the creamy texture of freshly laid eggs. After I served the urban-version to their rumbling tummys, I get the feeling they’ll be taking a little bit of the city back to the country…

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To make six muffins:

  • 4-6 rashers bacon
  • 6 eggs
  • Persian fetta
  • Chives, chopped finely

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Slice the bacon so that it lines the edges of 6 muffin cups. Line the bottom with any any broken bits.
Crumble a teaspoon of fetta into each muffin cup and sprinkle with chives.

Crack one egg into each and gently poke a knife through the yoke so that it breaks ever so slightly.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the egg is white and set. Remove from the oven an let sit for a minute or two.

Run a knife between to the bacon and the muffin tray to separate any bits that are stuck and then use a spoon to gently remove the muffins from the tray.

Serve with crusty bread, some avocado, and perhaps a little slice of lemon on the side. There’s really no need for any extra seasoning as the bacon provides enough salt and the fetta is infused with pepper. But pop it on the table for sheer aesthetics alone – and marvel at how no one even bats an eye.

Tastes like home…

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seafood and avocado salad

This fresh little beauty is adapted from Lee Holmes’ Supercharged Food. Her selection of tasty recipes and simple dressings make feeding the masses that much more joyful.

Regarding the health benefits of this salad, she writes:

An exceedingly good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, prawns also contain high levels of vitamin B12 – an important vitamin for those with digestive difficulties, as it is essential for making blood red blood cells and nerve cells. Prawns also contain immune system boosters such as zinc, phosphorus, potassium and selenium, as well as iron, calcium and magnesium.

Excellent. So with this – and Easter traditions – in mind, I went one step further with an all out seafood salad fiesta. This went to the table alongside my ruby red grapefruit, smoked salmon and roquette salad for Easter Sunday lunch in my attempts to nourish and impress my beloved family on their trip to Sydney for the long weekend. Dare I say, I think it worked… With a splash of pinot gris in our glasses, this proved to be a delightfully festive yet simple, light lunch with all the feel good factors – tasty and healthy – WIN!

  • 12 cos lettuce leaves
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber (or half a continental), thinly sliced
  • Half a punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 red onion (optional, or sliced so that it’s easy to dodge!)
  • 1 cup cooked prawns, shelled and cleaned
  • 1 cup cooked crab meat

Lemon & Garlic Dressing:

  • 125mls extra virgin olive oil
  • 125mls grape seed oil
  • 2 tblsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tblsp lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper

(This dressing will keep in fridge for up to 5 days.)

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I bought my prawns and crabmeat from my local fish shop – shelled, cleaned, cooked and just asking to be tossed around with a bunch of greens. Too easy. Arrange the lettuce so that it lines a big salad bowl. Toss the rest of the ingredients in on top, leaving the seafood to sit on top. Drizzle with the dressing – you will only need about half of the mixture so pop the rest in the fridge ready for other salad concoctions – and serve.

Serves four.

quinoa tabbouleh

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This gluten-free (and guilt free!) alternative to the much loved traditional Greek dish is just as moreish as the couscous version. The fragrant, fresh herbs are such a wonderful assault on the senses in preparation. The quantities here made enough as an accompaniment at a dinner party or a weeks worth of lunches for one! I even went so far as to exclude the oil…and if you’re so inclined, give it a try.

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  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked (see notes)
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 3 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, chopped finely (frucmal friends take note: only the dark green part!)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

To prepare the quinoa, place 1 cup (200g) uncooked and 600ml water in a small saucepan over medium heat, then bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain well and leave to cool.

Place the quinoa in a bowl.

Half the tomatoes and scoop the pulp from the tomato over the quinoa.

Chop the tomato flesh finely and spread over quinoa. Refrigerate for an hour.

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Combine the quinoa and tomato mixture in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or refrigerate in a sealed container for later. Too easy!

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ruby red grapefruit, smoked salmon and roquette

This fresh, summery salad is ridiculously quick and easy. Inspired by a love of Japanese food, it’s perfect as a delicate little entree, a light lunch or for all those ‘I-can’t-be-bothered-cooking’ dinners. In fact, I couldn’t even be bothered crushing the cashews on this particular occasion. Reckless or just plain lazy? Who cares! Less chat. More salad tossing.

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  • 300g smoked sliced salmon
  • 2 ruby red grapefruits
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 150g mizuna (a Japanese mustard leaf) or roquette
  • 1/3 cup roasted cashews, chopped coarsely

Optional additions…

  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly (frucmal friends – I left this one off!)
  • 3-4 tsp capers

Pop four slices of salmon aside and slice the rest into thick pieces.

Segment the grapefruit over a large bowl and slice along the spine of each to remove any pips and release some of the juice. Add oil, mustard, mizuna or roquette, nuts and salmon slices. Mix gently.

Divide salad among serving plates and top with the remaining salmon. Serves four.

Note…I’ve used a couple of generous handfuls of roquette here as mizuna was nowhere to be found at the time I happened to pop to the shops. It has a similar bold, bitter mustardy character so the two are easily interchangeable.