Creamy mushroom soup with miso portobello

Mushrooms have some serious health benefits but they are also one of my favourite ingredients to cook with.
This beautiful mushroom soup is a combination of white mushrooms, shiitake and meaty mini portobellos.
Blended cashews add creaminess without the need for dairy.
The soup keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days and freezes well, making it ideal for batch cooking.

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150g cashews
1 small onion, peeled & roughly chopped
350g of mushrooms (I used equal quantities of organic white mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms), roughly sliced
Rapeseed oil for cooking
1 clove of garlic, roughly sliced  
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
sea salt and black pepper to season
500ml veg stock

For the miso portobellos:
6 mini or 3 large portobello mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 teaspoon of miso
1 tablespoon of coconut oil

Pop the cashews in a bowl, cover with cold water and soak until you cook the soup. This will soften the cashews slightly, making them easier to blend.
Heat a pan on a medium heat. Add a splash of rapeseed oil and cook the onion with the lid on for 5 minutes.
Add the mushrooms, garlic, thyme leaves, bay leaf, a couple of pinches of sea salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, stir it well and continue cooking with the lid on for a couple more minutes.
Pour in the vegetable stock, add a bit more black pepper and cook for 15 minutes on a low heat with the lid on. Set aside to cool slightly and remove the bay leaf.
Drain the water from the cashews and transfer the cashews into a blender. Season with a pinch of sea salt and a small amount of black pepper.
Pour in the soup and blend until completely smooth. Check the seasoning and adjust it by adding more salt & pepper if required.
To make the miso portobellos, heat the oil in a small frying pan on a high heat. Throw in the sliced portobellos and cook for a couple of minutes until the slices start to colour on the outside. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the miso. Keep stirring until the miso has combined well (around 1-2 minutes).
To serve, ladle the creamy mushroom soup into bowls and top with the miso portobellos.

Roasted carrot & cumin dip

Resistant starches are a direct fuel source for beneficial microbes that live in the gut.
Yup, this is nerdy, so let me translate it.
Our large intestine is full of bacteria. We need them. They are mostly beneficial microbes that convert all the fibre we can’t digest into nutrients for us. It’s a nice little partnership, we just have to do one thing: feed them.
Luckily they love things like roasted veg, whole grains, nuts, seeds and veggies in general.
This roasted carrot and cumin dip is a great source of food for beneficial bacteria owing to the fibre content. It’s delicious on bread or used as a dip for more veg.
It’ll work wonders for your gut health.

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500g carrots, peeled & sliced
1 teaspoon of cumin
2 cloves of garlic, left unpeeled
sea salt and black pepper to season
rapeseed oil for roasting
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Juice of half a lemon

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Put the sliced carrot & cumin on a roasting tray. Season well with sea salt and black pepper and drizzle over some rapeseed oil.
Roast for 15 minutes.
After the 15 minutes, add the 2 garlic cloves to the same roasting tray and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes until the carrots are fully cooked.
Transfer the carrots to a blender, peel the garlic and add that too, squeeze in the lemon juice, add a good pinch of sea salt, some more black pepper, the olive oil and a splash of water. Blend until completely smooth.
Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if required.
Spread on bread or use as a dip.

Herby chickpea & cashew salad

Chickpeas are a great filling, protein-rich base for salads that makes having a plate of green stuff much more satiating. Herbs provide flavour and adding some good quality olive ensures maximum nutrient absorption.
If you aren’t familiar with this concept, in a nutshell, certain nutrients need fat for absorption. Vitamin K found in greens is one such nutrient as an example.
Add olive oil to salads and more nutrients are absorbed

If you aren’t vegan, this salad works well topped with chicken or halloumi too.

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Ingredients to feed two:
85g cashews
2x tins of chickpeas, drained
Leaves from 3 sprigs of mint, roughly chopped
Leaves from 3 sprigs of dill
Leaves from a large handful of parsley
Black pepper & sea salt to season
120g cucumber (1/2 cucumber approximately), quartered lengthways then roughly chopped
2 handfuls of rocket
Juice of a lemon
2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and roast the cashews until golden in colour.
Throw the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, drizzle over the olive oil and squeeze in the lemon juice. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, stir, divide between two plates, top with the cashews and serve.

Shredded chicken & bean stew

There is something comforting about a big bowl of warming stew that’s completely irreplaceable.
This delicious shredded chicken stew combines tasty veg, herbs and beans to create a high-protein, low-carb meal that’s full of nutrients and flavour.
It’s a two hour “investment” of your time making it ideal as a weekend batch cook. By investment, I mean you can pretty much leave it alone to cook and do its thing, you just have to be around to take it off the hob.

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Ingredients to feed 4 (or 2 plus 2 lunches)
Tbsp rapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small sticks of celery, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 medium carrots, peeled & sliced
250g (1 pack) of chestnut mushrooms, sliced
leaves from 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf (fresh or dried)
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
2 chicken breasts
500g passata (sieved tomato, find it next to chopped tomatoes)
250ml chicken stock
1 tin of butter beans, drained
1 tin of kidney beans, drained
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
sour cream & fresh parsley to serve (optional)

Heat the rapeseed oil in a casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the onion and celery, season with sea salt and black pepper and cook with the lid on for 5 minutes until the onion has softened.
Add the garlic, carrot, mushrooms, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, cumin and paprika, season again with sea salt and black pepper and cook for a couple of minutes.
Put the chicken breasts on top of the veg, stir in the passata and stock and season again, stirring well.
Bring to the boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer for an hour with the lid on.
Take the lid off the pan and cook for a further 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken breasts and shred them with a fork. Return the shredded chicken to the pan alongside the beans. Cook for a couple of minutes to heat the beans through then ladle into bowls.
Top with soured cream and fresh parsley to serve.

Camping eggs

May was a particularly sunny and surprisingly warm month in the UK. To capitalise on the sunshine, I moved the “office” (basically just my laptop) to Devon for a long weekend, camping at a beautiful site near Hope Cove.
To save from eating out 3x a day, breakfast materials were sourced from a local store, the only shop for miles.
This high protein combination of eggs, mushrooms, spinach and tomato was really easy to cook in a single pan on a camping stove and was duly named “the camping breakfast”. It remains one of my favourite ways to start the day.

Ingredients for 2
6 eggs
a punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
a punnet of chestnut mushrooms, sliced
Two handfuls of spinach
Sea salt and black pepper
Parmesan (optional)

Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk lightly.
Put the pan on a medium high heat and melt a good knob of butter. Throw in the mushrooms, season with sea salt and black pepper and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the cherry tomatoes and spinach to the same pan, cook for another couple of minutes, season again with salt & pepper.
Push the veggies to one side of the pan, add a slice of butter to the empty side and pour in the eggs. Let it cook for a minute then scramble lightly. When the eggs are cooked to your liking, move some of the vegetables across so to mix the eggs and veg.
Divide between two plates, season with a pinch of sea salt and some black pepper and finish with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese.