Embracing Winter… Beetroot, Carrot and Ginger Soup

I don’t like the cold. I never have and when I lost weight, I started feeling it a hell of a lot more than I used to.

There was a point (when I was unhealthily obsessed with exercise and eating clean) when I was 8% body fat. This is not a good place for someone who is not training to be a fitness model or a marathon runner to be. I had no fat on me to keep me warm, my hair was super thin, my nails were brittle, my skin was drier than normal (I have naturally dry skin) and I looked gaunt around my face… and I still didn’t have a perfectly flat tummy. SO unfair.

Now, I exercise and eat healthily because I love it and the way it makes me feel. I love vegetables and fruit. I love nuts and avocado. I love seedy, wholegrain bread. I love honey and dried fruit. I genuinely prefer whole, natural foods that taste like their ingredients to overly fatty, deep fried, sugar laden foods. I know what foods fuel my body and I’m learning to listen to my hunger cues- although, this is hard especially after a period of eating to gain weight and eating (healthy foods!) when I wasn’t hungry. IT creates habits which are hard to break. But I know it’s worth it.

While my size 6 clothes and even some of my size 8 clothes don’t fit anymore, my face is full, my hair is thick and my muscles are strong. I’m extremely fit. I train hard. I’m no longer afraid of certain foods and I’m secure enough in myself to be both able to say NO if I don’t want to eat something that I wouldn’t usually (like Domino’s Pizza or KFC, both things which I’ve had to justify choosing not to eat because a] ew and b] it’s bad for me)  and able to enjoy things which I wouldn’t usually eat but want to at that time (like icecream from Il Melograno) without fearing the perceived judgment of those around me.

Winter is one of those seasons where food fears and body shaming arises. People talk about how they’re putting on layers of clothing and along with it, layers of fat. People start glorifying hot chocolates by the fire and then guiltily slapping themselves on the wrist. Ads start appearing on TV claiming that losing weight will help you “Be You” during these cold months. People start spitting vitriol about “crap excuses” like the cold and wet weather keeping people away from training.

It can be hard if you’re only starting out, if you’re coming back to training or even for those of us who train consistently and regularly.

And it isn’t ok. Winter is a hard time for fitness sometimes. It can be cold and wet. It can lead us to want to just cuddle up in front of the fire. And that’s fine! It’s about balance.

Instead of going for an outside run, do a Fitness Blender workout at home or go to the gym and use a treadmill if you’re really into running. Invest in some good quality winter gear if you really want to run outside.

Get an accountability partner who will be expecting you at the gym so you feel like you can’t let them down. If you feel really unsafe driving on wet roads etc, you could even get them to pick you up or you could suggest doing an at home work out while on skype or something similar.

You could also try winter sports to keep you fit during this time of chilly winds and icy rain. Try something like RockUp Netball, for instance!

And if you’re worried about hearty comfort foods, just remember that we’re now in SOUP season. Soup is delicious, can be super (heh) healthy and is easy to make. It can simmer all day in a slow cooker or you can whip one up in  20 mins. It’s warming, soul enriching and just all round, awesome.

I made a seriously incredible batch of soup today to take around to a friend’s place for lunch. It’s only got a handful of ingredients and it was a total case of set and forget.

Roasted Beetroot, Carrot and Ginger Soup

2 large beetroots
6 small-medium carrots
1 medium onion
A chunk of ginger
6 cloves of garlic
Vegetable Stock
Mixed herbs
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) spray

Chop the first 4 ingredients into similar sized chunks, separate the cloves of garlic, sprinkle with the herbs and spray with EVOO spray.

Roast until the vegetables are cooked but toothsome. Remove the skin of the garlic. Tip the veggies into a pot and cover with the stock and blend using an immersion blender until you get to your desired texture. 

Done.

If you want, serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt and some greens stirred through your soup. Crusty bread is a (non) optional extra too.

Seriously. How easy is that? It’s also exceptionally delicious. And very healthy.

So, basically, even though winter is hard sometimes, it passes like all other things in life. I encourage you to embrace it with both arms, a bowl and a pair of super fluffy socks which you can hide under your runners. No judgement.

 

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Hot Cross Buns- Two Ways!

I love Easter. It’s unpredictable, sneaks up on you (not unlike a bunny!) and it commemorates the most important part of my faith- the death and resurrection of my Christ. I know that many of our Easter traditions are rooted in pagan festivals and others are adapted from Jewish passover traditions, but I don’t think that devalues them at all. I love the symbolism of rising loaves and the empty egg- trite as they may be. If the heart and the message behind them is true and well intentioned, then what harm do they bring? I also acknowledge that many do not believe in Christ and while it saddens me that they will never know the true joy of Easter until they do, I see nothing wrong with those traditions being adopted by people from all walks of life, all creeds, all religions.

Easter is about Jesus dying to bring people to Him and save us from ourselves, our fate. Who are we to deny anyone entry into that?

On that note, these two recipes are ones which I’ve made this Easter to bless my friends and family with. They’re both significantly healthier than the ones you’ll buy at the shops, and I think, significantly yummier! I hope you enjoy them and they’ll remind you of the love Jesus had for you as he died and was risen to new life.

The first recipe I used as a base is this one from Tales From The Kitchen Shed

Author: Tales From The Kitchen Shed with some adaptations by Amy Carpenter (The Carpenter’s Daughter
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: Home Baking
Serves: 16
Ingredients
Dough:
  • Loose leaf chai (I used Hari Hai Chai and Mumbai Maple from T2)
  • 3/4 cup mixed dried fruit
  • 80ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 245g natural yoghurt
  • 1 apple – grated
  • 225g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 275 wholegrain rye flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 1-2 tbsp of Apple Cake Spice Mix (contains cinnamon, cardamom, rosehip, ginger, cassia, nutmeg… lots of yummy things! And no sugar.)
  • 1/2 an apple, cut into match sticks
Instructions
  1. Place the chai and water in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for about 3 or 4 minutes to reduce by about half. Add the sultanas (and mixed peel if using) and set to one side.
  2. Warm the buttermilk for one minute on high power in the microwave. Stir in the grated apple and, if desired, sweetener of choice.
  3. Add the flours, yeast, bicarb and cinnamon into a large bowl along with the buttermilk mixture and mix together to form a rough dough.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (Alternatively you can use a stand mixer to knead your dough.)
  5. Spread the dough out into a rectangle and sprinkle over the fruit mixture. Bring the dough back together and knead until the fruit is evenly distributed.
  6. Place the dough in a large greased mixing bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 ½ hours until doubled in size.
  7. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide into 16 pieces, approx 75 to 80 g each. Shape into balls and place on a baking tray fairly close together and flatten each ball a little. Cover with greased cling film and prove for one hour in a warm place.
  8. While your Hot Cross Buns are proving, julienne your apple and place the strips on top of your buns, like a cross..
  9. Preheat your oven to 400°F / 200°C / Gas Mark 6
  10. Place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

The other one I made is a GF recipe which I sourced from Gluten Free, Grain Free

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cup almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 3/4 cups arrowroot/tapioca starch
  • 3/4 cups mixed dried fruit
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon bi-carb (baking soda)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp of aquafaba
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Chai (see above for the mix)
  • 1 apple

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175C2.
  2. Soak chia seeds and dried fruit in chai tea
  3. Combine dry ingredients together
  4. Add eggs, soaked chia seeds, apple cider vinegar, grated apple & soaked dried fruit.
  5. Combine everything well until there are no lumps (except the bits of fruit)! It will be thickish – don’t be tempted to add any more liquid
  6. I used a silicon muffin tray to cook these. Bake for 25 minutes until the hot cross buns are firm to the touch and bounce back when lightly pressed. The top will be lovely and golden in colour
  7. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a cooling rack. DEVOUR!

Hope these tickle your fancy!

Belated Make It Monday… Picnic Loaf!

Oops! Yesterday was a bit of a whirlwind (although I did get to spend some time just basking in God’s presence over a tasty and healthy brunch which was a true blessing) which meant that the blog post I had planned didn’t make it to the blog… oops!

I guess that’s what happens when you have a busy weekend with loads of fun things to do… the madness turns into Monday madness without much of a second thought! My weekend involved two (it would have been three but… woops…) birthday parties (one of which was mine!), selling at Camberwell Market, an impromptu visit to the Glenferrie Rd festival, an impromptu bike ride on my newly repaired bicycle- Freddie- plus brunch and workout dates! It’s exhausting just listing it.

The highlight was definitely the picnic which I had to celebrate my 26th birthday- the last of the 4 celebrations I planned (berry picking with the school girls, Moroccan Soup Bar with my bffs, The Independent in Gembrook with the parents and the afore mentioned picnic for everyone!) I just wanted something really relaxed where all my friends, their kids, their partners, their pets, who/whatever were welcome to come, have fun and relax. A picnic seemed like the perfect solution.

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We’re blessed to have plenty of beautiful parks near us and so I decided to hold it at a local park with plenty of open spaces, playgrounds and shady spots to enjoy. Instead of relying on BBQ facilities (which are often claimed VERY early on in the morning and I wasn’t prepared to miss boot camp/ask my parents to get to the park at such an obscene hour and wait around forever), I just asked everyone to bring something to share, whether it be savoury or sweet. I would make a few things, just in case everyone bought cake, cheese or chips (it could definitely happen).

I made:

Carrot and Nut Butter Pinwheels
Apple and Coconut Pinwheels
Healthy Almond Butter Brownies
Healthy Oaty PB Biscuits  (based on link with a lot of tinkering…)
Healthy Berry Slice
Golden Latte Slice
Panzanella Salad
Watermelon, Goats Fetta and Basil Salad
The SPECTACULAR WATERMELON BIRTHDAY CAKE! (which I STUPIDLY did not get a photo of)  (similar to this)

and… Picnic Loaf!

Which was such a success I’m making it for my Bible Study tonight.

I got the idea from the amazing Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe whose blog I absolutely devour. She, along with Cindy and Michael from Where’s The Beef are my blogging crushes (how sad am I?) and I find their recipes, reviews and reflections just so well written and interesting. They’re also known to my father as the enablers of my love of Vegetarianism and my recent forays into a plant based lifestyle (#veg4lent2017).

When I saw this loaf I knew I needed to make it for my picnic. So, I roasted up some carrots, sweet potato, capsicum, celery and zucchini all sprinkled with the MacGyver spice blend from Oasis Bakery, made some pesto with some sad looking coriander, almonds, lemon juice and garlic, opened up a jar of grilled eggplant, mangled a can of pickled beetroot (why don’t cans of beetroot have ring pulls- and why do they all contain sugar?!) and layered them in my wholemeal vienna loaf (no non-white cob loaves were to be found- SIGH). I also layered some homemade semi dried tomatoes, leafy mix and some basil leaves.

The loaf was super delicious and everyone who had some enjoyed it immensely! This time, I roasted my own beetroot, swapped the sweet potato for pumpkin, added some finely sliced ricotta stuffed chillies I found in the fridge and used a multigrain sourdough batard.

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I cannot imagine that it won’t be just as delicious!!

Hope you give it a go for your next picnic and that you have just as fun a time as I did!

Happy eating (and picnic-ing!!)