Sunday, 29 March 2015

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Every time I go into a shop I make a beeline for the sales rack / reduced cabinet ~ as a single parent I like to make every penny count! So when I found my local shop selling off Broccoli heads for 7p I snapped them up and hurried home to whip up a nice healthy soup.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 potato
1 head of broccoli (approx. 350g)
900ml stock (2 x chicken + 1 x vegetable oxo)
approx. 100ml milk

Heat the oil in a pan. Dice the onion and sweat gently until soft, adding the garlic for the last minute or so. Chop the broccoli into small florets and chop the broccoli stalks into small dice. Peel and chop the potato into small chunks. Add the broccoli and potato to the pan with the stock and simmer for about 15 mins. Blend until smooth and add milk to reach the consistency you like.

This recipe makes 5 portions at 103 calories each, meaning you can easily afford to crumble a few salty Ritz crackers into it.


Sunday, 22 March 2015

Fabulous Fat-Free Fruit Loaf

I've not been doing very well on my diet. Admittedly I've not been trying particularly hard, but I have SUCH a sweet tooth I really struggle. I've been trying to up my exercise levels ~ mainly by walking more, but I also bought a mini-exercise bike for under my desk at work! I get some funny looks when I'm peddling away but hey, I'm used to that ;)

I still need my treats though. And although this cake isn't as low-cal as I would have liked it's packed with fruit and fibre, and absolutely fat-free!

100g dried apricots
100g dried dates / prunes
150g sultanas
60g all-bran cereal
1 cup cold tea (I used earl grey)
3 tbsp. carob syrup (or maple)
1 egg, lightly beaten
150g sr flour
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp mixed spice
110g dark brown soft sugar
1 apple, peeled and grated

 Chop apricots and dates to roughly the same size as the sultanas. Combine fruit, All-Bran, tea and syrup in a large bowl and set aside for about an hour. Preheat oven to 170C / 340F / Gas 4. Line a 21 X 11 cm loaf tin with greased baking paper. Mix the flour, spices & sugar together. Beat the egg lightly and stir into the fruit, then add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to combine. Add the apple and mix together. You should have a gloopy dropping consistency ~ if the mixture is too thick, add a splash of milk. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 1 - 1 1/2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool in tin for 20 mins or so before removing to a wire rack to cool.
This is lush as it is, but it's pretty darn good spread with butter too ~ although that kind of defeats the object of a fat-free cake! You can use different kinds of dried fruit if dates and apricots don't float your boat. You can also freeze slices which means there's always some handy for your lunch bag.
I've added this to My Fitness Pal for those of you who use it ~ if you cut the loaf into 12 slices there are 196 calories and less than a gram of fat per slice.  

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Horton's Clover Cakes

Monday 2nd March was Dr Seuss day, and to celebrate we had a charity Bake sale at work. I had a bit of an ambitious idea but luckily it worked (they oh so often don't!) and so I get to share it with you.
These were inspired by my favourite Dr Seuss book ~ Horton Hears a Who.

Luckily there were no Whos living on my Clover Cakes, though they would have had to shout pretty damn loud to stop me from eating them lol!

Here's how you make them:

200g self raising flour
25g cocoa powder
225g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
100g margarine
150ml milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

75g butter
150g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp green food colouring

12 wafer roll biscuits
candy floss

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4

Mix the flour, sugar, salt and cocoa together then rub in the margarine until you have a texture like coarse sand. Beat the eggs, milk and vanilla in a jug then add to the dry ingredients and beat well. Divide into 12 cupcake cases and bake for approx. 25 mins. Allow to cool.

Beat the butter, vanilla and colouring together until softened then gradually add the sifted icing sugar and cream together. Ice your cakes, then add the clovers by gently moulding a chunk of candy floss onto a wafer biscuit and 'planting' it in the centre of your cupcake.

Voila! Easy to make but pretty impressive to look at, and darn tasty too.

Tip: You can make (and ice) these cakes the day before your party or event, but don't add the clovers until you're ready to serve ~ candy floss doesn't last too well in the open air, it will start to shrink and harden back into sugar.