Posts tagged ‘winter’

December 2, 2013

Warming Winter Soups

by lrmetcalfe

minestrone_0No time of year is finer, than Winter to whip up a delicious vegetable soup, using in-season British vegetables. Soups are easy to make, friendly on the purse and full of nutritional goodness.

Why not try one of these delicious warming soups, they are some of my favourite Winter recipes:


Minestrone Soup

Serves 4-6


3 oz spaghetti, broken into smaller pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, washed and finely chopped

6 oz carrots, washed and finely chopped

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

1 clove garlic, crushed

1.5 litres vegetable stock

6 oz savoy cabbage, washed and finely shredded

1tbsp tomato purée

salt and freshly milled black pepper

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan, gently fry the onion. When golden add the celery, carrots and tinned tomatoes.
  2. Stir in the crushed garlic, add some salt and pepper, then cover and cook very gently for 20 minutes or so to allow the vegetables to sweat – give it an occasional stir to prevent the vegetables sticking. Then pour in the stock.
  3. Bring to the boil and simmer gently (covered) for about 1 hour. After that add the cabbage, tomato puree and spaghetti, cook for a further 30 minutes.
  4. Serve with crusty warm bread.



Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 4-6


1 large onion

1kg orange-fleshed sweet potatoes

25 g fresh root ginger

1 tbsb mild curry powder

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 litres vegetable stock

1 lemon

Fresh corriander

  1. Peel and roughly chop the onion and sweet potatoes.
  2. Peel ginger and chop finely.
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and ginger and fry gently until softened.
  4. Stir in curry powder and cook gently for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the sweet potatoes and stir to coat with the spicy onion mixture.
  6. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender.
  7. Blend soup in pan using a hand blender.
  8. Add grated zest and juice from the lemon and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  9. Serve garnished with roughly chopped fresh coriander.



Chorizo & Chickpea Soup

Serves 4-6


400g can chopped tomatoes

110g pack of chorizo sausage

140g wedge Savoy cabbages

sprinkling dried chilli flakes

410g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 chicken or vegetable stock cube

1. Put a medium pan on the heat and tip in the tomatoes, followed by a can of water. While the tomatoes are heating, quickly chop the chorizo into chunky pieces (removing any skin) and shred the cabbage.

2. Pile the chorizo and cabbage into the pan with the chilli flakes and chickpeas, then crumble in the stock cube. Stir well, cover and leave to bubble over a high heat for 6 mins or until the cabbage is just tender.

Ladle into bowls and eat with crusty bread.

October 15, 2013

Let’s have a brew!

by lrmetcalfe

ImageThis week, the weather has suddenly become very chilly. This time of year makes me want to cuddle up on the sofa with a steaming mug of something delicious. However did you know there are many warming brews you could try with added healthy benefits…


Indian Tea- Chai

Bursting with the spicy benefits of cardamom, cinnamon, fennel and cloves, this drink really warms the insides.

Makes 6 mugs


  • 2 teabags (everyday breakfast tea)
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • 6 fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 tsps sugar
  • Milk

1. Boil 500ml of water in a kettle

2. Pour the boiling water into a saucepan, add the teabags, spices and sugar, stir.

3. Bring back to the boil and leave to boil for 15 minutes

4. Once boiled add as much milk as required to turn the tea to the preferred strength/colour

5. Bring back to the boil (watch closely, as at this point it has a tendency to boil over)

6. Once boiled, remove from the heat and strain off the spices and teabags.

7. Pour into mugs and enjoy


Hot Cherry Punch

Cherries are rich in antioxidants, and studies show they are beneficial for those who suffer from arthritis and gout. Together with the anti-inflammatory action of chilli, ginger and cinnamon- this delicious fruity drink packs a punch for joint problems!

Makes a large jug of punch


  • 2 litres cherry juice
  • peel from 3 oranges
  • 1 thumb-sized red chilli, pierced a few times but left whole
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 cloves
  • 6 slices ginger

1. Tip the cherry juice, orange peel, chilli, cinnamon sticks, cloves and ginger into a large saucepan.

2. Simmer for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.

(If you prepare in advance, leave the spices in for 4 hours, allowing them to infuse the juice)

3. Strain the spices and orange peel away, (re-heat if left to infuse). Serve in mugs or a heatproof jug.


Indulgent hot chocolate

It’s OK to indulge every once in a while, and the antioxidants found in dark chocolate, make this naughty treat a little more beneficial!

Makes 6 mugs


200g dark chocolate (70-80% cocoa content, for a spicier treat look for dark chocolate with chilli)

600ml milk

1. Break the chocolate into cubes and put into a pan with the milk. Gently heat until the chocolate melts,.

2. Bring almost to the boil, stirring constantly until smooth. Poor into mugs, top with marshmallows if liked.


I hope you will enjoy these delicious drinks, remember there are lots of healthy hot drinks on the market- my favourites include: Yogi Teas Classic Cinnamon Spice, Teapigs Green Tea with Mint, Starbucks Earl Grey. Why not find your favourite…


September 27, 2012

Cold and Flu Season Survival!

by lrmetcalfe

The dark cold nights and frosty mornings are starting to draw in on us and the season of colds and flu is nearly upon us. So don’t be unprepared, fight back- get your immune system and medicine cupboard in the best condition to wage war with the season’s germs and nasties!

I cannot live without the following five items during the cold season:

1. Vitamin C 1000mg

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and is essential for the healthy functioning of the immune system.

Vitamin C is anti-viral and studies show that it can shorten the severity and duration of most colds and flu viruses. Look for a timed release formula and avoid chewable and effervescent vitamin C tablets, as they are often packed with sugar and sweeteners to make them tastier.

Take a 1000mg tablet with a meal daily throughout the cold season.

2. Manuka Honey

One of the most revolutionary health products of recent years, manuka honey is anti-bacterial and has been shown in studies to be an effective antimicrobial agent against forms of MRSA.

A great remedy for sore throats, take a teaspoon morning and night and let the honey slowly trickle down the throat. Don’t stir into your tea or spread on your toast, as heat can deactivate the effects of this powerful honey.

Make sure you buy ‘Active’ Manuka Honey, it should also state the ‘UMF (unique manuka factor)’ number. UMF is a measure of the honeys antibacterial properties, the higher the number, the stronger the effect; for sore throats, colds and flu an ‘Active Manuka Honey UMF 10+’ is an ideal choice.

3. A.Vogel PoHo Oil

One of my favourite products, I am never without a bottle of Po Ho Oil. It contains a blend of peppermint, eucalyptus, juniper, caraway and fennel oils.

If your nose and sinuses are blocked during a cold, sprinkle a few drops on a hankerchief, your pillow or in a hot bath. Try steam inhalation or make a rub to loosen mucus on the chest by mixing a drop with some petroleum jelly.

4. Bio-Strath Elixir

Another medicine cupboard staple, this Swiss yeast and herb tonic, although not very pleasant in taste, really keeps you going in the winter!

Take 1 teaspoons 3 times a day at the onset of a cold or if you start to feel tired or run down.

5.  Echinacea

A herbal remedy which in studies has been shown to shorten the length of a cold. Look for a licensed, standardised supplement, such as ‘A.Vogel Echinaforce’ tablets. Take daily for a month, then take a break for a week, continue in this way throughout the winter to enhance immune function.

Echinacea is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral. It’s anti-viral properties make Echinacea a great choice for those who suffer from cold sores when their immune function is lowered.

There are also many lifestyle and dietary changes we can make to keep our immune systems in top condition.

Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates; instead opt for brown rice and wholemeal varieties of bread and pasta. A teaspoon of sugar weakens the immune system for 5 minutes! Alcohol and caffeine have a similar effect.

I realise this is hard advice to follow; especially when  all you want to do on dark, chilly night is drink warming mugs of hot chocolate and as the party season starts our alcohol intake increases, not to mention our intake of tins of chocolates!  However if you try avoid these naughty treats the majority of the time and eat a balanced diet full of lean sources of protein, wholegrain and wholemeal carbohydrates and fresh fruit and vegetables, your immune system will thank you.

To fight off infections, you could also try making your own anti-microbial hand gel, mix 2 drops of tea tree oil with 300ml aloe vera gel and use as needed.