It Never Ceases to Astound Me!
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... just how many emails I receive around the beginning of September asking for my advice to shed a few of those 'summer holiday pounds' - how in heaven's name did that happen; we both ask?

The 'added' pounds/kilos appear to have very little respect - they pile on at any time of the year if we don't 'keep a handle' on things! BUT.... there is, of course, soup, glorious soup and in my view, a wonderfully-reliable way to lose weight with lorry-loads of essential nutrients and filling and delicious flavours from one delectable bowl to the next AND I rather think September is a pretty cracking time to get the soup ladle out the drawer! Fancy having a go with my free, downloadable, recently-devised diet? It's not just about soup by the way! Read more...

Potage Bonne Femme

I am unclear exactly when I came across the writings of Elizabeth David and her Book of Mediterranean Food! Must have been around 40 years ago and I simply could not get enough of her recipes using ingredients such as aubergines, basil, figs, garlic, olive oil and saffron, which at the time of her writing were scarcely available in Britain but were beginning to appear (if you knew where to look!)

As an art student who was spending rather more of my allowance on booze, 'pop' concerts and generally enjoying myself, there wasn't much left for food! But, I was a soup fanatic even then and at least once a week I made Elizabeth's Potage Bonne Femme - one of the least expensive soups to make, but also one of the most satisfying ... and ... it usually lasted me 3 days! I didn't have a mouli or a liquidiser but I just used a potato masher - perhaps not as smooth as hers but it did the trick!

A while later, having saved and saved and saved my wages as a very junior graphic artist, I took a job as a seriously-underpaid waitress in a hotel in the Swiss Alps (my father was none-too-pleased but hey, I got to see the incredible sunrise over the mountain every morning as we were serving breakfast at some ungodly hour and I got to ski the same beautiful mountain every afternoon!)

The hotel residents dined on the most fabulous Swiss food (oh the aromas coming out of the kitchen!) but the fare was god-awful for the staff - so the Potage Bonne Femme was again my saviour, cooked on the Swiss equivalent to a Prima stove! Sadly, there were no smart phones to take an image of my soup at the time but the stock photo above is not too far away from the reality!    

Nuts Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
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Now, this was a massive study (actually 3 studies) over 30 plus years involving over 5 million people! Nut consumption was assessed and was updated every 4 years.

THE RESULTS? Consumption of peanuts and tree nuts (2 or more times per week) and walnuts (1 or more times per week) was associated with a 13% to 19% lower risk of total cardiovascular disease and a 15% to 23% lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Pretty powerful stuff when it comes to getting into a regular nut habit! Commiseration to those who have a tree nut allergy... but it may be that there is no indication of an allergy to certain seeds so hopefully you can still benefit.

Nuts and seeds are simply crying out for a bit of roasting in the oven, keeping in a dark jars in the fridge (so they lose as little of their freshness and fat goodness as possible) and grabbed as a snack, to top salads or stews AND of course - soups, soups and more soups (hot and chilled)!

Glorious Super Soups
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I rather like this soup! I have to confess that I don't often buy 'cartoned soup' from the supermarket but there are occasions when it's no bad thing to have a soup or two in the freezer if I am slightly behind on the soup-making front! However, not any old soup will do when in a rush to get some goodness into my day...

In this case, there are peas, beans, onions, leeks and spinach which handle the need for a pretty good selection of splendid vegetables PLUS I like the fact there is a healthy addition of brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa to provide a deal of protein and it's low in saturated fat and not-too-shabby when it comes to the salt content. 

Have you tried it? What's your verdict?

Naturally, it doesn't come anywhere close to my Spinach & Watercress Soup but hey ho - needs must!

Some Like It Chilled!
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Some like their soups hot and shy away from the 'chilled variety'. But when the weather is warm and sunny chilled soups come into their own! Many Mediterranean countries have their own delicious recipes - think Ajoblanco, Gazpacho, Solmorejo, Tarator, Vichyssoise, Avgolemono etc.

There is something rather pleasing about a crisp, clean and refreshing soup starter when the temperature soars and/or they can be served in little shot glasses pre-drinks. Have a go with some of my own soups!

Click here to download the recipes