Roasted Carrots with Honey Butter from Eating in the Middle

Roasted carrots with honey butter, a light, simple and irresistible side dish! cookieandkate.com

With spring comes a fresh round of cookbooks to admire, and I’m so excited to be sharing a recipe from Andie Mitchell‘s gorgeous new cookbook today. You might know her as the author of It Was Me All Along, her bestselling memoir about her shifting relationship with food and her experience losing over 100 pounds.

I know her as my roommate at a bloggers’ retreat a few months ago. She’s a remarkably warm, kind and supportive soul. A great listener, a wonderful writer, and someone I’m very glad to know. And in case you’re wondering, her cheekbones on the cover? They are legit. Mesmerizing, really.

carrots and Eating in the Middle cookbookEating in the Middle is “a mostly wholesome cookbook,” which I love. She sent me a copy a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been admiring it ever since. The book offers simple, elevated recipes for breakfast through dessert. Each one comes with a headnote that explains her backstory with the recipe, and how it might be more redeeming than the version she loved growing up. Her writing is half the reason why I can’t put this cookbook down. Then there are the beautiful photographs by Aran Goyoaga.

Continue to the recipe…

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Do You Get Cramps? Try this… 

Anti-Cramp Salmon-2

The worst ones for me happen in the middle of the night. I wake up feeling panicked. All focus on my leg.

Cramp!

As Fergal would say… Ouchies!

No fun at all.

But the good news is there’s something you can do to reduce the likelihood of cramps…

Eat. More. Magnesium.

Normally I’m not a fan of the nutritionist approach to thinking about food in terms of nutrients. Like counting calories it takes the joy out of eating. I prefer to focus on getting as much variety as I can from whole foods. So much easier and more delicious!

But I do have 2 exceptions. Iron and magnesium.

As I wrote recently, when I’m feeling tired (especially during pregnancy), I find upping my intake of iron rich foods makes an amazing difference.

The second exception is, you guessed it, magnesium for cramps.

So what are the best food sources of magnesium?

1. Cocoa Powder or Dark Chocolate.

By far the best source. Ever wondered why women tend to crave chocolate at that time of the month?

To be honest this is my go-to when cramps are getting to me. I just have a square of dark chocolate (90% cocoa solids) after dinner.

2. Seeds and Nuts.

Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are the best. Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, pinenuts, cashews and sesame seeds are also good.

3. Fish.

Especially oily fish like salmon and mackerel.

4. Leafy Greens.

Is there anything leafy greens can’t do? Think spinach, chard, silverbeet and kale.

5. Others.

See this list for other sources.

Which brings me to this weeks recipe!

I thought it would be fun to create a meal focused on magnesium rich ingredients. And so we have my Anti-Cramp Salmon! Just follow with some dark chocolate or hot cocoa to get the maximum effect…

—–

Anti-Cramp Salmon

Anti-Cramp Salmon

The name of this dish doesn’t do it justice. I love how the tahini and lemon juice make an instant tasty sauce for the fish. And how the pepitas provide crunch and some pretty visual interest.

I also love cooking fish this way because you don’t have to think (as long as you remember to set your timer!) and it avoids your kitchen smelling fishy.


enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes

2 salmon fillets
1 bag baby spinach
4-6 tablespoons tahini
handful pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
2 lemons, halved

1. Preheat your oven to 250C (480F). Place salmon in an oven proof dish or tray and roast for 10 minutes or until cooked to your liking.

2. Serve salmon on a bed of baby spinach. Drizzle with tahini and scatter over pepitas and finish with lots of sea salt and black pepper. Serve lemon on the side.

vegetarian / vegan – replace salmon with cooked or canned black eye peas, beans, chickpeas or lentils warmed in a little olive oil.

seed-free – replace tahini with a drizzle of tangy natural yoghurt (preferably Greek style) and replace pepitas with some chopped red peppers or pomegranate seeds.

no oven – just pan fry the fish in a little oil. About 4 mins each side on a medium high heat.

carb lovers / more substantial – toss in some cooked brown rice, quinoa, couscous, barley or buckwheat with the spinach.

more veg – serve with grilled veg such as zucchini, eggplant and/or red peppers. Or some sauerkraut on the side.

carnivore – replace salmon with chicken thighs or pork chops. Adjust cooking time as needed.

Big love,
(From finally my baby sleeps land!)
Jules x

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ps. I’m really interested to know…
How do you approach healthy eating? Do you focus on specific nutrients or calories? Or do you try eating for variety? Or real / whole food? Share your approach in the comments below.

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Coconut Rice with Brussels Sprouts from The Love and Lemons Cookbook

Quick Brussels sprouts and coconut rice recipe with a spicy, Thai-flavored soy sauce! cookieandkate.com

I can’t help but draw a comparison between making a cookbook and having a baby. Now I have never had a baby, but hear me out. They are both very big endeavors, with long incubation periods. Once combined with everyday duties, keeping up becomes about twice as difficult.

I’m nearing my “due date,” and can hardly believe that I’ll have a finished cookbook someday. I’m scrambling and struggling and suffering from frazzled cookbook brain. I can’t wait to be done, but I’m also a little scared of what may come.

ingredients

Watching friends produce cookbooks is also similar to watching friends have babies. They’re both stressed and excited, overwhelmed and hopeful. You don’t get the full picture of what they’ve been making until it’s all done and you are so very, very proud of their good work.

That’s exactly how I felt when Jeanine and Jack’s cookbook (they’re the couple behind the blog Love and Lemons) appeared on my doorstep. I think I texted her about ten high-five emojis in a row. The Love and Lemons Cookbook is just perfect—it’s overflowing with colorful photos, gorgeous high-contrast typography, creative recipes, and cooking variation charts that are as helpful as they are beautiful.

It’s truly “an apple-to-zucchini celebration of impromptu cooking,” as the front cover suggests. I flipped through the book and found this amazing Brussels sprout recipe, and I just happened to have everything in my fridge to make it.

Continue to the recipe…

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Lemony Roasted Asparagus

Simple roasted asparagus recipe (the perfect spring side dish!) - cookieandkate.com

Can I get an amen for daylight saving time? It’s like the universe is operating more on my wavelength now, even if it is just a mind game. The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, the days are growing longer and it’s still daylight when I drive to my evening yoga class. I love this time of year.

Last weekend, I went out to eat, which hasn’t been much happening lately. I ordered a giant salad, but I sat across from a more standard plate of meat, potatoes and vegetables. As I admired the perfectly roasted carrots, I realized that I don’t have enough side dishes on the blog. Where is my basic roasted carrots side dish?!

asparagus

I know why I don’t have enough on the blog already—most of my recipes are well-balanced enough to eat on their own, which is what I usually do. I’m just cooking for one most of the time. Side dish recipes are good to have, though. I’m going to remedy this situation as soon as possible, starting with simple roasted asparagus. It’s a perfect side for spring meals, whether for brunch or dinner.

Roasted asparagus is my favorite. The tips get a little crispy in the oven, which I love, and the flavor is more concentrated than it would be if you steamed or sautéed it. I decked mine out with lemon, mint, red pepper flakes and the lightest shaving of Parmesan, but you can keep it as simple as you’d like. I included the basic recipe below, plus ideas for changing up the seasonings!

Continue to the recipe…

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6 Surprising Lessons from Having Gestational Diabetes

Egg Noodle Pad Thai

Want to know the most stressful thing that happened to me during my recent pregnancy? Being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes.

Of course, like most things in life that feel like the ‘end of the world’ at the time, it turned out to be a HUGE blessing. On three levels.

First, it’s forced me to overcome my fear of needles. Testing your blood sugar 4 times a day will do that.

Second, it helped me understand why I gained a crazy amount of weight during my first pregnancy. (Hello 20kg / 40lb) So much that I had lots of strangers asking me if I was having twins towards the end.

Third, it really gave me a first hand understanding of how different foods influence my blood sugar levels.

So today I thought I’d share some of the more surprising revelations I’ve had over the last 6-odd months of testing my blood sugar first thing in the morning and then again after (almost) every meal…

6 Surprising Lessons from Monitoring my Blood Sugar Levels

1. Eating low carb makes a huge difference to weight gain during pregnancy.

During pregnancy the placenta puts out chemicals which decrease the effectiveness of insulin which means your blood sugar is naturally higher (to feed the baby). So when you eat carbs during pregnancy you end up with a bigger spike in your blood sugar than you would normally get which leads to more weight gain.

This is why eating low carb during pregnancy makes a huge difference. I ended up 6kg (12lb) lighter at the end of this pregnancy compared with my first. And the only change I made was to be (mostly) low carb and monitor my blood sugar.

2. The effects of a high carb meals last a long time.

This really surprised me but having a higher carb meal in the evening would mean my fasting blood sugar levels the next morning were higher than normal as well.

3. Low GI foods still increase blood sugar.

Just because a food is considered to be low GI doesn’t mean it won’t cause a spike. The spike just won’t be as big as with higher GI food.

4. It is possible to make delicious, low carb AND sugar-free sweet treats.

When faced with no alternative I really got into baking with stevia during this pregnancy. The secret I’ve found is to use a pure stevia powder instead of stevia mixed with sugar alcohols like Natvia. I like the powdered form because I found it doesn’t have the aftertaste or gritty texture of Natvia. It can be a little tricky to convert recipes but mostly they turned out fine.

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a low-carb / sugar-free / gluten-free baking book. If that’s something you’d be interested in let me know! Either in the comments below or shoot me an email to jules@thestonesoup.com.

5. Speed of eating makes a difference.

I had a few long restaurant meals where I didn’t worry about carbs (a girl has to have some fun) and was surprised that my blood sugar was fine after the long leisurely lunches and dinners Phew.

6. Quantity makes a HUGE difference.

I was reminded on a few occasions having a few bites of dessert or pizza isn’t going to wreak havoc. Little indulgences here and there are fine. And I found I enjoyed them even more than normal because there was the element of the ‘forbidden’.

Where to from here?

Given the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes is super high in women who have had gestational diabetes, I’m on a mission to avoid that fate.

So the plan is to stay (pretty much) low carb / high fat. Same as during my pregnancy but not quite as strict. And make sure I get enough exercise. For now that’s trying to do my 10000 steps every day. But longer term I’m planning to get back into running.

It’s amazing how only a few days after the birth, my blood sugar levels decreased. I’ve also noticed that I’m less sensitive to carbs than I was during pregnancy.

Will keep you posted…

———

Egg Noodle ‘Pad Thai’

Pad Thai is probably the most famous Thai noodle dish which I absolutely adore. Unfortunately it’s traditionally made using rice noodles which are delicious but very high GI. Fortunately I’ve found an alternative, inspired by Sydney paleo chef Pete Evans… Make ‘noodles’ using eggs so they’re super filling, blood sugar-friendly and delicious. Win win win!

enough for: 2
takes: 20 minutes
6 eggs
1 tablespoon soy sauce for eggs & 2 tablespoons for dressing
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
handful bean sprouts and/OR 1 bunch coriander (cilantro) (chopped)
handful roasted peanuts

1. Stir egg and 1 tablespoon soy sauce together in a medium bowl.

2. To make the noodles, heat a medium frying pan on a medium high heat. Add enough egg mixture to cover the base of the pan. About 1/4 – 1/3.

3. Cook your egg ‘pancake’ until mostly set, then turn and cook on the other side for 30 seconds or until cooked through. Remove ‘pancake’ from the pan and place on a clean plate.

4. Repeat with the remaining mixture until you end up with 3-4 ‘pancakes’.

5. Stack the pancakes up and roll into a log. Slice into ribbons as fine as you can be bothered.

6. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, ketchup and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl. Toss in egg ‘noodles’, beansprouts (if using), coriander (if using) and peanuts and serve.

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Variations

sugar-free – use 1 tablespoon tomato puree instead of the ketchup. Or a handful of halved cherry tomatoes.

nut-free – replace with shredded cooked chicken.

carb lovers / more substantial – cook rice noodles according to the packet and toss in at the end. Or serve with steamed rice.

more veg – toss in finely sliced carrot, red capsicum, snow peas and/or mint leaves.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. Are you interested in low carb / sugar-free baking?
If you’d definitely want to buy a Stonesoup healthy baking book, do let me know in the comments below. Or via email jules@thestonesoup.com. It’s an idea I’m excited about but I only want to do it if there’s enough other people excited about it too!

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Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

Wholesome baked oatmeal recipe—make one batch and enjoy baked oatmeal for the rest of the week! cookieandkate.com

This post is brought to you by Frontier Co-Op.

Spring is passing me by. I’m so utterly immersed in cookbook projects that I’m nearly missing the magnolias blooming outside. Fortunately, Cookie always reminds me to slow down for a minute.

She starts pouncing on me every evening as the sun goes down, in her persistent, borderline desperate, but always cute sort of way. “Hey! Hey hey hey! Hello in there! Let’s go outside!” She gets her walk, and I catch some blooms as the sun sets.

baked oatmeal ingredients

I’ve also been forgetting to eat breakfast, which is a dangerous game. I got a big slap on the wrist for it last week, when I was photographing food and had to pause and sit down for a while. Shaky, lightheaded, sweaty—hypoglycemia symptoms are not cute, and never welcome. It was a reminder that I really have to eat well. We all do, or it will catch up with us eventually. My symptoms just come on sooner than most.

That’s why I started cooking in the first place. I couldn’t afford to eat out for every meal, but I had to eat well. So, naturally, I had to learn how to cook. Frontier Co-Op asked me how I cook with purpose—I cook with wholesome ingredients, so I’m properly fueled for my days. Then, I find greater purpose in sharing those recipes with you all. I feel good about sharing recipes that make me feel good.

Continue to the recipe…

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A Special Treat for St Patrick’s Day

St Patricks Salad-2

I often get asked how I keep coming up with new recipes all the time. And the thing is, I love to play around in the kitchen.

In fact it would be harder for me NOT to try new ideas.

Mostly the process goes something along the lines of this.

1. I have an idea.
2. Cook and test it on my family.
3. If we love it, I make a shorthand note of the recipe in my Evernote.
4. If we have ideas for improvement, I’ll tweak and test again.

Then when it’s time to prep recipes for the blog or whatever new project (book or program) I’m working on, I dig into my notebook and choose the best ones.

Simple.

It’s rare for me to love a recipe and not want to share it straight away. But this week I have something really special!

An idea I’ve been keeping to myself for a whole year… Since St. Patrick’s Day last year, in fact.

Being married to an Irishman, St Patrick’s Day is always something special in our house.

Even more so since we were married two years ago on the 16th March. Nothing like having your wedding anniversary the day before paddy’s day to make it easy to remember!

And here it is! My St Patrick’s Salad.

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St Patrick’s Salad

So I made this salad for dinner last St Patrick’s Day because I had a bumper crop of basil on hand and I wanted to make dinner something really green. I can’t remember for the life of me now what we ate it with! Although something tells me it was sausages.

The great thing about raw broccoli in salads is you don’t need to worry about wilting and they can improve with some time. So feel free to make this one a day ahead and keep in the fridge.

enough for: 2 as a side
takes: 15 minutes

1 bunch basil, leaves picked
2 tablespoons lemon juice
large handful grated Parmesan
1 head broccoli

1. Place basil in a food processor with lemon juice and 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Whizz until you have a chunky paste. Stir in parmesan. Taste and season with salt and possibly more lemon. If it looks a little dry add more oil.

2. Finely chop broccoli by hacking through it by hand. I like to leave some chunky bits and have others finer but it’s up to you.

3. Toss chopped broccoli in the basil dressing and you’re good to serve.

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Variations

short on time – whizz the broccoli in the food processor before making the dressing.

no food processor – just finely chop the basil by hand and stir with the remaining dressing ingredients.

dairy-free / paleo / vegan – replace cheese with nuts such as cashews, pine nuts or brazil nuts.

carb lovers / more substantial – toss in some cooked grains like quiona or brown rice OR some torn bread (if you have some Irish soda bread that would be prefect!). OR why not serve it on a bed of mash and really make your Irishman happy.

more protein – serve as a side to grilled pork sausages or chops. Or roast chicken OR lamb cutlets OR pan fried black pudding if you really want to be Irish. Or toss in some halved boiled eggs or some cooked chicken. Also good with some drained canned tuna or salmon.

different herbs – if basil isn’t in season where you are, feel free to substitute in flat leaf parsley.

can’t do raw broccoli? – it really is lovely but feel free to toss chopped steamed broccoli in with the dressing instead.

different veg – this pesto-like dressing is also brilliant with shaved zucchini, steamed asparagus or cauliflower. Also thinking it would work on shaved cabbage.

Do you celebrate St Patrick’s Day?

I’m guessing there hasn’t been much raw broccoli in your Paddy’s day past! But you never know. I’d love to hear how you celebrate in the comments below.

Big love,
Jules x

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How to Cook Perfect Quinoa & 10 Quinoa Recipes

How to cook perfectly fluffy quinoa! It's so easy. cookieandkate.com

I have cooked a lot of quinoa for my cookbook. Small amounts, or lots at once, with spices and greens, or without—I’ve done it all. My old method, the standard cooking method, started failing me early on. My quinoa was mushy and overdone, every time, and it was driving me nuts. Why was cooking quinoa suddenly so hard?!

I tried using slightly less water than usual, which has been recommended elsewhere. It helped a little sometimes, but other times, I had to add more and more water while the quinoa was cooking. Then, the dry quinoa soaked up way too much of the dressing I added later.

At some point, I wondered, why do all the quinoa recipes suggest covering the quinoa while it cooks? My quinoa was all overcooked and mushy, so covering it seemed like the last thing I should do.

quinoa recipe

BINGO. It’s really that easy—use twice as much water as quinoa, as usual, then cook, uncovered, until the quinoa has absorbed all the water. Smaller amounts of quinoa require less time, naturally.

Once the water is all absorbed, remove the pot from heat, cover it and let the quinoa steam for 5 minutes. That’s when the quinoa pops open into fluffy quinoa perfection, and that is how to cook quinoa properly. I’ve gotten quite a few questions from you guys about how to avoid mushy quinoa, so I just had to share. I typed up the full recipe and instructions for you below.

Continue to the recipe…

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Creamy Chia Pudding

Delicious, creamy chia pudding recipe - cookieandkate.com

I met Amie Valpone in New York a few months ago, at the International Year of Pulses launch party. I was surrounded by people I didn’t know and feeling a little shy, and Amie bounded up and introduced herself, bubbling over with enthusiasm. I was so glad.

She kept referencing how sick she had been—a decade of chronic illnesses (lyme disease, hypothyroidism, leaky gut syndrome and more) slowed her down immensely. She is finally cured after seriously detoxifying her life, from the products in her home to the food she eats.

chia seed pudding ingredients

I had a hard time imagining this vivacious woman with glowing skin being sick and bedridden, but I could sense by the passionate tone in her voice that her illness and recovery were both very real. The motivation behind her website, The Healthy Apple, and her new book, Eating Clean, is to help others get better and feel better. Her new book is full of solid information and practical advice for detoxifying our homes and diets. She offers over 200 recipes in it, too!

Amie’s chia seed pudding in the breakfast chapter caught my eye, and I enjoyed it so much I just had to share it. I’ve tried chia seed “pudding” before and just couldn’t get behind that oddly gelatinous texture. Her version, however, is blended with cashews for ultra creamy pudding. She added a swirl of chia gel to hers, but I think I like mine best all creamy. It’s up to you!

Continue to the recipe…

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3 Easy Ways to Make Pasta Healthier

Beef & Broccoli Pasta Bake

I wish I could say I was an adventurous eater as a child.

The truth is I loved my pasta just like the next kid. So it’s hardly surprising that my favourite comfort food meals as an adult are good old ‘spag bol’ and my mum’s tuna pasta bake.

And also not so surprising that when I was testing my blood sugar during my gestational diabetes that the two highest readings were for spag bol and tuna ‘dish’.

But here’s the thing…

I should have known better.

I could have avoided these ‘off-the-scale-high’ readings AND still indulged in a little late pregnancy comfort eating.

So today I thought I’d share my favourite easy ways to make pasta a little healthier so I remember the lesson myself!

3 Easy Ways to Make Pasta Healthier

1. Cool and reheat.
You know how ‘wonder white’ bread looks and tastes pretty much like white bread but has more fiber? Well that’s due to something called ‘resistant starch’. It’s a form of starch that tastes delicious but that our bodies can’t digest so it passes through like other fiber.

And the best part is to generate this ‘resistant starch’ it’s super easy. All you need to do is cook your pasta and allow it to cool. And hey presto some of the starch will change into the ‘resistant’ form. Then when you reheat the food it stays resistant. So there’s no need to eat cold pasta to enjoy the extra fiber.

2. Add some veg.
Mixing in some veg like the broccoli in the pasta bake below essentially just ‘dilutes’ the pasta so you’re eating a smaller serve. Of course clever toddlers (and adults) can easily bypass this ‘trick’ by choosing to eat around said veg.

3. Add fiber to the sauce.
A tip I picked up from a Stonesoup reader a while ago. By adding a few tablespoons of fibre like oat bran, psyllium or chia seeds (ground are best) to your pasta sauce, you up the fiber in the whole dish and this slows down how quickly your body digests the pasta and therefore reduces blood sugar spikes.

I’d love to hear from you…

What are your favourite comfort foods? Share in the comments below.
_____

Pasta Al Forno

‘Al forno’ sounds really cosy doesn’t it? My Italian is pretty much non existent apart from food and cooking terms so I might be wrong but I translate ‘al forno’ as ‘in the oven’ or baked. Apart from the deliciousness / comfort factor it’s hard not to love a good pasta bake for their convenient ‘do ahead’ nature.

This one was inspired by David Tanis from his book ‘A Platter of Figs’.


enough for 4
takes: about 40 minutes + cooling time

300g (10oz) short pasta
2 heads broccoli, chopped
450g (1lb) minced (ground) beef or chicken
4 tablespoons double or heavy cream
2 handfuls melting cheese, grated

1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Simmer pasta as long as the packet recommends. Set the timer so you can add the broccoli for last 2 minutes.

2. Drain pasta and broccoli.

3. While the pasta is cooking, heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook meat, stirring until browned. Season with salt.

4. Combine cooked meat, drained pasta and broccoli and cream in the pasta pot. Transfer to an ovenproof dish. Refrigerate until you’re ready to cook (up to a week or so).

5. When you’re ready to cook, preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Scatter cheese over the pasta and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and everything is hot.

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Variations

low carb – replace pasta with an extra head of broccoli. Simmer 2 minutes drain and use as per recipe.

paleo – replace pasta with extra broccoli. Use a tomato based sauce instead of the cream (add a can of tomatoes to the beef and simmer to reduce down a bit). And use almond meal or grated brazil nuts insteead of the cheese. Give everything a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to keep it nice and moist.

gluten-free – use GF pasta, I like ones using quinoa flour OR see the low carb + paleo options.

vegetarian – replace beef with extra cheese and cream OR use cooked green lentils for more protein and fiber.

different veg – try cauliflower, asparagus or broccolini as well as or instead of the broccoli. Frozen peas will also work (no need to simmer first).

Big love,
Jules x

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