Wintery squash soup with herbs


Now that Halloween is over, what to do with those decorative pumpkins and squashes? Throw them away? Not on my watch…

This year I picked up a random pumpkin at the market simply because it looked pretty. After keeping it as a kitchen decoration for a few weeks it was time to make good use of it. I don’t really have any experience of cooking with pumpkins, so I applied my granny’s mantra: If in doubt, make a soup.


A bit of research revealed that my pretty pumpkin was actually a squash – a carnival squash to be precise – and indeed edible (as most of them are). I cooked it with thyme, a little bit of smoked paprika and coconut milk and the result is pretty damn good. This squash has a lovely, savoury flavour and the addition of smoked paprika makes it taste like there might be bacon involved somewhere. (There isn’t; I’m vegetarian.) It’s especially nice when served with a bit of cream cheese or creme fraiche stirred in.

So if you’re just dismantling your Halloween decorations, try this idea and cook up a big pot of warming winter soup.


Makes 4 generous portions

600g squash (I used one carnival squash)
2 celery sticks
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
300ml coconut milk (I use Koko Dairy Free)
300ml water
1 veggie stock cube
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
A few springs fresh thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Light cream cheese or creme fraiche, to serve
Pumpkin seeds, to serve

Peel and chop the onion and garlic. Chop the celery. Fry them in a big saucepan in the olive oil until soft.

Meanwhile peel the squash, remove the seeds and chop into small chunks. Add the squash to the pan and pour over the coconut milk and water. Stir in the stock cube and spices and bring to the boil. Pick the thyme leaves off the stalks and add to the pot.

Simmer on a low heat until the squash chunks are soft. Puree using a food process or or stick blender and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with a dollop of light cream cheese or creme fraiche and sprinkled with some pumpkin seeds.

Yep, I bought some tiny pumpkins just to take soup photos, so I’ll have to figure out what to cook with those next…

Gorgeously nutty carrot cake (vegan, gluten-free, no added sugar)


This week’s healthy treat is a lovely carrot and hazelnut cake with a warming kick from cinnamon and a bit of cocoa. These slices of guilt-free goodness are vegan, gluten-free and free from refined sugar, relying only on the natural sweetness of the ingredients.

This is another variation on my recent experiments with cakes based on chickpeas. Yes really. The humble chickpea eliminates the the need for eggs and flour and adds some extra protein, and you can’t taste it so nobody will ever guess your healthy secret!

The carrot flavour isn’t too obvious in this recipe, but adding a couple of finely shredded carrots will add lightness and moisture, and the crunch from the chopped hazelnuts brings it to perfection.


Makes around 24 slices

100g carrots, in chunks
100g dates, pitted
1 can (240g) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
100g oats*
1 heaped tsp baking powder*
20g cacao (or vegan-friendly cocoa powder)
2 tsp cinnamon
50g smooth hazelnut or peanut butter
200 hazelnut milk (or other nut / oat / coconut milk)
30g agave nectar
100g hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Brush a 24cm square (or equivalent size) brownie tin with coconut oil.

Put the oats in a food processor and blitz until they are finely ground.

Add all the other ingredients, except the hazelnuts, and process everything into a smooth mixture. Stir in the chopped hazelnuts.

Fill the mixture in to the brownie tin, spread evenly, and bake at 175°C for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin, then cut into squares or slices.

Keeps in the fridge up to one week – if you can manage to not eat them sooner.

* To ensure the cake is gluten-free us GF-certified oats and baking powder.


Carrot and celeriac soup: a simple winter warmer


Last Saturday I went to my local farmer’s market to try out my new camera and came home with a load of veggies I didn’t really need, simply because they were so beautiful. I love the market in autumn. It’s an absolute feast of colours – from rosy-cheeked apples to vibrant pumpkins, deep violet cabbages and dark green leaves, there’s just no end to the food inspiration it provides.

Among the things I picked up was a bunch of multi-coloured carrots and a celeriac, so I decided to throw the two into a pot together, with minimal fuss and spice. The result was a soup that wins with a simple combination of earthy, autumnal flavours – the sweetness of carrots and the aromatic kick from the celeriac. One to curl up with on a rainy autumn day.


Makes 4 portions

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 celeriac
1 bunch carrots
300ml coconut milk (I use Koko Dairy Free)
1 veggie stock cube or 3 tsp Marigold Swiss vegetable bouillon powder
1 handful parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Veggie prep: Chop the onion and garlic finely. Wash and roughly chop the carrots. Clean, peel and roughly chop the celeriac.

Heat the olive oil in a big pot and fry the onion and garlic until golden. Add the carrots and celeriac, pour over the coconut milk and 300ml hot water, add the stock and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook until the carrot and celeriac chunks are soft.

Turn off the heat. Roughly tear up the parsley and add to the pot, then puree the soup until smooth using a stick blender or food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with toasted bread. Goes very well with this lovely rye and spelt bread.


Fresh boost: melon, carrot and tangerine smoothie

Here’s a simple, light and refreshing smoothie for a healthy start to the weekend – stuffed full of bright orange things to add a bit of colour to this pathetic, grey London summer.

carrot melon tangerine smoothie

I don’t often have melon in the house because I’m intolerant to some of them (courtesy of IBS ruining certain foods for me) so I don’t get this kind of flavour combination very often. But it just works, and it has given my morning a happy boost.

2 tangerines
2 medium carrots
1/4 cantaloupe melon
1 banana
1 small pear
150-200ml cold water, or a handful of ice cubes
1 tsp honey (optional)

Blend, sprinkle with chia seeds and enjoy! 🙂

Curried red lentil dip with dill – a perfect veggie lunchbox snack

I love tarka dal but if you’re doing it properly it just takes forever to cook. I usually make a huge bowl when I’m cooking curry anyway and freeze it in small portions for an occasional treat. Here’s a quick and tasty red lentil dip that reminds me of the flavours of a nice, comforting bowl of dal but is a lot quicker to make. It’s also a bit lighter and tastes great with veggie sticks or spread on crunchy lettuce hearts. A perfect addition to the lunchbox!

curried red lentil dip

This is a recipe for Thermomix, but you could also make it with a blender or food processor – see alternative instructions below.

(Makes 3-4 portions – depending on how hungry you are!)

100g celery, in pieces
A small red chilly (fresh or dried)
125g split red lentils, rinsed and drained
300g water
2 tsp vegetable stock
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp medium curry powder
freshly ground black pepper
5 spring onions, in chunks
a handful fresh dill, with stalks

Recipe for Thermomix:

  1. Chop the celery and chili for 5 seconds / speed 5.
  2. Add the lentils, water, stock and spices. Simmer for 25 minutes / 100&degC / speed 2 – keep an eye on it as the lentils can rise up a bit when the water starts boiling.
  3. Add the spring onions and dill and puree gradually on 2-4-6-8 until you have a smooth paste.

Without a Thermomix:

  1. Chop the celery roughly, chop the chili finely and fry both in a little olive oil until soft.
  2. Add the lentils, water, stock and spices, bring to the boil and simmer for 25.
  3. Put everything into a food processor, add the spring onions and dill and blitz until smooth.

curried red lentil dip

The world’s best healthy, raw, vegan, dairy-free avocado chocolate mousse

This is it – the treat to end all treats. The dessert no other dessert can live up to. The ultimate bowl of chocolatey indulgence.

And best of all: it’s raw, vegan, dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, and full of beautiful ingredients that are good for you. All it takes is an avocado, a handful of dates and raspberries, some cocoa and a dash of almond milk. And it takes about two minutes to make. See, it’s the all-round perfect treat!



1 ripe avocado, flesh scooped out (about 150g)
5 dates
a handful of raspberries (about 40g, can be frozen)
2 heaped tsp cacao powder
50ml almond milk

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth and creamy. Eat and be happy.

Raw cacao is the secret to the wonderful chocolatey-ness of this dessert

You can adjust the lightness and creaminess by the amount of almond milk – use less for dark chocolate style, and a bit more for a lighter chocolate flavour. You can also adjust the sweetness by adding a few more dates or a squeeze of agave nectar. I like this dessert when it’s not too sweet so the flavour of the cacao and raspberries comes through better.

And if you want to enjoy this as a drink rather than a dessert, just up the almond milk to around 250ml and you’ve got the best-ever healthy chocolate shake!


Skinny courgette, cocoa and pistachio cupcakes

Well, I’m not sure how skinny they actually are, but un-iced, these cupcakes contain no fats other than those that naturally occur in the other ingredients. So that makes them pretty skinny in my book. They’re also largely courgette based so they must count as at least one of your five a day. See, they’re practically healthy!

Light, chocolatey, delicious, and probably one of your five a day.
Light, chocolatey, delicious, and probably one of your five a day.


Makes 15 cupcakes
100g shelled pistachios
3 eggs
180 light brown muscovado sugar
300g courgettes
120g self-raising flour
60g cocoa powder
½ tsp salt

For the icing
100g unsalted butter
100g icing sugar
50g cocoa powder
50g shelled pistachios


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line two muffin tins with 15 paper cases.
  2. Peel the courgettes and grate them finely.
  3. Grind the pistachios in a food processor or mill until they are are powdery. The finer they are ground, the better the cake.
  4. Whisk the eggs and sugar until they are pale and fluffy. Beat in the courgettes and ground pistachios, then beat in the flour and salt until well combined. The mixture will be quite drippy.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the cases, filling them no more than two thirds. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.


  1. For the icing, beat the cubed butter until fluffy, then gradually beat in the icing sugar. Beat in the sifted cocoa and keep beating until everything is creamy and well combined. Spread the icing evenly on the cupcakes.
  2. Crush half the pistachios and leave the other half whole. Sprinkle them over the cupcakes and leave to set for a bit.

This delicious recipe is adapted from Harry Eastwood‘s chocolate and courgette cake as published in Waitrose Kitchen.