Spicy Tomato and Lentil Soup

In need of something warm, spicy and comforting as the nights draw in? Let me introduce the spicy tomato and lentil soup.

Just as in July and August we were in un dated with courgettes that morphed into marrows because we couldn’t pick ‘em fast enough, now the green house is giving up its goodies. Tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes – they keep on coming.

Nice as they are to eat in salads, I needed a recipe that would use up a lot of them so I hit on tomato and lentil soup. Yes, there are lentils in it and they do contain carbs, but they thicken the soup up marvellously and make it so delicious, they are worth it.

If you like your soup to be more of a main course than a starter, do as I always do and serve it topped with a poached egg or two. Some cooked chorizo would work too.

Spicy Tomato and Lentil Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 400g tomatoes, halved
  • 75g red lentils
  • 1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1tbsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp dried chilli flakes (more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 600ml boiling water
  • Salt

Heat the oil in a large saucepan/stock pan. Add the onion and pepper and cook for five minutes, until softened but not browned.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, cumin and chilli and cook for another five minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. Add the lentils and boiling water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cover. Leave to cook for 15-20 minutes.

Use a hand blender to puree the soup. Add salt to taste – you should be generous with the salt, as lentils can take quite a bit of it.

20g carbs and 5g fibre per serving.



Jovina cooks Italian: Fresh herbs and summer squash chowder


Cooking With Fresh Herbs

by Jovina Coughlin

Don’t let your herbs go wild in the garden or get moldy in the refrigerator. There are lots of way to incorporate them into your recipes.

A general guideline for using fresh herbs in a recipe is to use 3 times as much as you would use dried herbs.

Wash herbs when you are ready to use them. Shake off moisture or spin dry in a salad spinner. Pat off any remaining moisture with clean paper towels.

For most recipes, unless otherwise directed, mince herbs into tiny pieces. Chop with a chef’s knife on a cutting board or snip with a kitchen scissors.

Unlike dried herbs, fresh herbs are usually added toward the end in cooked dishes to preserve their flavor.

Storing Herbs

Fresh herbs can be stored in an open or a perforated plastic bag in your refrigerator for a few days.

After washing, you can mince the herbs and place them halfway up in the sections of an ice-cube tray. Cover herbs with cold water and freeze until solid.

Transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag. Drop them into soups, stews and sauces as needed.

Some Other Ways To Use Herbs

If you love a big, green salad, add fresh herbs to the mix.

Add a big handful of fresh herbs to a basic mixture of equal parts sugar and water, bring to a boil, stir and then remove from the heat. Once completely cooled, strain out the herbs (discard) and use the simple syrup to sweeten iced coffee or tea and cocktails.

Fresh herbs are a perfect in salad dressings and vinaigrettes. They round out the fatty and sharp flavors from the oil and vinegar.

Combine finely chopped herbs and room-temperature butter to make a spread that compliments bread or cooked meat or vegetables.

Summer Squash Chowder

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 medium courgettes and 2 medium patty pan squash, diced
  • 1 large sweet (Vidalia) onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 8 cups Summer Vegetable Stock (corn cob stock) (recipe here)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • Sour cream for garnish


Heat the butter in a large saucepan or stockpot; add the garlic, celery and onion. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the squash and lightly salt the vegetables. Saute for an additional 5 minutes.

Add the stock and 1 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat and partially cover and cook for 25 minutes. Puree the soup with a hand immersion blender until smooth.

Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Stir in lemon juice, corn and herbs. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve in individual soup bowls topped with a tablespoon of sour cream.

Allow 12-15g of net carbs per serving.

Low-Carb Chocolate Chip Cookies

no added sugar chocolate chipsWhile perusing the shelves of Holland & Barrett recently (a hobby of mine), I discovered these no-sugar chocolate chips.

I’m not much of a low-carb baker as the results are usually disappointing (perhaps apart from the low-carb fudge) and I’m not keen on the after-taste you get from sweeteners, but I thought I’d try out the chocolate chips in a cookie recipe and they turned out not ‘alf bad…

It is a mistake to think you are going to get comparable results to traditional baking and cookies when you try de-carbed baking, but you will get something that might help add a little more variety to your diet. The recipe is also gluten-free so will please any coeliacs you know.

I adapted this recipe slightly from one I found in the Low Carb High Fat diet book by Laura and Veronica Childs.


Low-Carb Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 12 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • low-carb chocolate chip cookies2 cups almond flour
  • 2tbsp coconut flour
  • 6tbsp butter
  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp Xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup granulated sweetener (I used Asda’s Stevia blend)
  • 2-3tbsp no-added sugar chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Melt the butter in the microwave, allow to cool slightly and mix with the egg, sweetener and vanilla extract.

Mix the ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda, Xanthan gum, coconut flour and the pinch of salt. Add the wet ingredients, the chocolate chips and mix well. You will get a sticky-ish dough.

Divide the dough into 12 equal-sized balls and flatten out to a cookie shape. Place on a cookie sheet or baking tray and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until they are golden brown. Cool for five minutes on the tray before removing to a wire rack and cooling completely.

Each cookie has roughly 5g carbs and 3g fibre.


Supermarkets catch on to the spiralling use of low carb vegetables


Spirallising vegetables such as courgettes and squash to use instead of pasta is becoming mainstream thanks to popularisation by such celebrity cooks as Davina McCall, the Hemsley sisters and Ella Woodward.  John Lewis says it was one of their best- selling kitchen gadgets of 2015.

Now you can buy pre-spirallised vegetables in many supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose. From next month you will also be able to buy that good old low carb rice substitute cauliflower “rice” prepacked from Sainsbury.

The interest is due to the growing demand from low carbers and those who are pursuing a wheat/gluten free diet.  The restaurant chain Bella Pasta even serves vegetable “spaghetti” in their restaurants.


Based on an article by Rebecca Smithers in the Observer 17.1.16

Thai Prawn and Chicken Soup


Serves 2

2 cups water

2 cups coconut milk

1 / 2 bouillon cube of chicken

1 / 2 Lime

1 to 2 teaspoons chili paste (sambal oelek)

1 1 / 2 tablespoon ginger, grated, fresh

3 / 4 tablespoons fish sauce (Asian)

150 to 200 g chicken fillets without skin

A couple of handfuls ready cooked and peeled prawns

1 / 2 Chinese cabbage or cabbage

50 g Shiitake mushrooms or any other mushrooms

2 spring onions

1 / 2 red chilli

1 / 2 – 1 tblsp Coriander, fresh

Place water, coconut milk, broth, finely grated rind of lime, lime juice, chili paste, ginger and fish sauce in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.

Cut chicken into strips.

Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes.

Cut Chinese cabbage into strips, slice the mushrooms. Chop the spring onions and chilli, add all to the pan, cook for 5 minutes.
Add the prawns for a minute before the soup is ready. Just warm up, don’t boil them.
Put half the chopped coriander in the soup and stir.

Taste the soup. Maybe you want more zing? Then add a little extra sambal oelek.


Turkey Curry – Low Carb

turkey curryBridget Jones jokes aside, turkey curry is now a current favourite of mine… It’s really easy to make, and relatively cheap too as turkey mince isn’t highly priced in supermarkets.

I like turkey curry served with broccoli or cauliflower (and if you really want a low-carb curry experience, you can make cauliflower rice, method here).

The quantity makes four servings with about 20g of carbs per portion, 15g not including the fibre.


Low-Carb Turkey Curry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 500g turkey mince
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 600g tinned tomatoes (1½ tins
  • 100g frozen spinach
  • 40g creamed coconut
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp chilli powder (add more or less depending on your spice tolerance levels)
  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan or wok until hot. Add the onion and fry gently until translucent (about five minutes).
  2. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for a minute or so before adding the tinned tomatoes and all of the spices.
  3. Chop the creamed coconut into small pieces and stir in. Mix well, bring to a simmer and leave to cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  4. Using a hand blender, puree the sauce. (You can leave it chunky if you prefer and you can use the sauce as the base for any curry.)
  5. Now add the turkey mince and the frozen spinach and stir well to blend it all in. Mix well and bring back to a simmer. Allow to cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Serve with broccoli or cauliflower for added veggie goodness.


If you have diabetes, you may well have fungal overgrowth problems (fungi loves a sugary atmosphere) and this dish has several anti-fungal ingredients – garlic, ginger and coconut oil.

Chocolate orange muffins: how to de-carb a standard recipe

I found this recipe in this weeks Observer magazine. Of course the recipe was neither low carb or gluten free or even for muffins, but with a few tweaks I managed to produce these lovely muffins.

dark chocolate 85g

unsalted butter 120g

granulated sugar 120g ( I substituted 4 rounded dessertspoons of a mixture of splenda, z-sweet and truvia )

ground cinnamon 2 pinches ( this recipe could use a bit more than this)

ground all spice 2 pinches ( again, a bit more wouldn’t hurt)

vanilla extract one teaspoon ( and add chocolate essence one teaspoon if you have this)

zest of half an orange ( I used zest of one whole orange for very full orange flavour )

3 eggs

milk 2 tablespoons ( or use double cream )

ground almonds 150g

plain flour 60g ( I used wheat free white flour but think you would easily get away with more almonds here or you could use whey protein powder instead, either plain, chocolate or vanilla)

baking powder 1/2 teaspoon

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Gas mark 4.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave and use a wooden chop stick to stir or melt in a bowl over simmering water on the hob.

Mix the butter, sugar substitute, spice, essences, zest together until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs and the almonds and chocolate till fully incorporated. This is most easily done one egg/ a few spoons of almonds at a time.

Add the flour or extra almonds and baking powder.

Mix thoroughly.

Either cook as a cake in a buttered/cake released springform cake tin or put into muffin cases for muffins.

The muffins took 25 minutes and the recipe says the cake takes 30 minutes.

Either way it is best to check your muffins at 20 minutes. Use a cocktail stick, special heat conduction stick (Lakeland Ltd) or your finger to check doneness. Sticks will come out dryish, the top will spring back when pressed with your finger when done).

Serve with whipped double cream with a little vanilla essence.

Amazing Meatloaf

Meatloaf is… wonderful, delicious, tasty, satisfying. In fact, there aren’t enough adjectives to describe meatloaf so I’ll just settle for the four. Most recipes rely on a breadcrumb filler, but this one is gluten-free and low-carb. Eat and enjoy.

Amazing Meatloaf

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Use the best mince you can get for delicious results.
Use the best mince you can get for delicious results.

  • 1kg steak mince (from the butcher for better quality)
  • 1 large onion, very finely chopped
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, very finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 small chillies, finely chopped
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 2 large eggs
  • 40g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4-6 rashers streaky bacon
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Mix all the ingredients (except the bacon) in a large bowl. The easiest way to do this is with your hands, scrunching everything together until it is well combined. Grease a 2lb loaf tin and pack the mix in (you may also need another dish). Top with the rashers of bacon. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 60 minutes. Take the foil off for the last five minutes of cooking time to brown the top.
  2. There will be plenty of juices so serve slices of the meatloaf with spoonfuls of the juices.