This week, in fact in a mere few hours, I am leaving the tempestuous and erratic English weather behind and flying away for 7 days of sunnier, and much more reliable weather. Excited as I am to give my under-used summer wardrobe an outing in the Spanish sunshine, like most of us, the thought of bikini season does install a slight niggle in my mind.
Not one to crash diet, I prefer a healthier approach of tasty, filling, but low-calorie meals in the run up to the summer months. So here are a couple of my most recent recipes that have been keeping me happy.
Carrot, Red Lentil and Tomato Soup
So easy to make, filling and you can make enough for a few lunches! All you need is a pan and either a blender or a hand-held pulser. This does around 4-5 reasonably sized bowls of soup.
1 cup of dried red lentils
4 carrots (grated)
1 onion (finely chopped)
1 Tin of Chopped Tomato
1 pint vegetable stock
Fry the onion in a frying pan on a medium heat until they being to soften. Add the grated carrots and leave to soften for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the stock (make sure it's hot so the temperature of the pan doesn't lower) and the lentils. Add a tsp of cumin and 1 1/2 tsp chilli flakes, and some salt and pepper to season.
Leave to simmer on a low heat for around 20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Add the chopped tomatoes and take off the heat. Blend until smooth and voila.. a tasty, filling and delicious soup!
Warm Greek Salad
This little beauty is a perfect alternative to your classic salad. And warm salads are always a great transitional dish for those days when the weather isn't quite sure what it's doing! This is a perfect side dish for 4, or if you're having a full meal then split between 2 of you.
6 medium-large tomatoes
200g feta cheese or a low fat greek salad cheese alternative
Basil or parsley pesto
Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees.
Chop the tomatoes roughly, not too small, and put into a large oven proof dish. Take 2 tbsp of your pesto and stir it into the tomatoes. Tear up a handful of basil leaves and scatter them over the top.
Slice the courgettes into roughly 0.5cm slices and heat up a griddle pan (you can use a very lightly oiled frying pan if you're without a griddle). Griddle (or dry fry) the sliced courgettes until they are slightly browned on each side. They don't need to be completely cooked through.
Once all your courgettes are browned, layer them on top of the basil and tomatoes and drizzle a bit more pesto over the top.
Crumble the feta cheese through your fingers so that it's scattered over the courgettes. (This recipe is great because you can literally throw everything in!)
Pop the dish in the oven for 10 minutes, lightly warming it. After 10 minutes, switch the grill onto a medium heat and brown the edges of the feta.
Serve up with some crusty bread or antipasti. Positively angelic!
And here are some snaps of my other favourite healthy treats...