Hey guys, boy do I have a fun post for you today. Some interesting chat, a healthy soup recipe (Five Spice Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup), and a main dish 7-day meal plan. Yeap, meal plan ideas so you can get a healthy start to your 2018.
But before I get into that, how was your Christmas? Hopefully as fun, food and family filled as mine.
We had fun, beaches, long-lost family get-together, drama, games, play dates, pressies, tinsel, drums, jollof rice, ginger beer, midnight feast, raffia, skype calls, WhatsApp chats, sleepovers, phone photography and much much more. Soooooooo much fun. Soooooooo very exhausting. But I would not change a single minute of it.
Heck, I loved it so much that I am already planning my next Christmas and I have been hoovering up presents in the sales. Anything to extend the festivity period in my life. Because two weeks of it has not been enough. Nope. No way.
Anyway, even though I want to cry big fat tears about the holiday being over, I’ll keep them in because I want to tell you about something that was on my mind this holiday season: food waste. I know that might sound a bit (okay, a lot) odd, but the thought first struck me when a well-meaning holiday visitor began to throw a perfectly compostable banana peel in the trash instead of the compost bin.
If you own a compost bin, you know what happens next. A loud ‘nooooooo’ as you race across the room (feeling like you’re moving in slow motion) to intercept this peel and save it from adding to the world’s food waste by landing in the trash.
Okay. Maybe I’m the only compost bin owner who does this.
But in that save-the-banana-peel moment, I thought about how wasteful we can all be with food, especially around the holidays. Even though mine lands in the compost bin, I have my fair share of ‘wasteful’ moments. Like when I toss something that would have been fine if I had pulled it from the depths of the fridge yesterday, or if I hadn’t forgotten it on the counter when putting away food after a meal.
So of course I looked up food waste statistics on the internet because isn’t that what everyone does?
I was horrified by what I found. In the UK alone, households generate 4.2 million tonnes of food waste every. single. year. Worldwide – 1.3 billion tonnes.
That is scaaaaary, folks. And so much of it happens because people buy more than they need. One thing I started to do a few years ago that has made a big difference in our household’s food waste is buying frozen food from Iceland Foods whenever I can. (I have a second freezer to prove it.) Picked fresh at the source, stores easily, I can use as much or as little as I need, and easy, healthy options are readily available.
It makes meal planning go so much easier when I don’t have to worry about food spoiling or rotting when I’ve forgotten it in the fridge or on the counter. Plus it tastes just as good as fresh.
That’s why I whipped up this creamy, warming and healthy Five Spice and Sweet Potato Carrot Soup recipe using three Iceland products: Iceland Sweet Potato Chunks, Iceland Baby Carrots and Iceland Diced Onions. It’s a great recipe that is easy to prepare and easily scaled up to feed a crowd, and by using frozen instead of fresh, you never have to worry about your sweet potatoes or onions sprouting or your carrots withering away.
Oh, and Five Spice and Sweet Potato Soup is very easy to make – perfect for after-holiday fatigue.
How to make five spice sweet potato and carrot soup in less than 15 mins
Start by getting out your sweet potato chunks, baby carrots and diced onions from Iceland Foods. I use their delivery option – free home delivery of in-store purchases over £20 – which my absolute favourite convenience service. (It makes eating healthy soooo easy.)
Sauté onions in olive oil for 6 mins, then add the spices along with the sweet potato and carrots and cook for 2 mins until fragrant. Then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer till the veggies are soft, which normally takes only about 10 mins. Blend this into a thick and creamy soup, without any of the cream.
If you don’t have five spice then you can use a combination of other spices like cardamom, cloves and star anise.
Toppings for five spice sweet potato and carrot soup
I topped my bowl of lovely Five Spice Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup with chilli oil, but here are a few other ideas:
- Sour cream
- Chopped peanuts or almonds
Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup
You can easily make this a pumpkin sweet potato soup by swapping some of the carrots for pumpkin. You can do the same with other squashes you have. This soup is all about using what is already in your pantry. The squashes all still work well with the five spice flavour.
So easy on the pocket. So moorish. So New Year, New You perfect right?
More recipes like this easy sweet potato soup
7-day mains meal plan
Now that you know how to make Five Spice Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup, how about 6 more mains to help you plan out an entire week’s worth of meals?
All 6 recipes can be made conveniently using Iceland Foods frozen products so you can do your part in preventing food waste. (Awesome.)
MONDAY: Five Spice Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup
With this meal plan, you’ll be off to an awesome and delicious New Year. (And if you’re a person with diabetes, check out this My Healthy Diabetic Meal Plan post.)
A healthy 2018 – How to stay motivated with your health goals
I read that around 80% of people fail their New Year’s resolutions within 3 months. I admit I have fallen into this statistic some years, but not always. I started thinking about what I’ve done right in those ‘good years,’ and I’ve come up with a list of 5 tips to share.
- Pick 1 or 2 resolutions, not 10 or 20. It’s sooo easy to dream up a gazillion resolutions on Dec 31 and say we’re going to keep them all. Problem is, this approach is destined for failure. Focus on 1 or 2 reasonable goals (see #2) instead.
- Set reasonable goals. You probably won’t run 27 marathons this year if you’ve never run more than a few mins before. Set realistic, reasonable, and achievable goals.
- Plan your meals. I didn’t give you a meal plan just for fun — meal planning really works. Instead of giving in to temptation when you’re tired or grumpy or busy, meal planning helps you focus on eating healthy meals.
- Celebrate your ‘small wins.’ Treat yourself (but not with food) when you achieve small goals on your way to bigger goals. Lose 1kg? Treat yourself to a new book or your favourite Netflix show.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. If you don’t stick to your resolution perfectly every day, don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone has bad days. Take a deep breath and refocus.
Sweet potato and carrot soup recipe
So here is how to make this five spice sweet potato and carrot soup. Please do try it and if you do make it, then please do tag #recipesfromapantry on Instagram or Twitter so that I can pop over and have a look. It is really, really awesome for me when you make any one of my recipes. You can also share it on my Facebook page.
Thank you for reading my five spice sweet potato and carrot soup recipe post. And please come visit again as I continue dreaming up recipes, traditional African recipes, African fusion recipes, Sierra Leone recipes, travel plans and much more for you.
A warming five spice sweet potato and carrot soup
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 150 g frozen onions
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1.5 tsp Chinese Five spice
- 400 g frozen sweet potato
- 500 g frozen carrots
- 1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
- Chilli flakes to taste
- Ground black pepper
Heat olive oil in a pot and fry the onions for about 6 mins till soft.
Add in the ginger, garlic, Chinese five spice, carrots and sweet potato and stir for 2 mins until flavours develop.
Add in the stock, chilli, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 mins until the sweet potato and carrots are soft.
- Switch off heat, allow the soup to cool and then puree with hand blender before adjusting the seasoning.
- Warm soup thoroughly and garnish before serving.