Roasted Vegetable & Chicken Soup

Warmer weather inevitably means lighter food so lately I find that I have been returning back to the basics and this has introduced some new soups into our menu. My roasted vegetables and chicken soup is fairly straight forward to prepare, it just takes a little bit more time but I hope you will give it a go.

Roasted Vegetable & Chicken SoupIngredients:

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 litres of water
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1.5kg of good quality tomatoes
  • 3 large bell peppers
  • 3 medium size onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 small leak
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • Large bunch of fresh coriander
  • 10 whole pepper corns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2tsp all spice
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Wash and peel (where needed) all veggies. Cut tomatoes in to halves or quarters (size depending), quarter the peppers and onions and then finely chop the basil and coriander.

In a large pot place the chicken thighs, carrots, parsnip and leak; all 2 litres of water (filtered if possible), whole pepper corns, bay leaves, all spice plus 1tsp of salt and set to medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil and leave cooking for 45 minutes.

In a large roasting tin place tomatoes, peppers and onions. Drizzle with olive oil, add ½ tsp of salt and ½ tsp of fresh ground black pepper, sprinkle with chopped basil and gently mix so all vegetables are well coated.

Roast in earlier preheated oven for 30 minutes, turning them over gently every 10 min.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

By this time your “stock” should be ready.

Remove it from the heat, using a sieve separate all solids from the liquid.

Return the saved liquid back into your cooking pot ready for adding the roasted veggies and chicken and place on a low heat to stay simmering.

Once your roasted vegetables and chicken are cool, cut them into desired chunk sizes and place into your cooking pot. (I normally don’t return any of the carrots, parsnips or leeks back into this soup, but I do have dogs which will eat everything left over with pleasure but if you wish you can chop them up too and add back into the final creation.)

Bring back to a boil, add coriander and cook for a further 15 minutes.

When the time is up slowly add the double cream stirring all the time and when done you are ready to eat!

Have fun and enjoy if you do decide to make it!

Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Soup

Alfresco Living – Prepare Your Deck For The Perfect Summer

With the summer months nearly upon us, a lot of you may be looking forward to spending a lot more time outside. Specifically, if you happen to have a back deck or porch, you may be anticipating evening cocktails, cookouts with friends or family, or simply morning tea or coffee with the rising sun. If you’re like me, you’re pretty convinced that nothing beats time on your deck during the warmest months of the year.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make that deck better!

Alfresco Living – Prepare Your Deck For The Perfect SummerHaving said that I have a few recommendations coming for how to set your deck up for the perfect summer season. So here we go…

Give It A Thorough Cleaning

First things first! Unless you have an outdoor heater or two in place, odds are you’ve spent most of the winter and spring more or less avoiding your deck area. Naturally, that means some tidying up will be in order. Cobwebs, debris, dust, and more will have accumulated, likely in a way that requires more than a quick sweeping. This list of tips for a summer ready deck or porch recommends power washing right off the bat, and I’d have to agree this is the right way to start. You can always get down on your hands and knees and scrub, but now may be a good time to think about adding a power washer to your garden shed or home tool arsenal. It gets the job done quicker, and it’s actually a pretty affordable piece of equipment.

Sand Down The Floors

Speaking of adding to a home tool arsenal, a power sander might actually be a more useful tool than you’ve realised before. Case in point, this site has a wide selection of different power sanders right alongside some far more basic pieces that are commonly found in garden sheds or toolkits so you can find just the right tool for the job. That’s because a lot of people have come around to the idea that a power sander can speed up an otherwise stressful task! Once you scrub or power wash your deck you’ll likely find the floor a little bit coarse, and sanding it down keeps it looking nice and primes it for your own barefoot lounging in the warm weather.

Fill The Space With Plants

The same list referenced previously recommends planting annuals and a variety of flowers in outdoor areas, and this may truly be the best way to make your deck beautiful and cozy during the summer. Whether it’s hanging ferns, planted flowers, or even lines of bushes or hedges around the border of the deck, plant life just feels right during the summer. It’ll help you and any guests you may have to feel like you’re truly embracing the outdoors every time you step out on the deck.

Set Up Exposed Flame

I realise this doesn’t sound like the safest or most necessary option, particularly when we’ve just discussed wooden floors, but I’m only suggesting open flames to add a little bit of light in the evenings. You might find an endless selection of attractive candle fixtures made for outdoor areas, or if you really want to cultivate a striking atmosphere you could consider something like a tiki torch in the right place. There’s something undeniably pleasant about a summer night lit up by natural flames. As long as you’re safe about it this can make for a wonderful addition to your deck in the months ahead.

Invest In Comfortable Outdoor Furniture

A lot of outdoor furniture is, frankly, crude and uncomfortable. In many cases it basically amounts to splintery wooden chairs, or canvas seating stretched over bland iron frames. These can certainly get the job done but if you haven’t visited a home and gardening shop in a while you may not have noticed that more comfortable outdoor furniture is always becoming more affordable. You can find whole sets of cushioned chairs and sturdy tables for very reasonable prices and easily make your deck more appealing as a place to lounge. And as a bonus, try to pick a uniform colour scheme for cushions that suits the atmosphere you want to create. I’d suggest a cool blue or green to fit in with nature but not compete with the vibrant colours of flowers or other plants you may have.

Prepare To Maintain

As a final point, I’d like to echo this article’s closing statement on summer deck preparation: maintain, maintain, maintain. An outdoor deck is constantly exposed to the elements, even if it happens to have its own roof or overhang to shield it from rain. Every few days at least you’ll want to sweep away dirt and dust and do any other basic upkeep that might seem necessary, or else the deck will quickly revert back to its winter condition.

Aside from these tips, it all pretty much comes down to personal taste! You’ll find all kinds of fun ways to set up your deck the way you envision it. But these ideas should serve as a foundation that can help most anyone who wants to spend the summer outside.

The Truth About Sugar and Yo-Yo Dieting

* by Sandra Roycroft-Davis

Sugar! Anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight knows that sugar is the enemy – but isn’t it the hardest thing to cut down or give up?  So many people repeatedly try and fail.

Most people go through horrific cravings, binges and mood swings when they try to cut down but this reaction should be no surprise when you learn that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. People also experience headaches and even get the shakes. This is all because of the effect sugar has on the brain.Most people go through horrific cravings, binges and mood swings when they try to cut down but this reaction should be no surprise when you learn that sugar is as addictive as cocaine.  People also experience headaches and even get the shakes.  This is all because of the effect sugar has on the brain.

If this is you, then there is exciting news because there is a way to end the hold sugar has over you without having any of the awful withdrawal symptoms. Firstly though, I think it’s crucial to understand a little bit about the impact sugar has on your brain and your emotions because knowledge means empowerment and empowerment is one of the keys to freedom!

Most people try to give up sugar because they want to lose weight.  They invariably go on a diet and start depriving themselves of their pleasures and that’s when a whole series of unfortunate events begin to take place because there’s an emotional aspect to food that so many people don’t even think about – and this sabotages their efforts.

A survey of 1,000 people in America found 31 per cent thought lack of exercise was the biggest barrier to weight loss, 26 per cent said it was what they eat and 12 per cent said losing weight took up too much time. Only 1 in 10 thought emotions and habits were a factor.

This explains a lot – because to lose weight and keep it off long term we need to understand WHY we eat not just focus on WHAT we eat.

From a very young age, most of us become emotionally attached to sweet stuff.  Parents use chocolate and sweet treats as a reward for being good or to help make us feel good if we’re upset or hurt.  Birthday parties generally revolve around cake and sweet treats, too!

All these things keep reinforcing the association the brain has made: food / sweet treats / chocolate = pleasure.

We become conditioned to use food and sweet treats not only for nourishment and nutrition but for comfort and the reward and pleasure it gives. This all creates powerful connections that can last a lifetime.

Whenever the brain experiences pleasure it releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine.  So when you experience pleasure for whatever reason, this process is activated – and the more you get the more you want.  Evidence proves that sugar also kicks off this process, becoming our reward or feel-good drug of choice.

Losing weight is a miserable experience and we are creatures of pleasure so that’s why so many people are unsuccessful. However, it’s not all bad because once we’re aware of this happening then we can deal with it.

Here is a link to my free ebook which explains more about the effects sugar has and how you can end the misery…

* Sandra Roycroft-Davis is a Founder of ThinkingSlimmer.com

All You Need To Know About Canine Babesiosis

I’ve covered the importance of tick prevention in the past but it looks like now it is even more important than ever, as canine babesiosis can be fatal.

Babesiosis is a malaria-like, parasitic, tick-borne disease caused by various types of Babesia, a microscopic parasite that infects red blood cells. There have recently been a number of reports of dogs in the UK diagnosed with canine babesiosis. This disease can be fatal to dogs and current cases aren’t restricted to dogs which have recently travelled abroad, so it seems like we may have a problem.

Babesiosis is a malaria-like, parasitic, tick-borne disease caused by various types of Babesia, a microscopic parasite that infects red blood cells. There have recently been a number of reports of dogs in the UK diagnosed with canine babesiosis. This disease can be fatal to dogs and current cases aren’t restricted to dogs which have recently travelled abroad, so it seems like we may have a problem.Ticks can be found anywhere your pet goes, not just the obvious high risk places such as forests, heathland, and grassy areas but also in urban playgrounds, parks and even your back garden. Therefore, it’s important to take action to protect your pet.

Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors are at an increased risk of tick bites and of contracting this parasite. This is especially true in the summer months, from May through September, when tick populations are at their highest, so correct prevention is key!

To help protect your pet from ticks (and fleas), apply FRONTLINE® Spot On monthly. It kills ticks within 48 hours of contact with your treated pet, minimising the risk of tick-borne disease transmission.

I know a lot of dog owners don’t think monthly treatments are necessary, but are you really willing to take the risk?

Diagnosis of canine babesiosis can be quite challenging especially as the symptoms can vary from case to case. The severity of symptoms will depend on the species of parasite involved and on the ability of the dog’s immune system to defend against it. Symptoms may come and go as the disease runs its course and can include lack of energy, lack of appetite, weakness, fever, pale gums and tongue, orange or red-coloured urine, discoloured stool, weight loss, enlarged lymph nodes, an enlarged spleen, and jaundice, which is yellowing of the eyes and skin. A severe infection can affect multiple organ systems including the lungs, GI tract, kidneys, and nervous system.

If your dog is acting abnormally, take it to the vet, especially if it has been exposed to ticks; ask your vet about the potential for infection with a tick-borne disease.

Remember, the health and wellbeing of your pet are in your hands, so please be a responsible pet owner and protect your furry friend.

If you want to read more about ticks in general please refer to my previous post: All you need to know about ticks and fleas.

Take care and remember to take care of your pet!

* This is a collaborative post
**FRONTLINE® Spot On contains fipronil. Legal category: AVM-GSL. ®Registered Trademark. For further prescribing information, refer to the data sheet on www.noahcompendium.co.uk or contact Merial Animal Health Ltd, CM19 5TG, UK. Use medicines responsibly.

My Top 9 Delicious Dairy Free Homemade Popsicles

My Top 9 Delicious Dairy Free Homemade PopsiclesToday I would like to share with you a selection of delicious, dairy free, healthy, nutritional, tasty and super easy to make popsicles, which will be perfect for the coming hot summer days. They are so good they can literally become life changing whether it becomes the perfect bargaining chip whilst negotiating with difficult kids, a shared moment between lovers as they sit in the garden bathed in the light of a lovely sunset or becoming the best ever dog owner (with the sugar free version) when your hot pooch pounces onto one and licks it all up for the next hour.