We all know the benefits of eating a healthy, balanced diet:
- Being happier
- Being more productive
- Having more energy
- Being less stressed
- Controlling/managing weight
- Aging better
- Being healthier
- Living longer
… just to name a few.
“Knowledge is not power; Implementation is power” – Garrison Wynn
Yet when it comes to applying this knowledge, we as Australians seem to fall short more often than now.
The 2016 CSIRO Healthy Diet Score which explores the dietary habits of more than 86,500 adults across Australia over a 12 month period showed our national score slip from 61 out of 100 points in 2015 to 59 out of 100 in 2016.
Whilst these statistics may or may not surprise you, another look at the 2011–13 Australian Health Survey (AHS) makes the issues facing our diets as a nation more evident. This study showed, less than 4% of (aged 19 years and over) usually consumed the minimum recommended number of serves of vegetables per day whilst over one-third (35%) of our total daily energy in 2011-12 came from foods and beverages classified as discretionary. [reference]
So what are some of the main reasons (or excuses) that we allow to get in the way of developing more nutritious diets:
- I don’t have the time to cook healthy food
- Preparing healthy food is too complicated
- Healthy food has little taste
- It’s too expensive to buy healthy food
I get it… We’re time poor, financially strained, value our taste buds and need to keep things as simple as possible to avoid additional overwhelm in our already hectic lives.
These reasons are what lead me to develop a simple, bulk cooking recipe that requires minimal skill and effort, yet provides maximal results when it come to taste, time and nutrition.
Don’t believe me? Let’s weigh up the recipe against the previously mentioned reasons to avoid healthy eating:
- I don’t have the time to cook healthy food – This recipe involves throwing ingredients into a pot and walking away.
- Preparing healthy food is too complicated – This recipe involves very few steps and requires minimal kitchen skills. I’ve been fiddling with the recipe over the weeks and have found it to be extremely adaptable.
- Healthy food has little taste – Everyone that’s tried this soup likes it, even people who aren’t usually fans of soup.
- It’s too expensive to buy healthy food – This recipe makes the most of cheap dried ingredients and seasonal vegetables (which I like to purchase from my local farmer’s market).
Sound good so far? Have I won you over yet? Are you ready to give it a go?
- Water – enough to cover the ingredients once in the pot
- ½ celery
- 1 large brown onion
- 1 whole garlic bulb
- 4-6 carrots
- 6-8 parsnips
- 1 turnip
- 1 head of fennel
- 1 whole chilli
- Salt and pepper
- Other favourite seasonings / spices / herbs (eg. parsley)
- 750g-1kg chicken thigh fillets (these are boneless though you’re more than welcome to use bones, just remember to remove them when returning the chicken to the soup)
- ½ – 1 cup Dried barley / soup mix
- 1 cup Dried black french lentils
- 1 Large Cauliflower
Notes: There’s no need to be too precious with the above listed measurements or ingredients… I’ve added beef bones to the stock, changed the quantity of dried lentils and soup mix, swapped the lentils for split peas etc, and even mixed up the vegetables and quantities to suit what’s been available at the markets during the week, and it’s still worked every time!
- Rinse the vegetables, cut the stock vegetables in half and place them into a large stock pot along with the chicken thigh fillets and seasonings. At this point, it’s also worth cutting up/pulling apart the cauliflower into smaller pieces and putting it aside for later.
- Cover the stock ingredients in the pot with water.
- Bring the stock to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring it to a simmer.
- Cover the pot with a lid leaving a small gap for steam to escape. WALK AWAY and let the magic simmer for at least 3 hours or so. (I sometimes cook it for longer or a little less depending on what I’m doing at the time).
- Remove the chicken and vegetables from the stock into a bowl/pot with a slotted spoon, tongs or by straining the stock into another bowl/pot.
- Return the stock to the pot and add all of the ‘other ingredients’, including dried soup mix, dried black lentils, and cauliflower to the stock. (Note: You may need to rinse your lentils. It’s worth reading the packet to see what it recommends).
- Bring the stock back to a boil, partially cover with the lid (as previously), reduce the heat. WALK AWAY and let it simmer until the lentils and soup mix is tender/cooked. This usually takes about 30 minutes.
- Add the vegetables back into the stock with the exception of the celery and any onion/garlic skin you may have come across (returning the chilli is optional).
- Blend the vegetables into the stock using a handheld blender.
- Shred the chicken thigh fillets using your hands (I use my hands) or a knife, and return to soup.
- Mix well and enjoy.
TIP: A great tip for taking this soup to work is to reuse an old glass jar, such as one from sauerkraut or pickles (yes, I’m Polish). Since I’ve started using glass jars instead of containers, I’ve managed to avoid those unpleasant bag leaks/spills.
If you end up giving this recipe a go, please let me know, as I’d love to hear what you think.
It really has become a staple of my diet, and I hope it can help inspire you to enjoy eating simply, happily and healthfully.
I am currently creating a pot of this soup once a week on a Sunday whilst cleaning and doing other things around the house. I then keep it in the fridge and enjoy eating it throughout the day between training clients as it’s easy to grab and eat.
If you’d like more information or help with achieving your health and fitness goals, please get in touch.