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Monday, 11 February 2013

Plans for the week ahead

I'm going for budget this week, using up some of the weekend's ingredients.
With the snow set to visit us again - I'm getting out the slow cooker! I'm going to try a new recipe - and can't wait to see how it turns out. There can be nothing nicer than walking into the house after a long day at work, to be greeted by the aroma of something ready to eat. I've chosen these dried pinto, cannellini and black eyed beans to add bulk and texture to my casserole - and I'll post the recipe tomorrow.
I've got 50g of each variety soaking away - this should take around 8-12 hours. I usually do this overnight, but if I forget, then I've always got a couple of spare tins of ready cooked beans I can use. You'll find both dried and canned beans in the same aisle at the supermarket.
I've got some pak choi and half the pork tenderloin left in the fridge, so I'll use that to make a delicious Chinese style pork and mash later on this week.
I've had a bowl of this delicious soup - to use up the roast chicken we had yesterday. I can't begin to describe the depth of flavour in this humble soup when using the carcass for stock. Even more pleasing was the amount of soup that can be made - 6 glorious 400g portions at an amazing 150 calories at most! A huge portion too, and I also had a large fluffy roll with cheese to bring my lunch up to a more respectable 400 calories. Here's the recipe:

2 litres of chicken stock/water
250g carrots 
150g new potatoes
2 celery sticks
2 large onions
shredded cabbage if you have any
150g shredded cooked chicken
handful of frozen peas
large 400g tin of cannellini beans (or haricot)
a handful of pearl barley (partly cooked)
teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
half teaspoon of dried thyme
couple of bay leaves
garlic (we used 2 minced cloves)
couple of teaspoons of tomato puree (if you like)
We made a large pot of chicken stock by first boiling, then simmering the carcass for an hour or so together with a few carrots, onions and celery. If you skip this stage, then use a good quality stock - either vegetable or chicken.
Chop the celery, onion, carrot and potatoes and put these into the chicken stock. Add tomato puree if using, and check the seasoning. 
Simmer until the vegetables are softened (about 20 minutes), then BLEND about 300g of the soup (this will thicken it).
Now add the cooked cannellini beans (and/or pearl barley if using**) and cabbage and bring to the boil. Turn the heat back to simmer and add the chopped chicken. Simmer for a further 10-15 minutes.
Serve with grated cheese if you like and/or a cheese roll.
This soup should make around 6 large portions approx 400g each. I've estimated each portion of soup to be around 150 calories at most! So fill up, and make sure you have something to go with it - or you'll be hungry later and tempted to snack.
**NOTE: I like to pre-cook the pearl barley in a separate pan for 15 minutes beforehand, as it's very starchy. 
Losing weight eating the food we love!
REMEMBER: We all have a calorie allowance - and we like to post our main meals to show you what we are eating. You won’t find us posting every last morsel though – but we hope this gives you an idea of how far calories can go!
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