healthy eating

Green soup

Yep, like a green smoothie but for winter!

Possibly the most healthful, nourishing, restorative thing you can make - and delicious too. 

I found this recipe on Adriene Mishler's site - she of Yoga with Adriene that I love so much and can't stop going on about - I love my almost-daily yoga practice and how it makes me feel.

Her 31-day yoga challenge is a great place to start if you want to try making yoga a part of your life too.

But enough yoga, and back to the soup.

I simplified the recipe slightly and added a spoon of creamy Greek yogurt - but you could just leave this out of course.

This is a seriously good soup - it sounded just what I needed when I woke up with swollen glands and a sore throat - and it was ... but I wasn't expecting it to be so utterly delicious too. 

Definitely a new favourite for me!

As you'll need a food processor (or blender) to blend the soup at the end, you might as well use it to chop everything and make this super-fast to prepare too.

No need to wash it in between chopping the onion and the vegetables, and then I just gave it a quick rinse in cold water before using to blend the finished soup.

Here's the ingredients for a good big pan of soup ... 

1 onion

a teaspoon of light olive oil or other cooking oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 large courgette

3 stalks of celery

Water, freshly boiled from the kettle

1 vegetable stock cube

1-1.5 teaspoons white pepper (I love white pepper!)

a good handful of broccoli - and another of asparagus

2 big handfuls of spinach leaves or kale, something dark green and leafy anyway

Salt, to taste

Put the kettle on to boil and get all the ingredients ready.

Whizz the onion in the food processor then put straight into a large saucepan with the cooking oil and garlic and cook over a low heat until it's softened - add a splash of water too and make sure it doesn't stick.

This will take probably between 5-10 minutes, so while it's cooking, chop the courgette and celery together in the food processor and then add to the softened onion and garlic mixture, and stir together.

Rachel Redlaw green soup
Rachel Redlaw green soup

Add a ladleful of water and crumble in the stock cube and the white pepper and mix it all in.

Then whizz up the broccoli and asparagus and add this too and cook for a minute.

Rachel Redlaw green soup
Rachel Redlaw green soup
Rachel Redlaw green soup

Throw in the spinach leaves and stir until wilted, then add as much water as you want to make your soup plus a tablespoon of natural or Greek yogurt (if using).

Simmer for ten minutes then remove from heat and cool slightly before blending very smooth.

Rachel Redlaw green soup
Rachel Redlaw green soup
Rachel Redlaw green soup

Return to the pan to re-heat gently and add salt to taste (I also added a little more yogurt, since the pot was open!).

Serve with another dollop of yogurt if liked, and with a chunk of good crusty bread, or with a salad - as you choose.

Rachel Redlaw green soup
Rachel Redlaw green soup
Rachel Redlaw green soup


Moroccan salad (with griddled chicken)

I was in Marrakech recently (again - one of my very favourite places and yes I really am going to write a quick post about it soon).

It was the most beautiful weekend away with my co-conspirator-traveller-niece. We shopped in the souks, sunbathed on the roof terrace of our riad, and ate a LOT of tomato + cucumber Moroccan salad.

We had it in the riad, we had it for lunch at the Henna Art Cafe and we had it every time we ate in the main square too. 

We had it with bread, with grilled smoky aubergines, with a chilli dip, and with skewers of grilled meats (well, I did; Mia's vegetarian). 

It's so simple too, I don't know why I haven't made it before now ... but now I have, it's going to be a regular thing at Tiniest Thai HQ! 

What makes it special, what makes if Moroccan is the addition of ground cumin - I'd brought some back with me too (along with Ras Al Hanout, that spice blend for stews and for tagines - will be using it next and making a tagine).

You can have the salad with whatever you like, but I did some simple griddled chicken for a light lunch for me and a friend yesterday. (I made the salad, she brought the Prosecco). 

So, first the salad (serves two).

Dice some tomatoes (take the tough cores out if need be). I used a mixture of two large tomatoes and then quartered a few cherry tomatoes too. Peel and de-seed some cucumber and dice that too. 

Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato salad
Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato salad

Chop half an onion very finely, and add it all to a big bowl with a handful of chopped parsley and a pinch of salt - and stir to mix well.

Then make the dressing. I used one and half lemons squeezed into a bowl (just squeeze them over your open hand so you catch the pips easily), 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 tsp ground cumin and a shake of white pepper.

You could use a little olive oil too, but I prefer the taste of the lemon to really shine through.

Stir to combine and dissolve the sugar, then tip over the salad and mix.

Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad

And for the simplest griddled chicken, I just opened out a chicken breast (actually it was one and a half chicken breasts) so they are thin and quite flat and will cook quickly.

My grocery shopping delivery that morning had included lemon thyme in replacement for lime leaves which they hadn't had in stock (yep, strange replacement, can only assume someone just saw the words 'lime' and 'lemon' and thought, 'that'll do'!), so I thought I'd use it with the chicken.

The chicken was sprinkled with cumin, some lemon/thyme salt I found in the cupboard (or just use salt) and the leaves and some sprigs of lemon thyme. You could use another herb, or just leave this out if you don't have any. 

And I added 2 teaspoons of oil and rubbed it all together to coat the chicken pieces.

Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad / chicken
Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad / chicken

I heated the griddle until very hot (you could just use a frying pan or grill the chicken if you don't have a griddle) and added the pieces of chicken, which started sizzling (LOVE that sound!).

They took around three minutes each side ... but do slice into them to check they're properly cooked through.

Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad / chicken
Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad / chicken

Serve with the chicken on top of the salad and with another little pinch of ground cumin over the top of it all.

Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad
Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad

Simple, light and fresh tasting. So good! 


Easy gluten-free eating with a Thai-style diet

I'm all about keeping things simple.  And for those eating gluten-free, I imagine it can anything but simple thinking about ingredients, checking ingredients lists and introducing variety to the repertoire of meals you know you can safely eat.

Gluten is the protein found in wheat and some other grains and therefore means people eating gluten-free need to avoid pasta, egg noodles and anything made with wheat flour so most breads, pizza bases, cakes, pancakes and much more.  

Wheat flour is also a regular thickening agent added to many pre-prepared or part-prepared meals, to sausages, salami and processed meats, sauces, soups, dressings and all sorts of unexpected foods. 

It struck me recently that eating a Thai-style diet can be pretty much naturally gluten-free and therefore a simple way to find lots of gluten-free ideas.

Gin khao, in Thai, doesn't just refer - literally - to 'eating rice', but to eating anything at any time.  Any meal, any time you ask someone if they want to eat, you're saying 'rice'. I love that showing of the importance of rice in the diet through language itself.

Thai, and other cuisines that are based on rice rather than wheat, is an ideal way to eat if you can't eat gluten.

You'll need to avoid just two main items:

1. Wheat or egg noodles However, these are much less common in Thai cooking than the more usual rice noodles - and rice noodles are gluten-free.

2. Soy sauce  Gluten-free soy sauce is readily available in supermarkets, so this isn't a problem for cooking at home. Wherever you see 'soy sauce' in a recipe, please just use gluten-free soy sauce in its place.

If you're eating out, or getting a takeaway, it's probably best to avoid dishes with soy sauce - but that still leaves a huge choice, including curries, soups or a classic Pad Thai.

Oyster sauce usually has wheat and although there are gluten-free brands readily available online that sounds a little more difficult to me than just going to the supermarket, so - for now at least - I won't include recipes that use oyster sauce in my gluten-free recipe category. Oyster sauce is a Chinese condiment anyway so, whilst I love it, it's not necessary for the majority of Thai dishes. 

And while Chinese spring rolls are made with wheat flour wrappers, Thai and Vietnamese spring rolls are usually made with rice wrappers. What's especially nice about a Thai-style way of eating if you need to eat gluten-free is that it is usually naturally this way, so instead of having to think of substitutes can generally just eat the food the way it's meant to be.

Rice and tapioca flours are often used in Thai cooking for thickening, instead of our usual wheat flour.  I'm going to be experimenting with using rice flour for some pancakes soon - will post the recipe as soon as it's done.

Thai food is also full of flavour and quick to cook most dishes.  

You don't need a cupboard full of exotic ingredients. I've pulled together the key 9 items I keep in stock that are the basis of many, many recipes so just pop your email in the box below and I'll send it to you.

(Sorry - it does include oyster sauce just because I like it, but there are plenty of recipes that don't include it!).


I hope you're inspired to try a few (GLUTEN-FREE) Thai dishes - would love to know what you think.

Please note: I am not a medical professional nor a qualified nutritionist.  However, I have been cooking regularly since I was 12 and have researched nutrition, health and food over the years because it's something I enjoy.  Since living for a while in Thailand over a decade ago I have eaten a predominantly Thai-style diet and have over 10 years of personal knowledge and understanding of the health benefits of eating this way.

Please do research my recommendations and check my recipes and ingredients carefully before cooking to make sure they're right for you.  Consult your doctor first if you need to check your individual condition and circumstances before making any changes to your diet.

Please also note: The recipes I have listed as gluten free assume that you'll use gluten-free soy sauce and gluten-free stock cubes as the recipes aren't specific. 

Rachel Redlaw 9 items you need