My New Year Revitalising Kit & Clean Green Soup

I, along with many, who have just got to the other side of the Christmas and New Year festivities am feeling in dire need of some revitalisation. Ideally this would involve a few weeks at a retreat in Bali, but this is most definitely not going to happen.

So I’m attempting to bring elements of a retreat to very rainy Wales. It’s just a little different from a real retreat, not as relaxing, warm or immersive, but I’m trying. Having a two-year old little boy who doesn’t stop moving (and throwing stuff everywhere, especially play doh and crayons) means I have to work harder at this. But in-between picking up and clearing away the same stuff he pulls out of cupboards and battling the rain I’ve found introducing a few small changes to daily life have made me feel a lot better. These are them:

  • Drinking a large mug of warm water with a tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar (with the ‘Mother’) each morning before breakfast. Find out more of the benefits in this post. I’m on Biona’s at the moment.
  • Drinking Pukka’s ‘Serene Jasmine Green’ tea. A new find and a pleasure to drink.
  • Taking baths with a cup of magnesium flakes (aka epsom salts) and essential oils. A great way to absorb magnesium, relax the muscles, reduce stress and improve sleep.
  • Squeeze in yoga at least twice a week. The only way I can do this is with the help of ‘YogaGlo’ an amazing online yoga tutorial site. Brilliant teachers, and lots of classes of varying lengths, levels and styles.
  • Discovering Cheryl Strayed and reading her inspiring book ‘Brave Enough‘ given to me by my wise sister.
  • Making and eating my Clean Green Soup. I adapted this from my sister’s exceptionally good pea and mint soup. By adding a hefty load of nutrient-rich greens (watercress and spinach) it made this culinary gem into a therapeutic one.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + extra for serving
  • 25g butter
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 500g fresh peas, shelled (or frozen peas)
  • 200g watercress
  • 200g spinach
  • 75g mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 litres organic vegetable stock
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese (optional).

Preparation:

  • Gently heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan, add the chopped onion and cook on a gentle heat for 10 minutes or until the onion is soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  • Add 3/4 of the peas, the chopped mint leaves, and 3/4 stock. Cover the saucepan with a tight fitting lid and cook on a medium boil for 10 minutes.
  • Add the watercress and spinach to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Blend the soup in a food processor, you will have a thick puree. Return the puree to the pan, season with salt and pepper and add the remaining peas and stock. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

If using Parmesan cheese place a small mound in the center of the bowl and pour the soup around. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. This soup is also delicious cold, but not chilled.

4-6 servings

The Benefits

Watercress

  • This aquatic plant has long been known to house a powerful array of nutrients (as far back as Hippocrates, 400 BC). Throughout history its been known as a healing herb, which could cleanse the blood.
  • Science has revealed it contains impressive amounts of vitamin C, calcium and folate. It is also has significant levels of vitamin K, which is integral to healthy blood clotting, bone health and and heart health.
  • Containing an array of phytonutrients (isothiocyanates) , antioxidants (zeaxanthin and lutein) and co factors for antioxidant enzymes (manganese). This plant works to protect key areas of the body from cell damage (the eyes, the lungs) and helps to fight infection.

Spinach

  • Like watercress this plant is packed with vitamin K. It also has high amounts of another fat-soluble vitamin A. Both need to be eaten with fat to support their absorption. The olive oil and butter in this recipe are not only integral to the taste but also to the therapeutic effect!
  • Contains high levels of phytonutrient flavonoids (a class of antioxidants) that have powerful anti-inflammatory effects in the body. Along with the vitamin C, E and minerals zinc and manganese this food provides a comprehensive range of antioxidant micronutrients that will protect your cells from damage and support healthy cell function.
  • As will all nutrients they play a myriad of roles within our body, working together synergistically to support our health. Likewise all of these nutrients help our immune system to function effectively. Giving us much needed support during this rainy and damp time of year.

Mint

  • Mint may be best known as a digestion-soothing herb. Many of us gravitate towards this after a heavy meal or when we’re experiencing stomach upset. Great for those whose digestion is feeling heavy and sluggish from the festive period.
  • The menthol oils have been shown to help relax smooth muscle tissue. Thereby helping to counter some of the symptoms of IBS,  dyspepsia and cramps.
  • The essential oil in peppermint is anti-bacterial and has been shown to stop the growth of many digestion-disturing bacterias such as Salmonella enteritidis.

I hope these small things bring as much joy, inspiration and vitality to you as they have to me.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2016!

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