January is the month when resolutions are not only made, they are broken. I’m guessing that after two weeks into this bleak and cold month, the majority of people have already caved. Some experts say that it takes 21 days to change a habit so for anyone still sticking to their resolutions, you’re almost there. I’m not one for making resolutions to give things up (I don’t smoke. And I would never give up wine or chocolate). I prefer to take a more positive approach to the new year (rather than one of punishment) and take up new things which will be of benefit to my health and wellbeing. I also think it’s more likely to stick if it’s something that I want to do. One of the things I decided to start doing this year was subscribing to a fruit and vegetable box delivery.
After doing some online research into the options available, I chose a weekly box delivery service that had a variety of boxes available, a delivery schedule suited me and no delivery charge. The boxes are made up of seasonal Irish fruit and vegetables that are sourced daily and delivered fresh. So far I have been treated with some delicious Irish apples and Irish kale as well as some spicy chillies and sweet cherry tomatoes, all of which are favourites. Any items that aren’t in season or available here are sourced from around the globe. I like that the box delivery ensures I am eating local as well as seasonal. It also means I am eating more fruit and vegetables than I was before which is an added benefit.
There are a number of boxes to choose from depending on what you fancy or how adventurous you are. So far I have tried a few of them to see what fits our family best. One of my favourites is the Cook’s Fruit & Veg box which includes garlic, chilies, Irish milk, Irish free range eggs and Italian pasta along with standard fruit and veg. If you are more adventurous, the Weekly Variety box will keep you guessing each week as it changes depending on what’s available or in season. It’s great for cooking inspiration but not so great if you end up with something you might not like (turnip & brussel sprouts). There are also salad boxes and juicing boxes for anyone detoxing.
So far this year, I have been busy cooking and testing out new recipes from my new cookbooks based around my fresh fruit and veg deliveries. I’m really enjoying it (as is my husband who brings leftovers to work). My approach to food is one of balance between savoury meals and sweet desserts. I cook wholesome meals for my family and we also indulge in homemade desserts. With that in mind, here are two recipes one savoury soup full of vegetables and one sweet and fruity dessert. The soup is something I threw together for a midweek dinner. The crumble is something that I make often but this one has ground almonds which adds some extra crunch and flavour (thanks to Rachel Allen for the inspiration). The soup can be made with any seasonal vegetables and canned beans you have on hand while the crumble can be made using fresh seasonal fruit or a combination of fresh and frozen.
Hearty Veg, Bean & Sausage Soup
Ingredients – olive oil, butter, 1 onion chopped, 2 to 4 cloves of garlic crushed, 1 to 2 red chilies chopped, 2 potatoes peeled & chopped, 2 carrots peeled & chopped, I can of chopped tomatoes, 1 can of cannellini beans, 500ml vegetable broth, 500g baby spinach, fresh herbs chopped (rosemary/thyme/oregano), black pepper to taste, 6 large Irish sausages.
Method – Sweat the onions in a large pan with the olive oil and butter for ten minutes until soft. Add the garlic and chilies and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, beans and broth then bring the soup to the boil. Add the fresh herbs and pepper to taste then simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Grill the sausages and slice. Add the sausages and baby spinach to the soup for the final 5 minutes of cooking. Serve with grated parmesan and fresh bread.
Apple, Raspberry & Almond Crumble
Ingredients – 4 large apples peeled, cored and sliced, 125 raspberries (fresh or frozen), 2 tbsp. caster sugar, 75g plain flour, 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon, 75g ground almonds, 75g light brown sugar, 75g butter chilled and cubed.
Method – Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place the apples in a pie dish and cover with caster sugar then bake for 10 minutes until soft then set aside. Combine the flour, cinnamon, ground almonds and brown sugar together in a bowl. Add the butter and use your fingertips to rub it in until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the raspberries to the apples then sprinkle the crumble mixture on top. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until crisp and bubbly. Serve with vanilla ice cream.