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I have always loved vegetarian soups and this one is no exception. I like this recipe as the pecans give a beautiful nutty taste to the pumpkin soup.  Its easy to make in the slow cooker and a great soup for a cold day.  Also you can freeze leftover soup for another day, just leave out the sour cream.

pumkin sweetpotato and pecan soupPumpkin, Sweet Potato and Pecan Soup

1 lb (500g) pumpkin
4 1/2 oz (130g) sweet potato
1 oz (30g) butter
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 cups stock (either chicken or vegetable)
3 oz (90g) pecan nuts
Sour cream and crushed pecan nuts (optional)

Cut the pumpkin into pieces.  Melt the butter in a frying pan and brown the onion until clear,  Add the nuts ans stir for around a minute.  Add this mixture to the slow cooker and add the pumpkin, sweet potato and stock and cover.  Cook on high for 4 hours.  Blend the mixture in the pot then reheat for another 1/2  hour.

Serve in bowls with swirls of sour cream and chopped pecan nuts if desired.  Serves 6.

This has become one of my favorite vegetarian soups as it jazzes up the plain pumpkin soup I have always loved.  I always make my soups the day before I am going to serve them and this pumpkin soup does increase in a nutty flavor if you have time to do that.

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5 Meal Planning Ideas

meal plans

 

Here are 5 meal planning ideas to help you be prepared for cooking and have less stress when you realize you have everything you need to make great meals.  Meal planning is important if you have a family to cook for or if you only shop every few weeks.  I must admit I am not good at deciding what I want to eat too far in advance so I usually only have a weekly meal plan.

Planning ahead will mean you will not have to resort to take-away and so will have a more healthy meal for yourself and your family.

Here are some menu planning tips to help you plan your meals:

  1. As the graphic says involve the kids in planning your meals.  You know then that will eat it as they will be choosing food they like to eat.  They can also help out in preparing the food for cooking for you or actually cooking the meal itself.
  2. Have a stocked pantry and freezer.  Keep essentials like flour, oats, pasta and canned foods you use often like tomatoes, soups, tuna or salmon and frozen meats, fruit and other vegetables.
  3. Cook 2 meals at once and freeze them.  I always double my recipes so I have another meal for later that week.  The saves me time and often the food tastes better the second night and that applies especially to casserole type dishes.
  4. Check your calendar to see what is going on that week and the next.  This way you can plan your weekly dinner menu to take into account the kids sports, your yoga class, a school presentation or working back  late.  This is where step 3 comes in again or you can plan to have something simple like soup and a salad that night.
  5. Keep your recipes simple.  You don’t have to create gourmet meals every night.  Just save that for when you have visitors or special occasions.  Keep meal plan ideas simple and use trusted recipes all the family loves.

These are only 5 meal planning ideas but I hope they start you thinking of other ways you can plan out your meals so you are well prepared each week.  It is also stressful if you have to decide at the last minute what you plan to cook.  Also if you have your meals planned you will find you eat more healthy. It is especially important when using slow cooking methods to plan ahead and start the meal so that it will be cooked when you want it.

If you have other tips please leave a comment below to share so we can all benefit and I would love to hear from you.

Recipe for Whole Chicken in a Clay Pot

This recipe for whole chicken has to be one of the easiest to make and is very tasty.  You just marinate your chicken in a Chinese style honey mixture for an hour then bake it in your clay pot (or you can use your crock pot/slow cooker).

Here is the recipe:

whole chicken recipeMarinated whole Chicken in a Clay Pot

1 small raw whole chicken

Marinade:
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs honey
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tbs minced garlic

Mix together all the marinade ingredients and spread over the chicken, rubbing it in the chicken so it gets into the skin and joint areas. Put aside for an hour then place in a clay pot that has been pre soaked in water for 20 minutes. Put the clay pot into the cold oven and turn to 400F (200C) and cook for around 1.25 hours.  Check to see it is cooked through by inserting a knife into the chicken.  You can take the lid off and cook for another 10 minutes if it hasn’t browned enough but you will probably find that it is perfect.

Remove the chicken from the pot and use the juices to make a sauce by thickening it with a little cornstarch (cornflour).  This recipe for whole chicken is best served with either jasmine or basmati rice.  Will serve 3 – 4 persons.

Note:  If you cook this recipe in a slow cooker then turn it on to High and cook for 3.5 hours or until cooked through.

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