Lockdown, Recipe, Uncategorised

Lockdown – butternut squash soup recipe


Serves 4 generously (keeps in the fridge for 3 days)

Takes about 35 mins + prep



  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and seeded and diced (or buy it prepped – 600g)
  • 1 pepper, seeded and diced
  • About 3cm of fresh red chilli, seeded and finely sliced (opt)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 litre stock
  • 2 tsp olive oil


  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot, and saute for 3 mins.
  2. Add the squash and stock, bring to a simmer, cook for 30 mins until the squash is cooked.
  3. Cool a little, then whizz through a blender and check the seasoning. (You might need to add a little bit more stock/water, depending on how thick you like your soup.)


  • Spicy: end of stage one, add spices and stir for 30 seconds: add 1tsp smoked paprika and 1 tsp cumin; or 1/2 tsp mild dried chilli; 
  • Orange: with the stock, add grated rind of an orange (and stir in the juice after you’ve blended it)
Lockdown, Recipe, Uncategorised

Lockdown – potato and leek soup recipe

Serves 4; takes about 30 mins + prep




  • 450g potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 medium leeks, washed well and cut into 1/2cm rings
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 litre stock
  • 1/2 tbs olive oil


  1. Heat the oil, then saute the leeks for about 3 mins.
  2. Add the potatoes, garlic and stock.
  3. Simmer for about 25 mins, until the potatoes are soft.
  4. Let it cool a little, then blend and season. 
  5. Garnish with snipped chives and a swirl of plain yogurt
Lockdown, Recipe, Uncategorised

Lockdown – veggie soup recipe

Super-easy – takes about 30 mins + prep



  • 1 red onion or leek, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • about an inch of red chilli pepper, deseeded and sliced (or a pinch of dried chilli flakes)
  • 1 tsp ground smoked paprika
  • A litre of veggie stock (or 1 tin chopped tomatoes in juice plus fill the tin with water once or twice again, depending on the amount of veg you use)
  • Veggies – all roughly chopped – of your choice, roughly one large handful prepped per portion of soup (I’d use red/orange/yellow pepper, courgette, butternut squash, sweet potato, parsnip, a couple of ribs of celery…) (if you’d rather have a brothy soup, cut to small dice rather than roughly chop)
  • Big handful of dried red lentils
  • a little olive oil


  1. Heat a little oil in a pan; add the onion, carrot, celery, fresh chilli and garlic; saute on medium heat for 5 mins. 
  2. Add spices and cook for 30 secs.
  3. Add veggies and stock (and dried pulses if using), and simmer for 25 mins or until veggies are soft. 
  4. For smooth soup, whizz through a blender; for brothy soup, you’re already there 🙂

You can also get away with just dumping everything but the oil in a pan, bring to a simmer, cook for 25 mins (makes it even more low cal/easy effort).


The Unlardy Project – the start

Like many middle-aged women, despite my daily dog-walk and my gym sessions (which I admit have been very slack this year), I’m suffering from spread. Well, no – I’ve always been on the chunky side. About the only time I was thin was the worst year of my life, when my mum died. And I don’t actually want to be *thin* – I want to be a healthy weight and shape.

I do eat healthily, most of the time (a lot of my talk about cake is teasing – unless it happens to be birthday celebrations which stretch a bit too far). But the weight’s been creeping up again this year (partly to do with not showing my face enough at the gym). And it’s time I took care of myself. It’s time to admit that I need the accountability of having someone else weigh me and look over what I eat. I do have a slow metabolism (not a weak excuse – the Fitbit backs me up because on a desk-day when I don’t move anywhere near enough, I don’t even get to the 2000 calories an average woman burns). So I need to factor that in. I’m probably in a food rut and switching away from calories to a different form of counting will make me more mindful about what I choose to eat instead of being so familiar with it that I’m not thinking or keeping an eye on portion-creep.

I’m a foodie, so any programme that makes me live off shakes/bars or eat tinned (canned) food is not OK by me. I can’t do 5:2 because I am HORRIBLE if I’m hungry (everyone else in the house says they’ll move out if I ever do that again). I love experimenting with recipes. So what I want is something flexible that will let me eat half the week with my vegan daughter and half the week with my omnivore husband (and son, when he’s home from uni). My lot are a bit fussy so I’ve always tweaked meals and served different things to different people at dinner (eg spaghetti bolognese was normal for husband, wedges instead of pasta for son, different sauce for daughter, and extra veggies in my sauce). I don’t mind tweaking things. What’s important is sitting down together for a meal (I am also the tech police, so it’s no tech at the table unless there is a *very* good reason).

Friends have had good success on WeightWatchers and Slimming World, so I looked at both programmes to see which would suit me best. I opted for WW as I think I need the discipline and accountability of weekly weigh-ins, and also it’s slightly more structured than SW (I have a problem with carbs – letting me eat as much pasta as I like will not end well, whereas measuring a portion means I won’t feel deprived but I also will see results). With the points system, I can go out for dinner and enjoy it – and plan it in so it doesn’t push me off target. It helps that one of my writer mates happens to be a WW coach; I know she’ll be firm and kind, which is a good combination, and she also won’t let me beat myself up when I slip.

I’m adding this into my blog in case it helps others who might be having the same kind of struggle. It isn’t a competition (I want slow, sustainable and maintainable weight loss, and I have sensible goals in mind). It’s about sharing ideas. So my weekly roundup is going to be basically what I’m eating, what exercise I’m doing, and sharing any new-to-me recipe that I’ve really enjoyed. (Anything I post should fit just about any diet, whether you’re counting carbs or calories or fat grams – just chuck it through MyFitnessPal to get the stats.) I’m not posting my actual weight or measurements, though my weekly roundup will include how I’ve done. But I guess I ought to start with Kate Lardy as I look this week (taken in a doorway so I can see the changes as the weeks go on, on the grounds that if I can see a change in shape even if the scales aren’t showing much of a change, that will keep me motivated).



I’ll start with my go-to soup recipe (serves 4) (and this isn’t an entire meal – I normally have a salad or a sandwich to go with it! But I really like soup for lunch in winter – this doesn’t really count as cooking because it is SO easy)


  • 400g tin of tomatoes (and fill it up again with water)
  • large peeled and chopped carrot
  • Peeled and chopped red onion
  • deseeded and chopped red (bell) pepper
  • Medium topped, tailed and chopped courgette (zucchini)
  • pinch of chili flakes


Put everything into a saucepan, simmer for 30 minutes or until all the veg are soft, whizz through a blender until smooth.

You can vary the veg, decide to have it chunky instead of smooth, add a glug of pomegranate molasses for depth, add in a handful of dried red lentils at the start to bulk it out… It’s all about being flexible 🙂