Cream of Celeriac Soup [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes, Meatless Monday

Serves: 4 (med.) or 6 (small) portions
Prep: 10 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Assembly: 5 mins
Type: Main meal, starter dish
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, veggie peeler, large non-stick pot w/lid, wooden spoon, blender, silicone spatula

Notes: This recipe contains: B-Vitamins (inclusive of B12*), Vitamins C, D* & E* carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and per serving (based on 6 servings) has no added sugar, has a moderate quantity of added salt and is low in saturated fats! *Dependent upon the fortification of DF milk used.

We were wrong, this soup is officially our last new soup of the season (well, probably)! Simply because the UK weather is completely unpredictable; it’s still quite chilly, but it’s also great to have to some quick soup recipes to hand, even for early spring, autumn or an unexpected July cold virus! So with the cold weather lingering, we decided to experiment with a frugal and tasty soup idea; this delicate, simple and flavourful idea became our delicious cream of celeriac soup!

We would first like to thank our local supermarket for reducing the price of their almond milk (3 cartons for £3!) and for having a full bin of celeriac root with varied weights to choose from! You know that it’s going to be a good day when stuff like this happens. 😀

This soup is incredibly easy to prepare and not overly expensive (our veggies came to £1.60). In addition to some tasty celeriac, we added a humble potato (skin included) which provides additional fibre, vitamins and minerals, a natural thickener and a tasty under note to the soup. As we decided not to use any vegetable stock, we combined a tasty section of some of the dried herbs, seasonings and flavours that we found listed in our favourite brand of stock. Once it was cooked we added some almond milk, for some additional nutritional value and creamy touch (it’s all in the title after all!). The result was a delicious and easy go-to soup that you can add to your recipe box (particularly if you love creamy, comforting and cosy soups)!

We enjoyed this soup garnished with some tasty roasted chickpeas, fried spring onion and served it with a cheeky ‘cheeze’ toasty and cup of tea; it was indeed a great little lunch! 🙂

Some other good things to note include:

  • We have previously talked about how lovely celeriac is when we posted our Broccoli and Celeriac soup recipe last year! Our previous recipe also includes some lovely visual instruction on how to prepare it (just in case you are new to this lovely vegetable!).
  • Celeriac can be tricky to peel. After we peeled ours, we lost about eighty grams in weight; which is a huge improvement after our last couple of goes! If you still find preparing it tricky, just buy a slightly bigger portion.
  • We will be doubling the quantity next time (whilst being mindful of the salt) as it’s just too good and would love slightly larger portions that last longer than three days! 
  • We used almond milk, but you could also use an unsweetened soya or coconut milk if preferred. NB: we chose almond because its flavour is light enough not to overpower the other flavours of the soup.
  • Once refrigerated, the soup does ‘thicken’, just ever so slightly; once it’s reheated, it relaxes and is the perfect consistency once again. However, if you find our version a little thick, just add a little more milk to thin it out.
  •  Although it tastes good on the day, like any soup, sauce or marinade it tastes even better the following day(s)! We’d recommend reheating your leftovers on the stove top (if possible) as it doesn’t take long to reach a hot and almost boiling temperature; you can easily overcook it in a microwave (you can trust us on that one!) and this will impair the flavour.

Happy cooking everyone! 😀

 

 

Ingredients

++++++++++700g          Celeriac root
++++++++++440g          Baking potato
++++++++++½ tbsp       Rapeseed oil (or low-fat cooking oil spray)
++++++++++1g                Celery salt
++++++++++¼ tsp          Dried tarragon
++++++++++¼ tsp          Dried parsley
++++++++++½ tsp          Asafoetida (or sub w/ onion powder)
++++++++++¾-1 tsp       Salt
++++++++++¼ tsp          Ground black pepper
++++++++++800ml       Water
++++++++++½ tsp          Garlic infused oil
++++++++++50g            Spring onion, finely chopped (*an optional garnish)
++++++++++300ml       Almond milk (unsweetened + fortified)

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

1. Prepare the celeriac. Tip: For visual guidance you can refer to this recipe! Wash, trim the ends, peel and then chop the celeriac into cubes. Wash and then chop the potato into cubes.

2. Heat ½ tbsp rapeseed oil (or use some low-fat cooking oil spray) in a large, non-stick pot over a med-low heat. Add the celeriac and potato. Gently toss in the oil and stir together. Cover with a lid. Gently fry and stir the celeriac mixture occasionally for about 6 mins. Add 1g celery salt, ¼ tsp dried tarragon, ¼ tsp dried parsley, ½ tsp asafoetida, 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp ground black pepper. Stir to toss and coat. Gently fry for 30 seconds.

Add 800ml cold water and ½ tsp garlic infused oil. Stir together. Cover with the lid. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat. Simmer and cook for about 10 mins or until the vegetables are cooked (fork tender). Remove from the heat. Allow the soup to cool slightly. Tip: If you have a blender with a heat-vent lid, you can probably start processing the soup after 5 mins; just take care and do not overfill your blender and cover the heat vent with a kitchen towel to help release some excess steam/heat.

3. If desired, gently fry some spring onion in a little oil for 2-3 mins or until softened.

4.Transfer the soup into a blender. Process it until smooth and creamy. Tip: Depending upon the size of your blender, you might have to complete this step in batches. If you own a hand-held blender, just process the soup in the pot and then stir in the milk. Transfer the soup back into the pot or a resealable container (as applicable). Add the milk into the blender. Pulse to froth and help remove any residual soup stuck to the blender. Pour the milk into the pot or container. If necessary, use a spatula to help remove any remaining bits of soup. Stir together. Taste and season the soup as preferred.

5. If applicable, reheat the soup over a medium-low heat until hot, but do not allow it to boil. Remove.

6. Serve warm. Ladle into a small serving bowl; if desired, garnish with fried spring onions or some fresh chives, roasted chickpeas, small cubes of roasted potato, tofu croutons, some standard herby-bread croutons or whatever takes your fancy!

Enjoy!

Tip: Refrigerate any leftovers in an air-tight and resealable container; reheat and consume within 3-4 days. Alternatively, store and freeze; defrost, reheat and consume within 1-2 months. NB: When reheating, do not allow it to boil. 

 

Tesco Unsweetened Almond Milk

Product Reviews

 

Whether you suffer from a milk allergy or intolerance or have revisited plant-based milk alternatives due to health or ethical reasons, there is no denying that the dairy-free (or freefrom) market is on the rise. Tesco have supplied us with soya and rice milk as a part of their own-brand & freefrom food range for a while now (years and years even!), but our food preferences have influenced their food production just that one step further! They now stock their shelves with their own-brand almond milk! Stumbling upon this during our weekly shopping trip was a happy accident indeed. 🙂

Many companies offer almond milk these days, but it’s great to see major supermarkets finally producing their own!

Tesco offer both an unsweetened and sweetened UHT version, which is perfect as not everyone has refrigerator space for four or five cartons of milk (well, particularly those that meal prep and/or eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables- us included)! Additionally, they also sell a fresh version, but it’s sweetened.

 

 

So, how does it compare to other leading brands…

…well in this instance we have compared it to ‘Alpro’!

 

Ingredients & Nutritional Info

Tesco

Alpro

 

The Facts…

Personally, we would always opt for buying unsweetened milks!

    • Both milks contain 2% almonds, which isn’t really a lot when you think about it! In fact, almonds are listed as the second ingredient to water! Maybe it’s about time we all start to make our own?!
    • Per 100ml/:
      »They are both low in calories; Tesco’s is slightly higher but it’s negligible.
      »They are both low in sugar (not surprisingly!) and salt; Tesco has slightly less salt but again the quantity is negligible.
      »They both have the same quantity of protein and fats.
      »Tesco’s version has slightly more carbohydrates, but that’s because it’s third ingredient is added ‘maltodextrin’ (which we discuss shortly).
  • They both use the same thickening agents: ‘Gellan Gum’ and ‘Carob Gum’ (which is also known as ‘Locust Bean Gum’; E410).(¹)
  • They both fortify their milks with: Calcium, Vitamins D, B2 and B12; their quantities vary ever so very slightly, but not enough for it to be a deciding factor over it’s product quality.
  • Tesco does not fortify it’s milk with Vitamin E, but Alpro does; unlike B12, Vitamin E is found naturally in numerous plant-based food items, e.g. avocados, wheat germ, vegetable oils and nuts,(²) so this is not by any means a travesty!
  • Obviously they are both dairy-free and ‘vegan’, but also gluten and wheat free.

Photo: Vegan Society logo (UK), courtesy of the Vegan Society

  • Alpro has the Vegan Society’s seal of approval; Tesco has yet to get their milk recognised by the Vegan Society!

 

Taste
Almonds_Rob Stanard_flickr

Photo: Almonds By: Rob Stanard_flickr

You’ll experience the same delicious, slightly sweet and nutty taste in both brands but Tesco’s version is slightly thicker; a lot of almond milk’s have a ‘watery’ taste (similar to s/s cow’s milk). The thicker taste is down to the fact that Tesco’s third ingredient is maltodextrin; a manufactured sugar/starchy carbohydrate (a ‘polysaccharide‘), used as a multi-purpose food additive that can have a mild and sweet taste. It can be derived from various cereal starches, i.e. wheat, corn, tapicoa, rice, (³) or potatoes. It’s added to food products to help thicken, bind and/or flavour them.

For us, the thicker taste is welcomed but it all comes down to personal preference. A thicker milk would come in handy for those that cannot consume soya (but prefer a fuller-bodied milk), do not enjoy soya, oat or coconut milks or those who need an alternative/fuller and versatile milk that they could use in their dairy-free sauces, milkshakes, soups and/or curries etc.

Another good point is that it didn’t curdle in our tea (as some dairy free milk has a habit of doing!).

 

Cost
      • The cost of Tesco’s Unsweetened Almond Milk is currently £1.40/1L/carton.
      • Alpro’s Unsweetened Almond Milk varies from store to store; occasionally you can only purchase a UHT or fresh version at any one store. At Tesco, Alpro’s UHT Unsweetened Almond Milk currently costs £1.70/L/carton.

 

Value
Photo: Raw vanilla Almond Milk By: Heather Crosby_flickr

Photo: Raw vanilla Almond Milk By: Heather Crosby_flickr

Everyone has different tastes and budgets, but these two products are both fortified and taste great. Personally speaking, half of the reason as to why we purchase dairy-free milk is for the dietary calcium, Vitamin D and B12 supplementation that it provides! Currently there are quite a few dairy-free milks on the market (inclusive of almond) that do not provide you with many or any extra added nutrients, so make sure to check the labels before you buy them!

The biggest influence for us is cost. If a product is cheaper (but not inferior in taste or quality), then that’s our decision made. Almond milk is currently more expensive than some other-dairy free milks (but in no means the most expensive!), but there’s no doubt that Tesco will have a sale on it at some point; you can occasionally find Alpro milk’s on offer for £1/carton or 2 for £2.

Tesco’s almond milk advises that you should use it within three days of opening, whilst Alpro advises using theirs within five. These use by dates are generally not a problem for us; a carton of milk typically only lasts about two days (between the two of us!) but even so, we’ve used dairy-free milk and yoghurt’s up until seven days with no ill effect.

Lastly, both their ‘unopened’ use-by dates are about the same (8-9 months from the date of purchase).

 

Our Overall Opinion

There are plenty of brands that currently sell almond and various other dairy-free milks and Alpro used to be our ‘almond milk’ of choice, but unless Tesco suddenly changes the taste, cost or skimps on its fortification, then this will now be our preferred brand. Like any food item, it will all come down to diet, lifestyle, budget and/or personal preferences.

If you’ve never previously tried almond milk or have have a bad experience with it, this product is worth giving it a first or second chance!

Our only requests for Tesco would be to add a few more almonds (it’s cheeky we know, but please!) and to start selling it in larger cartons; 2 litres would be perfect! A lot of North American non-dairy milks are sold in 1L, 2L or 4.55L(1 gallon) cartons! Considering the popularity of freefrom brands, isn’t it worth a trial?!

How does everyone feel about increasing the current carton size of dairy-free milks? Please vote and express your thoughts!

 

Do any of you currently drink almond milk or any other dairy-free milks? What’s your favourite brand? We’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences!

 

Sources:
Food Standards Agency (FSA): Additives & their E Numbers (1)
NHS Choices (2)
Coeliac (UK) (3)
BDA
Tesco
Alpro
Vegan Society UK

 

*Disclaimer: We have not been paid for this product review and all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Cacao, Avocado & Nut Butter Pudding w/ a ‘Caramel’ Topping (and some ‘Free Sugars’ Talk!)

Healthy Recipes

Pudding Serves: 4
Prep: 30 mins
Chilling Time: 20-180 mins (*Depending on how cold you like your pudding!)
‘Caramel’ Serves: a minimum of 12 (2 tsp/serving based on 12 servings)
Type: Dessert
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, small pot, food processor, silicone spatula, resealable container(s) and/or serving dishes

Notes: This recipe contains: B-Vitamins, Vitamins E, carbohydrates, protein, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, is low in salt and (per serving) has a moderate amount of sugars and fats!

There is something nostalgic about eating pudding…or maybe not?! I did grow up in North America after all, so it does explain some (but not all!) of my food choices. #recoveringpeanutbutteraddict  #exkoolaidkid  #cheddarisntreallyorange #whatdidijusteat !!!

We made this recipe last week because sometimes we all just crave something ‘sweet’, but it’s just about being responsible. Moderation and fibre are key, but so is informing yourself regarding food labels, portion sizes, healthy foods and enabling yourself to follow a healthy lifestyle (more days than none)… such as avoiding excessive amounts of ‘free sugars’* and kick starting a realistic exercise regime. Click here for some other ideas and healthy eating advice.

Luckily I kicked the ‘what’s for dessert’ phase a while ago! In about a week’s time I will have resided in the UK for sixteen years; mostly spent in London.This cultural journey has contributed to my ever-changing palate/sweet tooth, as did being exposed to various ailments, experimenting with loads of foods and recipes and of course pursuing a degree in human nutrition.

Anyways, switching this conversation back to the recipe….

This pudding goes down all too well, so I’m really glad that we only made a small portion! Unlike ‘old school instant puddings’, there is no ‘chill/setting’ time; you can eat this pudding faster than you can say “asafoetida”! Personally we prefer this type of dessert cold; we refrigerated ours for three hours before serving, but you could also try popping it in the fridge or freezer for 30 mins instead.

The elements are fab! The avocado and peanut butter give this pudding a great texture (without having to add dairy products, emulsifiers, gelling agents or oils) and more importantly for me- integrity. The problem with some plant-based desserts is that the texture is questionable and they can fall apart all too easily… which is why some recipes love using coconut oil or vegetable-based shortenings (were not a big fan of either).  

The ‘caramel’ topping makes eight heaped tablespoons, so you have plenty for the foreseeable future (next time we won’t be making so much)! Just stir a little into your pudding once its cooled or just before serving- it’s delicious and very rich! We added one heaped teaspoon/each into our desserts. It’s currently in our fridge and I am hoping it keeps for 2-3 wks (minimum) but we’ll let you know how we get on! Oh, if you want a thinner consistency, add add more water when you purée the dates. 

We hope that you enjoy this gem as much as we did (in moderation of course)!  

 

Ingredients

NB: Try using your favourite unsweetened DF milk if preferred.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Nutritional Info

C’mon, were not going to give you a dessert recipe like this without a disclaimer- it’s all about helping you to make informed choices about your health!!

NB: 3.8g of ‘free sugars’*/serving.

NB: 0.2g of ‘free sugars’*/serving.

 

*Free Sugars:
A few months ago The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) released a report in the UK on Carbohydrates where they gave new recommendations in line with WHO that ‘free sugar’ intake should account for no more than 5% of daily energy intake.

 

The SACN official definition of ‘free sugars’ stated that:

‘Free sugars’ comprises all monosaccharides* and disaccharides* added to foods by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices. Under this definition lactose (the sugar in milk) when naturally present in milk and milk products and the sugars contained within the cellular structure of foods (particularly fruits and vegetables) are excluded.

*Monosaccharides are single sugar units (glucose and fructose) and disaccharides are two single units joined together ( sucrose).

 

…But we’re sure most of you’re wondering what does 5 % of ‘free sugars’ actually mean?

 

…So how does your ‘free sugar’ intake currently weigh up?? 

 

If you have a sweet tooth and/or eat a lot of processed or packaged foods (e.g. fruit drinks, soups and cereals), it can quickly add up!

‘Free sugars’ can be added into our foods by manufacturers and unfortunately at the moment, the UK’s food labels do not account for ‘free sugars’ (just total sugars), making it hard for anyone to distinguish between the ‘natural occurring sugars’ from those that have been added.

Free sugars include but are not limited to: unsweetened fruit juice, coconut or table sugars, hydrolysed starch, molasses or treacle, honey, or any sort of syrup that contains sugar in its food label, e.g. agave syrup/nectar, corn syrup, rice malt syrup, natural date syrup, maple syrup etc. Sugars naturally occurring in fruit, vegetables, grains, cereals or dairy products (lactose!) do not count.

 

…Until things change some things you could try include:
  • Familiarising yourself with the ‘names of sugar’ and limiting them on a daily basis, e.g. sucrose, maltose, glucose syrup etc. 

***Check out one of our previous sugar posts for info on names of ‘sugars’ found in everyday foods.

  • Looking at food labels more frequently. Remember that ingredients are listed in order of quantity, e.g. having sugar listed as the first, second or third ingredient in a list of ten ingredients shows that it will make a bigger proportion of the food item in question.
  • Comparing similar food products for sugar info. Your favourite brand might not all of the information you are looking for, but a similar product might give a full nutritional breakdown; you can use this for an educated guess.
  • Cooking from scratch. Homemade meals always taste better and this will allow yourself to have full control over what goes into them; no one really wants or needs 10g of sugar and 2.7g of salt /serving in their pasta sauce!
  • Swapping sugary drinks (including juices) for plain water, particularly if you drink a lot of them. NB: Some tins of soda can contain at much as 52 grams of sugar!
  • Opt for whole fruits instead of fruit juices/smoothies; that way our bodies benefit from its fibre and the fruit sugars are absorbed more slowly into our bodies.

That’s enough talking for now… on with the recipe!

NB: The pudding might be a little ‘tart’ at first, but once you add the caramel its absolutely perfect!  Also, try using a vanilla paste (or a pure vanilla extract) if you have access to it because it really amps up the flavour in the ‘caramel’!

 

Directions

1. Destone the dates. Place them into a small pot with 200ml of cold water. Cover with a lid. Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat. Allow them to soak for 20 mins.

2. In the meantime, chop the avocado into two halves; peel and destone. Place 12g cacao powder, the avocado, 50g peanut butter, 16g agave syrup,1.5 tsp of vanilla paste and 170ml almond milk into a food processor. Pulse until smooth, creamy and thoroughly combined. Tip: Use a spatula to scrape the pudding off the sides of the food processor back into the base as you go.

3. Transfer the mixture into a resealable and air tight container (or some ramekins/small serving dishes) and refrigerate it in the coldest part of your fridge for about 3 hrs or until you’re ready to partake in an ultimate dairy free chocolate experience!

4. Meanwhile, add a pinch of cinnamon and sea salt and 1/4 tsp vanilla paste into the pot with the date mixture. Blend with a stick blender until smooth and creamy. If you do not have a stick blender, quickly wash your food processor and transfer the date mixture into it. Add the cinnamon, sea salt and vanilla paste. Blend until smooth; adding extra water if a thinner consistency is preferred. Transfer the ‘caramel’ into a clean, air tight and resealable container. Keep refrigerated until you serve the pudding.

5. Serve the pudding in a small dish. Add and stir through a little of the ‘caramel’. Top with some fresh/whole fruits (banana or berries would work well), nuts or a dollop of plain/unsweetened almond-based yoghurt!

Enjoy!

 

We added a bunch of fresh fruit after I took some pictures. NB: This glass represents 2 servings.

If preferred…

  • Try using almond or hazelnut butter instead of PB (it will help to reduce the s/fat content)!
  • It would also be fun to experiment with fruits  or maybe even cooked vegetables (instead of nuts!); try adding banana, strawberries, or some purred sweet potato or pumpkin into the pudding mixture for a unique flavour experience!
  • Omit the agave and just use the ‘caramel’ to sweeten the pudding instead!
  • Try transferring this pudding mixture into a small/medium-sized popsicle mold for a great homemade, vegan popsicle experience; freeze overnight. #latesummerdessert 

 

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