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What to eat for Dinner

As I noted in the previous post, talking about lunch, my evening meal is NOT my main meal of the day. I have my main meal at lunchtime, and I eat quite light in the evenings. This works for me in lots of ways, and I have been doing it for several years now and have got quite used to it. Now, I hate to eat a big meal in the evening, and go to bed feeling full, it disrupts my sleep and makes me feel fat and uncomfortable.

I like to go to bed feeling, well not hungry, but ‘bordering on getting peckish’. I admit it’s a bit of a balancing act…go to bed too late and hunger starts getting to me before I have a chance to fall asleep! But if I get it right, I sleep so much better and wake feeling clean, lean, empty. No more sweating in the night. No more feeling dry and thirsty in the night. Digestion is one of the most intensive internal processes in your body, your digestive system uses a huge amount of your own energy…it’s thirsty work, and demands water to help, hence why we often wake thirsty and dry in the middle of the night after a big evening meal.

Vegetable soup

So in the evenings, I have a bowl of homemade vegetable soup most days, and then I snack on a few nuts or a few dried dates, if I feel the need throughout the evening. I try to keep a limit on the nuts and dates, dried fruit is ‘allowed’ but should be kept to a limit, as it’s pretty sugar-dense food and often has preservatives added. Shop around for the most natural brands you can find.

Making vegetable soup is so easy. I’ll give you the ‘base recipe’ but once you’ve done it a few times then just experiment and use any veggies and you’ll soon figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Soup recipe

Start with a big saucepan (make sure it’s one with a lid) and drizzle in a little olive oil. Chop up an onion (I use red onions, I find these days that white onions give me gas!) and throw that in first. Chop up half of a butternut squash (you have to peel it first) into cubes and throw that in. Season with black pepper. Whack the heat up full, it’ll start sizzling after a minute, then stick the lid on and turn it down to simmer heat for about 15 mins.

While it simmers, boil the kettle and make 1.5 litres of stock – we use low-salt Bouillon, it’s one of the healthiest stock options out there, with few artificial additives in it. If you want to go “hard core” on me you can use just water but it makes the soup a bit tasteless, so then you’ll need to use some herbs for seasoning.

After these 15 mins, add the Bouillon and about 100 grams of fresh spinach, turn up the heat a bit and cook for 5 or 10 mins.

That’s it, finished. I suggest leaving it to cool for a while (then re-heat afterwards) before you blend it, as hot liquids, poured into a jug style blender, tend to expand – we’ve done the whole “re-decorate the kitchen with green splattered exploding hot soup” trick and it’s not so cool to be honest. However, if you don’t want to wait, then use a handheld blender and just blend the soup in its pan.

Variety – just experiment

You can vary these soups like crazy. Swap out the spinach for courgettes, which are great in soup, or use 2 carrots with half a squash. You can use kale, or rocket or watercress instead of spinach, or all of them, peppers are not so good, and you can use parsnips, beets, turnips.

The butternut squash is the main thing, or you can switch that for a large sweet potato. We tried yam once and it was like thick glue, so don’t try that, and you can adjust the quantity of the stock to suit the thickness you like. I like thick soups, so we never put too much stock in.

I used to supplement my evening soup with a chunk of cheddar cheese on the side, which was enough to get me through the evening without resorting to the nuts and dried dates, but since I gave up dairy, the cheese is out. There are times that I feel I am eating too many dates, and dried fruit is not the best, and the nuts tend to be Brazil nuts – good healthy fats and protein, but Brazils are the worst nuts you can eat for their omega 3 to omega 6 balance (best are pecans, almonds and walnuts) so I need to go steady on Brazils.

So some evenings, when I know I am hungry and need more than just soup, I’ll have a hardboiled egg or two, or some cold meat with my soup. I often grill a few plain chicken breasts at the start of the week, and keep them in the fridge for snacks. One cold chicken breast, sliced up, with my soup, makes my feel filling enough to last all evening without the nuts and dried fruit at all.

No pic with this post, sorry, I don’t have a soup picture!

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