Blueberry, Carrot and Orange Smoothie - Jumpstart 2015

Breakfast Smoothie 

I have a couple of recipes to post and a New in my Kitchen post to publish, but I'm in the middle of tax hell, so I'm keeping it simple today.

I'm still doing Jumpstart 2015, although I had a break from it at the weekend and had a pint of cider at the pub with my dinner last night. I know I could lose more if I was stricter, but I've lost 7lbs so far, so I'm really happy with it. I think the trick is not to resent your diet, but just change your way of thinking. I plan on carrying on with it next month and after that perhaps just on work days. We shall see. In the meantime  I'm happy to be boosting how much fruit and veg I'm having  and losing weight. I really drink more water though I haven't been good at that. Must try harder.

How are you finding Jumpstart 2015?

Smoothie recipe
Teatowel and coaster from the M&S Valentine's range. Coming to a store near you soon..

My favourite smoothies are green smoothies. I just love them. Nothing can beat them for flavour, but I do like to through in the odd fruity smoothie too. This one was rich and super tasty. It got a big thumbs up from Cooper, although he did have some milk in his as it was quite rich.

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Blueberry, Carrot and Orange Smoothie

A fruity blueberry smoothie with carrot and orange.
  • 250g blueberries
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 large oranges
  • 1 tsp baobab powder
  • 1 cup /235ml orange juice
  • top up with water
1. Peel the carrot and chop in half. If you don't have a powerful blender like my Optimum 9400, you may want to chop it smaller, as you don't want to burn out the motor.2. Peel the oranges and add to the blender, then add the powder and orange juice.3. I topped the jug up with water until it was ¾ full, but just add as much water as you like until you have the consistency you like.4. Whizz until smooth. You may add ice to the blender if you have a power blender, if not add it to your glass.5. Enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Serves 4-6

Optimum 9400 blender
Looking to buy new blender? I can heartily recommend the Optimum 9400. It's a pricey machine, but it's tough and makes like work of any job as well as self-cleaning. It's worth every penny. If you buy using my link, I get a small commission (although I wouldn't still be promoting it if I didn't think it was amazing). Also use the code "Special Ambassador Offer" on purchase for an extra 2 years warranty.

I've had since last June and I can honestly say I use it every day. I couldn't be without it now. Even my kitchen phobic husband has started whipping up smoothies in it.

Here's what I make in it:

Disclosure: I received my Optimum 9400 from Froothie free to review last June. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own. I love it! M&S kindly sent me some of their Valentine goodies. Watch out for them appearing in food shots.

Paprika Spiced Cauliflower with Four Cheese Dip

Ready for a treat?

Cauliflower roasted with smoked paprika and flax seeds served with a hot and gooey four cheese dip.

It's a bit like cauliflower cheese, but this one is great as a starter or snack. Was it good? Oh yes!

It's such a pity Graham is vegan, he would have loved this before he went dairy free and it's a great sharing dish. I'll have to see if I can make him an equally good vegan dip. He did enjoy the spiced cauliflower on it's own.

I didn't go fancy on the cheese either, I just had a look in the fridge. Some leftover brie, half a ball of mozzarella, some Philadelphia cheese and cheddar. You could really use any cheese you have in your fridge, although the Philadelphia makes it creamy and the mozzarella gives it that gooey stretch.

Go on! You know you want to.

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Fridge Vegetable Soup
Paprika Spiced Cauliflower with Four Cheese Dip
Spiced cauliflower with a super easy four cheese dip that's great for using up bits of leftover cheese.

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp flax seeds (linseeds)
  • a good grinding of black pepper
  • 60g brie, cut off the rind
  • 30g cheddar, grated
  • ½ ball mozzarella, torn into pieces
  • 2 tbsp Philadelphia Soft Cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 400 f/200 c/180 c fan/gas 6.2. Rinse the cauliflower and break into florets.3. Toss the florets with the oil, paprika, flax seeds and black pepper, then pop in a roasting pan and cook for 15 minutes until tender and browning at the edges. Leave it a little longer if you like.4. Mash all the cheese together in a small bowl and season with black pepper.5. Place the cheese in a small ovenproof dish and bake alongside the cauliflower6. Serve the cauliflower on a plate forks for two and the hot gooey dip7. Enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Serves 2

Here are a few more cauliflower recipes for you to enjoy:

Vegan Shepherdess Pie with a Creamy Cauliflower Mash - Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary 
Hidden Cauliflower Cheese Pasta Sauce - Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary 
Red Rice and Italianesque Vegetable Salad - Fuss Free Flavours
Cauliflower Cake - Smarter Fitter
Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Broccoli - Tinned Tomatoes 
Raw Cauliflower Couscous - Simplify your Health
10 Wonderful Ways with Cauliflower - Readers Digest 
Mexican Spiced Cauliflower in an Almond-Sesame Crust - Deena Kakaya
10 Minute Cauliflower Rice - The Crafty Larder
Balsamic and Garlic Roasted Cauliflower  - Hungry Happy Healthy

Ziggys, St Andrews - A Review

Last weekend we drove through to St Andrews, which is a hop and a skip away from Dundee. We were visiting a restaurant, one we hadn't tried before.

We often drive to St Andrews for a meal. It's only about 20 minutes from Dundee and there's much more choice.  It's a great place to shop too with lots of interesting wee independent shops, which are perfect if you are looking for gifts. It's also a nice place for a stroll on a sunny day. It has some gorgeous architecture and lots of cobbled streets.

The restaurant is called Ziggy's and it's down a side street just before the cinema.

So what kind of food can you expect?

The menu features homemade burgers, Mexican dishes and steaks.

What is the restaurant like?

The restaurant has a rock theme with lots of memorabilia and guitars on the walls, blue neon lighting and rock music playing.

What did we eat?

Cooper started with some garlic bread and then moved on to macaroni cheese. Graham started with a mixed salad and then had vegetable fajitas with guacamole and salsa (hold the cheese and sour cream for this vegan boy!). I started with Cajun Shroomies (Cajun breaded mushrooms) with garlic mayo and then had a veggie burger with fried onion, slaw and fries.


Oh yes! Well for Cooper and I anyway. There was nothing suitable for vegans. Cooper had chocolate ice cream and I had a knickerbocker glory.

What did we think?

We liked the restaurant, it was cozy to relax in and the staff couldn't be nicer.

Cooper enjoyed his meal, although he is going through a lean period at the moment and eating like a mouse, so he needed lots of encouragement.

Graham enjoyed his salad (which had a balsamic dressing) and his fajitas. He could possibly have done with another tortilla wrap to finish his sizzling vegetables though.

I loved my mushrooms, but didn't eat much of my burger I liked that there were lots of toppings to choose from and how well it was stacked up, but for me it could have done with more spice and to have been a bit crisper. I was also quite full after a week of Jumpstart 2015. However I did have room for a dessert, which was a real treat

Would I recommend it?

Yes, but maybe not the veggie burger.


It was well priced. £3.15 for Graham's mixed salad and £4.95 for the mushrooms. My burger was £7.75 with the onions added and Graham's Fajitas were £11.45.  Cooper ate from the kids menu which was £4.75 for a meal, drink and ice cream.

Where is it?

Disclosure: Ziggy's invited us to review their restaurant. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own

Fridge Vegetable Soup


This is the soup I told you I made last week as part of my Jumpstart 2015 diet plan. 

It was a combination I wouldn't usually put together. It was originally going to be a simple butternut squash and carrot soup with some fresh ginger and spices, but I had some leftover florets of broccoli and cauliflower, so I decided to add them and was pleasantly surprised, hence the Fridge Vegetable Soup. I also couldn't track down my fresh ginger,, so I had to resort to ground ginger, but it didn't effect the flavour at all.

So who is joining me in Jumpstart 2015?

Lots of fruit and vegetables, more water and a normal meal at night. It's sensible, easy and no calorie counting.

I've been drinking a smoothie (with veg) for breakfast and lunch, then a normal meal at night. No alcohol and more water. Although I did allow myself one glass of wine last week when I was out. This is about being good to my body, not torturing myself. My family are benefiting too. I whizz up a big jug of smoothie in my blender every morning and everyone starts the day with a big boost to their system.

Did I tell you I lost 4 lbs last week and that's with a few wee slips?

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Fridge Vegetable Soup
Fridge Vegetable Soup
A thick, filling soup made with fridge leftovers. Perfect to warm the body but cut down on calories. Of course it's even more amazing on day two, so why not make the night before?

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • ½ large butternut squash, cubed
  • 8 large carrots, chopped
  • a few florets of broccoli and cauliflower, fresh or frozen
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 litres / 3 pints / 6 cups vegetable stock, more if you think it needs thinned down
  • a good grinding of salt and black pepper
1. Saute the onion and garlic until soft. 2. Add the spices, butternut squash and carrot and cook gently for a few minutes. 3. Now add the broccoli, cauliflower and the stock. 4. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the soup has a wonderful flavour. I whizzed some of the soup in my Optimim 9400, but you could use a hand blender, to thicken it, but leave some chunky vegetables. 5. Season and enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Serves 6-8

Keep up to date with Jumpstart 2015

Diet plans and tips:

Follow the conversation on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #Jumpstart15


Jumpstart 2015 - What I ate and what I lost

I've been following the Jumpstart 2015 plan this week. I've done OK on it, but found it easier to do on work days and much harder to stick to on my days off. I've been giving my Optimum 9400 blender a good workout.

I started Jumpstart 2015 at a shocking 13 stone 5lbs. I know I nearly fell off the scale when I saw that. I've never been so heavy in all my life.

Just in case you missed the start of my diet here is what the plan is all about:

Jumpstart 2015

  1. A freshly made smoothie or juice for breakfast and lunch
  2. Drink more water
  3. No alcohol  (this is optional, but I know most of my extra calories come from wine, so I’m adding this into my personal plan)
  4. Eat more soups
  5. Normal meal in the evening
  6. Chocolate craving? Have a square of dark chocolate

So here is how my week went. Slip-ups and all!


My two smoothies were pear, spinach, cucumber and banana thinned down with water. One for breakfast and one for lunch. After work I went to the pub with my brother-in-law Lachlan, wee Cooper, Graham and my friends Alistair and Andrew. I would usually have a cider, but ordered diet coke instead. Hardly touched it, it's horrible stuff. I did have a veggie burger though as they make their own and they are rather good. As you can see I didn't do well on the water front.


On Tuesday my smoothies were melon, apple, kale, banana and lemon juice. I had a low calorie hot chocolate during the day and I made spinach and coconut dal for dinner which I had with 2 toasted wholemeal pittas. A wee improvement on the water, but still could do better.


I was at home on Wednesday and it didn't go quite as well. I started with my smoothie, but by lunchtime I was mooching and ended up having two small finger brioche rolls from M&S with some butter, then for dinner I finished the dal. I had one after eight after dinner which lead to four. Later on I was mooching again so I had an orange. Still not great on the water consumption.



I did a bit better on Thursday. I drank much more and mooched less. I made Monday's smoothie again as it was so good. I also had a glass of sugar free cordial and 5 glasses of water. I made soup for the evening, but had a bowl during the day as I was freezing, then a bowl at night with a couple of slices of wholemeal bread. I stuck to one square of lindt dark chocolate.


Back at work so I did better on Friday. My smoothies were pear, apple, kale, cucumber and banana.  I had a low calorie hot chocolate to keep me going, then a big bowl of soup in the evening again with a couple of slices of wholemeal bread. I don't usually repeat two meals in a week, but it's just the way it worked out this week, with a large pot of dal and another of soup. I also had a few jellies from one of the mini bags of veggie kids jellies that Tesco do.


I was at work again on Saturday. I forgot to take a photo of the smoothies, but I went down the green route again, as they are my favourite. I had a low calorie hot chocolate during the day, drank quite a lot of water and in the evening I had one of the thin frozen pizzas from Lidl. They have a very thin base, a tasty sauce and less cheese than most pizzas, I topped it with mushrooms and tomatoes. It was so good! I sat with some water and nibbled on 2 squares of dark chocolate later on when I got the nibbles.


 As you can see I went a bit mad on Sunday. I started off with a smoothie of pineapple, pear, tomato, cucumber and lime juice. We then headed out to visit our puppy and spend a little time with him (we get to take him home next week.

In the afternoon we had movie time as it was really wet outside. We watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and my resolve crumbled and I tucked into the Doritos.

In the evening I was reviewing Ziggys, a rather lovely little music themed restaurant in St Andrews. I started with breaded mushrooms and followed with a colossal veggie burger with fried onions. I had to squash it down and cut it into half to eat it, but after a week of eating less, I was pretty full and only managed a couple of bites and a few fries. It took Cooper soooooooo long to eat his dinner that I felt up to some ice cream and polished off a Knickerbocker glory. I had a glass of wine with it. I dread to think of the calories I consumed! I didn't so well on the water front either.

So Sunday was a disaster. I have to be more organised next week.

How much did I lose?

4 lbs

Yay! I am super chuffed.

Catch up with how my fellow bloggers are getting on with Jumpstart 2015:


Orange, Carrot and Goats Cheese Salad with Pumpkin Seeds

Winter Orange Salad

I've enjoyed salads all Winter. Even though I was in soup mode, the salads weren't shelved like they usually are during the cold months.

This salad was zingy and fresh with a good variety of textures and flavours. Salad leaves, thinly sliced carrots, radishes and orange, topped with little balls of creamy goats cheese rolled in crushed pumpkin seeds, dressed with a fresh orange and honey dressing and finished with a scattering of pumpkin seeds.

It was salad for one, but very easy to scale up. I used juicy Navel oranges, but this would also be good with clementines.

Orange, Carrot and Goats Cheese Salad

This salad would be great to have as part of #jumpstart15.

Not heard of Jumpstart 2015 yet?

It's a food blogger health plan to kickstart the year. It's about increasing the fruit and vegetables in your diet, drinking lots of water and giving up alcohol, to give your body a fresh start. We are hoping for more energy and to lose a bit of weight, without doing anything faddy or counting calories.

Jumpstart 2015

  1. A freshly made smoothie or juice for breakfast and lunch
  2. Drink more water
  3. No alcohol  (this is optional, but I know most of my extra calories come from wine, so I’m adding this into my personal plan)
  4. Eat more soups
  5. Normal meal in the evening
  6. Chocolate craving? Have a square of dark chocolate

So how is it going for me?

I am on day four now. I've found it ok to do. I really thought I would struggle with the no alcohol. I'm in the habit of having a glass of wine with dinner in the evening and they are generous glasses, then you could add another couple of glasses at the weekend and sometimes a pint or two of cider if I went to the pub after work on a Saturday, which I do twice a month. And I wondered why the weight was piling on.

The smoothies have been great. I've whizzed enough smoothie in my Optimum 9400 every morning for us all. The green smoothies have been my favourite, but I forgot to put Cooper's in a metal bottle, so he couldn't see the colour. So those have come back in the evening untouched. Note to self, be more sneaky!

I've found the diet easier to follow on working days. I was off yesterday and ended up having a couple of brioche finger rolls at lunchtime then in the evening I had an After Eight Mint, which lead to four.

Even though yesterday didn't quite go to plan, I'm feeling really positive about the plan and the scales tell me I've lost 2lbs already, which is great.

Are you joining me to Jumpstart 2015?

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Orange, Carrot and Goats Cheese Salad with Pumpkin Seeds
Orange, Carrot and Goats Cheese Salad with Pumpkin Seeds
A wintry salad with a zingy orange and honey dressing.
  • 50g salad leaves
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp creamy goats cheese
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, crushed, plus extra for scattering
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • a drizzle of honey
  • a good grinding of black pepper
1. Layer up the salad on a plate, salad leaves, carrot, then radish. 2. Take a tsp of goats cheese and roll it in the ball, then roll in the crushed pumpkin seeds. Make five and add to the salad. 3. Whisk up the oil, orange juice and honey to make the dressing. 4. Scatter some pumpkin seeds over the salad and drizzle on some dressing. 5. Enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Serves 1

Bloggers doing Jumpstart 2015:
  1. Extra Veg - Hosted this month by Utterly Scrummy Food
  2. No Croutons Required  - Hosted this month by Lisa's Kitchen
  3. Vegetable Palette - Hosted by Allotment 2 Kitchen

Jumpstart 2015 - A Health and Diet Plan

It's January and my waistline has been bulging these last couple of months. You can see in this photo taken at a visit to the Thorntons Chocolate Factory last month. Yes I'm the podgy one in the stripey top. It's time to do something about it.

I know I could go back on the 5:2 Diet and that would be good for my long term health, but I want to start the year with a boost.

At the moment I feel so tired. I have no energy whatsoever.

I was looking forward to having this festive time off work, I had so much planned. I kept going until Christmas was over then I just felt deflated and I've achieved very little.

I'm going to plan and prepare this weekend and on Monday I'm starting Jumpstart 2015. I'll be using my Optimum 9400 power blender for my smoothies.

Jumpstart 2015
  1. A freshly made smoothie or juice for breakfast and lunch
  2. Drink more water
  3. No alcohol  (this is optional, but I know most of my extra calories come from wine, so I’m adding this into my personal plan)
  4. Eat more soups
  5. Normal meal in the evening
  6. If I want chocolate, I’ll have a square of dark chocolate
The whole plan is about health and not calorie counting. It’s about increasing the quantity of fruit and vegetables I eat.

I expect to lose weight, have more energy and look better. Let’s face it most of us aren’t looking at our best in the winter and I'm really not!

So smoothies are the key point of this plan. But not just any smoothies. The key to healthy and lower calorie, higher energy smoothies is to include vegetables, the more the better.

Tip: A little banana is a great sweetener for a vegetable heavy smoothie.

I'm not alone in this. A few of my blogger friends are starting this plan next weekend too. Bookmark their blogs (bloglovin' is good for following them all in one place) and visit regularly in January to see how they are getting on with #Jumpstart15, their progress, tips and recipes.

Bloggers doing Jumpstart 2015:

Here are a few healthy smoothie & soup recipes to get you started:


Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato *   Leek & Potato  *   Easy Winter   *   Kale, Leek & Parsnip
Carrot, Leek & Mustard Seed  *  Butternut & Tomato  *  Cumin, Fennel & Beetroot * 5 Min Green

So who is joining me?

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