Junk Free June – Let the Challenge Begin! (+ Green Smoothies & Coconut Pumpkin Lentil Soup Recipes)

I'm Going Junk Free This June
As many of you already know, I’m laying low in a very wintery Christchurch, New Zealand for a little while. It has been very nice to spend time with my family, visit my extended family and get back in touch with long lost friends. Unfortunately, one of the downsides to all of this is the plethora of comfort food and catch up dinners (with wine, of course) involved.

First and foremost, if you can spare some money and want to help an amazing cause, come along and support me through this link 

I was just recovering from a recent round of over-eating and binge indulging when I spotted the 30 day #JunkFreeJune challenge, a New Zealand wide initiative to get people ditching the junk and fundraising for the New Zealand Cancer Society.

The Cancer Society are an organisation I hold close to my heart, having had two people very close to me affected by cancer has really encouraged me to re-assess the way I eat, and the kind of lifestyle I lead.

So, this June I’m going junk free and I invite you to follow along with me. I’ll be blogging my journey into junk free eating as well as exploring a variety of delicious, interesting and healthy recipes from all corners of the globe (travel is, of course, the running theme here!).  A big thanks to my friend Katie from the Happy Healthy Kiwi blog for introducing me to this awesome challenge.

So, what is ‘Junk food’ exactly?

It’s a bit of a tough term to peg down, junk food is really different for everyone. For you, quitting junk might be that Friday night wine, or post-work snickers bar. For me, I’m already fairly healthy – but I am giving junk a broad scope to include bread (I don’t respond very well to gluten but have been so naughty recently!) as well as anything too processed, convenient or takeaway.

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Things I’m going to avoid this June:

  • Bread and bread-like things (pastry, crusts, buns, cakes..)
  • Sweets (cakes, slices, biscuits, chocolate, ice cream lollies)
  • Takeaways (Fish n Chips, Burgers, etc)
  • Alcohol (will allow the very occasional glass of dry red wine as per Tim Ferris’s guidelines)

What are my goals?

My main goal is to fundraise for the Cancer Society. 100% of all funds donated to my campaign will go directly to the Cancer Society, I’ll even be donating some of my own money. Other than helping the Cancer Society, I also hope to:

  • Loose a bit of a weight I’ve put on from a month in comfort-food mode
  • Feel more energised and less sluggish from all the bread.
  • Experiment with more ingredients I love to play with – lentils, quinoa and whatever veggies are in season. I trained and worked as a chef years back and am excited to break out my culinary side once again.
  • Focus on cooking interesting international dishes from around the world.
  • Share my experiences and recipes with all of you lovely people
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Day One! It Begins..

Today has been easy. Luckily for me, I work remotely. So have plenty of time around the house each day to prepare meals rather than having to try and spot the healthy options off a cafe menu. I also LOVE healthy things, so it’s been just wonderful to indulge in healthy, hearty delicious foods to kick this month off.

I plan to use a combination of my own recipes, my takes on the suggestions from the Junk Free June website and recipes from my absolute favourite health related book The Four Hour Chef.

I’m going to kick this off by sharing a couple of todays recipes – they were both absolutely delicious and pretty straight forward & quick to make.

Green Protein Smoothie

Kale and Blueberry Green Protein Smoothei #JunkFreeJuneI started the day with a green protein smoothie, a common breakfast meal around here. The ingredients vary but the theme is the same, protein powder + green vegetables + some other fruit. Today’s recipe was (made enough for two people..)

  • 2 scoops of vanilla whey protein
  • Few handfuls of kale
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 kiwifruit
  • 1 banana
  • Handful of frozen green grapes
  • Handful of frozen blueberries.

Mix it all together in the blender with a cup or so of water then you’re good to go!  I vary these day by day often substituting with whatever I have spare. I love to use kale, spinach, cos lettuce, pears, green apples, other berries, oranges etc.. you can freeze the bananas, berries and grapes  , as well as being convenient they also work well in place of ice.

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Coconut Pumpkin & Lentil Soup

For lunch I made a coconut pumpkin & lentil soup using my ultimate healthy cooking secret weapon, red split lentils. They are loaded with protein and dietary fibre, and unlike lots of other pulses and legumes don’t require soaking. I just throw a handful or two into my soups when cooking them to thicken them up and make them a whole lot more filling.  This recipe is very flexible and I just make it up as I go along – put in whatever quantities you feel like and experiment. The following recipe is just how I made it today.

  1. Heat oil in a soup pot and add in some chopped Pumpkin (enough to 3/4 fill the pot your using) and a sliced onion.
  2. Throw in a couple of dried red chillies (or substitute and use fresh!)
  3. Top up with chicken stock to cover, add approximately a handful of small red split lentils and simmer until pumpkin is soft well cooked through.
  4. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Add a handful of roughly chopped fresh coriander and around 2/3 of a tin of coconut cream
  6. Puree with a immersion/stick blender.

This soup is very easy, and should only take around 30 minutess. It’s loaded with nutrients and thanks to the protein content of the lentils it’s much more filling than your every day pumpkin soup.

 

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