Food & Drink, Lifestyle

A New Year, A New Start and A Healthy Vegetable Soup Recipe

January 13, 2015

Vegetable Soup Recipe

Every year, almost without exception since I was a young teen, I’ve started a weight loss campaign in January that has been almost successful. Come October or sometimes earlier, all the weight that was hard lost starts to creep back on until another Christmas has passed and I’m back to square one, or worse, the dial has crept up even further on the scales.

It’s all so very well telling us that yo-yo dieting is unhealthy but will someone please tell me how to keep the damn weight off that I manage to lose every year so that I won’t yo-yo? It’s not like I deliberately do it. It’s just that after a while, after the quiet start to the year passes and life gets busier and stress levels raise, the initial motivation goes and the hand starts to reach for the enticing chocolate bar at the garage forecourt once again. This year however, I’m hoping things will be different. This year Mr G and I are taking our weight loss back to basics.

Hairy Dieters

No, not us, the two hairy bikers on the TV. By chance Mr G and I were channel hopping the night before we were about to start ‘being good’ and we came across the Hairy Bikers talking about their calorie counting diet that enabled them, under medical supervision, to lose three stone each in three months. We watched three episodes that night and while we did so, I remembered I had an unopened Hairy Dieters recipe book tucked away on the shelf and promptly dug it out. Oh my, this was our kind of grub! Stews and pastries, pasta and vegetables; page after page of easy to follow recipes that we knew everyone would enjoy. We compiled a list of family dinners there and then for the coming week:

Okay, so these meals aren’t for the vegetarians among you or for those trying to avoid vegetables travelling across the air miles as there are lots of Mediterranean veg in some of these dishes. I’m not trying to be all things for all people, I’m trying to produce meals for my family that they’ll eat without complaint until we’ve changed our routine for the better. To our surprise, despite six of the seven meals containing meat, the weekly shopping bill worked out around the same as usual as we’re buying a lot less than usual and bulking the meals out with more vegetables and salads (spurring me on to get started and sowing seeds soon!).

The Results

It’s early days but we’re all enjoying the variety of dinners and are working our way through seven new recipes which have included meatballs and spaghetti, Cornish pasties and Harrisa chicken with bulgur wheat, until we come up with a core number of meals that everyone loves and we can repeat on a regular basis. I’m also planning to include a few more vegetarian and fish recipes in menu plan along the way.

During the week the adult breakfasts have pretty much consisted of half water, half milk porridge with maple syrup or local honey; lunches have been a combination of soups, omelette or fish salads and exercise has averaged around 40 minutes of cycling or walking four times a week. The result? I lost six pounds during the first week and am hopefully on track to lose two pounds a week from now on.

Vegetable Soup Recipe

My Fitness Pal Food Diary

So what’s different? Why is calorie counting so much easier now?

Technology. I found an app called My Fitness Pal that works on Android devices, Apple products as well as the PC. It logs all the calories, meals and exercise as you add them to your account, doing all the calorie counting for you. You can scan bar codes on your smartphone straight from packets or tins and their calorie content will land into your breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack section. Dragging recipes in from recipe sites found online is easy, or you can add your own ingredients and make up your own recipes.

Food Diary

Keeping a food diary has enabled us to see why we were gaining weight and it’s been an eye opener. We’ve always aimed to cook from scratch, write and shop for balanced, weekly menus and take care not to eat too many additives and chemicals, but we were in a rut and simply eating too much. We might have chosen a low sugar variety of muesli but unbeknownst we were eating three of four times the recommended daily amount. Homemade lunch rolls are chemical free and tasty but weigh in at 200 calories each.

We’ve always tried to offer our family a healthy, varied diet scattered with occasional homemade cakes and desserts, but we’ve realised that our portion sizes have gradually increased over the years and we’ve made the wrong food choices, which on my part hasn’t been helped by a sneaky sugar addiction that appeared when I gave up smoking.

I’ll keep you posted how we get on over the coming months as I’ve more than a few pounds to lose and a lot more than Mr G… I’ll also be watching Operation Transformation with interest in the hope that I can pick up some tips on this being the last time I have to start a new year with a proverbial mountain to climb.

In the meantime, here’s a homemade, healthy, vegetable soup recipe that has a mere 82 calories, giving you a tasty, warming winter lunch, just one of several vegetable based soups I’ve made lately that will slot nicely into any diet, whether you’re trying to lose weight or not.

Healthy Vegetable Soup RecipeHomemade Vegetable Soup Recipe

Serves 5 – 82 calories per serving


500g Butternut Squash, peeled, seeds removed, and chopped into 2cm chunks
Half a medium potato (100g), peeled and chopped into 2cm chunks
3 x medium carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 celery stick, washed and cut into 1cm slices
1 Shallot, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Vegetable stock cube dissolved in 1 lt boiling water
¼ tsp of chilli flakes (or more to taste)
Pinch of rock salt and lots of freshly ground pepper


Wash, peel and chop all the vegetables. Spray some oil in a large saucepan, add the shallot and garlic and cook gently for a few minutes until they begin to brown, ensuring they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the vegetables and mix together before adding the vegetable stock. Add the chilli flakes, salt and pepper to taste, bring to the boil then simmer the vegetables for 20 minutes or so until they’ve softened. Remove from the heat and blitz in a liquidiser until thick and smooth.

Have you any tips for keeping the weight off once and for all or are you an habitual dieter? 


  • Reply Mary Bourke January 14, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Hi. I have the same cookbook and it’s great. Kids love the Bolognese and the cottage pie recipes. Make double and freeze half, handy for busy days. Good luck with the diet. I have started weighing myself almost daily and logging it on happy scale app. So I catch myself before it creeps up too much. Also I try not to beat myself up about it if I do succumb to chocolate etc. have a bit then back on track!

    • Reply Dee Sewell January 14, 2015 at 11:14 am

      Hi Mary, good to hear you and your family are enjoying the recipes too and that’s a great tip as some of them are a bit time consuming. I’m glad I made extra meat pies as everyone loved them but they were a bit fiddly – I’ve yet to do it with the other meals. I wonder if regular weighing is the secret? I think I go into denial once clothes begin to feel tight and avoid the scales at all costs. Perhaps if I got on them at that stage I mightn’t put all the weight back on again. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  • Reply Marie Ennis-O'Connor (@JBBC) January 14, 2015 at 11:17 am

    You’ve inspired me reading this today Dee.

    • Reply Dee Sewell January 14, 2015 at 11:27 am

      Oh wow, thanks Marie, that’s always nice to hear 😀

  • Reply ayearinredwood January 14, 2015 at 11:52 am

    It seems we all start the new year with such plans! Have been trying to get out walking every day…. not always successful though!

  • Reply Amanda Webb January 14, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    I use fitbit and just looked and MyFitnessPal integrates with it. I’m delighted 🙂 Thanks for sharing Dee.

    • Reply Dee Sewell January 14, 2015 at 8:02 pm

      You’re welcome, best of luck with it! I use Runtastic and that links up too, something I forgot to mention. Such a clever app for free.

  • Reply Lorna January 19, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    I’ve put on weight and need to shift it too! Hate dieting though as it always makes me hungrier but intend on doing more exercise and eating less crap plus using smaller plates. I have to admit I’m always amused by the tiny size of recommended breakfast cereal servings – I prob eat about three times that.
    I can’t watch Operation Transformation or any of their interviews. In one way, it’s great as it gets people motivated but I detest the humiliation, the through the keyhole examination of their lives.
    6lbs in a week is pretty impressive Dee, I’m on TV3 Midday again next week and could do with a weight loss like that to get me started.

    • Reply Dee Sewell January 19, 2015 at 6:37 pm

      I’m with you on the public humiliation and I certainly wouldn’t be brave enough to bare all on national TV! My weight loss tends to be big the first week then settles into a slower loss from then. This time most likely all the Christmas excess. I am enjoying the calorie counting diet though as it doesn’t feel like I’m missing out on anything – I can eat anything I just have to choose what I’d rather have, which seems to me a much better way of keeping it off in the long run. If we know what the calorie count is in foods we can have less of it (as in the breakfast cereals). For instance, while I’m trying to lose some weight, when I know we’re going to have a big Sunday roast, I’ll just have a mushroom soup for lunch. I’ve made Friday night my treat chocolate night so look forward to it and also make sure I don’t go mad during the day as know it’s coming in the evening. Best of luck TV3 Midday, will try to catch it 🙂

  • Reply How to Grow Blueberries & Bake Healthy Blueberry MuffinsGreenside Up January 25, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    […] mentioned in an earlier post that Mr G and I have reduced our calories but I’ve found myself missing being able to bake. A fat and sugar-free recipe from the Hairy […]

  • Comments:

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.