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Forget fad diets, just eat healthily, says our expert

Androulla DerbyshireAndroulla DerbyshireAs the Daily Mail launches its vaunted 2-Day Diet Androulla Derbyshire of Culinary Capers reveals her thoughts about fad dieting – and shares a great healthy-eating alternative – in the second of her exclusive columns for Marlborough News Online.

"I am not a fan of fad diets or crazes. The newest diet fad is the 'fasting diet', where you eat normally for five days of the week and reduce your calorie intake for the other two days to 500 calories for women and 600 for men.

"I feel it is better to eat a healthy balanced diet as your body will balance out the calories over time anyway and this diet may be difficult to sustain for the long term.

"If you are looking to eat more healthily and have a lighter meal there is nothing better than homemade soup. My Minestrone soup is packed with lots of vegetables, so you are getting all your vitamins, minerals and antioxidants too.

"This recipe makes a large batch but you can keep some for lunch the next day or freeze for later."

IngredientsIngredientsIngredients

3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic- finely chopped
3 medium leeks- finely sliced
1 small celery heart –finely sliced
4 medium carrots – peeled and chopped into small dice
1-400g tin chopped tomatoes or 1 jar of passata (about 600g)
3 pints hot stock or water
1 medium fennel bulb – chopped into dice
1 red and 1 yellow pepper – chopped into dice
1 pack green beans – cut into short lengths
3 medium courgettes – chopped into dice
1 can mixed beans or other beans of your choice
2oz small pasta shapes or broken up bits of spaghetti
300g chard, spinach or cavolo nero
fresh basil leaves, olive oil and grated parmesan cheese to serve.

Androulla's minestrone soupAndroulla's minestrone soupMethod

Wash and prepare all the vegetables as directed above. You need to keep your vegetables as similar in size as possible to allow for even cooking.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and gently sweat the leeks, carrots, celery and garlic for about 15 minutes. This means you will cook them over a gentle heat without browning in order to soften them. Add the fennel and peppers and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes or passata and dried herbs and stir to mix.

Add the stock or water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for about 15 minutes.

Now add the green beans, courgettes and pasta and allow to cook for 30–45 minutes until the pasta and vegetables are tender. If the soup is becoming too thick add a little more water or stock.

Add the canned beans and chard or spinach and cook for 10 more minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Serve in deep bowls, drizzled with some peppery olive oil and sprinkled with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese. Some good chewy crusty bread goes really well with this soup.

The 2-Day diet from the Daily MailThe 2-Day diet from the Daily MailMarlborough-based Culinary Capers offers one-to-one coaching to people who'd like to learn to cook, or want to improve their skills. Unlike traditional cookery schools, Androulla visits the homes of clients to teach them cooking skills with their own equipment and based around their own dietary requirements and tastes. 

For further information and more free recipes log on to www.culinarycapers.co.uk

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