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Salads & Suppers

Cauli Macaroni

Feeding fussy children can feel about as easy as pushing socks through a keyhole. Yep. Being a carer, a school teacher, a full-time cook and a Lego engineer is not enough. We also need to be a magician. We’re hiding a cargo of goodness behind this cheesy macaroni sauce, and no one will ever know. Eat your heart out, Copperfield!  

The key ingredient is cauliflower, which blends into an outrageously smooth sauce in the absence of cream. I add ground turmeric for extra colour and antioxidant dance moves.

The elbow pasta shapes associated with traditional macaroni is an important stealth factor in securing approval ratings here, if you feel you need it. And a side of Parmesan or cheddar to top. But don’t just reserve this for kids. I thrive on this meal for a WFH lunch. Plus, it freezes beautifully in individual portions.

for 6-8 portions:

1 large brown onion, or 2 small

2-4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon butter or extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

400ml water or home made chicken broth (full of collagen)

1/2 large head (or 1 small head) cauliflower, chopped

125g cheddar cheese

Macaroni pasta, to serve

Peel and chop your onion and garlic. Set aside. 

In a large lidded saucepan, warm your preferred fat and sauté your chopped onion for 10-15 minutes until glassy and soft. Now stir in the garlic and turmeric, sautéing for a further 5 minutes being careful the garlic doesn’t colour (as it turns bitter when browned).

Add the water/stock and cauliflower chunks, turn up the heat, and boil for 10 minutes or until the cauli is cooked through. You may be tempted to add more water – but don’t! The less water/stock, the better. This sauce is best thick and creamy, not runny and drippy.

Once cool enough to handle, puree everything into a luscious smooth sauce all-the-while being careful not to burn yourself with splashes. A blender is perfect, or a soup gun. Once silky smooth, return your macaroni sauce to the pan and add as much cheddar as you fancy. 

Stir through your cooked macaroni pasta and serve hot. If you’re not eating right away, skip the pasta and freeze the sauce in individual portions instead.

Different pastas to try:

We love the chickpea and wholewheat fusilli by organic Irish company Bunalun, which grabs onto sauce. I’ve only ever spotted it in Supervalu and Dunnes Stores nationwide.

Another one to watch for is the 100% buckwheat fusilli available in savvy delis and health food stores around the country. My boys love it.

Freee (formally Dove’s Farm) do a brilliant 100% brown rice penne pasta that the whole family adores. 

Soba noodles can be found in all major supermarkets now (mainly made from buckwheat flour). Another Supervalu treasure is the red lentil lenticchie by a fancy Italian company called RUMMO. This is hands down our favourite. Rummo have plenty of other awesome pasta shapes in a variety of cereals, not just wheat. It’s also worth looking online with bulk stores such as The Source Bulk or Pax Wholefoods, for cheaper, GF, zero-plastic varieties if you eat a lot of pasta. (FYI I’m doing a giveaway this week for Pax Wholefoods stores over on my Instagram account @susanjanekitchen . Win a voucher for you and a friend – delivery all around Ireland).

Breakfast, Salads & Suppers

Beat the bloat this Christmas

For readers who feel that Christmas is pathologically upbeat and designed to tripwire our adrenal glands, or indeed readers for whom Yuletide cartwheels through their veins with a side of Bing Crosby, here are seven easy ways to ensure that we beat the bloat and prevent our personalities from imploding. Fa la la la lahhh …

(1) When plotting a banquet of extraordinary excess, digestive enzymes are your friend. Udo’s Choice and Solgar are my top two brands, available at pharmacies and health food stores nationwide. Apple cider vinegar can also assist with indigestion and the priapic excesses of Christmas week. Try a teeny splash in cool water to jumpstart digestion or expired personalities. Also worth serving to guests who have overstayed their welcome. Make theirs a double.

(2) Christmas pudding after a mammoth meal? Our digestion is already wheezing like an asthmatic snail by late evening. Instead, try having Christmas pud for breakfast on Christmas Day when your tummy will appreciate it so much more. I’m convinced it tastes even better! A side of live natural yoghurt will deliver some much-needed support to that hard working metropolis hustling inside our gut. When we support our gut, our gut supports us.

(3) Too much rich food can cause headaches on top of bloating. A bath of magnesium salts can feel pretty cosmic for headaches (either directly or indirectly caused by in-laws). Magnesium is the Bach of the blood, seducing cramps, relaxing blood vessels and improving circulation to the brain. I’m planning Christmas Day in the bath. Maybe you should too? Epsom salts can be found in your local pharmacy. The Handmade Soap Co. sells particularly good magnesium salts using Irish herbs like thyme and rosemary so you can smell like a tranquil terrarium. Their packaging is FSC certifiable and wholly sustainable with “every step of the process being mindful of future generations.” Not that I needed an excuse to spend more time in the bath, but it’s good to know I’m contributing towards my children’s future and a healthier planet by hiding in there all day.

(4) Calm or kooky, it behoves us all to ready our switchboard for stress this week. Our nerves inform our gut when we are stressed. And so our gut makes the judicious decision to save energy on digestion by pressing pause, and redirecting energy to our limbs and brain in order to cope with the stressor. It feels like my digestive system conks out completely when I’m stressed. Not so nifty on Christmas day! Psychotherapist and broadcaster Alistair Appleton does affordable online courses to help you manage stress through breathwork. Meditation is the new digestive enzyme. Even if breathwork is not your thing, Alistair’s mellifluous accent will surely serenade your synapses.

(5) Jonny Bowden, nutritionist to the glitterati of LA, swears by eating a large salad before any big meal. A simple bowl of leaves and a dressing of apple cider vinegar and olive oil will fill us up with a cargo of goodness before we even start on the Christmas spread. This doesn’t mean that we eschew all the festive trimmings. It just means we have less room to stuff ourselves with rich foods. Fresh salad leaves can often help with digestion too, with lots of enzymatic activity. You can pre-order a cargo of beautiful organic Irish leaves and all manner of local veg from this farm in Ireland, who deliver nationwide.

(6) On December 26th your body might like some life pumping through your veins again. The Pineapple & Chilli Slushie recipe from LIFE Magazine will have you pogoing like a giddy leprechaun once again. There’s a rainbow of antioxidants to tap dance through your system and jazz up your bloodstream. Or if returning to the kitchen seems ridiculously optimistic, get your mitts on broccoli sprout juice which I swear by. Use the code SUSAN at checkout to get 20% off your first purchase. (Not sponsored, I’m just obsessed with broccoli sprouts and have become part of their cheerleading squad! You’ll see why, once you experience these shots).

(7) If any house elves succumb to constipation, allow me to introduce you to the linseed highway. This will deliver a cargo of omega-3 to your adrenal HQ (score!) and enough roughage to, erm, rough up your tank. Mix one tablespoon of linseed with 3 tablespoons of juice or water, leave to bloom for a few minutes before knocking back. A few days of this age-old remedy, and you’ll feel like a twinkle-toed pixie. Or add a little linseed to your Christmas stuffing, for that is the best way to destuff the whole family.


as originally appeared in the Sunday Independent December 18 2021


Tickets now on sale

I love teaching from my home kitchen! Come and join me for my next healthy cookery series? Tickets are 50€ which include a full 4 lessons over Zoom, plus a fabulous swag of simple, badass recipes to vivify the year ahead.

Wednesday, January 4 @7-8pm

Wednesday, January 11 @7-8pm

Wednesday, January 18 @7-8pm

Wednesday, January 25 @7-8pm

As a little thanks for being a member of this fabulous community and long-time subscribers to my blog, you get first dibs on tickets! Click here to read more or to book your spot.

Next week, the remaining tickets will go on sale via social media.

See you soon I hope. In the meantime, snuggle up, be well and stay warm!

Love and peas,

Susan Jane

A special announcement

Join me on Substack

Howdy! I’ll be deleting this website shortly. Gah! But please stay in touch – I so appreciate your loyalty and lovebombs.

You can continue to access my recipe drops over on Substack.  Hope to see you there, and to continue frolicking on this veggie-fueled dance floor.