11/09/2014 13:10 BST | Updated 11/11/2014 05:59 GMT

Easy Beetroot and Onion Relish


Image by Holly Bell

I'm not going to lie to you. I've been on a diet. It would be easy for me to exclaim that the weight has just 'dropped off' through running around after 3 kids. But that would be cowardly and also untrue. I have been being very sensible and really quite hungry a lot of the time. For me, unfortunately there are no short cuts to losing the extra almost 5 stone (yes! impressive, I know, I don't do things by halves... and that's not counting the actual baby in that total). Almost a year of eating like a pig means I must spend some time eating like a mouse. Basic maths.

Of course the fat cells did trick me at first. For the first two weeks after having Lawrence I lost a huge amount of weight. I wasn't especially doing anything different, just maybe not eating a family size pack of chocolate peanuts as an amuse bouche before starting on enough steak and chips to feed a family of four. Then though, the weight loss stopped. So it was time to take action.

I am almost there, I can practically feel how good those old jeans will feel when I get them on. I have 1.5 stone to go. So near and yet so far. I must not give up, I must not give up... It's so tempting to live out the rest of my days in leggings and a large shirt. But I so want to rediscover my wardrobe. I want to wear something fitted, with buttons. I do! So call me vain.

If you have any tips for getting through the last leg of baby weight loss send them my way. In the meantime I give you beetroot and onion relish. This is delicious with cheese and crackers. Or on cheese on toast. Or in sandwiches. At the moment I am enjoying a teaspoon with a chunk of cheese whenever the hunger makes me want to gnaw at my chunk of a baby's thighs.

Lots more recipes like this in my book, Recipes from a Normal Mum, out now... on Amazon, with The Book People, at Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Waitrose, The Book Depository and many smaller outlets.

Makes 5 medium sized jars


4 cardamom pods

1/2 tbsp cumin seeds

1/2 tbsp salt

1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon

110mls balsamic vinegar

1kg peeled and quartered beetroot

4 small onions, peeled and thinly sliced (about 215g)

50g honey

25mls olive oil

250mls red wine vinegar

150mls white wine vinegar

5 cloves of garlic, crushed

100g dark brown sugar


This is so easy. Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/160C. Break open the pods and remove the seeds then add these to the cumin, salt and cinnamon and grind well in a pestle and mortar. Pour this into a large roasted tray along with the balsamic vinegar and the beetroot. Stir well until evenly coated and roast for 35 minutes, stirring well every 10 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool grate the beetroot and retain any spices from the tray.

When you're ready to make the relish make sure you have a few jars sterilised and ready to fill. To do this wash them in hot, soapy water (lids too) then rinse in hot water. Bake in the oven at gas 1/130C for at least 20 minutes. Remember to use mitts to remove (is very easy to forget given that it's rare to remove something like a jam jar from the oven) and whatever you do, only ever add hot fillings to hot jars. If you add a hot filling to a cold jar it is likely to shatter.

Place the onions, honey and oil into a large saucepan (we are going to make the whole relish in this) and fry on a low heat until caramelised - stirring every minute or so. This only takes about 5 - 10 minutes because of the honey, so do watch the pot. Once caramelised, add the vinegars, garlic, sugar and the grated beetroot and stir well. Turn the heat up and allow it to bubble, stirring all the time. After about 10 or so minutes the mixture will have reduced until there's almost no liquid left. Keep stirring and once it's thick and without any watery-ness turn the hob off. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before spooning very carefully into sterilised jars, adding the lids once cool enough to handle. Keeps for 9 months. Once opened keep in the fridge.

Holly blogs at Recipes from a Normal Mum

Her first book is out now, also called Recipes from a Normal Mum