Jul 2012

FRUITY SAVOY SLAW

FRUITY SAVOY SLAW

The other day I found myself pressed for time and not in the mood for any major cooking efforts after a day at the seaside. For occasions like that I have some Dr. Prager’s veggie burgers in my freezer. They may be not as good as homemade ones but they are loaded with veggies and perfectly convenient.

While the burgers were happily baking in the oven I decided to whip up a quick slaw, as the burgers needed something fresh and crunchy accompaniment. The only cabbage in my fridge was of the Savoy variety, not usually associated with coleslaw, but it was a very young one I thought it might work perfectly. You could use other cabbage such as white or pointed hispi cabbage.

I attacked the cabbage with my Pampered Chef mandolin, it was quickly turned into cute curly strips. My carrots kept falling out of the dratted guard which left me thinking I should have invested in a proper finger slicing Japanese mandolin. Frustrated I opted for the trusty box grater. The apple and pear were julienned using a sharp knife. Begin by slicing them into thin discs and than cut into thin matchsticks.

Lack of cashews forced me to use vegan mayo in my dressing, but cashew cream would have been my preferred option. Cashew cream is naturally sweet so you need to increase the amount of cider vinegar. To make the thick cashew cream use 1/2-1 cup raw cashews and enough water to just cover the nuts, this makes more than you need so reserve the rest for later use (cream sauce, cream soup or even a larger batch of the dressing). There are many types of vegan mayo, the one I used (Mayola) is more of a cream dressing in consistency and is tarter than the usual mayo. Just employ your taste buds when making this dressing.

savoyslaw


FRUITY SAVOY SLAW

ingredients
1/2 young Savoy cabbage, outer leaves removed, thinly shredded (about 3 cups)
3 carrots, grated
1 pear, julienned
1 apple, julienned

dressing with mayo:
3 Tbs vegan mayo
1 Tbs whole grain mustard
1 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs agave syrup

dressing with cashews:
3 Tbs thick cashew cream
2 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs whole grain mustard
1 Tbs agave syrup

savoyslawdetail

method
  1. In a large bowl combine the cabbage, carrot, pear and apple. Toss well.
  2. In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the dressing of your choice. Pour over the slaw and mix well.
  3. It taste best if you can let the salad rest in the fridge for half an our. Keeps well in the fridge for two days.

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KENYAN IRIO CAKES WITH TOMATO SPINACH

KENYAN IRIO CAKES WITH TOMATO SPINACH

The London Olympic Games are about to start. Years of preparation will culminate in the highly anticipated opening ceremony and display of sporting excellence. We all have our favourites, I am definitely rooting for the Czechs, my tennis heart will be supporting Switzerland and of course as a British resident I will be pleased with any medals going to the Brits. But there is another team that me and my fellow Bristolians will have a soft spot for.

The Olympic teams arrive many weeks before the actual start of the Games. Driving to kids to school quite a few weeks ago I noticed a huge banner at our neighbouring University welcoming the Kenyan team. Athletes from Kenya were staying next door to us and they trained at the sports facilities of our local college. My friend’s son had a twinkle in his eyes when he showed off the autographs from the whole team at school. He certainly was inspired and promised me his autograph when he becomes the world champion.

So here is a recipe for the Kenyan team, a thank you for the inspiration they gave the local kids. I have based it on a Kenyan classic, irio, a bean, sweetcorn and potato mash. Irio is fantastic as it is, but I wanted to make it a bit more special and created irio cakes served with lovely tomato spinach that would not (I hope) be out of place in any Kenya home. My daughter asked if she will run as fast as the athletes after eating these.

IMG_3250
ready for the oven


KENYAN IRIO CAKES WITH TOMATO SPINACH

irio cakes
2 large baking potatoes (mine were 800kg or 1,7lb)
250g (2 cups) sweetcorn (tinned or defrosted from frozen)
1 tin red kidney beans, drained
2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
cornmeal

tomato spinach
1 tsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 tomatoes, skinned and seeded
450g (1 lb) spinach (preferably mature spinach)
1 Tbs lemon juice
salt to taste

IMG_3254


  1. Pierce the skin of your potatoes and place them in a 200C (390F) oven. Bake for about an hour or till skewer goes in without any resistance. Remove potatoes from the oven and let cool down.
  2. Halve the potatoes and scoop the flesh out into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Turn the oven down to 180C (350F).
  4. Add the drained beans, sweetcorn and scallions to the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Using a potato masher mash the ingredients together. The sweetcorn and most beans will remain intact while to potato will turn into a mash. The whole mixture should come nicely together.
  6. Place some cornmeal in a shallow bowl (or a plate). Divide the mixture into equal portions and make cakes, 6 for a starter portion and 4 for a main dish.
  7. Roll each cake in the cornmeal and place on a baking sheet lined with a grease proof (baking) paper. Bake for 30min or till they start to brown. Turn them half way through. (You could also fry these cakes if you wish.)
  8. While the cakes are baking prepare the spinach. If using mature spinach remove the stalks, wash thoroughly and cut up, I used large scissors to cut up the spinach.
  9. In a large saucepan heat the oil, add the spices and cook till they start to pop, take care they do not burn them.
  10. Chop up the tomatoes and add them to the spices together with 2 Tbs of water. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes soften.
  11. Add the spinach to the tomatoes, season with salt then cover with lid and cook on low heat for 10min or until the spinach is very tender (if using baby spinach reduce the cooking time). Add the lemon juice.
  12. Serve the cakes on top of a spinach mound.

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SMOKED TOFU SAUSAGES WITH SMOKEY KETCHUP

SMOKED TOFU SAUSAGES WITH SMOKEY KETCHUP

The big health news today is definitely the UK Government’s plan to vaccinate healthy children against flu. Most articles say “children are to be given” others talk about “being offered” a free flu vaccine. Whether offered or being given the way BBC reported this news tonight it looks a sure thing.

I know there are three camps when it comes to vaccinations:
1. No worries, feel vaccines are necessary to protect children, happy about it
2. Not comfortable but will do ahead with the usual childhood vaccines
3. Vehemently against it
I have always been in the second camp, I feel uncomfortable giving this horrible cocktail of dead or weakened viruses mixed with chemicals to my kids. On the other hand I felt that I would rather they wouldn’t contract diseases such as polio or diphtheria...

When it comes to flu vaccine I am leaving the “in the middle” camp and I am making my way to camp 3. We have managed to eradicate polio and diphtheria in most countries due to vaccination. We will not be able to do that with flu. This fellow is clever, not only there are many strains, the influenza virus can mutate to keep us guessing, therefore vaccines have to be reworked each year. Nobody knows which strain of flu may be rampant during a particular year therefore there are no assurances.

Most of the articles state that children very rarely suffer complications from the flu. Last time I had flu I was out for several weeks, my son (who was around 4) just fell tired and had no appetite for just one day. That was all. This vaccine is meant to reduce the spread of flu via kids, ensuring what is called herd immunity. This makes me very uncomfortable.

We should look for a voice of reason and that, for anybody in health field, is Cochrane Database of Systemic Review. Dr Fuhrman (in his book Super Immunity) mentions Cochrane review of flu vaccine: “The Cochrane review also looked specifically at the vaccination for children against the flu. After reviewing the data on fifty-one studies addressing the effectiveness and safety of flu vaccines for children, the Cochrane reviewers were shocked with our government’s (USA) policy of universal vaccination“. In the USA the scientist behind Cochrane review noted that most of the 15 members on the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices had financial ties to the vaccine industry. Not a big surprise is it?

In no way, I would belittle how dangerous flu can be, and the vulnerable need to be protected. But I do wish for an independent research, careful consideration and when this scheme is rolled out, I want parents to be given an option to opt out and without being pressured by both government and surgeries.

SMOKED TOFU SAUSAGES WITH SMOKEY KETCHUP


smokedtofusausages

ingredients

sausages
4 spring onions (scallions)
8 sun dried tomatoes
2 tins of canellini beans
225g (1/2lb) smoked tofu, cut into large pieces
2 heaped tsp smoked paprika (hot or sweet)
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
Cornmeal

smokey ketchup
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbs cider vinegar + 1 Tbs water
1 or 2 Medjol dates (to taste)
1 tsp hot smoked paprika
1 and 1/2 cups tomato passata


method
  1. First chop the spring onions, I used food processor to do the job.
  2. Next add the sun dried tomatoes, chop roughly.
  3. The beans go in next and process until mostly smooth.
  4. Add the tofu, paprika and nutritional yeast to the food processor and process till well combined but not completely smooth.
  5. Remove the blade from the food processor. Pour some cornmeal into a shallow bowl.
  6. Make 8 sausages out of the tofu mixture (wet hands before each sausage) and roll them in the cornmeal.
  7. Place the sausages in the fridge for at least half an hour.
  8. Prepare the ketchup.
  9. In a small saucepan place the vinegar, water and shallow, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook until the shallot is soft and the liquid is gone.
  10. Add the paprika, dates and tomato passata, cook on low heat for about 30min until rich and thickened. Let it cool down.
  11. Place the sausages on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake at 180C for half an hour, turning half way through. The sausages should be golden brown.
  12. Serve with a crisp green salad and the ketchup on the side.


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KALE AND MANGO SALAD

KALE AND MANGO SALAD

As I am writing today’s blog my kids are working on a word search from the brilliant Summer Plant Strong Challenge from Rip Esselstyn (of Engine2 Diet). You can go on Rip’s website and print out the activity sheets. The activities include colouring, word search, scavenger hunts and kid friendly recipes from some fab plant strong chefs.The first week focuses on plant strong protein, week 2 on calcium and week 3 on the importance of sleep (I so hope this will make my kids go to bed a bit earlier). More weeks of activities to come.

This morning we went to do our weekly shop, my daughter had her first scavenger hunt sheet and looked for all the green veggies and fruit on the list. We bough most of what was on the list and are eating and ticking our way through it. Another challenge for week 1 was to find a kale recipe and of course make and eat it. My son suggested massaged kale and mango salad, I am sure he saw a similar recipe on tv. I was happy to go with the idea. Massaged kale is one of my favourite ways of eating this queen of greens. It went down really well, my son had a double serving.

Why not try this challenge too? It may inspire your kids to try new fruits and veggies. And while you at it check out Rip’s website too. Fab recipes to try. The link below will lead you to the week 3, link to weeks 1 and 2 are on the same page.

http://engine2diet.com/the-daily-beet/plant-strong™-summer-kids-series-week-3-plus-tips-for-teens-by-teens/

kalemangosalad

KALE AND MANGO SALAD
My mango was very yummy but rather stringy that prevented me cutting it into perfect dice. Still it didn’t take away from the flavour.

Serves 4

ingredients
200g kale, stalks removed, leaves shredded
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1 small red onion (I used 1/4 of medium red onion), sliced very thin
1 large mango
3 Tbs sunflower seeds


method
  1. Place the kale into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and salt. Rub the leaves between your fingers, a bit like making pastry. Do this for about 2 min, the kale will collapse and feel more tender. The salt and lemon will help tenderise the kale.
  2. Cut the cheeks off the mango, cut the flesh into bite size dice. Toss with the kale leaves. Squeeze the flesh that is left on the stone over the kale, you should get a good amount of mango juice to dress the salad.
  3. Add the onions and seeds. Toss and serve.
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MUSHROOM SOUP WITH GOLDEN CHANTERELLES

MUSHROOM SOUP WITH GOLDEN CHANTERELLES

This is the time of the year when, back in the Czech Republic, people flock to the woods and forests with baskets in their hands. The purpose of this madness? Mushrooms of course. My Dad told me about his latest mushrooming expeditions that bore a basketful of some of my favourite mushrooms, golden chanterelles (also known as girolles). I must admit I was jealous and may have to plan my next trip around the mushroom season.

To my surprise a little plaster for my sorrow was found in a supermarket. I stumbled upon a small (100g) punnett of golden chanterelles. Ok I didn’t pick them myself, I didn't walk miles through the woods until the perfect grassy bank was found. I didn’t get the chance to lift the tufts of grass to discover the golden treasure underneath. But I did get to eat them.

A lonely 100g pack will not feed many so I have stocked up on other mushrooms to make a soup and used the chanterelles as a garnish, a little flavourful golden crown jewel to sit on the top of the otherwise dull colour of my yummy soup. My son couldn’t get enough and proclaimed the golden chanterelle to be his favourite mushroom too. Next I will be searching for fresh porcini...


MUSHROOM SOUP WITH GOLDEN CHANTERELLES
If you have a very young garlic you can use the whole bulb, it is very mild and will not make the soup too garlicky. As for regular garlic, one large clove will work instead.

Serves 4

ingredients
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 whole very young garlic, or 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp of fresh thyme leaves
450g (1 lb) of mushrooms (any type will do, I had a mixture)
120ml (1/2cup) Marsala wine (or sherry)
2 cups light vegetable stock
cashew cream (1/2 cup cashews - 1 cup water)
for garnish:
100g (3-4oz chanterelles)
1 tsp olive or rapeseed oil
pinch of salt

chanterellesoup

method
  1. In a large sauce pan heat 2 Tbs of water, add the onion and garlic and saute till softened, add more water if they start to stick.
  2. Add the thyme and mushrooms and saute until they start to soften about 5 min. Pinch of salt will help bring out the juices out of the mushrooms.
  3. Next add the Marsala and let it boil for a minute to cook off the alcohol.
  4. Add the stock and simmer gently for about 10min.
  5. Using a stick blender (of a regular blender) whizz up the soup till fairly smooth.
  6. Finish the soup with the cashew cream.
  7. In a small non stick frying pan, heat the oil. Add the mushrooms, pinch of salt and fry until just starting to caramelize on the edges.
  8. Serve the soup topped with some of the golden chanterelles.
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CHOCOLATE RAW BARS

CHOCOLATE RAW BARS

Imagine this: you pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee if you prefer and you get that niggling feeling to have something sweet with it. Do you reach for a biscuit jar, a slice of Victoria sponge or a brownie? Or do you decide to be good and have nothing at all? What if there is a solution that gives you a well deserved treat without the butter, refined sugar and even flour. My chocolate raw bars are right on the money.

There has been a bit of an explosion of raw bars on the market lately. I am partial to Naked Bars, they taste great and are a perfect portable boost of energy. They are very popular in my nutrition class they seem to come out when we need a lift from that mid afternoon slump. As much as I love them I thought I could do better and cheaper myself.

Results were excellent, I must say Naked Bars have a competition, my son prefers mine and takes them to school. My friend who had one today asked for a recipe and to take some home with her. Another friend coming tomorrow... I am thinking I should start to package these. Enough of this self indulgent praise. Fire up your food processors and make these bites of indulgent gorgeousness too.


chcorawbar

CHOCOLATE RAW BARS

I do apologise for using American measure only but I got carried away (twice already) and didn’t weigh my ingredients, using cup measure is so much easier. 1 cup = 250ml.

Makes 10 bars

ingredients

1 cup walnuts
1 cup desiccated coconut, unsweetened
10 Medjol dates
2 Tbs raw cacao powder
1 Tbs Maca powder (optional)
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 goji berries
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped (each nut into about 4 pieces)

method

  1. In a food processor combine the walnuts and coconut, process till you get reasonably fine texture, it will not be as fine as ground almonds.
  2. Add your cacao and maca powders and whizz around shortly, just until mix trough.
  3. Next add the dates into the mixture and process until it all starts coming together. To test it take a bit of the mix and press together between your fingers. If it sticks together and holds shape you are ready. If the mixture is not sticking together you may need to add another date.
  4. Tip the mixture into a bowl and add rest of the ingredients. Mix well so the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  5. Line a 10x6 inch baking dish with a grease proof paper. Tip the mix into the baking dish and press down to get a compact rectangle.
  6. Chill in the fridge for at least couple of hours before cutting. They will keep a several days in the fridge easily.
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VIETNAMESE STYLE CURRY

VIETNAMESE STYLE CURRY

Vietnamese cuisine is not something I am very familiar with, actually I think the only Vietnamese food I have ever had was a starter of rice paper rolls in a pan Asian restaurant. When I was growing up, a group of young Vietnamese people came to my home town for a work experience. My Dad (who at that time worked for the same company) found himself in the dorms where the group was staying. He came home telling us about one of the lads who showed him how to make rice noodles. This was rather exciting, as I have never heard of rice noodles before. Those times (we are talking around 25 years ago) there were no Asian ingredients in the small Czech town where I grew up, so making your own rice noodles must have been a much appreciated skill.

The other day I was looking through one of my cookbooks and found a Vietnamese chicken curry. I though I would give it a go (minus the chicken of course). I didn’t settle for following the recipe, I did more researching and concocting until I came up with my version. Next time I may even try making my own Vietnamese curry powder.

There is a similarity with other Asian curries; like many Indian curries the Vietnamese version is based on dry spices. The addition of lemon grass is characteristic for Thai cooking and so is the use of Thai basil. The curry is thinner than the Indian version which makes it perfect to accommodate rice noodles; this is rather reminiscent of a Malaysian laksa. Using potatoes is definitely the result of French influences. The French introduced many ingredients to Vietnam such as coffee, tarragon and even baguettes. What an amazing melting pot!

vietnamesestylecurry

VIETNAMESE STYLE CURRY
I must admit I used regular basil because I didn’t get around to going to an Asian shop to buy Thai (Holly) basil. It still tasted great. I used extra turmeric to enhance the colour of the curry as my curry powder didn’t have quite enough and the curry was looking a bit insipid. The extra teaspoon made a lot of difference, we eat with our eyes after all :)

Serves 4

ingredients
1 Tbs rapeseed oil (or 2 Tbs of water)
8 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 stalks of lemon grass, tough leaves removed, finely chopped
1-2 red chillies, finely chopped
2 Tbs mild curry powder (or Vietnamese curry powder)
1 tsp turmeric
2 medium potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
500ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
1 tin of coconut milk ( I used light)
250g (about 1/2lb) green beans, topped and tailed, cut into halves
250g tofu ( I used firm), cut into bite size dice
I pack of rice noodles ( I used thick noodles)
Thai basil and red chillies for decoration

method
  1. In a large saute pan heat the oil and add the shallots and lemon grass, cook on gentle heat until softened. Add the garlic and chillies and cooke further minute to soften.
  2. Next add the curry powder and stir around for about 30seconds taking care not to burn the spices.
  3. Add the potatoes and stir around just to coat with spices.
  4. Add the coconut milk and vegetable stock, bring to a boil, turn the heat down and cook for 10min.
  5. Next add the green beans and cook for another 10 min or until potatoes and beans are tender.
  6. While the curry is cooking soak your rice noodles according to the instructions on the packet.
  7. Just before serving add the tofu and noodles to the curry and heat through.
  8. Serve topped with basil and extra thinly sliced chillies.

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BEETROOT AND ORANGE SALAD

BEETROOT AND ORANGE SALAD

Every Monday deserves a big news in the field of medicine. The one that stands out today is the breakthrough in treating obesity, a “flab jab” (to steel a tabloid headline) or, in a more scientific language, a somatostatin vaccine. This article explains how the jab works:
http://www.news-medical.net/news/20120709/New-somatostatin-vaccines-promote-weight-loss.aspx

We all know the obesity problem is out of control and there is a part of me that thinks this jab may not be such a bad idea. There are many people who, for whatever reason, will not (even though I am sure they can) change their lifestyles. A jab seems like a very easy solution to a very serious and expensive problem that is spreading through many countries around the world.

The other and much louder part of me believes that this is an utter madness. This jab is promoted (by many newspapers) as a way to stay slim on a junk food diet. I am sure that eating diet of junk food without the weight gain will appeal to a lot of people. This will ensure a huge profit for the company making the vaccine and by default to fast food outlets and processed food manufacturers. You may be able to eat rubbish and not put massive amounts of weight on, maybe even stay slim (the mice this was tested on lost 10% of their weight). However, as we know, being slim does not assure person’s good health. If you choose eating a junk food high calorie dense diet the chances are you will be malnourished regardless of your weight. A weigh loss jab surely won’t change this.

In the words of Dr Mark Hyman:
“We can’t medicate our way out of a bad diet.” And he is right, medication is not the answer. Medication has further implications, it is always toxic. For example diabetes medicine increases the risk of dying from heart problems and statins (the cholesterol lowering medication used to reduce heart attacks) increase Type-2 diabetes. This is a vicious circle. I am sure we will find negative side-effects to the above mentioned jab in due course. Instead of waiting 10 years for this jab to be approved just eat yourself to health (and healthy weight ) instead.


beetrootandorange


BEETROOT AND ORANGE SALAD
This salad has an outrageous colour and fresh, fruity flavour. You can use shop bought already pre-cooked beetroot, they tend to be bigger so use about 8.

ingredients
12 baby beetroot
2 oranges
2 small red onion
2 celery stalks
salt
handful of walnuts

method
  1. First prepare your beetroot. Scrub them clean but keep root ends intact. Cook beetroot in boiling water for 20-30min till tender. Cooking time will depend on the size of your beetroot.
  2. Let the beetroot cool down, slip of the skin and cut of the root and stalk ends. Cut each beetroot into 6 wedges. Place in a bowl.
  3. Next segment the oranges. Using a sharp knife (serrated knife works well too) cut off all the peel including the white pith. Holding your orange in the palm of your hand over the beetroot cut segments away from their skins. When you have removed all the segments squeeze the juice from what is left from your oranges.
  4. Thinly slice the red onion and add to the beetroot.
  5. Remove strings from the celery stalks and slice quite thinly. Add to the salad.
  6. Season with salt (optional) and pepper.
  7. Place the salad in a serving bowl and top with the walnuts.
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BROAD BEAN AND PEA MINTED DIP

BROAD BEAN AND PEA MINTED DIP

Fava beans or as we know them in the UK, broad beans, are not just for Hannibal Lecter. These jade green jewels are a wonderful nutrititous summer treat. Their season is quite short so make the best out of it, they may be gone before you notice. Broad bean preparation makes a great job for kids, they love popping the beans out of their pods, just be prepared you may be chasing them (the beans not kids hopefully) all around the kitchen as they tend to shoot out in different directions. This provides a great entertainment.

My veg man delivered about 900g (2lb) of broad beans pods, after shelling them and removing the tough skin I ended up with about 250g (about 1/2lb 1 oz), actually it looked rather a meagre portion. I needed to think of a way how to make them go further. Pairing them with peas seemed like a great idea as they enhance the sweetness of the broad beans. I also had some fresh organic mint that came in my veg box. Perfect with both peas and broad beans.

A bright green fresh tasting dip was born. Adding up the numbers I calculated there was about 26g of protein it the amount this made. Quite impressive! Add to it the fibre, potassium, iron, calcium, folate, and the C and A vitamins; this dip packs a nutritional punch. I also found out that broad beans contain Levodopa (L-dopa), a chemical our body uses to produce dopamine. Therefore this dip should leave you in a great mood even without the Chianti.

broadbeandip

BROAD BEAN AND PEA MINTED DIP
Use this as a dip with pitta chips or as a spread on some sprouted bread. Makes a lovely dinner party started with some Melba toast. Edamame beans work as a great replacement for broad beans.

ingredients
900 g(2lb) broad bean pods, 250g (1/2lb and 1oz) podded
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 spring onion, sliced
handful of mint leaves
lemon juice

method
  1. First prepare the beans. After you have podded the broad bean, bring them to a boil in a sauce pan with just enough water to cover the beans. Cook for 2min and rinse under cold water, or plunge into bowl of ice cold water.
  2. Next pop the beans out of the tough skin. Set aside.
  3. If using frozen peas just leave them to defrost, fresh peas cook for 2 min and cool as you did the broad beans.
  4. In a small bowl of your food processor combine the beans, peas, mint, garlic, spring onion and process. You will end up with a coarse texture dip. Add some salt and lemon juice to taste.

braodbeanpeadip1

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MISO TOFU KEBABS WITH LEMONY QUINOA

MISO TOFU KEBABS WITH LEMONY QUINOA

It’s 4th of July and everybody in the US is celebrating. No doubt barbecues and fireworks displays will be fired up. This got me inspired, I had 2 blocks of tofu in my fridge and some kebab skewers in a drawer. Tofu kebabs is the obvious way to marry these two.

Tofu and a kebab skewer don’t not always make a very successful combination. You see them looking perfect in a magazine, buy a block of tofu, cut it up into large dice and try to impale these on a bamboo skewer. And than disaster strikes, the tofu falls apart and you are left with a mess and have to make a stir-fry instead. I have been there before. My solution has been to bake or grill the cubes of tofu without putting them on a skewer.

Now, however, my kebab luck has finally changed. I found the perfect tofu that is easy to put on the bamboo skewers. While grilling them I turn the kebabs over couple of times and they stayed intact. How exciting!!! My superb very extra firm (and organic) tofu comes from my veg box supplier (Riverford). It is made by Dragonfly. I am sure me and Dragonfly tofu will become firm (forgive the pun) friends for years to come.


tofu

MISO TOFU KEBABS WITH LEMONY QUINOA

I paired my kebabs with quinoa but rice, couscous even Asian noodle salad would be great. Baked sweet potato chips would work very well too. Or just a nice crisp salad. Next time I would thread some vegetables between the tofu cubes, small mushrooms, pepper, shallots, cherry tomatoes would all work really well. Pieces of pineapple would be great too.

If using bamboo skewers do soak them in water to prevent burning.

The quinoa was asking for a herb to be added to it but I thought it would overpower the kebabs.

Serves 3-4

ingredients

tofu kebabs
500g (1lb and 2oz) of very firm tofu (I used 2 packs of dragonfly organic tofu)

marinade:
3 Tbs brown rice miso
3 Tbs mirin
1 Tbs tamari
1 Tbs agave syrup (or another sweetener or just omit)
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar

lemony quinoa

1/2 cup quinoa
1 tsp olive oil
1 courgette, cut into 1cm dice
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 spring onions, cut into half cm slices
1/2 cup of peas, I used frozen
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon
tofukebabs


method
  1. Cut the tofu into large cubes, I got 12 from each block of tofu, 24 in total.
  2. Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl, mix well.
  3. Place 1/3 of the marinade on the bottom of a dish (I used a baking dish) that will hold all tofu pieces in one layer. Place the tofu pieces on top, pour rest of the marinade over. Cover the dish and let marinate in the fridge for an hour ( or longer).
  4. When ready to cook, thread the tofu on skewers. I used 6 skewers with 4 cubes each for 3 diners, if serving 4 use 8 skewers with 3 pieces of tofu each. (You can thread some veggies between the tofu pieces) Place the kebabs on a baking sheet lined with alluminum foil ready to be placed under the grill (broiler). Pour any remaining marinade over the kebabs.
  5. Cook your quinoa: rinse quinoa under running water, place in a sauce pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 min, drain.
  6. Half way through the cooking time place the kebabs under your grill and cook 3 min, turn over cook another 3 min, turn over again and give it 2 more minutes. The tofu pieces should start to caramelise on around the edges.
  7. While the quinoa and kebabs are cooking prepare your vegetables.
  8. Heat 1 tsp of olive or rapeseed (canola) oil in a frying pan. Add the courgettes and cook until they start to caramelise.
  9. Add the onion and garlic, for a minute.
  10. Add the peas and cook for a further minute until just heated through.
  11. Tip the quinoa into the vegetables and mix through. Turn off the heat and add the lemon zest and juice (to taste).
  12. Serve.
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THREE BEAN SALAD

THREE BEAN SALAD

As a response to my Mediterranean Diet post my friend R send me a link to a research that shows legumes are the reason Med Diet is more successful than others. This makes so much sense. We already know it is not the olive oil right? I felt inspired to put a three bean salad together to serve to our family visiting over the weekend.

Legumes are fantastic, not just because they are a powerhouse of nutrition, but for their versatility. There is so much you can do with them, add to salads, makes into soups, stews and sauces, they are (especially lentils) fabulous in curries and make a great base for burgers and loafs. I can’t get enough. They are also great for your budget, legumes are cheap, especially if you buy them dry! I always have dried for when I have had time to plan my meals and tinned for impromptu dinners.

These colourful pebbles are a fantastic source of protein. They also contain calcium, zinc, iron and selenium. They are regarded as one of the top anticancer foods but also very effective in lowering the bad cholesterol. We all need to eat more legumes! And if you experience flatulence as a side effect of eating beans just start slowly with more easier to digest mung beans. Another good tip is to cook beans and lentils with a pinch of asofetida (as they do in India) or a piece of kombu (common in Japan), this should make them easier to on your tummy.

threebeansalad

THREE BEAN SALAD
Oil free recipe.

I used tinned beans (or tetra packed ) for this salad. You can cook your own but it is a bit of a hassle if using different types of beans. You would have to have 3 pots on the go at once as they tend to have different cooking times.

This recipe makes a large batch, will easily serve 6-8. Keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days.

ingredients

8 vine ripened tomatoes (small to medium, not cherry, plum are great)
1 tin butter beans (or canellini)
1 tin chickpeas
1 tin red kidney beans
1 medium red onion
1 red pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 Tbs cider vinegar
Handful of basil leaves

method
  1. First preheat the oven to 190C. Place quartered tomatoes in a single layer in a baking dish lined with grease proof paper. Bake for 20 -30 min until the edges of tomatoes start caramelising. Remove from oven a let cool down.
  2. Drain all your beans and place into a large bowl.
  3. Cut your onion finely, I used my mandolin to cut thin slices.
  4. Cut up the red pepper into 1 cm dice.
  5. Add your onions and peppers to your beans, mix together taking care not to break up the beans (butter beans tend to be more delicate than others).
  6. Make the dressing: In a blender or food processor whizz together the tomatoes, cider vinegar and the garlic till smooth. Season with some salt and pepper if you wish.
  7. Pour the dressing over your beans and mix well. Add torn basil leaves and stir through the salad gently.
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BOOK REVIEW MARGARET MCCARTNEY: THE PATIENT PARADOX Why sexed-up medicine is bad for your health

BOOK REVIEW
MARGARET MCCARTNEY: THE PATIENT PARADOX
Why sexed-up medicine is bad for your health

patient-paradox


An excerpt from this book in Daily Mail several months ago made me fire up my Amazon account and get myself a copy. I am glad I did. This book is a much needed eye opener. Dr McCartney covers many topics here and to talk about all of them would require my review to be written in instalments. Hopefully I can inspire you to pick up this book too. I feel The Patient Paradox is a must read whether you are a medical professional or a patient. Information is power.

Dr McCartney lets you behind the curtain of her GP office. I was not aware, now I am disgusted, by the way NHS dictates how a GP runs patients’ appointments. You may come with an abdominal pain but on your doctors computer screen boxes pop up to remind her that you are due your cervical smear test or to advise you on your smoking habit. These boxes need to be ticked thus taking away from the precious time GP has with a patient.

What Dr McCartney says about screening programmes will be seen as rather controversial. It goes against what we have been told for many years. We constantly hear about the importance of screening, the message is loud and clear. We are told to have our smear tests, mammograms, PSA tests.... but are they really the life saving tools we are made to believe? The author of Patient Paradox shows you the evidence, the numbers that we never hear of, the facts we are not advised about. Did you know you have to screen (for breast cancer) 2000 woman regularly for 10 years to save 1? At the same time 10 healthy women will become cancer patients, have unnecessary treatment and 200 women will experience the agony of false alarms. Cervical and PSA screening come with similar statistics. However you will be repeatedly invited to attend these screening and money paid to the surgeries is calculated on the uptake numbers. Nobody is saying not to attend screening but wouldn’t it be better for the patients to be able to make their own informed decision based on evidence and not on spin and pressure?

We live in the world where the BIG PHARMA runs the medical world, they can choose to publish research that suits them. They market to doctors, fund research, they fund charities that people are so eager to raise money for. They have an incredible influence due to their seemingly endless funds. Quote: “In the US, there is one pharmaceutical representative for every six doctors. Up to $57billion is spent per year on promotion of medicines, almost double their health on pharmaceutical research.”

It seems that increasingly healthy people are made into patients. We are screened, our blood pressures and cholesterol levels are measured, we are offered “MOTs” by private medical companies. We don’t need wait till we develop symptoms to seek medical help, we can just (for cash) jump into an MRI machine for a full body scan. We are told that everybody, over certain, age should be given statins, aspirin and eventually the poly pill that is being developed. Nobody is telling you about the statistics, the facts, the side effects. Dr McCartney’s does in her book, and I fully support and admire her for doing so. You can’t argue with the evidence she presents.

Quote:”The biggest change to medicine that has arisen over the course of my career has been seeming determination of healthcare professional to bring healthy people into surgeries and clinics, and turn them into patients. I am no longer there to make people better, I am there to find out what risk factors for disease they might have or could have, despite their feeling well and having no complaints at all. Shouldn’t general practice be there to deal with people who are in physical or mental pain, who have noticed a worrying lump or who need their diabetes medication adjusted?”

How could you not agree with Dr McCartney’s views? We truly need to concentrate on people who are in desperate need, not on pushing pills that do more harm than good. We need to take big pharma and politics out of the medicine and concentrate on the patient. We all need more doctors like her.

In one of Dr McCartney’s articles in Daily Mail she speaks about homeopathy. She clearly is not a fan, she wants evidence behind any treatments. However she admits homeopathy worked for her friend, possibly because her friend got an hour with her homeopath, this meant she felt understood,valued and listened to and that greatly contributes to the healing process. At a GP office you get around 7min, not enough to have a proper discussion especially when interrupted by pop up boxes appearing on the computer. My father in-law’s was (during his cancer treatment) cared for by an old fashion kind of GP, if he needed an hour he gave him an hour, he visited him at home and even attended his funeral. This continuity of care, getting to know the patient has to have immense benefits. It is time to turn back the time, slow down and listen.

Quote:”So, please patients, help make the healthy service better. Hold us to account.”


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