Nov 2012

COURGETTE SALAD WITH TOMATO SALSA DRESSING AND WALNUTS

COURGETTE SALAD WITH TOMATO SALSA DRESSING AND WALNUTS

Another great study weekend, this time we had our first client clinic. We observe, take notes, discuss, learn. What an amazing experience! I can’t wait till this is my job. Helping people and doing it through diet is a fabulous way to make a living (I can’t ever get tired about talking about food and nutrition!).

What struck me with our clients, and it is true with so many of us, was the lack of fruits and veggies in their food diaries. I am sure we all think we are eating quite healthy. However upon a closer look it may not be so. It is not uncommon to go through the day with one token banana and not much else on the 5-a-day front. A cheese or ham roll, packet of potato crisps and a can of cola is a very typical take to work lunch. Unfortunately this is not going to do a whole lot for your body. Out of a bag side salad sitting next to a ready meal for dinner is nothing to get excited about either.

I am lucky to be at home for lunch, this enables me a bit of planning and thinking about what I eat. Today it was leftover vegetable soup, couple slices of rye bread, an apple and an orange. I also sneaked in few kale chips. I do tend to cook soup in larger batches, freeze or just keep it in a fridge for a few days. I don’t see cooking for myself as a waste of time, cooking for one is cool, I can eat whatever I like. I can eat all the things rest of the family may not go crazy for. It may just be a sweet potato baked in the oven with some spicy greens and chickpeas on top. In my eyes, that is heavenly. And when I am pressed for time, I will have a hummus, grated carrot and seed wrap, or an avocado, lime and spring onion wrap with a bit of cayenne for some kick.

At college, everybody makes an effort to bring a very nutritious lunch. We are, after all, studying nutrition. There are quinoa salads, flasks of soup, pots of hummus, leftover veggie curries, lentils, rye breads. Everybody carries boxes of nuts and dried fruits, kale chips, fruits and veggies. We all plan ahead to ensure we eat well. It is all about getting into the habit and finding a little bit of extra time to prepare some yummy, healthy and portable dishes. Your health is surely worth extra few minutes a day.

This salad takes minuted to make and carries an amazing zing that is sure to wake up your taste buds.

courgette-salsa-salad

COURGETTE SALAD WITH TOMATO SALSA DRESSING AND WALNUTS
Make sure you to add the walnuts in just before serving. If left sitting in the lime juice they will taste rather unpleasant.

Serves 4 as a side salad but will do nicely for 2 as a “raw pasta” dish

ingredients
2 medium courgettes (zucchini)
1 medium beef tomato
pinch of salt
2 spring onions
1/2 red chilli
juice of 1 lime
1/2-1 Tbs agave syrup (to taste)
handful of coriander (cilantro)
1/2 cup walnuts

method
  1. Using a swivel peeler cut the courgette lengthways into long ribbons. Leaving the centre part with seeds behind. Place the ribbons in a bowl.
  2. Next make the dressing. Cut the tomato into quarters, using a sharp knife remove the seeds and skin. Dice the tomato finely, place into a small bowl and add a pinch of salt.
  3. Finely chop the chilli and spring onions and add to the tomatoes together with lemon juice and finely chopped coriander.
  4. Add the dressing to the courgettes and let sit for about half an hour in the fridge.
  5. Just before serving add the walnuts.

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THE BIG 40 - ROASTED ROOT VEG AND PUY LENTIL SALAD

THE BIG 40
ROASTED ROOT VEG AND PUY LENTIL SALAD

“Just remember, once you're over the hill you begin to pick up speed.”
Charles M. Schultz

The big 40. Yes, I have joined the club last Sunday. I had a few pre-birthday drinks with my gorgeous girlfriends the previous weekend and this weekend was spent with family. Many women do seem to worry about turning 40, we all say :“it’s down hill from now on...”. I feel, however, that I am the happiest I have been. I have a great family, wonderful husband, two amazing kids who are my ray of sunshine everyday. I have got some fabulous friends and am working toward my goal of becoming a naturopathic nutritionist. I wouldn’t change any of this for being younger.

When you turn 40 you should:

  • Look after yourself even more. As we age we do need to ensure we eat well and move even more than before. Antioxidants plenty! Natural cosmetics! No junk!

  • Surround yourself only with people who are good for your soul (this may be hard at work, but in your personal relationships it is a must). Be there for your friends, call them, text them, hug them, feed them, laugh with them...

  • Find time for yourself everyday, it can be a cup of tea and a few chapters of a good book, a walk with the dogs or a spot of meditation. Anything that relaxes you is a good thing.

  • Spent time with the people closest with you. A glass of wine with your partner, shopping trip with your daughter or the latest Bond movie with your son are moments to treasure forever. Cook and eat together, dance and laugh everyday. Appreciate every minute.

  • Have goals. They may be small or big. Whether you want to run a marathon or learn to samba make sure you enjoy working towards them. Learning keeps us young.

  • Think before you speak. You don’t have to always speak wisely, but your words should never hurt.

  • Realize that wearing stilettos will not make your night out any more fun... they may just make your feet hurt like hell!

  • Enjoy the healing power of food (and enjoy my recipes)


roast-roots-puy-lentil


ROASTED ROOT VEG AND PUY LENTIL SALAD

Serves 4 as a main dish salad

ingredients
250g (1 cup) Puy lentils
1 large parsnip, cut into matchsticks
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 tsp rapeseed oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs ras-el-hanout (or Moroccan seasoning)
1 whole garlic bulb
3 Tbs cider vinegar
3 spring onions, finely chopped

method
  1. Cook the lentils in 3 cups of water for about 25-30min. Lentils should be soft but still holding their shape.
  2. Let the lentils cool.
  3. While the lentils are cooking put the parsnip, carrots and sweet potatoes, mixed with 2 tsp of rapeseed oil and the ras-el-hanout, on a baking paper lined tray. Add un-peeled garlic cloves to the tray.
  4. Roast for 25-30 min at 200C oven. Take care not to over cook the garlic cloves.
  5. Add the roasted vegetables to the lentils.
  6. Squeeze the garlic flesh out of the skins, mash them into a smooth paste. Add the vinegar combine togeher and add to the lentils.
  7. Mix in the spring onion. Serve warm or at room temperature.


veggies ready for the oven
roated-roots
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BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER BAKE IN A ROASTED PEPPER SAUCE

BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER BAKE IN A ROASTED PEPPER SAUCE

My son enjoys a cup of tea with me. We get my teapot, some loose white or green tea (I have quite a collection), let it brew, pour and of course we sip and enjoy. The other day, holding a cup of tea, he told his sister : “You should drink green tea too, people who drink 3 cups of green tea a day get less cancer”. It made me laugh. Where did he get the information from? I guess my shouting out latest health headlines at everybody has made some impact after all.

There are many strategies how to get kids eating healthy. Everybody has an opinion. When my daughter was going through an extra picky period I even had the recommendation of just making her eat it. Too controlling! Making food fun? Honestly I am not into making faces out of fruit and veggies. I did try making start charts and giving rewards. We even had a colour coded chart to make sure she would eat a rainbow. It worked for a while but slowly she seemed to care less and less.

Last year, when I was studying Biomedicine for my course, my daughter got very interested in the human body and especially cells and the immune system. We had to watch lots of Youtube videos of cells dividing, immune cells gobbling up invaders and blood cells gushing through veins and arteries.

This gave me an idea. I started to explain to her how healthy food makes our cells happy. I tell her what nutrients she is getting from her food and what they do inside her body. I also mention the bad stuff, how harmful certain foods can be. The other day, on my computer, she saw picture of foods that cause cancer v foods that protect from cancer. It sure made an impression on her. Maybe kids need to know exactly why we want them to eat health giving foods. Saying: “because it is good for you” doesn’t seem to cut it. And we need to lead by example! Kids do learn from us.

Admittedly all is not perfect, she will still rather have a piece of chocolate than a carrot, but she has been trying new fruits and veggies lately in a rate that I have not seen before. Did I finally find a strategy that works?

While making this broccoli and cauliflower bake I didn’t think she would eat much of it. Perhaps the broccoli. The sauce? Only is she didn’t know that a pepper was in it...I was setting myself for a fall. On top of it all she decided to help me cook. Oh no! I couldn't just hide the pepper in the sauce! She did watch with great interest the red pepper’s skin getting blacker and blacker on the flame. She helped me make the sauce. She helped me pour it onto the veggies and sprinkle pine nuts on top of the bake. And to my surprise she ate cauliflower and scraped the rest of the pepper sauce out of the dish. Success!!!

broccolicauliflower-bake

BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER BAKE IN A ROASTED PEPPER SAUCE

Serves 4

ingredients
1 red pepper
1 head of broccoli
1 medium cauliflower
150g (5 oz) of silken tofu
125ml (1/2 cup) cashew nuts
125ml (1/2 cup) water
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
2 Tbs pine nuts

method
  1. Roast the pepper. You can do it directly over the flame (I use a large metal skewer to make it easier to hold the pepper) or roasted under a grill (broiler) or simply in the oven until the skin is blackened and blistered. Make sure you prick the pepper with a skewer or a tip of the knife to prevent it exploding.
  2. When the skin on the pepper is blistered place it in a bowl and cover with cling film, this will create steam making it easier to peel the pepper. Remove the seeds.
  3. Next steam the cauliflower and broccoli. I prefer to do them separately since the cauliflower takes longer to cook. Aim for about 6 min for cauliflower, 4 min for broccoli.
  4. While the vegetables are cooking place the peeled and deseeded roasted red pepper, tofu, cashews, nutritional yeast into a blender and process till smooth. Add more water if too thick, you want sauce that is little bit thinner than the classic bechamel sauce.
  5. Place the broccoli and cauliflower into a baking dish large enough to hold them in one layer. Pour the sauce over and sprinkle the pine nuts on top.
  6. Bake in a 180C oven for 30min or until golden brown on top. Serve.

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BEETROOT, RED LENTIL AND SEED BURGERS

BEETROOT, RED LENTIL AND SEED BURGERS

Last study weekend one of my friends brought my aubergine and butternut squash curry for lunch and another one had my kale koftas. Couple of days later, on the school run, another friend told me she made my butternut squash and pear soup for dinner. She took it for her lunch to work the next day and ended up sharing my recipe around her office.

This makes me
so happy. I love cooking for people and I love when they cook my recipes. Sharing food is one of life’s great pleasures. When people enjoy my food it truly warms my soul. Don’t we all love sharing a great meal? Is this why TV cookery programs are ever so popular and chefs are enjoying a celebrity status?

Wouldn’t it be great if these chefs promoted healthier way of eating instead of basting everything with butter and free-poring olive oil over their food? Jamie Oliver has always been at the forefront of the “food revolution". Nobody can deny his passion and dedication. All that aside, his book Foods in Minutes was awarded the Worst Cook Book of 2011 by PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). The meatball sandwich clocks up more fat than a Big Mac and has more than double the calories. Looking through his most recent book, Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals, it looks like Jamie has listened. In his latest collection of recipes he has scaled down the oil and other fats. He has also included nutritional info. It is a step forward. Will Nigella join him?

Today’s recipe was a surprise to me. Why? Both kids loved it! Yes, my daughter and son happily munched their way through these. My son even contemplated taking the one leftover burger to school for his lunch. These were his words:”I think I will have it for school, I don’t care if my friends think I am a freak!” It sure made me laugh!

beetroot-burgers

BEETROOT, RED LENTIL AND SEED BURGERS

ingredients
180g (1 cup) red lentils
2 cups water
2 medium beetroot, cooked
1 tsp vegan bouillon powder (I use Marigold)
150g (1 cup) seed mix (linseed, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower..)
3 Tbs gram flour

method
  1. In a medium saucepan combine the lentils and water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently for 15 mins, or till the lentils are soft and most of the water has evaporated, drain any remaining water. Sit aside to let the lentils cool down.
  2. Place the cooled lentils in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Grate the beetroot and add to the lentils.
  4. Next add the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Line a baking tray (one that fits your fridge) with a grease proof. Make 8 burgers from the mixture, place them on the tray and chill for at least half an our.
  6. Bake at 180C for 20min, turn over and cook for further 10min.
  7. Serve in a burger bun or as I did with some mashed potatoes made with almond milk.

beetroot-burgers-2
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REDUCE WASTE/ ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP

REDUCE WASTE/ ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP

Apparently, here in the UK, we throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink every year. For an average family with children this means £680 ending up in a compost bin. In my case this would mean some 5-6 weeks of food being wasted.

Jan Kees Vis, the global director for sustainable sourcing development at Unilever (what a mouthful!), says that food is “too cheap” resulting in too much food wasted. Food waste takes place mainly in restaurants and homes.

In Australia they have come up with the brilliant OzHarvest initiative. Shops, restaurants, hotels, delis and others donate surplus food to the needy. Check out the website :
http://www.ozharvest.org/index.asp Sound like a fantastic way to reduce waste!

Sheepishly I will admit to throwing away a whole bag of salad leaves and a rather disgusting half a pack of radishes that hid under bags of kale and other fresh veggies for a while. Yes, it did make me feel guilty! Indeed this was a case of bad planning.

Mr Vis claims it is the low cost of food that is behind food waste. I am not so sure about that. The food that is cheap, the processed food, is not what ends up is out bins. These foods have a suspiciously long shelf life. The foods that we throw away are more likely to be perishables. According to the Love Food Hate Waste website fruits and vegetables do indeed account for 26% of our food waste,followed by drinks, bakery products, meals, dairy and meat. Together these foods make 83% of our food waste. http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/

In my opinion careful planning is the key to reducing waste. Shop with a shopping list, don’t buy more that you need and keep an eye on your perishables to make sure you use them before they go off. I tend to go through my fruit and veg the day before my organic box delivery. I turn what's left them into soups, salads, dips or smoothies.

The fruits we waste the most are bananas, apples and oranges. Brown bananas are great for baking, making smoothies or simply freeze them and blend them (on its own or with other fruits) to make a fab super quick ice-cream. Apples can be juiced or blended in smoothies, I like to stew them to make some apple sauce (great in fat free baking) or a compote. They are also great in a cabbage or carrot salad. Not so fresh oranges are still great juiced or “smoothied”. They also make a yummy base for a salad dressing or can be added to a soup (carrot and orange, yum).

Remember my celeriac and pear salad? This is what happened to the other half of the rather large celeriac. It became a part of yummy root vegetable soup.


root-vegetable-soup

ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP
Nice and easy, just chop throw it into the pot and blend...

Serves 4

ingredients
1 onion, chopped
1 small or (as in my case) half a large celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks
2 medium parsnips, cleaned and cut into chunks
2 medium carrots, cleaned and cut into chunks
1 medium to large potato, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
sprig of rosemary, tough stalks removed and leaves chopped
1.25l (5 cups) of vegetable stock

method
  1. Place all the ingredients into a large sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil. reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 45min
  3. In batches pour soup into your blender and blend till smooth.
  4. Serve on its own or topped with some of lime coriander cashew cream.

Lime, coriander cashew cream:
http://www.plantstrongliving.co.uk/blog/files/f76e5eb9a33b938f4667bb68c4c61a56-131.html


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CELERIAC AND PEAR SALAD WITH CASHEW LIME CREAM

CELERIAC AND PEAR SALAD WITH CASHEW LIME CREAM

This study weekend we more or less scratched the surface of our body’s biochemistry. Everybody’s head was spinning. Complicated it is indeed but also unbelievably fascinating. As I comfortably sit here writing this blog thousands of biochemical reactions are happening in my body. DNA is zipped and unzipped, transcribed and copied, proteins are formed, enzymes are working hard at speeding up chemical processes, energy is being produced and stored... We are quietly unaware of the amazing work happening beneath the surface.

To do all this efficiently your body needs the right type of fuel. Just like a car. Luckily the damage may not happen as quickly as when you put unleaded into your diesel car. It is never too late or too early to make improvements to our eating habits. Healthy balanced diet will make for a healthy efficient body. That’s what I keep telling my kids (and they occasionally make that pretend yawn when I do! GRRR!).

Getting kids eat a balanced diet can be a challenge at times. My son did mention one of his friends survived school camp eating plain pasta and chips (oh and one chicken leg). As I have mentioned in my previous blogs my daughter is not great with her vegetables. Therefore I jump for joy whenever she takes liking to something she previously didn’t like or refused to try. She helped me make todays recipe. During the preparation I encouraged her to try the pear (she always “hated” pears) and the celeriac (she has never even attempted to try it). To my surprise she exclaimed she loved the pears! And indeed she ate a whole one the very next day. The celeriac was not such a raving success but when dipped into the cashew cream it went down rather well. I am happy to say she ate a portion of the salad with her dinner. Another step forward:)

celeriacpearsalad

CELERIAC AND PEAR SALAD WITH CASHEW LIME CREAM

The recipe for lime coriander cashew cream will yield more than you need (it is difficult to process smaller amounts), it will keep in the fridge for couple of days, great as a topping for a soup.

Serves 4-6 as a side salad

ingredients

250ml (1 cup) cashews soaked in water for at least 30min.
125ml - 160ml (1/2-2/3 cup) water
juice of 1 and 1/2 limes
handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
1 small celeriac (celery root) - or as in my case half of a very big one, peeled
2 asian pears (or any other pears that are not too soft), peeled
salt and pepper

celeriacpearsalad2

method
  1. First make your dressing. Drain the cashews from their soaking liquid. Put cashews and 125mo (1/2 of water) into the blender. Blend till smooth. If the mixture is too thick add more water.
  2. Transfer the cashew cream to a bowl and add the lime juice and coriander. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Prepare your vegetables. You can just grate the vegetables in a food processor or using a box grater. I used my mandolin to slice the celeriac into super thin slices and julienned these with a knife. The pear I sliced with a knife and julienned. :)
  4. Mix with some of the dressing. I used about 2/3 of the quantity.
  5. Chill until ready to serve. The salad taste even better the next day.

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