broccoli

CHUNKY VEGETABLE AND BARLEY SOUP

CHUNKY VEGETABLE AND BARLEY SOUP

Lately I have increased the amount of juicing I have been doing and have been enjoying their fresh zing in the mornings. Lunches, possible due to the awful relentless rain and wind, have been largely soups. Warming, soothing and a wonderful way to use up odds and ends in the fridge.

This soup is exactly that. Many odd pieces of veggies rescued from the vegetable drawer cooked in flavoursome broth with the addition of barley to give the soup more body and sustenance. You could of course any veggies you find lurking around, swede, turnip, courgette, celeriac, peppers, peas, sweetcorn....anything goes.

Add some herbs or different grain, quinoa or brown rice would be lovely. I wold cook these separately and add to warm up just before serving. Which ever way you go this will warm you up in this wet wintery weather.

barley-soup

CHUNKY VEGETABLE AND BARLEY SOUP

serves 3-4

ingredients
1 onion
1 celery rib
1 carrot
1 parsnip
1 large potato
1/4 cauliflower
half broccoli
1/2 cup barley
veg stock

method
  1. Peel the onion, peel the potato and parsnip. Cut all the vegetables into fine dice (about 1 cm/1/3inch).
  2. In a large sauce pan or stock pot add all the vegetables and barley.
  3. Add enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables by about 5cm (2 inches).
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for about 20min or until the barley is cooked. Taste for seasoning.
  5. Enjoy.
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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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SALAD WITH MANGO AND CHIA SEED DRESSING

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY MAY START WITH A SALAD

Yesterday I posted an article from The Independent on my Facebook page that criticised the governments efforts (or lack of) to tackle the obesity crisis. The predictions are staggering, by 2050 some 50% of children are expected to be obese or overweight and in the same year the annual cost of obesity is predicted to be £50bn. Year 2050 may seem like a distant future but we need to do something now so these numbers never come true.

Today I saw a disturbing article about the rise of breast reduction surgeries (funded by NHS) on girls under 16, the youngest being 11. These are not cosmetic surgeries, NHS is not that generous, these procedures are due to obesity. These girls are suffering serious back pains and apparently cannot exercise due to their large bust. I do find this outrageous and can’t but get angry at the people who have failed these girls and allowed them to get into this kind of situation.

A recent study at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California shows that obese children have a raised risk of gallstones. The risk is 4x larger for the moderately obese and 6x for the extremely obese. My aunt used to suffer with this painful condition that has always been associated with adults not kids. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, especially children.

I do strongly believe we have to assume personal responsibility for what we feed our kids. As for the government, maybe taxing the processed, sugary and fatty foods would be a good start. The money made from these taxes should be put into companies who supply healthy food, the fruit and vegetable growers and the companies struggling to produce and sell healthy options in market flooded by cheap junk. The money should also go into education of both adults and children. Maybe that way we can avoid health tragedies.

When it comes to personal responsibilities, salad is always a good start, especially one with dressing made without any refined oils. I constantly try to come up with oil free dressings and finely feel like I struck gold with this one. It is slightly French inspired (I used some fine Dijon mustard). The oil replacement? Chia seeds soaked in water, the jelly like mixture makes a great emulsifier similar to oil. And since chia seeds are an amazing source of good fats they will also boost the absorption of fat soluble vitamins from your veggies.

Chiamangosalad


SALAD WITH MANGO AND CHIA SEED DRESSING

I love using broccoli stalks, it makes me feel great about reducing waste but they are very delicious indeed. You can substitute julienned kohlrabi for the broccoli.

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side salad

ingredients:
salad
1/2 a red leaf or dark leaf lettuce
1/3 of medium red cabbage (about 2 cups)
3 stalks of broccoli
half a medium red onion
1 mango

chia seed dressing
1 Tbs chia seeds
60ml water
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 tsp agave syrup
2 Tbs sherry vinegar


cgi

method
  1. First, make the dressing. Soak the chia seeds in water for about 10min. You should end up with jelly like texture, it kind of resembles frog spawn :)
  2. Add rest of the ingredients, stir thoroughly until well emulsified. Set aside.
  3. Make the salad.
  4. Wash the lettuce and tear into bite size pieces.
  5. Shred the red cabbage as thinly as you can, I used a knife but a food processor or mandolin will work great.
  6. Next peel the broccoli stalks and cut off any hard ends, cut the stalks into thin matchsticks (julienne).
  7. Slice the red onion as thinly as possible.
  8. Peel the mango, cut the mango cheeks away from the stone and slice very thinly.
  9. Toss the salad ingredients with the dressing and serve.
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TOFU AND BROCCOLI NOODLES


Those were my daughter’s exact words as she proceeded to jump up and down with excitement asking me for a slice of plain tofu. No, I am not bragging about my daughter being a superior healthy food loving child. She is definitely not but tofu (or as she use to call it TOFOOD) is definitely one of her favourites. Paired with noodles, two happy kids in the house, without too much effort.

Like Nigella I get rather excited about finding new ingredients in food shops of any kind, sometimes gems can be found during a regular shop to a supermarket, but I do love to visit ethic shops, health food shops, delis and markets. One of my latest finds (in a supermarket) was a bottle of vegetarian oyster sauce. Perfect for tonight’s dinner.

tofu-noodles

TOFU AND BROCCOLI NOODLES

My kids are chilli phobic, my husband not overly keen, so there is no chilli in this recipe but if I was making this for myself I would add some chilli to the ginger +garlic step. At least there is the option of adding some chilli sauce at the table...

I have used whole wheat eggless noodles but any other noodles will be great. There are so many fab noodles on the market, brown rice, buckwheat, green tea.... the possibilities are endless.

Serves 4

ingredients
for the tofu
1 package of firm tofu
1 Tbs each ketjap manis (or dark soya sauce), light soya sauce, agave syrup, ketchup
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 large head of broccoli, separated into florets, cut in half lengthways if too large
200 g whole wheat eggless Chinese style noodles
1/2Tbs rapeseed (canola) oil
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbs ginger, finely chopped
5 spring onions, white parts thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
5 Tbs veggie oyster sauce
2 Tbs light soya sauce
1/2 cup cashews, dry roasted

method
  1. Preheat oven to 190 C. Cut the tofu into bite size pieces. In a bowl combine the soya sauces, ketchup, agave and sesame oil.
  2. Line a roasting sheet with baking paper, place the tofu on it in a single layer, and bake for about 20 min or until the tofu starts to caramelise on the edges.
  3. Steam broccoli for 3-4 min to crisp tender. Set aside.
  4. Cook the noodles according to package instructions, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  5. Heat the oil in a wok, add spring onions, ginger and garlic. Stir fry for a minute. Add the red bell pepper, stir fry for a minute.
  6. Add the broccoli, tofu and noodles. Next put in the sauces, heat through. If the noodles seem too dry add few tablespoons of water.
  7. Scatter with cashew nuts and serve.
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