March 2018: no worries?

 

Worrying can be good if it motivates us to take actions and solve problems. But very often it isn’t like that.
We worry about things which we can’t do anything about. Or we worry too much about small things. “Is this enough?” “What shall I give them?” “What can I wear?” “Will they like the present?”
And when you worry too much, it becomes counterproductive. Chronic worry causes tension, sleepless nights, bad work, and may even lead to anxiety attacks.
Telling yourself to stop worrying is like trying not to think of the pink elephant. The harder you try, the worse it gets.
But how can we change – just a little bit?

1) Make a list of things you worry about. Just having it written down helps.

2) Cut back – should you really be doing all this? If something doesn’t get done, does it matter? Just say no – if others can say it, so can you.

3) Ask for help. You know, many people actually like it if you ask them for help, if you say you can’t cope alone. They might not do a job in the same way you do, but so what?

4) Learn to delegate. Try with small jobs first. Noone does tings perfectly, not even you!

5) Accept imperfection, especially in the small stuff.

6) If you really can’t help worrying, worry regularly. For the same period, like 15 minutes, every day, indulge in worrying as much as you like. When time is up, postpone all your worries until next day, same time.

7) Postpone your worry. If an anxious thought comes into your head during the day, make a brief note for later. Remind yourself that you’ll have time to think about it later, so there’s no need to worry about it right now.

7) Guided relaxation (1) and meditation (2) are a good idea, especially for the long term.

8) Move! Walking, outdoors, is ideal, for most people but any form of exercise is good. When you exercise, endorphins will trigger positive feelings in your body, similar to that of morphine.

9) Eat healthily. Worry sucks energy and increases production of pro-inflammatory chemicals. To counteract this, enjoy whole or minimally-processed anti-inflammatory foods, such as whole grains, dark leafy greens, nuts, garlic/onions, ginger, turmeric, olive oil, beetroot and berries.
Avoid stimulating foods like caffeine and sugar, also – especially! – in the form of corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, golden syrup, maltose, and sucrose. All of these increase anxiety, exacerbate insomnia and in the case of sugar, cause excessive blood sugar fluctuations. See (3).

See also
https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/how-to-stop-worrying.htm
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20669377,00.html#stop-catastrophizing-0

SOW:
broad beans, early carrots, early Brussels, parsnips, main crop peas, radish, spinach (or spinach beet, better value than proper spinach), chard, turnip, lettuce, early/summer cabbage, spring onions, early cauli, bulb onions, beet, celery (late March).
Plant: potatoes, onion sets, shallots, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes.

EAT:
veg: purple sprouting broccoli, kale, cavolo nero, squash, cauli, spring greens, radishes, rhubarb, leeks, carrots, spring onions, salad leaves, parsnips, cabbage, chicory, sorrel, swede, beet, brussels, rocket, turnips, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, watercress.
fish: dab, red gurnard, grey mullet, mussels, oysters, clams, mackerel, herring, megrim, scallops.
meat: rabbit, turkey, wood pigeon, beef, mutton, pork, venison.

See also http://eatseasonably.co.uk/what-to-eat-now/this-months-best/.

MASHED TURNIPS with SAGE
2 turnips and 2 floury potatoes, 3 tblsp butter, 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped tblsp sage, ab. 200ml milk, salt and freshly ground pepper
Peel and cube the turnips and potatoes; put in some cold salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer until soft and tender, about 20 mins. Sauté the onion with the sage until the onion is tender, the sage fragrant and the butter begins to brown. Season. Add the milk and let them simmer together for a while. Drain turnips and potatoes. Add the milk and roughly mash. If you prefer a smoother texture, use a blender. Taste, season if necessary.
If you fancy a different proportion of turnips and potatoes, that’s fine.

SPICED PEANUT PARSNIP SOUP for 2.
This is an unusual soup. You either like it, or you don’t. If you don’t, just use it as sauce on a rice-and-vegetable dish. But it’s better if your peanut butter doesn’t have sugar in it.
200g parsnips cut into chunks, 1 large onion, 2 garlic cloves, 2 cm fresh ginger root, 2 tblsp grated coconut, 2 tblsp peanut butter, 1 tsp ground cumin, 45g coriander leaves, plenty of chilli powder or cayenne, grated zest of 1 orange and some pumpkin seeds if you like.
Cut the parsnips, onion, ginger and garlic into chunks and roast in an 200C over for 20 minutes (or carefully saute on top). Put in a pan, add 720ml water and cook till all is soft.
Mix with the peanut butter, coconut, chili, cumin and coriander and blend, keeping some coriander for on top. Add more water if needed. Serve sprinkled with coriander (pumpkin seeds) and zest.

SAUTEED KALE
Chop kale and onion finely. Heat some fat, add both vegetables, stir, cover, and fry like that on a very low fire for a few minutes. Then add a little bit of water and cover again. Let cook till kale and onion are digestible, take off the cover and sautee some more till any water left has disappeared. Add seasalt or soy sauce, serve.

BREAM WITH BASIL BALSAMIC
Score sides of a whole bream and pack cuts with a roughly pounded mix of 3 tblsp balsamic vinegar, a clove garlic and handful of basil per fish. Roast for 20 mins or until flaking off the bone at 190ºC. Serve with peas.

CELERIAC SALAD
650g celeriac, 150ml walnut halves, 120ml mayonnaise, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, lemon juice, 2 tblsp chopped (flatleaf) parsley, 2 tblsp minced shallot, 1 tblsp fresh chopped tarragon, julienned cooking apple, salt, pepper.
Combine mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, parsley, tarragon and shallot. Cut off one side of the celeriac to create a stable flat working surface and remove all brown knobby parts. Rougly grate celeriac and apple, mix with mayonnaise, adjust seasoning. Toast walnuts until fragrant and slightly browned, put on top.

PURPLE SPROUTING BROCCOLI with GARLIC and SESAME
450g broccoli, oil, soy sauce/tamari, 1 1/2 tblsp sesame seeds, 1 clove garlic.
Dry-roast sesame seeds. Cook broccoli for 3 mins. Saute garlic for 1 min., add drained broccoli. Keep stirring for 2-3 mins. Add soy and sesame, serve.

ROCKET SOUP with GOAT’S CHEESE
100g rocket, 75g soft goat’s cheese, 1 diced onion, olive oil, 1 diced potato, 800 ml water.
Fry onion gently in olive oil until it softens, add potato and water and bring to a simmer. Cook until the potato is soft. Season, but go easy on the salt, because the cheese will add plenty. Add chopped rocket, cook for 2 mins. Whizz in a blender. Pour into bowls and add a slice of goat’s cheese to each.

PUMPKIN CRISPS
1/2 small pumpkin, olive oil.
Preheat oven to 150ºC. Cut pumpkin into 2-3 chunks, peel and seed each chunk and cut into slices about 2 mm thick. Dry the slices. Place in single layer on two lined baking trays. Brush with oil and sprinkle with a good pinch of sea salt. Let sit for 5 mins before placing in the oven. Bake for 25 mins, or until crisp and golden. Remove from oven to cool so they’ll crisp up. The crisps will stay fresh in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

Next month: ……..!

(1) https://theconsciouslife.com/guided-meditation-for-stress-anxiety.htm
(2) http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/july-2014-just-relax.html
(3) http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/may-2014-inflammation_2.html

 

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February 2018: the thyroid

THE THYROID

How would you notice that something is wrong with your thyroid gland? This gland can be either too lazy – more common – or it may work too hard.
Located in the lower part of the neck, the thyroid gland regulates how fast the body burns food; it controls production of nails and hair, body temperature, carbohydrate breakdown, mental clarity, well-being, energy levels, vitamin absorption, cholesterol levels, hair texture, nail strength, skin suppleness and sex drive.

By far the most common problem is underperformance: you are hypothyroid. This can make you, amongst other things:
constipated, depressed, forgetful, tired, restless; gain weight, feel cold, have dry hair or loose it, have coarse skin or carpal tunnel syndrome, and cause strange feelings in neck or throat (a goiter). See [1].

When it works too hard, you are hyperthyroid. This can make you, amongst other things:
shaky, hot, sweating, loose weight, nervous, irritable, weak, loose hair, restless, anxious, and short of breath. It can make your heart race, cause diarrhoea, insomnia, increased appetite and eye problems, make your skin coarse or itchy and your menstrual cycle irregular. See [1].

So – what to do if you think there is something wrong?
If you suspect a problem in this area, go to the doctor. But you can help a lot yourself too.

If your thyroid is underactive, try the following.
• Avoid peanuts and raw brassicas: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips and kale. Also peaches, pears and spinach. They block the uptake of iodine into the thyroid gland.
• Also avoid unfermented soy. Soy, too, blocks iodine uptake, thereby starving the thyroid of essential nutrients. This means: no tofu, no soy milk, no edamame or soybean oil. Read the labels: soy is cheap, so it is used in lots of products! Only fermented soy, like tamari or fermented soy sauce, tempeh and miso are recommended [2].
• Eat your food nice and hot.
• Eat plenty of veg and fruit, less sugar and refined products.
• Try avoid stress [3].
• Exercise – but moderately.
• Ideally avoid the pill and its surfeit of hormones.
• Avoid toxic food and heavy metals: eat organic, less meat.
• Use natural products which don’t contain hormone disruptors.
• And special yoga exercises under trained supervision do help; so does acupuncture [4].
• See also [5].
A hyperactive thyroid is much more rare.
There are herbs (hawthorn, bugleweed, motherwort and lemon balm) and foods (oats and food rich in calcium, magnesium and vitamin D) which help prevent problems associated with hyperthyroidism. Enough sleep and regular exercise are important, as always.
See [6].

TO EAT:
Veg: beet, purple sprouting broccoli, brussels, (savoy) cabbage, carrots, chard, celeriac, kale, cavolo nero, leek, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, rocket, spinach, swede, turnip, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory, corn salad, endive, kohlrabi, salsify, winter purslane.
Meat: goose, mallard, partridge, pheasant, venison.
Fish: bib, cockles, crab, dab, flounder, lobster, mackerel, oysters, pollack, scallops, seabass, whiting.
See also http://eatseasonably.co.uk/what-to-eat-now/this-months-best/.

TO SOW/PLANT (outdoors):
If the weather is suitable: garlic, broad beans, spring onions, shallots, early peas, carrots, parsnips, green/red cabbage, onion sets. Apple trees, if the weather isn’t too severe and the ground not waterlogged or frozen.

 

RECIPES

SPICED PARSNIP SOUP
700g diced parsnips, 1 sliced onion, 40g butter, 2 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1.2ltr water, salt, pepper, 150ml single cream, paprika, parsley.
Melt butter, add onion, saute for 6 mins. Add parsnips, saute for 3 mins. Stir in curry powder and cumin, cook for 2 mins. Add water, season, bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until veg are tender. Mash or puree. Season, add cream and reheat but don’t boil. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley.

SCALLOPS WITH LAMBS’ LETTUCE (= corn salad)
6 large scallops, 1 sharp apple, 2 handfuls of corn salad, some lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper.
Cut apple in strips. Mix with lettuce, zest, oil, seasoning.
For the scallops: heat 1 tblsp of oil. Lay scallops on board, pat dry, season one side. Think of the pan as a clockface and add scallops, seasoned side down, in a clockwise order, then fry 1-2 mins. Season other side, flip over and repeat. Squeeze lemon over and shake pan. Divide salad between 2 plates, arrange scallops around each pile. Garnish with remaining zest, serve immediately.

EXOTIC KALE-PEA COMBINATION
400g shredded kale, 150g (frozen) peas, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds (or some mustard), 1/2 tsp turmeric, chillies or chilli powder, ginger (pref. fresh grated), juice 1 lemon, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, oil.
Heat oil, sizzle cumin and mustard seeds for 1 min, add chilli, ginger and turmeric. Fry until aromatic, add kale, salt, peas and bit of water. Cover and cook for ab. 5 mins until kale has wilted. Add lemon juice, ground coriander, mix, serve.

PINK PANCAKES: 6 pancakes, breakfast for 2.
120ml finely grated raw (or cooked) beetroot, 120ml grated apple, 1 egg, 240ml flour, 2 heaped tsp baking powder, 120ml water, ½ tsp of mixed spice, salt, olive oil, butter, honey.
Whisk egg until frothy. Add flour, baking powder, salt, then water. Give it a good whisk. Fold in apple, beet and spice. Heat oil, drop dessert spoonfuls of the batter into the pan centre. When it starts to bubble up, flip over and cook for 2 mins or so. Don’t press pancake down as it cooks as this will press out the air bubbles. When all your pancakes are cooked, put butter on top of each. Serve with honey.

KALE CHIPS – surprisingly nice!
Ab. 170g kale, 1 tblsp apple cider vinegar, 2tblsp extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt.
Rinse the kale, strip the leaves from the stems, cut into 5 cm pieces. Dry thoroughly. Mix the dressing and massage it into the kale pieces with your hands, for 1-2 minutes. Place on oven sheets and bake for 20—30 mins at 145°C. Turn the pieces for the last 10 mins, to make sure both sides are thoroughly dried out and crisp.

SIMPLE LEEKY (WHOLEMEAL) PASTA with SARDINES for 2.
1 tin sardines, ab. 200g cleaned chopped leeks, 100-200g wholemeal pasta, 1 clove garlic, thyme, soy sauce, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cayenne/chilli or 1 red chilli pepper.
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add pasta and leeks. Just before they’re done (they will probably be done at the same time) sauté the chopped garlic, chilli and some thyme leaves in the sardine oil. Stir, cook for a few minutes – don’t let the garlic brown! – and add the sardines. Don’t mash them too finely. Put a lid on to let them warm up. Add the pasta/leeks which should be cooked by now. Stir, heat through, add soy sauce to taste (and salt/pepper if needed) and a squeeze of lemon juice.

SWEDE SPELTOTTO
300g pearled spelt or barley, 400g swede cut into 1cm dice, 2 chopped onions, 1 chopped garlic clove, plenty of chopped parsley, 50g grated hard well-flavoured cheese plus extra to serve, 1l water/stock, 20g butter, 2 tblsp olive oil, nutmeg, seasoning.
Heat water/stock. In another pan heat butter and oil slowly, add onions and sweat gently until soft. Add garlic and swede, stir for 2 mins. Add spelt/barley and stir for 2 mins, making sure all grains are well coated with grease. Now start adding stock slowly, a quarter at a time, stirring often. When it’s all in, cook about 25 mins for spelt or a bit longer for barley, to a tender texture with a hint of bite. Stir in parsley and cheese. Add salt, plenty of pepper, nutmeg. Serve topped with more grated cheese. With green salad.

PURPLE SPROUTING CABBAGE with EGG and GARAM MASALA for 2 (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall).
3 large eggs at room temperature, 200g purple sprouting broccoli, 50g butter, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 garlic clove, grated or very finely chopped, 2tsp garam masala, sea salt, pepper.
Put eggs in boiling water, cook for 6 mins: drain and rinse cold, peel.
Chop off the woody ends and steam or boil the broccoli. Steamed, it will keep more colour. Cook for 4-6 mins until just tender, drain. Melt the butter with the oil, add garlic, then garam masala. Turn the heat down very low and cook for 1-2 mins, season. Put the broccoli on a warm plate/plates. Halve the eggs and place on top. Dress both with the spicy fat, serve.
Instead of broccoli you can use other greens, like young leaves of kale or cavolo nero.

Next month: …….. 

[1] https://www.verywell.com/do-you-have-a-thyroid-problem-take-the-test-3231838
https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/the-difference-between-hypothyroidism-and-hyperthyroidism
[2] https://thewholejourney.com/soy-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/
[3] http://rinekedijkinga.nl/assets/uploads/img/content/assets/uploads/Stappenplan_Als_Lui_niet_meer_lekker_is_GN_8_2017.pdf?mc_cid=a25d3a150d&mc_eid=ad95dad31b
[4] http://www.home-remedies-for-you.com/remedy/Hypothyroidism.html
[5] www.womentowomen.com/hypothyroidism/foods-naturalthyroidhealth.aspx
http://ezinearticles.com/?Foods-That-Will-Make-Your-Underactive-Thyroid-Symptoms-Worse&id=672658
http://www.top10homeremedies.com/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-hypothyroidism.html
http://www.home-remedies-for-you.com/remedy/Hypothyroidism.html, https://draxe.com/hypothyroidism-diet-natural-treatment/
[6] http://www.home-remedies-for-you.com/remedy/Hyperthyroidism.html
http://www.top10homeremedies.com/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-hyperthyroidism.html
http://www.allayurvedicremedies.com/home-remedies-for-hyperthyroidism.htm
https://www.belmarrahealth.com/hyperthyroidism-overactive-thyroid-causes-symptoms-treatment-home-remedies-diet/

January 2018: keep your teeth

Are there things we can we do to keep our teeth in a better state? Yes there are. Here are some tips.

* Toothpaste
Have you heard of SLS, sodium lauryl sulfate? An ingredient in practically every toothpaste, it is a foaming agent which wears away the protective layer which safeguards gums, tongue and everything inside our mouths. Mouth ulcers are only some of the results of this.
Triclosan, another common ingredient, is a carcinogenic pesticide which disrupts our hormone system and normal breast development. As well as in toothpaste, it is now found in practically all cleaning products [a].

* Acids
Though vitamin C in natural form is good for you, beware of taking tablets. In 2012 it was found that chewable vitamin C tablets, vitamin C gums and powdered supplements significantly increase dental erosion. They affect our teeth in the same way that soft drinks and orange juice do: they all contain acid, which dissolves calcium. Pills you swallow, however, are in the clear.
In general, don’t brush your teeth immediately after meals and drinks, especially if they were acidic. Acidic foods—citrus fruits, sports drinks, tomatoes, soda (both diet and regular)—can soften tooth enamel “like wet sandstone,” says Howard R. Gamble, past president of the Academy of General Dentistry. Brushing speeds up acid’s effect on your enamel and erodes the layer underneath. He suggests waiting 30 to 60 minutes before you brush [b].
For the same reason, try and cut down on drinks and snacks during the day. After eating, your mouth becomes acidic for roughly 40 minutes. If you snack constantly instead of sticking to regular meal times, your mouth is 60% more acidic. This dramatically increases the chances of tooth decay and gum disease.

* Foods
What foods are good for your teeth? Milk, eggs, cheese and yoghurt; meat, fish, dark leafy veg; crunchy foods that contain lots of water are all excellent. But please make the milk and the cheese full-fat: see [c]! The fact that this will make you feel full so you will eat less later, is only one of the reasons – see [d].
Sweets and (diet) soft drinks are of course notorious. But citrus, coffee, wine, and pickles too contain acid. They are best consumed with other food, and don’t brush your teeth straight afterwards! See [a]. However, fermented and cultured foods are in the clear [f].

AND ALSO
• When your teeth take turns hurting, when there is decay or discolouration, this can be due to lack of calcium – or of other nutrients which help absorb it, like vitamins D, C, E, K, magnesium and boron. Exercise, too, helps our body use the calcium we consume!
• When teeth are just sensitive, you may be lacking vitamin D.
• If your mouth dries out, the bacteria will cause bad breath. A drink of water, or watery veg like cucumber, celery or carrots, help as well as some fancy mouthwash.
• If you knock out a tooth, don’t rinse it in water or wrap it in a tissue – you’ll kill the fragile cells that can help it survive. Lick it, stick it back in the cavity or, failing that, put it in milk – and see the dentist as fast as you can.
• For inflamed gums, use aloe vera gel – or a leaf from the plant [h].
• For effective toothache remedies, see [i]. Personally I just stick a clove in my mouth!
• Should you brush before bedtime [j]?
• How to whiten teeth naturally [k].


Unfortunately there is no list of the most and least contaminated foods in Britain, so the US version has to do: see https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/#.Wg7BH610eGg for what you can safely eat there, and what not. Britain can’t be too different.

EAT:
Veg: Brussels’, beet, sprout tops, cabbage, celeriac, celery (with Stilton!), corn salad, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, salsify, kale, kohlrabi, landcress, leeks, parsnips, pumpkin/squash, rocket, spinach, swede, turnips, winter radish, endive, winter purslane.
Meat: wood pigeon, pheasant, wild duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison. For (Christmas) game recipes, see http://www.gametoeat.co.uk/.
Fish: coley, megrim, clams, crab, cuttlefish, mussels, oysters, scallops, whiting.

PLANT:
Shallots are traditionally planted on the shortest day. You can still plant garlic. Buy heads from a proper supplier to prevent disease.
If you leave veg in the ground, apply a thick mulch (straw, bracken or newspaper) for protection, and so as to get them out easily.
And check http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/your-organic-garden-december-and-january?dm_i=4UO,4NFGO,JCJBU,HC8AU,1 for what else to do in the garden in January.

RECIPES

LENTIL and SQUASH SOUP for 6.
500g squash, 170g lentils, 1 chopped onion, 1/2 tsp tomato puree, 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped celery, 60ml dry white wine, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 bay leaf, 1.3l water.
Peel, deseed and chop squash. Simmer all ingredients until they are tender, stirring occasionally, for 45 mins. Thin the soup with more water if necessary. Season.

CABBAGE, CHEESE and APPLE CASSEROLE for 6.
60g butter, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped head of cabbage, 3 sliced cooking apples, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 60ml milk, 1360ml grated cheddar.
Melt butter, add onion, cabbage, apples, salt and pepper and sauté for 10 mins. Add milk and cheese, mix. Pour into dish, cover, bake at 180°C for 30 mins. Uncover and bake for 10 more mins. With cooked potatoes.

PARSONAGE PHEASANT
Pheasant, beetroot, apples, onion, thyme, bay leaves, salt.
Joint the pheasant, rub in salt, fry till it browns. Add thyme, bay, grated beetroot, sliced apples, sliced onion and some water. Let simmer for about an hour, a big one might need a bit more time.
Turn the pieces every so often and spoon the cooking juice over. Lovely with kale.


QUICK BEET, CARROT AND EGG for one.
1 small beet, 2 small- to medium-sized carrots, garlic cloves, egg, oil.
Grate the beets raw (use cooked ones if you like). Grate the carrots, dice the garlic. Heat water to poach the egg. Sauté the beet for a few mins, then add garlic and grated carrot. Cook 2 more mins, while poaching the egg. Put beet-carrot mix on a plate, top with egg. Add salt, pepper. To fill it out you can add some heated sweetcorn.

SWEDE with BUTTER and STOCK
500g swede, 35g butter, 500ml stock.
Cut swede into 1 cm pieces. Melt butter, add swede. Stir so they get coloured all round: then pour in the stock and bring to te boil. Simmer for 20 mins until you can squash them with a fork. The liquid is then a buttery juice. Season, serve straightaway.

CREAMY PARSNIP AND SQUASH BAKE
500g parsnips, 500g butternut squash, 450ml double cream, 1 small finely chopped onion, thyme, butter, 25g grated mature cheese.
Put cream, onion, and thyme into a pan. Slowly heat to just below boiling point. Remove from heat, leave to cool. Heat oven to 160°C. Butter a dish. Thinly slice the parsnips and the peeled, deseeded squash. Layer both in the dish, put the herby cream on top, scatter with cheese. Bake for 1 hr.

SAUTEED RED CABBAGE
Red cabbage, large onion, olive oil, large cooking apple, cider vinegar, mustard seed, (sugar).
Pull off the outer cabbage leaves and cut off the bottom. Halve, then slice thinly. Chop the onion. Sauté both for 5 minutes. Add 10 ml cider vinegar and the chopped cooking apple. Season the mixture with 1 tsp mustard seed, salt and pepper. Cook for 10-15 more minutes with the lid on, before serving. You may want to add a bit of sugar.

SPICY TOMATO & KALE LINGUINE for 4-5.
450g linguine or other pasta, 250g kale, (weighed after being de-stemmed); ab. 500g tinned tomatoes, butter/oil for sautéing, 6 minced cloves garlic, cayenne or chilli pepper, 80ml good quality extra-virgin olive oil, juice of 1/2-1 lemon, thyme, (black) olives, grated mature cheese, salt, pepper.
Cook pasta al dente in salted water. Drain but keep the water. Chop the kale. Sauté garlic and kale; cook for 1 min., stirring often. Add tomato, salt, red pepper, olives and cook until soft, about 4-5 mins. Add 120ml pasta water and heat thoroughly. Add cooked pasta, oil, lemon juice, thyme, and if needed, some extra cooking water. Season and mix. Put the cheese on the table for people to help themselves.

 

[a] http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/triclosan-ban-harmful-antibacterial.htm
https://askthedentist.com/is-triclosan-toothpaste-safe/
[b] http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9402E4DE1F3CF931A15756C0A9649D8B63, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/11628311/Top-tips-for-clean-perfect-teeth-some-might-surprise-you.html
https://examine.com/nutrition/are-vitamin-c-supplements-bad-for-your-teeth/
http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2012/07/does-soda-erode-teeth.html
https://naturalnews.com/021774.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1196944/Orange-juice-acid-wash-away-enamel-teeth.html
[c] http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/october-2017-please-have-your-dairy_1.html
[d] https://health.usnews.com/wellness/food/articles/2016-10-28/5-reasons-to-start-eating-full-fat-dairy-according-to-science
[e] https://greatist.com/live/brushing-teeth-before-bed
[f] https://nourishingjoy.com/10-reasons-to-eat-more-fermented-and-cultured-foods/
[g] www.moondragon.org/health/disorders/malabsorption.html
[h] http://www.livestrong.com/article/265410-how-to-use-aloe-gel-to-soothe-inflamed-and-cut-gums/
[i] https://www.1dental.com/articles/dental/toothache-home-remedies/
http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/benefits-of-cayenne-pepper/
http://www.healing-from-home-remedies.com/toothache-home-remedies.html
[j] https://greatist.com/health/healthy-teeth-foods
[k] https://wellnessmama.com/3662/whiten-teeth-naturally/

 

 

December 2017: drink!?

December: let’s have a look at alcohol, again.
Alcohol and health was mentioned before: in the ‘drinking’ issue of December 2014. However, the issue can do with some more digging.
Every so often you read about the health-giving effects of, say, red wine, or how drinking alcohol in moderation might be good for your bones. These stories always mention ‘moderation’, which is of course an important problem.
I myself have never been particularly tempted by alcohol. I’m an eater, not a drinker. And after cancer treatment twelve years ago, I found that even one glass of wine made me feel the same as I had felt during the six weeks of chemoradiation. So that was it: never again.
My husband drinks regularly, but never even has a hangover. Mind you, he stays away from the cheaper stuff.
People are different. During your lifetime you learn what suits you or what you can live without. And what you can’t live without, regardless of the consequences.
I found some interesting websites about the pros and cons of alcohol [1].
Apparently, the older you are, the more you can drink, says a, possibly dated, study from 2002. Men over 85 years old can drink as much as 5 units a day without ill effects [2]. Hurray!
However, just recently they found that the positive side of alcohol has been overstated [3]. Studies which showed that moderate consumption might be good for you, may have been misguided. The abstainers in them often included people who had cut back, or stopped drinking, because of ill health or old age. This made non-drinkers look like a far less healthy group than the general population [4].
The type of alcohol is not as important as the amount of alcohol consumed and the pattern of intake. The latest UK government guidelines tell us not to drink more than 14 units a week, best spread evenly over 3 or more days: a unit being about half a pint of beer, half a glass of wine, or one pub measure (25ml) of spirits. That is, unless you’re young, old, thin, sick or on medicines .…… For the complete list, see [5].

See also:
for sneaky ways to say no: http://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20410241,00.html;
for some more myths to bust: https://greatist.com/health/13-biggest-myths-alcohol;
what not to drink if you like beer: http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/most-shocking/10-beers-that-are-shockingly-bad-for-you/;
and (not too un-) healthy drinking tips: http://thehealthydrinker.com/2010/03/10-healthy-drinking-tips/.

Here is some more general stuff:
http://www.medicaldaily.com/lets-get-drunk-healthiest-ways-drink-alcohol-269583
http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/alcohol-good-or-bad#section11
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/12086226/Red-wine-is-bad-for-you-say-experts.html
http://www.naturalnews.com/022739_wine_alcohol_chemicals.html

You might also want to look at our tips for preventing and curing hangovers in the 2014 December issue. See http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/december-2014-drink-drank-drunk.html.
And, just in case you’re stressed – why on earth? 😉 – here are some suggestions: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/mens-health/11303498/How-to-deal-with-the-stress-of-Christmas.html. And look at http://blog.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/2017/11/17/healthy-holiday-eating/ for ways to get through December without too much damage.

EAT
Veg: Brussels’, beet, sprout tops, cabbage, celeriac, celery (with Stilton!), corn salad, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, salsify, kale, kohlrabi, landcress, leeks, parsnips, pumpkin/squash, rocket, spinach, swede, turnips, winter radish, endive, winter purslane.
Meat: wood pigeon, pheasant, wild duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison. For (Christmas) game recipes, see www.gametoeat.co.uk/.
Fish: coley, megrim, clams, crab, cuttlefish, mussels, oysters, scallops, whiting.

PLANT
Shallots are traditionally planted on the shortest day. You can still plant garlic.
If you leave veg in the ground, apply a thick mulch (straw, bracken or newspaper) for protection, and so as to get them out easily.

 

LENTIL, CARROT and KALE SOUP with CREME FRAICHE and DILL for 6.
600g green or brown lentils soaked overnight, 3 large carrots cut into 1cm slices, 125g cleaned chopped kale, 1 chopped leek, 5-10 tblsp tomato puree, 2.5l (homemade) chicken stock, 4 tblsp butter, 2 tsp coarse seasalt, juice of half a lemon, 120ml creme fraîche or sour cream, dill, 60ml red wine (optional).
Drain the lentils. Sweat carrots and leeks for 10 mins in butter. Add liquid, tomato, lentils (and wine); cook till the lentils are done. Blend or mash. Stir in the finely cut kale and salt, boil for however raw or cooked you like the kale. Add lemon juice, creme fraîche or sour cream, heat through and serve sprinkled with dill.

BEETROOT, APPLE, PEAR, WALNUT and STILTON SALAD
Personally I prefer raw (only washed, not peeled) grated beetroot, but by all means use cooked beet if you like.
2 beet, 2 apples, winter salad leaves like corn salad and rocket, 2 Conference pears, 4 tbsp lightly toasted walnuts, 2 tbsp olive/walnut oil, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 minced garlic clove, 75-100g Stilton or soft, crumbly goat’s cheese, pepper, sea salt.
Grate beet and apple coarsely. Mix. Whisk oil and vinegar, add garlic, salt, pepper. Dress beet and apple with 1/2 the dressing. Use remaining half to lightly dress the leaves – you may not need all of the dressing. In the centre of the dressed leaves, add mound of grated apple/beet. Core pears, cut into 1cm thick slices and arrange around the beetroot/apple mound. Break walnuts up a bit and arrange over leaves and pears. Finish with crumbled Stilton or goat’s cheese, and pepper.

MARMITE SPAGHETTI with LEEKS, serves 4 – 6.
375g (wholewheat) spaghetti, 800g leeks (or more!) weighed after cleaning, 60g butter, 1-2 tsp marmite (or more!), grated mature cheese to serve.
Chop the leeks. Boil up some salted water, add the spaghetti and leeks. Meanwhile melt butter, add marmite and 1 tblsp pasta water, mix. The spaghetti and the leeks will be ready at the same time. Drain; reserve the water. Pour the marmite mix over spaghetti, adding some reserved pasta water if required. Serve with plenty of cheese.

And if you are having a vegetarian Christmas, why not try this one?
SOMERSET TOURTIERE
480ml cooked lentils, 480ml walnut halves; 10 chopped mushrooms, 180ml grated floury potato, 120ml dry cider, 1 tblsp olive oil, 1 large diced onion, 3 minced garlic cloves, 300ml water/stock, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1/2 tsp dried savory, 1/2 tsp ground sage, 2 bay leaves, salt, pepper, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce (optional), pastry dough for 1 double pie crust of 23cm diameter.
Sauté the onion in oil until it begins to soften, add mushrooms. Sauté until most of their juices have been released. Add garlic, sauté for 2 more mins. Grind the walnuts. Mix in the lentils, walnuts, broth, wine, thyme, savory, sage and bay. Season and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove bay and add: liquid, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and potato. Cook until the potato is soft, about 10 mins. Season. Chill for 1 hr.
Roll out one dough disk on a lightly floured surface into a 30cm round. Transfer to the pie dish, leaving an overhang. Fill with lentil mix. Roll out the remaining dough disk into a 10″ round. Place dough over the filling. Fold overhang over the top crust and crimp the edges. Brush the crust with milk. Cut three 6cm slits in the top. Let rest for 1 hr, or put in the fridge till tomorrow. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Bake for 30 mins. Reduce heat to 180°C; bake until the crust is golden and the filling bubbles, for 40-50 mins. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

And here it comes, finally, the drink!
MULLED CIDER
Two 500ml bottles of good strong dry cider, 3 squashed cardamon pods; a lump of ginger about the size of the top joint of a thumb; the rind of an orange without the pith; 1 star anise; 10 cloves; ½ tsp mixed spice; half a thinly sliced apple; a good slug of rum/brandy.
Stud the orange peel with cloves. Place everything apart from the rum/brandy in a pan, bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, simmer gently for 10 mins. Spices can of course be varied according to taste and the contents of your cupboard.

LIME ENCRUSTED COLEY
4x175g coley fillets, 2 limes, 200g breadcrumbs, 50g butter, salt, pepper, 1 tblsp olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grate lime zest. Fry crumbs and zest in the butter for 2-3 mins, stirring until pale golden. Put fish in a shallow dish. Season and squeeze over a little lime juice. Drizzle with the oil. Pat crumb mixture on top and bake for 10-12 minutes until cooked. Garnish with lime wedges.

BRAISED PIGEON in CHOCOLATE SAUCE (from Cook it Simply)
4 pigeons, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tsp salt, freshly ground black pepper, 4 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp plain flour, 4 tbsp dry white wine, 250ml stock/water, 200g shallots, 50g plain/dark chocolate.
Finely chop garlic. Wash pigeons, dry and rub with salt and pepper, inside and out. Brown pigeons in oil before removing from pan. Fry garlic in remaining oil. Stir flour into oil, fry briefly, add wine and stock. Simmer for 5 mins, stirring constantly. Put pigeons into sauce, cover and cook for 1 hr on a low heat. Chop shallots finely and add after 40 mins. Pre-heat oven to 120°C. Arrange pigeons on a serving dish and keep hot in oven. Grate chocolate and add to sauce, stirring continuously over a low heat until melted. Do not let the sauce boil again. Season generously and serve with the pigeons. Goes well with roast potatoes and parsnips.
This sauce can also be used with venison. Thank you, Chris!

OXFORD JOHN STEAKS with CAPERS
4x150g lamb leg steaks, 25g butter, 1-2 tsp flour, 300 ml lamb/beef stock, 2 tblsp drained capers, 1 tblsp vinegar from the capers.
Fry steaks gently for 10-15 mins, turning occasionally, until browned both sides. Transfer to warmed dish. Stir, to loosen any sediment at the bottom of the pan: stir in flour and cook for 1-2 mins. Gradually add stock, stirring all the time. Cook until the sauce thickens, boils and is smooth. Add capers and vinegar and simmer for 1-2 mins. Return lamb steaks to pan and simmer for 5 mins or until the lamb is cooked to your liking. Serve hot.

NUT ROAST for 6-8
30g butter, 2 finely chopped sticks of celery, 1 finely chopped onion, 360ml hot water, 1 tsp marmite/vecon, 550g ground nuts (cashews, almonds, brazils, peanuts), 2 tblsp flour, 4 tsp fresh herbs (if using dried 1 tsp), 160g bread crumbs, salt, pepper.
This nut roast is delicious. The slightly boring looks will improve if, after turning out, you put holly on top or something like that.
Melt butter, cook celery and onion in it for a few mins. Mix marmite/vecon into hot water and add to onion-celery mix. Stir flour into the nuts, then mix in herbs, crumbs, salt and pepper. Grease a loaf tin. Place mix in tin and press. Bake in the oven for 40 mins at 180ºC, turn out and slice. Good served with all the trimmings.
Variations:- you can substitute wine or milk for the water-and-yeast extract. A layer of sliced mushrooms and garlic is nice. Or fill with sage and onion stuffing.

Next month: teeth.

[1] http://www.marksdailyapple.com/alcohol-the-good-and-the-bad
http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20140814/amount-alcohol
[2] http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/The-older-you-are-the-more-you-can-drink-says-study
[3] http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/Effectsofalcohol.aspx
[4] http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150901-is-alcohol-really-bad-for-you
[5] https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/alcoholic-drinks-units/alcohol-limits-unit-guidelines/

 

 

 

November 2017: love your heart

28% of all UK deaths are due to heart disease.
For decades now, most of the emphasis has been on reducing cholesterol levels through diet and medication. However, three leading cardiologists have recently proclaimed this is misguided. They say heart disease is very largely due to poor diet, lack of exercise, drug or alcohol abuse and stress, although with some genetic factors. Therefore, instead of frantically trying to reduce cholesterol levels, we are much better off making small improvements in lifestyle. For these improvements will help reduce levels of chronic inflammation [1].
Acute – shortlived – inflammation is there to help us heal from injury and infection. But this process can get out of hand and become chronic. And chronic inflammation is what contributes greatly to heart disease – and to the development of cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, even depression [2].

The current emphasis on medication (statins!) and low-cholesterol food has brought its own problems. Statins are the most popular drugs in history: drug companies made $26 billion selling statins as long ago as 2008. They use manipulative tactics and expensive advertising to sway lawmakers, the FDA and the public to increase sales [3].
Any medication has side effects, statins not least [4]. They are usually prescribed to prevent heart attacks and strokes, which could be avoided quite easily by practising good lifestyle choices – eating right, staying active, quitting smoking and trying to lower stress.

Also, the fashion for low cholesterol is ignoring some vital facts. Cholesterol is arguably the most important substance in your body. What’s more,  cholesterol from food doesn’t raise blood cholesterol at all. The cholesterol in our bloodstream is made in the liver, and pumped into the blood when you need it: and eating high cholesterol foods has very little impact on our blood cholesterol levels.
Most people who have a heart attack, have the same cholesterol levels as those who have not had a heart attack. The number of people with so-called “high” cholesterol has been going down for a long time, while the number of people with heart disease has risen. And people with heart disease tend to have lower levels of so called “bad” cholesterol than people without heart disease. Some studies have even shown a correlation between higher cholesterol levels and increased life expectancy [5].
Meanwhile, the number of cholesterol medications prescribed has increased dramatically – no doubt to the delight of those who sell it.
See also http://jeffreydachmd.com/heart-matter-maryanne-demasi-cholesterol-myth/ and https://www.sott.net/article/267956-Heart-of-the-Matter-Dietary-Villains.

What lifestyle changes are we talking about? I’m afraid it’s the usual: a Mediterranean-style diet with mostly fresh, un-processed foods, regular physical activity, no smoking and finding ways to reduce stress.
Better, much better! than pills – but not quite so easy.
On the other hand, if you do manage babysteps in that direction, you can be sure that they will lead to an improved health all round, both of body and of mind.

SO – you won’t be surprised to hear that
“Full-fat cheese raises healthy cholesterol levels, which are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, better than does consumption of low-fat varieties.”
“Fat from milk, cheese and yogurt does not contribute to the development of coronary artery disease.” See [6] – Hurray!


EAT
Veg: Brussels’, beet, sprout tops, cabbage, celeriac, celery (with Stilton!), corn salad, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, salsify, kale, kohlrabi, landcress, leeks, parsnips, pumpkin/squash, rocket, spinach, swede, turnips, winter radish, endive, winter purslane, cavolo nero.
Fish: megrim, clams, crab, cuttlefish, mussels, oysters, scallops, whiting.
Meat: wood pigeon, pheasant, wild duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison. For (Christmas) game recipes, see www.gametoeat.co.uk/.

DO
Sow broad beans and peas. You can still try sow American landcress, Chinese leaves, winter lettuce and corn salad.
Plant rhubarb sets, autumn onion sets, spring cabbage. And garlic: it likes sun, and woodash.
Give brassica’s attention before the winter. Firm soil around stems, mulch with rotted manure, maybe support with canes. Pick off yellowing leaves.
As ground becomes vacant, dig it over and spread manure. Leave roughly dug in large clumps and the worms will break them up.
If you leave veg in the ground, apply a thick mulch (straw, bracken), both for protection and to get them out more easily.


PERFECT RED SOUP serves 6-8 – freezes well
750g raw beet cut into small pieces, 1 large chopped onion, 50g butter, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp ground cumin seeds, creme fraiche/yoghurt, 750ml water/stock, chopped parsley, sea salt, pepper.
Soften onion in butter/oil, add cumin, beetroot and then stock. Simmer for 30 mins, or till the beet is tender. Puree, season. Serve with crème fraîche/yoghurt, and toasted cumin seeds plus parsley on top.

CAULIFLOWER CHESTNUT GRATIN for 2.
300ml cauliflower florets, 6 roughly chopped chestnuts, 1-2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp flour, 120ml of cream (or milk), mustard, 60ml mature cheese, more for topping, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper.
Parboil the cauli for 4 mins. Drain, (keep the liquid,) place in an oven-proof dish with the chestnuts. Preheat oven to 190°C. Melt butter, add flour and stir in. Very slowly, add cream and as much of the cooking water as needed to make a thick sauce, stirring all the while. Add mustard, cheese, season. Pour the sauce over the cauli and chestnuts, stir. Put a bit of grated cheese on top if you like, and some breadcrumbs. Cook until cauli is tender, 20-25 mins.

CARROT and PUMPKIN MASH with CREME FRAÎCHE
About: 300g carrots, 120g chopped pumpkin, 25ml crème fraiche, 1/4 tsp grated orange rind (make sure it’s unwaxed!), 1tblsp orange juice, 1/2 tblsp butter, freshly grated pepper, 1/4 tsp salt, (spring onion), rosemary.
Put the chopped carrots in a pan with some cold water and when it boils, add the pumpkin. Cook till soft, drain and mash. Mix creme fraîche, orange rind, freshly grated pepper and spring onion. Add to the mash, also the butter, orange juice and salt. Heat through. Decorate with spring onion if you like, and/or very finely cut rosemary.
You can also cook rosemary with the veg, but put it in an infuser, so you won’t be bothered by the leaves later.

ROASTED COLEY on CAVOLO NERO
600g pollack/coley/colin fillets, (25g capers), 4-8 sliced stoned black olives, 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 300g tomatoes, 400g shredded cavolo nero, chopped chives, chopped parsley.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Place fish on a greased tray. Mix together olives, oil and capers if you use them. Season and spoon over the fish; add tomatoes. Bake for 15–20 mins. Meanwhile, boil cavolo nero for ab. 8 mins. Drain, return to the pan. Stir in herbs and fish juice. Divide between 4 plates and top with fish and tomatoes.

POTATO, GREEN CABBAGE, and LEEK SOUP with LEMON CRÈME FRAÎCHE for 6.
300g chopped green cabbage, 300g chopped leeks, 120ml crème fraîche/sour cream*, 550g potatoes, 3 garlic cloves, finely grated lemon peel, butter, olive oil, bay leaf, chicken stock, chives, (lemon juice).
Saute leeks and cabbage for a short while in oil and butter. Add stock and potatoes, cook till done. Take out the bay leaf, blend. Mix the crème fraîche with the lemon peel and stir in. Season. You may want to add a little bit of lemon juice. Serve with chives.
*Try find wholefat cream if at all possible: the fat is good for you – see above! – and helps absorb the other nutrients.

CRAB-and-LEEK (or PARSLEY) PASTA
400g spaghetti, 400g crabmeat, 4 chopped leeks or parsley, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 finely chopped garlic cloves, 1 deseeded and finely chopped red chilli, 1tsp fennel seeds, crushed; 1 lemon, (small bunch of flat-leaf parsley roughly chopped); extra virgin olive oil to finish.
Bring salted water to the boil, throw in both pasta and leeks. Cook until the pasta is al dente; the leeks should be done more or less at the same time. Meanwhile, fry garlic, chilli and fennel seeds in oil for 2 mins until soft but not coloured. Add zest of half a lemon and the juice of all of it; stir in the crab meat. Drain pasta/leek mix, reserving a few spoonfuls of cooking water. Stir into the sauce. Add the extra water if it’s a little dry. Season, drizzle with olive oil, and serve immediately.
If you don’t fancy leeks, add some parsley instead but only just before serving.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CREAMED SPINACH GRATIN, 5 servings.
675g fresh or 450g thawed frozen spinach, 900g butternut squash, 1/2 small chopped onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 120ml heavy cream, butter, grated cheese, 3/4 tsp salt, pepper, nutmeg.
If using fresh spinach, cook it first but not for too long. Squeeze (thawed) spinach, chop. Cook onion and garlic in butter till soft, add this to the spinach with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cream.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Cut squash into 3mm slices. Layer the squash-and-spinach mix in a buttered dish, using 1/5 of squash and 1/4 of spinach for each layer, beginning and ending with squash. Sprinkle with cheese, dot with butter, cover. Bake until the squash is tender, 25 mins. Uncover and bake some more until browned in places.

DUTCH BREAD-APPLE PUD the way my mother used to make it!
Butter an oven dish, put in a layer of applesauce, layer of bread (as it is, or lightly buttered), layer of applesauce, cover with bread again. Mix sugar and cinnamon, strew on top, add bits of butter. Half an hour in the oven: make sure that it gets a nice crust.


[1] https://www.sott.net/article/349277-World-leading-cardiologists-Long-held-belief-that-saturated-fats-clog-arteries-and-cause-heart-disease-are-plain-wrong
[2] http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/may-2014-inflammation_2.html
[3] http://naturalsociety.com/astrazeneca-makes-worlds-best-selling-drug-but/
https://www.drugwatch.com/manufacturer/
[4] http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/news/20140818/statins-side-effects-news#1
https://chriskresser.com/the-hidden-truth-about-statins/
http://www.anh-usa.org/the-grave-dangers-of-statin-drugs-and-the-surprising-benefits-of-cholesterol/
[5] http://www.cholesterol-and-health.org.uk
[6] From http://health.usnews.com/wellness/food/articles/2016-10-28/5-reasons-to-start-eating-full-fat-dairy-according-to-science.

 

January 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 11.26.39

DIETING = DANGEROUS

The diet plan. Will it work? Short term – you may be lucky. Or disciplined, rather. Long term, no.

Everyone is different. Your size, your shape, the history, your genes, all have a say. Since the children left home, my husband and I have totally different meals, though we both eat healthily. Listen to your body. We’ve all developed habits, some good, some bad. Should we throw all that by the wayside in favour of a one-size-fits-most plan? Some of it, I expect, but not all.

  • Dieting leads to bingeing, and this is not just because we’re weak-willed. Discipline doesn’t work, not for long, or only at great cost to the rest of your life.
  • Bingeing may even be a sign of need: your body lacks something and overrides all your good intentions. (1)
  • Dieting – at least, dieting according to someone else’s plan – won’t help you to get in touch with your own body’s needs: on the contrary.
  • In a way it’s easy, following someone else’s guidelines. Getting in touch with your own body needs takes patience and observation.
  • And then there is the issue of hormones: leptin and ghrelin for instancemake ‘dieting’ a complicated game in which we usually end up losers. (2)

Therefore, low calorie and low fat diets can have serious consequences for your health. But what can we do instead?

Avoid (artificial) sugar. Sugar is addictive, and hidden in many things. Sugar makes you want more and more and more. Artificial sugar is bad for you in other ways [3]. Getting used to less sweet food is not too hard, and saves a lot of trouble over a lifetime.

Try have healthy snacks handy for when the need arises: crackers with cheese, (dried) fruit, may help the cravings without leading you astray. Nuts, seeds. A nice sandwich if you fancy it, made with quality, filling bread.

And don’t worry about the calories! If it’s good stuff, you won’t go far overboard. A biscuit easily leads to a packet of biscuits. A sandwich on the other hand … you aren’t going to eat a loaf, are you? A nice sandwich will fill you up. Nuts – provided they are not oiled or salted, will give you nutrients and leave you satisfied.

It shouldn’t surprise you that I recommend full milk and butter instead of skim and marge [4]. We need fat, and when our body doesn’t get it it turns to carbs (sugar and grain, mainly) to fill the gap. ‘Saturated fat’ is finally loosing the bad name it has been given for years. [5]

And beware: when watching television, especially if it’s scary, we tend to eat far more than we would otherwise do.

Try things out, observe, learn about yourself. It’s not as easy as following someone else’s ideas, it may even be scary at times, but the road will be interesting. [6]

To sow/plant:Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 11.27.23

if the weather is suitable: early peas, broad beans. Apple trees, if it’s not too cold and the ground is not waterlogged or frozen.

To eat:

vegbeet, broccoli, brussels, cabbage, carrots, chard, celeriac, garlic, kale, cavolo nero, leek, onion, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, rocket, spinach, swede, turnip, jerusalem artichoke, chicory, celery, corn salad, endive, kohlrabi, salsify, winter purslane.

fishbib, cockles, crab, dab, flounder, lobster, mackerel, oysters, pollack, scallops, seabass, whiting.

meatgame is bountiful, cheap and good for you. This is the time to buy – or catch! – it.

RECIPES

For general ideas for winter salads, see http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/december-2010.html

MUTTON (or lamb) SOUP for 6
500g chopped mutton (or lamb if you can’t get it), 3l stock or water with herbs, 225g barley, 175g split peas, 1 large onion, 1 leek, 2 big carrots, 1 swede, 2 celery stalks, oil, chopped parsley to garnish

Cover mutton with stock/water. Cook till tender, about 1 1/2 hour. Top up with water if necessary. Add barley and split peas for the last healf hour. Chop and saute the veg for a few mins, add to the pan, cook till done. Adjust seasoning Finish with chopped parsley. Serve with nice bread.

SOMERSET PHEASANT for 3-4
1 pheasant, chopped onion(s), chopped cooking apple, 250ml cider, 2 chopped garlic cloves, seasoned flour, bay leaf, thyme, oil/butter, 125ml liquid, salt, pepper.
Cut pheasant into pieces, dust with flour. Fry onions, take from the pan. Brown pheasant. Add the onions again, plus the other ingredients. Stir and simmer for 5-10 mins. Cover and simmer gently for 30-40 mins, stirring now and again – or put in the oven if you prefer.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS with HONEY and MUSTARD
500g Brussels sprouts, 1 tbsp olive oil, 300ml vegetable stock, 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard, salt and freshly ground pepper, 2 tbsp clear honey
Prepare the sprouts and cut in half. Heat oil, add sprouts and fry for 2 mins. Remove from heat and carefully pour in the stock and stir in mustard and seasoning. Bring to the boil, simmer uncovered for 3-4 mins until the sprouts are tender. Stir in honey, season and serve immediately.

KALE with GOATS’ CHEESE, makes 3-4 servings.
150-200g kale, 60g crumbled cheese, olive oil, 6 eggs, salt, pepper.
Strip thick stalks from the kale, chop. Preheat oven to 190°C. Saute kale while stirring, until wilted, about 3-5 mins. Put in greased dish, crumble cheese over it. Beat eggs with salt and pepper, pour on top. Stir gently with fork, bake 40 mins. Serve hot. Good with plenty of sour cream. Leftovers keep in the fridge for a week.

CHESTNUT and CELERIAC PUREE
500g celeriac, 500g cooked chestnuts, 300ml water/stock, 1 bouquet garni, small bunch of chives, 1 tblsp butter, 2 tblsp crème fraîche, salt, black pepper.
Peel celeriac, cut into small (1 cm) dice, cook until soft. Drain the chestnuts if canned, add and simmer for 3–4 minutes more. When the chestnuts and celeriac are cooked, strain, reserve the stock. Remove the bouquet garni and purée the vegetables. Return purée to the saucepan, add the butter and place over low heat until the butter has melted. Stir in crème fraîche. If it is too thick, add a little of the reserved stock, or some more crème fraîche, to thin it slightly. Taste, season and sprinkle with the chives. Perfect on a cold night as a comforting accompaniment to roast meat or game dishes.

LEEK and GOAT’S CHEESE PIE for 6
250g sliced leeks, 400-500g hard goat’s cheese cut into dice, 250g chopped spinach, 12 sheets of filo pastry, 2 sliced onions , 50g melted butter plus extra for frying,
Heat oven to 180°C. Fry onions in butter until golden and caramelised,10-15 mins. Fry leeks till soft, season. Mix onions, leeks, cheese, spinach. Butter baking dish, lay 3 sheets filo on the bottom, buttering each layer (trim if you need to). Put 1/3 of the leek mix on top of the filo and add 3 more layers of pastry. Add another 1/3 of the mixture with 3 more layers of filo. Finally add the last of the mixture and the last 3 layers of pastry and lots of butter. Bake for 30-40 mins until crisp and golden. This recipe is slightly more complicated than most, unless maybe you have dealt with filo pastry before. But everyone liked it so much ….. If using spinach beet instead of spinach, you may want to precook this for a few minutes.

SPROUTS and SQUASH CASSEROLE
500g Brussels sprouts, 500g cleaned cubed butternut squash, 1 large onion, 2 cloves garlic, nutmeg, 240ml water, 240ml full milk, 1heaped tblsp butter, 1 heaped tblsp flour, sea salt, pepper.
Cut large sprouts in half. Cook or steam sprouts and squash separately. Preheat oven to 180C. Saute chopped onion and minced garlic in butter. When onions are translucent, add flour, keep stirring. Add water/milk slowly, bring to boil, remove from heat. Season. Grease oven dish and dust with flour. Put in squash, then sprouts, sauce on top. Bake for 30 mins.

APPLE CIDER SAUCE
This sauce is delicious with roast pork and can be kept in a sterilized airtight jar in the fridge for ages.
100g raisins, 550ml cider, 6 cooking apples, cored and diced, 80g fresh grated ginger, 1 chopped onion, 2 cinnamon sticks, juice of 1 lemon, 50g sugar, 200ml cider vinegar, ½ tsp table salt, thyme, nutmeg.
Place raisins and half the cider in a small pan. Simmer gently until the raisins are very plump (15–20 mins). Put the other ingredients except the nutmeg, into a larger pan, add raisins cider mix, and cook gently until the apples are soft. Remove the cinnamon and blend until smooth. Grate the nutmeg liberally over the top, mix.


GENERAL NICE SITES:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/394706-does-dieting-make-you-fat/ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2005983/Why-biscuit-Doctors-reveal-science-hunger-pangs–them.html

[1] http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/june-2013-cravings.html.
See also http://www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2013/07/how-to-prevent-binge-eating
[2] http://www.livestrong.com/article/331092-roles-of-leptin-and-ghrelin-in-obesity/
[3] http://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/08/06/15207/critic-artificial-sweeteners-pilloried-industry-backed-scientists?utm_campaign=syndication&utm_source=yahoo-news&utm_medium=continue-reading-link
http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/08/05/whats-wrong-with-artificial-sweeteners; http://www.drbriffa.com/2009/12/10/losing-the-taste-for-sweetness-trumps-using-healthy-sweeteners-in-my-book/
http://www.drbriffa.com/2009/06/25/effective-strategies-for-combating-carb-cravings/
[4] See also http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/why-skim-milk-will-make-you-fat-and/
[5] www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/10/05/food-for-thought-the-evils-of-saturated-fats/
www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2009/06/06/saturated-fat/
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdist0zlJ_E
Detailed: www.marksdailyapple.com/saturated-fat-healthy/#axzz2vAXjKkLz
And many more sites on request!
[6] http://www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2014/09/stop-dieting

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 11.27.09

For many more subjects in the health-and-food category, see http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk, in the archive on the right hand side.

February 2015

SHOULD I TAKE SUPPLEMENTS?

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 10.45.10
No. If you are regularly eating locally grown food, which has not been sent all over the world and then kept on the shelves for ages, ideally organic, you needn’t take supplements at all.
Unless, maybe, if:
you are old,
or suffer from some form of malabsorption,
or you are pregnant,
or you never get outside [1],
or maybe you are recovering from an illness,
or desperately warding one off,
or you are taking certain medications [2],
or are often very stressed.
you take sugar, which depletes vitamins and minerals [3]
and/or lots of coffee, which does the same. [4]
That makes all of us?
Not really – and there are major drawbacks to getting your nutrients artificially.
When you get your vits/mins from whole foods, it is very hard indeed to go over the top. But when you get them from supplements, you easily get too many. Taking too much of, say, magnesium, calcium or vitamin D, is as bad as taking too little and can cause serious trouble. [5] Always start with the lowest dose.
Many vitamins and minerals interact: if you take supplements of one, you may decrease absorption of another. Whereas natural food provides a whole array of nutrients, geared to work together to supply you exactly with what you need, and help you absorb it. [6]
If you do decide that your intake needs a boost, it’s important to get the right supplements. Here are some websites to help – they are all American, but so far I have not been able to find decent advise in this respect which is not linked to a particular supplier. It is my experience though that, in general,  unfortunately it’s best to go for the expensive ones! [7]PS For fitness nerds, http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/03/27/what-supplements-should-i-take/ gives extensive and trustworthy information, though, again, geared for the US.
PPS: A new company delivers ‘organic or locally grown fruit and veg to customers in Chard and surroundings. Give them a try! See http://www.facebook.com/rootsofchard.

TO SOW/PLANT:
If the weather is suitable: garlic, broad beans, spring onions, shallots, early peas, carrots, parsnips, green/red cabbage, onion sets. Apple trees, if the weather isn’t too severe and the ground not waterlogged or frozen.

TO EAT:
veg: beet, purple sprouting broccoli, brussels, cabbage, carrots, chard, celeriac, garlic, kale, cavolo nero, leek, onion, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, rocket, spinach, swede, turnip, jerusalem artichoke, chicory, corn salad, endive, kohlrabi, salsify, winter purslane.
meat: goose, mallard, partridge, pheasant, venison.
fish: bib, cockles, crab, dab, flounder, lobster, mackerel, oysters, pollack, scallops, seabass, whiting. supplements-should-i-take/ gives extensive and trustworthy information, though, again, geared for the US.

PPS: A new company delivers ‘organic or locally grown fruit and veg to customers in Chard and surroundings. Give them a try! See www.facebook.com/rootsofchard.

 

RECIPES

LENTIL KALE SOUP
240ml chopped onion, 2.4l water/stock, 240ml dried brown lentils, 480ml potatoes cut into cubes, 2-4 sliced carrots, 100-200g kale, weighed after removing the thick stems; sausages, seasoning, mint. 
Chop kale finely. Cook onion with the sausages, stir until the onion is tender. Heat water/stock, add lentils and simmer for 30-60 mins until the lentils are soft but not mushy. Stir in potatoes and carrots, simmer for 15 mins. Add sausage-onion mix. Stir in the kale 15 mins before serving. With whole grain bread.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS and HAZELNUT BUTTER, serves two.
20g chopped hazelnuts, 20g softened butter, 300g brussels sprouts, salt, black pepper.
Dry fry nuts till golden. Mix into softened butter. Cook sprouts in salted water until done to your liking. Drain, mix with hazelnut butter, season.

POTATO-CHESTNUT and CELERIAC PUREE 
700g floury potatoescut into 2.5cm pieces, 225g chopped celeriac or sliced celery, 170g cooked chestnuts, 1 large chopped onion, 1½ tblsp butter, 500ml water, celery leaves to garnish.
Sauté onion in half the butter until soft, add celeriac, potatoes, chestnuts water. Simmer covered for 15-20 minutes, or until the veg are very tender. Drain, reserve the liquid, mash.  Stir in the remaining butter, season, and enough of the cooking liquid to achieve the desired consistency. Garnish with celery leaves. This is delicious accompanied by fried slices of cooking apple.

VEGETARIAN KALE HASH with CASHEWS and BRIE (plain cheddar will work too) 
600g kale after taking out hard nerves, 1k potatoes, 150g unsalted cashew nuts, 200g Brie, salt, milk, lots of butter. 
Clean potatoes and cut up. Wash kale, take out nerves, cut finely. Bring water to the boil, add potatoes, put kale on top, with some butter and salt. Turn heat down, simmer for 20 mins until the potatoes are soft, drain. Grease oven dish. Cut brie in slices of ab.1 cm. Mix in nuts, put in dish, spread brie on top. Put in preheated oven (180°C) for 15 mins until brie has melted.

WINTER VEGETABLE PASTA with WHITE WINE and CHEESE 6 servings
200g (butternut) squash cut into 1cm cubes, 150g young kale coarsely chopped, 2 large diced carrots, 225g wholewheat linguine, 2 tblsp olive oil, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 3 sliced shallots or 1 onion, thyme, 240ml white wine, 240g grated mature cheese, salt, pepper.
Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Sauté shallot, garlic, squash, and carrots, in oil, covered, until soft, ab. 7 mins. Add thyme, season. Add kale, cover, cook until kale wilts down, 2 mins or longer. Add wine, cook for 5 mins, let it reduce. Season. Add pasta, 40ml of the cooking water, and 180g cheese. Stir. Top with remaining cheese.

CABBAGE, APPLE  and RAISIN DELIGHT
5 cup chopped green cabbage, 4 cubed apples, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, (1/4 cup ground flax seed), cinnamon, 1 cup water.
Put everything in a pan and cook on low heat for 15 mins. You could add 1/2 cup of chopped onion and some curry powder.

WHITING (or other white fish) with COCONUT and APPLE SAUCE  
675g whiting fillets, 75 g creamed/shredded coconut; 2 cooking apples; 1 large chopped onion, 1 tsp salt; 300 ml water; 2 tsp curry; 2 tsp coriander; 2 tblsp oil; 1 tsp cumin, seasoning.
Softly fry onion in oil mins until soft. Peel, core and slice apples into pan. Add coconut, salt, water, curry, coriander and cumin. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Season. Cut fish into large chunks, add to sauce and simmer uncovered for 10 mins until it flakes easily. You may have to add a little bit more water. Serve with some grain (like bulgur, millet, rice) mixed with peas.

SPICED APPLE and BEETROOT CAKE
300g grated cooked beet, 300g diced cooking apples, 100g cream cheese, 185g self-raising flour; 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp nutmeg, 200g brown sugar; 185g melted/cooled butter, 3 eggs, honey, sScreen Shot 2015-06-20 at 10.40.46oftened butter. 
Sift flour, spices, sugar. Whisk eggs and butter, add grated beet. Add to dry ingredients, stir in gently. Add apple, stir again. Grease cake tin, pour in the mix. Bake at 180° for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Cool. Mix cream cheese, softened butter, honey and vanilla extract or something like that. Smear on, decorate with apple slices if you like.


[1] Vitamin D is considered very important these days. So don’t always cover up, or slash on the sunscreen. For sunscreen-in-your-food, see http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/april-12-food-as-sunscreen.html. And there is always the oily fish!
[2] They can change how your body processes nutrients. Ask your doctor.
[3] http://bitesizednutrition.com/2011/01/sugar-the-nutrient-depleter/
[4] http://www.livestrong.com/article/536960-does-coffee-deplete-nutrients/
[5] Email me for info if you’re interested.
[6] http://www.livestrong.com/article/354775-why-food-is-better-than-supplements/. For folate/folic acid, see http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/folic-acid-making-us-sick/
[7] http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/how-to-evaluate-vitamins-supplements?page=2; and http://www.drwhitaker.com/choosing-the-best-supplements-to-take

For many more subjects in the health-and-food category, see http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk, in the archive on the right hand side.