January 2018: keep your teeth

Are there things we can we do to keep our teeth in better state, for longer? 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 effects.
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 its natural form is good for you, beware of taking tablets. In 2012 it was found that chewable vitamin C tablets, gums and powdered supplements significantly increase dental erosion. They affect our teeth in the same way soft drinks and orange juice do: they all contain acid, which dissolves calcium. Swallowed pills, 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 brushing [b].
For the same reasons, 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, and 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 all 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 [g]. Exercise, too, helps or 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 [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].

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.

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, 45 mins. Thin soup with more water if necessary. Season.

CABBAGE, CHEESE and APPLE CASSEROLE for 6.
60g butter, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped head cabbage, 3 sliced tart apples, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 60ml milk, 1360ml grated cheddar.
Melt butter, add onion, cabbage, apples, salt and pepper and sautee 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
A plucked or skinned pheasant, beetroot, apples, onion, thyme, bay leaves, salt.
Joint 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 beets raw (use cooked ones if you like). Grate carrots, dice garlic. Heat water to poach the egg. Saute beet for a few mins, then add garlic and grated carrot. Cook 2 more mins, while poaching an 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 1cm pieces. Melt butter, add swede. Stir so they get coloured all round: then pour in stock and bring to 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, thyme into pan. Slowly heat to just below boiling, remove from heat, leave to cool. Heat oven to 160°C. Butter a dish. Thinly slice parsnips and peeled, deseeded squash. Layer both in dish, put 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 bottom. Cut in half, and then into thin slices. Chop onion. Saute 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 sauteing, 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. Saute 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/

 

 

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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 cheapest 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 6 beers, 6 wine, or 7 50ml measures 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 archive on the right hand side: 2016.
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.

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: bread.

[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] http://www.drinkingandyou.com/site/uk/D&Yguidelines.pdf

 

 

 

October 2017: please have your dairy whole!

The tide has turned, finally. Recent research, the latest properly scientific advice, says:

“Consuming full-fat dairy products seems to REDUCE your risk of becoming obese.”
So starts an article in the New Scientist of February 2014. This statement, by leading nutritionist Professor Walter Willett, is the result of several recent studies, and an analysis of lots more.
Why is it taking so long for this message to come through to us consumers?
1) It’s not easy for ‘experts’ to admit that the advise they have been pumping out for decades was wrong.
2) More importantly: what does the industry do with the dream which was in all the low-fat products they so successfully got us to consume? There is money to be made, selling the butterfat for ice cream [1]!

Thanks to a deluge of new research suggesting that saturated dairy fat isn’t the death sentence doctors once claimed it to be (quite the opposite, in fact), science is, once again, proclaiming whole milk, yogurt, and cheese to be healthy diet must-haves.” [2]

“Contrary to current popular wisdom, full-fat dairy products may actually be better than low-fat varieties for keeping off weight, says Harvard School of Public Health nutrition expert professor Walter Willett.“ [3]

The dairy fat is not only more satiating (preventing overeating later in the day), but is nutrient dense and reduces inflammation, the primary cause of most chronic health conditions.” [4]

Eating full-fat dairy not only keeps your weight from going up: it also keeps your heart and bowels happier and brings down your sugar intake [5]. After all, how do they get all that skim stuff to taste nice? Indeed by adding sugar, or, worse, sweeteners [6].
Last but not least, having your dairy with its natural fat, reduces your diabetes risk. A study, conducted over 15 years by Tufts University, found that people who eat the most dietary fat have a 46% lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes [7].

By the way, the idea that you shouldn’t drink milk when you have a cold is a total myth. It does not produce phlegm! See https://www.askdoctork.com/do-vitamin-c-or-milk-have-an-effect-on-colds-201212113882.

EAT:
veg: celeriac, turnip, beet, broccoli, cabbage, calabrese, carrots, cauliflower, chard, fennel, kohlrabi, runner beans, salsify/scorzonera, spinach, tomatoes, Jerusalem/globe artichokes, brussels’, chicory, endive, swede, celery, corn salad, leek, peas/mange tout, courgettes, marrow, pumpkin/squash, (white) radish, rocket, spring onions, watercress, sweetcorn.
meat: rabbit, goose, grouse, guinea fowl, partridge, pheasant, wood pigeon, duck, venison, squirrel.
fish: crab, clam, cuttlefish, lobster, mackerel, mussels, scallop, sprats, cockles, black bream, gurnard, winkle, pollack, grey mullet, American signal crayfish.

SOW:
broad beans, land cress, round seeded peas, chinese leaves, corn salad, winter purslane, winter lettuce.
Plant rhubarb sets; spring cabbage; garlic; autumn onion sets if the weather is good. The garlic should be suited for autumn planting. Don’t use your old cloves! Plant out spring cabbage and, in South England, cabbages and winter/spring lettuce.
What else can you still do in the garden? See www.thompson-morgan.com/what-to-do-in-the-garden-in-october.

WHIPPED CAULIFLOWER with CREME FRAîCHE, serves 4-6.
1 head cauli chopped into florets, 60ml stock, 2 large garlic cloves, 60ml grated mature cheese, 1salt, black pepper, 2 tblsp crème fraîche*, chives.
Cook cauli and garlic till very soft; 15 mins. Mash or blend. Add the cheese, fold in crème fraîche and season. Serve hot, with chives on top.
*Try find wholefat creme fraiche if at all possible: the fat is good for you – see above – and helps absorb the other nutrients.

SAUTEED SPINACH with GARLIC and WHITE WINE, serves 2.
250g spinach, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 tblsp olive oil, 130ml (cheap) white wine.
Heat oil: when hot but not smoking, toss in garlic and move it around constantly. When it becomes fragrant (very quickly), drop all the spinach into the pan and stir. Once it begins to wilt slightly, pour wine over it. Don’t cook it for too long – you want the leaves to still be bright green when you take it off.

SPAGHETTI with ANCHOVIES, CHILLI and GARLIC, serves 2.
200g spaghetti (or linguine or tagliatelle), extra-virgin olive oil, 6-8 anchovy fillets in oil (or 10-12 if you love them), 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped or chilli powder, 2 sliced cloves garlic, salt, lots of parsley.
Cook spaghetti al dente. Meanwhile, heat oil very gently in a heavy-bottomed small deep pan (you can use oil from the anchovy tin). Add anchovies and chilli and cook for 2 mins, crushing the anchovies. Add garlic, cook for 30-60 secs: don’t let it colour. Mix in the drained pasta. Transfer to warmed dishes. Give the pasta some extra oil and freshly ground pepper, and serve with the chopped parsley on top.

FISH – any fish – for one.
A fish, 1 tblsp grated coconut, roughly 1 tblsp tomato puree, lemon juice, oil/butter.
Heat the oil/butter slightly in a frying pan, add the (boned) fish and some salt. Sauté it slightly, add the tomato puree, coconut and a bit of water. Put a lid on, cook till done. By then there should not be much liquid left, just enough for a sauce. Squeeze over some lemon juice. Done.

ITALIAN RABBIT
Rabbit in pieces, olive oil/butter, 3 large onions, 1 tsp paprika powder, 150g tomato puree, 1.5 tblsp flour, vinegar, thyme, oregano, parsley.
Fry the rabbit, season. Put in large pot, strew over flour. Sauté onions slightly in the rabbit pan, then add to the meat. Just cover with water, let stew for 40 mins. Add some vinegar, herbs, and stew slowly for 20 more mins.

GARLIC CHILLI BEEF HEART serves 2 (main) or 4 (appetizer).
1lb beef heart (trimmed of fat and silver skin), 2 large cloves garlic, 1 tsp chilli paste or some powder, 2 tblsp olive oil, butter.
Combine mashed garlic, chilli paste and olive oil, mix. Pour over trimmed beef heart and mix till all the meat is covered. Let sit overnight (or two nights). Heat a good amount of butter. Place strips of beef heart in heated pan in an even layer. Don’t crowd the pan or you won’t get the desired sear. Cook until it’s starting to brown, about 2 mins, then flip and cook until just cooked through, another 2 mins. Serve very hot in a sandwich, or on a salad. Good with beer.

WARM APPLE-CABBAGE SLAW
360ml shredded cabbage, 1 sliced apple, 1/4 cup broth or water, cider (or other nice) vinegar, seasalt. Herbs/spices as liked (such as coriander, cumin, caraway, fennel, bay, juniper, thyme, paprika powder, savory, thyme, marjoram).
Cook cabbage and apple in the liquid until soft. Stir in vinegar and salt.

FRIED MARROW, CARROT and ONION with SOUR CREAM
1/2 – 1 marrow, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 2-3 tblsp sour cream, parsley, salt, pepper.
Peel and cube marrow, add salt and fry for 15 mins. Cut carrot very fine, onion too, add salt, fry these separate from the marrow for 10 mins. Mix all together, add pepper, fry 5 mins. Switch off fire, add sour cream. Serve with parsley on top.

Next month: love your heart!

[1] http://butterbeliever.com/fat-free-dairy-skim-milk-secrets/
[2] https://www.wellandgood.com/good-food/full-fat-dairy-good-for-you/
[3] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/full-fat-dairy-may-reduce-obesity-risk/
http://healthland.time.com/2013/07/03/skim-milk-is-healthier-than-whole-milk-right-maybe-not/
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/09/low-fat-whole-milk-usda-dietary-guidelines
http://www.dairymoos.com/health-benefits-of-the-milk-fat-globule-membrane/
[4] http://culturalhealthsolutions.com/is-full-fat-dairy-ok/
[5] http://health.usnews.com/wellness/food/articles/2016-10-28/5-reasons-to-start-eating-full-fat-dairy-according-to-science
[6] See Thought for Food August 2017 (click on the right hand side of the page).
[7] http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/04/18/474403311/the-full-fat-paradox-dairy-fat-linked-to-lower-diabetes-risk

 

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.

March 2015

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March: first of the Hungry Gap months. Nowadays, most of us deal with that by buying foreign or greenhoused fare. But in fact there is enough to be had locally: from the garden, or from the farmers’ (or even super-) market fresh or stored, to keep you nicely filled. [1]

Did you know that many storeable foods get sweeter over time? Swedes, parsnips, potatoes, apples, squash – personally I don’t like them so much in the autumn, when they are still young. They do improve with maturity. A little bit like people, sometimes?

  • PURPLE SPROUTING BROCCOLI [1] 
  • WINTER SQUASH [2]
  • SPRING ONIONS
    CAULIFLOWER [3]
  • PARSNIPS [4]
  • SPRING GREENS [5]
  • WATERCRESS [6]
  • KALE AND CAVOLO NERO [7]
  • RADISH – pink and, still going, black! [8]

As you can see below, there are still plenty of other winter veg which are still perfectly edible, as long as they have been kept cool throughout. Beware of leeks which still look good but are now starting to bolt: there is a subtle change in taste which makes me, for one, dislike them.

If you want your food this month to be not just cheap but completely free, have a look at http://www.wildfooduk.com: dandelions, nettles and seakale (right) are just a few of the wild things you can find if you know where to look. In your garden for instance!

To grow something interesting which you can eat next March, try sowing salsify or scorzonera in April. And my stalwart, black radish, keeps me going throughout the winter till the first little red ones are ready. Sow these in August.

To have fresh greens now, when you really want them, sow corn salad and American land cress (sharp) the end of August or September.

SOW:
broad beans, early carrots, early Brussels, parsnips, maincrop 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: 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.

RECIPES

BROCCOLI OMELETTE with TOMATO SAUCE for two.
200g (purple sprouting) broccoli, onion, 4 eggs, seasoning. For the sauce: 1 tblsp butter, 2 tblsp flour, tomato puree, 250ml stock/water, seasoning.
To make the sauce: melt butter, add flour, stir. Very slowly add the liquid while stirring all the time. Add as much tomato puree as you like, season, cook through.

Cook broccoli in a little salted water for 7 mins. Chop onion, sauté for a minute while stirring, add drained broccoli and sauté 2 more minutes still stirring. Beat eggs with fork, season, pour on top of veg, stir for 1/2 a minute and leave to solidify. Turn upside down for just a few secs, serve with sauce. You can use cheese sauce instead if you like.

NETTLE SOUP
Half a carrier of stinging nettle tops or fresh-looking larger leaves; 50g butter, 1 large finely chopped onion, 1l water/stock, 1 large cubed potato, 1 large chopped carrot, sea salt, pepper, 2 tbsp crème fraîche, few drops of olive oil and tabasco. And maybe some ginger if you like it. 
Sort through the nettles, discarding thick stalks. Wash and drain. Melt butter, add onion and cook gently until softened.  Add stock, potato and carrot. Bring to a simmer, add nettles and cook until the potato is soft. Puree, season. Ladle into warmed bowls and float a tsp of creme fraiche on top.

APPLE-CELERIAC DISH
450g celeriac weighed after cleaning; 1 cooking and 1 eating apple; finely chopped shallots or diced onion, ½ pt dry cider, herbs (bay, sage, rosemary, thyme), salt, pepper, butter or 1 tblsp crème fraiche or cream. 
Cut celeriac and apple in bite-size pieces. Fry shallots/onion in butter for a couple of minutes, add celeriac. After some 10 mins add cider and herbs, cook till the celeriac is nearly soft. Add the apple pieces and cook some more. It’s ready when the celeriac is soft and the apples still hold a bit of shape. Cook without lid if it is still too liquid. Season and add more butter or a spoonful of crème fraiche/cream. Nice with couscous and cheese grated on top, or smoked fish, pork or chicken.

APPLE-ROASTED CHICKEN for 6: gluten-free.
1 chicken cut into pieces, 120ml apple cider, 3 cooking apples, rosemary, sage, 1½ tsp sea salt, ¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper.
Cut up apples and cook in the cider till soft. Preheat oven to 190°C. Arrange chicken pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the salt, pepper, rosemary and sage. Place in the oven and roast for 15 mins. Baste the chicken with cider mix. Roast for another 15 mins. Baste again with the cooking juices and roast for 15 more mins. Let rest for 5 mins before serving. Very good with oven-roasted squash and onions.

BROCCOLI-PUMPKIN STIR-FRY
400g pumpkin, 500g (purple-sprouting) broccoli, bacon, butter, coriander seeds. 
Dry-roast coriander, grind. Cook pumpkin and broccoli in a little water for 7 mins, drain. Heat butter, add bacon and fry slowly for a few mins, then add veg and ground coriander. Fry till done, season.

CABBAGE and SWEDE Cabbage, swede, onion, cooking apple, cumin (if you like), butter. 
Chop everything. Put swede in cold water, not too much, bring to boil, cook till not quite done. Add cabbage. Meanwhile, saute onion and apple. When swede and cabage are just about cooked, add them to onion/apple pan, along with the cumin. Stir till everything is done. Nice with a pasty for a simple meal.

BRAISED PUMPKIN
250ml coarsely grated pumpkin, 1 chopped onion, 1tbsp soy, (1tbsp apple juice), 120ml water/stock, pepper, (salt).
Put liquid, soy, juice, onions, pumpkin in pan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat. Simmer for 10-12 mins, season.

WHITING with HONEYED APPLES
(You can use other firm white fish like grey mullet, pollack, snapper, grouper, coley)
4x150g fillets of fish, 4 cooking apples – cored and cut into thin wedges, 115g butter, 90g honey, 40g flour, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper, 500ml dried bread crumbs, 1 beaten egg.

Melt half the butter, fry apples until tender. Stir in honey, reduce heat, and keep warm. Mix flour, salt, and pepper in bowl. Place bread crumbs in another shallow bowl, and egg in another. Melt rest of butter. Dip fish in flour, egg, and bread crumbs. Place in the hot pan, and cook for 3-4 mins per side. The fillets should be brown and flake easily. Place on serving dish, and spoon apples over the top

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[1] www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/mar/01/purple-sprouting-broccoli-recipes, www.bbc.co.uk/food/purple_sprouting_broccoli
[2] whatscookingamerica.net/squash.htm
[3] www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/apr/06/seasonal-food-cauliflower
[4] www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/20/seasonal-food-parsnip
[5] www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/spring-greens
[6] www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/mar/30/seasonal-food-watercress
[7] www.discoverkale.co.uk/what-is-cavolo-nero
[8] For black radish recipes, see www.mariquita.com/recipes/black%20spanish%20radish.htm. Black radish is great for your health: see www.outofstress.com/black-radish-benefits/. Personally I peel them as otherwise I find them too sharp. Always keep black radish (cool) in paper bags, not in plastic or in the fridge.

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.