August 2017: did you know?

Guess which one had the aspartame? Yes, the one on the left …….

* Did you realise what happens when you consume aspartame? Ordinary sugar is actually better for you, even if it does have a few more calories:
Often, like other sweeteners, aspartame is not listed on labels, because Quantitative Ingredient Declarations are not required for any ingredient weighing less than 2% of the total. And the amount they add is not very much, as it is 200 times sweeter than sugar [1]!
It’s also cheaper to produce than sugar, and therefore more and more used in non-diet full-fat products as well [1].

* Now is the perfect time to sow green manures like vetch, clover or phacelia:

* “As a general rule it’s a whole lot easier to slap a health claim on a box of sugary cereal than on a raw potato or a carrot. The result is that the most healthful foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke victims – while a few aisles further down, Cereal the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are screaming their newfound “whole-grain goodness” to the rafters.” Michael Pollan, In-Defense-of-Food:

* An interesting article about the difference between ‘salts that heal and salts that kill’ – namely table salt and proper sea salt. And why we desperately need this proper salt: See also Thought Oct 2015:

* Save money and buy quality, local food: if there is a Farmers’ Market anywhere nearby, and you can go there at the right time, that’s where you should go to buy your bread, veg, meat and fish. Check on the internet whether there is one near you.

* There are plenty of flowers around at this time of the year. And quite a few are edible: see

* Organ meats are good for us. Unfortunately, we got out of the habit:

* Did you know that taking too many supplements can hurt? You have to be careful in particular with calcium and vitamins A and D. Melissa Young MD tells us how, and what to do about it:

* Butter, real butter, is good for you. The experts who tell you different are generally in the pay of Becel-Clover-Flora and their ilk directly or indirectly [2].
And once you’re older, don’t let them tell you to spread it thinly. As we age, many of us need more fat to make our guts run smoothly. Just cut down on the crisps, or whatever you tend to go for ….

* And if the only reason you buy that Clover or Flora is so that you can spread it straight from the fridge, rejoice! See

veg: aubergines, french/runner/broad beans, calabrese, cauli, cucumbers, fennel, chard, spinach (beet), summer squash, sweetcorn, globe artichokes, beet, carrots, courgettes, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, peppers, radish, turnip, marrow, tomatoes, spring onions, salsify/scorzonera, samphire, rocket, watercress.
Cheap, free range good-for-you meat: rabbit and wood pigeon. Puffballs!
Fish is excellent at this time of year: mackerel, black bream, crab, grey mullet, trout, scallops, sea bass, flounder.

Chinese cabbage, spring cabbage, chicory, kohl rabi, lettuce for harvesting November/December, quick variety peas, mooli (=white) and black radish, chard, spinach beet. Lamb’s lettuce (corn salad), rocket and especially land cress will survive the winter.
Perpetual spinach, (spinach beet, or leaf beet) tastes as good as ‘true’ spinach, is more forgiving of soil and weather and doesn’t go to seed so quickly. Sow now for winter/spring crop.
Early August only: chard, florence fennel, spring onions, turnip.
And don’t forget that for successful winter growing, many seeds can still be sown this time of the year, in late summer/early autumn: see

PEAS with BRAISED LETTUCE for 1 or 2.
Half a head of (cos) lettuce, 2 tblsp butter, a thinly sliced shallot, ab.150ml stock, 100g (frozen) peas.
Chop the lettuce into small pieces. Sauté the shallot for a minute, add lettuce, sauté for another minute. Add stock, bring to a simmer.  Add peas, cook covered for a short while. Season if necessary. Garnish with, for instance, heavy cream, mint, grated carrots or lemon juice.

FRENCH BEANS with HAZELNUTS for 2-4 people.
225g French beans, 75-100ml lightly toasted coarsely chopped hazelnuts, 1 1⁄2 tblsp butter, salt, freshly ground black pepper.
Bring some salted water to the boil and cook the beans in the normal way. Sauté the nuts in butter, add the beans, stir and heat through; season and serve immediately.

400g runner beans, 1 onion, 200g cooked kidney beans: if from a can, rinse, drain. If frozen, defrost. 10ml sesame oil (olive will do), 1tblsp soy sauce or tamari, 1tsp honey, 1tsp sesame seeds (optional), 1cm finely sliced fresh ginger or ½tsp ground ginger, maybe a squirt of fresh lemon juice.
Trim the runner beans. Slice into strips 1cm wide, 6cm long. Precook till nearly done. Slice onion finely. Blend soy/tamari, honey, sesame seeds, ginger (and lemon juice). Sauté onion in oil, stir regularly for 3-5 minutes, until nearly soft. Add runner and kidney beans: stir and cover. Cook for about 3 mins, until the runner beans are tender. Add sauce, heat through.

900g runner beans, 3 onions, 1 large potato, water, 50ml milk, sour cream, mint, olive oil.
Chop onions and fry in oil until they turn clear. Prepare beans and add to the onions. Chop the potato into chunks; add, plus some mint cut finely. Cook gently for a few mins. Add enough water to cover. Simmer for 20 mins, add the milk. When it’s all done, blend. Add liquid if the soup is too thick. Add sour cream, croutons and chopped mint to each bowl.

700g French beans, 25g butter, 1 small chopped onion, 1 tsp paprika, salt, pepper, 150ml water, 145ml sour cream.
Top and tail the beans, cut into 2.5cm lengths. Melt butter, sauté the onion gently for few mins until soft but not brown. Add half the paprika, the beans, stock, salt and pepper, bring to the boil and cook for 10 mins until the beans are tender. Take off the heat, stir in sour cream, reheat without boiling. Dust the top with the rest of the paprika.

250g spinach, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 tblsp olive oil, 130ml (cheap) white wine.
Heat the oil: when hot but not smoking, toss in the garlic. Move it around constantly. Once it becomes fragrant (very quickly!), drop all the spinach into the pan and stir. When this 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.

COURGETTE PASTA in CREAM CHEESE SAUCE (with peas or green beans)
450g grated courgettes, 120g cream cheese, (any peas or green beans), 340g uncooked pasta (maybe a bit less if you add peas/beans), 2 finely chopped cloves garlic, 125ml milk, butter/oil, chopped basil, salt and pepper, some grated mature cheese, (thyme, cream).
Cook the pasta in lightly salted water, along with the peas or beans. Drain. Sauté garlic and courgettes for 10 mins, until some of the moisture has evaporated. Add milk to the frying pan and stir in the cream cheese. Warm through. Mix in basil. Season and sprinkle with cheese. Serve over the pasta. If you are going to freeze it, leave the cheese out and stir it in when reheating. I had it with sugar peas cooked in with the pasta: delicious. You can also add some cream at the last minute.

LETTUCE and COTTAGE CHEESE (ideally full fat*!) on toast.
Cut up some lettuce (you can use roughish outside leaves), sauté in half butter half olive oil. Add some tomatoes, maybe part of a tin. Let cook for a few minutes. It’s important to season this well! lots of pepper and any spices/herbs you like. At the last moment add some cottage cheese, stir and heat everything together. In the meanwhile toast a slice of nice bread, put on top, no butter necessary.
A very healthy, and pleasant little meal indeed.
* The fat in here helps absorb the nutrients and is not fattening at all. ( and

Guess what’s in that packet? And yes, this is a mouse.

Next month: number two.




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