A friend came up the other day and said: “I read your piece about sugar and how lethal it is. I practically live on sugary stuff. And I’m not doing badly, am I?” He was just about to cycle up the hill, and well in his 70s.
I am sure there are many who react like that to my sermons. Something is supposedly bad for us, but you notice no ill effects at all.
Of course, there may well be effects which you – and any doctors you care to consult – attribute to passing bacteria, ‘life’ or old age.
However, there are plenty of foodstuffs which are bad for some but not for others.
So what’s going on? Why does the way foods affect people vary so?
a) We are born different, each with their own genes. Even when very young we thrive, or not, on different foods: allergies are a clear example.
b) Right from the start, life treats us differently. These allergies for instance, if not innate, could also have been caused by overprotection against dirt , or by the chemicals in your laundry softener .
c) They – everything! – can also be psychosomatic. For instance, any kind of disease can be a way of getting attention from parents who are otherwise engaged, busy, or not interested.
d) Then we get ill, if only to develop our immune systems. How illnesses are dealt with when we’re young will also affect our further lives.
e) And nowadays: you get a headache. Take an aspirin. A tummy upset, can’t sleep, get a cold, flu, a backache: take a pill. We so often self-medicate, without addressing the cause of the problem, or indeed being aware of it.
Does it matter?
I think so. Pills have side effects, and small dis-eases can change into big ones.
But you’ll say: “Who has time or inclination, to hunt down the cause of every little twinge?”
Not many. However, there are some things you can do.
When the cause is obvious, try and address it in the long term.
Stress, overwork – we rarely can, or need to, change our lives overnight. But tiny improvements, babysteps, help more than you expect.
Our intuition will often tell us what’s wrong, and the more attention we pay to our intuition, the better it works. Spending just a little bit of time on it, may give us ideas on how to improve things, if only marginally.
For me, going for walks often gives me ideas. Or chatting to a friend. Maybe listening to beautiful music. Anything, really, bar watching the telly, working some more or playing computer games!
And what about that sugar? Or the coffee, snacks, drink, whatever it is which bothers some people and not – apparently – others?
I know what they do to me. I’ve looked up what they can do to others. But what they do to you, if anything – only you yourself can find that out.
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 http://www.gametoeat.co.uk/
And don’t forget to pick up those lovely chestnuts!
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.
CREAMY KOHLRABI SOUP
2 tblsp butter, ab. 600g kohlrabi, 1 chopped onion, 1100ml water/stock, 100ml milk, 1 bay leaf, salt, black pepper.
Sauté onions and cook gently until soft, some 10 minutes. Add kohlrabi and cook for 2 mins. Add stock, milk, bay, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 25 mins or until kohlrabi is tender. Remove bay, blend, season.
CREAMED (SAVOY) CABBAGE, serves 1. Fantastic with roast pheasant!
¼ savoy cabbage, core removed and shredded, 1 tblsp butter, 2 tblsp crème fraîche, salt, black pepper (bacon), any herbs or spices you like.
Steam cabbage with herbs/spices for a minute or two, until just a little crunchier than you’d like. Drain and sauté gently in butter for a minute. Add crème fraîche, stir and season. Add chopped bacon if using, and stir.
CURRIED SQUASH/PUMPKIN with WINTER GREENS
ab. 300g cleaned squash meat, 4 tblsp butter, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1/4 tsp garam masala or curry powder, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cinnamon or cardamom, 1 tsp sea salt, 2 tblsp olive oil, (cayenne); ab. 250g cleaned greens like: kale, cabbage, chard, etc.; 2 tblsp water.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease large baking sheet. Mix spices and salt, set aside. Peel squash, discard seeds. Chop into 1-2cm cubes. Melt 2 tbsp butter, add spices and sauté for 2-3 mins until the flavours release. Don’t let it smoke!
Turn off the heat, add squash, mix well. Spread this evenly onto a greased baking sheet – keep the spicy pan for reuse. Bake squash for ab. 10 mins at 200°C. Take out, stir, and put back for 10-15 mins until soft and starting to brown.
MASHED POTATO with CHEESE and LEEK BUTTER for 3.
1 leek, 60g butter, 1 grated clove of garlic, 1.5-2 tbsp crème fraîche, 400g floury potatoes, 300g grated cheese.
Boil potatoes in salted water. Don’t use a food processor because it makes them go gluey.
Split the leek lengthways and trim off tough tips. Wash and chop finely. Melt butter and add the leek – let it simmer gently, until tender. Drain potatoes, turn heat down very low. Stir in the garlic and crème fraîche with a wooden spoon, then the cheese. Taste for salt and serve immediately with the leek butter ladled over the top or stirred in, whichever you prefer. You can add crisp fried smoked streaky bacon if you like.
STIR FRIED CAVOLO NERO with APPLE and CHEESE
250g shredded cavolo nero (weighed after taking out the ribs), 140g mature cheese, 1 large or 2 small cooking apples, 1 diced red onion, 200g cooked cannelini* beans or a 410g tin beans, drained, ginger, cayenne.
Cut cheese into small cubes. Steam or cook cavolo for 5 mins, drain. Meanwhile, fry onion, sliced apple, beans and spices for a few minutes. Add cavolo nero and season. Stir fry till done to your liking.
You can add some sliced cooked potatoes to the frying pan, to make it a full meal.
*Can be replaced by navy beans, flageolets or any white beans.
SAUTEED SPINACH with PINE NUTS and WHITE WINE
450g spinach, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 80ml dry white wine, 2 tbsp lightly toasted pine nuts, (60ml mature cheese), pinch of nutmeg, salt, pepper.
Wash spinach and dry very roughly. Heat oil, add spinach a few handfuls at a time, stir. Add garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper, stir. Add wine, cover immediately and reduce heat to low. Let cook for 2-3 mins, longer if you use perpetual spinach. To serve, sprinkle with (cheese if you like and) freshly ground pepper: garnish with pine nuts.
GARLIC BUTTER ROAST MUSHROOMS
450g mushrooms, halved if large, 3 large minced garlic cloves, 2 tblsp oil, 3 tblsp butter, 2 tsp lemon juice, thyme, chopped parsley, (2 tblsp rinsed and chopped capers).
Heat oven to 230 °C, toss mushrooms with garlic, oil, pepper in a shallow dish. Top with bits of butter and roast, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes or till they are tender and golden. Stir in lemon and parsley. Serve immediately (with nice bread to wipe up the juices).
TAGLIATELLE with CREAMY STILTON SAUCE for 3.
145g Stilton, 150ml cream, salt, pepper, 2 tbsp chopped parsley, 1250g tagliatelle or spaghetti.
Cook, drain pasta. Crumble Stilton into a pan, add cream. Heat slowly until cheese has melted, season. Add pasta, parsley too. Serve immediately.
And you don’t have to be paleo to like “45 GRAIN-FREE PUMPKIN RECIPES”!
For many more health-and-food subjects, see http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk, in the archive on the right hand side.