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:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/artificial-sweeteners-may-change-our-gut-bacteria-in-dangerous-ways/
http://www.eruptingmind.com/the-dangers-of-artificial-sweeteners/
http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/food/trying-lose-weight-stay-away-artificial-sweeteners
http://judyburgio.com/whats-the-problem-with-artificial-sweeteners/
http://www.activebeat.co/diet-nutrition/10-reasons-to-avoid-aspartame-at-all-costs/
http://www.holisticmed.com/aspartame/arthritis/

* Now is the perfect time to sow green manures like vetch, clover or phacelia: http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/green-manures.

* 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. http://www.jeffreywarber.com/hc%20pages/salt.html. See also Thought Oct 2015 (http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/october-2015-salt-ii.html).

* 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 http://www.oregonlive.com/hg/index.ssf/2012/06/10_of_the_best_edible_flowers.html.

* Organ meats are good for us. Unfortunately, we got out of the habit: https://wellnessmama.com/12579/organ-meats-healthy/.

* 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:
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/05/supplements-taking-many-can-hurt/.

* 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 [a], directly or indirectly.
And if you’re older, don’t let them tell you to spread it thinly! As you age, you need more fat to make your guts run smoothly. Just cut down on the After Eights!

* And if the only reason you buy that Clover or Flora is so that you can spread it straight from the fridge, rejoice! (http://metro.co.uk/2015/01/07/this-butter-mill-will-transform-your-cold-block-of-butter-into-beautiful-spreadable-ribbons-5012279/)


EAT:
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.

SOW:
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, there are many seeds which can be sown this time of the year, in late summer/early autumn: see http://www.verticalveg.org.uk/winter-growing-its-time-to-plan-and-sow/.



PEAS with BRAISED LETTUCE for 1 or 2.
Half a head of (cos) lettuce, 2 tblsp butter, thinly sliced shallot, ab.150ml stock, 100g (frozen) peas.
Chop the lettuce into small pieces. Saute the shallot for a minute, add lettuce, saute 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. Saute the nuts in butter, add the beans, stir and heat through; season and serve immediately.

RUNNER BEAN STIR FRY
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), ½“ 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). Saute 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.

RUNNER BEAN SOUP
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 potato into chunks, add, plus some mint torn into small pieces. 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 to each bowl, some croutons and chopped mint.

FRENCH BEANS with SOUR CREAM and PAPRIKA
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 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.

SAUTEED SPINACH with GARLIC and WHITE WINE
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 (can be roughish outside leaves), sauté in half butter half olive oil. Add some tomatoes, can be 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. (https://www.wellandgood.com/good-food/full-fat-dairy-good-for-you/slide/5/ and https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/full-fat-dairy-may-reduce-obesity-risk/)

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

[a] http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jan/23/margarine-butter-health-wars
http://www.seventhwaveuk.com/content/26-butter-or-margarine

July 2017: the immune system

Our immune system is responsible for preventing and fighting infections, germs and cancer. Located throughout the body, it includes, amongst many others: the thyroid, adrenal glands, and the intestinal system. The appendix, which is generally thought to be useless, is made entirely of immune tissue and contains the best and most useful bacteria for the gut.

Symptoms of immune disorders are frequent sickness, allergies, tiredness and fatigue; blood disorders, inflammation or infection of the internal organs; digestive issues, delayed growth and slow development.

Reasons why the immune system may not be functioning properly are, for instance: emotional stress, poor sleep, viral or bacterial infection, drug therapy, blood transfusions, surgery, overtraining, UV and other forms of radiation. So do smoking, alcohol, excessive use of medicines (antibiotics), a sedentary life, obesity.
And of course: bad diet!

How we can help
The state of our immune system is of vital importance for our wellbeing – and we can do a lot about it ourselves.

FOOD
Even small changes will make a big difference.
Try ditch processed foods, the usual culprit. Sugary snacks, soda, fried foods and red meats are best avoided. See [1].
Most lists of immune-boosting foods contain yoghurt, garlic, honey, mushrooms, tea, coloured vegetables, chicken soup and Ceylon or true cinnamon – see for yourself [2].

CLEANLINESS
We tend to be too clean! Both advertising and peer pressure make us clean ourselves and our environment far more than necessary. Not only do we damage the natural protection of microbes on our skin, we also add dangerous substances like triclosan, which is now found in practically all cleaning products [3]. For children in particular, it is important to come in contact with dirt. If you have been exposed to a variety of germs in your early years, you are far less likely to get allergies and asthma later [4].
And do we really need a shower every day? More and more, experts are coming to a different conclusion.
Some researchers think that by washing our skin on a daily basis we could be scrubbing off a natural shield. The harmless bacteria on our skin help form a barrier against microbes that are potentially harmful, says Elizabeth Grice from the University of Pennsylvania. They protect us, they educate the immune system, modulate the immune and inflammatory response and don’t allow pathogenic or opportunistic bacteria“ [5].
As well as getting a tiny bit dirtier, what else can you do? Lemon, cooking oil, vinegar and baking soda are just a few multipurpose cleaning items you may find in your closet. For how to use those, see [6].
As to shampoo – some do it differently. Heard of the No Poo movement? It’s not what you think …. [7].
And if you dislike the smell of Febreze type air fresheners, you’re absolutely right. Like so many similar products foisted upon us by the clean brigade, it produces a ‘fragrance’ which is both highly poisonous and impossible to get rid of [8].

Habits are very important, they keep us together in this life. But change is possible – and babysteps work!

EAT:
veg: beet, broad beans, carrots, chinese leaves, globe artichokes, kohlrabi, cauli, cabbage, (sugar) peas, beans, lettuce, sweetcorn, turnips, courgettes, broccoli, spring onions, squash, radish, tomatoes, samphire, spinach (beet), chard, endive.
fish: mackerel is at its best in July, cheap and an invaluable source of omega 3. Otherwise: dab, black bream, crab, mackerel, clam, dover sole, megrim sole, grey mullet, flounder and American signal crayfish.
meat: lamb, rabbit, wood pigeon.

SOW:
Chinese/spring cabbage, calabrese, carrots, chicory, coriander, endive, florence fennel, kohlrabi, salad onions, (mangetout/sugar snap) peas, mooli, pak choi, turnips, black and white radish (mooli), perpetual spinach, chard, parsley, beetroot, french beans, mini cauliflower, lettuce*.
End of the month: corn salad, black radish, endive, kohlrabi. Sowing kohlrabi late in July should supply them well into the winter. They will stand in the soil until needed.
Plant: kale, sprouts, leeks, winter cabbages, broccoli, calabrese, cauliflower.
*Remember: only crisp lettuce (little gem, cos, webb) germinates well when soil temperature goes above 25C.

FRENCH BEANS DIFFERENT, 2 servings.
250g French beans, stock, 2 tblsp fresh dill leaves, 2 tblsp chives, smallish onion, butter, pepper.
Mince dill and chives. Bring stock to the boil, add beans for 10 mins or until tender. Meanwhile, saute the onion in the butter. Pour the liquid off the beans, stir in chives and dill. Mix the bean mix with the sauteed onion, stir for a minute, season, done.

TOMATO and BERRY SALAD: an unusual combination, but both Mike and I liked it.
2 tbsp sherry or balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 300g really nice ripe tomatoes, 200g seasonal berries: raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, redcurrants, blueberries, white currants, chopped or left whole depending on size; 100g stale bread, 1 tbsp butter, seasoning. Fresh herbs like basil, dill, tarragon, parsley, chervil, chives, nasturtium.
Cut up the tomatoes, rather fine. Combine vinegar, soy and oil.
Gently toast the the breadcrumbs in a hot pan, add butter and keep toasting until golden. Season, let cool. Mix tomatoes and berries with the herbs and the dressing. Scatter with crumbs. (Nuno Mendes, Guardian)

MACKEREL with BROCCOLI and SPICY ANCHOVY SAUCE for 2.
Mackerel and broccoli for two; 3 anchovy fillets, 2 garlic cloves, 1 chilli (or powder), olive oil, (rosemary).
Chop three anchovy fillets, two cloves of garlic and one red chilli – mash to a near-paste. Melt the paste in a small frying pan with 2 tblsp of butter. Meanwhile, grill or sauté the mackerel in oil. Top with rosemary if you have it. Don’t add salt, because the sauce will supply that. Steam the broccoli, drain, then stir it into the anchovy sauce. Serve next to the mackerel.
Best with plain cooked potatoes, methinks.

LAMB’s HEART
A lovely cheap and easy dish, as long as you prepare beforehand. Every lamb has a heart, so if you ask your butcher he may well come up with one, if only from the freezer.
450g lamb or beef hearts.
For the marinade: 2 tblsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper and 1tsp thyme.
Trim the heart(s) and cut in 1.5 – 2cm cubes. Marinate for at for least 8 hrs. Grill, spreading out into a single layer, and let brown for a minute or two. Toss and let brown on the other sides for another minute; remove. Delicious.
For more recipes see June issues from former years – click on June 2017 on the right hand side.

If you’re lucky enough to have lots of parsley, try this parsley salad, It is not actually a salad in that you eat lots of it: best used as a sidedish/condiment with meat or fish.
PARSLEY SALAD
50g flat-leaf parsley (weighed without too much stem), 50g finely chopped red onion, 2 tbsp rinsed capers, 12 anchovy fillets, 50g chopped tomatoes, lemon zest, lemon juice, 4 tbsp extra virgin olive  oil, salt, pepper.
Chop parsley and fish, mix everything, season.
This is great to serve on toast, mixed with pasta or as a side dish with grilled chicken or fish.

LETTUCE MASH! for 3-4.  
What to do when you have bolting lettuces but not much else? Try this:
800g potatoes, 200g (just bolting) lettuce, 300g peas (after podding), 60g butter, salt.
Cook potatoes in not too much salted water; add peas 5 minutes before they are done. Add chopped lettuce, stir in and heat through thoroughly, drain, season. Add butter, mash.

Next issue: did you know?

[1] https://authoritynutrition.com/9-ways-that-processed-foods-are-killing-people/
http://www.healthy-eating-politics.com/processed-foods.html http://edition.cnn.com/2015/07/07/health/western-diet-health/index.html http://myeclinik.com/processed-foods-destroy-immune-system-scientists-confirmed/
http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/processed-foods-hurt-your-immune-system-and-gut-health/
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=faq&dbid=24
https://www.savorylotus.com/real-food-basics/
http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/5-foods-that-destroy-your-immune-system/. However: red meat is ok if you eat it with all the bits and pieces: organs and fat. It’s the ‘steaks only’ habit which messes you up, see http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dairy-fat-healthy-paleo-primal/.

[2] http://www.trueactivist.com/10-best-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system/ https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/01/eat-these-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system/
http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/01/10/6-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/02/06/immune-system-foods_n_1257903.html
http://www.cinnamonandhoney.com/Immune-System.html
http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/top-10-immune-system-boosters/

[3] https://www.downtoearth.org/articles/2009-03/34/harsh-reality-household-cleaners
http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/ethicalreports/householdcleaningproductsreport/toxicchemicals.aspx
http://www.healthywomen.org/content/blog-entry/whats-hiding-your-soap-four-toxic-ingredients-avoid
http://www.purezing.com/living/toxins/living_toxins_dangerousingredients.html
https://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/new_warning_on_triclosan_t
http://allergiesandyourgut.com/tag/detergents/
http://naturalhealthway.com/articles/chemicals.html
https://experiencelife.com/article/8-hidden-toxins-whats-lurking-in-your-cleaning-products/

[4] http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/kids-and-dirt-germs#1

[5] http://www.healthnutnews.com/no-shampoo-trend-healthy-harmful/
http://it-takes-time.com/2015/03/19/4-ways-to-protect-your-skin-microbiome/

[6] http://earth911.com/living-well-being/health/cleaning-vinegar-baking-soda-lemon/
http://www.homedit.com/killer-homemade-cleaners-made-vinegar-baking-soda-lemon/
http://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/clean-and-organize/9-homemade-cleaning-products
https://www.mouthsofmums.com.au/natural-cleaning-31-amazing-uses-for-baking-soda-lemon-and-vinegar/#vkPR55xHpZmEzWCB.97
and many others! Just search for ‘healty cleaning agents’. Or buy them from a wholefood shop!

[7] https://www.nopoomethod.com/Water-Only
http://www.seventeen.com/beauty/a29092/i-havent-shampooed-my-hair-in-six-years/

[8] http://www.sustainablebabysteps.com/febreze.html

 

June 2017: painkillers: risks and alternatives

PAINKILLERS: RISKS and ALTERNATIVES

Painkillers may often be a blessing, but we should never use them indiscriminately, and it’s well worth checking whether there are other ways to face your pain.

There are basically three kinds of painkillers: paracetamol, opioids, and NSAIDs. They all have their downsides. Here are the reasons why we should try to avoid them as much as we can.

Paracetamol or acetaminophen is an effective painkiller but taxes the liver. It is extremely dangerous if combined with alcohol. For children, there is very poor evidence of fever relief . Giving kids calpol or similar, is not a good idea anyway [1].

Opioid painkillers, like codeine, are addictive, and hard to get off. Only one week of continual use can leave you enslaved.

Anti-inflammatories or NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) like aspirin and ibuprofen, damage the gut. Taking too many for too long, can lead to internal bleeding. If you have an ulcer, or any signs of digestive discomfort, the consequences could be serious [2].
Only recently, in March 2017, a Danish study led to calls for restrictions on the sale of ibuprofen, after they found it heightened the risk of cardiac arrest by 31%, with other NSAIDs presenting an even higher risk [3].
And did you know that aspirin and other fever-reducing medications actually suppress the production of antibodies, thus resulting in the infection lasting for up to 50% longer than it should? They inhibit the release of pyrogen, a substance that causes fever. And fever actually helps the body fight infections [4].

So we have to be very careful with painkillers. For 6 reasons, see [5].
For more detail about PARACETAMOL see [6].
More detail about OPIOIDS, and CODEINE more specifically, see [7].
For more detail about NSAIDs, see [8].

ALTERNATIVES:
There is a marvellous general site about pain, well worth looking at for a start: [9].
You’ll find plenty of non-drug therapies such as heat or cold, acupuncture, (breathing) exercise, yoga, massage etc: see [10]. For a herbal pain approach, see [11].
And did you know that 20 minutes of aerobic exercise is enough to stimulate the body to produce more endorphins – natural painkillers? And that our spit contains a painkiller more powerful than morphine: opiorphin? We have it only in minute quantities, so that we’re not off our heads all the time. Eating, though, releases more of the chemical and this may be a factor in comfort eating.

LAST but not LEAST: when it hurts, there is a reason. If all we can think of is to dull the hurt, we’ll never find the cause and it will persist and get worse. To deal with the cause, preferably in an early stage, we have to feel the pain. We have to respond to the feedback our bodies give us: when does it get better, when does it get worse? Does my food, my posture, stress or things I do, affect it?

~~~

“People who view pain as the enemy instinctively respond with vengeance or bitterness–Why me? I don’t deserve this! It’s not fair! – which has the vicious-circle effect of making their pain even worse. “Think of the pain as a speech your body is delivering about a subject of vital importance to you,” I tell my patients. “From the very first twinge, pause and listen to the pain and, yes, try to be grateful. The body is using the language of pain because that’s the most effective way to get your attention.” I call this approach “befriending” pain: to take what is ordinarily seen as an enemy, and to disarm it, and then welcome it.” Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants’ Dr. Paul Brand


EAT:
veg: broad beans, beet, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, new potatoes, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, mangetout, peas, cauliflower, radish, spinach, spring onions, spring greens, watercress, kohlrabi, turnips, rhubarb, redcurrants, strawberries, gooseberries.
meat: lamb, wood pigeon [9].
fish: grey mullet, black bream, gurnard, pollock, whiting, mackerel, lobster, whelks, clams, cockles, coley, crabs, crayfish, flounder, grouper, gurnards, herring, megrim, scallops.

SOW:
beetroot, calabrese, lettuce, french beans, kale, carrots, cauliflower (mini only), salad onions, (sugar) peas, radish, kohlrabi, mooli, turnip, chicory, Florence fennel, courgettes and pumpkins.
Sow swede and sweetcorn in early June. If the soil is above 25°C, sow crisphead, cos or little Gem only.
plant out: courgettes, cabbage, sprouting broccoli, sprouts, celery, celeriac, ridge cucumbers, runner/french beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, sweet corn.

SCANTY HARVEST SOUP for 2.
Radishes bolted? Nothing else in the garden? Don’t despair – this soup is one of the best I’ve made.
Bolted radish green with their (bolted) radishes, onion, 1-2 garlic clove(s), 1 tblsp sour cream, 1 tblsp peanut butter, water/stock, (cayenne) pepper, salt.
Slice onion and garlic, sauté in butter for a min., add plenty of chopped radishes with their leaves, even when bolted. Saute for a few more minutes, add water/stock. Cook till everything is soft. Loosen the peanut butter with the hot liquid, add to the soup along with the sour cream, blitz if you like, season. You can leave out the peanutbutter, or add tomato puree instead.

SPRING GREENS and PEAS in CREAM CHEESE
200g shredded spring greens, 3 sliced garlic cloves, 200 grams diced bacon, 100g peas, 200g cream cheese, handful of basil, black pepper, 480g pasta.
Cook greens in water for 5 mins until slightly wilted and tender. Saute garlic for 1-2 mins, then add drained spring greens. Fry for 5 mins, add peas and cream cheese and stir until melted. Add a teensie bit of water, cover and cook for 7-10 min until peas are done. Add torn basil and pepper. In another pan prepare pasta in the usual way. Drain and mix in the cheesey sauce.


GREENS and FISH
450g spinach or chard, some leaves of sorrel, garlic clove, 900g thin fish fillets, salt, pepper, nice bread (onion, thyme, ginger).
Split the leaves from the stalks if using perennial spinach, and cut them. Season the fish. Boil a little bit of water, add the cut stalks if any, cook for 3-5 minutes. Then add the rest of the greens and chopped garlic, put the fish on top, cover. Cook for about 15 minutes, no longer.
Place bread on a plate and add fish, greens and liquid, which shouldn’t be too much by now.
This is surprisingly nice, but to improve on it even  more, fry plenty of onions with some ginger and thyme, and add that to the mass.


CARPACCIO of KOHLRABI with RADISHES and BLUE CHEESE
2 small, young kohlrabi, 6 radishes, 4 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil, 4 tsp cider vinegar, a pinch of English mustard powder, blue cheese, flaky sea salt, pepper.
Strip leaves off the kohlrabi and cut off tops and bottoms. Using a mandolin, cut into paper-thin slices. Do the same with the radishes. Arrange kohlrabi and radish on a platter. Whisk oil, cider vinegar and mustard powder together, drizzle over the slices. Season and sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese. Serve immediately.

MARINATED LAMB’S HEART
A lovely cheap and easy dish, as long as you do some preparation beforehand.
Every lamb has a heart, so if you ask your butcher he may well come up with one, if only from the freezer.
450g lamb or beef hearts. For the marinade: 2 tblsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper and 1tsp thyme.
Trim the heart(s) and cut in 1.5 – 2cm cubes. Marinate for at for least 8 hrs. Grill, spreading out into a single layer, and let brown for a minute or two. Toss and brown on the other sides for another minute; remove. Delicious!

BRAISED LETTUCE and PEAS for 1 or 2.
2 tblsp butter, shallot thinly sliced, half a head of (cos) lettuce, ab. 150ml stock, 100g (frozen) peas.
Chop lettuce into small pieces. Saute shallot for a minute, add lettuce, saute 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.

BROAD BEANS with ONIONS and BACON, serves 2 as a side dish.
250g shelled broad beans, 1 butter, 1/2 chopped onion, 175ml water, 75g smoked bacon, plenty of lemon juice, salt, pepper.
Chop bacon. Sauté onion in butter for a few mins. Add beans and bacon and sauté for a further 5 mins. Add water, bring to a boil. Simmer slowly for 15 mins, or until beans are tender. Add lemon juice and season. Serve warm or at room temperature.

MACKEREL with BROCCOLI and SPICY ANCHOVY SAUCE
Mackerel and broccoli for 2; 3 anchovy fillets, 2 garlic cloves, 1 chilli (or powder), olive oil, (rosemary).
Chop three anchovy fillets, two cloves of garlic and one red chilli. Mash to a near-paste. Melt the paste in a small frying pan with 2 tblsp of butter. Meanwhile, grill or sauté the mackerel in oil. Top with rosemary if you have it. Don’t add salt, because the sauce will supply that. Steam the broccoli, drain, then stir it into the anchovy sauce. Serve next to the mackerel.
Best with plain cooked potatoes, methinks.

 

The old days were not necessarily better ……


[1] http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/behind_the_label/346400/behind_the_label_calpol.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/8351085/Parents-warned-against-giving-paracetamol-and-ibuprofen-for-mild-fever.html
[2] (From https://www.patrickholford.com/blog/the-dangers-of-painkillers)
[3] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/mar/15/ibuprofen-sale-restrictions-study-increased-cardiac-arrest-risk
[4]
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/03/fever-immune-system-cells_n_1074445.html
http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/a-fever-is-a-good-thing-dont-suppress-it/
http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/for-clued-in-moms-fever-is-a-friend/#more-11400
http://naturalsociety.com/youve-been-lied-to-about-the-fever/
http://www.naturalnews.com/031467_fevers_health.html
http://www.health-bytes.com/fever-is-good-for-you.html
[5] http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/6-reasons-you-should-stop-taking-too-many-painkillers/. See also http://www.theguardian.com/society/2008/feb/10/health.drugsandalcohol and https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/04/6-myths-about-painkillers/
[6] http://www.evidentlycochrane.net/paracetamol-widely-used-ineffective/
http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/561502/Experts-warn-against-taking-paracetamol-daily
http://theconversation.com/we-need-to-talk-about-this-paracetamol-problem-dont-we-19051
http://theconversation.com/whats-the-point-of-paracetamol-66808
[7]
OPIOIDS in general:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/03/15/cdc-warns-doctors-about-the-dangers-of-prescribing-opioid-painkillers/?utm_term=.9a6a57c75475
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/03/dangers-of-opioid-pain-relievers-what-you-need-to-know/
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/09/the-dangers-of-painkillers/index.htm
One of which is CODEINE :
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/do-the-dangers-of-codeine-outweigh-the-benefits-2108190.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2420145/How-popping-painkillers-make-symptoms-WORSE-Effects-codeine-particularly-bad-headache-patients.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/6134384/Over-the-counter-painkillers-can-cause-addiction-in-three-days.html
[8] https://tv.greenmedinfo.com/dangers-painkillers-infographic/
https://draxe.com/dangers-of-nsaids/
http://www.livestrong.com/article/360407-the-risks-of-taking-too-many-nsaids/
http://www.nbcnews.com/health/heart-health/fda-strengthens-heart-safety-warnings-painkillers-n389516
[9] https://www.painscience.com. See also http://www.paintoolkit.org.
[10] http://www.health.harvard.edu/special-health-reports/pain-relief-without-drugs-and-surgery?utm_source=HHPBlog&utm_medium=link&utm_content=related-text&utm_campaign=referral (click on contents and excerpt)
[11]
http://www.shareguide.com/pain.html
http://antranik.org/food-is-medicine-20-natural-painkillers-in-your-kitchen/
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26136767/ns/health-alternative_medicine/t/youre-pain-you-want-relief-naturally/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/30/dr-oz-treat-chronic-pain_n_3963264.html
http://www.healthline.com/health/pain-relief/surprising-natural-pain-killers#HeatandIce6
http://www.steadyhealth.com/articles/top-10-natural-painkillers
http://www.activebeat.co/your-health/8-strange-but-effective-pain-relievers/
Though just because it’s herbal, that doesn’t mean it’s safe: see https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jul/11/heart-failure-patients-warned-off-over-the-counter-medications.

January 2015

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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.

April 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 10.31.20

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 10.26.48When talking about sleep, you will often come across tryptophan, serotonin and melatonin.
Tryptophan is an essential amino-acid which we have to get from food. It helps make serotonin, which, in turn, can be converted into melatonin. Melatonin helps us sleep.
Tryptophan is found especially in chocolate, oats, milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, red meat, eggs, fish, poultry, dates, seeds, bananas, peanuts and chickpeas. They work best if consumed on an empty stomach, and accompanied by foods containing little protein but lots of carbohydrates. [1]

Though food is important, even essential, there can be other reasons why you are not sleeping well.
* unrest or tension
* changes in your life
* side-effect of medication
* so-called ‘blue’ light: tv, computers, mobiles [2]

Of course it’s best to adress the cause directly, but often it is not possible to change things, or not as quickly as you like.
Here are some websites which may be helpful, followed by a list of ‘tricks’ I have collected during an insomniac life.
http://www.holisticonline.com/Remedies/Sleep/sleep_ins_food-and-diet.htm http://www.thesleepjudge.com/different-ways-technology-affects-sleep-quality/
http://wellnessmama.com/27075/natural-sleep-remedies/
http://www.thesleepguru.co.uk
https://www.painscience.com/articles/insomnia.php

FOOD and DRINK:
* Avoid stimulants like caffeine, nicotine or alcohol, heavy or spicy food.
* Eat more fruits and vegetables, especially those with high contents of B vitamins.
* Calcium and magnesium have a tranquilizing effect that may help. Found in seeds, nuts, roots and green leafy vegetables.
* If you’re going to eat a snack 1-2 hours before bed, take a small carb-based snack that includes protein and fat. Like whole grain bread with a little almond butter.
* Avoid tyramine-containing foods, which stimulate the brain, close to bedtime: like bacon, ham, sugar, sausages, spinach, tomatoes, yeast, nuts, potatoes, aged cheeses, chocolate! ferments, marinades and wine.
* If you are hypoglycemic you must eat some protein or fat in the evening.  Otherwise, blood sugar fluctuations in the middle of the night may wake you up.
* Eat a larger lunch rather than stuffing yourself with a big dinner late in the evening.
* Raspberries contain raspberry ketone, which leads to a faster metabolism, and, in some cases, insomnia.

THE REST
* Regular exercise can help improve sleep quality if not done too close to bedtime.
* It’s best to sleep in complete darkness.
* Tell yourself you’re not allowed to sleep.
* Swaddle yourself – tuck yourself in tightly, to create a sense of security.
* Stretch; meditate; relax [3]. Read a nice book or listen to a suitable tape.
* Foot and ear reflexology. You can practise this on yourself, even while lying in bed. [4]
* 1-2 tsp cider vinegar (organic is best), 1-2 tsp honey and 250 ml water which is warm enough to melt it. Drink before going to bed. [5]
* Nutmeg, valerian, chamomile, jasmine, lavender and hop can all make you sleepy. I have a little container by my bed with a hankie which is steeped in lavender. If I worry about sleeping, I take out the hankie and put it under my nose.
* Some people claim they must go to bed late to fall asleep. However, if you stay up past a certain time, you stimulate your sympathetic nervous system to keep awake, which then prevents you from going to sleep when you finally go to bed.
* If you keep thinking of important things when you’re in bed, keep a pad and paper to make notes, so you won’t be thinking of them all night. If you keep thinking of unimportant things, try focusing on your breath, or simple forms of meditation [3].

EAT
Purple sprouting broccoli, chard, cabbage, leeks, spring onions, spinach, watercress, loose-leaved lettuce, radish, sorrel, spring greens.

SOW
Direct: lettuce, rocket, radish, beet, broad beans, summer cabbage, calabrese, kohlrabi, parsnips, peas, spinach (beet), spring onions, chard, early carrots, autumn cauli, salsify, scorzonera, celeriac, celery. Late April: courgettes, french beans, pumpkins.
Plant: summer cabbage, onion sets, potatoes, summer cabbage.
Sow to transplant: leeks, brussels, sprouting broccoli, autumn cauli, kale, tomatoes (indoors).
Garden Organic is an excellent source of information in general; they also sell seeds and whatever else you may need: see www.gardenorganic.org.

RECIPES

For what to do with the purple sprouting broccoli, still doing well, see http://pennysrecipes.com/4062/how-to-cook-purple-sprouting-broccoli.

SPRING GREEN CHOPS
2 tbsp olive oil, 4 lamb or pork chops, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, a generous pinch of chilli, 140g shredded spring greens, 410g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
Cook the chops in the usual way, but use a deep frying pan that’s big enough to fit the greens later. Remove from the pan and keep hot on a warmed plate or in a low oven. To wilt the greens, tip garlic and chilli into the same pan and cook for about 30 secs until sizzling but not browned, then pour in 5 tblsp water and stir in the greens. Simmer for 4-5 mins until they wilt. If you like your greens well done, let them go on for a bit longer. Stir in the chickpeas and juices from the pork and continue stirring until everything’s hot. Serve greens topped with the chops and any juices.

ZESTY SPRING FISH
2 fillets white fish* about 200g each, 1-2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 grated garlic cloves, a bit of ginger root grated, or some powder, vegetable oil, 200-300g shredded spring greens.
Coat the fish in the soy, garlic and ginger. Leave for at least 10 mins to give more flavour. Heat oil, add fish and marinade. Sizzle for 3 mins on each side, until the fish is almost cooked. Throw in the greens and a bit of water and let everything simmer for 5 mins (or longer), until the greens have wilted. Serve with rice or noodles.
*The following white fish are from sustainable sources: dab, pouting, coley, megrim, grouper, flounder, gurnard, whiting, bream. Avoid cod, halibut, plaice, hake and whitebait; for sole and seabass it depends on how they are caught (see http://www.fishonline.org).

Very nice and so simple to prepare:
PASTA WITH PURPLE SPROUTING BROCCOLI for 2
200g pasta, 250g purple sprouting broccoli, 100g Stilton or Exmoor cheese broken into small pieces, juice and grated zest of  ½-1 lemon, 50g toasted pine nuts, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, pepper.
Bring a very large pan of water to the boil, add a pinch of salt. Add pasta to the pan and cook for 10-12 mins, or until just cooked. Meanwhile, cut up the broccoli in small pieces and simmer in a bit of boiling water for 4-5 minutes, until just tender. Drain pasta and broccoli: return both to the pan along with cheese, lemon juice, zest, pine nuts and oil. Season with black pepper, place over low heat and stir. Spoon into bowls and eat at once, with a salad.

ROAST NECK of LAMB (serves 2-3)
400-500g boneless neck of lamb, 2 sliced onions cut into thin wedges, 4 diced cloves garlic, ½ tsp dried oregano, thyme and/or any herbs you have handy, 1 tblsp olive oil, salt, pepper.
Preheat oven 150°C although you can also cook it on top if you prefer. Cut lamb into 3cm chunks. Place in pan with onions, sprinkle with garlic and herbs, add lemon juice, olive oil seasoning: mix. Cook/roast for 2 hours.

PURPLE SPROUTING BROCCOLI with GARLIC and SESAME
450g broccoli, oil, soy sauce/tamari, 1½ 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.

PAN-FRIED GOAT’S CHEESE with HAZELNUTS and THYME
4x80g goat’s cheese log slices, 100g hazelnuts, 2 tblsp cider vinegar, (1 tblsp honey), 120g butter, salt, freshly ground black pepper, thyme, leaves removed
For the dressing: chop nuts in half, melt butter slowly, add nuts and cook gently until golden brown, approx. 5 mins. Remove pan from heat, stir in vinegar (and honey). Season with salt and pepper, set aside.
Make a separate frying pan very hot. Brush cheese slices (not the pan) with a little oil, and fry quickly on each side for no more than a minute until they’re singed, sealed and caramelised. Transfer cheese to serving plates, spoon over the warm dressing and sprinkle with thyme. Very nice with for instance (potatoes and) broccoli.

MINCE DIFFERENT
I often prepare my (lamb) mince like this.
Heat butter till the foam is just starting to withdraw. Fry onion and meat, add some finely cut rosemary and paprika powder, salt, maybe a bit of chilli or cayenne. Garlic if you like it. Stir regularly, cook till done. Nice with cabbage.

ANCHOVY MASHED POTATOES
1k floury potatoes, 6 tblsp unsalted butter, 1 onion, finely chopped, 6 minced anchovy fillets, 120ml  milk, 3 tblsp heavy cream, salt, freshly ground black pepper, 3 tblsp chopped chives or spring onions.
Cut potatoes into chunks and cook covered, until very tender. Melt 4 tblsp of the butter. Add onion and saute, stirring, until softened. Add anchovies, stir thoroughly. Add milk and cream, season and bring to a simmer. Add potatoes, stir, heat and mash the lot. Add chives/spring onions and remaining 2 tblsp butter, serve hot. Have with cooked or sautéed greens.

~~~~~~

“Insomnia is not bad in itself. You can lie awake at night and think; the quality of the insomnia depends entirely on what you decide to think of. Can you decide to think? Yes, you can. You can put your mind to anything most of the time. You can sit peacefully in front of a blank television set, just watching nothing: and sooner or later you can make your own programme much better than the mass product.
I lay awake, looking at the darkness, listening to the silence, prefiguring the future, picking out of the past the scraps I had overlooked, those rejected events which now came to the foreground, large and important, so that the weight of destiny no longer bore on the current problems of my life, whatever they were at the time (for who lives without problems every day? Why waste the nights on them?).”
Muriel Spark, A Far Cry from Kensington.

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 10.27.03


[1] http://www.med-health.net/Foods-High-In-Tryptophan.html
[2]  Blue light, as well as the excitement coming from computer, television and mobiles, robs your body of melatonin. To prevent this, you can wear blueblocker glasses. Online you can get ones which wrap around your prescription glasses from £20 (2015), at http://www.optimalowvision.co.uk. Click on ‘anti-glare spectacles’ and make sure you choose one with blue-blocking filter. Or order Optima wraparound fitovers in via Robert Frith opticians (Glastonbury, Yeovil, Castle Cary, Honiton a.o.
See also
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/03/11/mobile-phone-bedroom-risks_n_4940199.html
http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
http://www.scienceupdate.com/2014/06/blue-2/
[3] for ways to relax and simple meditation, see http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk and, in the drop-down archive section on the right, click on July 2014.
[4] http://goodnurture.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/reflexology-for-insomnia-and-better.html
[5] This recipe is also said to help for rheumatism/arthritis. And using local honey might help with allergies – I’ve heard that having 1 tsp of local honey for a year gets rid of hayfever. As I don’t have that I can’t vouch for it: and noone I know has had the patience or interest to try it!

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.