March 2018: no worries?

 

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

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

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

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

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

5) Accept imperfection, especially in the small stuff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Next month: ……..!

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

 

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February 2018: the thyroid

THE THYROID

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

RECIPES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next month: …….. 

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

December 2017: drink!?

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

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

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

You might also want to look at our tips for preventing and curing hangovers in the 2014 December issue. See 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: teeth.

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

 

 

 

November 2017: love your heart

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

May 2015

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WHY I LIKE TO USE ‘HOME REMEDIES

1)   I have nothing against doctors as such. However, they are pressurized and constantly being ‘informed’ by the pharmaceutical industry. Which, nowadays, tends to be part of a global conglomerate, whose interest is purely commercial.
And why would they sell a medicine which quickly gets rid of our pain/pimples/panic, if they can supply us with something we’ll have to take our whole life long?

2)  “Try this, and come back after three weeks. Then try that.”  And so on, till we end up more ill than we were in the first place.
Can you blame them? Doctors don’t have time. GPs, specialists, burocrats, the NHS, anyone who has a say or who gives health advice is subject to a barrage of information – all supplied from the pockets of the above-mentioned industry.
Of course there are exceptions.
My personal view is that patients should be listened to when they offer their views on the cause of their symptoms … perhaps the most useful questions a doctor can ask a patient is: ‘What do you think is going on?’“ says Dr. Briffa [1], and in that he is right.

3)   When we’re unwell, something is starting to go wrong deep inside us. The illness is just a symptom. We may manage to get rid of the symptom, but unless we address the root cause, we bury our head in the sand – and more serious problems await.
‘Home remedies’ may well sometimes do the same, but without the chemical interference of mainstream medicine, less harm is done.

4)   The best of ‘alternative’ therapists look at all of you. They take time to get to know you and they listen properly. Of course this is expensive, and many of them are not ‘the best’. But if you can afford it, it’s worth finding a good one.
If you can’t: home remedies are often cheap. Find out what helps you. Trust your intuition.

At best, doctors prescribe something that will alleviate symptoms until you heal yourself. At worst, by masking the symptoms, they make things worse.

I am emphatically NOT saying you should never go to the doctor. There are plenty of exceptions to what I said above: but not as many as you think. [2]

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NB: did you know that onions and blackstrap molasses are excellent foods to help prevent osteoporosis? They also can improve matters once you have it. [3]

EAT:
Veg: spring greens, cabbage, spinach, chard, cauli, salad leaves/lettuce, radish, rocket, asparagus, sorrel, watercress, rhubarb, seakale.
Herbs: chives, parsley, mint, lovage, summer savoury and chervil.
Wild food: broom buds, chives, dandelions, fat hen, hogweed shoots, hop shoots, meadowsweet, sea spinach, sorrel, watercress, wild fennel, wild garlic, wild rocket, samphire.
Game: wood pigeon, lamb, mutton, guinea fowl, rabbit, duck.
Your fishmonger may sell samphire: serve fresh in salads or have as veg with melted butter. Wash thoroughly and don’t add salt.

SOW:
direct: beet, calabrese, carrots (though June sowings get less rootfly), french/runner beans, kohlrabi, lettuce, sweetcorn, swede, spring onions, spinach (beet), courgettes, marrows, (sugar) peas. If pea moth’s a problem, wait till mid May.
in seedbed to transplant: leeks, cabbage, cauli, sprouting broccoli (early May), kale.
in trays: beans, courgettes, cucumbers, melon, pumpkins, pepper, sweetcorn, tomatoes.
plant out: cauli; cucumbers, marrows, pumpkins, tomatoes, squashes late May.
green manure: if you have space, do it now. See www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/basics/techniques/soil_growgreenmanure1.shtml

RECIPES

CREAM CHEESE SOUP
200g cream cheese, 400g cubed potatoes, smallish minced onion, 1.2l stock or water, salt, white pepper, cayenne pepper or chilli, herbs or spices of your choice (e.g. parsley, chives, paprika powder, coriander).
Combine liquid, potatoes, onion, and seasonings. Boil until potatoes are tender, mash. Add cream cheese, for instance by diluting the cheese with a bit of the soup first. Stir or whisk, add herbs/spices.

FRIED POTATOES
What to do with those tired old potatoes? Cook, slice, and fry them up. Thought there comes a point when even that does not work anymore.

SPRING CHICKEN for 2
Chicken bits (with skin!) and finely sliced spring cabbage for two. Chopped onion, butter/oil/fat for frying. For the marinade: 1 tblsp red wine, 1 tblsp soy sauce, 1/2 tblsp lemon juice, 1/2 tblsp grated ginger, 1 clove garlic, red pepper, salt.
Marinade the chicken pieces for a few hours or overnight. Fry hot in as large a frying pan as you’ve got. When the pieces are browned, lower the fire, add the marinade, cover and cook for about half an hour. If too much liquid forms, leave the lid off for a while so it can evaporate. Then add cabbage and onion to the pan and stir-fry them in the chicken juices/marinade, keeping the lid off. Serve when they are done to your liking.

SAUTEED ASPARAGUS with GARLIC
1 bunch asparagus, plenty of butter, 3 cloves of garlic.
Melt butter, add asparagus; cover and cook for 10 mins stirring occasionally, or until the asparagus is tender. If you like your asparagus well done, reduce heat and cook 10 more minutes. Thinly slice and add garlic for the last few minutes, stir a few times.

TURKISH MACKEREL
This dish can be served hot, warm or even cold.
4 whole mackerel, 1 carrot, 2 red onions, ab. 400g potatoes, 4 tomatoes (or half a tin), 2 garlic cloves, 3 bay leaves, flat-leaf parsley, 1 lemon, marjoram, pepper, salt, olive oil.
Clean mackerel. Preheat oven to 200C. Saute chopped onions, garlic and carrot with bay, marjoram and some chopped parsley (including stems) for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally. Add diced potatoes, chopped tomatoes, and 200ml cold water, stir, cook 8-10 more mins. Slice lemon thinly and place slices on the bottom of an oven dish, fish on top, season generously. Put veg mix around the fish, some oil too. Bake 20-30 mins.

PAN FRIED SPINACH
ab.175g spinach, 2 slices bacon, 1 1/2 tblsp butter, 2 tblsp olive oil, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 small chopped (red) onion, salt, pepper.
Fry bacon until brown and crisp. Drain, crumble, set aside. Melt butter, heat oil; mix in bacon, garlic and onion. Cook and stir 2 mins, then mix in spinach. Cover, reduce heat, cook, stirring often, until spinach is tender. Season.

OXTAIL STEW
ab. 1400g oxtail, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1tsp black pepper, 1 tblsp curry powder, 1 tblsp paprika powder, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tblsp oil, 2 sliced onions, 1 tsp thyme, cayenne/chilli pepper, (savory,) 1 1/2 tblsp tomato puree, 2 cups water, 3 bay leaves, 1 tin (500g) butter beans, drained but keep liquid.
Season oxtail with salt, black pepper, curry powder and garlic. Place onions on top, cover and place in fridge overnight or for at least for 2 hrs before cooking. Heat oil, add oxtail less onions: sear to seal in juice. Add 1 cup of water, thyme, savory and onion, chilli/cayenne and tomato puree; cook for 5 mins. Add second cup of water, bay and bean liquid; cover and simmer until meat is tender (2½ hours). Add beans, stir. Bring to a rapid boil until gravy thickens, stirring at intervals. Serve with barley or rice, and peas.

SIMPLE FISH and SOUR CREAM BAKE – no gourmet fare this, but I liked it.
450g white fish fillets or steaks, 25g flour, 150g sour cream, 130g mayonnaise, 2 spring onions or 1 small onion, 1 tsp dill or fennel seeds, fresh dill/fennel to garnish, plenty of paprika powder.Coat fish in flour. Place in a greased ovenproof dish. Finely grate onion, or chop spring onion. Mix sour cream, mayonnaise, onions, dill and lemon juice. Spoon over the fish, top with the paprika powder. Cook at 180°C for 30-35 mins until the fish flakes with a fork. Towards the end, check that the top doesn’t burn. Serve hot, garnished with fresh dill or fennel.
*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)

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[1] http://www.drbriffa.com/2012/07/02/perhaps-the-most-useful-question-a-doctor-can-ask-a-patient/
[2] See also ‘Corporate power’ (March 2015).
[3] Onion increases bone density and can help menopausal women who experience loss of bone density. In addition, women who have passed the menopause may be able to lower their risk of hip fracture through frequent consumption of onions.
Blackstrap has an ideal calcium-magnesium ratio: we need lots of magnesium to help absorb similarly large quantities of calcium. Both of these minerals aid development of bones.

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.

July 2015

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Enough. It can be as hard to say ‘enough’, as it is to start something new. New things are exciting, they follow hope: “Life could be better if I did this!” Often, of course, after the excitement has died, we end up the same way we always were.

‘Stopping’ is different. We may be taking a medicine. Or follow advise, from experts, or a friend. We have a relationship, or smoke, or follow a habit, routine business.
There is an art to saying ‘stop’ at the right time. We don’t want to give up too easily – but nor do we want to end up doing the same thing all our lives, just because we once started.

How to decide?

Listen to yourself. Listen, first, to your body. We like to trust machines, doctors, measuring our blood pressure and our cholesterol, our driving speed or test results. More and more we depend on gadgets to tell us whether to see a professional, or when the chicken is done in the oven.
Can we still feel? Are we able to realize that we’re going too fast, even when the speedometer says it’s ok? Can we gauge that we’re working too hard, before our heart stops forever?

Saying ‘stop’ to ourselves, at exactly the right moment is very difficult.
On the other hand, maybe we’d like to stop but can’t?

Maybe it’s time to stop trying. To admit defeat. To stop beating ourselves up. To relax. To let go ……..

If you really can’t stop doing something, you may have chosen the wrong strategy. Something else may have to change first.
Resisting the temptation of those biscuits at eleven is a whole lot easier when you’ve had a decent breakfast.
Or you might be short of nutrients, which makes you crave particular foods – see [1].
Or a hormone called leptin, which normally tells you when to stop eating, is not doing its job. ‘Leptin resistance’ might be caused by consumption of fructose (in soft drinks for instance), sugar in general, stress, or overeating. In that case,too, to try and stop eating has become impossible unless you fix the leptin resistance first [2].

What can’t you stop doing, why not, and – should you?

 

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OYEZ OYEZ:
I just read in the New Scientist that they finally, have discovered that sun is good for you. The exception is if you rarely venture outside and then, suddenly, go on a sunbathing holiday. But if you catch the sun regularly, you escape many other diseases from which even taking vitamin D won’t protect you.
So no need for all those nasty chemical sunscreens! And if you got yourself a bit burned, apparently there is always sage tea. See http://ourheritageofhealth.com/sage-tea-sunburn-remedy/. Who knew?

~~~

When your chives flower, that’s not the end of it. The flowers can be used  whole or torn up, fresh in salads,
or fried. You can even dry them, and use for a subtle flavouring in the same way. If dried properly they’ll last for years.

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) radish, perpetual spinach, chard, parsley, beetroot, french beans.
Half July: if you like fresh greens early spring, sow endive, escarole type. If the winter is not too cold they won’t need any protection, and will produce leaves either for salad or the famous Dutch ‘andijviestamp'[1] till March.
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.
Remember: only crisp lettuce (little gem, cos, webb) germinates well when soil temperature goes above 25C.
Plant: kale, sprouts, leeks, winter cabbages, broccoli, calabrese, cauliflower.

 

RECIPES

On a hot day, if you like cold soup (I don’t), try:
SCRUMPTIOUS GREEN SOUP
Plenty of radish tops, onion, garlic clove, butter, cumin, sour cream, (1 tsp curry powder, walnut oil)
Saute onion, garlic, cumin and curry powder in butter. After ab. a minute, add  l stock/water, bring to the boil. Add radish tops and cook for ab. 5 mins, whizz. Add sour cream, take off the heat and put some walnut oil on top if you have it.

BROAD BEAN SALAD
400ml shelled broad beans, 10 radishes, 2 tomatoes, 150g lettuce, rocket or young spinach leaves, 2 tblsp olive oil, 1 tblsp cider vinegar, 1 level tsp mustard, (½ tsp honey/sugar, soy sauce, herbs)
Cook beans about 5 mins (with some of the herbs), drain and let cool a bit. Tear the leaves into smallish pieces, chop radishes and tomatoes. Mix dressing ingredients, and then everything together.

COURGETTE-POTATO MIX
450g sliced courgettes, 225g sliced (uncooked)  new potatoes, 3 tblsp oil, 1 sliced garlic clove, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp salt, 2 tblsp water, 1 tblsp finely sliced red pepper
Fry garlic for 30 secs. Add spices, salt and water, stir and fry gently for 2 minutes. Add vegetables and a bit more water, stir, cover and cook gently until the veg are done, stirring occasionally. Garnish with red pepper and  some fresh coriander if you have it.

MIXED VEGETABLE PASTA: use any veg you fancy or which needs to be eaten!
Pasta for 4, 150g fresh tomatoes or (part of) a tin, 2 courgettes, ab. 10 runner or broad beans, 150g cooked butter/kidney beans or chick peas, 1 heaped tblsp of pesto, 100ml creme fraiche, sour cream or yoghurt,  knob of butter & 1 tblsp of olive oil, 50g grated Cheddar (optional).
Chop courgettes into 1 cm pieces. Cut tomatoes into halves or quarters, depending on size. Slice the runner beans into 2cm chunks, halve french beans or pod broad beans. Cook pasta normally. Meanwhile, heat butter and oil. Add courgettes and tomatoes if fresh, mix. Cover and cook on a low heat until the courgettes are soft, add tinned tomatoes at the last minute. Stir occasionally. Add all the beans to the pasta 4-5 minutes before it is due to finish. Add creme fraiche/cream/yoghurt, cheese and pesto to the tomato-courgette sauce. Drain pasta and mix with the sauce.

COURGETTES and TOMATOES with ANCHOVY
500g courgettes, 4-5 tomatoes, 1 anchovy filet, 1 minced clove garlic, 1 tblsp bread crumbs, oregano, 3 tblsp olive oil, salt, pepper
Slice tomatoes and courgettes into 1cm slices. Cook courgettes for 10 mins, drain. Preheat oven to 190°C. Arrange veg in a buttered dish. Mince garlic and anchovy, combine with oil, pour on top. Season and dust with oregano and crumbs. Bake for 25 mins.

BROAD BEAN, CHORIZO and POTATO SIDE DISH
Sauté slices of cooked potato in oil until they begin to turn golden. Add slices of chorizo, the cooked beans and chopped tomato. Stir until the beans are hot and the chorizo crisp and heated through. Finish with chopped parsley. You can use mint and leave out the chorizo, to make it vegetarian.

TRADITIONAL DUTCH RUNNER STEW for 5
1k potatoes, 800g runner beans, 250 gram (half a tin) white beans, 25g butter, 100ml milk/stock, nutmeg, pepper, salt, 200-250g ripe tomatoes, (herbs)
Cut the runners into strips. Cook them with the potatoes for 25 mins, drain, let steam dry without lid for a sec. Add butter, warm the white beans and tomatoes in the milk/stock, add everything else. Mash, season. Nice with sausages.

FRENCH BEANS and CARROTS with CHEESE
480g carrots cut in 7cm julienne strips, 225g French beans, 1 tbsp. oil, 2 tbsp. grated mature cheese (Montgomery’s is very good!)
Cook carrots and green beans in 1/2 inch boiling water until tender; drain. Mix with oil, sprinkle with cheese. Nice with fried potatoes and onion.

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[1] http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/june-2012-cravings.html
[2] http://wellnessmama.com/5356/fix-your-leptin/

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.

August 2015

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Bananas: bland and easily digested, bananas are rich in pectin, a soluble fibre that helps to absorb liquid in the intestines. Their high level of potassium helps to replace lost electrolytes. Bananas also contain inulin, a prebiotic, which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) .

White rice and (peeled) mashed potatoes: low in fibre, these are easily digested. Eat rice and potatoes plain; the fat in butter irritates and contributes to intestinal cramping.

Applesauce: apples, too, are a good source of pectin. However, the fibre in raw apples makes them too rough for a dicey intestinal system, so they need to be cooked. Cooked carrots are also good.

Yoghurt: generally, dairy products should be avoided during acute diarrhea, but yoghurt is excellent. Look for a type that contains live or active cultures, or more specifically Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum.

Steamed chicken: a bland, easily digested source of protein. However, avoid the use of butter or oil.

Blueberries: either chew dried blueberries or make a tea by boiling crushed dried blueberries for 10 minutes. They contain tannins, an astringent, which contracts tissue and reduces inflammation and secretion of liquids and mucus. Blueberries contain not only pectin, but anthocyanosides, which have antibacterial properties, as well as being a good source of antioxidants.

Peppermint tea soothes the gastrointestinal system. It calms and relaxes the intestinal muscles, reducing spasms. It also reduces gas. [1]
Other herbs for diarrhoea are: sage, plantain, lavender, lady’s mantle, bramble, nettles and salad burnet.

Avoid foods with high sugar content. Don’t consume lots of fibre, which is in: nuts, seeds, fruit and whole grain products. Stay away from caffeinated drinks, spicy/fried foods and full-strength fruit juices.

Also:
do keep eating: you will recover sooner if you don’t fast.
sugar is bad (where did I hear that before?): it “passes right through you and draws water and salts out of the body, leading to vomiting”. Diet drinks are even worse. By far best are starchy liquids: a thick soup or drink made from any starchy food, such as rice, corn, wheat or potatoes. [3]
Whether bananas hamper or help, is a source of great controversy. Some say it depends on the person, some say on their degree of ripeness. As so often, follow your feeling!

CAUSES:Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 11.33.47
Of course, it is important to know the reason for your trouble. This may be:
* medications [4]
* surgery or radiation therapy
* bacteria and parasites from contaminated food and water, which is common in developing countries and known as traveler’s diarrhea
* digestive disorders such as celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease.
* food intolerance, such as difficulty digesting dairy products. Artificial sweeteners and fructose can also cause diarrhoea.

See also www.foods-healing-power.com/diarrhea-diet.html
www.foods-healing-power.com/causes-of-diarrhea.html.
And for herbal help: www.everygreenherb.com/diarrhea.html

~~~~

Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, Health Senior Scholar with the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, Research Director for the University of Alberta’s Health Law Institute and Trudeau Fellow:
“The real secrets of a long life? Don’t smoke, exercise, eat real food, watch your weight, wear a seatbelt, get a good night’s sleep and love somebody.” [5]

~~~~

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, winter-hardy spring onions, salad leaves, fast-maturing carrots (Adelaide), endive,  red, white (= mooli) and black radish, 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.
Plant: cauliflowers (early in the month), winter cabbages, kale.

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 11.39.28

BROAD BEANS with SOUR CREAM
1k unshelled broad beans, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp grated rind, 1 tsp mustard, 1 beaten egg yolk, 120ml sour cream, nutmeg, 1 tsp chopped mint, (2 tsp brown sugar), salt, little soy.
Shell beans, steam till tender. Put everything bar the yolk in a pan. Let thicken over low heat. Add yolk, stir but don’t boil. Serve immediately.

FRENCH BEANS and CARROTS SAUTEED in BUTTER and GARLIC
300g French beans, 2 large carrots, butter, chopped garlic, salt, pepper.
Trim beans and cut carrots into sticks the same size as the beans. Cook carrots until they start to soften but are not yet done. Add beans to carrots, cook some more. The veg should be just a little bit underdone. Drain, set aside. When almost ready to serve, heat butter until foamy, throw in garlic and veg, stir for 2 mins. Season.

RUNNER BEAN STEW serves 2
300g runner beans, 3 tblsp olive oil, 3 sliced garlic cloves, chilli powder, 2 cloves, 400g tomatoes and some tomato puree or 2x400g tins; basil, grated cheese.
Destring beans and cut on the diagonal into 1cm pieces. Heat oil in a frying pan, add garlic. Cook for 1-2 mins then add beans, potatoes, chilli and cloves. Cook for 2 mins, then tip in the (drained) tomatoes (and puree). Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes until the beans are tender and the sauce is thick and rich. You may want to add a bit of water while this is cooking, but don’t add too much. Stir through the basil just before serving and season to taste. Serve with grain or pasta and grated cheese.

VEGETABLE MARROW HONGROISE  
1 marrow, seeded and cut into slivers; 25g butter, 1 tblsp finely chopped onion, 1 tblsp vinegar, dill or the crushed dill seed, salt, pepper, 1 tsp paprika, 1 heaped tsp flour.
Melt 3/4 of the butter, add marrow, cover and cook until it’s soft, stirring frequently. Lift the marrow out, add the onion to the pan and fry until soft. Stir in vinegar, dill, salt, pepper and paprika, then return the marrow to the pan. Mix and cook gently for 2 mins. Mash the remaining butter with the flour to make a paste and add to the pan, stirring well. Simmer until thick. The dill can be replaced by cumin or coriander.

BROAD BEANS with CHARD and DILL
280g shelled broad beans, 280g sliced chard l(eaves and stems), 5 tbsp butter, 1 diced onion, 8 tbsp chopped fresh or 1.5 tsp dried dill; 1/2 tsp salt.
Heat butter: when foaming, add onion and stir for 1 min. Add beans, saute 1 min. Add chard and dill, stir for some mins. Add salt and 3 tbsp water. Cover tightly and simmer for 15 mins. Serve hot or warm with grains or pitta bread. (Gardenorganic).

FRENCH BEANS and MUSHROOMS with SOUR CREAM
225g French beans, butter, 225g mushrooms, 120 ml crème fraîche, salt, pepper.
Steam beans until just tender, drain. Melt butter and sauté mushrooms on a high heat so they don’t lose their juices. Cook slowly until tender. Stir in beans, heat through. Add crème fraiche, season. Cook briefly; serve immediately.

COLEY/POLLOCK with CIDER
700g coley or pollock, 250ml cider, 2 onions, green pepper, 3 tomatoes, marjoram, cayenne, 3 tblsp breadcrumbs.
Bring cider to the boil, add onions and green pepper, simmer for 5 mins or until the cider has reduced by 1/4. Remove from heat.
Cut fish into 10 cm pieces: put into ovenproof dish. Stir in cider mix and tomatoes, marjoram, cayenne, salt, pepper. Cover; bake at 170°C for 30 mins or until the fish is cooked: the flesh should flake easily. Uncover and sprinkle breadcrumbs over it. Grill until the topping is lightly browned.
The fish can also put in a frying pan on top of the cooker, covered with the cider sauce and other ingredients. Cook without lid till done. When done, (and not too wet anymore), cover with breadcrumbs and put under the grill. (from http://www.ifood.tv/recipe/haddock-with-cider)

BARE BUTTOCKS in the GRASS (at least that’s what it’s called in Holland …)
1-1.2k new potatoes, 500g runner beans, 1 tin ab. 400g white beans, 200g very mature cheese, chives, 150-200ml milk or stock, mustard, 8 gherkins.
Cook potatoes in not too much water – 20 mins. Cut up runner beans, also cook – 10 to 12 mins.
Rinse or drain the white beans, and heat them with the runners for a few minutes. Chop cheese into small cubes. Chop chives. Heat the milk/stock. Mash potatoes and stir in the liquid, then the bean mix, cheese and chives. Season. Heat through till the cheese is just starting to melt. Serve with mustard and gherkins.
For a non-veggie version, serve with sausages instead of cheese.

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 11.33.56


 

[1] From http://ibs.about.com/od/diarrhea/tp/Diarrhea-and-Food.–04.htm
[2] www.livestrong.com/article/258348-foods-to-eat-to-stop-diarrhea/
[3] www.foods-healing-power.com/diarrhea-treatment.html
[4] antibiotics, while going after bad bacteria, also kill the good ones which protect you. See  www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/medications-that-can-cause-diarrhea.
[5] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/11591936/Is-Gwyneth-Paltrow-wrong-about-everything.html

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.