Latest Nutrition/Food News
A reminder that this list doesn’t try and cover everything but a selection along with some alternative inspirational ways of using them rather than the normal steam, boil, bake...Feel free to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @Ninanutrition, with your ideas, I will try then and then if I use them in future editions I will credit you accordingly. You can also check out my foodie travels by visiting my travelogue www.ninageraghty.wordpress.co
Its no strange thing that the brassica group of vegetables are now in season this includes your kale, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts and broccoli. At this time of year they are perfect to include in your daily dishes not only for the colour and different textures but also because they are jam packed whilst fresh with vitamins and antioxidants that are great immune boosters helping protect against coughs and colds. A reminder though don’t overcook them, they can start to develop a bitter taste and give off a slight sulphur like smell [ if you are old enough, you may well remember this from school dinners] So your best bet is to cook them quickly to prevent this happening.
Apples Plain crumble is always a good standby, but I find that apples cooked with Cinnamon Apple Crumble, then with a nutty oaty crumble on top not only allow less sugar to be used but then add all sorts of taste and nutrient dimensions into your diet.
Pork and apples, is also a good combination, when your pork is nearly ready, peel and slice into rings a large apple, into a pan add a knob of butter allow to brown then add your apples, sprinkle of sugar on top to caramelise, then turn after 5 mins while they are still crunchy but sticky too..... serve along side your pork...
Beetroot – lovely nutrient rich colourful addition to the winter veg, when choosing then, ensure they are firm and have a smooth undamaged surface. If you are wanting to use them raw then make sure they are not too large. A key thing to remember is not to remove the skin until after cooking otherwise the colour will bleed, you may also wish to use latex gloves to prevent staining on your hands if you are using a lot of beetroot. Dependant on the soil its grown in the iron content can differ but also helps control blood flow and lower blood pressure. A favourite use is to bake in foil until soft and use as a vegetable, peel when cooked, remove top and tail and slice into thickish rings and serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Brussel Sprouts – ok they say you love or hate them, I think by cooking them differently and not boiling them beyond all recognition you can learn to love them! First of all you need to “find the sprout” by peeling off the outer skin. Don't do what a friends husband did one year though, he was left to prepare the Christmas sprouts, a phone call after about an hour said, “I've peeled these but I cant find the sprout!” Suffice to say all that was left was a pile of leaves and a stalk... So remember if you get all the way to the stalk you have peeled the actual sprout away! Allow 8 per person, this then forms 1 of your 5 plus a day servings of vegetables. Take your saute pan, drizzle of olive oil 1 chopped red onion and some pancetta, after a couple of mins add your halved sprouts and move around the pan to prevent browning. Keep on a lowish heat to soften slightly but don’t let them go “squishy” - after about 15 mins this stir fried vegetable is ready to serve as an accompaniment. If you are lucky enough to have any left over, add some mashed potato mix well together, form into patties and pop on a baking tray 160Fan for 20 – 25 mins you have just made your very own bubble and squeak..... If you buy sprouts direct from your local producer or farm shop still on their growing stalk they will last in a cool place for at least a month. Whilst the nutrients do deteriorate with storage they will probably still be better than some of the supermarket ones on the shelves. A high potassium, folate and vitamin C vegetable so try and include them in your weekly menus.
Cabbage – You wont go far wrong if you try one of the methods used for sprouts. But if you fancy something different take a large savoy cabbage, dark leaf. Blanche for 3 mins in boiling water, then drain and place on a chopping board. In a seperate bowl mixtogether, some feta cheese crumbled, cooked rice, sprinkle of pine nuts, drizzle of olive oil, and some basil. Mix well and place in the cabbage leaf, fold over to form a small parcel then return to an oven proof dish, allowing one or two per person add a small amount of water around them and cook for approx 20 mins 160FAN, After 15 mins make sure there is still a little water left otherwise add a spoonful.
Cauliflower – don’t discard the creamy cauliflowers, they are equally as delicious as the white ones! A comfort recipe I like to make is Cauliflower & Shropshire Blue soup, a great way to get people who think they don’t like cauliflower to actually eat it. Get your slow cooker out, drop in a head of cauliflower cut into pieces, 1 white onion sliced, 150g shropshire blue cheese [ any will do!] 1.5 litres of stock freshly ground black pepper then leave on low while you are out, blend and serve with chunky bread.
Celeriac - is a lower GI than potatoes so whilst it still gives you that comfort food sigh of goodness it wont leave your body craving more. Celeriac soup is another lunchtime favourite, perhaps with some spelt croutons and a drizzle of sesame oil.
All you need to do is pick a heavy weight celeriac, the heavier means it wont be full of folds and holes just solid flesh. Strip away its outer skin and chop and put in your slow cooker with either stock or water, add a chopped white onion and some pepper. cook till soft and purée - your soup is ready. Thirdly chunks of celeriac with your local shin beef in the slow cooker, along with shallots and some stock will give you a big hug of a casserole for a chilly night. Another French influenced dish is celeriac remoulade, basically finely grated celeriac served raw dressed in a light mayonnaise dressing and served with salads, or meats - perfect unadulterated side dish.
Celery – years ago you found celery stuffed with a cream cheese as an aperitif, but there is far more to this little fibre rich vegetable. Great addition to your slow cooker stews, or simply braised in the oven drizzled with a little olive oil and water until soft, then thicken the cooking liquor with cornflour, add a little parmesan and pour back over and then back in the oven until its bubbly and golden.
Horseradish Not only perfect with beef but a very useful addition to cooked carrots something I really like to do is to stir into cooked mashed carrots a tablespoon of creamed horseradish. This makes a delicious accompaniment to a plain meat or fresh mackerel. It cuts through the oiliness of the fish and really enhances the flavours.
Jerusalem Artichokes If you’ve ever seen in your greengrocers what resembles a very knobbly potato chances are its a Jerusalem Artichoke. This hard, smallish vegetable has quite a nutty taste, it must be peeled - once you’ve managed the peeling you can virtually use it the same way you would use a potato, it can be steamed, boiled, stir fried, made into soup..... You can also use this raw, Remoulade grate and drench in a lemon juice and oil dressing to preserve the white coloured flesh, without the lemon this will discolour. This makes a nice change to a winter salad.
Kale – an absolute power house which gram for gram contains 17 times more vitamin C than carrots and is also a great way of getting your daily dose of calcium, 80g cooked
provides 120mg of calcium. So a different idea is to make some Curly Kale Crisps. They have come highly recommended and all you need is the green part of preferably curly kale torn into smallish pieces, a light spray of olive oil trying to ensure it reaches the inner depths of the curls! Then sprinkle with sea salt and perhaps a delicate sprinkle of smoked paprika, spread single layer onto a baking sheet, then bake at a low temperature [ 120 -150C] for about 30 mins. Do check from time to time and ensure it doesnt burn, which can easily happen. Leave to cool for about 15 mins during which time check the seasoning and add a little more if required. It is texture wise like the crispy seaweed you can buy. So I guess you could also shred it and make your own version of this with different spices.
Leeks – OK soups, leek in cheese sauce as a side dish, added to pasta and many many more ideas. So a slightly different recipe for you to try is Leek and Mushroom Bake, this uses spelt flour to thicken and includes the stronger flavours of parmesan and grainy mustard. The recipe can be found on my recipe pages. Leeks raw, well the white part of them makes a great salad base instead of lettuce etc – my Taster salad recipe will give you the dressing to use and ideas of what to add to the raw leek.
Parsnips – Quick Roast 'Snips a quick way to prepare these to roast, is to peel, quarter and then par cook either steam, boil or in the microwave will al dente, drain well and then put into an oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil and black pepper and roast for approx 30 mins in a medium/hot oven 180Fan is fine.
Pears poached in red wine and served with hot blackberry couli and a drizzle of maple syrup - very easy pud! Pears are another fruit which can be eaten as a fruit on their own or combined into a savoury salad, often served with walnuts and balsamic vinegar to create a crunchy yet nutritious dish. Don’t be fooled by some pears feeling very hard to the touch, once you bite into them their grainy texture is actually quite soft so you know they are ready.
Potatoes[ main crop] Real Jacket spuds are now around, and perfect also for roasting. These are the good size potatoes, which make a very easy meal if wrapped in foil and cooked when you have the oven on with either your main course or if you are baking - time it so that they are ready for your lunch or evening meal. Serve them filled with either a chilli [ recipe on my recipe of the month pages] or just indulge and sprinkle with some good sea salt [ better mineral content, and some unsalted butter] Enjoy.
They also mash very well, so if you are mashing them, use a little nob of butter, sprinkle of salt and use as a main accompaniment or to top off some form of pie, be it fish, meat or vegetable. If you are doing a posh dinner party, up the gain and make pomme purée [ OK its mash but slightly softer texture] perfect with a pork fillet stuffed with apricots and roast! Another idea is to cut your potato into small cubes, add a sliced red onion, some garlic chopped and drizzle with olive oil and a sprig of thyme. Roast in the oven and serve with your main meal, the smell is heavenly. If you are having an Autumn barbecue and been fed up with jacket potatoes, this is a great way to serve a big dish of these tasty little packets. On my recipe page please find a very easy alternative to the full fat dauphinoise potatoes, this is such an easy dish to prepare and cook yet time and time again gets lots of compliments when served alongside your favourite roast.....
Shallots – Stifado!!! These really are a must addition to your Greek Stifado. I have been experimenting and put my own take on this traditional Greek recipe on my recipe pages have a look and feel free to tweak and experiment with the framework I have put together.
Swede – perfect mashed with carrot again the addition of horseradish really enhances this. Swede and Turnip are often the poor relations but I love them cooked along side a piece of brisket in the slow cooker, not only an economical beef dinner but all the nutrients are contained within the pot and if you put all your veg and potatoes in there too your full meal is ready and all takes on a really comforting beefy flavour.
Clementines/satsumas/tangerines – how traditional to have some of these around at Christmas. Many years ago I was in Israel on the run up to Christmas and was horrified to be served green Clementine, I was assured that they were ripe and that is how they serve them. Sure enough they were as sweet as sweet inside so don't discard any slightly green ones, peel and try you may well be surprised with the sweetness that greets you. Just one small Clementine will give you nearly a third of the vitamin C your body needs each day. A nice alternative pudding is to serve Brandy poached Clementines [ Clementine tend to work the best as they have firm even segments]. Put 250g of sugar wit 100ml of water into a pan and dissolve, bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 mins until the syrup is a dark caramel colour, remove from the heat and to prevent it cooking further place the pan onto cold water. Now add a further 100ml of cold water to the pan, some finely shredded clementine peel and about 100ml of brandy you can add a cinnamon stick too at this stage, then simmer for 30 mins – you will know its cooked when the peel is soft. Add the peeled whole clementines and simmer for about 5 mins, drain, serve with the caramelised liquid poured over and with or without a spoonful of crème fraiche!!
Cranberries – These are fruits that you cant eat raw, they are far too tart, but cooked they are delicious and apart from a nutrient packed little red ball, additionally they are key to topping harmful bacteria from sticking to the stomach wall. Popular as a sauce with various meats, there are far more uses you can put them too. I suggest a cranberry and almond cake using polenta therefore keeping it gluten free too the recipe is on my recipe pages for you to try.
Pomegranate - Very popular this year, as a colourful addition to salads, sprinkled over the top looking rather like little jewels. The seeds are naturally sweet, ok a little fiddly but well worth it. How many of you have tried or heard of eating them with a pin!!! it certainly makes you appreciate them. But there is an easier way, cut the fruit in half, hold cut side down over a bowl and tap with a wooden spoon until the seeds fall out.
Chestnuts in the village of Kastania, Mani, Greece these little beauties are picked and become the focus of a festival during the Autumn. The crop though stays in season and especially over the Christmas period is often the main stay of your stuffing. I actually like adding them to a pork stew, the nuttiness and texture adds a real wow to it. Just peel and leave whole, add some chopped onions, wild mushrooms, celery and pork shoulder cubed to your slow cooker, season with black pepper and then add a stock usually red wine based with a dash of tomato puree, a little berry conserve and stir all together and then cook for around 8 hours for a delicious seasonal dish.,
Almonds– during the late autumn in Greece if you are lucky enough to be there this is the season of shorter warm days but on the trees the almonds have shed their outer layer, leaving a furry cover, then the harder case and inside the nut itself. You can quite quickly tell if they are ripe as those that are underipe have a slightly bitter taste which if you continued to eat them could cause you quick a nasty bout of sickness... Likelihood is you will be buying these ready to shell in the UK, but the same can apply, because until you shell them you cant fully tell. Discard any blackened, or shrivelled almonds you are looking for a plump almond, with creamy pure flesh covered by a brown flaky protective layer.
Walnuts – as a little girl I remember that every Christmas the nut crackers and olive wood bowl would appear filled with walnuts and almonds and often brazil nuts. What followed was a varying degree of success in shelling them without pinching fingers, tops of legs when holding the nut crackers steady!!! But the smell of a freshly shelled nut is divine and the oiliness of the walnut when just opened makes it a very tasty aperitif with your favourite tipple.
Nut Paste – make your own, just blend your raw unsalted nuts in a food processor until the form a paste, adding a little water if you so wish and blending to the smoothness you require.
Rabbit – falls in and out of favour, but recently in Greece our friends cooked a wonderful stifado, [ basically stifado is a stew] using rabbit, carrots, potatoes and celery. Infused with a bay leaf and thyme and a little stock and olive oil – it was a basic yet very tasty dish and economical in the making.Venison – ultra lean high iron protein which is very versatile and can be used in many of the same ways you would use beef. The dinner party venison recipe is on my recipe pages and is a very suitable one for Christmas Eve. However a more every day version is my Plummy Venison Casserole, for 4 people, use your slow cooker. Put in 500g cubed venison, 2 carrots cut into rings, 2 sticks of celery cut into rings, 2 cloves of garlic chopped. Now mix together 450ml of stock, 3 tablespoons of plum jam [ homemade with slightly less sugar is ideal] heaped tablespoon of spelt flour, whisk to remove any lumps and pour over the ingredients in the slow cooker. Add 2 bay leaves and a few sprigs of thyme. Cook on slow for approx 7 – 8 hours. Serve with either jacket or mashed potato or celeriac mash and a green seasonal veg. The aroma will meet you when you open the door and your “ready meal” is ready..
Some interesting nutritional articles to give you "food for thought"!
During the stages of the menopause less oestrogen is released. When this happens the brain tries to get the ovaries to work harder by releasing a hormone called FSH [ follicle stimulating hormone] and LH [ luteinising hormone] its actually these hormones which cause all the problems associated with the menopause.
Some foods are a good source of phytoestrogen which is a dietary oestrogen found in plant sources it has been found to relieve some menopausal symptoms. Phytoestrogens are also antioxidants and boost the immune system.
FOODS TO EAT –the following are good sources of phytoestrogens
Soya – in the form of soy milk, edamame beans, soy yoghurt, or soya protein [tofu] – these can help to reduce the severity and frequency of hot flushes
Flaxseeds, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds can help to balance the hormones – try Burgen bread which is Low GL and contains a good source of these particular phytoestrogen sources.
Nuts such as pistachio, walnuts, cashews, hazel, almonds and peanuts – all natural and unsalted!
Low GL foods and in particular whole-grains will help to maintain a steady blood sugar and ease mood swings. They are also rich in Vitamin B which also affects the hormonal balance in your body and mood [ they raise serotonin levels the happy hormone!]
Omega 3 oils – oily fish, olive or rapeseed oils, quinoa are all anitinflammatory and can help to reduce hot flushes as well as protecting the heart.
5 upwards of fruit and Vegetables, always try and max at 3 fruits a day otherwise the sugar content will be high and that will not help you to keep your blood sugar stable. [ if you want ideas or to know what a portion is check nutrition news pages www.goodfoodandnutrition.com
Garlic, Generally the greener the vegetable the richer the source of phytoestrogens and they will also be high in antioxidants.
At this time of year incorporate berries and raspberries in your diet, they will shortly be in season,a great source of phytoestrogens
Beans and pulses – include hummus, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, cannelini and butter beans
Vitamin E rich foods – again your nuts, sunflower seeds pine nuts, cooked spinach, avocado and dried apricots have been shown to control and even eliminate hot flushes and protect against vaginal dryness which often is a problem during peri-menopause.
Fizzy drinks, these can rob the body of calcium so weaken bones and also trigger hot flushes.
High levels of saturated fats
High sugar levels thee an cause mood fluctuations owing to the affect they have on your blood sugar levels in the body.
FEW MORE TIPS
When you are planning your meals always have some complex carbohydrate and protein ie your porridge oats for breakfast made with milk is ideal – watch any sugary addiitions though and consider using cinnamon and honey rather than sugar.
If you eat fruit ie an apple eat 5 – 7 almonds with it to counteract the blood sugar spike with the sugar in the fruit.
In Greece, fossilised olive leaves have been found that date back between 50 and 60,000 years.
60% of cultivated land in Greece is used exclusively for Olive Growing
Greece = 3rd largest exporter of olive oil, she even exports to Italy where they mix it into their own olive oil and it gets sold on as Italian.
Not all fats were created equal, and olive oil is among the healthiest known oils. It's a central part of the so-called "Greek paradox" (i.e., people who follow a Mediterranean diet that's high in fats have low levels of cardiovascular disease and obesity).
You've probably heard about the health benefits of fish oil. Extra-virgin olive oil contains the same omega-3 fatty acids associated with everything from lowering blood fat (a primary risk for heart disease) to decreasing joint pain in people with arthritis. You can even triple your intake of omega-3s by cooking fish in extra-virgin olive oil.
Why you should NEVER follow a NO Fat diet?
Consuming Greek olive oil regularly has been shown to
· help maintain body weight and improve blood sugar and insulin control;.
· Olive oil is highest in mono-unsaturated fat, this is the kind of fat that doesn't oxidise in the body and cause the body to age.
Extra-virgin olive oil contains a natural chemical with special properties: the phytonutrient oleocanthal. Oleocanthal mimics the effects of ibuprofen, reducing inflammation. Doctors believe inflammation is associated with -- and may even be the root cause of -- everything from allergies and depression to heart disease and cancer. The oleocanthal in extra-virgin olive oil keeps inflammation from getting out of hand.
Extra Virgin vs. Virgin
We know that extra-virgin olive oil has some specific health benefits as well as a distinctive taste. But what does extra-virgin mean? Extra-virgin oil comes from the first pressing of the olives. They are always cold pressed, meaning no heat or chemicals are used to extract the final product. There are no additives or preservatives either.
The result? An unadulterated oil that retains its natural flavour or aroma.
Virgin olive oil comes from the second pressing and is of a lower quality.
Greece = 80 percent of production is extra virgin [EV]
Italy = 50 percent of production is EV
Spain = 30 percent of production is EV
DOES YOUR IMMUNITY NEED A BOOST??
Certain illness affects your immunity and can leave it lacking the fight and a little weak.
Rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis are two such illness. This reduced immunity means that a simple cold can turn into a chest infection, a muscle twinge can last months with swelling and pain, what others fight of quickly lasts and lingers.
Inflammation is high in the body with both these forms of arthritis, it is caused because the antibodies produced by the body attack itself as opposed to just fighting infection.
Medication prescribed for such illness help manage the pain but leave the immunity very weak, so one thing you can do is ensure that your nutritional intake maximises the nutrients from the food you eat, so, it might be worth a bit of a food stock-take and some home truths to help you self manage your condition.
Your 5+ a day portions of fruit and veg needs to become far more than this, originally the advice was to have 7-9 a day but it was felt by some that this was not achievable when the averages in Northern Europe fall well short of this recommendation. In fact consider this key information when deciding which lifestyle or food diet to follow;-
In the UK Britons east 258g of fruit and vegetables per day compared with a European Average of 386g [ and this is higher still in Greece – hence my love of the Greek Diet]
So you can guess from this what the first thing is you are going to do;-
Up your fruit and vegetable intake
Concentrate on your vegetable green leafy and ensure it is there every day in one form or another
include garlic and onions
Boost also by using any cooking liquid and make into a vegetable broth to capture every last bit of goodness.
Concentrate on including foods which include the following vitamins and minerals as these are known to have the biggest influence on our immune system, these are;-
Vitamins A, C, D and E
Zinc – helps viruses enter the body
Selenium – acts like a sponge mopping up the free radicals caused by infection once in the body
Some of these help protect the nasal and mouth lining which in turn can prevent nasties entering the body. Others such as a vitamin D rich yoghurt will help to keep the gut bacteria healthy and in turn help with the fighting of illness.
You can see that if you are suffering from any of these immune depleting illnesses one of the worst things you can do is to cut all healthy fats out of your diet, Avocado is a great source of Vitamin E, yet left out of diets owing to its high fat content. This healthy fat along with olive oil is integral to keeping you healthy. Like anything its important to vary your diet, unprocess your diet but not remove any food groups i.e. dairy free, wheat free unless you have a medical need to do so that has been confirmed.
Have a read of my blog to catch up on my recent foodie adventures!.
BBC Radio Shropshire - Invited to be the guest on their Food Programme, where I spent the hour promoting local and seasonal foods, sharing ideas and recipes to get you cooking.
Thank you to all the people who took part in my Mediterranean Masterclasses at Ludlow Food Festival, we had a great time, lots of nutrition tips, cookery ideas and you all had the opportunity to cook with me and create the dishes to eat and enjoy.