January 10, 2012
It’s been a longer than usual stretch of seasonal overeating this year. I always say I’ll start laying off the Christmas cake after new year’s and never quite manage it and then last week when I finally did (on the 2nd or 3rd) generally craziness coupled with complete exhaustion (I’ve got 3 weeks to go before the baby and seem to be sleeping about 4 hours every night) meant that I just couldn’t get round to writing anything til the kids went back to school yesterday something I’ve been more than ready for for a few days now. Yes, it has been lovely- late starts, long lunches, afternoon movies and of course whole days spent throwing toys around and walking away but basically the house is beyond trashed and at the moment you could actually lose a baby in the current chaos. Not the picture they paint in the baby books………….
But I digress. This post is about how to get some healthy eating habits going for the new year so here goes…….
Juicing is one of the best ways I know to kickstart healthy eating. When you juice something you take away most of the fibre which concentrates all the vitamins and allows you to get through a much bigger volume of healthy stuff than you might ordinarily. It would take quite a while to munch your way through a head of kale but you can knock it back in 10 seconds if you juice it – geddit? So far, so brilliant – you get a super-concentrated dose of fresh uncooked good stuff which you can consume in seconds. It’s also really easy to digest which is nice for your insides because believe me they need a break after all the pints and mince pies they’ve had to deal with recently.
So, what to juice? Well, it’s not just things like berries, mangos and pears. Just as juicing concentrates vitamins it also concentrates all the sugar found in fruit so if you just juice fruit you end up taking in a massive dose of sugar. Yes, with loads of vitamins but it’s still a massive sugar hit which is never really good news for your system – your blood sugar will spike then crash when you really want to keep things on an even keel.
To properly get the benefits you need to start with at least 50% veg and from there work up. Yes it seems hardcore at first but really once you start to re-educate your taste buds it becomes less and less so. Carrots are an obvious starting place, they’re naturally sweet. Celery and cucumber are other ones to try – not as sweet but not super earthy either. All of these work really well with apples, pears, lemons and oranges. A small knob of ginger is also great. Not only does it add a lovely zing, it peps up your immune system helping you fight colds and flus plus it’s great for digestion.
A good basic juice recipe
4 or 5 sticks celery
2 apples (or pears or oranges or a mix)
A small knob of ginger
Nothing needs to be peeled or cored just well washed. Juice the lot and consume immediately.
Use this mix as a starting point then start adding a little green veg – a handful of parsley or some salad leaves for example then begin ramping up to things like kale – with veg the darker the variety the more nutrtious is always a good guideline. Obviously you’ll need to pace yourself (things start to get a little bitter when you add things like kale), start with a handful then try to increase it.
Ideally you’ll get your veg content up to 75% maybe even higher and believe me this is when your energy levels really start to take off. You’ll feel refreshed and you’ll also feel much less tempted to eat bad stuff – the theory behind that one is that because you’re consuming way above and beyond what you need vitaminwise you’re less likely to get the munchies which are usually interpreted as “must have a chocolate biscuit /that piece of cake/bag of crisps/ all three” as opposed to what they really are ” I need vitamin C/D/E/whatever”
I usually have my juice mid morning and/or afternoon and my kids generally do the actually juicing. It’s one of those tedious jobs that they think is lots of fun (yay!).It also encourages them to drink all kinds of stuff they mightn’t eat which leaves me feeling really smug if there’s a showdown at dinnertime so if you’ve got little ones I’d highly advise getting them involved. Mine complain if there’s too much ginger (“spicey!!”) and kale content can’t be too high either but apart from that they’ll always try anything they’ve made.
Back to normal with recipes next week and my apologies for the slow start. Chuck is distributing pineapples today which are our way of saying a small thank-you for all your support last year. It’s tough out there but your continued support has kept us going and we are more than grateful. As always please feel free to let us know how we can improve things during 2012.
Pineapple is amazing juiced and it’s very good for your digestive system but it is especially amazing with a shot of rum and a dash of coconut milk (but you didn’t hear that from me!) or, you can roast it up with rum, brown sugar, star anise and cinnamon which makes a dessert that is beyond good.
Happy new year,
November 15, 2010
I was going to do a root vegetable soup recipe this week but when I saw our red cabbage coming in from the Healy’s farm in Wicklow I decided to change tack. They’re enormous!! Don’t worry though, they keep very well in the fridge even after you’ve cut into them.
Like all cabbage, the red kind is packed with iron, calcium, potassium and fibre and is also high in vitamins C, B1, B2. B3 and D. I’ve always tended to use it in salads where it works really well with things like carrots, apple, pears, all kinds of nuts, avocado, goat’s cheese, feta , onion, Asian flavours like soy and mirin ….. Recently though, I’ve start cooking with it and find it works really well in soups and stirfries. As the weather’s turned so nippy my first recipe this week is for a kind of lentil soup/stew that is perfect for this kind of weather. It’s really simple to make and it’s a great way to get kids (big and small!) to eat loads of vegetables. As lentils are so nutritious (they also lower cholesterol I found out recently) this dish is a meal in itself, especially if you eat it with some brown rice. This recipe will give you enough for about 4 or 5 servings. Leftovers will freeze well or make a very quick lunch the next day.
I should say that the list of ingredients is not at all prescriptive but a guide – feel free to add any root veg you have lying around as well as celery, peppers and tomatoes. If you have spuds don’t add them until after the first half hour of cooking as they will fall apart and go to mush. Courgettes don’t really work as they just disintegrate and aubergines need too much precooking which just slows things down too much.
Puy Lentil Vegetable Soup
3 medium onions
3 medium carrots
1/2 head garlic
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried (don’t worry too much if you don’t have this)
A couple of bay leaves
1/2 large red cabbage or 1 small one
1 tin chopped tomatoes
250gr Puy lentils (or any other kind you have)
2L vegetable stock (as usual I use Marigold)
As time is almost always of the essence for me, rather than preparing all the veg before I start, I chop and add the ingredients to the pot as I go.
So, begin by chopping your onions then saute over a low to medium heat in a generous amount of olive oil (ie enough to stop you having to stir things constantly). As the onions get going, dice your carrots and throw them in followed by the mushrooms (roughly chopped). Add some salt, the thyme and bay leaves and turn up the heat slightly to allow the veg to fry rather than sweat for a few minutes. Roughly chop your garlic and throw it in turning down the heat slightly. Shred the cabbage and add that too. Cook for a few more minutes then add the tomatoes. Rinse the lentils and throw them in along with the stock.
Allow things to come to the boil then turn down the heat and cover. Cook for about 50 minutes stirring occasionally.
To serve drizzle a little Sherry vinegar or sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
Another recent discovery for red cabbage has been stirfried with rice which goes well with fish, tofu or dahl. Either way, the red cabbage makes any dish look gorgeous. I tend to cook some brown rice at the beginning of the week so I’ve always got something to take the panic out of cooking midweek. I prefer the shortgrain brown type which apart from being really, really good for you, has a delicious nutty flavour. You’ll find it in your local healthfood shop (The Hopsack in Rathmines is my fav).
Stir-fried Red Cabbage with Ginger and toasted Pumpkin seeds(for 2)
Enough brown rice for 2 people
1/2 red cabbage
4-5 cloves garlic roughly chopped
A piece of ginger about the size of your thumb peeled and minced
Fresh or dried chilli (optional)
A handful of pumpkin seeds
Begin by chopping the onions and shredding your cabbage. Heat some vegetable oil on the pan and throw on the onions and toss them over a medium to high heat for a few minutes. Add the Cabbage and continue to toss everything. Turn down the heat a bit and add the garlic and ginger along with a little chilli of you fancy some heat. Continue cooking until the cabbage has wilted and the garlic has softened.
Add the rice and continue cooking until it has warmed through then turn off the heat. Toast the pumpkin seeds on a dry pan over a medium heat until they have started to pop and change colour. Mix them through the rice along with a dash of soy sauce or tamari and serve.
A lovely dipping sauce with ginger that will make you want to eat lots of veg, tempura with sweet potato and broccoli and Moro oranges are back!!
January 15, 2010
I know I dropped the ball on the whole healthy eating thing for the new year by proposing roast chicken with lots of trimmings for dinner last week but it was snowing. This week I’m making up for it with …….. ginger. Fantastic for digestion (pregnant ladies take note), ginger is also great for colds and flus and is reckoned to have properties which fight headaches and period pains. We often drink ginger tea in our house especially over the winter months and it’s so easy to make. Slice about an inch of ginger and simmer it in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Serve with honey and lemon juice. It’s also fantastic in juices and carrot and ginger is a classic. Take 3 or 4 carrots and juice with a small piece of ginger – juice and drink immediately. You can throw an apple or orange in there if you’d like some more sweetness.
Ginger is the basis of a great dipping sauce that is just fab with veggies like broccoli, green beans, courgette, peppers, sweet potato or butternut squash. Add tahini, a paste made from crushed sesame seeds which you can get in your health food shop or any Middle Eastern shop which gives it a beautiful nutty flavour, with soy sauce and honey. Completely addictive it’ll definitely give you a reason to eat plenty of veggies. I’m not really one for special kitchen gadgets or tools but I can’t recommend getting a proper ginger grater highly enough if you like these kind asian flavours. It’ll separate all the stringiness from the ginger pulp. I got mine in Muji and we use it just about every week.
Ginger and Soy Dipping sauce
2 Tablespoons Light Tahini
2 Tablespoons Soy or Tamari
1 Teaspoon Honey
2 Teaspoons grated Ginger
4 Tablespoons hot water
Fancy something a little special? This week’s sweet potato is great in tempura. I combined it with broccoli and served it with that yummy dipping sauce. The proportions below will make enough for 4 people as a starter or a lunch for 2 very hungry people. The trick with tempura is to get the batter as light as possible. For this I use self-raising flour and sparkling water. Don’t make it too ahead of time as the air leaches out and you lose the lightness.
Tempura of Sweet Potato and Broccoli
200gr Self-raising Flour
1 1/4 cups sparkling water
A pinch fine salt
200gr Sweet Potato
First of all prepare the dipping sauce as described above then get on with the veg. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into slices about 1 cm thick. Break the broccoli into bite-size florets and set aside. Whisk the flour, salt and sparkling water together. Heat about 3 cm of vegetable oil in the pan when you can get a drop of the tempura batter to sizzle it’s hot enough and you’re ready to go.
When you’re ready to cook, coat each piece of veg in batter and drop into the oil. This is a messy business and if you’re confident with chopsticks I find a large set is the way to go. If not just rinse you’re hands as needed. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan or things will start to stick together. Last night I filled the pan 3 times to get through all the veg. This of course means that someone has to stand over the pan while other people get to tuck in as tempura is best eaten immediately. You can of course munch while you keep an eye on the pan or use 2 pans if you want to completely relax over your dinner. Generally it’ll take about 2 minutes on each side to get the tempura golden and that’s just the way you want it. Enjoy!!
This weeks’ oranges are the Moro Blood variety which are only for a couple of months each year and are especially popular. If you’d like to get a box to keep in good supply just let us know and we’ll drop them with your bag next week. Like the other ones they cost 15E per 6.5k.
Have a great weekend,
January 4, 2010
After Christmas everyone seems to think that a grand gesture must be made to counteract all the excesses of the festive season but the truth is, with your bag of veggies or fruit and veggies you are already taking the first steps to “detox” or cleanse your body. Detoxing is something the body does naturally if you give it fresh healthy food. Something as simple as a little lemon juice in some hot water first thing in the morning is a fantastic way to get your digestive system going, eliminating all the toxins built up during the previous day while things you may be eating every day all have their functions – Apples are packed with vitamins and minerals, Celery is great for cleansing the liver while Carrots work on the kidneys. Even humble Brassicas like this week’s Kale have fantastic cleansing properties.
If you’re busy juicing is a great way to go if you want to detox. You can pack the nutrients of a couple of kilos of fruit and/or vegetables into a single glass in a couple of minutes. As there’s no cooking involved, none of the nutrients have been destroyed by heat so it’s more nutritious than eating the same ingredients cooked. Plus, if you’re getting all the nutrients you need you’ll be less likely to crave the bad stuff (cravings are the body’s way of telling you you need something but for some reason this is usually interpreted as “time for another chocolate biscuit”) so they can be good for losing weight.
All of the ingredients in your selection this week can be juiced but some work better than others and I’ve put together a few basic juice recipes to get you started……
Apples, Celery and Carrots – full of vitamins and antioxidants which protect and cleanse the liver which is where the body deals with most of it’s toxins so if it’s working properly so are you.
Beetroot – fantastic for cleansing/detoxing the blood and our digestive system as well as a million other properties. Flavourwise, it can take over in a juice so go easy until you get used to it.
Lemon – Citrus fruits are fantastic liver and intestinal cleansers and they work to protect against colds and coughs.
Ginger – Gently cleanses, aids digestion and also fights against colds and flu. It adds a lovely kick to almost any juice.
The proportions given are a guide, juicing is really a question of taste (and also what’s to hand sometimes). If you find the vegetable juices (especially the one with Celery) hard to take at first just add in more fruit at first. You’ll find that over time you’ll acquire the taste and you’ll be able to substitute more of the fruit for vegetables
These recipes make 2 glasses of juice.
Carrot, Apple and Lemon Juice
3 Medium Carrots
Wash but don’t peel the Carrots and Apples then cut into pieces small enough to fit into your juicer. There’s no need to core the apples. Peel the lemon and cut into pieces.
Juice all the ingredients, stir and drink immediately.
Carrot, Celery and Apple Juice
3 Medium Carrots
2 Sticks of Celery
Wash but don’t peel the Celery Carrots and Apples then cut into pieces small enough to fit into your juicer. There’s no need to core the apples.
Juice all the ingredients, stir and drink immediately.
Carrot, Apple and Ginger Juice
3 Medium Carrots
1 piece of Ginger about the size of your thumb nail
Wash but don’t peel the Carrots and Apples then cut into pieces small enough to fit into your juicer. There’s no need to core the apples.
Juice all the ingredients, stir and drink immediately.
Beetroot, Orange and Ginger Juice
1 Medium Beetroot
1 piece of Ginger about the size of your thumb nail
Wash but don’t peel the beetroot. Take the root and top from the beetroot. Then cut into pieces small enough to fit into your juicer. Peel the orange. Juice everything up and feel amazing!!!!
Warm Asian salad with oyster mushrooms, ginger and french beans plus some ideas for Charlotte potatoes
October 23, 2009
This week we have oyster mushrooms, french beans and ginger so I decided to try an Asian style salad. I lightly steamed the beans then tossed them with the mushrooms (panfried til golden) and made a dressing of soy sauce, grated ginger, finely chopped garlic and a little rice wine vinegar and honey. It was supposed to be for lunch today but it was so delicious that I actually ended up eating it at midnight last night. I ate (ok, wolfed) it on its own but it’s fab with steamed rice and/or some stir-fried tofu……..
Warm Asian salad with Oyster mushrooms, French Beans and Ginger
200-250gr french beans
1 small onion finely chopped
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 piece of ginger about the size of your thumb peeled then finely grated with the stringy bits removed
2 medium cloves garlic very finely chopped
A scant half teaspoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
Top and tail the beans and then stick them on to steam. This should take about 5-8 minutes; enough time to get the mushrooms ready. First of all, give them a wipe with a barely damp cloth or piece of kitchen paper (mushrooms should never ever be immersed in water as they end up completely sodden and it’s next to impossible to fry them). So, a quick wipe then slice them into large bitesize pieces. Heat some oil on the pan and throw them on then toss until golden brown which should take about 7 minutes. By this time your beans should be just about ready – you want them with a bit of crunchy but with enough give so that they mix well with the other ingredients. Rinse them under the cold tap so they stop cooking and stay crunchy then drain completely and mix with the sauted mushrooms and the onion.
To make the dressing simple mix all the ingredients together. Taste and add more soy, vinegar or honey as you see fit (it should be fine but just in case!!). Dress the vegetables and then serve warm or at room temperature.
The potatoes in your bag this week are the Charlotte variety and they are pretty fancy. Exceptionally waxy (I know, not very popular in Ireland but we’ve got the rest of the winter for floury spuds) they are fab in salads. Try them with this week’s beans, rocket or lettuce, walnuts and goat’s cheese. Dress with your best olive oil and some sherry vinegar – Enjoy!!
It seems like everyone’s got a cold at the moment so we thought we’d include Ginger in all our bags this week. Apart from the great taste (try it in any stir-fry to find out) it has amazing antiviral properties which mean that it can help purge the body of colds and viruses as well as boosting the immune system.
My first recipe is for a tea we drink in our house right through the autumn/winter months and it’s so tasty that you may well find yourself brewing it up regardless of whether you have a cold or not………….
Very comforting Ginger,Lemon and Honey Tea (for 2)
Take a 4cm piece of Ginger and slice it into rounds about 1/2 cm thick. Simmer in about 300ml boiling water for about 5 minutes then add the juice of 1 Lemon and 2 Tablespoons Honey before serving.
This tea without the Honey and Lemon is also great for upset stomachs.
Fennel is also in all our bags this week and it’s a variety some of you may not be so familiar with. Crunchy and sweet with a beautiful aniseed flavour it’s an obvious partner for any fish dish but don’t stop there, it’s great with all kinds of roasts.
You can keep things really easy by simply slicing it as thinly as possible then tossing in lemon juice, a little Salt and your nicest Olive Oil. It can be quartered, tossed in Olive Oil and roasted in the oven, or you can dice it up and slowly saute in Olive Oil until it has almost caramelised (particularly good with any pan-fried fish).
One of my absolute favourite ways to eat Fennel is in a gratin with Sour Cream and Parmesan. Over the summer we went to Kerry where Paul caught lots of Seabass which is now in our freezer. Usually fishing trips involve sitting in a boat from early morning to late at night waiting and waiting and waiting (for the big one of course!!) but no fish are actually caught. This time the gods smiled – a lot! Paul had some killer bait (don’t ask, if I told you he’d have to kill me) and he cleaned up. So far, our favourite way to enjoy it has been panfried with Garlic and Chilli served with mashed Potato with slowcooked Leeks and this amazing Fennel dish. Buy any fish you like and enjoy…
Fennel Gratin with Sour Cream and Parmesan
500gr Fennel (about what you have in your bag this week)
5 Tablespoons Sour Cream (or nearly all of one those pots you get)
About 4 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Trim your Fennel bulbs (ie remove the herby bits) and slice as thinly as possible. Heat some Olive Oil in a pan and fry your Fennel slices until nicely browned and softened. Remove and mix with the Sour Cream and about 1/2 Parmesan.Season with Salt and Pepper, top with the rest of the Parmesan and bake until golden brown (about 15 minutes) at about 180 degrees.
Hope you enjoy these recipes,
Have a fantastic weekend,