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Growing up many a fond memory was made in Turkey. It was my mother’s destination of choice for family holidays in the 1990s – thanks to the guaranteed Summer sun (and bargain prices before Turkey started accepting the euro). I was recently reminded of the richness of Turkish culture and the diversity of its natural wonders thanks to ‘Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road Adventure’ – a must-watch four part travel documentary.But, despite spending many weeks in Turkey, I’ve never really got to know the country’s cuisine. And, even though I love anything Middle Eastern and edible, until a few weeks ago I didn’t even have one Turkish recipe up my sleeve. But now I do – thanks to a work colleague and friend, Aleyna, who has a Turkish heritage. Well really it’s thanks to Aleyna’s mum, Helen. Here I’m sharing a recipe for not only red pepper paste (biber salçasi) but also how Helen uses it to make ‘acuka’ – a rich Middle Eastern tasting pepper and walnut based dip or spread.
Part 1: Turkish red pepper paste – biber salçasi

Red pepper paste, called biber salçasi, is a Turkish pantry staple that’s used as a flavouring for other dishes, like stews, sauces and soups. The base ingredients are really simple – red peppers, lemon, salt, olive oil and paprika. (Note that you can also buy biber salçasi in jars).

Ingredients

  • 3 large red peppers/capsicum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp paprika

Method

  1. Char the red peppers either over an open flame (ideal to get a smoky flavour) or by roasting.
  2. Once the skin is blackened it should be easy to de-skin the peppers. Remove the stem and seeds.
  3. Puree the flesh that remains with a blender.
  4. Add to a saucepan with the remaining ingredients.
  5. Simmer over a low heat for 45 minutes or until a thick, rich paste forms.
  6. Cool then transfer to a sterilised jar, seal with olive oil and refrigerate. OR cool and then move on to part 2 of this recipe and turn your red pepper paste into acuka….

Part 2: Acuka

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup biber salçasi – red pepper paste
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (or hazelnuts)
  • 1-2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp each of dried oregano/thyme, cumin powder and chilli powder
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Method: Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and puree with a hand blender, gradually adding olive oil until you reach the desired consistency. Transfer to a sterilised jar, seal with olive oil and refrigerate.

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On a recent trip back to Yorkshire for my sister’s wedding I was lucky enough to spend a day in the kitchen with one of the best Gujarati chefs in England. Or at least that’s what me and my husband think. Who was it? Not a celebrity chef nor even a professional chef, but my mother-in-law, Sudha Patel.

I recently introduced Sudha alongside her recipe for Aloo Matar (potato and pea curry) – in that post I shared how Jamie Oliver’s show on Italian nonnas had inspire me to get some quality time in the kitchen with her. Sudha, like many of the Italian nonnas, has 50 years plus experience in the kitchen and tons of personal recipes up her sleeve.

It had taken me 15 years to spend a day in the kitchen with Sudha so the experience was long overdue. What makes her Gujarati cooking so different from much of the food that Brits would call ‘Indian’ is that it’s not only vegetarian but it’s also made with no onion and no garlic.

Like many Indians my husband’s parents don’t eat onion or garlic for religious reasons. According to Ayurvedic traditions garlic and onions are avoided because they belong to a family of plants that can have undesirable physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consequences. Consequences like body odour, bad breadth, aggression, agitation and more. Now I’m not about to give up garlic and onion any time soon, but, after my cooking lesson with Sudha, I appreciate that Indian food can be just as delicious without these two ingredients.

Gujarati Masala Dal 

Dal or dahl is a term used broadly for various soups made from dried pulses – peas, beans, lentils etc. Because I default to curries, I’ve never really got into making dals. So the first recipe I requested on my cooking lesson was for a ‘simple, classic dal’. Here it is Gujarati Masala Dal with no onion and no garlic – it’s vegan, versatile and very delicious.

Ingredients

  • Legumes: 1.5 cups split yellow peas (or yellow split lentils)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp ghee/coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsp chopped fresh green chillies
  • Fresh coriander
  • 1 lemon or lime

Spices:

  • Cinnamon scroll 3-4 cm
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 1.5 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander

Method

  1. Rinse the legumes twice and drain well (you can also then soak them to reduce the cooking time).
  2. Add the legumes, water and 1/2 tsp of salt to a pan or pressure cooker and cook until the legumes are soft and the water has reduced. Note: the cooking time will depend on your choice of legume and pressure cooking will speed things up. Note: split peas absorb lots of water as they cook, so add more water as needed during cooking.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan. Once it’s hot add the mustard seeds, cloves, fenugreek seeds and cinnamon.
  4. Wait until the seeds start to pop and then add the ginger, fresh chillies and chilli powder. Stir well.
  5. Then add the chopped tomato, followed by the cumin, coriander, garam masala and remaining 2 tsp of salt.
  6. Add the tomato puree and stir the sauce well.
  7. Add 500ml of warm water to the cooked legumes and stir well.
  8. Then transfer the legumes into the sauce. Add more water if needed (if you do add more salt too).
  9. Add a small handful of chopped fresh coriander stalks and the juice of one lemon or lime.
  10. Cook uncovered on a low heat for 30-45 minutes then finish with chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Enjoy with heaps of rice, bread and perhaps even Sudha’s Aloo Matar (potato and pea curry).

Laura

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When it comes to learning from by the experts it’s true that our grandmas, or nonnas, are up there with the best professional chefs. At least that’s what I’ve come to appreciate after watching every inspiring episode of ‘Jamie Oliver and The Nonnas‘. In the show he tours Italy in search of some of the most experienced home cooks in the country. The nonnas he meets have 50 years plus experience in the kitchen, and many of them are masterchef style celebrities in their home villages and towns.

What makes their dishes so special is that they’ve often been passed down through generations, they use regional and seasonal produce (often from their own gardens) and in most cases their recipes are their own creations.

With this new found appreciation of our nonnas on a recent visit to the UK I couldn’t wait to spend a long overdue day in the kitchen with Sudha, my mother in law. Sudha, has been cooking Indian Gujarati food (all vegetarian) for almost 50 years, most of them spent in the UK. Her food is mindblowingly good – and beats anything I’ve ever tasted in an Indian restaurant. Even my ‘I can’t imagine a feast without meat’ brother-in-law was happy and started coming round to vegetarianism after trying Sudha’s biryani.

Like the Italian nonnas Sudha’s recipes and techniques are truly her own – no cookbooks, internet searches or TV shows are involved. In fact she doesn’t even have her recipes noted down anywhere – they’re all firmly imprinted in her own mind. That’s why with this post, the first in a series of her Gujarati recipes, I’m keen to preserve in writing some of her cooking magic. Like all of Sudha’s recipes this curry is made with no onion or garlic – but if you so wish you can add them in….

Gujarati Aloo Matar (potato and pea curry)

Ingredients

  • 12 small potatoes
  • 3 cups frozen peas
  • 200ml chopped tomatoes
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger crushed
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
  • 1.5 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1.5 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh green chilli
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp black pepper
  • 2.5 cups warm water

Method

  1. Wash and peel the potatoes, then chop into bitesize pieces.
  2. Rinse the peeled potatoes to remove the starch, then allow to soak covered in water.
  3. Add the oil to a large pan and once hot add the mustard seeds and cook until they pop.
  4. Then add the cumin seeds, fresh ginger and 1/2 tsp of the turmeric.
  5. Drain the potatoes and add to the pan and stir well.
  6. Then add the fresh chilli, salt, black pepper, peas and water.
  7. Cook for one hour on a low heat or until the potatoes are soft.
  8. Add the final spices – 1 tsp each of turmeric, cumin and coriander powder and 2 tsp chilli powder.
  9. Add the chopped tomatoes and puree and stir well.
  10. Cook for another 15 minutes and then serve.

That’s all there is to it – a simple, inexpensive and delicious vegetarian curry. And of course you could switch out the potatoes for sweet potatoes – but before you do check out my post on the nutritional benefits of potatoes.

Laura

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I’ve often thought about what stands between my love of food and going vegan. Really it’s just one thing – milk, cheese and yoghurt. Some of my favourite foodie pleasures are simple ones that involve dairy – like milk in my coffee, cheesy pizzas and yoghurt based ‘nice-cream’. So, despite being happily vegetarian I’m unlikely to give up dairy any time soon, putting veganism out of reach.

Having said this when it comes to dairy I’ve found what (for me at least) is a middle ground for health reasons – by converting from cows milk to goats milk dairy products, including cheese and yoghurt.

Why goats dairy? Here are some benefits of goats milk over cows milk:

  • Easier to digest – a different fat and protein structure makes goats milk closer to human milk and this means it’s more easily tolerated.
  • Contains less lactose – the natural sugar found in goats diary is lower so great for those who have a low tolerance to lactose.
  • Nutritionally superior – goats milk is higher in iron, vitamin A and potassium.
  • Higher in prebiotics – so goats milk is superior in feeding our gut bacteria and promoting digestive health.
  • Tastes better – this is just my opinion but give goats milk a go and see for yourself what you think!

Studies have even found goats milk to be the top choice among European centenarians who’ve reached the ripe old age of 100 plus. The best thing is that converting to goats dairy is simple because it’s easy to substitute goats dairy into recipes that call for milk, cheese or yoghurt – like this eggplant or aubergine lasagna with goats cheese bechamel.

Eggplant lasagna with goats cheese bechamel

Ingredients

  • 2 large (or 3 small-medium) eggplants
  • 400ml – 500ml tomato passata
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 ripe fresh tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 red or yellow capsicum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 150g – 200g soft goats cheese
  • 100ml goats yoghurt (or milk)
  • Small handful of fresh basil leaves (or 1/4 chopped fresh parsley)

Method

  1. Prepare the eggplant – slice into 1cm rounds and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 180C until soft (not soggy).
  2. Prepare the sauce – add the oregano, salt and 1 crushed garlic clove to the passata. Season with black pepper.
  3. Prepare the bechamel – combine the cheese and yoghurt (or milk), and 1 crushed garlic clove then mix until smooth.
  4. Slice the tomatoes into rounds and the capsicum into strips.
  5. Grease a lasagna dish with olive oil and then add the first layer – line the base with 1/3 of the cooked eggplant, followed by 1/2 of the sauce and then 1/2 of the capsicum strips, sliced tomato and fresh basil. Repeat for the second layer.
  6. For the third layer add the remaining eggplant and then top with the goats cheese bechamel.
  7. Add to a pre-heated oven and cook for 30-40 minutes at 180C. Cool before serving.

Of course if you can’t get hold of goats dairy products, or can’t be tempted away from cow’s dairy then you can easily make this lasagne with standard cheese. And if you’re already a goats dairy convert then please share your favourite recipe!

Laura 

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Oats have long been one of my go-to fast breaking meals. But, after one too many times under or overcooking oats on the stove I resorted to a more foolproof, and better for you, alternative – soaked overnight oats. I haven’t looked back since. Last week I was explaining to a colleague why he too should switch to soaked oats – as he waited patiently for his oats to cook…..and funny enough when the microwave ‘pinged’ his oats had splattered all over the place…..

I decided to spread the word more broadly here with 4 big reasons to soak your oats overnight:

1. Easier digestion: Soaking overnight breaks down both the starches and phytic acid – both of which can make cooked oats uncomfortable on the digestive system. Put simply slow soaking oats make them more digestible.

2. Better nutrient absorption: The phytic acid in oats can act against nutrient absorption. Soaking them breaks down the acid allowing your body to better absorb all of that good stuff that oats contain like iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium and fibre.

3. Saves time and hassle: Soaking oats is quick and easy. All you need to do is re-purpose a glass jar or container (I use old coconut oil jars). Throw in 1/2 cup of each of (ideally organic) rolled oats, water and yoghurt/milk plus any extras and then pop in the fridge.

4. Promotes gut health: Last but perhaps most importantly soaked oats are great for gut health because they contain resistant starch. Our gut, or microbiome, loves resistant starch. Resistant starch is a type of fermentable fibre, a prebiotic, that fuels or feeds the healthy bacteria in our large intestine. It can be used as food by our microbiome because it passes through the small intestine undigested making its way to the large intestine. This resistance to digestion means resistant starches, unlike other starches, don’t release glucose (triggering an insulin response). The benefits don’t end there:

Pimp your oats

Soaked overnight oats are even more delicious and nutritious when they’re ‘pimped’ – jazzed up with added extras. Like chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds, psyllium husk, cinnamon and coconut flakes. An easy way to enjoy your oats pimped is to let someone else do the hard work of mixing the added extras. By this I mean add to your oat base (or use instead as your base) a bircher or muesli style mix. Like the one I’ve been enjoying from The Bircher Bar.

The Bircher Bar creates all natural, handmade and small-batch breakfast blends and they launched as a humble market stall in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales.

Now I’m very fussy about anything I don’t make with my own hands from scratch and I obsess over ingredients labels. I did the same with The Bircher Bar’s products – and was pleasantly surprised. Their muesli blends are full of good for you, mostly organic ingredients. Take for example the Energy mix – it’s paleo and gluten free and contains buckwheat, macadamia, flaked almonds, pepitas, sunflower seeds, shredded coconut, cinnamon, cacao, linseed and dates. Not surprising then when The Bircher Bar sent me some samples I quickly got hooked on adding 1/4 cup of one of their lovely mixes to ‘pimp’ my soaked oats……let this be your inspiration to not only soak your oats but to pimp them too!

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Circadian rhythms – they’re important right? Yes of course. And our circadian clock is something I’ve been learning lots more about – thanks to my husband passing on his new found knowledge. He’s reading a book called ‘The Circadian Code’ (highly recommended) and, among other things, is now convinced on the benefit of natural light exposure. It’s key to regulating our energy levels, appetite, hormones, sleep cycles and more.

Best foods for good vision

This education from my husband about how much light our eyes need got me curious more broadly about eye health – so, with this post, I’m answering two key eye health questions:

1. What nutrients do we need for good eye health today and to prevent age related vision loss (mascular degeneration)?

  • Vitamins A, E and C
  • Beta-carotene (a red-orange pigment in plants) – it’s a precursor to (helps make) Vitamin A
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Zinc
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin (antioxidant pigments called carotenoids)

2. What are the best foods for eye health across vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian and meat eating diets?

I’ve called what follows ‘my’ top 5 foods because they’re all part of my pescatarian diet. But there’s plenty on this list to keep vegans and vegetarians happy too.

1. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are a good source of omega-3s and they’re high in Vitamin E – both big eye-friendly nutrients. Almonds are especially high in Vitamin E (just 25 almonds gives you your required daily dose). And chia, hemp and flax seeds are all top pick plant based sources of omega-3s.

2. Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy veggies are full of eye-friendly goodness. Topping the list are kale and spinach. They’re especially rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. If you’re vegan then green leafy veggies are especially important for eye health because you can’t resort to eggs as the other key source of lutein and zeaxanthin.

3. All things orange

Several top eye health foods are orange. These include oranges and grapefruit (packed with Vitamin C), carrots (thanks to their high beta-carotene content), sweet potatoes (a good source of vitamin E) and pumpkin (full of Vitamin A). My husband also interestingly pointed out that when sliced many of these orange foods reveal an inner core than could be said to look like an eye!

4. Oily fish

Oily fish are high in omega-3s, the benefits of which extend way beyond eye health. So unless you’re vegan it’s really smart to consume around 100g of oily fish a couple of times a week. My top picks for their omega-3 profile are sardines, wild-caught salmon, anchovies, mackerel and herring. All of which are readily available in cans. And if you’re partial to shellfish consider that oysters are fantastic for eye health – being a great source of zinc!

5. Eggs

Lutein and zeaxanthin are essential to protect against age-related macular degeneration (sight loss). They also reduce the risk of eye conditions like cataracts. A key source of these antioxidant pigments is found in eggs. Eggs are also a great source of zinc. Zinc is found throughout the eyes and is crucial in transporting Vitamin A (also key for eye health) from the liver to the eyes. Just be sure to choose the best eggs you can afford – ideally free-range and organic.

And the best oils for eye health? Olive oil and coconut oil both of which have been found to be superior in aiding the absorption of lutein. Read more here.

Meat eater? When it comes to eye health top up your zinc with red meat, especially beef.

Are you feeding your eyes? Hopefully now you know whether your eyes are getting the nutrients they need!

Laura

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Aloo Gobi is one of my favourite ways to feast on cauliflower. It’s an Indian vegan/vegetarian dish that’s quick and easy to make and packed with flavour. Flavour that comes from a few simple spices and a little desiccated coconut.

Aloo Gobi is traditionally made with cauliflower and potatoes. But after my first few attempts I found that by the time the potato is cooked the cauliflower florets can be too soggy – because cauliflower is typically quicker to cook. Of course you could cook the potatoes separately or add the cauliflower later – but that takes away from it being a quick throw in the oven recipe. This is one of the reasons I make Aloo Gobi with sweet potatoes – they cook quicker than standard potatoes.

Anyway here’s a healthy vegan Indian dish that makes for a perfect main course or side dish. It’s so good I forgot to grab photos until only a few spoonfuls were left!

Aloo Gobi with sweet potatoes

Ingredients (serves 4 as a main dish)

  • One whole head of cauliflower
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Fresh coriander (stalks and leaves)
  • Curry leaves
  • 2 thumb size pieces of fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1-2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (or fresh chillies)
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup water (for a dry dish)

Note: some versions of Aloo Gobi also add garlic and garam masala and even chopped tomatoes. Next time I’m also tempted to throw in a handful of peas for the last couple of minutes of cooking time.

Method

  • Heat the oil in a large oven proof pan.
  • Finely slice the onion and crush the ginger, then add to the pan.
  • Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and cumin seeds and cook for a few minutes.
  • Then add the turmeric, cumin powder, black pepper and chillies. Chop and add the coriander stalks.
  • Whilst cooking chop the cauliflower and potato into small even pieces.
  • Add the water to the pan and then stir through the cauliflower and potato.
  • Finally stir in the salt and coconut and mix until everything is evenly coated.
  • Bring to the boil and cover and transfer to a pre-heated oven at 180C.
  • Cook for 30 minutes (or until the vegetables are soft but not soggy).
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When it comes to building my health and wellbeing knowledge I’m a self-confessed digital-phobe. Yep, even though I have a food blog I’ve been reluctant to fully immerse myself in the digital age. I prefer a ‘real’ book any day over an e-book and can never resist pouring over a glossy magazine or flicking through a newspaper (a printed one).

We have so much unavoidable screen time already in our daily lives (work emails, online banking, Google maps etc) that I try to top up my health and wellbeing knowledge through digital-device-free means.

The podcast party
No surprise then that I’m a latecomer (or a newcomer) to the podcast party. It’s taken me until 2019 to embrace the expert knowledge and inspiration easily available through podcasts. I was nudged in the right direction after writing a blog post titled ‘the best wellness podcasts to listen to this year’ for my local yoga studio, Power Living.

I’m now convinced that there’s a place in my life for podcasts – to make more productive and educational times when a book or a magazine isn’t practical. Like during a long walk, a relaxing bath or a standing only room commute.

Here I’m sharing my piece on the best health podcasts for 2019. They cover nutrition, exercise, spirituality and more. You’ll see a couple of familiar names on the list (Oprah and Gwenyth are podcasting gurus), plus some unfamiliar ones, as well as cutting edge educational brands like TEDTalks.

What are you waiting for – get listening! Laura

5 of the best wellness podcasts to listen to in 2019

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Whether you call it a blogging birthday or an anniversary I just hit a big milestone. Feast Wisely turned five years old. I started this creative foodie outlet in January 2014 and almost 250 posts later my own diet has transitioned massively. I’ve gone from a meat based to a pretty much vegetarian or plant based diet – whilst at the same time remaining true to my Feast Wisely philosophy.

As Feast Wisely turns 5, I’ve been reflecting on what feasting wisely means to me – and how you can learn from the Mediterraneans who have long held a reputation for being wise with their feasting.

My Feast Wisely philosophy?

It’s all about indulging in food as one of life’s biggest pleasures but doing so in a way that’s good for your body and your mind. For me this means a diet packed with fresh produce and variety that’s low on animal products and sugar and free of processed foods. This doesn’t mean boring – feasting wisely means moderation and pleasure, not deprivation and pain. I guess I try as much as possible to live by this fantastic quote from Michael Pollan….

Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food.

It’s a quote that I was thinking about when drooling over Jamie Oliver’s new cooking show based in Italy – Jamie Oliver and the Nonnas. Watching Jamie himself learn from Italian grandmothers and great-grandmothers is so inspiring (do check it out!). I love everything about the relationship the Italians have with food – it’s fresh, seasonal, local, mindful, social, generous and hearty.

3 ways to eat like the Mediterraneans

A few years ago a magazine article on the ltalian approach to feasting caught my attention. In ‘Eat like an Italian’ Susie Burrell, a nutritionist summarised what she learnt during a stint living with an Italian family. It’s an article I came across again recently sorting through a growing ‘reading material to keep’ pile.

Here, taking inspiration from Susie, I wanted to share three key things we can learn not just from the Italians, but from the relationship the Mediterraneans overall have with food. The photos come straight from the pages of one of my many Italian cook books – Bill’s Italian Food by Bill Granger…..

1. Make dinner at the table a daily ritual

The whole family should eat the same food at the same time around the table – without distractions from the TV or gadgets. It takes the meaning of dinner beyond just food – instead it becomes precious time for sharing and laughter. I recently met a lady who spoke proudly of her family’s daily ritual – over dinner she asks each of her children to talk about the best and the worst thing that happened to them during the day. I love this idea as a simple way of connecting over food. And, if a daily family table gathering sounds too ambitious, start small and aim for a few evenings a week.

2. Live by the values of simple, quality, fresh

Cook simple food, with quality fresh ingredients. Banish anything processed, take-away and sugar laden. It’s not that hard. Firstly scale back your pantry to healthy essentials like tinned tomatoes, dried legumes, spices and vinegar. Then change your shopping behaviour – read every label and stay clear of anything with added sugar, vegetable oils and strangely named additives.

Remember, the values of simple, quality and fresh don’t mean resigning yourself to boring food. As Susie learnt from living with Italians – ‘even the plainest food could be turned into taste sensations with just a few simple ingredients’. Ingredients like tomatoes, olive oil, chilli flakes, garlic and (my top pick) Parmesan.

3. Be mindful – stop, be present, slow down

Too often we eat in a hurry or when distracted or multi-tasking – too often I see people rushing on-the-go or scrolling on their phones and mindlessly stuffing down food at the same time. If you do this it’s hard to truly appreciate what your’re putting into your body. To be mindful with food we need to slow down – and not just over the dinner table, but at breakfast and lunch too. This means being still, free of distractions and chewing properly. By savoring each bite we feel more satisfied (and our digestive systems will thank us for it).

The Mediterraneans do this perfectly. As Bill Granger says in his cook book that I’ve showcased here:

The Italians…don’t suck coffee from disposable sippy-cups on the bus; they lean against marble bars and drink tiny grown-up espressos. They don’t dash down take-away burgers over computer keyboards; they unwrap paper parcels of spiced salami or creamy cheese in shaded parks…

So, can you be a little more Mediterranean?

Laura

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Is your New Year detox in full swing? Perhaps you’re trying hard to start 2019 by avoiding all things naughty and hoping to lose a few kilos in the process. I say trying because giving up things that taste great is never easy. Yes, most detox regimes can feel like deprivation – as it’s challenging to prepare healthy meals that are super low in calories and carbohydrates that also tick the boxes of being delicious, filling and feasty.

That’s where this super simple cabbage and mushroom bake comes in. It’s detox friendly whilst at the same time being satisfying and tasty. And of course if you’re not counting calories and carbs then serve this bake with some crusty bread and a good grating of Parmesan!

Cabbage & Mushroom Detox Bake

This recipe was inspired by a classic Italian cabbage dish called ‘Peasant Soup’. It originates from the island of Sardinia and is basically a soup made from simple budget friendly staples, like onions, beans and stock – and of course cabbage. Here’s my version…..

Ingredients

  • 1 medium savoy cabbage (or other green cabbage)
  • 300-400g mushrooms
  • 1 large onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 2-3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or basil
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • Salt & black pepper
  • Olive oil

Optional additions:

  • A can of cannellini beans
  • Porcini mushrooms
  • 5-6 anchovies finely chopped if you’re not vegan (highly recommended!)

Method

  • Heat the oil in a large pan, then thinly slice the onions, garlic and cabbage.
  • Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Then add the cabbage and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and add the oregano or basil, nutmeg and salt and pepper and mix well.
  • Optional – add anchovies (highly recommended) and/or cannellini beans stir them through the cabbage mix.
  • Transfer the mixture to an oven proof baking dish and pour over the stock.
  • Finely slice the mushrooms and place them in a layer on top of the bake.
  • Optional – generously grate over some parmesan.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 20-30 minutes.

It’s that simple – Happy New Year and with recipes like this here’s to happier detox routines!

Laura

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