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 goodfoodandnutrition@gmail.com 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.com

 

March Foods in Season

 

Blood Oranges

Perfect for marmalade owing to their high pectin level and the strength of the peel, but also ideal to use in various recipes, use the peel in very thin slices in your stir fry and the juice as part of the stir fry sauce.  They are particularly good with pork stir fry, use the juice in any savoury recipe that you would normally use lemon or lime juice for, it works well.  Also consider using a few segments in a winter salad, take some grated celeriac, thinly sliced fennel and orange segments [ no pith!] then dress with balsamic vinegar, a pleasant change from a lettuce based salad.  This works well with cold meats.

Rhubarb

some early forced rhubarb will be ready around mid month, this is delicious lightly poached with some sweetner of choice and then crumble topping.  I like to do this in small ramekin dishes and serve with custard alongside.  Or just make a good old fashioned bowl full and tuck in. Of coure you can also make jam, jelly or chutney if the mood takes you.  This is a good way to use it.  If you search through your cookery books you wil find all sorts of ideas of how to use it.

Venison

is also still in season and a delicious recipe is my slow cooked venison casserole which you can find on my recipe pages, in fact it is treat of a dish and ideal for a no fuss dinner party main course

Cauliflower

The creamy white heads of the cauliflower are really standing out, dont just think boiled and with cheese on.  This little gem makes a delicious soup.  One of my favourite recipes is actually cauliflower cheese soup, which even non cauli eaters tend to rave about.  Cauliflower cheese neednt be a no no though on its own.  Lightly steam your cauli till its the right texture for you, drizzle a tablespoon of rapeseed oil into a pan, stir in 1 table spoon of spelt flour and then add approx 150ml of soya milk.  This makes your roux sauce, stir continuously and add a teaspoon of dijon mustard to flavour.  This gives you the healthy fat of the rapeseed oil, and cuts out the rich cheesiness of  the sauce.  I tend to pour this over the cauli and then add 2 teaspoons of parmesan and grill till brown.  

Celeriac

Very versatile nobbly little number.  When you come to chose one, make sure that you handle it and it should feel heavy, you dont want a large celeriac which is lighter as this will undoubtably have air pockets in it. I think a famous cook when discussing celeriac said " it may not be much of a looker, but it is one of the most versatile of all winter veg"  I tend to agree with this and I use it in salads, soups, roast, casseroles and mash! pure comfort food with less calorific value than the potato.  When preparing Celeriac, once you have peeled down to the white flesh put is straight away into water to prevent it oxidising and going brown, as soon as the air hits the flesh it turns.

For mash you can either do 100% celeriac or 50% Celeriac added to either parsnip/carrot or potato.  For mash you can cook it is milk then blitz with some of the milk to make a very creamy puree. 

You can chop into pieces and throw onto a baking tray with a mixture of parsnip, carrot, potato, onion, garlic and drizzle with wither olive or rapeseed oil and roast - a one tray dish to accompany your chosen meat.

Kale - a good source of iron and quite versatile too. Wash and either leave leaves whole or cut into ribbons, then add it to your stews and soups especially chunky minestrone type soup which is ultra colourful and filling at this time of year.  If you simply want to steam then this is a good way to enjoy but how about a stir fry, saute lighty in oil then add some chilli and garlic and serve with either a grilled plain meat or fish or add to pasta perhaps with some tomatoes for a vegetarian option.

Parsnips

Still it is the Parsnip season, now for me I like to peel, chunk and pop in an overnproof dish, drizzle with olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper and cook till slightly crispy on the outside but still soft and creamy on the inside.  You need to pop the dish in around 180 - 200 degrees and turn after about 30 mins, you can judge then how much longer you need to leave them, it is dependant on the size of chunks you use.  I often cube carrot and potato and cook them altogether its quite a lazy way to produce some home roasted root veg ideal with your meat, and not swimming in fat!

 Parsnip soup - rather than an ordinairy plain soup check out my slightly spicy parsnip and apple soup on the recipe pages..

Another think I really like to do is use parsnip as a mash instead of potato, its sweeter and slightly less creamy in fact quite a rustic mash but ideal on a mince mix, you know when youve used the mince for one dish but you have  a little left over, just pop in a dish and mash your parsnip and place on the top.  A Mince pie with a difference.!

Jerusalem Artichokes

As a little girl I remember an Aunt in Suffolk taking me to the garden and digging up these strange shaped "potatoes" so I thought .  I soon ralised when faced with peeling the awkward shapes that the texture was different and could be used in any way that you would use other root veg.  So steam, boil, cream, puree, add to casseroles,  roast, mash - need I go on.  They are worth the effort though, chose those without soft patches and no dark spots then peel and pop in water to stop them discolouring whilst you decide how to use them. A  good source of potassium this veg makes a delicious soup.  Just cook them till soft in stock, perhaps add a few chestnuts if you have some left over from the festive season, soft puree an set aside.  Lightly saute some lardons and serve in your soup with some crusty spelt bread - Perfect winter lunch.

Brussel Sprouts

Ok most people love or hate them, but the days of popping them onto boil about October so they are ready for Christmas have probably been overtaken by some different ideas of how to cook them.  And if they havent been then try something a bit different.

When you are preparing your sprouts, dont do what the husband of a friend of mine did, it was Christmas Eve and he rang his wife to say he had tried to prepare the sprouts but he could find the sprout, he had painstakingly peeled every leaf off until he was left with a lot of cone shapes and thought wondered where the sprout had gone.  His culinary skills have improved now as they jointly run a great little homely guesthouse in Paignton, The Kingswinford.

So 10 mins max if you are boiling!, they are absolutely full of phytochemicals which are thought to have good cancer fighting properties [antioxidants], they are really rich in vitamin C, B6 and folate and just 8 count as  one of your five aday......

A good way to cook them is to stir fry, not only is it a good way to preserve the nutritional benefits but also the addition of the oil makes it easier for the body to absov some of the carotenoid compounds which are those great antioxidants.

Short of salad inspiration during the winter, pull off the outer leaves of the sprout, pop in boiling water for up to 2 mins, then plunge into cold water [ iced if possible] drain and then dress with a homemade vinaigrette, this has a slightly sharp bitterness much like rocket but abundant and locally sourced during the cold winter months.

If all else fails and there are some sprouts left over from your roast, then go on mash the veg all together, add one egg and a little spelt flour and pop into an overnproof dish - bubble and squeak with a difference.  I often do extra veg with a roast just to use this the following night, I like to sprinkle a little strong cheese on too finish the meal off, it gives you an alternative meat free night.

 

Chicory

Anti inflamatory which can help arthritis sufferers, along side this the fibre in chicory is a good prebiotic so great for your healthy digestion.

Chicory is covered during growing to prevent it turning too dark, if it was to change from a pale colour to darker it is likely that it would become too bitter to eat. When you store chicory, keep in a brown paper bag and store in a cool place like the veg box in your fridge. When you chose chicory pick a heavy one, if its light it means it has started to dry out and wont be at it's best.  If you cut it brush the cut edge with diluted lemon juice to prevent discolouration. Chicory is a bitter tasting vegetable, one of my favourite ways to eat it is to blanche it for a few mins to soften slightly, drain, cover in a good quality ham and pour a cheese sauce over.  Quite a delicacy in France as a main meal with just a piece or two of baguette.

Spinach

A very versatile one this, use it either raw in salads, or cooked.  Now I tend to use it in some of my tomato sauces at this time of year to give them a little more body and to get more minerals and vits into the meal.  You only need to add it at the end of the cooking and it almost melts into the sauce, ideal on pasta.  Spinach also gives body to curries or dahl, again added at the end of the cooking just before serving and you will find a slightly different dimension to your vegetable or chicken curries.

Only last week did I cook some salmon in the oven with pesto and then just as it was cooked I lifted the salmon, put some spinach underneath replaced the salmon and the juices from the sauce cooked the spinach and made it seem like the sauce.

 

Spring Onions

One of the first signs of growth in the garden, nothing fresher than picking washing and chopping a new spring onioon.  Add it to your stir fries or lighly saute in butter and then add to your mashed potatoes - wow a powerful punch!

Leeks

One of my favourite veg, they are an absolute powerhouse of nutrients.  The leek is a member of the onion family so as well as all the things onions offer us health wise, regular consumption of leeks is thought to reduce the risk of various cancers.  They are rich in Vit C, fibre Vit E and folate so a good alrounder!

Once youve cleaned the leek well to get rid of any soil that might be hiding in between the layers, there are many things you can do.

A Healthier Leek in Cheese can easily be achieved by slicing your leeks, putting in a dish, adding 2 tablespoons of water, covering and microwaving until soft.  Leave the juice with them then sprinkle with some grated cheese and finish off in the oven, he cheese melts there is no heavy sauce, so your calorific count is far less than leeks in cheese sauce.  Plus how easy was that to prepare......

Dont throw the green tops of leeks away, they offer a little more bitterness but are ideal in stead of cabbage in soups or stews.  In fact the more of the green section you use the more nutrients you will be taking in.  You can also slice finely and stir fry, this adds a slight oniony flavour to your other veg....

Beef

The shorter days give the impression that casseroles should be on the menu again, beef is a good buy especially if you know where its from.  We are lucky and have some good producing farmers locally where you really can trace the meat from gate to plate.  Shin is a rather old fashioned cut but an economical one and comes into its own in the slow cooker.  Also a nice piece of brisket!  dont think its a fatty cut, when cooked properly it has a tenderness that you will appreciate especially when cooked with some root vegetables with it so they take on the meaty flavour and then serve with either the mashed potato or mashed celeriac above.

Lamb

Whatever you do please choose British Lamb, you will not only be helping your local producer but its worth knowing that there are no growth promoting hormones used in the UK and for Lamb the only antibiotics used are only administered under vetinairy direction.

contrary to what you may think  Lamb is still very much around, the longer growing season and demand means that it is almost available till the last months of the year.  In fact it is known as Autumn lamb from Summer until December.  From Christmas to Spring it is called Hoggett which means it is up to 2 years old so has developed a more prounced flavour making it ideal for a slow cooked casserole with some root veg.  For a special occasion use a leg of lamb, spike with rosemary and garlic, drizzled with oil or butter and cook in the oven, the smell will drive you mad.  For a cheaper cut try my lamb hot pot recipe with a twist on my recipe pages.

Incidentally a more old fashioned term Mutton is in season between October and March, this slightly gamey tasting meat comes from an animal that is over 2 years old.

Fish

Sea Bass - now around again, simply fillet, dust in seasoned flour and fry lightly in butter.  Serve with seasonal purple sprouting broccoli and some finely stringy home made potato frys!

Musssels,clams, cockles and Oysters are in season - make sure you source well and if you are lucky enough to live near to the sea then make friends with your fishmonger or fisherman and chat about favourite recipes and way to cook with them.  They are the experts.  

Salmon 

from now till September wild salmon is available - again a very quick easy meal , it cooks in around 20 mins you can cook it in the oven and serve plain with veg, add a sauce [ watercress, pesto, chilli etc] , you can stir fry it add noodles or pasta.  Mix it cooked with lemon and yoghurt for a sandwich filling or to add to a salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some interesting nutritional articles to give you "food for thought"!

TOMATOES - NOW in SEASON READ WHY YOU SHOULD INCLUDE THEM INTO YOUR DIET AND HOW YOU CAN ENSURE YOU GET THE MAXIMUM NUTRIENTS FROM THEM

Tomatoes are a major source of lycopene, which is a carotene [ vitamin A sourced] antioxidant, it is known to help fight heart disease and also preventative against prostate cancer.

Tomatoes also have anticoagulant properties and contain a good source of vitamin C, potassium [ helps to regulate the body's fluids] and fibre.

Tomatoes are unusual because the lycopene is more active in processed tomato products such as tinned, puréed, tomato juice and ketchup rather than in their raw form. However, don’t discard the raw product as there is a way to maximise the lycopene and to help you do this ;-

  • the redder and more ripe the tomato is the higher its content of lycopene

  •  

  • Vine ripened tomatoes contain more lycopene than those ripened after picking, because they are ripening whilst still taking goodness from the mother plant.

  • Tomato peel is richer in nutrients that the flesh and the central seed is high in salicylates [an anticoagulant] so avoid peeling and don’t de seed unless you have too.

  • The Lycopene in raw tomatoes is better absorbed by the body if its eaten with some oil i.e. olive oil dressing in a salad dressing.

The additional benefit of using oil works with either raw or cooked tomatoes as it helps the lycopene to be absorbed better by the body. This is because the lycopene is from the Vitamin A source, Vitamin A being a fat soluble vitamin.

 

 

A very general guideline for a low-oxalate diet 

is to eat meat, dairy and eggs, which are very low sources of oxalate. Plant foods and virtually all nuts and seeds are low to high sources. Some examples of high level foods are almonds,spinach, soy milk, potato and tomato.

 

A low-oxalate diet may benefit sufferers of kidney stones as well as those suffering from many other chronic conditions. Oxalate are organic acids that occur naturally in plants, animals and humans. Only when there is an excess or sensitivity to them are there problems such as kidney stones, inflammation, pain, and irritation of tissue and mucous membranes. They are eliminated in the urine, but because they are crystallized in structure when combined with calcium, they may irritate vulvar tissue and cause vulvar pain.

 

An acceptable amount for those following a low-oxalate diet is between 40 to 60 milligrams a day. Levels present in foods can vary according to factors such as the type of soil the food has been cultivated in, the climate, and the cooking methods.

The issue of oxalates in the body is very closely linked to gut problems and gut function. People who have these problems find that one of the benefits of a low-oxalate diet is improved gut function. Others who follow this diet but did not have any initial kidney trouble have experienced improvements in other chronic conditions.

Drinking water can help dilute oxalate in the blood and make it easier for you to flush it out of your body, reducing your risk of kidney stones. Drink at least 8 to 12 cups of fluid each day. Citric acid from lemons and other citrus fruits can also help prevent the formation of calcium oxalate fluids

 

Although a high level of calcium in the blood is associated with the development of kidney stones, calcium in the diet may be able to protect against kidney stones. Dietary calcium, such as that found in dairy, can bind to the oxalate in the digestive tract and keep the oxalate from being absorbed. Three to four servings of dairy each day may help neutralize oxalate from the diet

 

Hard water (which contains calcium and magnesium) is likely to exert a beneficial effect with respect to oxalate absorption because these minerals will tie up much of the oxalate consumed in the diet within the gastrointestinal tract, thereby decreasing oxalate absorption. Less oxalate absorption translates to less oxalate gaining access to various tissues within the body.

 

Most foods do not contain significant amounts of oxalate. The primary sources of dietary oxalate are plants and plant products. Although the physiological role of oxalate in plants is not clearly understood, it is well established that a number of plants have the ability to synthesize oxalate. Seeds and leafy plants related to spinach and rhubarb contain the most oxalate.

 

Meat:All fresh and frozen meats: beef, pork, chicken, turkey; fish and seafood such as flounder, salmon, tuna, shrimp, scallops; and eggs. (Avoid cured meats.)

Dairy: Dairy products made with cow’s and goat’s milk, including buttermilk, skim milk, 1% and 2% milk, whole milk; butter; all cheeses, including cheddar, feta, farmer, goat, mozzarella, Parmesan; sour cream, whipping cream, half & half; yogurt, plain, or with low oxalate fruit.

Fruits: Apples, avocados, cherries, cranberries, melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon), seedless grapes (red and green), peaches, plums.

Vegetables:Asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers; iceberg and Romaine lettuce; radishes, mushrooms, onions (yellow and white); squash (zucchini, acorn, and yellow); red sweet peppers, turnips (root), water chestnuts.

 

Beverages:Spring and filtered water, chamomile tea, ginger ale, beer, apple juice, apple cider.

 

Chocolate:White chocolate.

 

Grains:White and wild rice; barley.

 

Herbs and Spices: Basil, cilantro, mustard, nutmeg, white pepper, saffron, tarragon, vanilla, salt.

 

Condiments: Mustard, mayonnaise, vinegar.

 

Nuts, Peas and Seeds: Coconut; black-eyed peas, green peas, and yellow split peas; flax seeds.

 

Fats and Oils: All vegetable oils, including olive, rapeseed, safflower, soy; margarine. My preference would be a good quality Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil – this is the best olive oil for not having been “messed about with”

 

Sweets and Sweeteners: Sugar (white), maple syrup, corn syrup, honey.

 

Increasing your calcium intake when eating foods with oxalate can help lower oxalate levels in the urine. Choose high-calcium dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt, and cheeses. Vegetables can also provide a good amount of calcium. Choose broccoli, watercress, kale, or okra to increase your calcium levels. Cheese, milk and buttermilk are all low in oxalate and valuable sources of calcium, vitamin D and protein. Calcium is important within a low oxalate diet, says the NKF, because it binds oxalate in foods, preventing its absorption. Choose low-fat dairy products most often to avoid excessive saturated fat intake, which can increase inflammation and kidney stone symptoms.

 

Many fruits are considered low-oxalate, meaning they contain less than 2 milligrams per serving. These include bananas, cherries, grapefruit, grapes, mangoes, melons, green and yellow plums and nectarines. Canned fruits including peaches and pears and dried fruits such as raisins are also low in oxalate.

 

Low-oxalate vegetables, which are also low in calories, include cabbage, chives, cauliflower, cucumbers, endive, kohlrabi, mushrooms, radishes and water chestnuts. Peas, which are legumes, are also low-oxalate.

 

 

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

  • iron

  • copper

 

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.

 

 

KEEPING HYDRATED

 

Around 50% of a woman's body and 60% of a man's body is made of water. Water is needed by every single cell in your body to help it function properly, to keep healthy you need to drink 6 – 8 glasses [each being 225ml or 8fl oz in old money!] of water every day. In hot weather or if you exercise this amount needs to be increased.

 

Not drinking enough water can result in;-

  • feeling tired

  • dry eyes

  • headaches

  • dry mouth

  • difficulty concentrating.

 

Drinking enough water also gives many positive health benefits including;-

  • fewer cases of kidney stones

  • lower risk of colon cancer

  • not as many urinary tract infections

  • lower risk of urinary cancer

  • less chance of constipation

 

So as you can see there are many reasons to drink enough water. In addition to the above water also;-

  • controls body temperature

  • assists with weight control

  • gives you energy

  • transports nutrients and waste in and out of cells

  • stops dehydration

  • keeps digestive processes healthy

 

For Children, they are less likely to feel a need to drink, this is because the mechanism in their body which alerts them to being thirsty doesn't fully form until they are a little older. So especially during hot weather, when they also don't perspire as much as adults do, this means their bodies do not control their temperature. So it is important that they are encouraged to drink water especially during and after exercise to prevent heatstroke and dehydration.

 

A good tip for anyone is to carry a bottle of water, not only is it on hand then but it is measured so you know exactly how much you are drinking.

 

On the adverse side of the coin, excess drinking of water can result in the body losing nutritional salts which in turn cause a confused state to set in. This is often prevalent in the elderly and can be mistaken for the early onset of dementia.

 

 

Some recent donations

From my talks over the last few months I have been able to support the following charities

Blood Bikes £100, Gnosall First Responders £100, Pensioners Presents in the village at Christmas £150, Lions Club £100 - A Grand total to date of £450 from my Food and Nutrition Talks. 

 

Handing over a £100 donation, from some talks and masterclasses I have delivered in the last months at Good Food and Nutrition, to the Staffordshire and Shropshire Blood Bikes to help keep the wheels turning throughout the year.  Volunteers do a sterling job, spending many hours transporting life saving blood, breast milk and other medical supplies to our hospitals across Staffordshire and Shropshire. and supporting our hospitals in Staffs and Shropshire including a little bit of Cheshire and the borderland of Wales too.
 
Have a read of my blog to catch up on my recent foodie adventures!. 

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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.