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 email@example.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.word
AUTUMN - What's in Season now
AUTUMN FOODS IN SEASON
The shorter days, a crispness both underfoot and in the air means that this is certainly the time to retrieve the slow cooker if you have had it packed away over the summer. I must admit mine is out all year round and used regularly. Soups and casseroles are now starting to reappear in all the popular magazines. So using some of the locally sourced and abundant seasonal foods will maximise your spend and hopefully your nutrition too. You will find quite a few recipes on my recipe pages to entice and encourage you to be creative.
Below is a selection of foods and a few different ideas to help you enjoy them or try them if it happens to be something you hadn’t cooked before.
Plums – I have had to start with these following quite a glut on our tree this year Obviously after you have made the jam, crumble and eaten a few ripe ones what else are you going to do with them. Well Poached in white wine with a drizzle of honey and a ½ teaspoon of cinnamon makes quite a grown up dessert.
Plums go really well with pork or duck so cook along side your meat and then squash slightly when serving and they blend into the cooking juices.
Plums are a good sauce of potassium, which is useful I regulating blood pressure.
Butternut Squash – if you have ever walked the back lanes of Greece, you see butternut squash growing like weeds, often in abundance far too many to use. I must admit I enjoy it peeled, deseeded and chunked then roasted in olive oil and garlic.
Soup – I designed this last year and it is now a firm favourite -
Peel, deseed and chunk one butternut squash,
6 green cardomom pods
Take 1 leek, clean and chop
1 litre of veg stock or water if you prefer as the flavours are strong. [ Watch the salt content if you use a stock cube]
In a heavy pan, pour tablespoon of rapeseed or olive oil, fry the whole cardomon seeds for approx 3 mins then add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer till the squash is tender, remove the cardomon pods and blend till smooth. Here you have a delicious soup. It is great at this point if you have some leftover cooked chicken, shred the meat then stir it in and heat thoroughly. A very well balanced meal giving you protein lots of Vit A and complex carbohydrates a great way of getting 2 of your 5+ veg portions in one meal.
Aubergine – another favourite of this time of year. You know that you don’t need to salt this delicious vegetable. All you need to do is slice it lengthways, drizzle with a little oil and place on a baking tray and cook for approx 10 mins till it starts to soften. Then use either in your moussaka or on its own baked with a cinnamon tomato sauce – there is a recipe on my recipe pages that you can use for this. Also you will find that cumin and mint work incredibly well with the flavour of aubergine. This really is a versatile vegetable and can be stuffed, grilled, baked, sliced dipped in flour and fried – often a popular starter in a Greek Taverna. If you are really overrun by aubergine, then consider using one for a dip, mash a cooked aubergine with yoghurt, mint , garlic and cumin then enjoy......
Beetroot – don’t just use as a vegetable but use in your chocolate cake recipes, it adds an earthy yet sweet taste and keeps the cake moist. It became quite popular with the lower calorie recipes, yet how very healthy. I do find that when I cook beetroot and I have been known to throw some in the slow cooker with water to cook it, although it does lose some extra colour I find doing it this way, however if you are short of time this may be an option. When you come to peel it remember to pop those rubber gloves on otherwise it can look like a murder has been committed.
Watercress – should always come from fresh, flowing water, never from still water. It is related to mustard, coupled with its peppery flavour its certainly gives a warm glow when you eat it. You can use all of stems rather like bean sprouts, so in stir fries. Whilst the leaves add flavour and nutrients to any salad. As a filling with either beef and horseradish or egg mayonnaise to enhance your sandwiches. Watercress is a real nutrient dense food, it is packed with Vitamins A and K, perfect for keeping bones healthy and eyes, helps keep the cardiovascular system healthy and its packed with antioxidants.
Spinach – ideal to add to stews, soups and curries. I also like to likely steam add black pepper then mix in some crème fraiche and serve immediately with a plain roast meat or a fillet of fish.
Onions – doesnt matter which colour you prefer be it red or brown. These are a powerhouse to help prevent colds and boost the immune syste. When you cut or slice one try not to cut through the root as this is where most of the sulphur rich oil lives that makes you cry when you peel onions. So cut this last.... if at all
A lovely warming dish is a white onion soup, where the key to keeping the colour is not to brown the onions but just soften them when cooking.
A good warming dish is a rich onion gravy served over sausages. - delicious.
Another is to make a false cassoulet, using onion, cannelini beans and sausages and making a sauce with tomato based spiciness then throw together in the slow cooker and come home to a one pot meal. Just need a chunk of bread to go with it.
Kohlrabi – peel away the thick skin and the inner fibrous bit twill you reach crisp flesh which you can steam, eat raw, stir fry, casserole. If you pick one up with the leaves still attached use the leaves as you would spinach. This veg makes a good alternative to mash it is lower in calories and if you add some 0% fat free yoghurt to it you can really make a substantial creamy mash without the fat.
Alternatively slice into thin rounds, lightly brush olive oil over and dust with ras el hanout spice then cook on a baking tray until crisp and brown.
Mid October onwards you start to get the root vegetables coming into the farms, swede, turnip, jerusalem artichoke,parsnips - I think you have enough for now so I will come up with some alternative recipes for these in due course.
Feathers wise you will find wild duck, partridge, pheasant, and guinea fowl available. These all are complimented by blackberries either cooked with them or a sauce made of them to serve with them. The richness of the game is complimented by the slighty tartiness of the fruit.
Blackberries - we have just said accompany seasonal game dishes, but dont just then revert to crumble or pie, whilst nothging wrong with that it is nice to be imaginative and take 50ml of wine vinegar, mash 4 blackberries into it and serve with goats cheese either on their own or on crostini pieces of toasted bread
Some interesting nutritional articles to give you "food for thought"!
Discover the Benefits of Eating the Mediterranean Way
As you know if you have heard me speak before I am very much influenced by the Greek Mediterranean Diet, not only because it has kept me off medication for many years but because I spend a lot of time there, however, what it does is it shares its principals and ethos of the rest of the Mediterranean. I love Greece and her people, and their approach in the rural communities to the way their lifestyle and food reflects a general well-being.
This plant based nutritional approach suits me and it has been ranked one of the healthiest diets in the world, proven to hep lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease and reduce the risk of many life changes illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and cognitive ones.
If you google “Mediterranean Diet”, you will find that today there are many versions available but most of them are a watered down, distorted version of what anyone at any point of time, ate in the Mediterranean area. Unfortunately today you will start to find obesity is rising in the Med areas at rates not dissimilar to Western Europe and America this is because the culture has changes as more fast food is introduced and becomes readily available.
But look deeper into the rural/sea communities and you will find the traditional seasonal, local produce based diet and many fit older people living healthy long lives. In fact the Greek island of Ikaria just 10 miles south of Samos is well known for the fact that on average people here live 10 years longer than the rest of Europe, around 1 in 3 live into their 90s, BUT they also have a much lower rate of cancer, heart disease, suffer less depression and dementia, maintain a sex life into old age and remain physically active.
Why, what are the doing differently in Ikaria?
Lots of wholegrains and beans, not too much meat or refined sugar, the locals feast on Horta? Wild greens some of which contain 10 times more antioxidants, red wine, herbal tea and small quantities of coffee. They also take … an afternoon nap, and research conducted extensively across Greece has proved that regular napping reduces occurrences of heart disease by 40%.
Enter any house in Ikaria and you will be offered locally produced red wine and garden grown vegetables, possibly fish or a little meat – hospitality and warmth will greet you as the Telegraph reported "this island isn't a me place it's an us place". Everything is home made from these local/seasonal ingredients.
So for this evening, join me on my own Greek Odyssey and lets investigate the nutrition behind some of the basic ingredients used in the traditional way of eating in the Mediterranean.
MEET THE GREEKS
The ancient Greek Diet can be summarized by four words, bread, wine, olive oil and plants.
For Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner they ate fresh bread baked from wheat or barley, often dipped in wine!! This was served with fruit, vegetables or beans, the latter two seasoned with herbs spices and of course olive oil. The Greeks ate nuts and plenty of seafood, their drink of choice was wine sometimes diluted for certain meals!
Poultry, including pheasant and quail were raised, but more often for their eggs rather than their meat.
Red mead was a rarity and when eaten it would be goat, sheep, or lean game meat like boar and rabbit.
Didn't typically use butter and milk in cooking but they did enjoy cheese, honey, figs and fermented milk products similar to modern day Greek Yoghurt.
Metron Ariston = everything in moderation. Apart from Olive Oil
Olive oil accounted for a third of the intake of calories when a study was commissioned on the Cretan diet – it is the secret to burning body fat, filling you up and increasing the body's metabolism and ability to oxidise fat, all helping to keep your heart healthy and boost overall health.
The Greek diet today is made up of many of the same staples of the ancient Greeks.
Fresh vegetables, fruits beans, whole grains, herbs nuts wine and seafood.
So Why is it unique?
The primary macro-nutrient of the Greek Diet is fat with up to for percent of daily calories coming from the heart healthy mono-unsaturated fats and other lipids found in olive oil.
Yoghurt contains healthy bacteria - pro-biotic known to fuel metabolism and accelerate fat burning.
Seafood contains marine omega 3 fatty acids – accelerates fat burning and prevents disease.
Beans contain natural soluble and insoluble fibre increases fullness and balances blood sugar
nuts contain a variety of micro-nutrients lowering blood sugar while increasing metabolism and the feeling of fullness
Whole-grains – you lose weight eating the type of healthy wholegrain bread, pasta and cereals because these unprocessed grains including 100% whole-wheat pasta and quinoa are high in fibre and lower in sugar than the refined versions.
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.