Latest Nutrition/Food News
A reminder that this list doesn’t try and cover everything but a selection along with some alternative inspirational ways of using them rather than the normal steam, boil, bake...Feel free to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @Ninanutrition, with your ideas, I will try then and then if I use them in future editions I will credit you accordingly. You can also check out my foodie travels by visiting my travelogue www.ninageraghty.wordpress.com
November - What's in season now?
A good time for lots of root veg and some green leafies too......perfect ingredients for those long slow cooked recipes that are little or no trouble to prepare
Root Veg to try include;-
Real Jacket spuds are now around, and perfect also for roasting. These are the good size potatoes, which make a very easy meal if wrapped in foil and cooked when you have the oven on with either your main course or if you are baking - time it so that they are ready for your lunch or evening meal. Serve them filled with either a chilli [ recipe on my recipe of the month pages] or just indulge and sprinkle with some good sea salt [ better mineral content, and some unsalted butter] Enjoy.
They also mash very well, so if you are mashing them, use a little nob of butter, sprinkle of salt and use as a main accompaniment or to top off some form of pie, be it fish, meat or vegetable. If you are doing a posh dinner party, up the gain and make pomme purée [ OK its mash but slightly softer texture] perfect with a pork fillet stuffed with apricots and roast! Another idea is to cut your potato into small cubes, add a sliced red onion, some garlic chopped and drizzle with olive oil and a sprig of thyme. Roast in the oven and serve with your main meal, the smell is heavenly. If you are having an Autumn barbecue and been fed up with jacket potatoes, this is a great way to serve a big dish of these tasty little packets. On my recipe page please find a very easy alternative to the full fat dauphinoise potatoes, this is such an easy dish to prepare and cook yet time and time again gets lots of compliments when served alongside your favourite roast.....
If you’ve ever seen in your greengrocers what resembles a very knobbly potato chances are its a Jerusalem Artichoke. This hard, smallish vegetable has quite a nutty taste, it must be peeled - once you’ve managed the peeling you can virtually use it the same way you would use a potato, it can be steamed, boiled, stir fried, made into soup..... You can also use this raw, grate and drench in a lemon juice and oil dressing to preserve the white coloured flesh, without the lemon this will discolour. This makes a nice change to a winter salad.
wow full of antioxidants, iron and lots of other nutrients. A proper earthy flavour, which if you boil, peel and then sprinkle a little balsamic vinegar over will enhance and liven up any salad. Or be adventurous and use in a cake, Chocolate and beetroot cake is delightful, many farmers markets have someone selling cakes based on vegetables. One tip is that when you peel beetroot consider wearing rubber gloves to prevent the staining on your hands. Purple may be a fashionable colour but not a good look on the hands!!!!
Don’t just boil them! cut into chunky rounds, place into a small covered oven proof dish, sprinkle with oregano and drizzle with olive or rapeseed oil and cook in the oven along side your roast! They wont harden but just stay remarkably soft, infused with the oregano and the olive oil this is a great way to increase your beta carotene and omega 3 into your diet with absolutely no hardship!
Also I really like to mash carrot roughly after cooking and stir in a tablespoon of creamed horseradish. This makes a delicious accompaniment to a plain meat or fresh mackerel. IT cuts through the oiliness of the fish and really enhances the flavours.
Obviously you can still use the carrots as a good salad base, grate and mix with fennel sees, again a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice will give you a zingy mayonnaise free salad to live up your plain salad dishes. This recipe is good if you serve it in a small side dish alongside a chicken, lemon and pepper kebab too.
Oh a favourite, when summer days turn to Autumn and Winter - try mashing some celeriac and serving with roast pork, or my favourite venison casserole when that is in season. The celeriac is a lower GI than potatoes so whilst it still gives you that comfort food sigh of goodness it wont leave your body craving more.
Celeriac soup is another lunchtime favourite, perhaps with some spelt croutons and a drizzle of sesame oil.
All you need to do is pick a heavy weight celeriac, the heavier means it wont be full of folds and holes just solid flesh. Strip away its outer skin and chop and put in your slow cooker with either stock or water, add a chopped white onion and some pepper. cook till soft and purée - your soup is ready.
Thirdly chunks of celeriac with your local shin beef in the slow cooker, along with shallots and some stock will give you a big hug of a casserole for a chilly night.
Another French influenced dish is celeriac remoulade, basically finely grated celeriac served raw dressed in a light mayonnaise dressing and served with salads, or meats - perfect unadulterated side dish.
Now the veg above ground to try this month.
Obviously you may think fish when I mention fennel, but I love to use it in stir frys, cut it into strips and use in any stir fry recipe where you would normally use cabbage, it gives a delicate aniseed flavour which enhances chicken and pork stir fry dishes. You can also use it in your slow cooker recipes - cut one fennel into quarters length wise and place along side your chicken in the slow cooker, cover with stock or just water, or be decadent and add some white wine or Martini, the aniseed will enhance the flavour of the chicken and at the end of the cooking time, drain it from the liquid and serve alongside your meat for a delicious rustic meal
- an old fashioned vegetable - but slice thick rings, leaving the skin on, remove the seed and place as circles on a baking tray. Now make a stuffing of your choice, meat or vegetable based to suit your taste, fill the ring, drizzle with olive or rapeseed oil and a sprinkle of parmesan and cook until the marrow is tender - the skin holds it all together but you don’t eat it.!
This is a distant relative of the beetroot family. It is a multifunctional veg in that you can use the slightly earthy tasting leaves as you would a salad leaf or cook like spinach, steam, drain and dress in a lemon and olive oil dressing. You could always throw in a few pine nuts for texture.
If your chard is Red chard, then the stems rather resemble rhubarb!!! don’t be fooled they taste nothing like, you can just top and tail these stems and lightly steam/boil/stir fry. What you will find is that the red colour leaves them and they revert to green when cooked!
A very versatile vegetable is the mushroom. A favourite quick meal is my chicken and mushroom risotto! healthier and quicker than heating up a ready meal and full of goodness. Use them in stir fries, casseroles, side dishes to your steak! or in a vegetable bake. You name it they can virtually be used in it. If any of you frequent the Stone Farmers Market, Staffs on the first Saturday of the month you will see that there is a complete mushroom stall with various types for you to buy and use.
Pumpkin and Squash
Similar in preparation, dependant what you want to create with it. Roast chunks simply and serve as a roast root veg along side your Sunday Dinner, or if you are anything like me and don’t get round to a Sunday roast on a Sunday!!! far too busy then make a delicious butter nut squash soup in your slow cooker, the orange colour of the flesh seems to intensify as it cooks and the texture is velvety once you have liquidated it. All you need is one butternut squash, peeled and de seeded and cut into chunks, a large white onion and some chicken or vegetable stock. Sprinkle of fresh black pepper and all thrown together in the slow cooker, on slow till tender. Blitz with the liquidiser and serve with some Rustic Wholemeal/Spelt bread for a satisfying lunch or if you are using it for a main meal after liquidising stir in a tin of drained butter beans to increase the protein and wow you have a great nutritious meal in front of you.
these are past their best in many areas, but you can still just find a sheltered spot and know that it is safe to pick until the first frost. Try and chose an area where there isn’t too much traffic so you are not ingesting the nasties from fumes etc., pick take them home and put into a bowl of cold water and sprinkle with salt. Strange as this may seem it encourages any little creepies to evacuate the berries and sink to the bottom, leave for at least one hour then drain, rinse and make sure you have the perfect berry for your cooking.
So the normal crumbles, pies, mixed with apples which are now also in season. Or try something different and make a chutney - recipe on my recipe of the month pages
Of course you could also make a blackberry jam and serve with cold meats during the winter months, the colour will set the plate on fire and give you that sweetness that you need with cuts of cold meats.
Bet you too have heard the producers and growers in the UK say this is the best year of many, so lets get out there, leave them to their cider making and we will use the apples in our favourite recipes, perhaps a Dorset Apple Cake, or a pie and crumble along with the humble blackberry.
I love apples in thick slices, cooked on a griddle pan so they start to caramelise and then served with pork! makes a change from apple puree style sauce. Or go one step further and make apple and potato rosti - again a wow with the pork dishes.
poached in red wine and served with hot blackberry couli and a drizzle of maple syrup - very easy pud!
Pears are another fruit which can be eaten as a fruit on their own or combined into a savoury salad, often served with walnuts and balsamic vinegar to create a crunchy yet nutritious dish.
Don’t be fooled by some pears feeling very hard to the touch, once you bite into them their grainy texture is actually quite soft so you know they are ready.
Far too sharp to eat raw, so drop into a pan, stir over a low heat until the berries burst then add some sugar to sweeten them slightly. For a really heady scent, simmer in with them some lemon zest and a cinnamon stick, the cinnamon helps to sweeten naturally too. This really will accompany well your roast chicken, turkey or pork!
You can freeze these little gems so if they look as though they are ready well ahead of Christmas then pop in the freezer and cook as and when you need them
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! don’t 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.
contrary to what you may think Spring 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. 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.
Starts to become available, you can virtually use it in any recipe where you would use beef, it is leaner and has a closer texture. My favourite recipe which I tend to do around Christmas Eve time is on my recipe pages it really is delicious and has been a big hit with the many people who have tried it.
Mackerel is the oily fish for you to eat, again from the beach boat or a good fishmonger. A favourite of mine is to fillet it, pop onto an oven proof dish with julienne of carrots and horseradish - then cook the oil of the fish will filter through the horseradish and carrots and give a perfectly cooked mackerel.
Scallops are also one to try, I was a late starter with these and a friend of mine, lightly sauted some shallots, added some cubed bacon to brown for a few minutes then added to the scallops. Have your plates ready, with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette and some pea shoots - a perfect first course is ready to enjoy.
Crab - should be in season for you to cook, or buy ready cooked. I will never forget having some crab claws from the fisherman on Budleigh Beach, cooking them and then mixing with a good mayonnaise, black pepper and making the most delicious rye bread lunch..... wow.
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!
Some interesting nutritional articles to give you "food for thought"!
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
Beneficial Food Facts you might not be aware of!
There is often trivia published on many subjects so here are some of my foodie facts which you can then incorporate in your cookery or perhaps you do already but without being fully aware of the benefits
Sweet Potato - full of Vitamin A, Retinol which is great for healthy eyes, also a good immunity system and skin
White Cabbage - good source of folate
Dates - a good substitute for sugar and syrups in recipes [ you need to purée with apple juice] but also good source of iron
Add Linseed and you are adding omega 3 healthy oils to your diet
Cinnamon, good to regulate blood sugar but also antibacterial properties
Sage, contains many antioxidants but also has anti inflammatory properties
Spelt - if you come to any of my talks I include this a lot, whilst it is not gluten free people who cant tolerate wheat can often digest and tolerate spelt. It is also higher in protein and many minerals than other grains.
Mussels are high in zinc and help to boost immunity
Ginger is a good one to boost circulation, decrease inflammation and help with travel sickness.
Cumin aids digestion
Cannelini beans contain B vitamins to boost metabolism
Leeks are rich in vitamin K.
Porcini mushrooms rich in Niacin, which helps cholesterol levels improve.
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.
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;-
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
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!.
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.