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.word
JANUARY AND FEBRUARY FOODS IN SEASON
During the first part of the year, often diets are talked about and started. But instead of following a strict regime, think healthy, seasonal and where possible local, you will see some of the foods whilst not local are still in season and readily available.. Seek out your local producers and get to know them, you will soon see a benefit from this relationship not only knowledge wise but on your budget too....... |One of the things you may notice is the rich sources of potassium in these seasons vegetables. You will notice that I don't include recipes for everything, as some you will already have your favourites for but if you find one and want to share your own personal recipe let me know and I will try it and then share with everyone, giving you the credit of course. My recipes are a little bit different and hopefully you will find them inspirational and create and not just the norm
APPLES – Plain crumble is always a good standby, but I find that apples cooked with Cinnamon Apple Crumble, then with a nutty oaty crumble on top not only allow less sugar to be used but then add all sorts of taste and nutrient dimensions into your diet.
Pork and apples, is also a good combination, when your pork is nearly ready, peel and slice into rings a large apple, into a pan add a knob of butter allow to brown then add your apples, sprinkle of sugar on top to caramelise, then turn after 5 mins while they are still crunchy but sticky too..... serve along side your pork...
BRASSICAS - BRUSSELS SPROUTS, CAULIFLOWER, BROCCOLI, KALE, RED CABBAGE [ SAVOY CABBAGE I HAVE SHOWN SEPERATELY WITH ITS OWN RECIPE IDEAS. - A good source of your antioxidant vitamins A, C, E , fibre, potassium, calcium, iron and folate. So you can see how important these are to your overall health. Of these Brassica's Kale is your best source of Vitamin A and lutein and calcium so protects not only your eyes, and skin it is useful for healthy and strong bones. Broccoli is a rich source of suforaphane which studies have found have anti cancer and anti inflammatory properties. Obviously what you don’t want to do is overcook any of these in water and lose the water soluble vitamins A, C and E. I try and steam my vegetables now and they do cook remarkably quickly whilst retaining the nutrients better. One of my favourite ways to get them into the diet is to make them into a soup, so if you have excess cauliflower try a Cauliflower Cheese Soup – I guarantee that anyone who thinks they dont like caulflower will fall for this simple recipe. You just need a head of cauliflower, litre of stock – cook till soft! [ dont worry you retain the nutrients as you are using the water youve cooked it in] Drain off 500ml of stock then puree the rest together when cooked. Leave to one side to cool slightly then make a roux sauce, with 50g of butter [ or oil] 28g of spelt flour and 250ml of milk – you will find this a very thick sauce, so add the cooking liquid you have put to one side. Stir to remove any lumps and bumps and stir in the pureed mixture and 100g of grated cheese. Serve with a few chopped chives or drizzle of cream if you have any to use up. Serve as a main course lunch with some crusty rustic wholegrain bread. Broccoli and Salmon Pasta Bake – This is a great way to use up left over salmon be it freshly cooked or smoked salmon end pieces, Add your freshly steamed broccoli, mix into a tin of chopped tomatoes and add with lots of black pepper to your ready cooked pasta, pop into an oven proof dish and then heat thoroughly to make sure it bubbles, sprinkle with cayenne infused breadcrumbs or grated cheese further 5 mins to crisp/melt and then a perfect omega 3, potassium, vitamin A and folate lunch!
CITRUS FRUITS – ORANGES, SATSUMAS, CLEMENTINES, LEMONS AND LIMES. - often just thought of as a source of Vitamin C, but this group pack more of a punch than that. One fruit ranges between 130 – 200 mg of your 3500mg daily needs of potassium, between 20 and 45mg of your 800mg of calcium per day, and of course a good source of fibre. Whilst you might find it easy to incorporate the oranges you may struggle with the lemon and lime. A perfect way to use the lemon is in a Greek recipe for Lemon chicken and potatoes. You can either do a whole chicken stuffed with 2 lemons halved , sprinkle with thyme and if in the slow cooker [ yes you can cook a whole chicken in there!] cook the potatoes with it. Or if you have chicken legs then place on a tray, add your potatoes [ cut into large chunks] using two lemons [ one per person] sprinkle the zest over the ingredients, pour your lemon juice over and then drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper over. Cook for approx 45 mins in 180 oven. There your meal is ready and smells delicious. My friend Elli at Ellis restaurant in Aghios Nikolaos, Mani actually does the most delicious Elli's Greek Oven cooked Lemony Potatoes, where she slow cooks in the oven peeled potato thick wedges, with olive oil, lemon juice then the bodies of the lemons and white wine. These cook for hours at a medium temperature, in other words they cook whilst the ovens are on, they are divine. I have tried to replicate them here but without the view of the harbour and the warmth of the sun they are not quite as good as hers'!!
IN FEBRUARY THE SEVILLE ORANGES ARE IN SEASON, make your own marmalade, you will taste such a difference and often you can cut the sugar slightly whilst still achieving a good set
HORSERADISH – Try making your own horseradish sauce to serve with your Grilled Mackerel fillets, or grass fed roast beef!. Creamy Horseradish Sauce – Mix together 2teaspoons of freshly grated horseradish, 2 level teaspoons of sugar, salt and freshy ground pepper, ¼ teaspoon of mustard, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar - mix well together then add to it 150ml of freshly whipped [ to a soft consistency] cream. Mix well together and then chill ready to serve.
LEEKS – In ancient Greece these were used as a medicine as the nutrients in them have healing properties for sore throats, but in addition, they are delicious accompaniment to many meats/poultry and fish at this time of the year. One of my favourites is Leek and Potato soup, one large potato, one large leek cooked together in a vegetable or chicken stock, puree when cooked and add nutmeg and black pepper...... to serve you can sprinkle on a little bit of grated cheese to add some protein to this but it is a hug in a dish! You can also do my Taster salad, where you use the leek raw in stead of lettuce as the basis for a winter salad. Recipe on my website.
MACKEREL - Prepare the fillets, ensuring you have removed all the bones, and believe me this is no mean feat! Then grill and serve with the homemade horseradish sauce.
PARSNIPS – Quick Roast 'Snips a quick way to prepare these to roast, is to peel, quarter and then par cook either steam, boil or in the microwave will al dente, drain well and then put into an oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil and black pepper and roast for approx 30 mins in a medium/hot oven 180Fan is fine.
POMEGRANATE - wow its like adding rubies to your salad!. But there is more to this jewelled beauty. Studies show it is full of antioxidants and is often quoted as having anti cancer properties, also stopping your arteries furring up! Dont just sprinkle them over your yoghurt, or salad, make a Pomegranate Tzatziki – take 150g of 0% Total Greek Yoghurt, mix in chopped coriander, pomegranate seeds, chopped mint and stir and chill. Makes a great accompaniment for Lamb, or just a protein packed low fat dip!
POTATOES – Check out my Cheat's Dauphinoise recipe already on my recipe pages for a different and healthier version without using Cream. It also cooks alongside the casserole/stew/roast meat with minimal interference so ideal if you are cooking for friends, and it doesn’t spoil if you need to turn the heat down because you are all talking so much!
PURPLE SPROUTING BROCCOLI – How many face pulling have we had thinking about this veg, well a good way to use it is to disguise it – Yes honestly. Try a Purple Pesto Steam, then add 2 x spring onion, 30g feta cheese, olive oil and blitz in your foot processor mix in a squeeze of seasonal lemon juice and serve either as a sauce for plain meat, pasta or a dip......
SAVOY CABBAGE – apart from the usual steaming, try Spicy Fried Savoy , by shredding it and frying it in olive oil with onions and garlic and if you require a little fresh ginger. This makes a lovely accompaniment to a roast meat . With any of your cabbage if you have any left over then chop it all together and then mix well top off with some grated cheese and pop in the oven it makes Nina's own Squeak and Bubble! but without using too much added fat.
SHALLOTS – Stifado!!! These really are a must addition to your Greek Stifado. I have been experimenting and put my own take on this traditional Greek recipe on my recipe pages have a look and feel free to tweak and experiment with the framework I have put together.
SWEDE Two root Mash cook carrot and swede together, drain, mash adding either a little butter or a spoonful of horseradish and this is delicous with your mackerel, roast meats etc..
TURNIPS – often overlooked but right a the moment the small purple ended turnips are tender and delicious especially if incorporated into a Pot au Feu Stew with beef, in fact just root veg and beef in your slow cooker then when almost cooked stir in either shredded savoy cabbage or kale and enjoy.VENISON – Recipe already on website.
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.