A healthy Mediterranean breakfast

Almost all children love tomato ketchup, but most commercially produced ketchup have very little tomatoes in them: a well-known brand of ketchup is made up mostly of sugar, starch, artificial flavourings and artificial colours. Indeed, it is so loaded in high fructose corn syrup (sugar) that it is advisable not to consume too much tomato ketchup (or tinned tomato soup).

Thus, many children don’t know what real tomatoes taste like. Tomatoes are tasty! Is it a fruit or a vegetable? – we used to play this game with our kids when they were young. And here’s an interesting fact about tomatoes – they are from the deadly nightshade family. But we love tomatoes – fortunately, because they are a cheap form of super foods. They are rich in lycopene, phytonutrients, antioxidants and a whole host of vitamins. (Note: because tomatoes contain over 90% water, I strongly advocate organic tomatoes).

Here’s a simple but healthy and delicious Mediterranean breakfast:

  1. Saute finely chopped garlic in some olive oil (i se 2 cloves).
  2. Add 1/4 of a finely chopped onion. Saute until transparent.
  3. Add 1 cupful of ripe tomatoes, cubed. (Note: orange tomatoes are purportedly better for lycopene absorption).
  4. Saute until soft and all the flavours blended.
  5. Serve on toast.
  6. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.IMG_2435.JPG

Glamorous green smoothies

I have been trying to photograph green smoothies for YEARS, trying to make them look artistic but they always come out as an unappetising slimy gloop. And we expect kids to chug them down enthusiastically?

If I were business-minded, I would love to set up a health juice bar, and this is how I would present my concoction.

(1) Base cup – fruits, such as bananas, mangoes, dragon fruits, apples.

(2) Ooooph – organic greens. Lots of!

(3) Liquid – coconut water, alkaline water.

(4) Topping – chia, bee pollen, moringa powder, maca, acai.

Hope you / your children like this! ❤

green cocktail

Healthy alternative to instant noodles

I can be quite draconian and dictatorial when it comes to food for my family, and though we lived in Asia for several years, I never allowed my children to eat the ubiquitous instant noodles.  I even banned my Indonesian helpers from eating them, simply because they are so bad for you.

But we live in a world where convenience and speed are king. However, you don’t have to resort to chemical-laden fast food if you invest a little time into preparation whenever you have the time to spare.

(1) Always keep some stock handy in the freezer. Simply boil down chicken carcass (from roast diners!) or stock bones (available cheaply from your friendly butcher or fishmonger) with any surplus vegetables you have lying around.  Just be sure to include a bay leaf, peppercorns, onion, garlic and tomatoes.  The rest is up to you! Over the years, I have chucked weird things into my stockpot, such as apple core (with the pips removed), left over salad leaves, the hard part of broccoli and other greens I happen to have lying around.

(2) To make this Asian noodles, boil up the stock with a small piece of ginger.

(3) Cook spaghetti separately until soft.

(4) Add spaghetti to the piping hot soup. Garnish with chopped spring onions and red chillies, and season with salt, pepper, Braggs and sesame oil (optional).

Note: If you are making this with fish stock, boil for longer with more ginger.

Food from my childhood: Fish

Freshly caught fish (as opposed to commercially farmed fish) has a lot of nutritional benefits, namely omega-3 fatty acids, high-quality protein, iodine and various vitamins and minerals.

The Stanleys have been selling freshly caught fish straight off their boat in Bembridge harbour, but a few years ago, they acquired a shop in the village:

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Here are two recipes from my childhood:

FISH AND LEEK PIE

(1) Melt a knob of butter in a heavy pan. Add in flaky fish fillet (about 2 good-sized fillet).  Coat the fillets with the butter. Pour in enough full cream milk to cover.  Add bay leaf, peppercorns and a roughly chopped carrot.  Simmer until the carrot is soft and the fish disintegrates.

(2) Boil potatoes, parsnip and a carrot until soft. Roughly mash it with butter, cream and grated cheese. Season to taste.

(3) Saute three sliced leeks in butter until soft.

(4) Layer a casserole dish with fish, leek and mash. Bake until golden on top. Serve immediately.

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BOUILLABASSE

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(1) Saute 1 head of garlic and 1 chopped onion in olive oil in a soup pot.

(2) Add fish bones to the garlic and olive. Add a few chopped tomatoes, a bay leaf, a chilli, peppercorns, one carrot (cut into chunks), a celery stalk and water.

(3) Boil for several hours.

(4) Remove fish bones. Add cubed potatoes and carrots. Cook until soft. Then add fish filets just before serving.

(5) Season to taste.

(6) Serve piping hot with crusty bread.

FOR A MORE SOPHISTICATED VERSION, SEARCH ON THIS WEBSITE FOR BOUILLABAISSE.

Stuff that cabbage!

cabbage-rolls cabbageDishy Doc is still away, so it’s all about food!  I love comfort food.  Don’t we all!  Home cooked meals cooked with love, family around the table.    I love getting good veggies into my family and that isn’t always easy.  Fussy pants regularly leaves out mushrooms, rolls her eyes at egg plant or courgette and scowls at spinach or other greens with the death stare extraordinaire!     So I am always trying to find dishes that make both of us happy – me with the nutrition she is receiving and her with the taste…  not always easy, but sometimes we get a real winner!

I also adore savoy cabbage… I love the bright green colour and the wrinkles.  I don’t see them a lot here in Kuala Lumpur, so when I see one I just HAVE to buy it….  I’m crazy like that 🙂

When my niece who was visiting said “I gotta say this is really good” and my girls agreed, I knew I was onto one of those winners I look for. !   “Thanks mum” is one of those things which makes my heart burst and the time taken in the kitchen suddenly becomes all worth while.  So here is the long waited for recipe I have promised!

PORK CABBAGE ROLLS WITH SWEET AND SOUR TOMATO SAUCE

Ingredients:

For the cabbage rolls:

  • 1 green cabbage, about 2 lb., bruised or discolored outer leaves discarded
  • 500 g pork mince
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 red or yellow onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 sage leaves
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 12 juniper berries
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil.

For the sweet and sour sauce

  • 1 red or yellow yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalk, chopped, leaves included.
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 kg tomatoes
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • 1 to 2 tbs tomato paste (See my post on how to make your own)
  • 1 apple.
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar.
  1. Wash cabbage well.   Bring a large pot of water to a boil. . Remove the cabbage core by cutting with a knife and twisting it out and place the cabbage into the boiling water and cook until the leaves are done.   (5 to 10 minutes)  Set aside and cool. Once cool, remove about 12 of the nice large outside leaves (these will be stuffed).   Retain a few of the small inner leaves (about 50 to 100g worth)  to mix with the pork.  (and use any other left over leaves for a soup the next day!)
  2. Peel and quarter the onion. Chop in Thermomix … 3 seconds, speed 6. Add one tsp olive oil. Saute. 3 minutes, 100, speed 1. Chop carrot into large chunks and place in Thermomix. Add sage. Chop. 3 seconds, speed 6. Add, pork, egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper and the retained small inner leaves.   Mix ingredients at Speed 3, 15 seconds, using the thermomix spatula through the lid to stir. (do not use any other than the Thermomix spatula) .   Repeat if needed. Divide the pork filling among the cabbage leaves. Fold the white stem end of each leaf over the filling, add a juniper berry then fold in each of the sides and roll up the rest of the leaf. Repeat for each leaf. ( If you do not have a thermomix,  chop onion and grate the carrot.  Saute until translucent and add sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Remove from pan and add pork and egg to the mix.  Mix well.)

To make the sauce, sauté the chopped onion and diced carrot over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add chopped celery. Stir and heat through. Add caraway seeds, tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, apple and balsamic vinegar. Stir for a minute or two until well mixed. .  Place the cabbage rolls, seam down, in a single layer in the pan, and then spoon sauce and vegetables over the rolls. Cover and transfer to the oven and bake in a 180 celcius / 350 F oven until the cabbage rolls are tender and the filling is cooked through. This should take about an hour.

Enjoy!

Vivienne

(Reblogged from my blog at https://nograinlife.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/stuff-that-cabbage/)

 

Soul Food: Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti carbonara is one of those simple dishes that is so difficult to get right. Here’s my version. I believe I have it to a pretty high standard – must be my 25% Italian genes 🙂

Use bacon with fatty strip. Brown those and a few cloves of garlic in some butter in a large heavy pan.

Whilst that’s browning, cook spaghetti according to packet instructions (I normally add a drizzle of olive oil and some salt).

Prepare the carbonara sauce by stirring together a cupful of cream, six egg yolks, freshly grated parmesan cheese,  salt and pepper.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into the frying pan. Stir well to coat the strands with the bacon fat. Turn off the heat. Pour the carbonara sauce over it and stir again until properly mixed.

Serve immediately.

Flavoured Fruit Tea

We all know that those flavoured drinks are soooooo bad for you, because of the high sugar content and preservatives.  Yet on warm days, they are sooooo irresistible!

Here’s how to make a simple, healthier version:

Boil filtered water and steep two tea bags in it (use caffeine-free tea if you prefer).

Mash up some strawberries and pour it into the tea. Squeeze and orange in the mixture and add crushed mint leaves. Add honey to taste.

Chill and serve. You may wish to adjust the strength of your tea by diluting with cold water or adding ice. It actually reminds me of Pimms, and being unashamedly British, I adore Pimms 🙂

Time-saving Tip: Frozen Food

In an ideal world, we eat fresh organic vegetables straight from the garden. But the real world is not ideal.

So here’s a time-saving tip:

Allocate a day where you have two hours to spare. Source fresh organic vegetables. Clean and chop. Then put in freezer boxes and freeze immediately. These are great for midweek dinners.

I use mine to make soups, and it takes 2 minutes – i.e. open the freezer, reach for a box and put in a soup pot.

Suggestions:

Onion, tomatoes, carrots, squash, marrow, brussel sprouts, sugar snap peas, herbs (lots of herbs like parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme).

Note: I vary the content of my freezer bags and use funky items. Dill and orange make delicious, unusual chicken soup, so delicate!

orange and dill

Note: You can do the same for frozen fruits too. Frozen fruit boxes are a great idea! You can:

  1. Add green to make green smoothies
  2. Add yoghurt to make lassi
  3. Or just blend it as it is!

fruit box

Homemade Tomato Sauce

Modern life is all about convenience and unconscious living because the world is so fast-paced. If you have children, I bet you have a bottle of tomato ketchup in the house. I do.

But yesterday, we can out of ketchup. Rather than drive down the shops in the rush hour to pick a bottle up, I decided to whizz up some ketchup with the ingredients I have at home.

My teenager wasn’t that impressed, but when I showed her what goes into the bottle of famous-brand ketchup that we normally have in the house, she decided that mum’s homemade ketchup was not so bad after all……….

The famous-brand ketchup contains, apart from sugar, pesticides and the neurotoxins HFCS. You can read about what’s in the famous-brands here:

http://www.realfarmacy.com/worst-food-lies/

It’s all rather scary.

How to make tomato sauce:

Roast about 10 ripe red tomatoes, 3 cloves of garlic, half an onion and a red capsicum (these are what I had at home)  drizzled with olive oil. I roasted the ingredients to give it that lovely smokey smell.

Blitz in a blender (I like it chunky) together with a small bunch of chopped basil

Transfer to a saucepan. Add a bay leaf, a splash of burgundy wine, a tablespoon of vinegar, salt and a pinch of sugar.  Simmer to desired consistency.

Store in a sterilised jar or use immediately. It’s not too bad. It’s quite good, actually. But  I may try a simpler version to make it more synthetic tasting so that it resembles something that comes out of a plastic bottle!