cucumber

ASIAN NOODLE SALAD WITH PEANUT DRESSING

ASIAN NOODLE SALAD WITH PEANUT DRESSING

We have been experiencing an incredible heatwave. I don’t think I have ever managed to wear all my summer clothes in one season in the UK. Don’t get me wrong we do get lovely weather here it but it just never seems to last very long.

Last week the intense heat made it very hard to revise for my college exam, I felt like falling asleep every time I picked up my study materials. I must say it is a relief that this college year is now behind me. At the same time I can’t wait to start my final one in September.

This week it has been lovely to have some study free time, my last three days have been spent catching up with housework (like the massive pile of ironing - I think my son has a t-shirt disorder!!!), friends (my lush 4 hour breakfast yesterday morning) and my son"s activities to mark his last year of junior school.

Two nights in a row my son’s year put on a production of The Pirated of Curry Bean so I had to make sure he had some food ready for a quick after school meal before I had to take him back to school to perform the role of a naughty monkey from the island of Lumbago (in the sea of Sciatica...). I am not quite sure how he survived wearing his monkey costume (a thick fleece hoody) in this heat!

Chatting with my friend over our rather long breakfast yesterday, she suggested making pasta salad for last nights dinner. Of course I had to put a bit of a spin on the theme and came up with the recipe below. It’s filling but light, and provides plenty of energy for any performer. My monkey had two bowls before his show and another when we got back home. Success! I think this could become a staple as it is perfect for lunch boxes, picnics or as a part of a cold buffet.

asian-noodle-salad-peanut

ASIAN NOODLE SALAD WITH PEANUT DRESSING


Serves 4-6

ingredients
200g Asian noodles (rice, buckwheat, wheat...just not udon)
1 and 1/2 cups (or a punnet) sugar snap peas
2 medium carrots
1/2 cucumber
6 larger radishes
4-6 spring onions (depends on their size)
2 tsp sesame oil (optional)
juice of 1 lime
1/2 inch of ginger, chopped
3/4 cup organic smooth peanut butter
2-3 tsp vegan red curry paste
1/2 cup drinking coconut (or another dairy free) milk
2 tsp Bragg liquid aminos, tamari or shoyu
2 tbs black sesame seeds
fresh coriander to taste

method
  1. First cook your noodles according to packet instructions. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
  2. Steam the sugar snap peas for about 2 min until crisp tender, cool them down in a bowl of iced water or under a cold running tap.
  3. Coarsely grate the carrots and put them into a large (very large) bowl.
  4. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways, using a teaspoon scoop out the seeds and slice into lovely half moons.
  5. Halve the radishes (if large) and slice.
  6. Slice the spring onions on the diagonal.
  7. Add the cucumber, radishes, sugar snap peas and spring onions to the carrots.
  8. Add in the noodles and 2 tsp of sesame oil if using.
  9. Put the lime juice, chopped ginger, red curry paste, peanut butter, coconut milk and Bragg Liquid Aminos into a blender and process till smooth.
  10. Pour over the noodles, add the sesame seeds and mix well. Your hands are the best tool for this.
  11. Add the coriander just before serving.


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CRUNCHY FENNEL AND APPLE SALAD

CRUNCHY FENNEL AND APPLE SALAD

All this week I have been working on my food diary assignment for college (not quite finished yet). As our house move is nearing I have also made a insignificant attempt to start packing. So far I have managed what you could call a drop in the ocean. To my horror I will have to repack several boxes as I have used the wrong size for books... The removal man has spoken!

Yes I am slightly overwhelmed with the task ahead, the fact that I only have one weekend free of college this month is amplifying my panic. Stress and panic are not good for my IBS so I am downing barley grass each morning (YUCK) and try to focus on the positives ahead. I have calculated that August might be the month I will finally relax, and believe me I am very much looking forward to that.

My food diary assignment has been a very fascinating endeavor indeed. It has been rahter tedious but a great eyeopener. I have analyzed couple days of my diet and my conclusion has affirmed that apart from vitamins B12 and D, there is nothing missing from my plant strong food. B12 and D I take as supplements. Eagerly I am waiting for some sunshine to get vitamin D the most natural way. Unfortunately we are having a freaky kind of spring down here so the drops have to step in for now.

My mum-in-law said to me: “Seeing how much you eat I am surprised you are not bigger.” Yes I like my portions big however my food diary confirms that even I eat large volume my calories are well under control. It’s all good and confidence boosting! Yes, plant strong diet does your body good. I do wish plant based diet could also make me more efficient in packing....


fennel-apple-salad

CRUNCHY FENNEL AND APPLE SALAD
This is a very yummy crunchy refreshing salad. No apologies for using lemon/miso combo as a dressing again, I am loving it! Any leftovers will keep till the next day you may just have to add more lemon juice to it as cucumbers loose water and dull the flavour.

Serves 4 as a side salad

ingredients
1 fennel
1/2 large cucumber (about 220g, 1/2lb)
80g radishes
1 large apple
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp of white or yellow miso (I used live miso)
1-2 tsp date syrup

method
  1. Slice the fennel, cucumber, radishes and apple into very thin slices. You can use a food processor, box grated or a Japanese mandolin. Of course sharp knife will do too! Put all the veggies into a large bowl.
  2. Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Add to the salad bowl and mix well.
  3. Enjoy.

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MAGIC ONIONS AND KACHUMBER

MAGIC ONIONS AND KACHUMBER

It would be hard to imagine cooking without onions. They are a based of so many dishes lending great flavour but there is so much more to the humble onion. We are constantly bombarded with the latest exotic superfoods like goji berries, macca powder, chlorella... the onion may look rather ordinary and unimportant.

Onions are one of my food superheros. They may not be trendy and exotic but they rightly deserve their superfood label. Onion cell walls contain alliinase, the enzyme that is released by chopping or crushing. The alliinase than catalyses the release of organosulfurs, hence the sulfuric acid smell and tears when we chop onions. The onion uses this as a protection agains herbivores. These chemicals are what makes onions so special.

The above mentioned compounds are what makes onions such a great cancer fighting food.
Dr Fuhrman in his book Super Immunity (a must read!!!) states that “epidemiological studies have found increased consumption of allium vegetables is associated with lower risk of cancer at all common sites.” The numbers he mentions are staggering, just 80g portion of onions 7 times a week has provided these stats:
56% reduction in colon cancer
73% reduction of ovarian cancer
88% reduction in esophageal cancer
71% reduction in prostate cancer
50% reduction in stomach cancer.
Amazing right?

redonions


Onions are not just a cancer fighter, they have antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. They are rich in chromium that helps to balance blood sugar. Onions are the richest dietary source of quercetin (not in white onions) which may just reduce your hay fever or asthma symptoms, but can also raise the good HDL cholesterol and ward off blood clots.

The best thing about onions? Apart from being delicious they are cheap as chips and very available (no excuse!). I know that not everybody likes to eat them raw but in this Indian recipe they mellow out while they meld with all the other flavours creating a delicious salad/salsa/relish type concoction. Serve it traditionally with curry but is fab with veggie burgers, burritos or even on top of a veggie chille.


kachumber

KACHUMBER

ingredients
1 large tomato
2 red onions (medium) or 1 large
1/2 cucumber
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
juice of half a lime
2 Tbs coriander leaves

method
  1. Deseed the tomato and chop quite fine (think salsa). Put it into a medium bowl.
  2. Next chop the onion and cucumber into roughly the same size pieces as your tomato.
  3. Add the salt, cayenne pepper, lime juice and coriander leaves (I like to leave these whole).
  4. Rest in the fridge for half an hour for the flavours to develop. Bring to a room temperature before serving.


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Kitchen Gadgets

KITCHEN GADGETS

My husband, like most men I know, loves gadgets. He does have an excuse, it is part of his job to know about the latest technical marvels, but I suspect he would know the latest iPad features even if he worked as a shoe salesman. I am not saying that gadgets leave me cold, I could not imagine life without my iPhone, after all it has been used to shoot my blog photos but the gadgets I really love are those I can use in the kitchen.

My favourite kitchen appliance is my Vitamix mixer, those who have it will agree that this unbelievable machine quickly becomes a part of the family. Not only it makes super smooth smoothies but it will make nut milks, nut butters, hummus, soup and much more. Just make sure to keep the turbo button off when introducing a hot tomato soup to it, from my own experience, it makes kitchen look like a CSI crime scene. Vitamix may be a rather pricy gadget but well worth the investment.

Tomorrow should be the day I welcome my new eagerly awaited dehydrator. I can’t wait to use it, but I do promise not to forget my old friends for the new one. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a great kitchen helper. Take my olive/cherry pitter, without it I would be covered in cherry juice or chasing escapee olives around my kitchen.

Another old favourite of mine is my julienne peeler, it easily juliennes carrots, courgettes, cucumbers and other veggies to make perfect stir-fries or salads. It did a great job helping me make todays recipe, Asian inspired cucumber and carrot salad. One problem with the julienne peeler is that there will be some vegetable wastage, you will have bits of carrots left over, save them for soup or stock, I fed them to my dogs for a crunchy treat. You will also be left with the seedy watery middle part of cucumber (pop it into a green smoothie). All worth it for the perfect uniform strands of veggies. If you don’t own one of these magic gadgets you can also just grate the veggies on a box grater or in a food processor. Japanese mandolin would do the trick beautifully.

julienne peeler
juliennepeeler


ASIAN STYLE CARROT AND CUCUMBER SALAD
Taste and adjust your dressing as you go, depending how much you like wasabi use less or more. Rice vinegar is quite mild but if you are replacing for another vinegar you may have to use less. You can also replace the sweet freedom syrup with palm sugar or stevia.

ingredients
4 medium carrots
1 large cucumber
5 spring onions
1-2 tsp wasabi powder
1 Tbs sweet freedom syrup (or agave)
2 Tbs light soya sauce or tamari
5 Tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbs black sesame seeds
1 Tbs white sesame seeds
2 Tbs chopped fresh coriander


carrotcucumbersalad

method
  1. Using your julienne peeler cut the carrots and cucumbers into long strips. It takes a bit of practice but after a while you will become a pro.
  2. Cut the roots and the dark green part of the spring onions. Cut the onions lengthways into thin strips.
  3. To make the dressing mix the wasabi, syrup, soya, vinegar and sesame oil. Taste and adjust the flavours.
  4. Poor the dressing over the vegetables, add the sesame seeds and coriander.
  5. Serve as a part of an Asian inspired meal.
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Green pick me up

Green pick me up

Do you drink green smoothies? If the answer is no than start now. They are nutritious, delicious, quick to prepare, satisfying and the easiest ways to pack some healthy vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients into your body.

When I had my first home made green smoothie, I wasn’t quite sure about the quantities and ended up with a litre of thick yummy goodness. And yes I drank it all. When smoothies are left (even in the fridge) they oxidise and become rather unappealing. I didn’t want to waste it that way. So yes I drank it all, the whole 1 litre. To my surprise I experienced kind of a “smoothie high”, a very strange dizzy floating kind of feeling. I didn’t know this was possible. Than I saw a video of a young cancer patient who had the same experience when he had his first green smoothie. Due to raw food diet his cancer is gone, and like me, he has got used to having green drinks without the feeling of a “high”.

greensmoothie1

Kale and ginger smoothie
You will need a good quality blender to deal with the kale efficiently. My blender can take the apples and pears with pips, stalks and all. Depending on your blender you may have to core them. Instead of making a smoothie you can juice the ingredients to make a green juice (omit the water and ice).

Makes 2 large wine glasses

ingredients
1/3 of a cucumber
couple handfuls of kale
1 pear, quartered
1 apple, quartered
slice of ginger
squeeze of lime juice
handful of ice
100ml water

method
1. Put all ingredients into your blender and blend till smooth. If too thick add more water. Serve.


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Type 2 denial

TYPE 2 DENIAL

There is no doubt Type 2 diabetes is sweeping the world, as I learn at college yesterday, there are about 180, 000, 000 cases worldwide. 90% of those are Type 2 diabetes. As Type 1 means a lifetime insulin injections, Type 2 can be, in most cases, prevented, managed and even reversed.

I was always aware that this is a very serious condition, but my lecturer opened my eyes to just how serious it really is. Complications are numerous, heart failure, stroke, loss of feeling to extremities (which often lead to amputation), kidney failure and loss of eyesight. Photos of leg ulcers and gangrene would put anyone off. These are risks everybody should be aware off.

Unfortunately people are still in denial, just google Paula Dean and diabetes, the queen of American high calorie high fat cooking, who still will not admit her diet could have anything to do with her diagnosis. On the other hand, doctors like Neil Barnard, John McDougall or Michael Klapper have had amazing results treating this disease with diet only for many years.

Where the “western diet” and fastfood chains go diabetes Type 2 follows. China and Japan are seeing rise of cases. I think we have to take a step back, take a long look on our diet and lifestyle and act. Prevention is always better than cure.



QUINOA AND BULGUR WHEAT SALAD
I have cheated here and bought a pack of quinoa and bulgur wheat mix, very convenient. You can mix your own, half and half, 4-2 whatever you fancy. In that case however cook the grains separately, drain and mix together. I am not a great fan of raw tomatoes but I can imagine a few halved cherry tomatoes would go wonderfully with this recipe.

I have used dairy free Plamil mayo, which is more tart in flavour that regular mayonnaise. Red peppers are from a jar, preserved in brine not oil.

quinoa

ingredients
250g pack of quinoa and bulgur wheat mix
2 roasted red peppers, from a jar
3 Tbs of dairy free mayonnaise
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 carrot, grated
1 small red onion, finely chopped
half a cucumber, chopped into 1cm dice
15 olives, halved
2 Tbs parsley

method
  1. Cook the grains according to package instruction. My mix took only 10 min. Drain, rinse under cool running water. Make sure all water drips out.
  2. For the dressing, in a blender (or small food processor) blend together red peppers, mayo and vinegar, pausing to scrape the sides.
  3. Mix the dressing into your cooled grains.
  4. Add the carrot, cucumber, olives and parsley.
  5. Serve as it is, or mix with green baby leaves.

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