Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's cold....

It's cold. And when it's cold you want comfort food.

Porridge is the best comfort food there is in the morning! I always put a bit of honey in it when it's cooking, I like it sweet. Instead of adding milk after, I put the milk in when it's cooking too.

Closest I can come to a "sweet" for morning food without deviating from what I can eat and what's naughty!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


May I have a drink please?

We are told that we should drink water. And we use to be told that we should drink a lot of water.

By our mums, 8 glasses of water a day (what size glass?). Others said, 2 litres.

But apparently the best thing to do is the most obvious. You drink when you are thirsty.

Think about it. Some people are bigger, some are smaller. Some people live in hot countries, some in cold countries. Some people are active, some aren't. Everyone has different needs.

But on average a human loses about 2 litres of fluid a day, and it has to be replaced.

But you don't have 4 cups of tea, a cup of coffee, two glasses of cordial and THEN two litres of water. You have two litres of fluid.

Water is the fluid of choice for health. It has no sugar, so it won't rot your teeth. It has no calories, so it won't help make you fat. It may or may not have traces of things our governments think are healthy for us (so maybe you avoid tap water) but we trust the government, right? (LOL!)

To sum it up, we need to replace the fluid we lose. So if you drink enough during the day to produce about 1.6 litres of light coloured urine you are probably doing the right thing.

If you are thirsty, go have a glass of water.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Thickening stuff

If you want to thicken soups and stews there is nothing better then cornflour. Just make sure it's not "wheaten" cornflour.

When mixed with room temperature water (or milk) cornflour desolves easily, and then when mixed with the hot soup stock or stew it will start to thicken immediately. Make sure you are stirring constantly and the most important thing is to keep stirring until the flour is cooked, not just until whatever you are cooking is thicker.

You can use it as a pudding too. Heat milk (don't boil) and flavour it with your choice of flavouring - vanilla, a cut up banana, some berries, a little sugar or honey - then thicken with cornflour as per my suggestion. Serve hot or cold.

Yum :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hiding spinach

Come on, spinach doesn't taste all that bad! I really can't understand what the fuss is about.

It's so little when it's cooked - so I hide it.

Tonight we are having pasta with salmon and tomato sauce. I lightly cook an onion, add a tin of chopped toms and a tin of salmon. Then I boil the pasta, toss it together and put it in a low dish that can go in the oven. Put some tomatoes on top, wilt the spinach, toss that over the top, and sprinkle on a little low fat cheese. Cook in the oven until the cheese goes crusty.

Hope they like it!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fiber - friend or foe?

We all know that fiber is good for us, right?

But can too much fiber be too much of a good thing?

Sure it can! Anything can be bad for you if you have too much of it. But most people today have the opposite problem, not enough fiber.

So how much fiber should you have?

My research tells me that 40grams a day is about right. Errr, good? What's that equal in terms of, you know, food?

Here's some examples

Whole-wheat bread 1 slice 1.6 grams

Rye bread
1 slice 1.0 grams

White bread
1 slice 0.6 grams

Brown rice (cooked)
½ cup 2.4 grams

White rice (cooked)
½ cup 0.1 grams

Spaghetti (cooked)
½ cup 0.8 grams

Kidney beans (cooked)
½ cup 5.8 grams

Lima beans (cooked)
½ cup 4.9 grams

Potato (baked)
Medium 3.8 grams

½ cup 3.9 grams

½ cup 2.0 grams

½ cup 0.3 grams

¾ cup 2.0 grams

Medium 2.0 grams

Apple (with skin)
Medium 2.6 grams

Small 1.2 grams


So what happens if you eat too much fiber?

Your body might start missing out on nutrition. Fiber speeds up food through the digestive tract. Too fast and you don't have time to absorb important things like iron and calcium.

How will you know? Well, not to put too fine a point on it - excess gas and bloating. The painful kind.

You might also end up constipated if your diet is too full of fiber and you don't drink enough water.

But I'll talk about water another day.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Are juices good for you?

There is no doubting that juice is yummy. But are they good for you?

First, are they 100%? Is there added ANYTHING? Then, how fresh are they? Not just "when were they made?" but "how fresh were the ingredients?"

But even if the answers to all these questions are positive, is juice good for you?

Juice is the liquid from things, but what about all the gunk that's left over in the juicer? What's that?

That's the bit that contains most of the fiber and vitamins!

Fruit juice, carrot and beet juice all quickly add sugars to your system and your body raises insulin to combat them. Over load your system with too much of it and say hello to diabetes!

You are better off eating your vegies and fruit whole then drinking juice.

Raw Foods

Raw Foods are surprisingly delicious.

They also take longer to eat!

A raw salad of carrot, beans, corn, capsicum (bell pepper), celery and sprouts is full of all the things you need, with no bad fats or sugars.

You sit there, munching away, thinking "wow, I didn't know that carrot was so sweet!" and learning that celery is crunchy, and mung bean sprouts are nutty, and sweet corn raw is just as good, if not better, then when it's cooked.

Add an apple for dessert and you have a happy tummy. It also is a much better natural detox then anything you can buy in a box!

I've also added raw unsalted nuts for a snack once a day. Unfortunately I have a faint but annoying peanut allergy (also raw peas) so I stay away from them. But raw almonds are wonderful and so are pipittas (not sure how to spell that - pumpkin seeds). When I can afford to I'm going to get some walnuts and hazelnuts to add to the collection.

Exercise - ugh

It's no secret that I don't like to exercise. When I had my little farm I was healthy because life was healthy - I didn't exercise, I worked. Looking after goats, which meant repairing fences, looking after the huge vegie garden, riding my horse - it was natural exercise.

Now that I live in the city, getting out and walking is something you have to plan, to think about and - basically - do.

Apparently just planning and thinking about it isn't enough.

The problem is that I have agoraphobia. I have my medical assistance dog, and of course, Zoe, but sometimes it is still impossible for me to leave the house.

Zoe has therefore dragged me to dancing. Line dancing. Surprisingly it's fun, although I'm sure it will be more fun for me (if less entertaining for everyone else) once I have lost some weight!

And yes, walking. Hmmm, well, if I don't make it every day, at least I make it SOME days. That has to count, right?

Half the fridge soup

When the week is dragging on and pay day hasn't turned up yet, we start to get a bit tired of what is left in the fridge.

That's when it's time to make "half the fridge soup".

I pull out every vegetable in there and decide what is, and what isn't going to go into the soup.

Things that usually make it are...

sweet potato
beans (snap and/or dried)

If I had my way cabbage, cauliflower and broccili would be added, but as they are "not allowed in the house!" I have to find alternatives, such as spinach which is tolerated as long as I hide it in other things.

I cut everything up small and throw it in the pot, only just covering it with water. Put the lid on and cook until all the vegies are soft.

Season, keeping the salt to a minimum - if you use stock instead of water it's probably seasoned enough. Remember, you can always add more, but you can't take away.

Put 3/4 of it into the blender, then add it back to the remainder.

Serve, sprinkle some shallots or thinly sliced raw beans on top.

Healthy Eating - Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Soup with Mint

Trying to get more vegetables into my family means trying to hide them in different ways.

Butternut pumpkin has been accepted roasted, so I decided to try a sweet soup with it.

I cooked sweet potato and butternut pumpkin in as little water as possible until soft. Then I blended one cup of soy milk with a handful of fresh mint, then added the pumpkin and potato and blended until smooth.

I grated some fresh nutmeg on top before serving.

It was DELICIOUS!!! However, it wasn't well received by everyone. I have a feeling that "soup" and "sweet" threw them and they couldn't get past the thought that soup should have salt in it!

So I ate two bowl fulls and they had a sandwich.


Healthy cooking - with puff pastry!

I've discovered that you can turn a meal from "oh yeah" to "WOW!" by simply wrapping it up in puff pastry.

It's also a wonderful way to hide healthy ingredients from those who might otherwise refuse to eat them.

Last night I made curry puffs. I'm not a fan of curry puffs. I usually find the filling either over spiced, or - to be frank - rancid. However, I have been trying to get sweet potato (yam) and pumpkin into Zoe, and, the sweet soup of the night before being a total disaster, decided that a more spicy alternative might be acceptable.

I cooked some onion and garlic in a little olive oil until clear, added the sweet potato and pumpkin (butternut) both cut very small and stirred for a minute before adding a little chicken stock and pepper. No salt because the stock had salt in it already. I added a very small level teaspoon of curry powder.

When the pumpkin and potato were soft (only a few minutes because I cut them small) I added some lentils and a little more stock. (amounts depend on how many you have to feed). I also put some parsley in it, because I had some.

I kept an eye on it so it wouldn't stick, and when the lentils were almost cooked I added some corn flour to thicken.

Then I took it off the stove.

Puff pastry I buy frozen. I might like to cook, but I don't want to go that far! I took two slices of it out of the freezer and waited until they defrosted. Then I cut each one in 4, to make 4 squares.

I put a few spoonfuls into each square, wiped around the edges with milk, and put another 4 squares on top. Then I pressed down around the edges with my fingers, making a pretty squishy patter, brushed milk over the top, and cooked until the puff pastry was puffy and golden.

They got a 10 out of 10! Best of all, I had more of the filling left over so I could make another two of them for lunch today.

PS. If you don't have lentils, or you don't like them, you could leave them out, or add peas instead. If you need to bulk the dish out you could add carrots and parsnips. Stay away from white potatoes though, they are high GI.