Category Archives: health
Happy New Year Everyone! January has a lot going for it, I feel. When better to shake off a few dusty routines and habits than after a few weeks of glorious indulgence. I have always liked a fresh start – bring on the resolutions. Never mind if they fizzle or fade, a positive intention is still a wonderful thing. So much as I delight in the fairy lights and tinsel, I always feel happy to pack them away, dust off the cobwebs of the old year and move forward. And a delicious healthy regime is a great way to start – here are some of my favourite vitamin rich foods to celebrate the New Year.
I like to add a few sprigs of mint to my green tea. And a beautiful mug makes it even nicer – this one is a hand made Christmas gift by our talented (eldest) girl! And to go with the tea, how about a few nuts and seeds, dried berries and some squares of inky dark chocolate?
Hmm, what else? A dish of simply steamed Scottish salmon, with a little lemon and pepper. But surely this is still indulgence isn’t it? Especially with a drizzle of this magnificent, jewel green pistachio oil. I bought this bottle in France a few weeks ago. Such a rich, deep roasted nutty flavour.
A few slices of beetroot – more colour, more vibrancy, more flavour…
So that’s the view from my kitchen worktop this week.
As for other new plans and projects this year, well I have been busy and have made a good start. My new studio in the garden – a lovely Scandinavian log cabin – is all built and ready. I’m still working on the finishing touches, a bit of painting and organising all my props and stuff. Of those there are lots – it’s quite a task! I’ll make some photos of the studio in a week or so and post them soon.
What plans do you have for the New year? Drop me a comment if you like – I’d love to hear!
Oh – I forgot the avocado! x
Every so often, I wake up with a resolve to have a scanty eating day or week… a detox, spa day, regime – namely the best spin I can put on restricting my diet after a bit too much indulgence. The problem is that whenever I decide to lighten up on food, all I can think about is food! I have the most robust appetite in my mind and nothing fuels it quite like a bit of abstinence. One day a friend said to me that when she is trying to eat lighter, she thinks about all the things she can eat, rather than the ones she plans to avoid. So I tried that, and guess what? It works. (Sometimes.) So today I’m thinking about steamed fish.
Steamed fish is just plain delicious, spa cuisine or not. Add some spice and fragrant herbs and it is even an indulgence, for body and mind. As for the coconut rice – well that’s just balance isn’t it?
Recently I photographed a few features for Eat Me Magazine. One of the pieces was a recipe feature for snapper steamed in banana leaves with a heady, exotic paste of spices, nuts and herbs. Banana leaves are not always readily available in England but I found some lovely fresh banana leaves in an Oriental supermarket in Oxford – a delightful find among the dreaming spires and honey stone walls. But if you are not so lucky, it is easy enough to steam fish in parchment paper or just in a steamer. More on recipes in a moment.
As you can see, the idea is to make the spice paste, and wrap it together with the fish filet in a leaf and tie with string to secure. Then you steam the fish parcels in the bamboo steamer. Later when you unwrap the leaves it is with the anticipation and delight of opening a yummy present!
So to recipes. I am going to be deliberately vague here because there is so much latitude in this type of cooking. And you can vary things depending on what flavours you like best and what you have available. For an exact recipe, take a look at Issue 5 of Eat Me magazine or email me (see contact page) for a link.
For the steamed fish, take a couple of fresh white fish fillets. Snapper, halibut, or even tilapia will all work well. Lay each fillet out on a generous sheet of parchment or in a good size piece of banana leaf. Cover the fish with a few spoonfuls of the seasoning paste. For the paste, mash together in a mortar or a mini chopper a clove of garlic, a shallot, the juice of a lime, a cube of ginger, a few coriander seeds, a half teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon of lemongrass, perhaps a couple of tablespoons of peanuts or macadamia nuts, a tiny spoon of shrimp paste, a small fresh chilli pepper…just choose or omit the ingredients as you wish. Sometimes, I just use a quick squeeze of lime, and little grating of ginger or chilli. Wrap the fish up into a parcel and place in a steamer basket over simmering water. Steam for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the fish fillets.
A delicious bowl of rice is a wonderful accompaniment to this fish. You can prepare some simple plain steamed rice, white or brown as you desire. Or perhaps some coconut rice made like this. Take one cup of jasmine rice, or sticky type rice. Add two cups of coconut milk, or half coconut milk/half water if you want it a little lighter. Add a half teaspoon of salt. Cover and bring quickly to a boil then immediately turn the heat down to as low as possible. Allow to rice to gently steam over that very low heat for about 15 minutes, covered all the while. Turn off the heat, and when you are ready to serve garnish with a few coriander (cilantro) leaves and chopped cashew nuts if you like.
Has Spring arrived with a great busy rush for you? It seems to me that the last month or so has been so full, with weddings and school holidays, and bright sunny days all in addition. This is such a wonderful time of year in England. There is so much greenery and life in all the countryside and lanes. The village cricket team is all geared up for the opening match of the season and the pitch is rolled and ready too. And I know it will be my turn to make the cricket teas very soon – perhaps I will post on village cricket teas, what do you think?
Thanks for visiting. More soon.
After my wonderful visit to the Irish Embassy last week – see last post – I felt inspired to do something with the lovely big bag of Irish oats that I brought home with me. What to make? For me it’s too hot for porridge at the moment – I’ll save that pleasure for the chilly mornings of Autumn. But it’s the perfect time for picnics and we always love snacks to take out on our travels. So I decided to make a big, crunchy slab of granola to break into bars just for that purpose. With summer camps and day trips galore on the menu, these delicious little bars provide a healthy boost of energy.
I’m crazy about nuts and seeds – I like nutty things to be really nutty, not just a scanty hint. That’s the great thing about creating your own food, you get to make it just how you like it! So my granola bars are a luxurious mix of oats, and nuts and seeds, blended together in a syrup of butter, brown sugar and honey and perfumed with vanilla. I try to go easy on the butter and sugar in the recipe so that I can feel pious in my indulgence. Is that possible?
Very Nutty Granola Bars
Like most of my recipes, this one is pliable. There is much latitude to vary the ingredients and make the bars just as you like them. You can use any nuts or seeds that you like. Or just seeds. Or add some dried fruit, sometimes I do that too. Even the grains/flakes can vary – you can just use oats, or mix with wheat, rice, barley…I found a bag of mixed grain porridge recently and I like to add this to the oats.
Here is my recipe as a basic guide.
150g light brown or golden caster sugar
150g of golden syrup or honey (or a combination of the two)
100g peanut butter, I use whole, crunchy type
350g of oat and/or other grain flakes
125g seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, hemp, all good (your choice)
125g nuts, chopped – pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, all good as above
one teaspoon of vanilla essence
Heat oven to 180 centigrade and line a shallow baking pan (about 30x45cm) with baking paper.
In a large heavy pan, melt together the butter with the sugar and syrup and/or honey. When the sugar is dissolved, blend in the peanut butter. Remove from the heat and add all the dry ingredients and mix it all up well, along with the teaspoon of vanilla.
Turn the mixture out onto the baking sheet and press it out evenly. I cover it all with another sheet of baking paper and use my hands to press in evenly into the pan. (Then take the top sheet off before baking.) This makes it easier to cut into bars later.
Bake for about 20 to 2 minutes until golden brown all over. Allow to cool in the pan. Then cut into bars or squares as you wish.
Lovely with a bowl of hot chocolate or cafe au lait!