Chargrilled Cauliflower with Chilli and Garlic

A great nutritious accompaniment to a meal!

Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, known for their cancer fighting properties.  High in vitamin C (one portion contains 77% of the recommended vitamin C daily amount), vitamin K and beta-carotene, cauliflower is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich. Try this simple recipe to liven up your cauliflower dishes. I used to think cauliflower was rather bland but  I think, (like me) you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how simple yet yummy this dish is.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads of cauliflower
  • Olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 mild red chillies
  • Pepper and salt to season

 

  1. Cook the cauliflower in boiling water to blanch only (a couple of minutes). Cool it down completely by immersing in cold iced water, drain and dry completely (It mustn’t be wet).
  2. Once completely dry, toss in a couple of tps olive oil. Heat a griddle pan and grill the florets(in batches if necessary) on a high heat, turning them regularly so they get charred on all sides.
  3. In the meantime, heat 2 tbs olive oil and heat the whole garlic cloves and chillis until the garlic turns slightly golden.
  4. Pour them over the hot florets and toss together. Season to taste and serve!

 

Optional: Use broccoli instead of cauliflower or have a combination!

Variation: Add lemon slices or thinly sliced toasted almonds

Goat’s Cheese, Date and Walnut Salad

2 cups of mixed salad leaves of your choice

1/2 cucumber chopped

1 cup of mini tomatoes cut in half

1 cup of dates pitted and chopped in half

2 ripe pears (peeled or skin on) and chopped

2 figs quartered

½ cup walnuts chopped

200g Goat’s cheese crumbled

 

Optional: Blackberries to garnish

 

Dressing:

¼ cup honey (pure raw honey is the best)

60 ml apple cider vinegar

Lemon rind grated

1 Tbs lemon juice

60ml extra virgin olive oil

Seasoning to taste

 

  1. Mix all the salad ingredients in a bowl
  2. Drizzle with the dressing

 

Alison Middleton

Food of the Gods or Dieters’ Nightmare?

Can you guess what I’m referring to?

Chocolate, of course.  With Easter fast approaching and the shops overrun with every kind and size of chocolate egg possible, it’s hard not to think about the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth sweet stuff.

Chocolate is, without a doubt, one the most craved-for foods of all time. It makes us feel good. Well, that is until the guilt of indulging, or even overindulging, kicks in.

Chocolate Easter bunnies aside, most of us turn to chocolate at times of celebration or desperation. You might share a bar of chocolate with friends at the end of a lovely meal. Or, you might devour a whole slab of chocolate locked away in your bedroom at the start of your dreaded period.

So what’s the deal with chocolate? Is it our friend or foe?  Is it good for you or does it solely serve to pile on the pounds and the guilt? 

The answer depends on the type of chocolate you’re eating. Most of the chocolate consumed nowadays is full of sugar and nasty ingredients.

Here’s a piece of chocolate’s history for you:

Chocolate comes from cacao beans, which are seeds of the fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree native in tropical regions of South and South America. Research shows it was first consumed in the form of a bitter frothy drink around 1900 BC in Mexico, so very different from the sweet treat we enjoy today. Cacao beans were fermented, roasted, and then ground into a paste mixed with water and spices like chili peppers and vanilla and later on sweetened with honey or cinnamon.

The Mayans and Aztecs revered chocolate for its invigorating and mood enhancing properties. The Mayans worshipped a god of cacao and reserved chocolate for rulers, warriors, priests and nobles hence it became known as ‘Food of the Gods’.

It continued to be consumed only in exclusive circles until Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten invented the cocoa press in 1828. This separated the cocoa butter from roasted cacao beans, leaving behind a dry cake that could be ground into a fine powder that was mixed with liquids and other ingredients and could be poured into moulds. Chocolate became available and affordable for the masses.

In 1847, the first solid chocolate bar, made from just 3 ingredients – cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar, was introduced by the British c company J.S. Fry & Sons. Cadburys, Hersheys, and Mars came into the picture in the 1900s and introduced the different sweet variations we have today.

So, with all the extra nasties now present in that innocent-looking bar of chocolate, you can indulge in an occasional treat but if you’re looking to enjoy something healthier and guilt-free, why not give minimally processed dark raw chocolate a try? Make sure it’s organic and fair trade and has a cacao content of at least 70%. A single square of chocolate packs a mighty punch of the most powerful antioxidants and the least amount of sugar.  The higher the percentage of cacao the greater the potential health benefits.

I know, raw chocolate is an acquired taste.  The polyphenols are what make the chocolate bitter, which is why manufacturers remove them and, as a consequence, we lose the health benefits. The good news is that you can train your palate to enjoy raw dark chocolate. My son is milk (lactose) intolerant so I decided to buy it for him. And then, of course, I had to try some too. At first, we both found it very bitter but we gradually came to enjoy it.  He and I often have a piece of raw dark chocolate in the evening after our meal. One or two pieces is enough as it is so rich, which it means a whole bar lasts a few evenings AND we don’t over-indulge and scoff the lot in one go!

So, what are the health benefits of dark raw chocolate?

A 2013 paper in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine hailed cacao as a complete food for its:

  • healthy monosaturated fats
  • high levels of antioxidants (nearly 8 times the levels of strawberries) which are critical in protecting the body from damage and ageing.
  • positive effects on our cardiovascular system, helping reduce blood pressure and cholesterol
  • high levels of minerals, including potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, and magnesium, all critical for the body’s efficient functioning.
  • ability to improve brain function. thought to be due to the high content of flavonoids. Various studies bear this out.  http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20160222/can-chocolate-improve-brain
  • Mood enhancing properties. It contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love.

Just an ounce of dark chocolate with 70 percent to 85 percent cacao solids contains around:

  • 168 calories
  • 12.8 grams carbohydrates
  • 2.2 grams protein
  • 12 grams fat
  • 3.1 grams fibre

Click here for a nutritional breakdown:http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/10638/2

So you can see why it has been referred to as Food of The Gods. 

Cacao v cocoa?

These can be used interchangeably but in cooking and baking, I tend to choose raw cacao powder as it retains more of its natural goodness.  Cocoa powder, on the other hand, is typically heated at much higher temperatures, destroying many of the health properties. It also often contains sugar. You could also try raw cacao nibs. A sprinkling makes a great addition to porridge or to your smoothie.

What about caffeine?

Dark chocolate contains caffeine but much less than coffee. Compare a 1.5-ounce bar of dark chocolate with 27 mg of caffeine, to the 200 mg in an eight-ounce cup of coffee. However, if you do have trouble sleeping don’t indulge in chocolate from late afternoon onwards as some people find it gets in the way of a restful night’s sleep.

So, to sum up:

If you want to enjoy the health benefits of this Food of The Gods consume dark chocolate. Look out for the highest percentage cacao content you can find (at least 70%), check the sugar content, consume in moderation, relax and relish its rich deliciousness.

Alison Middeton

Roast Veg

This makes a nice change to boiling or steaming vegetables. Great as a side dish accompaniment to a roast or just on their own.

Choose any combination of all or some of the following (whatever you have to hand):

  • 4 cups of cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and/or broccoli
  • 2 carrots
  • ½ squash
  • 6 parsnips
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 purple onions (cut into quarters) or 8 shallots
  • 2 courgettes
  • 1 red, orange or yellow pepper or a mixture
  • 1 large beet
  • 1 large garlic bulb, broken up into cloves and peeled (see trick above)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2 to 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • couple of sprigs of rosemary (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400F or 200C
  2. Chop all the vegetables (except the parsnips – you can leave them as they are) in similar size chunks. If using cauliflower, break it up into florets or if using Brussel sprouts cut stems off and cut in half
  3. Toss all vegetables and whole garlic cloves with seasonings and oil
  4. Place vegetables on large sheet pan (Tip: cover the pan with parchment paper to make it easy for clean-up)
  5. Roast vegetables for 20 mins and stir, then roast for another 15 mins or until vegetables are golden brown on the edges.

 

Home Brewed Ginger Root Tea

A member of the turmeric and cardammon family, ginger root is a  great digestive aid – great to drink after a heavy meal. It can relieve nausea and bloating and  prevent travel and morning sickness . But its therapeutic properties go way beyond that and being a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese it is a good immune booster, can increase cardivascular circulation and help with pain relief especialy helpful in protection against osteoarthritis pain and several cancers, including ovarian, colorectal, lung, and breast cancers.

This tea is great on a cold winter’s day to warm you up or alternatively it can be just as refreshing over crushed ice on a summer’s day.

Make as much as you like – we tend to cook up about 1 litre at a time and store in a glass jar in the fridge to have whenever we feel like it.

  • Fresh ginger root about 3 to 4 inches peeled and chopped and bashed (this releases the flavour)
  • 2 Star anise (optional)
  • 1 Cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 1 Litre of water

Put all the ingredients into a slow cooker and cook for 6 or 7 hours on slow (or 3 and 4 hours on high) or if you don’t have a slow cooker bring to the boil in a normal saucepan and simmer for a couple of hours topping up the water as you go.

Drink straight away or cool down and keep in fridge in a glass jar.This is great served cold with ice or warmed through. And if it is too strong for you, just dilute with some more water.

Optional to serve: add lemon slices and if you need to sweeten add some raw honey or stevia but I like it just as it is!