Coconut & cumin mung bean thoran

Posted in: DF, LF, S, SF, Uncategorized, V, WF

Mung beans can have a bad rep, often associated with flower-powering, free-loving, sixties stoners. This is a little unfair, I feel. When cooked, mung beans are as versatile as a toddlers bowl of penne pasta, with enough bite to woo the most discerning Italian. They’re also insanely good for our digestion. In fact, this thoran (a traditional recipe wouldn’t have garlic) was developed specifically for my lethargic Indian stomach by Keralan (medicinal) chef, Raheem – Delhi belly’s just one Indian holiday affliction apparently. Packed with cleansing and anti-bloat ingredients, this is my go-to skinny stomach smoother. It’s also a supper club and yoga holiday favourite; I’m yet to feed it to anyone who doesn’t go back for seconds, hence blogging it here.

mung-bean-thoran

Feeds 4 – 6

Ingredients

200g mung beans
2 tbsp coconut oil
4 tsp mustard seeds
4 tsp cumin seeds
2 red onions, chopped
4 – 6 cloves garlic, chopped, depending on your taste
100g spinach, chopped
6 tbsp desiccated coconut
½ tsp turmeric
Salt to taste, I like Himalayan pink or sea salt

Method

Soak mung beans overnight. When ready to cook, set to boil until tender yet still with a bite. Add salt when water comes to boil, not before. Set aside.

In heated coconut oil, fry mustard seeds over a medium heat until begin to pop. Follow with cumin, garlic and onion, turn up the heat and sauté until onions turn translucent and start to brown.

Tip in desiccated coconut, followed by mung beans and turmeric. Fold through spinach, cook for a couple of mins and serve. I like this as a light supper or lunch, just as it is, or alongside other salads or my Prawn, coconut & tamarind curry.

Tip: It’s said that turmeric loses it’s medicinal powers (anti-bacterial) when burnt or overcooked, always add at the end of a recipe.

 

Coconut & mushroom scrambled eggs

Posted in: DF, S, SF, V, WF

Crunchy yet creamy; seductive yet wholesome; filling yet bloat free; these are scrambled eggs as, I’d hazard a guess, you’ve never had them. I’m addicted. Knowing my appreciation for his native nut, and Wholesome Seduction, #ChefRaheem of Old Harbour Hotel in Kerala worked his magic on countless coconut incarnations for ‘Madam’. Every one created with health and healing in mind. Raheem’s an artist and doctor all in one. And my unfailing inspiration.

Coconut-scrambled-eggs

Feeds 1

INGREDIENTS

1 dsp coconut oil
2 eggs
Dash coconut (or cow’s) milk
Salt and black pepper – I like sea or Himalaya pink salt
½ carrot, grated
1 tbsp mushroom, or spinach. Or both.
1 tbsp desiccated coconut

Optional extras:

1 tbsp spinach, finely sliced
1 dsp cabbage, finely sliced – I like this for added crunch
¼ onion

METHOD

On a medium flame, set coconut oil to heat in a frying pan. Meanwhile whisk eggs with milk and salt. Set aside.

Sauté carrot and mushroom (+ any other optional extras) in the hot coconut oil for 1-2 mins – you want the veg to remain crunchy.

Add whisked eggs, stirring until cooked and fluffy. Add in most of the desiccated coconut, remove from the heat immediately and serve.

Top with the remaining coconut and a side of roasted tomato or toasted rye bread. I like Village Bakery for taste and because there’s no added yeast (yeast = bloat and lethargy for me).

ChefRaheen-and-Vineetha

Click here for why I fell in love with coconut oil and here for the best ones to buy

The Anti-diet: Pop

Posted in: Uncategorized

I’m afraid there’s no easy way to say this: fizzy drinks may in fact be the work of Satan. A 500ml bottle contains over 200 calories and a whopping 53g of sugar. That’s basically 60% of your GDA for sugar. 60%! Diet drinks fare temptingly better on the face of it: Coke Zero has as the name suggests, well, zero calories. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch as they say, and let’s not forget the tiny matter of our health:

Fizzy drinks: Aspartame, sugar.

There were press rumblings last year over artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame and their links to cancer. What’s more, diet drinks are a false economy. Duped into thinking we’ve gulped down sugar (or food), our meticulous bodies set to work on producing stomach acid and insulin… only to find there’s nothing to digest. Cue: hunger and superfluous eating.

We live in a world where the disturbing Size Zero ambition sells beauty magazines that paradoxically, sit alongside waist bulging, super-size portions of addictive fakeness. As a rule, I err away from dogmatic approaches to eating: everything in moderation, right? This is one instance where I must humbly disagree.

For more Anti-diet tips click on the Tag in the right or type Anti-diet into the Search box at the top of the page.

The Anti-diet: Keep calm & hydrate

Posted in: Uncategorized

Yup, the old 2 litres a day mandate. Groan! Believe it or not though, hunger pangs are often our bodies signalling for fluids. Have a glass of water and give it 10 minutes before eating; you may be surprised.

Water bottles

Either way, the dull old hydration debate is not to be sniffed at. Water aids digestion and reduces the fat we absorb from our meal. It flushes out toxins and excess sodium, prevents fluid retention, is crucial for our organs and helps concentration. Even low levels of dehydration can cause attention levels to plummet.

And in the same waiting vein, sitting to enjoy and chew your food properly is key. I know there are never enough hours in the day but scoffing at break neck speed means we tend to eat more than we need before realising we’re full: It takes 15 minutes for the gut to clock it’s at capacity.

The Anti-diet: Keep Calm & Hydrate. Wholesome Seduction

There’s also the matter of our poor digestion. When we’re on the move blood is diverted to the muscles, causing our colon to work at half speed. So women, sometimes multi-tasking isn’t all its cracked up to be.

For more Anti-diet tips click on the Tag on the right or type Anti-diet into the Search box at the top of the page.

 

Beetroot, carrot, kiwi & ginger juice

Posted in: DF, LF, S, SF, Uncategorized, V, WF

I’m going to level with you: making veggie juice is a faff and your kitchen will resemble a war zone. I think it’s important you’re armed with the facts. For this very reason (and in the interests of keeping my job) I make a 3 ltr batch at the weekend, freezing 250ml bottles for  morning shots. On the plus side, it’s quite therapeutic, systematically feeding mounds of goodness into a machine which instantly produces an elixir of health. And my skin and energy levels are rejoicing.

Beetroot,-carrot,-apple,-kiwi-&-ginger-juice

Makes: 3 ltrs

Ingredients

1.4kg carrots, sprout end removed
2kg apples / 18 apples, halved
14 kiwi, rough end removed
300g ginger, chopped 2″ pieces
500g beetroot, halved with stalks removed

Veg-juice-ingredients

Method

Soak fruit and veg in water with a tablespoon of vinegar for 10 mins to remove any wax and chemicals. Line the juicer bin with a bag for slightly less mess; this way you can throw the waste straight into the rubbish. Give or take…

Most veggies can go in your juicer whole, I tend to remove the particularly tough bits and drop veg into the feeder in stages as my juicer appears not to be fully up to the task.

Veg-juice-health

Kiwi is an addition I wouldn’t do without; it adds body and a tangy smoothness that brings everything together. It’s also packed with Vitamin C.

Making-veg-juice

Keep beetroot till last, unless you want red dye on EV-ER-Y-THING. Pour juice through a sieve to remove any pulpy foam.

Decant into bottles and keep in the fridge for a day or freeze.

Juicers don’t come cheap:

At least not the decent ones and if you find this is something you’re into, you’ll soon feel compelled to invest more pennies into an uber version. Amazon has a wide selection, including the following:

Sage (by Heston Blumenthal) Nutri Pro was recently recommended to me on the basis it does’t heat up. Think Cold Pressed, which preserves the ingredients’ nutrients, apparently. If it’s good enough for tech chef Heston…

Breville have lots of middle of the road options to start you off.

The Anti-diet: Blah blah moderation blahhh…

Posted in: Featured, Uncategorized

If you do nothing else, heed this tip. I could fill Santa’s sleigh with the Weight Watchers nemesis foods I sample each year, so it’s largely assumed I must have a chocolate spitting bowl. I don’t.  It’s very simple but the vast majority of you won’t like what I’m about to say: I stop eating when I’m full.

The Anti-diet: Blah blah Moderation blahhh...

As obvious as this sounds, it took me a good 6 months to master. Suddenly surrounded by food in my café, Root I got over excited. And of course, a Scot never throws away. Two years in, I was hit by the realisation that 30% of the food I consumed was surplus to requirements and I resembled a prize heifer.  OK, maybe I’m exaggerating but it took a significant expanse of cortex to check if I really needed the entire family size trifle – Trifle for One as a friend aptly named it in my honour. For the record, I didn’t sell giant trifles in Root, this was more of a weekend indulgence.

If eating is the highlight of your day, you won’t like the next bit either: We don’t need the volume of food we think. Our stomachs are only the size of our not so giant fists. In fact, portions are 40% bigger than they were 20 years ago. Thank you Supersize America.

Side Plate Eating. Moderation.

In this case, Victoria Beckham’s only eating off a side plate trick isn’t entirely off the mark. I’d gently suggest not taking your own receptacle to dinner parties if you want to keep your friends (and dignity), however.

Coming soon: Breakfast like a king, and why fat and carbs are our friends. Again, applying The Moderation Principle. In the meantime, munch on some wholesomely seductive winter recipes that won’t bust your gut: Zesty fish pie, Mash not Smash, Hummus, Almond butter; even Orange, almond & chocolate cake.

For more Anti-diet tips click on the Tag on the right or type Anti-diet into the Search box at the top of the page.

 

The Anti-diet: Fresh, naturally

Posted in: Uncategorized

By this I mean made by you. Or your granny / the local deli / anyone not advocating the use of ingredients you’d expect to find in a science lab. As this blog eulogises, food is our fuel. I have a sneaking suspicion our growing girths and ever more vociferous food intolerance grumbles, can largely be attributed to the unpronounceable nasties poured into our ready-meals.

Seasonally Seductive Variety

Our bodies like variety. And by eating seasonally, you automatically tick the balanced diet manifesto. At the very least, you’ll never unwittingly consume horse in your beef burgers again.

Horse Burgers

And don’t get me started on salt, fat and sugar. It’s now common knowledge that many ready meals contain over half our recommended daily allowance of the former in a single serving. As a result, salt has become a swear word when in fact, our bodies need it to function.

It’s like this: Our heart is a muscle. Our digestive tract and limbs, amongst other things, are controlled by our muscles. Without salt, said muscles can’t move (hence cramp). If you’re not living off packaged loaves or processed food, you can probably scratch this one off your worry list.

Caravan Coffee, Exmouth Market, London.

By the same token, coffee houses such as Monmouth, All Press and Caravan (pictured), don’t do skinny milk. Because lattes weren’t invented with watered down, processed lactose. Coffee and the sweet, velvety cows milk are perfect partners. Enjoy them as they’re meant to be – in a smaller cup as opposed to a 32oz Venti bucket.

Pick and MIx. Love Hearts.

And what is the deal with sugar? When did we Brits develop such a super saccharine tooth? Most Rhubarb crumbles are now sweeter than Pick ‘N Mix with even ready meals and low fat foods typically loaded with sugar. It’s no wonder obesity and diabetes are on the increase, hence the press recently turning into our most vociferous saccherophobe (sugar hater). sugar demon taking such a beating by the press of late. On current trends, by 2050 half the UK adult population will be obese. We currently stand at 1/3. Nice.

For the record, the legendary J. Sheekey’s still flies the flag for our tangy British crumble favourite, complimented with the silkiest, vanilla bean speckled crème Anglais. #drool

JSheekey Oyster Bar, London.

“But I don’t step foot in my kitchen before 9pm”, I hear you groan. Without wishing to sound like Martha Stewart, soups, stews and salads can be super quick to prepare. The key is to make bigger batches for the fridge or freezer.

Next week I’ll blog some key recipes that can be mixed and matched for a week of almost instantaneous post work suppers and office lunch boxes, putting into easy practice what must seem like Anti-diet overload! In the meantime, click on the Seasonal Seducers and recipes for Wholesomely Seductive eating that’s a way of life, as opposed to a starve v. binge battle.

For more Anti-diet tips click on the Tag on the right, or type Anti-diet into the Search box at the top.

All Anti-diet posts have been approved by nutritionist and Gather & Gather colleague Kate Taylor, find her on Twitter @kate_t85

Garam masala

Posted in: DF, LF, S, SF, V, WF

Indispensable for curries, lentils, BBQ fish and chicken. I even put it in my tea!

Ingredients

2 tsp ground cardamom seeds (20 cardamom pods)
10 cloves
5 cinnamon sticks
5 tsp black peppercorns

Method

Remove the cardamom seeds and discard pods. Add to a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar with all the other spices and grind until resembling a fine powder.

Store in a sealed container, ideally for up to 3 months. The mix will keep for 6 months but the flavours won’t be as strong.

Tip: Lightly pound the cardamom in a pestle and mortar to split the pods. Remove the seeds and grind. Toasting the cardamom first makes removing the pods easier.