Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mindful eating

We've had such a great crop of Santa Rosa plums on our tree this year - the most ever.  And yet, I don't like plums.  It seems odd to me - as I love fruits.

So I decided I would try one - freshly picked off the tree and see if I just didn't like it much or really didn't like it.

To my surprise, when I took a bite into it - I had a flashback to eating plums probably about 30 years ago - and I absolutely hated the texture and had to spit it out!

Now I get my dislike of plums - its the texture or rather what the texture makes me think of. The flashback I had was of me sitting on the lawn at Longleat house in Wiltshire. I used to work there at the weekends and school holidays.   I was sat on the lawn near the boat trip, watching the sea-lions, eating my lunch which included 2 or 3 plums.  My friends used to drive the boats so I was busy watching them and not really thinking about what I was eating.

Then something didn't taste right and I looked down and saw that the half plum that was in my hand looked vile - with crawly things in it and horrid creatures....and that the other half was already in my mouth!  Ugh.  Lots of horrid - bitten in half - bugs!!!! Yuck.

And this was the image that came flashing back to me as I tried a plum off our tree.  I had forgotten why I didn't like plums - but it was still in my subconscious!

All those years ago, I had been aimlessly eating - and ever since, it has changed my appreciation of a fruit.  I guess I should have been watching and thinking and being mindful of my eating then.  Yet I often follow that same pattern today hand keeps reaching for something as I'm busy doing something else, and I'm not mindful of what I am eating.

My plums episode this week has reminded me to be more aware and eat consciously.  There are many reason to eat mindfully - and avoiding a mouthful of bugs is up there on the list!!

Have you ever had any nasty eating experiences that put you off a certain food from then onwards.
Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fig and Broccoli Tartine

One of the dishes we made in our Food as Medicine classes this week was Fig and Broccoli tartine. Tartine is the French word for open faced sandwich. It sounds so much nicer than just "sandwich".

These are lovely - and you can really be creative with your toppings, depending what is in season. I just happened to see some green figs for sale and our fig tree doesn't ripen until the fall, so thought it would be nice to use those - but you could put anything on top of the broccoli.

I don't generally eat a lot of broccoli - no specific reason, just that I don't seem to use it much - but this is a great way to serve raw broccoli and get all the benefits of some good cruciferous vegetables.

Here's the recipe:

Broccoli spread
1 head of broccoli
2 stems of basil
Juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
2 garlic cloves
Approx 1/2 cup water
Pepper to taste

Artisan 100% whole grain bread, thinly sliced
Fresh figs, sliced

Decorate/garnish: pea shoots, pomegranate seeds
Drizzle:  fig or pomegranate balsamic vinegar or pomegranate molasses

Combine all the ingredients for the broccoli spread in a blender or food processor with half of the water and puree. Add more water as needed until smooth, stopping and scraping down as necessary.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add more water if it seems dry.
Toast the bread.
Spread the broccoli spread generously on the toast.
Top with figs, pea shoots, pomegranate seeds and drizzle sparingly with balsamic vinegar or pomegranate molasses.

Instead of the pea shoots, you could try leafy sprouts or thinly sliced radish or anything that makes it look pretty!

As the bread we used was whole wheat, I made my own gluten free tartine using a square quinoa/rice cake - and it looked just as pretty - maybe even prettier, as you can see in the above 2 photos!

Another variation for those with nut allergies is using chickpeas instead of hazelnuts in the broccoli spread. I've made it using one drained can of chickpeas and no nuts.  The spread can also be used as a pesto for pasta or vegetables, by adding a little more water to it.

So get your creative hat on and think about some pretty tartines for summer lunches, or even dinners on hot evenings.

A change in perspective

If things aren't looking good, or something in life is tricky - take a look from a different angle and different perspective - like this little birdie!

Hanging upside down means he can get to all the lovely insects he wants but he just couldn't get them when he was the right way up.
Friday, June 28, 2013

Thursday's Food as Medicine group - final class

Yesterday was the final class for my Thursday group.  10 months together.  I'll miss them.

We had  a lovely few hours - covered a lot of things and made some yummy healthy food together.  We ate a rainbow - with no added sugar, salt, or oil - and no dairy or gluten either. I'll share some of the recipes soon.

The photos are after we'd eaten most of the lunch together with only the sugar free chocolate mousse remaining.

Two new classes start in I only have one group continuing through the summer now.

Time to get planning some new things, I think.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wednesday's harvest - plums and potatoes

We had a good harvest day today from the garden.

The plums have been ripe since we got back from England last week, so John picked a few more, as the birds outside are enjoying them too much.  I have to say however, that I'm not a great plum fan, so I'm going to make them into chia jam - leaving just a few fresh for John to enjoy.

But our exciting harvest of the day was our first potatoes!  Having been away for a month, we didn't really know what had gone on with the potatoes and how do you know when they are done etc, as we hadn't see flowers.  So we ventured carefully under the soil and look what we found!

What colorful beauties - and lots more where they came from. Red, white and blue...

Life definitely is good! I know I am going to have a baked blue potato for my dinner tonight! Roll on dinner time.

And just so he was not forgotten, little Harold got one of the carrots that was "culled" due to thinning of the carrot plants!  He seemed to enjoy it!

Feed the birds

It's noisy round here at  the moment.  Little chirps from hungry baby birds.  You can hear them from all over the house, they are so noisy.

Poor parents must be tired out! Its a lot of work to feed 5 hungry mouths every day!

They are up in the rafters on our back porch - making plenty of mess too! Guess when they leave the nest, it'll be a big clean up time!
Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Food as medicine

It was our final Food as Medicine class today. The class has been going 10 months now.  Its been such fun.

Today, we discussed how to read food labels and what to look for, and then I offered them a system of assessing the food they eat each day, with a goal of getting 100 points a day.

Then we cooked together and on the menu was a pecan pate, bell pepper and tomato soup, dill and horseradish potato salad and chocolate mousse.  It all went down well, and a lovely and colorful, as well as tasty.

It was a lovely few hours - and I'll really miss the Tuesday class.  My Thursday class ends this week too, so the summer will be a little quieter.
Monday, June 24, 2013

Bell Pepper and tomato soup

This is my new favorite soup!  I love it.  It's smooth and warming with a little kick. Today has been rainy, which is sooooooo unusual for Northern California at this time of year, so I decided to make some soup and feel all warm and cozy.

Here is the recipe:

40g or 1/4 cup red lentils
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped/crushed
5 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped or a can of tomatoes (eg Pomi chopped tomatoes)
2 peppers - one red and one yellow
400g or 1 3/4 cups water or stock
shake or two of cayenne pepper
To serve - hemp and pumpkin seeds

1. Begin by grinding the lentils into a powder/flour, using a coffee grinder or spice grinder. Put to one side.
2. Dry-fry the onion, garlic and peppers in a medium saucepan, until soft (approx 5 - 10 minutes)
3. Add the stock/water, tomatoes, ground lentils and cayenne and simmer for 12 - 15 minutes
4. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.
5. Serve sprinkled with hemp and pumpkin seeds.

You can use just red peppers, but I like to use one red and one yellow - just coz they look pretty! They are a good source of Vitamin C and also carotenoids.

The lentils are used like flour, to thicken the soup.  I'd never tried using ground lentils in a recipe - but grinding them first helps you achieve a smooth texture to the soup and they cook quickly.  I can see myself using them to thicken lots of other dishes too.

It's quick and easy to make.  As the soup will be pureed, you don't have to spend a long time on chopping things finely, as the blender will do that.  And the kick of cayenne (to your taste) gets your taste buds dancing!

If you feel like you need to cozy up, give it a try.  A healthy, warming, tasty soup.
Monday, June 17, 2013

Take time to smell the flowers

Remember to take time to smell the flowers - as Max does.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Apricot Chia jam - no added sugar

My parents came to stay with me last week - so I spent one afternoon doing a few things at home with my mum. One of them was making jam.

We made strawberry balsamic chia jam first - using just three ingredients - fresh, yummy, small, local strawberries, chia seeds, and balsamic vinegar. No sugar was used - the strawberries were definitely sweet enough and the chia seeds acted as the gel for the jam.


But then my mum asked how we could adapt the recipe to use apricots - as she loves apricots.  So we had a go, with dried apricots.  It worked well.  Instead of the balsamic vinegar, we used ginger - so apricot and ginger chia jam - with no added sugar!

Basically, we cooked the apricots and ginger in water for about 5 minutes, pureed them in a blender - but still kept some texture, added some chia seeds and simmered for 15 minutes until thickened.  Voila! No added sugar apricot jam!

My mum bought us Shaun the sheep oven gloves during their visit, so they had to come in the photo too!!!

Do you know Shaun the sheep? You should!  He's cool.
Monday, June 3, 2013

A place for everyone

Before we left the US on this trip, our pond was quite busy.  For years we've had 2 turtles in the pond, but recently we've seen a new one on the scene.

Mr and Mrs Mallard duck have also been coming by lately.

So the other day I looked out and saw how they were nicely dividing up the lake structures amongst themselves.  It seems the turtles always go on the "posh" duck house, staying around the edge.

Then the mallards swam towards the old duck platform and Mrs Mallard decided to have her rest there.

So Mr Mallard proceeded to the fountain and settle down for a rest there.

None of them invading each others space - just all comfortable, with a place for everyone.

I hope you got some space to yourself today too.  It is important.  Even if only for a few minutes.

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