Archive

Vegetarian

 

Quick and easy, fragrant bread

Quick and easy, fragrant bread


The other week I got a mysterious souvenir gift: a little jar labelled “Charoset”. I had to go by the picture of dates on the front to guess at its content as all the other words on the jar were in Hebrew. This little mystifying jar had travelled half-war round the world. Not only that, it had to travel most of the way all on its own: It started its trip comfortably nestled in the safety of the suitcase my friend CL was carrying on her way back from Israel. At the airport however security was suspicious of this little vessel with its dark content. So this little jar was packed off all on its own for the long trip to Europe. How foreign that little parcel must have looked on the baggage belt amongst all those huge and well travelled suitcases.

This weekend I was holding this little jar in my hands, impatient to discover its content. But after it had travelled all this way I could hardly just dive in with a spoon for an unceremonious quick taster. Bread was needed! But I had none, not even a single slice was to be found in the freezer. And I certainly did not have the patience to bake a loaf. So I pulled out my favourite recipe for super-fast, emergency skillet bread.

This bread comes together in minutes. It takes no more than a quick stir to make the batter and then a few minutes in a skillet on a stove. The combination of buckwheat and quinoa give this skillet bread a strong nutty flavour.  It is a great side for a cheese plate but just as nice with a spoon full of jam – or as it turns out, charoset. When I make it to go with something sweet I often throw in a teaspoon of nigella seeds to enhance the fragrant flavour of the bread. But this time I left it plain as I wanted the charoset to take the star role.

But I had no need to worry, the charoset was one powerful combination of flavours: deeply sweet with a hint of earthy spices. The taste made me even more curious to find out what I was eating. A quick search in Wikipedia revealed it to be “a sweet, dark-coloured, paste made of fruits and nuts eaten at the Passover Seder. Its colour and texture are meant to recall mortar (or mud used to make adobe bricks) which the Israelites used when they were enslaved in Ancient Egypt. The word “charoset” comes from the Hebrew word cheres “clay.”

A big thank you to CL for this lovely gift and amazing discovery that doubled as a good excuse to share my recipe for this humble but ever so versatile and tasty skillet bread.

 

Charoset

Charoset

Ingredients
(found on the blog ‘Natural Noshing’)
Serves 1-2

40g (1/3 cup) quinoa flour
40g (1/3 cup) buckwheat flour
80ml (1/3 cup) water
80ml (1/3 cup) unsweetened rice milk*
1 tsp lemon juice
1 egg
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
optional: nigella seeds (DE: Schwarzkuemmel, NL: zwarte komijn)
oil
 

Recipe

  1. Combine the quinoa and buckwheat flour.
  2. Make a well in the center. Add in the water, milk, lemon juice and the egg. Use a fork or whisk to beat together the egg and the liquid and then the mix with the flour.
  3. Allow to stand for 5 min. While you heat a skillet (20 cm / 8 inch) over medium heat.
  4. Sift the baking powder into the batter.
  5. Grease the pan with a little oil.
  6. Pour in all the batter.
  7. Cook for 6-7 minutes.
  8. Flip and cook for another 5-6 minutes.
  9. Serve warm and cut into wedges.

 

Tips & Variations

  • instead of the rice milk you can of course use regular or other grain based milks
  • the original recipe also suggest replacing the milk and lemon juice with yoghurt, but I have not tested this
  • besides nigella seeds you can experiment with other spices or fresh herbs


Serve with

  • cheese and fresh grapes
  • butter and jam

221 IMG_6348

 

Advertisements

217 IMG_5900

My first guest post invitation!
….and  then I drew a blank…. ….. …..

Dhans invite to share a recipe on her fabulous blog- Skinny Chef De Cuisine-had me stumped for ages. What recipe to choose? What to make? What?

Lately my focus has been on experimenting with veggie dishes. It is a challenge my sister and I set ourselves  to introduce some new healthy habits to our dinner tables. The deal is that we pick a ‘vegetable of the week’ which we then both have to cook. As I have been having so much fun with this, I knew I had to spread the idea by sharing a vegetable recipe.

But it would hardly be appropriate to show up for my guest post with a bunch of crudités.

Some baked goods on the other hand… now who would turn away a guest bringing muffins; even if they were made with vegetables.

So, for my first guest post I present a plate of Beetroot Muffins.

For the full recipe, just click here to pop over to Dhans’ blog.

217 IMG_5903

And if you want to known about the heath benefits of beet –  below a quick wrap up

  • Did you know that having red urine after eating beets can be a sign of low stomach acid?Low stomach acid can mean that you body is not able to process and absorb essential nutrients.You can take easy measures like drinking lemon juice before a meal, drinking more water. (Source: Body enlightenment) Apparently red urine can also be a sign of iron deficiency (Source: Worlds Healthiest Foods)
  • Reduces blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks and strokes
    Research has shown that beetroot can help reduce blood pressure as well as its associated risks such as heart attacks and strokes. This is because the high content of nitrates in beetroot produces a gas called nitric oxide in the blood which widens blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. A daily dose of 250ml of beetroot juice or 1 to 2 cooked beetroot (approx. 100g) can help dramatically reduce blood pressure and its associated risks. For more information on heart health, help, facts and lifestyle advice, visit the British Heart Foundation.
  • Powerful antioxidant properties Betacyanin, the pigment that gives beetroot its colour, is also an antioxidant. Antioxidants are believed to help reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, in turn protecting artery walls and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Folic acid Beetroot contains folic acid which is essential for normal tissue growth. Folic acid is crucial to the development of a baby’s spinal cord during the first three months of pregnancy and can help prevent spinal cord defects such as spina bifida. Beetroot also contains iron so is a fab pick-me-up for mums-to-be suffering from fatigue during pregnancy. Expectant mums must remember though that cooked beetroot has lower levels of folic acid than raw beetroot.
  • Reduces risk of osteoporosis Beetroot contains the mineral silica. This helps the body to utilise calcium, which is important for musculo-skeletal health and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Lowers cholesterol Beetroot contains soluble fibre, which has also been shown to have cholesterol lowering capabilities. It also contains carotenoids and flavonoids, which help prevent LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol from being oxidised and deposited in the arteries.
  • Stabilises blood sugar Beetroot is virtually fat free and low in calories. Although it has a ‘medium’ GI (Glycaemic Index) of 64, It has an extremely low GL (Glycaemic Load) of 2.9 which means it’s converted into sugars very slowly and therefore helps to keep blood sugar levels stable.
  • Treats anaemia and fatigue Beetroot’s iron content means it’s good for those with anaemia and fatigue.
  • Helps slow progression of dementia A recent study by Wake Forest University in North Carolina, USA has shown that the high content of nitrates in beetroot may also help fight the progression of dementia, as nitric oxide in the blood (produced by the nitrates in beetroot) also helps increase blood flow to the brain. Beetroot’s folic acid may also play a part as studies suggest it can help protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia. (Source: Love Beet Root)
Conjuring up spring with vibrant salad

Conjuring up spring with vibrant salad


I realize it is only late February, but this week I have been feeling the promise of spring in the air. Maybe I am noticing it because I was away for a few days, but suddenly the days seem longer – the light lingers until evening instead of fading in the afternoon. And that tree by the door – it is full of tight little green buds that are ready to burst into life.

Suddenly I was craving colourful and fresh foods (with a bit of substance as there is still a crisp edge to the day). This quinoa salad hit the spot: vibrant and soothing at the same time.

A handful of broad beans thrown in adds a boost of protein, fiber, potassium and energy-providing B vitamins. Broad beans are also known as fava, butter, Windsor, horse or even English beans.  Dicke Bohnen in German and tuinbonen Dutch. Shelling them takes a few minutes, but I loved peeling back the wintery grey shell to reveal that fresh nugget of powerful green. The earthy taste of the beans is echoed by the creamy avocado and is then contrasted by the zing of the radishes and lemon juice.

I have made this salad a few times and have noticed that sometimes I love the strong zingy flavour of the lemon whereas other days I really want a more mellow flavour. (And sometimes I am just too lazy to segment a lemon.) Depending on your mood you can leave out the lemon segments and use more or less juice.

For a simple lunch the salad with some crusty bread, olive oil and balsamic. It is also makes a great dinner paired with a chicken filet or a steak.
Or if you are like me and cannot choose: split your portion into two before adding the avocado. Have half for dinner with some chicken halloumi skewers (recipe to follow soon) and the rest the next day for lunch.

Ingredients
(adapted from Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’)
Serves 6

200g quinoa (or leftover cooked quinoa)
500g shelled broad beans (fresh or frozen) (NL: tuin bonen DE: Dicke Bohnen)
2 lemons
2 ripe avocado
200g radishes
50g purple radish cress (or small purple basil leaves or regular garden cress)
1 tbsp ground cumin
75 ml olive oil
1/4 tsp chili flakes
salt and black pepper

Recipe

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve (that removes the bitter flavour.) Place in saucepan with 1,5 times the amount of water. Bring to the boil. Place on the smallest burner on the lowest heat and allow to cook about 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow to stand 5 min. Spread on a plate and allow to cool.  (for the original method Ottolenghi uses see “Tips”)
  2. Bring water to the boil. Throw the beans into the water. Bring the water back to the boil and then immediately drain and rinse the beans. Gently press each bean to pop it out of its shell.
  3. Optional: Cut the bottom and top off each lemon. Stand each one on the chopping board and cut of the rind and white from top to bottom following the curve of the lemon.
  4. Over a bowl slice in between the membranes to cut out each of the lemon segments. Add segments to the bowl and squeeze in any juice that is left in the membranes.
  5. Cut the avocado in half right up to the stone. Separate the two halves. Use a knife to cut the avocado into cubes inside the skin. Spoon out the cubes and add them to the bowl of lemon.
  6. Slice the radish into thin slices.
  7. Combine quinoa, avocado the lemon segments (and some or all of) the lemon juice, the radish and half the cress. Season with cumin, oil, chili, salt and pepper. Carefully toss and check the seasoning.
  8. Plate and top with remaining half of cress.


Serve with

Tips & Tricks
Ottolenghi prepares the quinoa for this dish by bringing it to the boil with plenty of water and allowing it to simmer for 9 min. He then drains it in a fine sieve, rinses it with water and leaves it to dry.

215 IMG_5242

Some of the health benefits

  • Folate participates in biochemical processes that create genetic material, build cells and metabolize amino acids. It’s so essential for the growth and development of new cells that it helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord when taken before and during early pregnancy. Everyone needs folate to produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anemia, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. One cup of cooked broad beans contains 44 percent of the recommended daily intake of folate.
  • Iron: Most beans, including broad beans, are good sources of iron. One cup of broad beans has 3 milligrams of iron, which is 32 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 14 percent for women. In addition to carrying oxygen throughout the body, iron-dependent enzymes sense when oxygen levels drop and initiate processes that allow the body to compensate. Iron supports the immune system by functioning as an antioxidant that protects the white blood cells responsible for destroying bacteria.
  • Zinc: Enzymes are proteins that activate and speed up chemical processes inside your body. Almost 100 enzymes depend on zinc to fulfill their roles, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. In this role, zinc is vital for normal growth and development. Zinc deficiencies can cause growth retardation and delayed neurological development. Your immune system also suffers if you don’t get enough zinc. Decreased levels of zinc are associated with fewer white bloods cells available to fight invading pathogens and infection. The zinc from 1 cup of broad beans provides 15 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 21 percent for women.
  • Parkinson’s: If you have Parkinson’s disease, talk to your physician before eating broad beans. Broad beans are a natural source a levodopa, which is converted into the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is one of the medications used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s, but consuming levodopa from broad beans can cause both good or bad effects, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Their possible impact should be assessed by a doctor familiar with your condition.

(source: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-broad-beans-4389.html)

Fennel and rice make a perfect match with in this tasty twist on Mujaddara

Fennel and rice make a perfect match in this tasty twist on Mujaddara

By now I can hardly believe it, but I am sure that were years and years that I did not eat one single green, brown or black lentil. Not because I do not like them, I have always enjoyed them. But simply because they never crossed my mind; so they never crossed my lips.

But somehow they managed to sneak themselves back in, by hiding in little tin cans when I discovered that a can of lentils makes a great base for a salad. Perfect for anything from a bbq party to those rushed evenings where you need to rustle up a meal with what is left at the back of the fridge.

Once they found their way into my house they quickly became a staple. By now I have about five or six different types of dried lentils in my cupboard. I also still have a can for emergencies, but I prefer cooking them from dried as it is so simple to do.

Lentils are a great way to introduce more legumes into your diet.  Legumes are high in protein and fiber and they provide a steady source of glucose for energy. But if your body is not used to them, they can be hard to digest. The secret is to introduce them slowly and steadily into your regular diet. The best legumes to start with are apparently lentils, as they are easier to digest than beans. It also seems to help to combine them with rice. Another trick is to cook them with vegetables and spices that have antiflatulent properties. (This recipe combines all these using rice, a fennel bulb as well as cumin, turmeric, bay leaves.)

So really all you need to do is to fry some onions and cook them with lentils, rice and spices. In Arab this is also know and a Mujaddara (a great dish if you fridge is completely empty and you have to resort to the store cupboard). But to add some extra flavour and goodness this recipe also includes some leeks and greens. This dish works as a simple one pot dinner (maybe with some yoghurt) or as a part of a fabulous meal (with some kofta or lamb chops hummus and pita.)

So here is my attempt to sneak some more legumes into your house by pairing them with my vegetable of the week, fennel, to make a match that is tasty, healthy and easy to stomach.

 

Ingredients
(adapted from ‘fd feeding an md‘)
Serves 3-4

150g (1 cup) green or brown lentils
oil
2 leeks
salt
2 garlic cloves
100-150g (3/4-1 cup) whole grain rice
1 fennel bulb
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
ground allspice (NL, DE: Piment. Can be replaced with a mix of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
optional: turmeric
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
black pepper
salt
1 tbsp apple vinegar (a not very authentic but tasty optional addition)
6 handfuls of greens – I used spinach (see tips& variations)

 

Recipe

  1. Place the lentils into a bowl and cover with warm tap water. Soak for 10 min.
  2. Slice the leeks open lengthwise and rinse. Slice the leek thinly.
  3. Heat a pot or Dutch oven and add the oil.
  4. Add the leeks, cover with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 5-10 min.
  5. Remove half the leeks, salt en keep seperate until later.
  6. Slice the fennel into half down the center and then into thin slices.
  7. Add to the leek, cover and cook until softened, about 3-5 min.
  8. Add in minced garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 sec.
  9. Stir in rice and sauté about 2 min.
  10. Mix in the cumin, allspice, cayenne and turmeric (if using).
  11. Drain the lentils, rinse and add to the pot.
  12. Pour in 1 liter (4 cups) of water.
  13. Add the bay leaf and the cinnamon stick.
  14. Cover and bring to the boil. As soon as it has comet to the boil, turn the heat low and cook for 15-10 min or until the lentils and rice are almost cooked. (I move the pot to my smallest burner and turn it down as low as possible.)
  15. When you are testing the rice to see if it is done, remember you have not added salt yet. Do not underestimate what it does for a dish!
  16. Season the dish generously with salt, pepper and a splash of apple vinegar.
  17. In the meanwhile wash the greens. They should be the size of a young, small spinach leaf so depending on what greens you are using chop if necessary. Remove any hard stalks.
  18. Lightly fold the greens into the lentil mixture. Top with the reserved leeks. Cover and cook for another 5 min until the rice and lentils are tender and the greens are wilted.
  19. Remove from the heat and let stand 5 min.

 

Tips & Variations

  • Instead of spinach you can use any other type of green like purslane (NL: postelein, DE:Portulak) or turnip tops (NL: raapstelen, DE: Stilmus/Ruebstil )
  • The back bones of this recipe are the onion (or leeks) rice, lentils and some spices. All other additions are optional.


Serve with

For a simple quick meal with

  • Yoghurt (with mint and cucumber cubes)

For a dinner spread with

Some more lentil recipes

Some of the health benefits of fennel:

Cancer: The most important nutrient in this vegetable might be anethole, a component in the volatile oil of fennel and one of the most powerful agents against cancer occurrence, possibly due to a biological mechanism that shuts down or prevents the activation of NF-kappaB, a gene-altering, inflammation-triggering molecule.(source: food facts) http://foodfacts.mercola.com/fennel.html

Flatulence: Fennel is very popular as an antiflatulent, due to the carminative properties of the aspartic acid found in fennel. Its extract can be used by everyone, from infants to the elderly, as a way to reduce flatulence and to expel excess gas from the stomach. It is commonly used in medicines to reduce symptoms of non-ulcer dyspepsia and flatulence in infants and young children.

Anemia: Iron andhistidine, an amino acid found in fennel, are both helpful in treatment of anemia. Whereas iron is the chief constituent of hemoglobin, histidine stimulates production of hemoglobin and also helps in the formation of various other components of the blood

Immune System: 1 cup of fennel bulb contains almost 20% of the daily requirement of vitamin-C, which makes fennel quite a rich source of this beneficial element of our diet. Vitamin-C improves general immune system health, produces and repairs skin tissue, helps to form collagen, and also protects the blood vessel walls as an antioxidant against the harmful effects of free radicals that can frequently lead to heart disease!

Menstrual Disorders: Fennel is also an Emenagogue, meaning that it eases and regulates menstruation by properly regulating hormonal action in the body. Furthermore, fennel is used in a number of products to reduce the effects of PMS, and it is also used traditionally as a soothing pain reliever and relaxing agent for menopausal women.

Blood Pressure: Fennel is a very rich source of potassium, which is an essential nutrient in our bodies and is vital for a number of important processes. One of the attributes of potassium is its quality as a vasodilator, which means that it relaxes the tension of blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure. High blood pressure is connected to a wide range of health issues, including heart attack, stroke, and artherosclerosis. Also, for diabetic patients, blood pressure issues can make management of their insulin and glucose levels very difficult, and can be the cause of many potentially lethal complications. A cup of fennel bulb in your daily diet will pump you full of potassium and all the benefits that come along with it.
.(Source: organic facts)

http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-fennel.html

In this dish green (wood) red (fire) come together not to burn but to cool.

In this dish green (wood) red (fire) come together not to burn but to cool.

Preparing my previous post, in honour of the Lunar New Year, I discovered a world of traditions and beliefs that I knew hardly anything about. As the celebration of the Chinese New Year spans 15 days I thought I would take the chance to post some of the facts I discovered. But first about today’s recipe:

This salad with bean sprouts is one of these simple dishes that hardly deserve the name recipe, but it appears on my table regularly as it is quick, tasty and healthy. It goes wonderfully with Asian flavours and is a great contrast to hot and spicy foods. Every time I eat it I realize that I prepare bean sprouts much too rarely – they have such a delicate flavour and are so good for you.

And I decided it is the perfect dish to go with this post as the bean sprouts are combined with cucumber – green for wood – and tomatoes – red for fire – which come together into a wonderfully cooling salad for this fiery year.

213 IMG_6122

So here are 8 facts you might not know about the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Wood Horse (8 because that is a lucky number in China).

1) The Chinese zodiac – or Shēngxiào – is a calendar system originating in the Han dynasty (206-220BC), which names each of the years in its 12-year cycle after an animal: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, in that order. According to the system, the universe is made up of five elements – earth, water, fire, wood and metal – which interact with the 12 animals, resulting in the specific character of the year ahead. (Guardian)

2) Year of 2014 is Wooden Horse. Because Wood (tree) is connected to the color of Green. Therefore, 2014 is the Year of Green Wood Horse. (Chinese Fortune Calendar)

3)  Horse hour of Chinese Horoscopes is from 11am to 1 pm. Sunshine generates lots of heat during the Horse hour. Therefore, horse is connected to heat, fire and red.

4) Horses like the social activities, because horses like show off themselves. Since horse is a social animal and red is also connected to love, therefore. Horse is treated as a Romantic Star in Chinese Horoscope. (Apanache)

5) Horse is one of Chinese favorite animals. Horse provides people quick transportation before automobiles, so people can quickly reach their destinations. Horse even can help people to win the battle. Therefore Horse is a symbol of traveling, competition and victory. That’s why Horse is connected to speedy success in China. (Apanache)

6) But……Feng shui masters are talking about a hot – literally – 2014, with temperatures melting people’s brains and a propensity towards earthquakes and volcano eruptions.(RT)

7) It’s estimated that a sixth of the world celebrate Chinese New Year, including more than 1 billion Chinese citizens. Which results in one of the world’s largest human migration as Chinese workers travel home to their families for Chinese New Year. In 2010 an estimated 210 million hit the planes, buses and trains – the equivalent to the whole population of Brazil packing their suitcases. (Go Hong Kong)

8) And last but not least: foods to be eaten at New Year include

– uncut noodles – a symbol of longevity
– fish for abundance – as the word for fish in Chinese is a homophone for abundance
– fried egg rolls – a symbol of wealth as they look like gold bars
– dumplings – for wealth
– Shrimp – for happiness and joy
– Lettuce – for rising fortune as the word is near homophonous “to make money”
– Mandarins (especially with leaves intact) – for happiness
– Eggs – for prosperity

 

 

 

 

 

.

Ingredients

(adapted from ‘De complete Asiatische Keuken’)
Serves 3-4 as a side dish

150g green beans
100g bean sprouts
12 cherry tomatoes (about 150g)
1 cucumber
1 red chili
coriander or mint leaves
2 tbsp rice vinegar (alternatively apple vinegar)
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar

Recipe

  1. Bring some water to the boil.
  2. Cut the ends off the beans and cut them in half. Cook the beans 5-7 min in boiling water until barely tender (without the lid on the pot, to keep them green).
  3. Toss in the bean sprouts for the last 30 secs (this kills off any bacteria and in my opinion improves the taste).
  4. Drain the beans and sprouts and immediately rinse with cold water (or even cool in ice water).
  5. Cut the tomatoes in half and place into a salad bowl.
  6. Cut the cucumber into wedges. (Cut the cucumber in half, cut each half into four pieces lengthwise and then into slices.) Add to the tomatoes and then toss in the beans and sprouts.
  7. Chop the chili (Serve separate if the dish should not be spicy otherwise) Place in a small bowl and combine with rice vinegar, lime juice and sugar.
  8. Dish can be prepared a little ahead up to this point. When you are ready to serve, toss the vegetables with the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  9. Chop mint or coriander leaves and sprinkle on top.


Tips & Variations

  • Add some cubed fresh cucumber
  • Dry fry some dried shrimp, grind to a powder and sprinkle on top
  • Add some chili sauce to the dressing

Serve with

The variations are endless, but I found this salad goes well with

  • Rich and spicy coconut curries
  • Thai Fish Cakes

The 8 bullets on the Lunar New Year are enough facts for one post. I will share with you how incredibly healthy bean sprouts are another time J

Where tasty meets healthy to have a party

Where tasty meets healthy to have a party

I always used to think that January was such a dreary month, but I am discovering that I actually quite like it: things slow down a bit and there is suddenly time to curl up on the couch and read a book or even just do some day dreaming.

The one thing I really do not like about January is that no one seems to be having any fun eating. It is all clear broths and leafy salads. Where does this idea come from that healthy food has to be boring, bordering on punishment?

I was shocked when I was watching this program on healthy eating a while back. This doctor actually declared that one of the main problems is, that food plays too big a role in our lives. He made an argument that food should not be at the center of parties and our time with friends and family. I think I actually gasped out loud!

My belief is that appreciating the simple, daily things in life is what brings happiness and joy. And we have to eat, which makes every meal an amazing opportunity to embrace and enjoy life. I say, spend more time cooking together and eating together. The real question is what you eat; if you use every single special occasion as an excuse to stuff yourself with food your body does not need, of course you will not live healthily. But if you look at every meal as a chance to enjoy beautiful food that nourishes, you will eat healthily AND have a smile on your face.

And just in case I have not made my point, here is a recipe to prove it – quinoa salad with kale, avocado and dried cranberries. This dish is a party of super foods on a plate with every single ingredient containing loads of nutrients that are essential for the body.

The first time I had this dish was when my friend LS invited me over for dinner as a sort of house warming (about a year after she moved into a place – but that just goes to show there is always a good excuse for a dinner party). But then she would have never knowing this dish if her sister had not prepared it for her a few months before.

Not convinced yet? Make this salad for someone you care for and you will be. Actually: even if you are convinced you should still make this salad 😉

A big thank you to LS and RS for passing this recipe on!

Finally a small note on the preparation:
As I am not a regular eater of kale I loved the fat that LS lightly stir-fried the kale to soften it a little. But if you prefer raw kale than you can “massage” it as RS does: tear the kale into small pieces and place in a bowl with some olive oil, lemon juice, a dash of salt and pepper. Then “massage” the kale with your fingers.

211 IMG_4803

Ingredients
(this recipe was discovered by RS who then passed it on to her sister and my friend LS who then cooked it for me. I had a guess at what the dressing might have been.)
4 servings as a side dish or lunch

400g (2 cups) of left-over cooked quinoa or about 150g  (2/3 cup) uncooked quinoa
olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice (or 2 tbsp apple vinegar)
2 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1-2 bunches of kale, about 12 leaves (NL: boerenkool, DE: Gruenkohl)
15g almond slivers (or blanched almonds walnut halves or pumpkin seeds)
1-2 avocados
50g dried cranberries

Recipe

  1. If using uncooked quinoa: rinse the quinoa (this is important to remove the bitter taste). Cover with twice the amount of water. Bring to a simmer and then turn the heat low (I move my pot to the smallest flame and turn it as low as possible.) Cook for about 15 minutes or until just soft, allow to sit covered for another 5 min. Then spread on a large plate, drizzle with a little olive oil and allow to cool a little (in the fridge).
  2. Make a dressing from 2 tbsp olive oil, the lemon juice, maple syrup, salt and pepper.
  3. Toss the dressing with the quinoa. Taste; depending on the amount of quinoa you are using you might need more dressing.
  4. If the kale has thick stems you should tear the leaves off the stems. Cut the kale into thin short ribbons.
  5. Heat a large frying pan or wok and briefly stir-fry the kale until just wilted. (Alternatively “massage “the kale – see “Tips & Variations”).
  6. Spoon the kale on top of the quinoa and allow to cool a little. (The dish can be prepared ahead until here.)
  7. Briefly fry the almond slivers in a dry pan until golden. Allow to cool slightly.
  8. Cut the avocado into cubes.
  9. Toss the quinoa with half the avocado and the half cranberries.
  10. Place on your serving plate(s) and top with remaining avocado, the rest of the cranberries and the almonds.


Tips & Variations

  • Instead of stir-frying the kale you can massage it by placing it in a bowl with some olive oil, lemon juice, a dash of salt and pepper. Then “massage” the kale with your fingers.
  • Add a little feta or soft goats cheese

Some of the health benefits

Kale is being called “the new beef”, “the queen of greens” and “a nutritional powerhouse.” Here are ten great benefits of adding more kale to your diet:

  • Low in calorie, high in fiber and has zero fat. One cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. It is great for aiding in digestion and elimination with its great fiber content. It’s also filled with so many nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium as well as those listed below.
  • High in iron. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more.
  • High in Vitamin K. Eating a diet high in Vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and the prevention of blood clotting. Also increased levels of vitamin K can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Filled with powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids help protect against various cancers.
  • Great anti-inflammatory food. One cup of kale is filled with 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help, fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.
  • Great for cardiovascular support. Eating more kale can help lower cholesterol levels.
  • High in Vitamin A.Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • High in Vitamin C. This is very helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration.
  • High in calcium. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Vitamin C is also helpful to maintain cartilage and joint flexibility
  • Great detox food. Kale is filled with fiber and sulfur, both great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy.

(Source: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4408/Top-10-Health-Benefits-of-Eating-Kale.html)

What's in a name? The Jerusalem Artichoke is actually a species of sunflower

What’s in a name? The Jerusalem Artichoke is actually a species of sunflower


Ever been taunted by a vegetable?

I tell you, the Jerusalem Artichokes in my local organic supermarket were provoking me every time I walked by. They would sit there looking all innocent, whilst making me painfully aware of the fact that I had no idea what they actually are or how to prepare them.

Last weekend I decided it was time to face the challenge of the Jerusalem Artichoke (Sunchoke, NL: Aarpeer, DE: Topinambur). I searched for some recipes and was surprised to discover that there really is no secret to preparing them. You can roast them, turn them into mash; they work as a side dish or as part of a salad. Then I stumbled across this simple recipe for a muffin size frittata. The original recipe is for mini muffins that are served up as finger food for a party. I decided to make my frittatas the size of regular muffins and have them as a side to my dinner of roast chicken drumsticks and green beans.

What a fabulous find!

These little frittata are quick and easy to throw together. At the same time they make even the simplest dinner look a little festive. They have a great texture: the Jerusalem Artichokes have a bit more crunch to them than potatoes; they pair beautifully with the silky egg. The flavour is almost a little smoky.

Any leftovers can be kept in the fridge for a few days and eaten at room temperature. Although they will collapse and look a little less pretty. Also they become a bit denser in texture. At the same time I cannot say I enjoyed them less the next day.

There is one thing I should tell you though: Jerusalem Artichokes have a reputation for causing flatulence. I do have to say that I did not really notice it with this recipe (as opposed to when I roasted them a few days later). I read somewhere that cooking them at a high temperature might make all the difference. So maybe the fact that these are boiled first makes a difference?!
The reason for the flatulence is that Jerusalem Artichokes contain inulin which is a carbohydrate that humans cannot digest. The task of breaking it down it is therefore sub-contracted to ‘friendly’ intestinal bacteria which do an admirable job of making the stored energy available but produce carbon dioxide as a by product. On the plus side inuline is a probiotic that is keeps your intestines clean and your belly flat. And on top of that, because the the body does not utilize this carbohydrate, the calorie intake is virtually nil, only 7 calories per 100 grams (although they contain about as many calories as potatoes).

Jerusalem Artichoke, Sunchoke, NL: Aarpeer, DE: Topinambur

Jerusalem Artichoke, Sunchoke, NL: Aarpeer, DE: Topinambur

Ingredients
(hardly altered from the blog “What’s Cooking Goodlooking“)
Serves 1 – about 4 muffins


about 150g Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes, NL: Aarpeer, DE: Topinambur)
3 eggs
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
black pepper
optional: a few chili flakes
5-10g fresh chives

Recipe

  1. Bring a small pot of water to the boil.
  2. Preheat oven to 180C (325F).
  3. Wash the Jerusalem Artichokes brushing off all the dirt (no need to peel).
  4. Cut out any black bits and then slice them into slices about the thickness of a matchstick.
  5. Cook the artichokes in for 8-10 minutes until just tender.
  6. Drain and set aside to cool a little.
  7. In a mixing bowl add eggs, thyme leaves, oil, salt, pepper, chili flakes (if using).
  8. Whisk briefly.
  9. (I have a silicone muffin tin so there is no need to grease it. If necessary grease your tin.)
  10. Chop the chives and add to the egg mix.
  11. Add the artichoke and stir to ensure all the slices are coated in egg.
  12. Spoon the mixture in 4-5 holes of your muffin tin. (The frittata will rise so about 1/2 to 3/4 full is enough.)
  13. Bake for about 20-25 min until risen and golden. Do not overcook them to avoid the egg from turning dry.
  14. Serve warm or at room temperature (they will collapse as they cool down.)
  15. They can be stored in the fridge for a few days (they will collapse and turn a little denser.)


Serve with

Some of the health benefits

  • Prebiotic effects Jerusalem artichokes contain plenty of inulin, which stimulates the growth of bifidobacteria. Naturally present in the large intestine, bifidobacteria fight harmful bacteria in the intestines, prevent constipation, and give the immune system a boost. Furthermore, evidence indicates that bifidobacteria help reduce intestinal concentrations of certain carcinogenic enzymes.
  • Packed with B vitamins, particularly thiamine, with a 100-gram portion (3.5 ounces) of raw Jerusalem artichokes providing 0.2 milligrams of thiamine. (about 13% of the recommended daily value). Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, is crucial for the proper functioning of the nervous system and the muscles. It is also needed for carbohydrate metabolism as well as for the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Lack of hydrochloric acid may impair protein digestion and cause stomach pain by inhibiting the activation of the enzyme pepsin. Furthermore, low acid levels in the stomach increase the risk of bacterial overgrowth in the stomach, which in turn may cause diarrhea or decreased absorption of health benefiting vitamins and minerals. The natural level of hydrochloric acid decreases as we age, and therefore especially older people might want to eat plenty of Jerusalem artichokes and other foods that promote the production of hydrochloric acid.
  • Medium GI food with a glycemic value of 50, Jerusalem, which means they do not cause rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels. Due to their gentle effect on blood glucose levels, they can help curb cravings, prevent mood swings, fight fatigue, manage PCOS symptoms, improve diabetes control, and even reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • More potassium than bananas which are famous for their high potassium content: a 100-gram portion of raw Jerusalem artichokes delivers 429 milligrams of potassium, while bananas provide 358 milligrams. Potassium is particularly important for a healthy heart, properly functioning muscles and reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis. Potassium-containing foods are considered particularly beneficial for people who eat a lot of salty food.
    Source: http://www.healwithfood.org/health-benefits/jerusalem-artichokes.php#ixzz2qsIfVx6b