Smorgasbord Health Column – Food Therapy – Salmon – Omega 3 on a Plate


As a follow on from the recent series on the Weekly Grocery Shopping List of foods that contain the nutrients the body needs that contain the nutrients the body needs I am going to repeat my series from 2017 on the health benefits of some of our most common foods.

Food therapy is a broad term for the benefits to the body of a healthy, varied and nutritional diet of fresh foods.

Most of us walk through the fresh produce departments of our supermarkets without really paying much attention to the individual fruits and vegetables. This is a great pity because the vast majority of these foods have been cultivated for thousands of years, not only for their nutritional value but also for their medicinal properties. If you eat a healthy diet you are effectively practicing preventative medicine. A robust immune system, not only attacks external opportunistic pathogens, but also works to prevent rogue cells in the body from developing into serious disease.

NOTE – If you are on any prescribed medication do not take yourself off it without consultation with your doctor. If you follow a healthy eating programme and lose weight and are exercising you may not need the same dose and with your doctor’s agreement you may be able to reduce or come off the medication all together.

Much of the salmon available today comes from fisheries and conditions and feed of these farmed fish have improved through regulation in recent years. However, I am not convinced by the publicity and prefer to eat fish that has been caught in the ocean and to me there is definitely a difference in the taste of this salmon. You can buy ocean caught fish frozen or fresh depending on where you live and for me the freshest is fish that has been caught and frozen whilst the trawlers are still at sea.

There is always some concern about the levels of mercury in fish and studies indicate that ocean caught salmon from the northern seas and rivers have levels that are considered to be low and safe for more regular consumption.

Salmon has been on my ‘must eat’ list for a long time and in this day and age, when obesity and heart disease are becoming the top causes of premature death, then including it in your diet regularly is very important.

There are a number of health issues apart from heart function that eating salmon benefits including weight loss, bone health, a healthy immune system and brain health. The nutrients in this important source of protein are also helpful in preventing cancer and diabetes.

salmonI will begin with Omega 3, which is abundant in fatty fish such as Salmon.

Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid) is the principal Omega-3 fatty acid and is used in the formation of cell walls, improving circulation and oxygen. It is important that your overall cholesterol is kept to a normal level but it is equally important to ensure that the balance between the LDL (lousy cholesterol) and the HDL (healthy cholesterol) is maintained with a lower LDL to HDL ratio.

Omega 3 appears to maintain that correct balance. LDL (low density lipoprotein) has smaller particles than the higher density lipoprotein and when oxidised becomes dangerous. Because it is smaller it is able to clump and attach to the walls of the arteries and cause a dangerous narrowing. Pieces can also break off and travel in the bloodstream to major organs like the brain and the heart. An added bonus in eating salmon muscle is that it contains peptides that may also lower blood pressure.

One trial in New Zealand measured adults with a high cholesterol level over a 4-week period. They consumed 3g of salmon oil per day and after the 4 weeks they showed an increase of HDL and a decrease in LDL levels. Lowering both cholesterol and blood pressure levels certainly contributes to a healthy heart.

Omega 3 is linked to brain health in a number of ways. The brain contains a large amount of fat especially Omega 3 fatty acids in particular DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). In studies DHA levels determined levels of brain activity and cognitive function and is thought to be essential for the growth and functional development of the brain in babies. This ability is not limited to young humans as it is vital that this brain activity and function is maintained into old age. Including Omega 3 fatty acids in our diet therefore may well decrease our risk of developing degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Carrying additional weight can certainly contribute to strain on the heart muscle and the salmon has a rather unusual property that whilst yet unproven may help in weight loss.

There is a protein that is released when we begin to eat called amylin. This protein travels to the brain where it is measured and the brain then decides when we have eaten sufficient food and should stop eating. Unfortunately we have got very adept at overriding this message from the brain and consequently we tend to eat more than we actually need leading to weight gain.

The salmon produces a hormone called calcitonin, which has the same effect on animals as amylin does in humans. There is no conclusive proof but it is felt that this hormone when eaten might result in us consuming less food.

The other possible weight loss property of salmon is Chondroiton sulphate. Chondroiton is often used in conjunction with Glucosamine as a joint repair preparation but in this case the Chondroiton which is found in the nose of the salmon appears to have fat blocking capabilities. It appears to work in two ways by reducing the amount of fat absorbed into the intestines and then preventing any fat that has been absorbed from being stored in the cells. This will require a great deal more research but could be an interesting property in the fight against obesity.

As we get older the risk of bone fractures increases with many women particularly suffering from hip joint disease after menopause. Omega 3 may be instrumental in decreasing bone loss and therefore osteoporosis.

Our immune system is working ceaselessly against the constant onslaught of bacteria and viruses and on the whole if we have a healthy diet containing plenty of antioxidant rich foods our defence system keeps us safe. However, from time to time something slips through and then we need to know that all the complex mechanisms of the immune system are functioning perfectly.

Salmon is high in selenium,which is avery important trace mineral that activates an antioxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, which may help protect the body from cancer. It is vital for immune system function and may help prevent prostate cancerin particular.

Overall, the salmon contains many nutrients in the flesh and also in parts of the fish such as bone that is often included in canned fish. It is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, iron, iodine, manganese, copper, phosphorus and zinc, some of which are of particular benefit for the cardiovascular system and the heart.

Apart from its role in the formation of teeth and bones, calcium is also required for blood clotting, transmission of signals in nerve cells and muscle contractions. There is some indication that higher calcium intake protects against cardiovascular disease particularly in women.

The main function of iron is in haemoglobin, which is the oxygen-carrying component of blood. When someone is iron deficient, they suffer extreme fatigue because they are being starved of oxygen and the major organs of the body such as the heart become deprived of this life essential element.

Salmon is very versatile and provided it is from a healthy source and not from poorly maintained fish farms it can be eaten two to three times a week served hot or cold with plenty of fresh vegetables and salads. It is particularly delicious served chilled with a spinach salad and new potatoes.

You can also eat canned ocean caught salmon and this is particular good if you eat the soften bones that tend to come with it – if you find this unappealing simply mash the salmon and bone together with a fork and use on salads.

For some delicious recipes that will encourage you to include more salmon in your diet.. please head over to an earlier post where Carol Taylor shares some of her favourite dishes: Cook from Scratch – Salmon

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Thank you for dropping in today and your feedback and questions are very welcome.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Food Therapy – Watermelon – A quick way to hydrate by Sally Cronin


As a follow on from the recent series on the Weekly Grocery Shopping List of foods that contain the nutrients the body needs that contain the nutrients the body needs I am going to repeat my series from 2017 on the health benefits of some of our most common foods.

Food therapy is a broad term for the benefits to the body of a healthy, varied and nutritional diet of fresh foods.

Most of us walk through the fresh produce departments of our supermarkets without really paying much attention to the individual fruits and vegetables. This is a great pity because the vast majority of these foods have been cultivated for thousands of years, not only for their nutritional value but also for their medicinal properties. If you eat a healthy diet you are effectively practicing preventative medicine. A robust immune system, not only attacks external opportunistic pathogens, but also works to prevent rogue cells in the body from developing into serious disease.

NOTE – If you are on any prescribed medication do not take yourself off it without consultation with your doctor. If you follow a healthy eating programme and lose weight and are exercising you may not need the same dose and with your doctor’s agreement you may be able to reduce or come off the medication all together.

Watermelon – A quick way to hydrate

Before returning to Ireland four years ago we lived in Spain for 17 years with temperatures in the summer approaching 40 C…over 100 F which meant that keeping hydrated was very important. Particularly as it was a dry heat. Apart from drinking extra water, salads and other water dense foods were important as part of our daily diet.  However, when it was really hot there was nothing like ice-cold watermelon.

It took me a while to get around the pips in watermelon and learn the knack of spitting them out delicately rather than shooting them at the dog by accident. Once you master this quite simple dexterity, you will have access to not only one of the most thirst quenching melons around, but also a storehouse of health benefits.

Watermelons are obviously sweetest during the summer months but we were lucky enough that Spain has summer somewhere within its boundaries all year round and they are just as accessible at Christmas as in August. Here in Ireland we do get them in season although at the moment that may not be the case with closed borders and a focus on homegrown fruit and vegetables.

However, if you are lucky enough to be able to get your hands on some fresh watermelons, please do so.

Watermelons and health claims.

If you are an asthma or arthritis sufferer, eating this fruit year round may help improve the symptoms of your condition. Watermelon also has gained some recognition with regard to other medical problems too such as atherosclerosis, diabetes and colon cancer.

The history of watermelons.

Watermelons first originated south of us in Africa and were first used medicinally by the Egyptians but obviously the fruit was most prized for its water content in countries where rain was in short supply. Watermelons are now found in Asia, particularly in China and also in Russia where the fruit is a major crop for export. The United States is a major grower but you will find it growing in many desert countries or islands that have water shortages such as Iran and Turkey.

The health benefits of watermelon

Apart from being a wonderful fruit packed with vitamin C, watermelon has something in common with the tomato and that is it’s very high concentration of Lycopene.

Lycopene not only gives fruit that vibrant red colour but it also acts as an incredibly powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants protect us against the free radicals that cause oxidative damage to our cells, often resulting in serious illness such as cancer. It would also seem that healthy levels of lycopene in our fat tissues are also associated with reduced risk of heart attacks. This is due to the prevention of oxidation of cholesterol that so often leads to atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

Vitamin C and Vitamin A work on free radicals as well and are particularly linked to those that cause an increase in the severity of certain inflammatory diseases such as asthma and arthritis.

Vitamin A is essential for our healthy eyesight, especially at night. It helps cells produce normally which is why it is important in the first few months of pregnancy. It is also necessary for the health of our skin, the mucus membranes in our respiratory system (hence its benefits for asthma sufferers), bones, soft tissues and digestive and urinary tracts.

Other nutrients in watermelon that are beneficial.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) is a water- soluble vitamin, which means that it cannot be stored in the body. Any excess is excreted in our urine so it is essential that we obtain sufficient from our diet. Vitamin B1 helps to fuel our bodies by converting blood sugar into energy and also keeps our mucus membranes healthy. It is also needed to work with other B vitamins in maintaining a healthy nervous system

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) is the Master Vitamin for processing Amino Acids – the building blocks of all proteins and some hormones. It assists in the formation of several neurotransmitters and can therefore help regulate mood. It has been shown to help lower homocysteine levels in the blood linked to heart disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. It produces haemoglobin the oxygen carrying pigment in the blood. It helps the release of carbohydrates stored in the liver and muscles for energy. It is involved in the production of antibodies and it helps balance female hormones. It is needed for the production of serotonin along with tryptophan and B12.

Magnesium is an essential mineral needed for bone, protein and fatty acid formation, forming new cells, activating the B vitamins, relaxing muscles, clotting blood and forming ATP the fuel the body runs on. The secretion and action of insulin also needs magnesium. It is needed to balance calcium in the body and too much can result in very low levels of calcium.

Potassium is the main cation (positively charged electrolyte). It reacts with sodium and chloride to maintain a perfect working environment in and around each cell. It allows the transmission of nerve impulses and helps maintain the correct fluid balance in the body. It also regulates levels of acidity and alkalinity in the body. It is also required for carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It is connected to normal heart rhythms.

Buying the best watermelons

There are about 1200 different varieties of watermelon and when you are picking one in the supermarket make sure the melon is symmetrical and firm with no cuts or bruises. The heavier it feels the better, as it is 92% water. If it feels a little light then it may be dry inside. If you are buying cut watermelon make sure the skin is bright red as pink flesh with white pith means it is past its sell by date. Eat within a couple of days. You can store at room temperature but it is best served chilled.

Some of my tried and trusted watermelon recipes over the years.

You can use chopped watermelon in salads and in desserts but I have a couple of recipes that are slightly different.

Watermelon Lemonade. A lovely refreshing drink at any time of day

Ingredients

  • 1 large watermelon seeds removed and cubed
  • I peeled cucumber.
  • 6oz of fresh raspberries
  • 8oz of water
  • 4oz of lemon juice.

Blend all the melon, raspberries and water until smooth. Strain through a sieve into a large jug that will fit in the fridge. Stir in the sugar and the lemon juice and mix well. Put into the fridge for about an hour. You can add more water if needed.

Watermelon and strawberry salsa. Wonderful with chicken dishes.

Ingredients

  • 8oz of cubed watermelon with the seeds removed
  • 6 oz of chopped strawberries
  • 3oz of chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1-tablespoon lemon or lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon of honey.

Mix all the ingredients together and put into the fridge to chill for about an hour before serving with your chicken or even pork dish.

I have edited the 2017 Cook from Scratch where you will find many more recipes for watermelon shared by Carol Taylor: Cook From Scratch – Watermelon

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Thank you for dropping in today and your feedback and questions are very welcome.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – April 5th – 11th Easter Parade, Art Deco Roses, Life on the Ocean Wave, #Waterford 1920s.


Welcome to the weekly round up of posts on Smorgasbord that you might have missed this week.

Happy Easter every one.….Not one that we expected to be spending in isolation from the rest of the world when we made our plans for 2020, but it is still a time for family and friends. I know for those who are living on their own, it is far more difficult, especially if separated from children and grandchildren, but we have to recognise that until there is a vaccine and the virus has gone back under whichever rock it crawled out from…. these measures are saving our lives.

We have had our lock down extended to May 7th and hopefully that will be sufficient to decrease the number of infected and deaths. We are very lucky in Ireland in as much as the population is small enough to put restrictions in place and maintain them. I do feel sorry for those who are living in the cities, especially in apartments without access to the outside and it has certainly impacted our position on our next move. That is on hold now indefinitely and we realise that we have everything that we need here, even if it is a little bit too big for the two of us. So we are going to enjoy the renovations inside and in the garden and be grateful that we have the outside to enjoy.

I hope that despite the separation from those you love that you are taking full advantage of the technology and being able to talk face to face. I speak to my two sisters by Skype during the week and they talk to each other everyday too. It does make such a difference seeing someone’s face rather than on the telephone, and if you have not got one of the video applications on your computer or phone here are some links.

Skype Online

Facetime for Apple

Whatsapp video

Anyway… on with the posts from the week.

My thanks as always to regular contributors and guests who provide interesting and entertaining posts for the blog, offering me a chance to enjoy their hard work as well. And also to you for coming by, sharing and for commenting.

The first of the Easter parades this weekend with guests who share photographs from the 1960s through to the 1980s and select a song that brings back memories of that era…such as this one, In My Life by The Beatles.. chosen by Diana Wallace Peach.  I hope you will pop in and leave your links in the comments… thanks Sally.

The first of the Easter Parades with guests Annette Rochelle Aben, Darlene Foster, Toni Pike, D. Wallace Peach and Elizabeth Gauffreau

Guest Writer – Robbie Cheadle – How to make Art Deco Fondant Roses

The first chapter of my father’s memoirs about his time in the Royal Navy

Life on the Ocean Wave by Eric Coleman

The first chapter of my father-in-law’s memoir The Colour of Life published in 2005.

The Colour of Life – Waterford 1920s by Geoff Cronin

Letters from America 1985-1987 – Adventures in the USA – Birthday, New Car, Galverston and Houston Zo

I’ve Had the Time of my Life from Dirty Dancing

Butterfly Cinquain – Springtime

#GreatDanes Joyful Trouble by Patrica Furstenberg

Thriller – Deep Cover by John L. DeBoer

#Childrens Island Spide by Paul Noel

#Fantasy A.J. Alexander, #Family Judith Barrow, #Romance Ritu Bhathal

#Thriller John W. Howell, #Shortstories Karen Ingalls, #Thriller Iain Kelly

#Supernatural Mae Clair, #Poetry Balroop Singh, #Children’s Janice Spina

Sunday Sayings – #Differences and Reality TV by Amanda -Something to Ponder About

#Caribbean – Directionally Challenged! by Apple Gidley

Orthodox #Easter Eggs, folktales, symbolism, traditions #culture #history by Patricia Furstenberg

DSC_1207aw

Food Therapy – Brown Rice so much more than just a grain

Tom and Jasper with love

#Family and #Friends – Brotherly Love by Jane Sturgeon

Family and Friends – Chess by Stevie Turner

More funnies from D. G. Kaye and some new material from Sally

More funnies from D.G. Kaye and a joke or two from Sally.

More seclusion humour from the senior team and some ABBA

Thank you so much for all your support and I hope to see you again next week.. Happy Easter, stay safe and hugs Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Food Therapy -Aubergines -Don’t forget to eat your purples! by Sally Cronin


As a follow on from the recent series on the Weekly Grocery Shopping List of foods that contain the nutrients the body needs I am going to repeat my series from 2017 on the health benefits of some of our most common foods.

Food therapy is a broad term for the benefits to the body of a healthy, varied and nutritional diet of fresh foods.

Most of us walk through the fresh produce departments of our supermarkets without really paying much attention to the individual fruits and vegetables. This is a great pity because the vast majority of these foods have been cultivated for thousands of years, not only for their nutritional value but also for their medicinal properties. If you eat a healthy diet you are effectively practicing preventative medicine. A robust immune system, not only attacks external opportunistic pathogens, but also works to  prevent rogue cells in the body from developing into serious disease.

NOTE If you are on any prescribed medication do not take yourself off it without consultation with your doctor.  If you follow a healthy eating programme and lose weight and are exercising you may not need the same dose and with your doctor’s agreement you may be able to reduce or come off the medication all together.

Food Therapy -Aubergines -Don’t forget to eat your purples!

There are certain foods that on my shopping list regularly as daily or weekly additions to our diet and others that we might have a little less often.. One of these is aubergines which I love but only eat occasionally as I have a tendency towards gallstones. If you do not suffer from either gallstones or kidney stones then you can enjoy a couple of times a week at least.

We were all encouraged to eat our ‘greens’ when we were children, and we know that the brighter the food colour the more anti-oxidants they contain, but I cannot recollect being told to eat my ‘purples’. But it is this colour which gives this food its uniqueness.

When we are enjoying a moussaka or ratatouille made with this versatile food we don’t tend to dwell on its medicinal properties, but like the majority of fresh produce we eat, aubergines have some powerful health benefits.

The History of the aubergine.

The aubergine has its origins in ancient India and is mentioned by different names in Sanskrit, Bengali and Hindustani languages.  It was grown in China as well but only came to Europe around 1,500 years ago.  There is no Latin or Greek name for it but there are Arabic and North African names indicating that it came to this continent via that trade route.

Americans call it the eggplant, and in India it is known as Brinjal.  In Spain, aubergines are called berengenas or ‘apples of love’ for supposed aphrodisiac properties. Something that I take on faith!  In northern Europe they had a strange notion that eating the vegetable caused fevers and epileptic seizures and named it Mala Insana or ‘mad apple’. It is also known as melanzana, garden egg and patlican in other languages.

The aubergine belongs to the nightshade family that includes tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes.  It grows from a vine and will vary in size and colour although the flesh of all the different types tends to be slightly bitter and spongy in texture.

When you are selecting the aubergine go for the smaller, smooth skinned vegetable.  Gently push with your thumb and if the flesh gives slightly but springs back it is ripe.  If the indentation remains it is overripe and will be soggy inside.  If you knock on the fruit and it sounds hollow it will be too dry and inedible.

What are the therapeutic properties of the aubergine.

As with all plants, the aubergine has a sophisticated defence system to ensure its survival.  When we eat it, we inherit some of these properties and our bodies process and use specific nutrients to benefit our own health. The aubergine has an abundance of nutrients including antioxidants, phenolic compounds including chlorogenic acid and flavonoids such as nasunin.

Nasunin is a potent antioxidant in the skin of the aubergine and has been studied for its ability to prevent free radical damage to cell membranes.  Lipids or fats are the main component of cell membranes and not only protect the cell from damage but also regulate the passage of nutrients and waste in and out of the cell.  The research is focusing on brain cell health and eating aubergines regularly may help protect us from degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  Nasunin may also help prevent oxidative damage to the LDL or the unhealthier cholesterol in our blood that leads to plaque in the bloodstream and blockages in the arteries.

Nasunin also assists with the regulation of iron in the body.  Iron is an essential nutrient required for the transportation of oxygen in the blood and our immune function. However, too much iron can increase free radical damage and is linked to heart disease, cancer and degenerative joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.  Nasunin is an iron chelator, which means that it binds with the iron processed from the food we eat and transports it safely in the blood stream preventing excess iron from causing damage to cells.

What are the benefits of Chlorogenic Acid.

Chlorogenic acid is a phenolic compound and one of the most potent free radical scavengers in plant tissues. It is very abundant in aubergines and very effective against free radical damage to LDL cholesterol. Additionally it may help prevent certain cancers and viral infections.  Like Brussel sprouts some varieties of aubergine can be very bitter and it is thought that this is due to very high levels of Chlorogenic acid, which is also responsible for the rapid browning of the flesh when it has been cut.

Other good reasons to include aubergines in your diet on a regular basis.

The aubergine is a good source of dietary fibre, which not only helps prevent constipation but also helps eliminate waste from the body and prevent the build-up of plaque in the bloodstream leading to arterial disease.  Recent research is identifying some very interesting properties in certain fibres including the ability to absorb and eliminate harmful bacteria from the body without the need for antibiotics.  Fibre in the diet has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer and also regulate blood sugar levels

By eating aubergines regularly you will also be including healthy amounts of potassium, manganese, copper, vitamins B1, B3, B6, folate, Vitamin C, magnesium and tryptophan.  It is what I call a well-rounded food.

Are there any drawbacks to eating aubergines?

The majority of us can enjoy aubergines on a regular basis in our diet and obtain its full health benefits, but as I mentioned earlier, a small proportion of people should avoid eating it.

The aubergine contains relatively high concentrations of oxalates, which are found in all plants and humans. If oxalates are too concentrated they crystallise and form stones in the kidneys and the gallbladder.  If you already suffer from kidney or gallbladder problems then it would be best to avoid aubergines.  This also applies to rheumatoid arthritis and gout sufferers, as this vegetable is part of the nightshade family and could increase the symptoms of these diseases.  This applies to tomatoes as well.  I have found that cooked tomatoes cause me less problems and they are too nutritionally rich to avoid completely.  I suggest you try eating cooked tomatoes twice a week, three days apart and monitor your symptoms.

You will find many great recipes online for the preparation of aubergines and if you have one that you particular enjoy then please let us all know.

For a wonderful range of recipes featuring aubergines/eggplants, I have edited the original cook from scratch post where Carol Taylor makes it easy and delicious for you to include in your diet: Cook from scratch – Aubergines

 ©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019-2020/

Thank you for dropping in today and your feedback and questions are very welcome.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Cook from Scratch – Carol Taylor – A – Z of Food – Almond Milk, Arrowroot, Aubergines dip #Thai and Avocado Guacamole.


Welcome to a new series from Carol Taylor, the wonderful A – Z of Food and I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge of wonderful ingredients across the food groups, spices and herbs.

Hello from sunny Thailand …today is the first post of my Culinary tour through the alphabet.

The foods or recipes which I choose will all be made from scratch..from foods readily available and if they are not I will suggest substitutes…Some of the foods or recipes will also be alternatives to some standard foods either because it is what I prefer to use or to offer you a healthier option.

Today I have chosen to start with Almond Milk…

Why? Well, I know many people whether it is choice or because of health reasons are looking for alternatives to cows milk.

Before you make the Almond milk you must ensure that you do the following:

Very Important: First sprout the almonds to get rid of the enzyme inhibitors that impede digestion. To do this simply soak the almonds overnight in water, then in the morning let them dry on a plate.

When the almonds are dry you are ready to use them to make your almond milk…

Almond Milk.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw sprouted almonds
  • 1 cup pitted dates (use more or less to control desired sweetness)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1½ cup of raw coconut water

Let’s Cook!

  1. Blend all ingredients in a vita-mix or blender until thick and creamy.
  2. Line a fine strainer with a “nut milk” bag or cheesecloth and strain.
  3. Put your Almond milk in the refrigerator for several hours to cool and enjoy.

Arrowroot powder …is fast gaining in popularity in the western world as people are looking for substitutes and alternatives to cornstarch either because they have corn allergies/sensitivities or they want to avoid anything GMO and laden with pesticides.

A starchy substance which is extracted from the root of a tropical plant known as Maranta arundinacea which is cultivated to produce Arrowroot it is also known as Prayer Plant due to the way the leaves close at night they also when harvested look very similar to cassava or underground tubers.

Arrowroot, however, does not go through the same extraction process as cornflour by using high heat or harsh chemicals it is extracted using simpler traditional methods.

It is simply a white, powdery starch that is naturally gluten and grain-free. I used to use cornflour which has a slight taste and a cloudy appearance Arrowroot, on the other hand, is much better as it has no taste and leaves food glossy and clear…It is a great thickener and can easily replace cornstarch.

Arrowroot powder is also great mixed with dried herbs and used to coat chicken or fish before frying and produces lovely crisp and crunchy food.

Asparagus Pea or wing bean as I call them are pretty beans with four winged edges very unusual looking beans.

Winged beans are nutrient-rich and all parts of the plant are edible. Leaves can be eaten like spinach, flowers can be used in salads, the tubers can be eaten raw or cooked and the seeds used in similar ways to the soya bean.

Sliced and cooked with garlic, oyster sauce and a little magi (Thai) seasoning sauce they are delicious as a light meal with rice or as a side dish.

Simple and easy and quick to cook…

Aubergines nice just sliced, seasoned and put on an oiled baking sheet in a hot oven for 5-7 mins then brushed with a mixture of herbs of your choice and popped under the grill for 30 seconds. Serve immediately. Nice as an accompaniment to chicken or fish with a nice salad on a summers evening.

Fancy a quick dip for unexpected guests…

  • 2 aubergines
  • 100ml natural yoghurt
  • juice ½ lemon/lime
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • Olive oil, to drizzle

Let’s Cook

  1. Char the aubergines over a flame or cook in the oven and remove the skin.
  2. Tip into a food processor with the yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic, chilli, coriander and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Blend until smooth tip into a bowl, and drizzle with more olive oil.
  4. For a chunkier dip, the aubergine, garlic and chilli can be chopped by hand and mixed with the other ingredients.

Enjoy!

Aubergine dip the Thai way.

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2-4 chillies
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 med shallots
  • 1-2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Big handful coriander

Let’s Cook

  1. BBQ your eggplant, shallots, chilli and garlic the chilli and garlic will be done first, pop the chillies into a sealed plastic bag to cool it makes it easier to remove seeds and skin.
  2. When eggplant is soft then scoop out the flesh and add all the ingredients to your food processor or just a pestle and mortar like it is done here.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning if required more fish sauce or lime juice.
  4. Serve with noodles or raw vegetables.

Lastly on my culinary trip through the letter A is the Avocado

Guacamole.

homemade guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1 finely chopped shallot
  • 1 birds eye chilli finely chopped
  • 1 -3 tbsp fresh coriander
  • Lime Juice
  • Salt & Pepper for seasoning.

Let’s Cook!

  1. Peel and roughly chop the avocado stir in the chopped onion, chilli, tomatoes and the coriander.
  2. Season the guacamole to taste with salt, black pepper, and a generous squeeze of lime juice.
  3. Cover bowl with clingfilm and chill before serving.

Thank you for reading I hope you have enjoyed this little trip through the Culinary alphabet…Until next time when it will be the letter B.

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:  Amazon US

Connect to Carol

Blog: Carol Cooks 2
Twitter: @TheRealCarolT
Facebook: Carol Taylor

My thanks to Carol for sharing this new series with us as she also works on her cookbook and novel this year…As always we are delighted to receive your feedback and if you could share that would be great.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 5th – 11th January 2020 – Count Basie, Phosphorus, Reviews, New Books, Bloggers and Funnies.


Welcome to the round up of posts that you might have missed during the week here on Smorgasbord.

It seems to take longer each year to get back to normal after the holidays. Almost the middle of January and at least spring always appears to be around the corner once we get into this part of the year. Nothing startling happening around the house as we are waiting for dry weather to get in stones for drainage and topsoil to finish the piece where the new fence has been erected. We have adopted a much more relaxed approach to these jobs now, as nothing we do or say is going to make the weather more amenable to our needs!

Never mind, there is plenty of warmth and friendship online to enjoy and we could have it a great deal worse. As the fires in Australia continue, we can only be grateful for days of rain and the ability to live safely. The devastation and loss of life and wildlife is something that will take decades to fully recover from and it must be a huge worry for relatives of families in the areas under attack.

As always my thanks to the regular contributors and to you for dropping in and supporting us with your comments and sharing of posts.

This week William shares the music of the legendary Count Basie – 1904 – 1984

William Price King with Count Basie

In the final post of this series Carol Taylor and I team up to share the symptoms of a deficiency of Phosphorus and the foods you need to include in your diet regularly.

This week cooking from scratch to prevent a deficiency of phosphorus

This month Silvia Todesco shows us how to make authentic pesto sauce, and essential ingredient in pasta sauces.

Pesto alla Genovese sauce, ten tricks for the best result

What I wish I knew then by Pete Springer

My review for Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney

My review #Mystery Watching Glass Shatter by James M. Cudney

Two more stories from this collection…

Eric – Just Making Do

Fionnuala The Swan

For the first Tuesday in the month for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 159 it is poet’s choice.  I have selected a Butterfly Cinquain…

Butterfly Cinquain – Friendship

Unarranged Marriage by Ritu Bhathal on pre-order February 9th.

Beck ‘n’ Call Lands of Exile Book 2 by Stuart France and Sue Vincent

The Old Gilt Clock by Paulette Mahurin

Thriller Carol Balawyder, Mystery Diana J. Febry, Afghanistan Patricia Furstenberg

Poetry Lynda McKinney Lambert, Thriller Don Massenzio, Prehistory Jacqui Murray

Book Review Michelle Clements James, Book Launch Tips Mary Smith, Climate Change Carol Taylor

Movie Review D.G. Kaye, Funnies The Story Reading Ape, Measurements Beetley Pete

Recipes Amy Reade, Tarot Jan Sikes, Interview Jane Risdon

Carol Taylor – Whimsical Wednesdays – Robbie Cheadle Book review, Marcia Meara with a marketing opportunity

Aurora Jean Alexander – Books, Inspiration Charli Mills, Japanese Poetry Colleen Chesebro

Here is part one of an alternative shopping list that your body might write if it was capable. It does try to tell you that it is missing elements that it needs which is when you are sick. This list contains the top sources for the nutrients our bodies need to be healthy.

Shopping List by Nutrient – Vitamins A- B

More funnies from Debby and a joke from Sally’s Archives

More funnies and an invitation to join in the fun

Thank you for all your support and wishing you a great week ahead. Look forward to seeing you here again.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Cook from Scratch to prevent nutritional deficiency with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Phosphorus


In this series we look at cooking and your diet from a different perspective. Usually we emphasize the health benefits of food and how they can be incorporated into your diet. But, what happens if you do NOT include them in your diet.

We wanted to share with you what happens if your body is deprived of individual nutrients over an extended period of time.

Thankfully most of us eat reasonably well, with plenty of variety, but if you take a look at a week’s worth of meals, do you find that you are sticking to a handful of foods, all the time.

Variety is key to good health, to provide your body with as broad a spectrum of nutrients as possible that the body needs. Taking a supplement or relying on shakes and bars to provide your daily allowance of vitamins and nutrients is not in your body’s best interest. Giving it foods that the body can process and extract everything it needs is vital.

This is the final post in the series as we have covered most of the essential nutrients over the last 18 months and from next week Carol Taylor  will be starting her new column and sharing her A – Z of food for the rest of the year.

In this post on phosphorous I give you the information on why this nutrient is so essential for our health and then Carol will provide you with some wonderful recipes that make best use of these foods… Cooked from Scratch.

Phosphorous is a mineral that you will not find in your multi-vitamin and mineral supplement because it is considered that we obtain sufficient through our diet.

Phosphorus and bone health

However there are some interesting facts about phosphorus that makes it worth taking a closer look at. Many women as they approach the menopause will begin to supplement with additional calcium to prevent bone loss and take up weight bearing exercise such as walking and yoga. However, very few women realise that phosphorus is also very important for bone health and without it calcium is less effective.

Clinical studies have shown that calcium supplementation without enough phosphorus may actually lead to bone mass reduction. Although most calcium supplements are combined with Vitamin D to assist absorption, trials have shown that with the addition of phosphorus bone fractures in high-risk patients was reduced by 43% within 18 months.

What is phosphorus?

Phosphorus is an essential mineral usually combined with oxygen as a phosphate. Most phosphate in the body is found in our bones. But, phosphate containing molecules, (phospholipids) are also important components of cell membranes and lipoprotein particles such as HDL (healthy cholesterol) and LDL (lousy cholesterol). A small amount of phosphate plays a role in many of our biochemical reactions including the production of our essential fuel ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and the formation of red blood cells.

What are the causes of a phosphorus deficiency?

Deficiency is rare in a person with a normal diet. Alcoholics however are at risk as are people who are constantly taking antacids because of the aluminium content in some brands.

Osteoporosis sufferers who are heavily supplementing with calcium are also at risk of deficiency and it is usually recommended that they take phosphorus at the same time.

The far bigger risk with phosphorus is the amount we are consuming in processed foods such as soft drinks. A diet high in phosphorus may decrease the absorption of other minerals such as iron, copper and zinc.

Phosphoric acid for example in soft drinks has been linked to kidney stones in some trials and certainly people with kidney disease should avoid taking in any food or drink that contains large amounts of phosphorous.

Some symptoms of a phosphorus deficiency

  1. General weakness and loss of appetite.
  2. Spikes in energy levels particularly associated with cravings for caffeine and sugar.
  3. Tingling or numbness in fingers and toes.
  4. Bone and joint pain.

What are the best food sources of phosphorus?

  • Sufficient phosphorus is found in a diet that includes plenty of protein rich foods such as turkey and other poultry and meats.
  • Dairy products are rich in the mineral and eating beans regularly will also provide good amounts.
  • Vegetarians need to include plenty of whole grains and nuts in their diet to ensure that they obtain sufficient phosphorus.

Time to hand you over to Carol Taylor who has been creating dishes that include ingredients that are healthy sources of phosphorous.

Today I will be giving you some recipes which contain Phosphorus…Sally has explained the importance of phosphorus in our bodies and I have tested some recipes which if you have a deficiency then these will help you ensure you are getting enough phosphorus in your diet.

Roasting or cooking with a dry heat preserves most of the phosphorus in foods.

I have chosen to use the two meats which have the highest amounts Pork tenderloin and chicken livers…

Pork Tenderloin with peppercorns.

Ingredients:

• 1lb Pork Tenderloin.
• ¼ cup maple syrup
• 3tbsp balsamic vinegar
• 2 tsp dijon mustard
• 2 tsp vegetable oil divided
• Salt and pepper to season meat
• 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
• 2/3 stems fresh peppercorns

Let’s Cook!

  1. Combine the maple syrup, balsamic in a small pan cook over a medium heat until the liquid reduces about 2/3 minutes remove from the heat and whisk in the Dijon mustard.
  2. Slice your pork into about 8 pieces then put between two layer of greaseproof paper and pound to flatten to about ¼ inch.
  3. Heat tsp of the oil in a non stick pan, add the garlic and stir then add your seasoned pork.
  4. Cook for a minute and a half and turn and cook the other side. Repeat with your remaining fillets.
  5. Return the cooked pork to the pan and add your sauce stir and heat for one minute.

Your pork is now ready to serve either with rice or potatoes and some steamed vegetables. I served mine with roasted fennel.

It is a dish which was quick to make and the sauce was nice although I didn’t think there was much sauce it actually was enough…

Spicy Chicken Livers.

This lovely spicy chicken liver dish is very easy and quick to make…..In Thai it translates to Pad Ped Kuang Nai Gai Tua Fuk Yaao … try saying that after a few vino’s.

This dish is a family favorite.even hubby eats it and he doesn’t really do spicy but I think his love of liver takes over …Although we prefer chicken liver to lambs or pigs liver is is softer and has a milder flavour.

Ingredients:

• 350 gm Chicken Livers
• 4 or 5 long green beans.
• Tsp Red curry paste….. depending on red curry paste you use you may need to add more…I use a locally made one which blows your head off …so only use a tsp and it is still hot!
• 1-2 tbsp Fish Sauce.
• 6/8 Lime leaves very finely shredded.
• 4 tbsp Coconut Milk.
• Small amount of coconut oil.

N.B You can use oil of your choice I just always cook with Coconut oil.

Let’s Cook!

  1. Clean and cut up chicken livers..I do bite size pieces.
  2. Cut up long beans into half-inch long pieces.
  3. Finely shred lime leaves…..I roll them and shred.
  4. Heat Pan over fairly high heat, add a small amount of oil, add chilli paste and 1 tbsp Fish sauce stir until paste is liquid, add finely sliced lime leaves and chicken livers , stir until just cooked.
  5. Add green beans and coconut milk and cook gently for 2/3 mins.
  6. Taste and add more fish sauce if required…I generally add about another half tbsp.

It is now ready to serve…Serve with rice and additional vegetables if desired.

This is quite a dry dish so can be served with a small bowl of miso soup with chopped spring onions if liked.

If you are vegetarian and have a phosphorus deficiency Whole grains and nuts are high in phosphorus therefore I would advise making a lovely wholegrain loaf with nuts or making a crumble topping. This crumble topping could be used to top fruit or yoghurt either as a dessert or breakfast. You can use any choice of nuts…

Crumble Topping.

Ingredients:

• 1 cup Pine Nuts
• ½ cup cashews
• ½ cup of pecans
• 1.5 cups of coconut either fresh shredded or desicatted…I used fresh toasted coconut
• 3 tbsp coconut oil
• 3 tbsp maple syrup
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• Pinch salt.

Method

  1. Blitz your nuts in short bursts I left mine smallish pieces a little smaller than I wanted so short sharp bursts or it may be too fine.
  2. Then add the cinnamon, salt , coconut oil and maple syrup and mix tocombine then spread on a greased tray and cook for about 20 mins on 180…
  3. Check a few times just to ensure they don’t burn and give a little stir halfway through cooking.
  4. Allow to cool or if you want a hot pudding then layer with fruit of your choice.

I had a few mangoes so cooked them down with a little raw sugar and a few cumin seeds.

I then layered the mango with the nut crumble… You could use any fruit apples, blackberries, raspberries even bananas if you sliced them and added some spices or maple syrup. Play with your flavours…

My thanks to Carol for preparing these delicious dishes to ensure you and your family are obtaining adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals in your diet. 

You can find out more about Carol and catch up with her Food and Cookery Column HERE

Connect to Carol via her blog: Carol Cooks 2

Thank you for dropping in today and if you have any questions for either of us then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments. Your feedback is always welcome.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up 29th December to 4th January 2020 –


Welcome to the first round up of 2020 with a posts that you might have missed during the week.

It was a quiet Christmas and New Year for us and we enjoyed taking it easy and watching favourite movies and series again. Including the Millennium Trilogy featuring the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the first three books… in Swedish with sub-titles. Brilliant.

From January 13th we will be treated to the first of the new series by D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies on another of her areas of expertise… relationships. She is going to introduce the column and then she will begin the series in March on her return from her winter sunshine in Mexico. I am really looking forward to her insight and I am sure you will enjoy too.

 

Carol Taylor will also be changing her column from the 15th of January. There is one more cooking from scratch to prevent deficiency this coming week with Phosphorous as the nutrient in question… and then Carol will be featuring her A – Z of food every two weeks. She is going to be getting her cookbook and novel ready to be published this year (no pressure then Carol ♥) I think you will find you will be expanding your shopping list by the end of the year to include new and healthy foods to enjoy.

Silvia Todesco will also be continuing her column on Italian Cookery throughout the year and we will be starting the new series this coming Thursday with an essential ingredient to many pasta dishes and synonymous with Italian cookery… homemade pesto sauce.  Then a new dish every month for you to try and enjoy.

William Price King is of course going to be providing the music for the blog again this year with his extensive background in jazz, classical and contemporary music, we have been privileged to enjoy a masterclass every two weeks. I have always loved music and have discovered so many more artists to listen to and a better understanding of the different styles across the decades. William is back this coming Tuesday with the legendary Count Basie.

Time to catch up on the posts from the week.

My New Year’s Eve Post with special thanks to the contributors to the blog this year.

Happy New Year

A new series of Posts from Your Archives featuring two of your favourite posts from 2019.. full details in the post.

New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

I continue with the stories from What’s in a Name during the week.

Celia – Crisis of Faith

Clive – The Debt

David – In Remembrance

Diana – Full of Grace

Elaine – A Shining Light

Time for the first Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills of the year and this week we are offered the chance to write about a hutch… either as a piece of furniture or an animal hutch.

The Rabbit Hutch

The final posts in this year’s Christmas book fair with more of my recommended reads for 2019.  Here are just a handful that I recommend..you can find the rest in the post.

More Recommended books by Sally

Author update.

Marcia Meara, Karen Ingalls, Lorinda J. Taylor

Robbie Cheadle, C.S. Boyack, Eloise de Sousa

Mary Adler, Jane Sturgeon, Sally Cronin

Charli Mills, John W. Howell, James J. Cudney

Over the last year I gave up sugar in most forms including alcohol and am now three stone lighter and considerably fitter. This post is how I achieved that.

My year without sugar and the results

More funnies from Debby and a joke from Sally’s Archives

Even more funnies from Debby Gies and Sally

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope to see you again next week…Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 22nd – 28th December – Christmas Music, Food, Short stories and Recommended Books 2019


Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed whilst enjoying your Christmas with family and friends.. a much more important priority than reading blog posts. I hope you had an amazing time and are now looking forward to New Year’s Eve and 2020.

According to some astrologists, 2020 is going to be a fabulous year so buckle up.

In the coming week although there will be more recommended books that I have read and reviewed.. A final post in the Cook from Scratch series on the subject of Phosphorus, and news of Carol Taylor’s upcoming series in 2020.

There will also be changes to Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore.. in the name to start with as it will now become Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore in line with the other series on the blog.

As always the aim is to support your own book marketing strategies, and for new authors who do not have a presence on a blog or any social media, I do have my FREE pdf which now includes setting up Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and also a blog for accessibility and readability. It does not have to be complex and have all the bells and whistles as Keeping it Simple is just as effective. Just email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com for a copy.

There will be some Cafe updates during the week with recent reviews for authors on the shelves and here will also be a new series of Posts from Your Archives and more about that on New Year’s Day.. and more stories from What’s in a Name series every day.

As always my thanks to the regular contributors and this week William Price King and D.G.Kaye have done a wonderful joy in keeping us entertained. Also to those who have submitted festive stories and this week two more from Audrey Driscoll and Eric Lennick.

Now for the posts from this week you might have missed.

William Price King shares more Christmas Music with us…

Today Christ is Born and There is No Rose Behold the Star

The Christmas Day post with a video that should leave you smiling

Merry Christmas and Afternoon Video

I have read and reviewed 26 books in 2019 and wanted to share them with you.. Part two coming up this week with my recommended books from 2018/2017 since they are fabulous books that I hope you will enjoy reading.

My recommended books Part One – 2019

 

And my last review of 2019 Blackthorn by Terry Tyler.

My review for Blackthorn by Terry Tyler

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing the stories from A- Z from my collection What’s in a Name.

Alexander Defender of Men

Anne Favour and Grace

Beatrix – Behind the Mask

Brian the Birthright

Audrey Driscoll shares two festive excerpts from her action and adventure novel  Book 4 of the Herbert West Series – Hunting the Phoenix.

Winter Solstice in the House of the Phoenix by Audrey Driscoll

Eric Lennick, the other half of the writing Duo with his wife Joy Lennick shares a short story with a twist…

Jemima’s Christmas Stocking by Eric Lennick

New book on the shelves

Warning Signs, a novel about obsession by Carol Balawyder

Author updates with recent reviews.

#Doglovers Sue Vincent, #Fantasy Vashti Quiroz-Vega,#Novella Jan Sikes

#mystery James J. Cudney, #Memoir Brigid P. Gallagher, #Children’s Annika Perry, #Romance Harmony Kent

#Warromance Marina Osipova, #Poetry Frank Prem, Children’s Pamela S. Wight

#Interview D.G. Kaye and Darlene Foster, #Interview Richard Dee with Emily Moore #Scams by Dan Alatorre and Christoph Fischer.

More funnies from D.G. Kaye and a festive poem from Sally.

Even more funnies from Debby Gies and Sally

Thank you very much for dropping in during the week and today and wishing you Happy New Year.. hope to see you soon. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor – A sumptuous #Vegetarian Christmas Menu


Carol Taylor has been very busy the last few weeks preparing Christmas menus for the whole family and this week she has created a feast for vegetarians with some sumptuous ingredients.

Welcome to a Christmas menu with vegetarians in mind and I have tried to think of tasty dishes that as dare I say it a carnivore I would eat… In fact I eat both because as long as a meal is tasty then that is what matters and I love vegetables.

The starters are quick and easy to make and ooze taste and most of the dishes can be made in advance as we don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen on Christmas morning while everyone else has fun…Do we?

I always try to cook at least one dish I haven’t cooked before for Christmas as we all have our tried and tested family favorites, don’t we? It is just nice to try something new although some of the family favorites I dare not leave off the menu…

Ricotta, Blackberry and Walnut Toasts.

• 2 tbsp of maple syrup
• 150 gm blackberries
• 4 slices of your favorite bread I used sourdough
• 100 gm soft ricotta
• 1 tbsp toasted walnuts
• A few mint leaves

To Prepare

  1. Warm the maple syrup in a small pan and add the blackberries cook for 3-4 mins gently squashing a few blackberries with the back of your wooden spoon.
  2. Toast the bread.
  3. To serve spread some ricotta over the toast then spoon over the warm syrup and fruit, top with your toasted walnuts and a few mint leaves.

Enjoy!

Mushroom Pate.

• 2 cups of mixed mushrooms…
• 1 cup of walnuts
• 6 cloves of garlic finely chopped
• 1 onion chopped finely
• 1 tbsp oil
• ½ cup of parsley
• 2 tbsp fresh rosemary
• 1 tsp salt
• ½ tsp black pepper

To Prepare

  1. Toast the walnuts carefully as nuts always burn if you take your eye of them well mine do…Set to one side…
  2. Add the oil to a pan add onions and cook 2 mins and add the garlic cook until onions and garlic is soft watching the garlic doesn’t burn.
  3. Add all the other ingredients and saute for 5-8 minutes until the mushrooms are soft. If the mix gets too dry then add a little water. Allow the mixture to cool a little and then blitz; scrapping down the sides I like mine a little coarse.
  4. Put the mixture into a dish and press the mix down and smooth the top.
  5. Serve with crackers of your choice or sliced cucumber and peppers.

Mushrooms on toast with Brie.

• 2 slices of bread halved I use sour dough.
• 8 mushrooms sliced…I use chestnut mushrooms
• 170 gm brie sliced
• 1-2 cloves of garlic
• 1 tbsp butter
• 1 tbsp oil
• 6 sprigs of thyme

To Prepare

  1. Heat the butter and the oil in a small pan add the mushroom and saute on a medium to high heat until browned and a little crispy around the edges about 5 minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat and add the garlic and cook for a further minute turn of the heat. Strip two of the thyme leaves and stir into the mushroom mix.
  3. Lightly toast the bread top with the slices of brie put the toast back under the grill until the brie has melted top with the mushroom mix, as sprig of thyme and some freshly ground black pepper.
  4. These toast starter serve two people but are easy recipes to double or triple up.

Spiced Red Cabbage

Red cabbage…our Christmas dinner would not be the same without it…I have been making this …Well, it seems like forever but it must be at least for the last 35 years so it is a well, tried and tested recipe and one which we absolutely love. The recipe was originally given to me by a very dear friend whom sadly is no longer with us…but every time we have this dish we remember you with much love Pauline…x

The recipe has German origins which is where Pauline’s husband came from.

Cooked with Apples, red onion or shallots, some spices, balsamic and a tinsy, winsy drop of Red Wine….mmm…try a glassful…lol…

It is a lovely accompaniment to Roast Dinners and tastes even better when kept a day or two before eating…well if it lasts that long …and it freezes well. It wouldn’t be a Christmas Dinner without it…we love it.

• One medium-size Red Cabbage.
• One medium to large Red Onion Or about 8 shallots…
• 2/3 cloves of garlic
• One large Bramley Apple peeled, cored and roughly chopped
• 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar.
• A half to whole glass red wine.
• Salt and Pepper to season.
• 1-2 tsp Cinnamon or mixed spice.
• Cinnamon Stick ( optional)

Let’s Cook!

  1. Chop cabbage, Onions, garlic and Apple.
  2. Cook Onions and garlic in butter or olive oil until onions are soft.
  3. Add chopped cabbage and apple, half of the balsamic and half of wine.
  4. Season and add spices.
  5. Cook for at least 2 hours (I cook mine for 3 generally) and add more wine and balsamic to taste. If you think it is a bit dry then add a little water.

Tip: If like me the Bramley cooking apples are unavailable where you live then its trial and error. I tried green apples and it was ok but this week I used 4 dessert apples and it was the best, the same with seasoning and spices its personal taste so play with it and adjust to your taste which is what I do with all my cooking ….and especially now I live here it has taught me a totally new way of cooking, I was very recipe and measurement driven. Now I just look inside the fridge or freezer and cook with what I have because it is about taste, taste and taste again… or it could be just certain ingredients are unavailable here…….the only time I now measure is when I make pastry or cakes and that does have to be more precise but any other dishes then I play with ingredients and I have much more fun when I am cooking.

This dish can be made at least a week in advance if you are keeping it in the fridge or longer if you are freezing it.

To serve just gently reheat and check the seasoning…

Crispy Fried Kale

• 2 bunches curly kale (about 2 1/2 pounds)
• 1/4 cup good olive oil
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Sea Salt Flakes

Let’s cook

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Arrange 3 oven racks evenly spaced in the oven.
  3. Lay each kale leaf on a board and, with a small sharp knife, cut out the hard stem. Tear large leaves in half. Place the kale in a large bowl of water and wash it well. Drain the kale and dry it in a salad spinner. Dry the bowl, and put the kale back in the bowl.
  4. Toss the kale with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Divide the kale among 3 sheet pans or roast them in batches. If you put too much kale on one pan, it will steam rather than roast and will never become crisp. Roast for 15 minutes, until crisp.
  5. Sprinkle with the sea salt flakes and serve hot.
  6. I like these as a side as they add a bit of crunch to the otherwise soft dishes.

Potatoes, parsnips baked in garlic and cream

• 3 large potatoes about 1 ½ lbs
• 12 oz parsnips
• 2-3 cloves of garlic
• ¾- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
• 1 cup of single cream
• 105 ml of milk
• 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Let’s cook

  1. Peel the potatoes and parsnips and thinly slice then place in a steamer and cook for 5 mins.
  2. Leave to cool slightly.
  3. Put the cream and milk into a heavy pan with the garlic slowly bring to the boil over a medium heat .Remove the pan from the heat and allow to stand for about 10 mins so the garlic can infuse into the milk.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4
  5. Using a 10 in rectangular oven proof dish, grease the dish and arrange the sliced potatoes and parsnips in layers sprinkle each layer with I use lots of black pepper and a little grated nutmeg.
  6. Pour the reserved cream and garlic mix over the potatoes and parsnips pressing the vegetables down. The liquid should come to just under the top layer.
  7. Cover the dish with a piece of baking parchment or buttered foil and bake for 45minutes remove the dish from the oven and remove the paper or foil the sprinkle over the cheddar cheese and return the dish to the oven for a further 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden brown.

For a recipe variation you could use sweet potato, carrots, Swede or artichokes.

Mushroom and Chestnut Stuffing.

I love mushrooms and chestnuts and although a meat eater I prefer my stuffing with no meat.

• 1 tbsp oil
• 300 g mushrooms (10 medium mushrooms)
• 180 g/ 1 cup cooked and peeled chestnuts, e.g. tinned or vacuum-packed
• 1 small onion, diced I prefer shallots
• 1 small red onion, diced
• 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
• 1/4 tsp dried thyme
• 1/4 tsp dried oregano
• 1/2 tsp dried sage
• 100 g wholemeal bread/sourdough bread
• Small bunch fresh flat leafed parsley
• Salt
• Black pepper

Let’s Cook

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F).
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan; add the diced onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and any excess liquid has evaporated.
  3. Transfer the vegetables to a food processor, along with the remaining ingredients. Season generously, and blitz until the mixture just comes together.
  4. Transfer the stuffing mixture to a baking dish, and bake for around 40 minutes, until crispy on top. Serve warm.

Nut Roast with salsa

• 40 g unsalted butter , plus extra for greasing
• 100 g quinoa
• 150 g onion squash or cooking pumpkin
• 1 onion
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 2 sticks of celery
• olive oil
• 200 g tinned or vac-packed chestnuts
• 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
• ½ tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 pinch of sweet smoked paprika
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• 2 large field mushrooms
• 1 lemon
• 60 g fresh breadcrumbs
• 80 g dried cranberries
• 100 g dried apricots
• 100 g mixed nuts , such as walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts and brazil nuts
• 4 large free-range eggs
• 40 g mature Cheddar cheese

 Salsa.

• 2 fresh red chillies
• 1 stick of cinnamon
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 1 small onion
• ½ bunch of fresh thyme , (15g)
• 2 x 400 g tins of quality plum tomatoes or the equivalent in fresh tomatoes.
• 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Let’s Cook

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 1 litre loaf tin and line with greaseproof paper.
  2. Cook the quinola according to the instructions on the packet and set to one side.
  3. Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds, then chop the flesh into rough 1cm chunks (you don’t need to peel the skin) unless you are using cooking pumpkin. Peel and roughly chop the onion. Peel and finely slice the garlic, then trim and roughly chop the celery.
  4. Drizzle 2 tbsp of olive oil into a large pan over a medium heat, add the chopped vegetables and crumble in the chestnuts. Add the picked rosemary leaves, discard the stalks.
  5. Add the cayenne, paprika and oregano and season with salt and pepper stir well and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 15 mins or until slightly softened add the chopped mushrooms to the pan for the last 5 mins of cooking.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and grate in half of the lemon zest.
  7. Put mixture into a bowl and stir in the cooled quinola, breadcrumbs, dried fruit and nuts if you prefer your nuts les chunky then chop into smaller pieces.
  8. Crack the eggs into the mixture and stir well to combine then put the mixture into the prepared loaf tin. Put into the pre-heated oven and cook for 45-50 minutes until cooked through and set.
  9. When there is about 30 minutes to go make the salsa… Over a low –medium heat put a pan with a glug of olive oil and add the pricked chillies and the cinnamon. Add the finely sliced garlic and the onions cut into 8 wedges. Pick some of the time leaves reserving a few sprigs for garnish. Add the tomatoes plus 2 cups of water stir well breaking up the tomatoes.
  10. Season and stir in the balsamic vinegar then bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for around 20 minutes or until the mixture is thickened and reduced.
  11. Once the tomato mix is ready remove 1 chilli, carefully halve and deseed and roughly chop and return to the mix. If required loosen the salsa with a little water remove the whole chilli and cinnamon stick and put to one side.
  12. Remove the nut roast from the oven and carefully remove from the tin. Put the nut roast into the tin containing the salsa and grate the cheese over the top. Put the cinnamon stick and reserved chilli back into the mix and put the reserved thyme sprigs over the top.
  13. Return to the oven for 10-15m minutes or until bubbling and golden.

Baked Celeriac

• 1 celeriac 600-800 gm
• 60 gm walnuts toasted and chopped
• 1 tsp of thyme leaves
• 100 gm of blue cheese crumbled
• 50 gm butter
• 100 ml honey/maple syrup

Let’s Cook

  1. Peel the celeriac keeping the shape as natural as possible. Using a 6-7 cm biscuit cutter make an indent in the top of the celeriac or like me you can use a knife ( carefully) and then using a melon baller or apple corer scoop out the flesh to about halfway down.
  2. Heat the oven to 180c/160 fan/gas 4
  3. Toss the walnuts, thyme and blue cheese together and pack into the cavity of the celeriac if it is higher than the top don’t worry just pack it in…
  4. Take a sheet of foil large enough to cover the celeriac…Dot the top of the celeriac with the butter then drizzle with the honey and season with salt.
  5. Wrap the celeriac completely in the foil making sure there are no gaps and roast for 1 hr 15 mins or until the celeriac is soft. Open the foil and cook for a further 15 mins or until the top is golden…Serve on a chopping board and reserve any juices to spoon over the celeriac when serving.

Coconut and Lime Cheesecake.

For the base.

• Flavourless oil for greasing
• 300g digestive biscuits
• 50g desiccated coconut
• 160g unsalted butter, melted
• 25g coconut oil, melted

For the filling

• 560g full-fat cream cheese
• 250ml coconut cream
• 397ml tin condensed milk
• Juice 4 limes
• 4 medium free-range eggs

For the caramel

• 100g caster sugar
• 25g unsalted butter
• Good splash rum
• 75ml double cream, at room temperature
• 1-2 pinches sea salt flakes
• Pulp from 3 ripe passion fruits

To prepare

  1. For the base, lightly oil a 20cm diameter, 8-10cm deep loose- bottomed cake tin and set aside.
  2. Put the biscuits and coconut in a food processor and whizz to fine crumbs.
  3. With the mixer running, pour in the melted butter and coconut oil and process until combined.
  4. Tip the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
  5. Using the back of a metal spoon, press down on the crumbs to form the base, working them all the way up the sides of the tin to form a deep tart case.
  6. Smooth the base until even, and then chill until needed.

Heat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/ gas 3.

  1. To make the filling, put the cream cheese, coconut cream and condensed milk in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes until combined.
  2. Gradually beat in the lime juice, then the eggs.
  3. Pour the mixture into the biscuit base (don’t let it come over the sides of the biscuit).
  4. Bake for 50-60 minutes until lightly set – it should wobble in the centre a lot when gently pushed, but it will firm up in the fridge.
  5. Remove to a wire rack, still in its tin, and cool completely, then chill.

To serve, bring back to room temperature before removing from the tin.

  1. To make the caramel, put the sugar in a heavy-based frying pan and heat very gently until completely dissolved – every now and then gently stir it back and forth with a fork to distribute the sugar evenly.
  2. Turn the heat up and bubble to a rich golden-red colour, then remove from the heat quickly and add the butter and rum. It will spit, so be careful.
  3. Stir to combine everything, putting the pan back on the heat if the caramel hardens.
  4. Once smooth, stir through the double cream and the sea salt flakes.
  5. Put in a heatproof bowl, cover with a piece of cling film directly touching the surface, then leave to cool for 30 minutes.
  6. Mix the passion fruit pulp into the caramel, then serve drizzled over the cheesecake while the caramel is still a little warm.

N.B.The cheesecake will keep chilled for 6 hours or wrapped in cling film and frozen for up to 1 month.

Once defrosted then drizzle with the caramel.

Fresh Fruit Salad.

The beauty of a fresh fruit salad is that you can make it as large or as small as you like one portion or ten. You can use any fruit that you have and it can different every time.

The one I always make is very simple I use Oranges, Apples, Grapes, Pear, and section and slice them and add lemon/ lime juice to stop the fruit going brown.

  1. Sometimes I also add some freshly squeezed orange juice or other fruit juice.
  2. This is now when it gets interesting as you can add a little freshly grated ginger, some crushed lemon grass even treat yourself to one of those exotic fruits you have seen in your local shop or farmers market just to liven it up, change it.
  3. Maybe even a touch of chilli???
  4. Some sesame seeds? Some poppy seeds?? Even a few sprigs of mint…
  5. If I use a soft fruit like banana, melon, mango, strawberries, peaches, apricots, watermelon or kiwi then I put those in about 15 mins before I serve the fruit salad. Otherwise, they can go too mushy and we like our fruit salad fresh and vibrant, nice and crisp.
  6. And of course here I have access to plenty of fresh pineapples, Lychees and Dragon fruit are plentiful and in season here at the moment so into the mix they go…What is your favourite fruit salad mix???
  7. You can use any combination of fruit that you like just make sure you use lemon/ lime
  8. Juice to stop the fruit from discolouring and keep in the fridge until you is ready to serve.
  9. It can be served quite simply with fresh cream or clotted cream if you can get it… Ice cream or even custard which hubby prefers.

A huge thank you to Carol for putting this menu together and to you for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed the recipes please let us know if you try any in comments.

©Carol Taylor 2019

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:  https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

You can find out more about Carol and catch up with her Food and Cookery Column HERE

Connect to Carol via her blog and enjoy posts on healthy eating, conservation, waste management, travel and amazing recipes: https://carolcooks2.com/

My thanks to Carol for all her efforts to bring great cookery and healthy options into our diets and I know she would love your feedback. thanks Sally