Whatever else 2020 has been, it has not been short on Friendship and Community – by Sally Cronin


The original concept of Thanksgiving was one of giving thanks for a new life, new home and new friends and that tradition is celebrated around the world in one form or another by different cultures on various days throughout the year.

Although in Ireland we don’t formerly celebrate Thanksgiving we certainly are not going to miss an opportunity to have a bit of a party.. even if it is virtual.

Today the world is so much smaller as the Internet has enabled us to find friendship, love and common ground in virtually every country that has electricity. But however global our outlook, it is always great to reflect on the people in our lives and those basic needs for our well-being such as a roof over our heads and food on our table.

There are so many who still do not have these simple but essential requirements and that makes me very thankful indeed for the fact that I do.

I do know that it is the people in my life who I am the most grateful for. Sadly some are now gone, but their spirits remain a part of our family, and they are kept alive by the memories that we cherish as their legacy.

The Internet – Something to be thankful for.

I thought about how we would have coped, facing the same situation twenty years ago, when the Internet that we take so much for granted was in it infancy for the general public. In fact whilst we might think they have been around for decades, even Facebook, one of the communication super connector around the world, only hit the Internet in 2004, Twitter in 2007, WhatsApp 2009 and Zoom 2013.

Despite the fact that I think the new interfaces for the three main social media sites I use, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have been designed by a disgruntled programmer from Disney, I do believe this last nine months during Covid-19 2020 would have been even more devastating without them.

There has been an incredible sense of community with people reaching out to offer comfort, to share celebrations, offer to support or help, and to simple reach out and touch another human being even if it involves a virtual hug.

Today at least we can keep in touch by phone, chat online, video call to family and friends on Skype and Zoom, and that face to face contact has been more than a way to keep in touch. For patients in hospital, the donations from charities of iPads has enabled them to have vital visual contact with loved ones. Being in hospital seriously ill is very tough, but without that personal element of the love of people close to us, it can mean the difference between fighting the disease and giving up.

If this pandemic had hit us 20 years ago there would have been no online banking or shopping for groceries and other essentials. Although many business sectors have been devastated, those who have offered services online had not only survived but thrived, particularly the grocery trade.For millions who have been quarantined, or cocooned as they say over here, without that access via the Internet to food deliveries it would have been even more frightening.

For us as a family, there have been cancellations of milestone celebrations, restrictions on travel to visit across borders, and the uncertainty of what next year will bring. But we are all still here and having the Internet has allowed us to stay safe.

Obviously there are two of us in our particular bubble, and that is something to be very thankful for. After forty years we know each other well, share the same sense of humour, love of movies and music, and we have worked together from home for the last 18 years which helps. I am very thankful that I have not had to face this alone as so many have. I am also very grateful that my older sisters live close to each other and have a bubble of two are well and  I can chat to them on Skype each week to keep up to date.

For me personally the blog and books has kept me sane and engaged. My focus wavered in the first couple of months, but being able to chat to friends around the world at any time of day has been amazing. Having contributors bringing their expertise to the blog has been amazing over the years, and this year is no exception.

An amazing group of people that I am very thankful for.

William Price King – American Jazz singer, musician and composer has been writing the Music Column for the last six years. Informative and entertaining the series about singers, composers and musicians in the last 100 years has given us all a greater appreciation of music.And next year look out for The Breakfast Show every Tuesday hosted by the two of us.

 Carol Taylor lives in Thailand where she ran a successful catering business and now continues to pass on her knowledge via her blog. She has written the amazing Food and Cookery Column for the last three years. Our repertoire of recipes and knowledge about culinary terms has expanded along with our waistlines. If you click on Carol’s name it will take you to her blog where you will find more food, conservation, whimsy and music.

 

D.G. Kaye – Debby Gies – Non-fiction and memoir author who loves to pack her suitcase and take off to warmer climes and wrote the Travel Column for two years before sharing her wise words on relationships in 2020. You will find book reviews, writing tips and frank discussion on Debby’s blog and always a warm welcome.

Silvia Todesco Our resident Italian cookery expert who has brought us wonderful Mediterranean recipes each month since 2018. If you pop into her blog, you may have a problem leaving as there are so many mouth watering recipes.. enjoy.

And I am very thankful for you.

I am also extremely thankful for your amazing support over the last seven years, but this year in particular, when finding positive comments each morning kept me motivated and determined to keep blogging as usual.

I am sure that I might have left someone off this globe but I hope that you will forgive me if your name is not there. A huge thank you for all the support.

 

Enjoy your celebrations, even it if does mean a virtual Thanksgiving Dinner over Zoom or a video call to parents and grandparents. Stay safe and hopefully next year things will be different for us all. With love and hugs Sally

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Food Column – Carol Taylor – A – Z of Food – ‘U’ for Upside Down Cake, Udon Noodles, Ugli Fruit and Unleavened Bread


The A-Z of Food… A culinary tour through the alphabet which today stops and explores the letter U.

The Culinary Alphabet,The letter U, yes we are on the letter U.

Halloween is nearly upon us, the trees are changing color and what glorious colors we are seeing around the world. I love the changes of the seasons and Autumn is one of my favorites. At this moment in time, it is 104 nights of sleep which sounds a lot. The reality is before we know it, it will be Christmas Eve.

Without further ado. let’s look at the letter U – not so many this time although maybe as I write some more will spring to mind.

Udon Noodles.

Udon noodles are a type of thick, wheat flour noodles which are often used in Japanese cuisine…Often served hot in a noodle soup called Kake Udon which is a mildly flavoured broth made with soy sauce, dashi, and mirin then topped with spring (green) onions which is called kakejiru.

Image by yuri hwang from Pixabay

They are also used in stir fries or served cold with miso dip…cold noodles are very popular here just not for me there is something I don’t like about cold noodles…

Made with whole wheat flour they are quite filling and in moderation provide several nutrients, fibre and a healthy dose of carbs.

Ugli Fruit

A cross between a grapefruit and a mandarin! It is about the size of a grapefruit but it tastes a bit sweeter and has a wrinkly skin that peels easily. This funky fruit comes from Jamaica and is also grown in the USA – and it’s not that ugly! It can look a bit weird because its yellowy-green skin is thick, rough and puffy – and sometimes a bit blotchy!

Unleavened Bread.

Is bread made without using a raising agent? A simple bread that is easy to make.

Unsalted Butter

If you are a baker of pies and cakes recipes often state unsalted butter – why? As we often don’t know how much salt is in salted butter and a recipe also calls for a tsp of salt that ups the salt content of our bake. If you only have salted butter then just reduce the amount of added salt i.e half a tsp instead of a tsp full.

Salt is also a preservative which means salted butter keeps much longer whereas unsalted butter is fresher although it has a limited shelf life.

Uvas

The Spanish translation for grapes. The tendency to make single-variety wines, dominant in Spain for decades, has led to an increased interest in the identification and authenticity of native varieties. In accordance with current legislation, only those varieties that are found in the Spanish Registry of Commercial Grape Varieties can be cultivated in this country. In total, there are more than a hundred majority varieties grown in Spain, distributed throughout the country and present in the different Designations of Origin as authorized varieties. Eating 12 grapes (Uvas) at midnight on New Year’s Eve is both a tradition and a superstition in Spain. Rare is the Spaniard who will risk poisoning their fate for the coming year by skipping the grapes, one for each stroke of midnight.

Upside down cake

This was the first cake my mother taught me to make. It always looks impressive and delicious. You can use fresh or tinned pineapple.

For the topping: Ingredients

• 4 tbsp unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1 (8-ounce) can pineapple rings in pineapple juice
• 8 to 10 maraschino cherries

For the cake: Ingredients

• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 8 tbsp(1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 2 large eggs
• 9-inch round cake pan.

Let’s Bake!

  1. Heat the oven and prepare the pan. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch round/square cake pan with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Melt the butter and sugar for the topping. Melt the butter and sugar in a small frying pan over medium heat, stirring frequently. The mixture is done when the sugar is bubbly and slightly browner.
  3. Pour the sugar mixture into the baking pan. Pour the sugar mixture into a prepared cake pan and spread into an even layer to cool slightly.
  4. Arrange the pineapple slices and cherries in the cake pan. Remove the pineapple rings from the can and reserve ½ cup of the juice. Set a single ring in the center of the pan, then arrange 6 to 7 rings around the center ring. Place a maraschino cherry in the center of each ring and set the pan aside.
  5. Whisk together the dry cake ingredients. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  6. Cream the sugar and butter together with a hand mixer, then add the eggs. Place the sugar and butter in a large bowl. Using an electric hand mixer, beat on medium speed until lightened and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until smooth, about 1 minute more.
  7. Add the flour mixture and pineapple juice in alternating batches. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the reserved ½ cup pineapple juice, in this order: Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add ½ of the pineapple juice, mixing until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add another ½ of the remaining flour and mix again for about 30 seconds, followed by the remaining pineapple juice and 30 seconds of mixing.
  8. Finally, add the remaining flour mixture and mix until completely smooth, about 1-minute total.
    Spread the batter over the fruit. The batter will be thick, so use a large spoon to dollop a large spoonful of the batter evenly over the fruit in the pan. Smooth the batter with an offset spatula, then tap the cake pan lightly on the counter to settle the batter.
  9. Bake the cake for 45 minutes. Bake the cake until dark golden-brown and a cake tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
  10. Cool the cake for 10 minutes and then invert the cake onto a serving plate. Remove the warm cake from the oven to a cooling rack and cool for 10 minutes (do not wait longer, or the cake will not come out of the pan). Invert a plate over the cake pan and, using kitchen towels or oven mitts to grasp onto both the plate and the cake pan, flip both the pan and the plate over so the pan now sits on top of the plate. Slowly lift the cake pan away. Serve the cake warm or cool before serving and storing.

Enjoy!

Unsaturated Fats

Tend to be liquid at room temperature.

Replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat can improve your health. Unsaturated fat comes from plants. It’s found in:

• vegetable oils
• olives
• nuts and seeds
• some fish

There are two main types of unsaturated fat:

Monounsaturated fats can help improve your cholesterol levels and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. It may also help you control your insulin levels and blood sugar.

Foods that contain monounsaturated fats include:

• olive oil
• peanut oil
• canola oil
• avocados
• most nuts
• most seeds

Your body needs polyunsaturated fats to function. This type of fat helps with muscle movement and blood clotting. Since your body doesn’t make it, you have to get it in your diet.

Polyunsaturated fats can be further divided into two types: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may be beneficial to the heart.

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in:

• fatty fish, such as sardines, tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, and herring
• ground flax and flaxseed oil
• non-hydrogenated soybean oil
• safflower oil
• sunflower oil
• canola oil
• walnuts
• sunflower seeds
• chia seeds
• hemp seeds

Omega-6 fatty acids may also help protect against cardiovascular disease. But there’s a debate about the inflammatory role of omega-6’s. Most Americans consume more than enough of them.

Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in:

• safflower oil
• soybean oil
• sunflower oil
• walnut oil
• corn oil

Recent research reveals that there’s not enough evidence that saturated fat raises the risk of cardiovascular disease. But choosing polyunsaturated fats in place of saturated fat can reduce the risk. That’s not the case if you replace saturated fat with sugar and processed carbohydrates.

Some oils may have more health benefits than others. Canola oil, although considered an unsaturated fat, is typically genetically modified and refined, bleached and deodorized. This process may cause negative health effects. Eating oils in moderation and varying your intake of types of oils is recommended. What are the recommended levels of fat intake?
People need fats, so you don’t have to do without them. But it’s clear you should eat saturated fat in moderation.

Umani

The word Umani is heard everywhere now. It is one of the 5 basic tastes in cookery. A savory taste that is found in broths and savory dishes. Escoffier, the legendary 19th-century French chef who invented veal stock, felt sure that a savory fifth taste was the secret of his success, but everyone was too busy gorging on his food to take much notice of his theories.

Fast forward to the 21st century and many cooks are delighted to finally see proof of what they had instinctively known. More recently, however, Bottura says that the discovery that parmesan is probably the most umami ingredient in western cookery has enhanced his appreciation and understanding of the dish. “Five textures, five temperatures and five levels of Umami.

Thank you so much for reading this and please as always let me have your thoughts as I love your comments…Next time the letter ‘V’…., Until next time be well and stay safe xxx

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: @CarolCooksTwo – Facebook: Carol Taylor

My thanks to Carol for sharing this 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 – Food Column – Carol Taylor – A – Z of Food – ‘K’ for Kale, Ketchup, Kippers and Kanom Moo Krob (Crispy Pork and Kale)


Welcome to the 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 over the year.

The A-Z Of the Culinary Alphabet the letter K

K seems to lend itself too much which is Asian unless I revert to the German Language where our C is often replaced with a K…However not in many culinary dishes so I drew a bit of a blank there…

Kippers, I remember that smell very well as a child my dad loved Kippers, So what is a Kipper?

A kipper is a whole herring, a small, oily fish, that has been split from tail to head along the dorsal ridge, gutted, salted or pickled, and cold-smoked over smouldering woodchips (typically oak).

In the British Isles and a few North American regions, they are often eaten for breakfast. In Great Britain, kippers, along with other preserved smoked or salted fish such as the bloater were also once commonly enjoyed as a high tea or supper treat, most popularly with inland and urban working-class populations before World War II.

My abiding memory is the bones and the smell you can imagine a fussy child picking all those little bones out.and screwing up her nose..lol

Kaffir Limes

I have used the leaves in many of the Thai dishes that I cook they are used in many Asian dishes…The trees are small evergreen trees and prickly. The one I had was quite a young one and I had not seen any fruit…It wasn’t until a neighbor gave me some of the fruit that I put two and two together and realized that was the fruit of the tree I had growing in the garden and now we do have fruit.

The rind is very bumpy unlike the normal limes I use and when cut open the flesh is quite dry and what juice there is has an acidic, bitter and is very strongly sour tasting.
A complete contrast to the zest which is quite aromatic.

A little zest goes a long way and very finely chopped or added to ingredients it imparts a beautiful citrus flavour. I have added a little video as there is a knack for chopping the lime leaves very finely. You need a really sharp knife and it is an art…

Here in Thailand, it is also pounded in a pestle and mortar as it is an ingredient in many curry pastes it is added to the iconic Tom Yum Soup and other soups and stews here and also is an ingredient in Thai Shrimp Cakes

Nutritionally the benefits of the Kaffir Lime is from the oils in the rind and the high levels of citronella and limonene which are both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.

Oil extracted from the leaves is also used for medicinal purposes, it is mixed into shampoos, soaps salves and fragrances.

Most often it is used in oral products or the leaves can be rubbed directly onto the gums as it eliminates harmful bacteria in the mouth.

In the rural areas and villages, you will find many herbs, fruits and vegetables are used like this to help alleviate and cure many ailments as many either are to far away to visit the doctor or cannot afford to or even just prefer to use remedies passed down through the generations.

It is also used as an insect repellent by mixing the juice or oil with a lotion or salve and it reduces the chance of being bitten.

I hope you have enjoyed learning about the Kaffir Lime…Do you use Kaffir lime or its leaves ????

Ketchup.

A thick, sweet sauce made with tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices. It is also known as catsup and catchup. It is said to be derived from “fet-tsiap,” a spicy pickled fish condiment popular in China.

Ketchup was first mentioned in print in 1711. Most American ketchup is made with tomatoes. The F. & J. Heinz Company of Pennsylvania sold the first bottled tomato ketchup as of 1876.

Kaki aka Persimmon

A fruit which I have seen and never bought until a little while ago…Why? I just haven’t but I saw it mentioned in a few recipes which prompted me to try it…

Kaki (Persimmon) is in season here now and I have to admit not a fruit I had tasted… seen never tasted but this week we did my daughter-law hadn’t tasted it either so we bought some and it is lovely the texture of a crisp apple fairly sweet but very nice.

The persimmon is one of the classical fruits of China, from where it was introduced in ancient times to Japan. Mainly grown in China and Japan commercially but smaller growers have developed in Italy, Israel, Brazil, California (U.S.A.), Australia and New Zealand. In South-East Asia, it is grown on a limited scale in Java, Sumatra, Malaysia and Northern Thailand. At present grown by hill tribe growers here in Northern Thailand.

Production has been slow to cultivate and they are mostly sold as fresh fruit which is probably why by comparison with other fruits they are expensive.

Kielbasa (kihl-BAH-sah) – Kielbasa is a smoked sausage made from pork. Sliced and eaten with cheeses and olives.

Kale.

Love it or hate it but there is no denying the health benefits that this humble vegetable contains. I know many of you dislike Kale, but I love kale, although I do not love kale in a smoothie. Well, for those of you who buy greens powders at some expense so I am told … Dehydrate those tough outer leaves that you would normally throw away and turn them into a greens powder to add to your morning smoothie or sprinkle on your salads…

A great money saver…

Just a question when I lived in the UK the kale was what we called curly Kale the kale here is like the one pictured I haven’t seen curly kale here. What kale do you get curly or straight ???

One of my favorite kale recipes

Kanom Moo Krob (Crispy Pork and Kale)

Ingredients:

• 2 Belly Pork Strips.
• 8 Large leaves of Kale.
• 3/4 cloves Garlic. squashed with the flat blade of a knife.
• 2/3 birds eye chilies.
• 2 tbsp Oyster Sauce
• 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
• 2/3 shakes of Maggi Sauce.
• Half tbsp. Oil.

Let’s Cook!

  • Cook Belly Pork in the oven until tender and crispy for about 30 mins.
    I normally cook on about 180/200 degrees to start and then reduce heat slightly to 160 degrees. When the pork is tender turn up the heat to crisp the pork. When nice and crispy remove the pork from the oven and chop into bite sized pieces.
  • Heat the wok or large fry pan and add half tablespoon oil.
  • Add crushed garlic and chilies, add little hot water and cook for 1 minute, at this point the chilies may overpower you, ha ha, turn on expel fan and add chopped Kale.
  • Stems first if you are using them as they take longer to cook. I use stems of Kale also if they are quite a thick slice into 2-inch pieces.
    No waste from this kitchen…
  • Cook for 2 mins and add remainder of Kale leaves and turn over a few times ….I use fish slice as I find it easier to just turn kale over.
  • Add 2 tbsp Oyster Sauce and 1 tbsp Soy along with few shakes of Maggi (seasoning Sauce).
  • Taste and adjust if necessary. Cook for further 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add crispy Pork turn or stir a few times to mix.
  • Check the seasoning again and serve with steamed rice.

Enjoy!

Kosher food.

The word kosher means “fit or proper.” It refers to food that is proper for the Jewish people to consume as set out in the laws of Kashrut (the kosher dietary laws) in the Old Testament.

Knead.

The process of working dough by mixing, stretching, and pulling. Kneading is most often used in bread dough and is a necessary step in order to develop the gluten.
To knead, gather your dough into a ball.Using the heel of your hands, press down on the dough. Pull up the part of the dough that was flattened by your hands and fold it back over on itself. Keep repeating the process, turning the dough periodically.

Kugel

Koogel means “ball” or “Cannonball” in German. This name evolved because of the small round pot in which such puddings used to be cooked. This round, covered pot would be placed in the larger pot of cholent a slow-cooking stew of chunks of meat, marrow bones, beans, barley, potatoes. Classic ones are made with noodles or grains (sometimes even leftover bread). They often have a sweet ingredient such as raisins or apples, but some are savory. Today, they are even made with a variety of vegetables in a style reminiscent of quiche or casseroles.

What is characteristic of all of them, though, is that they are made without water, using fats and/or eggs to bind the ingredients.

Khao Soi

Originating from Northern Thailand there are many versions of this dish but all revolve around soft and crispy noodles with spicy yellow curry…

Khao Soi originated from here in the North and holds almost iconic status..said to originate from the Chiang Mai area the name means ” cut rice” in Thai although it is thought the word originates from the Burmese word for noodles and is a corruption of the word Khao swe.
It is also my all time favourite Thai curry I eat it at every opportunity.

Khao gle at

Are traditional handmade Thai pancakes and I was very lucky to see them being made a real family affair.

Kidney Beans

Red kidney beans are the most common kidney bean. These large beans have a dark red color, glossy skin and firm texture, making them suitable for soups, stews, chilies, and other dishes that cook for a long time.

The white Kidney bean also known as cannellini beans are large, with a thin, white skin and a subtle flavour.These beans are more suitable for salads and dishes that require a shorter cooking time.

Kinilaw Cuisine.

Kinilaw cuisine is a true Philippine cuisine with influences as far back as pre-colonial times with trans-Pacific trade and exchanges of culture. Links later in the 16th century with Europe and South America through Spanish colonists had the most tremendous impact on today’s Philippine cuisine. This merging of culinary heritages must be described and considered as a real “fusion cuisine.” to what has become today’s Philippine cuisine.

Anything alive and anything fresh can be used for Kinilaw cuisine (crustaceans, fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, flowers, insects, fowl, and snakes; food as rare and unusual as balatan (sea cucumber), lima lima (spider conch), kohol (river snail), abatud (larva of coconut beetle), butbut (sea anemone), guso (seaweed) goat, carabao, venison, wild boar, heart, liver, tripe, animal skin, Puso ng saging (banana core) and to name some many of which are local ingredients. It is pretty similar to Thai Cuisine where you will get regional differences to the same dish.

I do hope you have enjoyed this walk through the letter K until next time be safe and stay well…x

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: @CarolCooksTwo
Facebook: Carol Taylor

My thanks to Carol for sharing this 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 Health Column – Food Therapy – Olive Oil…keeps your body moving 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.

This week the food in question is Olive Oil. It stands in the shade next to my hob and is used a number of times a day on our breakfast (blitzed fresh tomato, red pepper, garlic and pimiento with a drizzle of olive oil), over my cooked vegetables and salad and also to prepare cooked meals.

Here are the health benefits of this versatile and very healthy fat.

For many years fats were considered to be the baddy in the diet and recently it was interesting to see that for the vast majority of the population the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats was still a mystery despite all the health campaigns.

The right fats are essential for nearly all our bodily functions and they provide a massive amount of nutrients that play a vital role in the processes going on in our body 24 hours a day.

Lo and behold the ‘experts’ have now retracted their ill founded advice about dropping all fats and replacing with carbohydrates and low fat options in favour of a higher fat diet.. provided those fats are not trans fats in industrially produced foods.

Having said that, you cannot eat pounds of any fats, however healthy, without combining it with a balanced diet of vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, protein and exercise…

My favourite fat is olive oil and it is amazing how many health benefits there are in a tablespoon. Including this healthy fat in your diet on a daily basis in moderation provides the right fats needed by your body to function healthily and efficiently.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesise and must be obtained through diet. There are two families of EFAs Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-9 is necessary but non- essential as the body can make it if the other two fatty acids are present.

EFAs are essential because they support our cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and nervous systems. We need these fats to manufacture and repair cells, maintain hormone levels and expel waste from the body. They are part of the process that regulates blood pressure, blood clotting, fertility and conception – and they also help regulate inflammation and stimulate the body to fight infection.

Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid) is the principal Omega-3 fatty acid and is used in the formation of cell walls, improving circulation and oxygen. A deficiency can lead to decreased immune system function; elevated levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.

Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid) is the primary Omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 can improve rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.

There is growing evidence that the non-essential Oleic acid, Omega‑9, may help to lower cholesterol by decreasing the unhealthy cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein), while at the same time raising the level of healthy cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein).

Oleic acid is also emerging as a regulator of blood-sugar levels and as a possible protection against breast and prostate cancer. So, including half an avocado in your diet every day may well protect you from the harmful long-term effects of a number of diseases.

Olive oil is also an excellent source of Vitamin E and phenols.

Vitamin E: Tocopherol; As an antioxidant it protects cell membranes and other fat-soluble parts of the body such as LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage and blood vessels. It can be used topically for skin health and is involved in the reproductive system. It may help prevent circulatory problems that lead to heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease by preventing clots from forming. It improves the pulmonary function of the lungs and enhances the white blood cells ability to resist infection.

Phenols: are a large group of compounds that include flavonoids such as anthocyanin and quercetin, phenolic acids like ellagic acid, fibres such as lignans and vitamins. Many of these have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties, all of which are known to benefit cardiovascular health.

olive oilThe benefits of Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil which is from the first pressing of the olives is the best oil to use as it contains higher levels of nutrients, particularly Vitamin E and phenols above. Recent research into the reasons why Olive oil extensively used in Mediterranean diets is so healthy has thrown up some interesting results.

In a human trial it was found that polyphenol- rich olive oil included in the diet improved the health of blood vessels which was not the case for another group of volunteers that included oil in their diet with the phenols removed. Obviously the healthier the blood vessels the more effective the entire circulatory system. It appears that the particular part of the blood vessel that is affected is the endothelium or inner lining of the blood vessels. The endothelium determines the interactions between the blood vessels and the immune, coagulation and endocrine systems. If the endothelium is not functioning correctly it can lead to calcification within the arteries and increased risk of heart disease and strokes. Another function of the endothelium is the release of vasodilators (increasing size of blood vessel) such as Nitric Oxide and vasoconstrictors (decreasing size of blood vessels) such as thromboxane and prostaglandin. Like any system in the body balance or homeostasis is required to ensure that blood pressure is regulated and the phenols in olive oil ensure that sufficient nitric oxide is produced to keep the arteries open and blood flowing.

 

Other research areas

Until now it has been difficult to isolate which component of this very nutrient rich oil was responsible for the health of Mediterranean populations. Recently however in America they have identified a previously unknown chemical that they have called oleocanthal that appears to have an extremely effective anti-inflammatory action. They have compared it favourably with over the counter pain relievers for inflammatory conditions such as ibuprofen. This is great news for sufferers of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.

Other Benefits

Olive oil is very well tolerated by the digestive system and is therefore beneficial for stomach ulcers and gastritis. The oil activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones much more effectively than prescribed medication and therefore lowers the incidence of gallstone formation.

Two tablespoons of a day has been shown to lower oxidation of LDL (lousy cholesterol) in the blood whilst raising antioxidant levels such as Vitamin E.

It is suggested that including olive oil in your diet may also help prevent colon cancer and this provides an alternative to patients who are vegetarian and do not wish to include fish oils in their diet.

Including extra virgin olive oil every day in your diet is likely to protect you from diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, asthma, breast cancer and arthritis.

The best oil to buy

As I have always said the less processed a food is the better and olive oil is no exception. On the shelf you will find at least four different grades of oil.

Extra Virgin which is the best, least processed and most nutritional and comes from the first pressing. This should be your first choice and used for all cooking and dressings during your detox period.

Virgin is from the second pressing and should be your second choice.

Pure undergoes some processing such as filtering and refining and is a lesser grade oil.

Extra Light – has undergone considerable processing and only retains a small amount of nutrients or even olive taste. It is not officially classified as an olive oil and it was produced more for the “diet” culture than for taste or nutrition.

Storing Olive Oil

Olive oil degrades in light and should be kept cook and tightly sealed. If it is exposed to air oxygen will turn it rancid. It is also better kept in a cupboard away from natural light and the best containers are ceramic jugs rather than glass or plastic bottles.

For some delicious recipes that will encourage you to include more olive oil in your diet.. please head over to an earlier post where Carol Taylor shares some of her favourite dishes: Carol Taylor Cooks from Scratch with Olive Oil

©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 – Mushrooms – The Egyptians believed they granted immortality


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.

Mushrooms

According to the ancient Egyptians, over 4,000 years ago, eating mushrooms granted you immortality. The pharaohs even went as far as to ban commoners from eating these delicious fungi but it was probably more to guarantee that they received an ample supply. Mushrooms have played a large role in the diet of many cultures and there is evidence that 3,000 years ago certain varieties of mushrooms were used in Chinese medicine and they still play a huge role in Chinese cuisine today.

There are an estimated 20,000 varieties of mushrooms growing around the modern world, with around 2,000 being edible. Of these, over 250 types of mushroom have been recognised as being medically active or therapeutic.

More and more research is indicating that certain varieties have the overwhelming potential to cure cancer and AIDS and in Japan some of the extracts from mushrooms are already being used in mainstream medicine.

Apart from their medicinal properties, mushrooms are first and foremost an excellent food source. They are low in calories, high in B vitamins, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc – and supply us with protein and fibre. They are versatile and they are easy to cook and blend with other ingredients on a daily basis. For vegetarians they provide not only protein but also the daily recommended amount of B12 a vitamin often lacking in a non-meat diet.

Mushrooms in general.

 

The most common mushrooms that you are likely to use in cookery are white button mushrooms and oyster mushrooms. They may not be as exotic as some of the oriental varieties but they still hold many health benefits. They are not only low in calories and fat, and therefore great if you are trying to lose weight, but they will also provide you with plenty of fibre. Even the little white mushrooms contain B vitamins, potassium and selenium and there are some interesting studies being conducted at the moment into some very important medicinal applications.

One area of research is into the phytochemical action that suppresses two enzymes, aromatase and steroid 5alpha-reductase. Aromatase converts the hormone androgen into oestrogen, an excess of which can promote the development of breast cancer. Steroid 5alpha-reductase has the same effect on testosterone, converting it to dihydrotestosterone, which has been shown to be involved in the development of prostate cancer. In the laboratory a team led by a Dr. Chen discovered that the mushroom extract suppressed the growth of both these cells.

Another property in mushrooms that is potentially very interesting is the amount of the antioxidant ergothioneine compared to the amounts in other foods such as wheatgerm and chicken livers. In fact, mushrooms can have up to 12 times as much – which means that a small serving of 5oz could provide excellent protection against oxidative damage throughout the body.

Until recently it was difficult to find some of the traditional medical mushrooms outside of specialist shops but supermarkets have begun to carry Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms. They can be a little more expensive but their benefits far outweigh the cost.

Shiitake mushrooms.

shitakeShiitake mushrooms range in colour from tan to dark brown and they have broad, umbrella shaped, caps. They feel soft and spongy when raw but when cooked they are rich tasting and meaty in texture. They are ideal as an alternative to red meat in pasta dishes as you can chop them finely and cook with a little olive oil in exactly the same way.

Shiitake’s main benefit is the ability to lower LDL cholesterol. There is a specific amino acid in the mushroom, which helps speed up the processing of cholesterol in the liver resulting in lower levels in the blood and therefore reducing the risk of heart disease.

In 1969 Japanese scientists isolated a polysaccharide (sugar) compound from Shiitake they called Lentinan. It appears that this substance stimulates the immune system cells to rid the body of tumour cells resulting in either a reduction in size or complete removal of cancerous growths. In Japan the Federal Drug Agency has licensed Lentinan as an anti-cancer drug and there is on-going research into the effect of Shiitake mushrooms and AIDS.

Maitake mushrooms

The Maitake mushroom is found in clusters of dark fronds, which are firm but supple at the base. They have a distinctive aroma and taste rich and earthy. They are great in any dish where you use mushrooms but are wonderful in a homemade stroganoff sauce served with brown rice.

They are also known as the “hen of the woods” possibly because of their shape. As with the Shiitake this mushroom has a compound that inhibits the growth of cancer cells by stimulating the immune system and in addition they have been found to lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels but this has not been proven in humans as yet.

Another area of research is diabetes and it is thought that Maitake mushrooms may have a blood sugar balancing action that may reduce the need for insulin.

Mushrooms, as with most fruit and vegetables, hold some interesting and potentially lifesaving properties as well as nutritional benefits.

Selecting and storing mushrooms

Button mushrooms should be white, plump and clean. Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms tend to be brown and slightly wrinkled but they should not have any damp, slimy spots. Keep mushrooms in a loose paper bag in the refrigerator for about a week and store dried mushrooms in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer for six months.

Use a damp cloth to clean and then either slice or chop finely and add to your favourite recipes. They are great in stir-fry vegetable dishes, soups and stews and cooked gently in a little olive oil they make a great accompaniment for steak and poultry.

One word of warning: Naturally occurring Purine in mushrooms causes an increase in the amount of uric acid in the blood. This can lead to the formation of kidney stones and also the crystals that collect in joints in the toes that result in gout. If you suffer from kidney problems or gout I suggest that you limit your intake of mushrooms to once a week. If you still experience problems then you should avoid these and other Purine-rich foods altogether.

Candida: As a yeast overgrowth it was assumed that eating fungus such as mushrooms should be avoided. However, recent research has found that it is sugars that are the problem.

Here are two recipes that I have adapted over the years that are delicious and full of mushroom goodness.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

When preparing mushrooms remember that if you wash them you need to dry as much as possible before cooking, however with soup that is not too much of a problem since you need the liquid.

To serve four people a generous supper portion or six as a starter.

  • 250gm (8oz) mushrooms (the type of mushroom will determine colour – brown mushrooms give a depth of flavour but you can use shiitake or button too.
  • 1 medium onion.
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon and rind (try freezing your lemon before grating and you get the added vitamin C from the pith)
  • 600ml (pint) of chicken or vegetable stock.
  • 200ml (1/2 pint milk) I use full fat milk to give a creamy taste but you can use semi-skimmed.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (a pinch)
  • A half teaspoon of pimiento dulce to add a little spice and colour.

Preparation

  1. Wash and slice the mushrooms and put into a pan with the finely chopped onion and grated rind and lemon juice.
  2. Pour in the stock and milk and add the thyme and salt and pepper.
  3. Cover the pan and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Liquidise the soup and then return to the pan to reheat and check the seasoning.
  5. Serve hot with warm French bread.

Mushroom Chilli Carbonara

I love pasta although I do not eat as much carbohydrates these days as my requirement is much less than it used to be. However, we have a pasta dish with or without meat at least once a week. Here is a recipe using mushrooms and with a touch of added heat from chilli.

Serves 4 people.

  • 250gm (8oz) button, chestnut or shiitake mushrooms.
  • 300ml (1/2pint) hot water
  • 225gm (8oz) pasta of your choice – Tagliatelle or spaghetti is great especially whole wheat.
  • 1 crushed garlic clove or level teaspoon of garlic powder if you like the spice.
  • 25/30gm (just over an 1oz) butter
  • 15ml (1tbsp) Olive oil (do not worry about virgin or extra virgin for frying)
  • 1 Teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
  • 300ml (1/2 pint) single cream
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese and some chopped fresh parsley to garnish

Preparation

  1. Cook the pasta according to the preparation information on the packet, drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. In a pan lightly sauté the garlic if you have used fresh cloves in the butter and oil.
  3. Add the mushrooms, chilli flakes and cook for about three minutes.
  4. Pour in your hot water and boil to reduce the sauce.
  5. Beat the eggs and the cream with the seasoning.
  6. Add the cooked pasta to the pan of mushrooms and then add the eggs and cream.
  7. Mix through the ingredients
  8. Reheat so that the eggs are cooked but don’t boil.
  9. Serve in a bowl with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.

 

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

©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 – #Asparagus – Nutrient Packed and Delicious 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.

The history of Asparagus

Asparagus is a member of the lily family and the spears that we eat are shoots grown underground. The ancient Greeks used the word asparagus to describe any young tender shoots that were picked and eaten. It was cultivated over 2,000 years ago in that part of the Mediterranean and the Romans then picked up a liking for the delicacy eating fresh and dried out of season.

Asparagus became such a delicacy that the Romans went one step further in their desire to eat fresh all year round. Chariots would race to the Alps to freeze the tender shoots in the year round snow for six months and then race back with it in time for one of the major events of the year – The Feast of Epicurus. Fleets of galleons took the shoots to all corners of the Empire and over the centuries other countries adopted this delicacy and it now grows in many parts of the world.

There are huge health benefits from eating asparagus on a regular basis and it is packed with the important Vitamin K.

Vitamin K1 is is the form of the nutrient found in plants and is essential for efficient blood clotting but recently research has identified that it has many other roles within the body. It may help prevent heart disease and osteoporosis. It is a stronger anti-oxidant than Vitamin E or Coenzyme Q10 and it may also inhibit the growth of certain cancers such as breast, ovary, colon, stomach and kidney cancer.

As an antioxidant it has been approved for the treatment of osteoporosis in Japan due to its action in the synthesis of osteocalcin which attracts calcium to the bone matrix. It has also shown benefits in other areas such as preventing calcification of arteries and soft tissues which can lead to heart attacks. As well as preventing calcification it helps regulate the body’s calcium which is extremely important in organs such as the brain or kidneys that are vulnerable to calcium deposits leading to damage or the formation of stones.

A link between levels of Vitamin K and brain disease.

The brain is a fascinating part of our bodies with relatively little known about certain areas that remain uncharted. Research is particularly active in areas such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as this more than any of the degenerative diseases, leaves us so vulnerable and in need of total care.

IL-6 is a chemical transmitter for the immune system, which promotes inflammation. As we age this process gets out of control and it results in excessive inflammation throughout the body, including the joints and the brain. Alzheimer’s patients have very high levels of IL-6 in their brains. Vitamin K is thought to prevent this and if the link can be proved then eating asparagus as part of a healthy eating plan could be an easy way for everyone to increase this vital vitamin.

Other parts of the boy affected by a deficiency of Vitamin K

A deficiency of this vitamin K has been linked to elevated levels of blood sugar, as the pancreas, which makes insulin normally, contains the second highest amount of vitamin K than anywhere in the body.

Whilst on the subject of Vitamin K if you add grass fed butter to your asparagus you are also getting the vitamin in another form.. as K2.

One of the problems today of obtaining sufficient Vitamin K2 is that animals need to be grass fed to produce it. As much of our lifestock, including chickens are corn or grain fed, the amount of this important component of our complex nutritional requirements is missing from the food chain. Including eggs for example, if they are produced by mass farmed chicken without access to grass areas and their naturally foraged foods. which is why buying free range is better. Do check the packaging however, as free range comes in a number of formats too. Sometimes they are let out for an hour a day and that is not free range!

Only grass fed dairy or animal protein contains sufficient amounts of Vitamin K2 which is an important component of our complex nutritional requirements.

This applies to real butter – I eat the real thing but make sure it comes from grass fed dairy again. A scrape goes a long way and tastes so much better than margarine.

Research into Vitamin K2 is ongoing and is very exciting.

Dementia including Alzheimers and neurological diseases including Parkinsons with the vitamin being identified as deficient in patients suffering from irregularities in brain chemistry.

Kidney disease – Most patients with stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD) suffer from extensive vascular calcifications.4 Matrix Gla protein (MGP) is a powerful inhibitor of vascular calcification, and requires vitamin K2 to be fully activated

CancerIn recent years, various reports have shown that vitamin K2 has anti-oncogenic effects in various cancer cell lines, including leukemia, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and hepatocellular cancer. Although the exact mechanisms by which vitamin K2 exert its antitumor effect are still unclear, processes, such as cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, appear to contribute to the therapeutic effects of vitamin K2.

To read the full report on the research: Vitamink2.org

Other nutrients Asparagus offers us.

As well as Vitamin K, asparagus also contains the following nutrients in varying amounts.. whilst it looks like a great deal more information than you might need; I hope it reinforces how nutritionally important the food is that I feature.  I could just tell you that asparagus contains Folate, Vitamin C, A, B1, B2, B3, B6, Tryptophan, Manganese, Copper, Phosphorus, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and calcium.  But does that really mean anything?

I think that it helps you appreciate the food you eat differently if you can associate it with a more comprehensive look at its various elements and the amazing combinations of nutrients contained in just one food source.

Asparagus has a huge number of key nutrients that boost and maintain the immune system.

Folate: Folic Acid; Folic acid is a B Vitamin essential for cell replication and growth. It helps form the building blocks of DNA the body’s genetic information which is why it is recommended prior to conception and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to ensure the rapidly growing and replicating cells of the foetus are normal. It is essential for transporting co-enzymes needed for amino acid metabolism in the body and is necessary for a functioning nervous system

Vitamin B1: Thiamin; This vitamin is essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates and for the strength of the nervous system. Every cell in the body requires this vitamin to form the fuel that the body runs on ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate).

Vitamin B2: Riboflavin; Also essential for metabolising carbohydrates to produce ATP, and also fats, amino acids and proteins too. It is necessary to activate Vitamin B6 and Folic Acid. It works with enzymes in the liver to eliminate toxins. It is water-soluble

Vitamin B3: Niacin; Also needed for the metabolism of carbohydrates (ATP), fats and proteins. Needed to process Alcohol. Niacin form of B3 helps regulate Cholesterol. In addition it is essential for the formation or red blood cells and the hormones. It works with Tryptophan in protein to form Serotonin and Melatonin in the brain

Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine 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.

Tryptophan: Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is the lowest in terms of levels needed by the body. It is responsible for normal sleep patterns. Vitamin B6 is needed for the formation of tryptophan, which affects serotonin levels. These serotonin levels influence sleep and mood.

Vitamin C: Ascorbic Acid; An antioxidant that protects LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) from oxidative damage, leading to hardening of the arteries. May also protect against heart disease reducing the hardening of arteries and the tendency of platelets to clump together blocking them. Vitamin C is necessary to form collagen, which acts like glue strengthening parts of the body such as muscles and blood vessels. It aids with healing and is a natural anti-histamine.

It is essential for the action of the Immune system and plays a part in the actions of the white blood cells and anti-bodies. It protects other antioxidants A and E from free radical damage and is involved in the production of some adrenal hormones.

Manganese: Needed for healthy skin, bone and cartilage formation as well as glucose tolerance. Also forms part of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase, which helps prevent free radical damage.

Copper: Copper is an essential trace element needed to absorb and utilise Iron. It is needed to make ATP and is also to synthesise some hormones and blood cells. Collagen needs copper, as does the enzyme tyrosinase, which plays a role in the production of skin pigment. Too much copper in the diet can depress levels of zinc and effect wound healing.

Phosphorus: Essential for bone formation and production of red blood cells. Also needed for the production of ATP fuel for energy. Small amounts are involved in most of the chemical reactions throughout the body.

Potassium: This 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.

Iron: 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. Iron is also part of myoglobin which helps muscle cells store oxygen and it is also essential for the formation of ATP

Zinc: A trace mineral that is a component in the body’s ability to repair wounds, maintain fertility, synthesis protein, cell reproduction, maintain eyesight, act as an antioxidant and boost immunity. It can be used topically for skin conditions. It is essential for a functioning metabolism and hormone production such as testosterone. It is also needed for the production of stomach acid. Too much zinc will depress the copper levels in the body.

Magnesium: It is 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. The best food sources are whole grains, beans, seeds, wheat germ, dried apricots, dark green vegetables, soybeans and fish.

Selenium: A very 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 cancer.

Calcium: The most abundant and essential mineral in the body. There are approximately two to three pounds mainly found in the teeth and bones. Apart from its role in the formation of teeth and bones it 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. If you are at risk of kidney stones consult your doctor before taking in additional calcium supplements. This also applies if you are suffering from prostate cancer where there may be a link between increased levels of dietary calcium in dairy products and this form of cancer. It is thought it is thought that excess calcium causes lower levels of Vitamin D, which helps protect against prostate cancer.

Compared to the multi-vitamin supplement you might be taking, a serving of asparagus three times a week provides most of the elements, but in a very much more digestible format for the body.

Here is a video that shows you how to prepare fresh asparagus courtesy of the Bald Chef.

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

©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 19th – April 25th 2020 – Bond Themes, #Waterford History, Royal Navy WWII, Letters from America, Poetry, Book Reviews and Guests.


Welcome to the Smorgasbord Blog Magazine weekly round up with posts that you might have missed during the week.

I hope that everyone continues to do well.  There is some evidence that there might be an easing of the self-isolation restrictions for some age groups, and also the possibility in the UK at least of being able to interact with close family members, up to a bubble of 10 people, in the weeks ahead. That is good news as for those elderly, living on their own without physical contact with children and grandchildren it has been very challenging.

I have to say that I am very impressed by the majority who have followed the restrictions and also the supermarkets and stores allowed to be open who have done very best to the items we are used to available as well as the essentials… and also there efforts to maintain social distancing. I am so grateful for the front line staff, stocking the shelves and manning the checkouts who remain cheerful and helpful. A simple thank you seemed totally inadequate.

Also of course those health care workers who are working so tirelessly to keep those infected alive, and I hope that when this is over there will be a shift in both the operational side to the NHS and other health services with regard to the well being of their staff, and also planning for the future using the lessons delivered during the pandemic.

And of course there is the amazing contribution from individuals such as Captain Tom Moore who it is believed in in line for a CBE following his fund-raising for the NHS to the tune of £28 million. With congratulations on reaching #1 in the charts with his single recorded with Michael Ball ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

What an inspirational man and he is 100 years old in five days time. The local post office has already had to take over a local school’s gym to stack all the cards and gifts that have been arriving daily and if ever there was a star of this challenging time is an old man who has already served his country and is doing so again.

On the other hand, there are those who have royally miffed me this week in the press… Celebrities posing or moaning about being in isolation in their mansions with football pitch sized gardens, or on their luxury island paradises  or mega yachts. Female celebrities (and some male ones) and those who aspire to being one, whipping their clothes off and posing in underwear, bikinis or even naked, as if this some how would lift the spirits of the majority of us, male or female with other more important issues on our minds!

I am not going to touch leadership issues and alleged ‘cures’ with a barge pole……..

What I will do is offer this musical interlude that shares the wisdom of Monty Python, and whilst it might be top of the list when it comes to funerals, it is also something to inspire the living…

I have selected the singalong version…I hope you will join in…

Thanks Monty Python

Now to get on with the business of the day….

This week sees the start of a new book marketing series for authors on the shelves of the Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Free Author Promotion

The Cafe and Bookstore has approximately 150 authors and up to 7 of their covers on the shelves. So that I can have the time to check each author regularly and update with their reviews and latest releases, the authors featured have reviews that are less than six months old.

A few statistics about the Cafe and Bookstore in 2019/2020

  • In 2019 there were 130 Cafe Updates featuring 3 to 5 authors in each post, including the summer features and Christmas book fair and 125 New book Promotions
  • The top viewed (220) New Book on the Shelves was A Bit About Britain’s History by Mike Biles
  • The average new book on the shelves promotion has over 100 views on the blog, multi-retweets on Twitter and shares on Facebook.
  • It is a free book promotion and all it costs is a little bit of your time, letting me know and responding to comments. Judging from comments, I am confident that the posts do result, in not only effective exposure for your books but also sales and more reviews.
  • In 2020 the number of Cafe updates has increased to three a week which will take the total updates to 156 and there are three special features during the year when every author on the shelves will be promoted in the Spring, Summer and Christmas.
  • With this new series Share an Extract that will offer 100 + more marketing slots for authors on the shelves.

We put a great deal of effort into promoting our new, recent and upcoming books but often our previous releases get sidelined.

In this new series I am offering you a chance to promote an earlier book by sharing an extract from the book.

The aim of the series

  1. To showcase a previous book and sell some copies.
  2. Gain more recent reviews for the book.
  3. Promote a selection of other books that are available.

I will top and tail in the usual way with your other books and links, bio, photo and social media. I will also select a review that I feel has the best selling pitch for the book.

  • This series is open to authors in the Cafe and Bookstore who have more than one book (as this already gets promoted on a regular basis) and have reviews for that book I can select from.
  • I suggest an extract of approximately 500 words or a poem that you feel best reflects the theme of your collection.
  • If you have an illustration or images you can attach to the email for me to include. No need to send the cover as I will have that or will access from Amazon.
  • I will check reviews on Amazon sites as well as Goodreads and select one I feel is a great advertisement for the book.
  • As an author in the Cafe and Bookstore I will already have all your details, links and covers of other books so need to send anything further.
  • Please send your extract and any accompanying images to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

I used one of my previous books as an example and you can see how it looks here: Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – #Free #Book Marketing – New Series 2020 – Share an Extract.

It would be great if you are over at the Cafe and Bookstore if you could share on Twitter or any of the other social media sites.. Thank you Sally.

Here are the other posts from the week…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2020/04/21/smorgasbord-music-column-songs-from-the-movies-live-and-let-die-theme-by-paul-mccartney-wings/

Letters from America 1985-1987 – Adventures in the USA First swims, Alabama-Coushatta Reservation and cranky ice-maker

Memoir – Life on the Ocean Wave HMS Emerald – Chapter Three – Operation Fish to save national treasures and a Wedding Day by Eric Coleman

#Waterford #Ireland 1930s – The Colour of Life – The Crane by Geoff Cronin

Poetry – Inner Rumblings: Poems to Give My Inner Self a Voice, the Self I Call Joycie Reilly by Joyce Murphy

Advance Book Review – a kiss for the worthy: #Poetry inspired by the Walt Whitman poem ‘Leaves of Grass’ (A Love Poetry Trilogy Book 2) by Frank Prem

Colleen’s Tuesday Tanka Poetry Challenge #DoubleEtheree – Beneath the Redwood Photoprompt

popp (2)

One Day a Year Set Aside for Those Who Paid With Their Very Lives by Joy Neal Kidney

DSC03332

My Cowboy Dad – Cowboy Wisdom by Darlene Foster

Meeting People for Reasons and Seasons by D.G. Kaye

Financial Lessons from my Father by Sharon Marchisello

Smorgasbord Health Column – Food Therapy – 12,000 years of history that we know about and avoiding the wind factor

#Fantasy Demon Tracker: 3rd book in ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series by A.J. Alexander #Pre-order

Flash Fiction 2: More #Sci-fi short stories by Richard Dee

Two Novellas A Long Sleep and Scam by Stevie Turner

#Childrens Brody Cody and the Stepmother from Outer Space by Toni Pike

#YAFantasy M.J. Mallon, #Mystery James J. Cudney, #Poetry Joyce Murphy #Childrens Bette A. Stevens

#Fantasy Julia Benally, #Crime Sue Coletta, #Memoir Brigid P. Gallagher

#Prehistoric Jacqui Murray, #postapocalyptic Terry Tyler, #Authors Anne R. Allen – #FREE #Mystery Sharon Marchisello

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

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

Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp

Thank you so much for dropping in today and your visits during the week. I hope you have enjoyed and will pop in again soon. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Food Therapy – 12,000 years of history that we know about and avoiding the wind factor 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.

12,000 years of history that we know about and avoiding the wind factor

Mention the fact that you are an ardent bean lover and people automatically give you a wide berth. Unfortunately this very nutritious food group has developed a rather anti-social reputation over the years but prepared and cooked correctly beans can overcome their wind producing properties.

History of the bean

There is evidence going back nearly 12,000 years that peas were part of the staple diet in certain cultures and certainly natives of Peru and Mexico were cultivating beans as a crop 9,000 years ago. It is likely that they were one of the first crops to be planted when man ceased to be nomadic and settled into communities.

There are many types of bean used as a staple food in different cultures around the world including Black beans, Chickpeas, Kidney Beans, Navy Beans and Soybeans. In Asia where consumption of soybean products is very high it is regarded as one of the best preventative medicines that you can eat.

What are the main health benefits of beans?

For anyone suffering high cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart disease, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, Diverticulitis, colon cancer, diabetes or iron deficiency, beans are definitely on the healing foods list. One of the main health benefits of eating beans is their high fibre content.

Although fibre is not exactly up there on everyone’s favourite foods list it is extremely important to our overall health. Fibre is carbohydrate that cannot be digested and there are two types, water-soluble and water insoluble. Primarily water-soluble fibre comes from oatmeal, oat bran, nuts and seeds, fruit and legumes that include peas, lentils and beans. The insoluble fibre is mainly found in wholegrains, wheat bran, seeds, root vegetables, cucumbers, courgettes, celery and tomatoes.

Fibre acts like a vacuum cleaner, travelling through the blood stream and intestines collecting cholesterol plaque, toxins, waste products from normal bodily functions and anything else that should not be there.

Provided you do not pile high fat sauces and butter onto this group of foods they can be a very healthy aid to weight loss as fibre has no calories and the foods containing it are generally low in fat and high in nutrients.

What else is in beans that is healthy?

Beans are packed with nutrients as well as fibre including Vitamin B1 (thiamin) copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and tryptophan. The combination of nutrients will help boost your immune system, balance blood sugar levels, lower your risk of heart disease and help protect you against cancer.

Vitamin B1 (thiamin) is essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates and for a healthy nervous system. Every cell in the body requires this vitamin to form the fuel the body runs on, ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate).

Copper is an essential trace mineral needed to absorb and utilise iron and also assist in the production of collagen.

Folate is a B Vitamin essential for cell replication and growth. It is needed for our nervous system and heart health as folate helps lower homocysteine levels in the blood, a leading contributory factor in heart disease.

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 secretion and action of insulin also needs magnesium as does the correct balance of calcium in the body.

Iron is an integral part of the oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in the blood, which is why a deficiency can cause fatigue and ill health.

Manganese boosts energy and the immune system and molybdenum another trace mineral helps detox the body of sulphites a commonly used preservative in processed food and one that many people have a sensitivity to.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that is critical in the manufacture of serotonin a neurotransmitter that affects our mental wellbeing.

Preparing beans to avoid the wind factor.

If you are not used to fibre then you need to introduce it into your diet over a period of days. This guideline applies to eating beans as people who eat them regularly seem to have less of a problem. There are a number of guidelines to ensure that you receive all of the benefits and none of the more anti-social side effects.

  1. Soak your dried beans for at least 6 hours before cooking. Change the water several times.
  2.  Put the beans in a large pot and cover with cold unsalted water usually 3 to 6 times the amount of beans. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Drain the beans after 30 minutes and replace the water. Bring back to the boil and then simmer.
  3. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface of the water.
  4. When the beans have softened add some salt, as this will bring out there flavour. If you add salt at the beginning of cooking it can make the beans tougher. If you are on a low sodium diet then be careful about how much salt you add or use and alternative.
  5. When the beans are cooked you can prepare in a number of ways. Include in brown rice dishes; stir-fry with a little olive oil, seasonings and favourite spices.
  6. A lovely way to eat beans is in a casserole with tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, carrots, potatoes, celery and vegetable stock.
  7. Make your own baked beans with homemade tomato sauce and serve on jacket potatoes or on toast.
  8. You can blend with other ingredients and make hamburgers, meatloaves and pates.

For some wonderful recipes for beans to include in your diet on a regular basis here is a post from the Cook from Scratch series with Carol Taylor: Cook from Scratch – Recipes for Beans

 ©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 Health Column – Food Therapy – Green Tea – One small leaf with terrific health benefits 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.

Green Tea – One small leaf with terrific health benefits

All true teas – not herbal tisanes or infusions are made from the Camellia Sinensis. These plants grow in warm climates with the very best teas coming from the highest altitudes – at that level the plant leaves are slower to mature and this means that they have a much richer flavour. Although the plants all come from the same strain – Camellia Sinensis – different growing conditions such as altitude, climate and soil will affect the flavour of the tea.

It is when the processing takes place that the difference appears between black and green teas. There is in fact another tea in the middle of these two, which is a greenish brown colour and is called oolong tea.

green teaGreen tea is the least processed of the three and therefore retains nearly all its nutritional content. One particular antioxidant which is called a Catechin (epigallocatechin-3-gallate EGCG for short) is believed to be responsible for the health benefits linked to the tea at this stage. Green tea is derived after the tea leaves have been gently steamed until they are soft, but have not fermented or changed colour. They are then rolled – spread out and fired which is either dried with hot air or fried in a wok until they are crisp. When you add boiling water to the leaves you get a pale yellowy green colour liquid.

Black tea on the other hand is first spread out on racks and withered with hot air – this removes about a third of their moisture and makes them soft. Then they are rolled which breaks the cell walls and releases juices. They are then laid out again in a high humidity environment to encourage the juice to ferment. The leaves turn a dark copper colour and they are then fired turning the leaves black. This gives your tea its dark brown colour when you add boiling water to it.

Oolong tea is partially fermented which means it comes half way between the green and the black.

What are its main health benefits?

As with any food or supplement it is important not too over emphasis the health properties but in this case there is some compelling evidence to suggest that Green Tea has many benefits that could be effective in many different areas.

I mentioned EGCG, the flavonoid antioxidant, which is left in the green tea, and this is what researchers believe may be the secret to its health benefits. Because green tea is so widely drunk, mainly in Asian countries where dairy products are not used to flavour the tea – most of the early research was carried out in China and Japan. One of the diseases that has been studied is coronary artery disease – there are indications that the antioxidant in green tea inhibits the enzymes that produce free radicals in the lining of the arteries. It has been shown to lower the LDL, smaller particle cholesterol which becomes dangerous when oxidised and improving the ratio to HDL (larger particle and healthy cholesterol).

Drinking green tea may help with stroke prevention because it thins the blood preventing blood clots from forming and travelling around the body. Eating a high trans fat diet can produce compounds in the blood that encourage platelets to clump together forming the clot. Not only that, it seems it may protect the cells in the heart muscle following damage so anyone recovering from a heart attack could find it a good tea to drink.

Researchers found that stroke victims who drank green tea were less likely to suffer any further damage and their brain cells were less likely to die off following an episode.

All of the above is linked to Green Tea’s ability to thin the blood, therefore the flow is unrestricted and people are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure.

There is a recent study that has identified how Green Tea and its properties work in relation to high BP and was subject of an article in the Daily Mail

Daily cup of Green Tea could be the answer to allergies by suppressing immune system responses, scientists discover in a study carried out by academics at the Shinshu University in Nagano, Japan

  • Up to 40 per cent of green tea is made up of bacteria Flavonifractor plautii – FP for short
  • The researchers discovered FP can inhibit inflammation, lower blood pressure and help to regulate weight.
  • A daily cup of green tea could be the answer to food allergies.
  • Scientists found it had high levels of an antioxidant that alters the immune system and shields against reactions to food and drink.
  • And it does this by suppressing the responses of the immune system that are behind food allergies.
  • The study was carried out by academics at the Shinshu University in Nagano, a region of Japan which is cut off during harsh winters and relies on its own food production.
  • This food includes natural preserves and fermented pickles.
  • It is believed to be part of the reason why Nagano has the lowest costs for medical care and highest life expectancy rates in Japan.

One of the largest areas of research is in Green Tea’s possible protection against cancer.

Obviously this is down to this incredible anti-oxidant EGCG but studies have also shown that apart from triggering cell suicide in cancer cells, apparently it might also inhibit the development of new blood vessels. Cancer like any parasite has an enormous appetite and the only way this can be catered for is for the body to produce new blood vessels in the form of a tumour. By inhibiting this, the green tea is effectively starving the cancer and it therefore dies.

What is even more interesting is that green tea has been shown to inhibit the growth of genetic cancerous cells such as those in breast cancer. Again it is this antioxidant’s way of working that is so effective – it simply damages the rogue cells so much that it triggers a self-destruct mechanism that kills the cancer. The cancers that they have studied include Prostate, Ovarian, Breast and brain tumours in children. Colon, lung cancers have responded well and Green tea has been shown to improve the efficiency of cancer drugs while at the same time lessening their side effects.

Obviously it is very important to note that this is not a recognised medical treatment for cancer and should never be considered as an alternative without consultation with your doctor.

  • Other diseases that have come under the microscope are diabetes, kidney disease, osteoporosis, gum disease, liver damage, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Epilepsy and green tea together are being researched because of the possible lessening effect of seizures in patients who drink it.
  • It has been shown to be anti-inflammatory which means that diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis may benefit – either from severity of the symptoms or preventing all together.
  • Bacterial infections from tooth decay to intestinal problems such as Candida – where green tea catechins have been shown to effect the metabolism of the fungus and reduce the overgrowth substantially.
  • Viruses do not seem to like green tea and apparently it stops the virus from replicating which might be interesting for some diseases such as HIV where inhibiting replication is critical to prevent the disease from developing.

For example: In Japan where there is virtually only green tea consumption, they have a very low incidence of Alzheimer’s, compared to western countries. However, Japanese living in the USA have 2.5 times the incidence of Alzheimer’s of those living in Japan – In Japan people sip green tea all day – not so in the western environment or for 2nd and 3rd generation Japanese living in the USA. This particular health benefit has a knock-on effect on ageing as the cells are protected throughout the body for much longer.

The good news for anyone who is looking to lose weight is that Green tea has a thermogenic or fat burning effect on cells,

If you find it difficult to swap your current cup of breakfast tea with milk, try Green Tea with a slice of lemon, orange or lime. There are flavoured varieties on the market but as always it is better to avoid the over processed and add your own flavourings. It does have a distinctive taste but after a few cups of this nutritious tea you will enjoy adding it to your daily routine.

I have updated the original cook from scratch with Carol Taylor with recipes for wonderful dishes that include Green Tea: Carol Taylor – Cook from Scratch, Green Tea Ice Cream Late and Macarons

 ©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/

I hope you have found interesting and please feel free to share.. Sally