Smorgasbord Health Column – Major Organs and Systems of the body – The Heart is only as healthy as the food we eat by Sally Cronin


I appreciate that many of you who have been kindly following the blog for a long time will have seen this post before. However, if you are new to Smorgasbord, I hope you will find interesting.

Last week I looked at some of the common conditions of the heart including angina: Part Two

The Heart is only as healthy as the food we eat…

Healthy Eating for the Heart.

The aim of this eating plan is to help maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of diabetes, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure all of which are contributory factors to heart disease. Ideally you will combine this plan with an exercise programme to maximise the benefits, and you will find ideas on exercise in the Turning Back the Clock programme in the Health Column Directory:https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/

Firstly, it is more than likely that you already know that certain lifestyle choices you have made may be contributing to heart disease.

  • If you are a smoker you are at a higher risk of developing arterial disease and a heart attack.
  • If you eat too many junk foods, high in saturated fats and sugars, you are risking high cholesterol and probably diabetes.
  • If you drink excessive amounts of alcohol then you are again taking chances with your heart health.

The good news is that eating a healthy heart programme need not be boring. In fact it will mean that you get to spend more time in the kitchen experimenting with all the wonderful alternatives to fats and sugars that are available everywhere. You need not compromise on taste and after a few weeks you will wonder how you managed to eat food that was so fatty, salty and sweet.

The aim is to eat all natural, unprocessed foods that have been touched by no other human hands than the one who picked it, packed it and yours.

I am going to give you a list of foods that have a specific role in preventing artery damage and heart disease. In that list are some foods that are high in potassium, along with the minerals Calcium and Magnesium. Potassium is a mineral that is essential for heart health and calcium and magnesium are essential to balance the potassium in the body.

You should be careful of supplementing with potassium if you are on heart or blood pressure medications but eating fruits and vegetables that contain this mineral in moderation once or twice a week should not be a problem. It is also important to balance their intake with calcium and magnesium rich foods and I note those in the list.

It depends on the medication so always check with your doctor or a qualified nutritionist.

The foods to EXCLUDE in your healthy heart diet

It is easier to detail the foods that you should not include in your healthy heart eating plan as you can eat everything that is natural and unprocessed limiting any other foods to a maximum of 20% of your daily diet.

Notice that I say avoid – this does not mean cut out all together as that is impractical – but there is a huge difference between having two biscuits each time you have a cup of tea and having two once or twice a week. Ice cream is delicious and having once a week is not going to be the cause of a heart attack – but it will be if you have every day in combination with bacon, ready meals, cakes, sausages, processed sauces, biscuits etc.

These contain extremely high levels of salt and phosphorus, as well as harmful additives and colorants.

White packaged breads tend to have a great many additives, cheap brown bread that comes wrapped in plastic has probably been treated to a caramel colour rinse as well as having a white flour base.

In house bakery whole grain bread is about the best option if you do not want to spend the time making yourself.

Although some margarine may be low fat they contain hydrogenated fats and additives and it is better for your health to have a little butter on your bread and potatoes.

Do not drink fizzy or condensed fruit drinks as they have extremely high levels of sugar and colorants. Also Aspartame is still raising its ugly head despite manufacturers wishing it into the healthy column. There have been some comments from people that they have it on good authority that it is harmless and that it is just hype. My philosophy is to follow the money. There is no financial gain to be made with the argument that artificial sweeteners including Aspartame are harmful to our health. But there is a great deal of money at stake for those who use it across the board in their products.

You can find out more about industrially processed foods: Industrially Processed Foods

Moderate your intake of alcohol to no more than two average size glasses of wine per night or one spirit. Better to restrict to a couple of glasses when you are out for a meal at the weekend.

Take a close look at the labels on any mineral water that you drink and ensure that the sodium levels are below 1.0.

Foods that help your heart stay healthy

I am a firm believer in eating foods that are packed with nutrients. If you need to lose weight you need to eat less calories, but that should not be at the expense of nutrition. I have already introduced you to several of these foods in previous blogs. The following ones in particular contribute to a healthy heart and help prevent high blood pressure and elevated and oxidised LDL cholesterol levels. Combined with lean proteins such as eggs, fish including some oily fish and poultry, these foods will help maintain your healthy heart.

dsc_1207awBrown Rice Pilaf packed with heart healthy ingredients: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/31/smorgasbord-health-multivitamin-supplement-or-brown-rice-pilaf/

  • All vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants, which remove free radicals from the system and also promote the growth of healthy cells and tissue. They can all be eaten freely on your healthy heart diet, but here are some in particular that are very beneficial.
  • Avocados with their healthy fat that actively helps to reduce cholesterol. They also contain potassium.
  • Dried apricots are high in potassium and fibre.
  • Banana has fibre too, which helps clear the system of debris and keeps the arteries clean. Also it contains potassium so important for a healthy heart provided you are not on a potassium restricted diet. Don’t forget to include calcium and magnesium rich foods that help balance the potassium.
  • Beans for fibre to keep arteries clear, potassium, low fat protein and magnesium.
  • Broccoli contains calcium and magnesium to help balance the potassium in your blood stream
  • Brown rice helps keep your cholesterol down and your arteries healthy with its fibre.
  • Brussel sprouts for their antioxidants and potassium
  • Figs for their alkaline effect on the body and potassium levels.
  • Green tea with its antioxidants, which inhibit the enzymes that produce free radicals in the lining of the arteries. This not only prevents plaque from forming but also improves the ratio of LDL (lousy cholesterol) to HDL (healthy cholesterol)
  • Kiwi fruit for Vitamin C and potassium
  • Oranges with their fibre to help keep arteries clear and their Vitamin C which prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Oranges are also high in potassium.
  • Oats with their fibre called beta-glucan which helps lower cholesterol and prevents plaque from forming in your arteries.
  • Olive oil for essential fatty acids.
  • Onions in particular which contain sulphur compounds that along with B6 and chromium help lower homocysteine levels in the blood- homocysteine causes platelets to clump so that they can attach themselves to the walls of the arteries and block them. One of the major causes of high blood pressure.
  • Pears for fibre and potassium
  • Potatoes for kukoamines to reduce blood pressure and fibre.
  • Prunes and prune juice for antioxidants, potassium and fibre.
  • Raisins for potassium.
  • Salmon, halibut, sardines and scallops high in Omega 3 and B6 – has the same effect as walnuts. Also contain calcium and magnesium.
  • Skimmed (semi) milk and low fat yoghurt for calcium, potassium, low fat protein and its possible ability to reduce blood pressure.
  • Spinach for many nutrients but also potassium and calcium.
  • Shitake mushrooms that have so many therapeutic benefits apart from their definite effect on heart health
  • Tomatoes for antioxidants and potassium
  • Tofu as a vegetarian option for low fat protein, calcium and magnesium.
  • Walnuts, most unsalted nuts and seeds with their monounsaturated fat which lowers lipoprotein in the blood. Remember, Lipoprotein causes platelets to clot which in turn can lead to strokes or a cerebral aneurysm. Walnuts also contain B6, which is very important for a healthy cardiovascular system in general.
  • Wholegrains in the form of unprocessed, fresh baked bread and natural cereals, without additives, to provide B vitamins, fibre and magnesium.

As always if you are on prescribed medication check the fine print but it is also important to do your research. Sodium and potassium are very important for the body and you should not or must exclude completely.

Our bodies are designed to extract the nutrients that they need from natural food we consume. It is the additional and hidden levels in industrial foods that are the problem.

Eating a ‘cook from scratch’ diet which is richly varied is the best approach to a healthy heart.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty 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 by health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

As always delighted to get your feedback and questions. This is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s presence in your life. But, certainly in the UK, where you are allocated ten minutes for a consultation and time is of the essence; going in with some understanding of how your body works and is currently functioning can assist in making a correct diagnosis.

Some doctors believe that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. However, I believe that understanding our bodies, how it works, how we can help prevent health problems and knowing the language that doctors speak, makes a difference.  Taking responsibility for our bodies health is the first step to staying well.

Thanks for dropping in and I hope you find useful.. Sally.

 

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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor – Winter Warmers.


For many of use the it is bitterly cold right now with northerly winds increasing the chill factor. Meanwhile, Carol Taylor is experiencing much warmer temperatures in her home in Thailand, and not just because of the weather, but because she is toiling away in her kitchen to bring us something to warm the cockles of our hearts… I will hand you over to Carol to do just that…

I know many of you are in the throes of some seriously cold weather and what you need is something which keeps you warm…

There is nothing better before you go out to brave the cold than a lovely bowl of hot porridge…This is where the slow cooker comes in handy I used to put my porridge on before I went to bed and it was ready in the morning…Hubby was first up so he had his bowl and as the kids appeared they had theirs. The beauty of making the porridge in the slow cooker is that it doesn’t burn and it means you have no pans to scrub clean and it doesn’t matter what time the family get up it is ready and waiting for them… Hot and delicious…

I used to love mine with some fruit compote…I just used to cook some frozen mixed berries with a little honey until it had reduced nicely and it kept in the fridge for about a week…I would then have a couple of spoonfuls with my porridge.

This kept me going until lunch time.

Lunch…Would either be a jacket potato or a bowl of soup…

To cook a jacket potato:

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminium foil.

Scrub the potato clean under water, dry it with a towel, and then poke a few holes through to the centre of it with a fork.

Bake the potato for one hour or until tender.

Slice into it, fluff it up inside with a fork, and then add butter, salt, and pepper and filling of your choice.

Toppings for Jacket Potatoes:

If you have made a pan of chili and have some left over freeze in portions just enough to top a jacket potato… Or add some grated cheese and Beans or caramalise some onions and mushrooms. These are toppings which can go into a container and are quick and easy for you to heat up at work and add to your potato…

My favourite one when we were kids was a corned beef jacket potato my mum used to remove the flesh from the potato mash it with some butter and corn beef return it to the potato skin and cook it in the oven until the top was lightly browned we used to love them.

Soup can be made in advance and again can be taken to work and reheated or if you are at home it doesn’t take long to heat up…There is nothing better on a cold day than a nice mug or bowl of hot soup.

This soup is quick and easy to make either using lentils or I used to buy a soup pack of mixed lentils and add to soup this soup has a little kick to it to warm you up and can be served with some nice fresh crusty bread for a more substantial lunch. It is also lovely with some cooked bacon hock my kids used to love it and still remind me of how they remember me making it.

Spiced lentil soup.

Ingredients

• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large red onion, diced
• 4 stalks celery, diced
• 1 large carrot or two medium size carrots, diced
• 5 cloves garlic, minced
• 26 ounces/737g fresh tomatoes, chopped – you can also use a 28oz can diced tomatoes and drain the liquid
• 1 cup dried brown lentils, picked over, rinsed and dried
• 1 tbsp garam masala or curry powder
• salt & pepper to taste
• 6 cups vegetable broth
• 2-3 sprigs thyme, to be removed at the end
• 1 cup kale, roughly chopped
• Juice of two limes, about 2 tablespoons, squeezed over.

Let’s Cook!

  1. Heat half the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat add the onions, celery, carrot and garlic and cook for about 8 minutes until the onions are softened.
  2. Add the tomatoes, lentils, garam masala stir together and season with salt and pepper. Pour in the vegetable stock, add the thyme bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer cook for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are cooked.
  3. Remove the thyme and remove about two cups of the soup mix and blend then return to the soup mix, add the kale and lime juice and stir to combine.
  4. This soup will keep in the fridge for about 4-5 days and is ideal to take to work in a container as it can be heated up quickly.

For the evening this meat free soup makes a tasty meal if you prefer some meat maybe add some chicken thighs for a lighter, healthier casserole just fry them off when you cook the onions. Myself I used to enjoy a tasty vegetable stew on a cold winters evening.

Beer Casserole with mustard dumplings.

Ingredients

• 125 gm pearl barley
• 2 tbsp oil
• 500 gm baby onions
• 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
• 3 tbsp of flour
• 250 ml of homemade vegetable stock
• 500 ml bottle pale ale
• 1 small Swede ( about 450 gm) cut into cubes
• 3 carrots chopped
• 4 sticks of celery chopped
• 350 gm potatoes halved if small or cut into 4
• 1 bouquet garni…

Mustard Dumplings

• 250 gm self raising flour
• 100 gm shredded vegetable suet
• 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
• 3 tbsp chopped parsley.

Let’s Cook!

  1. Rinse and drain the pearly barley, put in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for 30 minutes, adding more water if required.
  2. Meanwhile heat the oven 180 C fan, 160C and Gas 4
  3. Heat the oil in a flame proof casserole and add the onions cook for 3-4 mins…stir in the garlic and cook for 1 min.
  4. Sprinkle the flour and cook for 1 min. gradually stir in the stock and ale and bring to the boil.
  5. Rinse and drain the pearl barley then stir into the casserole also add the Swede, carrots, celery, potatoes and bouquet garni.
  6. Season and then bring to the boil reduce the heat and cook for 45 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile make the dumplings, sift the flour into a bowl then stir in the suet, mustard and parley, season and add 100 ml of water mix…It should form a soft dough.
  8. Remove the casserole from the oven and remove the bouquet garni, place 12 spoonfuls of the dumpling mix in the casserole return to the oven and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes.
  9. Serve with wedges of steamed Savoy cabbage.

Or if you prefer fish this lovely fish pie is nice and warming it can be made in one dish or in individual ramekins.

Fish Pie.

Ingredients

For the mashed potato topping.
• 1kg potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
• 2 tablespoons butter, zest of 1 lemon
• Salt & Pepper to taste.

For the fish pie filling.
• 500ml (2 cups) milk
• 1 bay leaf
• 200g frozen hake fillets.
• 200g frozen smoked haddock fillets.
• 300g fresh uncooked prawns ( peeled)
• 2 onions sm or one large finely chopped.
• 1 carrot, finely chopped.
• 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
• 3 tbsp flour.
• 1 heaped tsp English mustard.
• 40g (1/2 cup) mature cheddar, grated.
• Juice of half lemon.
• Salt & pepper to taste.

Let’s Cook

  1. Place potatoes in a large pot of boiling water or in a steamer and cook until soft. Mash the potatoes then mix in the butter and the lemon zest. Season to taste.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
  3. To make the fish pie, poach the fish (not the prawns) in the milk with the bay leaf. When the fish is cooked, remove the fish and flake into large chunks. Reserve the milk.
  4. In a large, oven-proof frying pan fry the onion and carrot in a splash of olive oil until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic and fry for another 30 seconds.
  5. Add the flour and stir then add the milk the fish was poached to create a creamy sauce.
  6. Add the English mustard and fish including prawns and stir well then add the cheese and lemon juice and stir.
  7. Season to taste.
  8. Top the fish filling with the mashed potato and create indents with a spoon which will become nice and crispy in the oven.
  9. Place the pie in the oven and allow to bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is golden brown and crispy.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow cooling for 10 minutes then serving.

Note: I don’t cook the prawns with the fish but add prawns right at the end when adding cooked fish to sauce this way the prawns will be lovely and succulent.

My thanks to  Carol for these winter warmers and it has certainly given me some ideas for this week.

About Carol Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

Connect to Carol

Blog: https://carolcooks2.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

 You can find all of the previous posts in the directoryCarol Taylor Food Column

We would love to hear from you… perhaps you can share your favourite winter warmer? Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health – Cook From Scratch with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – #Asparagus – Nutrient Packed and Delicious #Recipes


Welcome to this week’s post where Carol Taylor and I combine forces and share not just the health benefits of foods but some recipes to showcase them in all their glory. I appreciate that these posts are longer than the average but we hope that you feel that you are getting value for your time…

To begin will I am going to take a look at the health benefits of Asparagus… of which there are many, and then hand you over to Carol to create healthy Cook from Scratch recipes for you to enjoy and share with your family.

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 K 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.

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. Asparagus has a 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.

I am now going to hand you over to Carol for her recipes to include asparagus regularly in your diet.

 

Just Asparagus!

Around for thousands of years and said to be one of the very first frozen foods Asparagus is a little green powerhouse, chock a block full of Vitamin K as well as many other vitamins and anti- oxidants. Sally cannot stress the importance of eating this wonderful vegetable regularly as part of a healthy well balanced diet. She has also included a lovely little video on how to prepare asparagus it is then over to moi for some great recipes which showcase this wonderful vegetable.

We do hope that you enjoy our collaboration of healthy eating advice from Sally and recipes from Moi (Carol) as much as we both enjoy putting it all together for you.

Doesn’t this simple little dish look fabulous?….

Very easy… Just wrap bacon slices around each prepared asparagus spear. Skewer both ends of asparagus and add 3 to 4 per skewer. Grill the asparagus on direct heat until the bacon is crispy and the asparagus tender which takes around 15 mins making sure that you turn the asparagus at least once.

A beautiful, accompaniment to grilled fish or meat.

Asparagus is very plentiful here and one of my favourite stir fries are with prawns, lemongrass and lime leaves.

Ingredients:

  • 250 gm asparagus cut in half…asparagus is very thin here but if yu are using thicker asparagus then either shave the asparagus or cut into 3 inch pieces.
  • A small piece of ginger peeled and grated.
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass bashed and very finely chopped.
  • 4 lime leaves very thinly sliced
  • 3-4 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar or light muscavado sugar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 10 raw king prawns either peeled or leave the tails on.
  • 1 shallot thinly sliced
  • 1-2 Thai birds eye chillies finely sliced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 4 spring onions cut into 2 inch pieces

Lets Cook!

  • Mix together the ginger, lemongrass, lime leaves, fish sauce and sugar and put to one side.
  • Meanwhile heat the wok on high and when it’s really hot add the oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add in the king prawns and stir-fry for one to two minutes, until the prawns have gone pink with slightly golden edges. Remove with a slotted spoon.
  • Add the onion to the wok and stir fry for two minutes. Add the chilli, garlic and spring onion and stir-fry for a further four minutes until the onions have softened. Add the asparagus and stir fry for a further minute.
  • Finally add the prawns, pour over the sauce which was prepared earlier, and cook until the sauce becomes sticky (around three minutes).

Serve immediately with Thai steamed rice.

My next recipe is for a lovely soup which is also suitable for vegans.

I love a nice creamy asparagus soup the flavour is quite mild but sometimes it is just nice ….This soup is also lovely with some garlic croutons…they are very easy to make with some stale or day old bread and fried until crispy or drizzle with oil and cook in the oven…a few less calories if you are counting.

Ingredients:

  • 1and half pounds of asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 and half tbsp olive oil
  • 1 and half cps shallots finely chopped
  • ½ lb potatoes, cubed
  • 4 cups of homemade vegetable stock or 2 stock cubes
  • 1 tbsp lemon or lime juice.

Let’s Cook!

  • Heat the oil in a pan, add the shallots and cook over a medium heat until they are just turning very slightly coloured.
  • Add the cubed potatoes, asparagus and the stock, bring to the boil and then simmer until the potatoes are soft and the asparagus tender. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as required.
  • Blend the soup until it is smooth, add the lemon or lime juice. Check seasoning.
  • If serving immediately then return to a pan and gently reheat.
  • This recipe makes 4 average servings.

I love a piece of seared salmon with herb butter and the asparagus makes a lovely accompaniment, this dish is quick and easy to make just sear the salmon in a skillet and add a squeeze of lemon or lime…I always add lime as limes are easy to get here..lemons are not but I know in other parts of the world it is the opposite..but either will do.. If you have an extra 5 minutes then whip up a quick 4 ingredient garlic, butter, lemon sauce. Just cook some chopped garlic in some butter, add some chicken or vegetable stock,your lemon juice and reduce down slightly. Season…

Add some lightly steamed or griddled asparagus and you have a lovely meal, served with a nice glass of chilled white wine.

Now I always like to include something sweet but asparagus doesn’t lend itself to puddings easily….Ice cream immediately sprung to mind but have you had asparagus ice-cream? A pannacotta? A cake? ….. I did come across a recipe which also had pineapple and oranges in the mix so I am thinking those are quite strong flavours and would probably mask the asparagus somewhat…My train of thought is that some vegetables should really be left in the savoury section.

What do you think? Do you have a favourite sweet made with asparagus recipe? If so Sally and I would love to know what it is ….

What did I decide on for my last recipe on this post?

Strawberry and Asparagus Salad with balsamic dressing.

It looks gorgeous and tastes absolutely amazing…

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of asparagus trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 20 med strawberries..hulled and quartered
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • ¼ cup of honey
  • ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar
  • Cress or pea shoots to garnish.
  • Salt and pepper to season

Let’s Cook!

  • Firstly blanch the asparagus in a cup of water with some added salt. Just bring to the boil in a pan and cook 2-3 minutes until asparagus is bright green and al-dente. Remove from the heat and put asparagus in iced water to cool.
  • Remove from the iced water and pat dry with some kitchen paper.
  • Put the asparagus in a serving dish and add the quartered strawberries and gently combine.
  • Whisk together the balsamic, honey, oil with some salt and pepper to season.
  • Drizzle over the asparagus and strawberries and refrigerate for at least half an hour before serving.
  • Sprinkle salad with some pea shoots before serving.
  • This makes a lovely salad with some cheeses and crusty bread on a summer’s day or with some griddled chicken or fish…I also like a little parmesan shaved over the salad…or some crumbled feta cheese.
  • Not quite a pudding but a lovely vibrant dish with a difference.

I do hope you are enjoying this collaboration of healthy tips from Sally and recipes from me( Carol) if so please let us know in comments and share among your friends….

 

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

Connect to Carol via her blog: https://carolcooks2.com/

My thanks to Carol for turning one of the most nutritious but underused ingredients, into delicious meals.

 

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Gentle Detox – Part Two – Eat food your body recognises…and can work with! by Sally Cronin


Part one of the Detox can be found here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/smorgasbord-health-column-the-gentle-detox-introduction-and-phase-one-before-you-begin-your-weight-loss-programme/

The Gentle Detox – Part Two – Eat food your body recognises…and can work with!

In my previous posts you will often find me having a poke at the diet food industry – well actually more than a poke. There are certain products that are health related that I do not have a problem with, but I don’t have much time with slimming bars and shakes. I do not care how many nutrients they say are in them, they are not in the form that the body understands or wishes to. We are designed to take our nutrients from natural foods.

I do agree to an extent that what we assume is a nutrient packed vegetable or fruit is not as nutritionally dense as it used to be. Farming methods have changed in the last 50 years or so and we also have to consider the addition of fertilisers that may not be of organic origin. However, despite having busy work or family commitments it is easy and quick to bulk prepare vegetables for several days and it is a great deal cheaper.

There are other times of the year when spending at least two weeks in a transitional mode as far as your diet is concerned is a good thing.

Around May time I get a yearning for the crisp crunch of lettuce, the peppery taste of watercress and Rucula, the smooth buttery taste and feel of avocados – I lose my appetite for parsnips and stews with mashed potato and butternut and carrot soups, preferring gazpacho, cold and tangy with an omelette for lunch.

The same happens again in September when I start to think about more root vegetables and warming foods. I think you get the idea.

Our bodies over the last hundreds of thousands of years, would have been sustained by seasonal foods, both animal and plant. It makes sense that we would therefore get the most nutritional benefit from seasonal foods, with the added benefit of an abundance of other fruits and vegetables that we now have year round. It is wonderful to have this access to so many varieties because they offer us so much more than our ancestors could scratch together.

I am fully supportive of any ‘diet’ programme than encourage us to only use fresh produce and cook it from scratch, but some trendy diets out there are a bit too restrictive, and you need to include other fruits and vegetables and other food groups that were not necessarily available to our ancestors.

If you make seasonal fruit and vegetables your primary choices, you can add in others to provide a more varied and balanced diet. This is why I follow the Gentle Detox seasonally every three months and not just at the beginning of the year. It marks the change in different eating patterns from the more stodgy, carbohydrate driven diet for the winter months to the lighter spring available food and the even lighter summer options and then back again.

Doing any form of detox should not put your body under increased stress but alleviate it. Which is why, this programme is not intended to be used as a crash diet, with few calories and nutrients. Even if you wish to lose weight as well as detox your system, you must not consume below 1500 calories if you are a woman or 1800 as a man.

How many calories do you need each day?

Basal metabolic rate – BMR establishes the approximate calories your body needs to function. At rest, with your digestive system inactive. So basically, first thing in the morning when your organs have been idling, rather than fully functional. This is dependent on your age and gender and as we age our requirement for calories decreases which is why you need to make sure you are compensating by including plenty of activity.

The simplest thing is to give you a link so that you can establish according to your age and gender what the minimum calories your body requires. However, it is important to point out that whilst calories are vital, it is also critical that those calories be as nutritious as possible. Particularly, if you are planning on cutting down calorie intake to lose weight.

http://www.calculator.net/bmr-calculator.html

For example my basal metabolic rate at 66 is 1450 calories per day. That is not taking into account the calories required to operate my digestive system, organs such as my brain and heart, lungs, liver and kidneys etc. If you are not desk bound, walking around, doing shopping, housework, etc. you will use about 100 calories per hour – in activity and operating the body. That will add about 500 calories per day.

Men use slightly more because of body mass so I use 2000 calories basic requirement for women and 2,300 for men.

I never drop calories for an individual to less than 1500 for women and 1800 for men per day.

These calories should be nutrient dense and be sourced from good quality fresh produce. Your meals should be prepared from scratch using these ingredients, and if you are not very experienced in the kitchen, then do get yourself one of the many excellent cookery books available that promotes healthy produce and preparation. You can find some great recipes courtesy of Carol Taylor in the Food Column: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/carol-taylors-food-and-cookery-column-2018/

Don’t buy pre-chopped salads and vegetables

To prepare these meals you have to first buy your ingredients and in step two I would like you to think more carefully when you buy produce. For example buy whole vegetables and fruits rather than pre-chopped. Cabbage will lose at least 50% of its nutritional content once it is chopped and the longer it sits there in that plastic bag the more it will lose. This also applies to bags of chopped salads. It is also a more expensive way to buy your vegetables and fruit. Check the prices but I am pretty sure that the extra that you pay for convenience multiplied over a year will easily pay for a week if not more of shopping.

Also do not be afraid to buy cheaper cuts of meat and get out the slow cooker to prepare a casserole or a roast while you are out at work. You will save both time and money. Visit a farmer’s market and buy your vegetables without them passing through the hands of the distributors. You may find they are all shapes and sizes, rather than beautiful but the nutrients in them are the same.

Bring them home and blanch in salted boiling water for five minutes and then freeze in Ziploc bags. They will only take a few minutes in a microwave or in boiling water to finish cooking.

Here is a basic shopping list you can cut and paste into a word document and take with you when you do your next shop.

As you can see it is not restrictive to the same degree as some of the very rigid detox programmes, but is intended to give you all the food groups in moderation.

Vegetables – carrots, red peppers, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, corn on the cob- any dark cabbage or Brussel sprouts, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, watercress, dark lettuce leaves, cucumbers, celery, avocados and potatoes. (Any other fresh seasonal produce you enjoy) At least five or six portions a day – use a cupped handful as an estimated portion size.

Lower Fructose Fruit – Bananas, kiwi, strawberries and any dark berries that are reasonably priced – try frozen. Enjoy all fruit in season at least three portions a day.

Hot lemon and water first thing in the morning will not only give you a Vitamin C hit, start your digestive process off but will also help with sugar cravings.

Wholegrains – brown rice- wholegrain bread – whole wheat pasta – Weetabix – shredded wheat – porridge oats. Please do not buy sugar or chocolate covered cereals – more sugar than goodness. Carbohydrates are an important food group.

However, as we get older and less active you really only need a large spoonful of rice or potatoes on a daily basis. If you suffer from a Candida overgrowth be aware that it may not be the yeast in bread that causes a problem but the sugar or its substitute.

Fish – Salmon fresh and tinned- cod – haddock (again frozen can be a good option) any white fish on offer – shellfish once a week such as mussels. Tinned sardines, Tuna and herrings – great for lighter meals. (Any fish that is available fresh not from farmed sources)

Meat and poultrychicken or turkey – lamb, beef and pork. Lean ham for sandwiches, (processed meats should be used sparingly) Venison if you enjoy it. Liver provides a wonderful array of nutrients served with onions and vegetables is delicious. Tofu for vegetarians has become more accessible and can be used by non-vegetarians once a week to provide the other benefits of soya it offers.

Nuts and seeds – to put on your cereal in the mornings or as snacks – check prices out in your health food shop as well as supermarket. Almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts.

Dairy and Eggs Milk, butter -yoghurt. Free Range Eggs – have at least three or four eggs a week.

What is very important is that you eat dairy from grass fed cows, not grain fed.. and if you buy meat, it should also come from grass fed animals. The reason being that the vital vitamin K2 is only present when protein comes from grass fed stock. (more about that in a new series on deficiencies later in January). The butter will be yellow in colour and it should state on the label that it comes from a grass fed herd.

Oils – Extra virgin Olive Oil (least processed) – great drizzled on vegetables with some seasoning and also eaten the Spanish way with balsamic vinegar on salads and also drizzled over toasted fresh bread. If you do not like the taste of Olive Oil then use Sunflower oil – do not use the light version of any oil as it has been processed heavily – use the good stuff. For cooking use ordinary virgin olive oil with a dash of sunflower or butter but do not heat to very high temperatures. You can also use coconut oil which tolerates higher temperatures well and has some additional health benefits.

Honey and extras You really do need to avoid sugars refined and in cakes, sweets and biscuits but honey is a sweetener that the body has been utilising since the first time we found a bee hive and a teaspoon in your porridge is okay. Try and find a local honey to you. You can also use a small spoonful of Manuka Honey which is produced in New Zealand. To obtain the medicinal benefits the honey should be classified as 15+.

Sauces – If you buy your sauces in jars and packets they will have a great many more ingredients than you bargained for. One of the worst is sugar or its substitutes. The greatest cooking skill you can develop is to be able to make a wide variety of sauces from scratch. If you do this you will be not only using fresh produce with its nutritional punch but also taking hundreds of pounds of sugar out of your diet over a lifetime.

FluidsGreen Tea and other herbal teas including dandelion, peppermint and a combined detox tea., tap and mineral water, coffee 1 cup a day (not instant but ground coffee) Black tea also has antioxidants so drink a couple of cups a day. Try with sliced lemon and get some Vitamin C. (depending on the climate and altitude at which you live you will need to experiment to find out how much fluid you need. If you have very low humidity you will need considerably more. Average is around the 2 litres per day of combined fluids).

Next time I will covering willpower which is another ingredient required a few days into any new health and lifestyle upgrade….

 You can find the other posts in the Gentle Detox in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-gentle-detox-2019/

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

A little bit about me nutritionally.

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with over twenty 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 by health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

 If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments.. or if you prefer send in an email to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Christmas Smorgasbord Health – Cook From Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor – #Turkey – If you can catch it you can eat it!!


For the next couple of weeks, whilst Carol Taylor slaves away in her Thai kitchen preparing some alternative delicacies for you to eat over the festive season, I shall be repeating our collaboration series from last year.. I provide the nutritional background to the ingredient and Carol prepares it from scratch to give you some wonderful recipes..

This week… The Turkey.. a bird that was usually eaten mainly at Thanksgiving (coming soon) and Christmas, but is available all year in supermarkets and butchers. Before handing over to Carol.. a look at all the health benefits this large bird brings to the table.

Meleagris Gallopavo (you can eat if you can catch it) Turkey

The wild turkey Meleagris gallopavo (something to do with difficulty in catching it I think) is native to North America. The bird was brought into Europe, in the early part of the 16th century, by the Spaniards. The English name “Turkey” arose because of a confusion with Guinea Fowl – which were imported through Turkey, from Africa. Both birds were originally known as “Turks”. Eventually, in the 18th century, it was given its Latin name but the original name stuck.

The Native American Indian used the turkey as a staple of their diet. They introduced it to starving pilgrims, along with their native plants and seeds including corn and squash. The pilgrims were so grateful they celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621 where their American Indian friends were guests of honour.

Why is turkey so good for you?

Turkey is first and foremost a lean source of protein – 4 oz. gives you 65% of your daily protein requirement and has about half the amount of saturated fat that red meat does.

We are made of protein and we need it to repair ourselves – a bit like the bionic man – we take animal and vegetable protein, add some amino acids and rearrange the nitrogen from the mix to repair or make parts of our body. Don’t forget we are meat – and still a savoury delicacy in certain parts of the world.

Turkey is very high in methionine, which is an essential amino acid that ensures that any protein that we eat is completely used. This means that we get the maximum benefit from the turkey and is particularly important if we find it difficult to digest food as we get older.

Turkey is very high in the amino acid tryptophan, so it stimulates the B3 vitamin, Niacin, into producing serotonin the neurotransmitter. This has a calming effect, and helps depression (particularly useful after a family festive lunch!) And also helps us sleep well and feel good (afternoon siesta). Niacin is involved in cell health. DNA requires Niacin to be healthy and a deficiency of this B-vitamin – and the other B’s like 6 and 12 – has been linked to DNA damage that can lead to Cancer.

Turkey is very high in Selenium, which is a trace mineral and is fundamental to our general health. It is involved in thyroid hormone metabolism – antioxidant defence systems and our entire immune system health – many studies into this mineral are revealing its positive effect on cancers. As an antioxidant, it encourages DNA to repair cells and damaged cells to self-destruct.

Turkey is richer in calcium than any other meat and has over twice the calcium of chicken or beef. It also contains B6, which is extremely important for blood cell health.

It is also high in phosphorus, which is a fundamental need for bone and teeth formation and the production of red blood cells. Phosphorus is also part of the chemical energy store in each cell and in DNA – so is vital for cell health. One of the things to watch for with phosphorus, however, is that it you eat a great many processed foods you will find that they are far too high in the mineral and can cause an imbalance with other minerals.

So, Turkey is low fat – half the fat of chicken – low in cholesterol, sodium and calories. Finally it is also called a short fibre meat which means that it is very easily digestible for any age group.

How to select the best Turkey

I am a carnivore at heart (apologies vegetarians) and even though I do not eat a lot of red meat, I do eat fish and poultry. However, I was put off for a couple of years from eating Turkey at Christmas or any other time of year following the advert for cigars in 1989. For those who missed it – a flock of turkeys are surveying the darkening skies and flakes of snow begin to fall. They look at each other resignedly and head off into the turkey house where they light up a Hamlet Cigar. It was heart wrenching and I think it was salmon for lunch that year.  Just so that you can all feel the emotion here it is….sorry…..

There is usually some debate around the table on Christmas day as to who is getting the white meat and who the dark. Usually you end up with a bit of both but it is the white meat that is the most prized.

I am reliably informed that in the United States, turkeys are often bred by artificial insemination because they have now grown too large to get close enough to mate, which seems very sad considering they are also destined for the table. You would have thought they might have been granted a little fun along the way. A turkey can grow up to 70 lbs. but the average for a male (tom) is 20 lbs. and for a female (hen) around 12 lbs.

Buying your Turkey

Although I eat poultry I always buy from guaranteed organic and free range sources.  I am also keen that any food that we eat is farmed humanely as possible.  The fact is we as humans have been carnivores from the outset but there is still a long way to go in many parts of the world as to the level of respect we afford the animals we consume.

As the turkey has become more popular all year round, smaller breeds have been developed that weigh around 5 to 8 lbs. and fresh and frozen turkeys are now available at any time.

If the turkey is fresh the meat should be smooth, creamy and soft. If the turkey is whole make sure there are no bruises or cuts in the skin as this can lead to bacterial infection.

If the turkey is frozen it is more difficult to judge the condition of the bird but make sure that the wrapping is still intact.

Now over to Carol to share her recipes for Thanksgiving and the festive season and as a regular on your dinner table throughout the year.

In the UK alone last year over 10 million turkeys were eaten at Christmas so I expect there are quite a few chefs/people stating they have the recipe on how to cook the perfect turkey and a few who will be cooking the not so perfect turkey aka Mr Bean…

To cook the best turkey you need some delicious stuffing…

Mushroom stuffing using porcini mushrooms.

Ingredients:

  • 25g pack dried porcini mushrooms
  • 425ml hot vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 100ml white wine
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp shredded basil
  • 4-6 tbsp grated parmesan

Let’s Cook!

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

Oil a non-stick 12-hole bun tin and line holes with two strips baking parchment, to form a cross. Put the mushrooms in a bowl and pour over the hot vegetable stock. Leave for 20 mins, then strain, reserve the stock and chop the mushrooms, if large.

Heat oil in a pan, add onion and fry for 5 mins until softened. Add the pine nuts and fry until lightly toasted. Add the garlic, rice and cook for 2 mins.

Tip in wine, let it bubble, then add the reserved stock, mushrooms and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 mins, until the rice is just cooked. Remove from heat and cool, then stir in the egg, basil, pepper, and salt, if using.

Fill the tins with stuffing, sprinkle over parmesan. Bake for 20-25 mins, until golden on top. Cool in the tins, or for 5 mins if serving straight away. Remove by pulling up the parchment crosses.

You can make these up to two days ahead. Then reheat on an oiled baking sheet, at 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 for 10 mins.

You will find several other recipes from a post Carol wrote for The Recipe Hunter: https://cookandenjoyrecipes.wordpress.com/2017/12/14/christmas-recipes-homemade-stuffing/

I stuff the neck cavity and just put onion or a lemon with some cloves and butter in the main body cavity. You could use fresh herbs and butter in all honesty mine does vary from year to year.

A tip is to include a small handful of rice in the stuffing as it absorbs all the raw juices from the turkey creating the most delicious stuffing.

I also cook my turkey breast down as then the juices fall into the breast which keeps it moist and succulent…

The turkey must then be turned over 30 minutes before it is done to brown the top….delicious.

Some chefs also push butter under the skin of the turkey…..

It really is personal choice and I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to prepare your turkey as we all have our own way of cooking this bird and all delicious there is no right or wrong way it’s personal preference so I am just going to give you a few different options..

Cooking Times:

Take the turkey from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature while the oven is heating up.

Here is the link to a handy website: http://www.britishturkey.co.uk/cooking/cooking-calculators.html

This recipe is the one I am going to use this year because I don’t trust my oven temperature and I think adding the hot water into the cavity of the turkey will help not only keep it moist but will ensure it cooks properly

The night before roasting, soften some butter and season with salt and pepper mixing well.

I used about 6 oz of butter.

Remove the giblets from the bird and wipe it inside and out with kitchen paper. Remove any feathers… if there are a lot of them you can singe them over a gas flame.

I remember my dad doing that but most of the turkeys now are fully plucked and dressed..ours may not be as it is fresh from the farm so I am guessing it will have a few feathers left to pluck out…

Open the cavity of the bird and season the inside with the remaining salt and pepper. Rub the seasoned butter over the turkey. Take a piece of greaseproof paper twice the size of the breast and fold to give a double layer. Lay this over the breasts (it will protect them during the cooking) and return the turkey to the fridge until morning.

Calculate your cooking times and pre heat your oven… A 5kg bird should take 3 hrs 10 minutes at 180C(fan) 375F/Gas mark 5 approx as it will depend on your oven…

Stuff the turkey neck with your desired stuffing.

Sit the turkey on a trivet inside the tin. Bring a kettle of water to the boil and carefully pour around 250ml of the hot water into the cavity of the bird. Seal with a skewer.

Pour another 500ml of hot water into the roasting tray with some onions and carrots and a few fresh herbs Thyme and Rosemary plus some garlic cloves.

Then cover the whole thing with foil (I use two layers) and make sure that it is well sealed around the edges.

Put the lot in the oven and cook for 20 minutes on 250 C, then reduce the temperature to 180°C/Gas 5 for the remaining cooking time. After 2½ hours, remove the foil and the greaseproof paper and close the door. Don’t open it again until the cooking time is up.

To test whether the turkey is cooked, insert a skewer or knife blade into the point where the thigh joins the breast. The juice should run clear. If it is pink, then roast the turkey for another 20 minutes and test again.

If you are using a meat thermometer then it should read 180F in thigh and 165F in breast or stuffing.

Take the bird from the oven and leave it to rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes.

Strain the juice from the bottom of the roasting tin into a large jug to settle. The fat will rise to the top, leaving the aromatic turkey and onion juice beneath. Skim off the fat and thicken the juices if you wish, or serve as it is…..

Enjoy!

The turkey Carcass…

I have many happy memories of the luscious soup my mum used to make with the left over turkey carcass…Do you????

Ingredients:

  • Turkey Carcass
  • 2 large Onions chopped
  • 4 carrots chopped and divided into 2 halves
  • 3 potatoes chopped
  • 1-2 cups rough chopped cabbage
  • 3 celery stalks 2 rough chopped and one cut into bite sized pieces
  • A Cup uncooked barley or mixed dried lentils
  • A sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ tsp poultry seasoning
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • Worchestershire sauce ( optional)
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Water to cover carcass .

N.B. You can use any vegetables which you have available sometimes I add some swede or turnip it depends what I have ….anything goes sweetcorn…just some examples ..What do you use?????

Let’s Cook!

In a large pot put the chicken carcass and cover with water add your roughly cut carrot, onion, a bay leaf and thyme sprig bring the water to the boil reduce heat to very low and simmer for 2 hours.

Take the turkey bones out of the pot and pick off any meat. If required chop the meat and reserve. Throw away the bones and strain the broth through a fine sieve reserving the liquid and discarding the cooked vegetable.

In a clean soup pot add the strained broth add the remaining raw chopped vegetables carrot, onion, celery, potato, cabbage) parsley, barley, and simmer for an hour until the vegetables are tender. Adjust seasoning and add worchestershire sauce if using.

My mum would sometimes add dumplings or we would eat with fresh crusty bread.

It is a lovely soup basically using leftovers and my kids still love this and remind me sometimes of their memories of eating this soup….

I think that is what makes turkey such a special meal..The memories we make…..

My Christmas this year is going to be mixed as my Thai family are coming so it will some of us up the table and some on traditional mats on the floor and I daresay some chilli dips…. I know they will eat the meat and vegetables, they love sausage…The sauces and potatoes maybe not and they tend to like the gravy but we will see …

I hope they will enjoy being sort of part of our traditional Christmas dinner mixed with a few chillies and raw veg…. It will fun and no doubt the traditional whiskey will be lurking around and I know they love my Baileys… well the ladies do…

So this is not so many recipes in this my last post but I hope you have enjoyed it and I hope you enjoy your Christmas….

As always Sally has provided an insight into the benefits of eating turkey and as a meat it is low fat….Her knowledge of the benefits and nutrition of foods is astounding and I wish to thank her for allowing me to complement her health knowledge with my recipes…

©Sally Cronin- Carol Taylor 2017

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!

Connect to Carol

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

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

I hope that you have enjoyed this look at Turkey and its versatility… just in time for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas.. thanks from us both.

You can find recipes to keep you going all year in the Food and Cookery Column Directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/carol-taylors-food-and-cookery-column-2018/

Smorgasbord Health Column Rewind- Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol – Banana – Nutrient Boost, no packaging required!


Carol is on her summer break and I am house and dog sitting for my sister, so we thought you wouldn’t mind having a reminder of some of the dishes that we put together this time last year. I supplied the ingredients and their nutritional benefits and Carol prepared delicious meals from scratch.

The Banana – Nutrient Boost, no packaging required

The banana is not only a superfood packed with nutrients but it is also a definite winner in the therapeutic arena. The fruit has been around for at least a couple of thousand years and many cultures have used the banana in their fight against illness.

I have often been told that people do not eat bananas because they are fattening but will admit to eating a doughnut or a bar of chocolate everyday. A bar of chocolate which is 100gm is around 500 calories and 55% fat. A 100gm of banana (large) has 120/150 calories and is virtually fat free. I will leave you to do the maths.. and to read just want that 120 calories piece of fruit can do for you.

Health benefits.

The banana has many talents including keeping your bowels healthy, reducing your risk of heart disease and strokes, protecting you from ulcers, improving blood pressure, boosting your energy and your mood and help you reduce water retention.

More specifically the banana is a medicine cabinet in its own right. If we look at the diverse diseases and conditions that it is connected to you will realise how important it is in your diet.

Anaemia is the result of a lack of haemoglobin the oxygen-carrying agent in red blood cells. Iron is essential in the manufacture of this haemoglobin in the bone marrow and bananas are high in this mineral.

High blood pressure and stress related conditions effect many people and not just as they age. More and more children and young adults are showing signs of following a poor diet, high in junk food and low in natural fresh produce. Junk food is high in salt, which in the form of sodium and in excess causes elevated blood pressure.

The potassium in bananas helps lower blood pressure by dilating blood vessels, enhancing he excretion of water and sodium from the body and suppressing the hormones that cause elevations in blood pressure.

Potassium helps normalise the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates water balance. When we are stressed our metabolic rate increases, reducing our potassium levels and by eating a banana we can help re-balance all these symptoms in one snack.

Depression and nervous conditions can be helped by eating bananas as they contain tryptophan, a protein that converts into serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that makes you relax and improves your mood. The B vitamins in the fruit are also essential for a healthy central nervous system.

Heartburn is eased by eating a banana due to its antacid effect, and it has the added benefit of not causing stomach problems when used long term.

Ulcers in the stomach are very delicate and the banana is one of the few foods that can be eaten raw without causing any further distress or inflammation to the ulcer site. It also reduces over acidity and the irritation this causes to the lining of the stomach.

PMS is dreadful, not just for the woman concerned, but usually for the family around her. Eating a banana with its B6 not only helps alleviate the stress symptoms but also works to regulate the hormones causing the problem.

Weight loss – Contrary to popular belief that the banana is fattening, it actually provides one of the most complete meals in history for only 120/150 calories for a large banana.. As weight can be related to stressful environments, a banana is also very good as a work place snack to help you get through the day; without resorting to more unhealthy comfort foods.

Morning sickness and hangovers whilst hopefully not connected, tend to afflict us in the morning when blood sugar levels are likely to be low. Eating a banana is said to help stabilise this, and if you blend your banana with some milk and honey, you will also soothe and hydrate your body whilst calming the stomach.

Smoking – Cigarettes are tough to give up. I know having gone through the withdrawal symptoms myself 25 years ago. If you can manage without a nicotine patch, you might think about including a banana in your diet every day or when you have a craving. Not only will all the nutrients give you an energy boost but also the potassium and magnesium in the banana will help with your withdrawal symptoms including stress.

Warts and mosquito bites can be unsightly and the bites very itchy and whilst there are some products available in the pharmacies there are some old fashioned remedies that are worth mentioning. It is said that if you wrap the inside of the banana skin around a wart that it will disappear and it is reported that rubbing the inside of the skin over mosquito bites will take down the swelling and irritation. I cannot personally attest to that one but it won’t hurt to try.

As you can see the banana is a very useful ally in efforts to prevent illness and to help our bodies fight conditions when they occur. It is not the complete answer, as it needs to be included in a diet that contains all the essential elements. It is also not intended to take the place of necessary medication for serious illnesses. It is part of the wonderful pharmacy that we have available at our fingertips and should be enjoyed in as many ways as possible.

Now I am going to hand you over to Carol Taylor who is sharing some delicious ways to include bananas in your diet.

The Banana also known as the fruit of wise men.

I am sure most of you can get Bananas in your supermarket; these bananas will probably be the Cavendish by name as the original Banana favoured by the supermarkets was the Gros Michel which became extinct by 1960 as it was wiped out by a fungus called the Panama Disease.

This could happen at any time as Bananas are actually clones and if they become infected with a fungus it just runs rampant and kills them all.

The Banana a most versatile of fruits with so many uses…..Here in Thailand and in my garden Bananas grow in abundance.

So much so that I always freeze some ready to make smoothies.

The Bananas scientific name is Musa Sapientum which roughly translated means “Fruit of wise men”

Here it is called Kluay pronounce “ glue eye” spellings vary slightly around the regions and it is a tree-like perennial and officially classed as a herb, the world’s largest herb as it can reach 25 feet in height. The fruit is also classed as a berry.

Here in Thailand leaves are used to serve food on or wrap food in like these little parcels of tri coloured sticky rice topped with shredded pork.

The purple flowers are steamed and eaten with a spicy Thai dip.

To make Thai spicy dip:

Finely chop one small shallot, 1 clove of garlic, finely slice 6/8 fresh chillies, add 3 tbsp fish sauce and 2 tbsp fresh lime juice…I stir in a little-chopped coriander. If the dip is too salty add a little warm boiled water.

Mashed and mixed with a tbsp of heavy cream and a tbsp of honey and then applied to dry hair covered with a shower cap and a hot towel. Left for an hour and then rinsed off before shampooing the hair it is a wonderful moisturising treatment.

There is no end to the properties of this low calorie, no fat, no sodium, no cholesterol berry which is also rich in Vitamin C, Potassium, fibre and B6.

Here it is used to make bread and muffins.

Banana Bread.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 ripe bananas.
  • 1/3 Cup melted butter.
  • 1 cup sugar (I only used slightly less than 1/2 cup) don’t like it too sweet.
  • 1 egg beaten.
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence.
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder.
  • 1 1/2 Cups Flour.
  • Handful walnuts chopped (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350/175 degrees.
Use a 4 x 8 inch loaf tin.

Method:

  • Mash Banana, Stir in butter. Mix in Baking Soda and salt. Stir in sugar, egg and vanilla. Mix in flour.
  • Bake for 1hr- 1hr 10 mins.
  • Cool completely before removing from tin.

Once cold it can be eaten sliced on its own or with butter…I serve mine with a passion fruit butter sometimes it is nice to experiment with different flavoured butters.

If cooked the banana skins are edible, you will see fried bananas in abundance on the street food stalls…they are fried in batter, grilled on the BBQ in their skins and turned into golden fritters ( Kluay phao)

Banana spring rolls with a sweet dip or eaten green and raw with a spicy dip. (See recipe above)

They can be used to make a beautiful Banana Blossom stir fry.

Just wash the blossoms and put in a bowl of cold water with some lemon.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil/olive oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp yellow split peas/chana dhal
  • 1 tbsp split green lentils/urad dhal
  • 1-2 dry red Chilli halved
  • 2 tsp tamarind juice
  • 5-8 Curry Leaves
  • 1 Banana flower blossoms
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • ¼ cup grated unsweetened coconut, fresh/frozen
  • Salt to taste

To cook!

Bring some water to the boil in a cooking pan and add the banana flower to a boiling water pot and cook for 10 minutes, until they are soft and done. Drain the water through a colander and squeeze with the hand to remove any excess water. Set them aside.

Heat oil in a cooking pan and once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, Let them pop, add lentils and halved red chillies. Now add tamarind juice and curry leaves and mix well, Mix in finely chopped onion and saute on a medium flame till they are light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add turmeric and mix well.

Add the cooked banana flower to the pan. Stir fry for 2 minutes at on a medium flame until they are mixed well with the spices.Add salt to taste and sprinkle grated coconut on top and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Serve hot with steam rice.

Green unripe bananas are also used to make Tam Maak Kluay which is a version of the famous Som Tam (Papaya Salad) which I first had from a roadside stall near Bang Tao beach in Phuket and it is beautiful.

Just a piece of trivia…did you know? That more songs have been written about the Banana than any other fruit.

About Carol Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

Connect to Carol

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

My thanks to Carol for these wonderful recipes and I hope you will join us again Please feel free to share thanks Sally

The other posts in the Food and Cookery Column can be found in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/carol-taylors-food-and-cookery-column-2018/

 

Smorgasbord Posts Revisited – Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol – Salmon – Omega 3 on a Plate


Carol Taylor is taking a break this week due to a laptop breakdown so I had decided to share the first of the Cook from Scratch posts that we collaborated on last year.

Some of you are familiar with my Medicine Woman’s larder and Carol and I have teamed up to provide you with recipes to make the most of these amazing foods.

I am providing the ingredients and sharing their nutritional and medicinal properties and Carol is taking them to a whole new level with her delicious recipes. You can find out more about Carol at the end of the post.

Today we are going to be looking at salmon and because most of these foods are very nutritious the posts with the recipes will be even longer than my usual offerings. I suggest you bookmark for a time you can put your feet up with a libation and enjoy at leisure.

Salmon – Omega 3 on a plate.

Much of the salmon available today comes from fisheries and conditions and feed of these farmed fish have improved through regulation in recent years. However, I am not convinced by the publicity and prefer to eat fish that has been caught in the ocean and to me there is definitely a difference in the taste of this salmon. You can buy ocean caught fish frozen or fresh, but be prepared as Salmon prices have been higher in the last couple of years due to longer winters and shorter fishing seasons in the north.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salmon is high in selenium,which is 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 cancerin particular.

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

You can read more on the health benefits of Salmon at this link: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/medicine-womans-larder-salmon-fresh-from-the-sea-or-wild-is-an-amazing-food/

Now I will hand you over to Carol who is sharing some wonderful salmon recipes to whet your appetite for this versatile and nutritious fish.

Fish one of my favourite foods and cooked with fish sauce, chilli, lime and coriander it’s to die for….. so yum. My favourite is Loch Fyne Salmon Trout which I can get it here but when I do it is a welcome treat.…Salmon is so good for you in many ways and Sally explains that very well so between the two of us Sally will give you the astounding health benefits of Salmon and I will provide some easy to follow healthy recipes all cooked from scratch.
Firstly we have Salmon done the Thai way very tasty, very easy and wherever you are you should be able to easily obtain all the ingredients.

Ingredients:
180gm Salmon Trout or Salmon fillet.

For the topping:

  • 1 spring Onion finely chopped.
  • 2/3 stems Coriander chopped finely…i use stem as well.
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli finely chopped.
  • 1 tbsp Fish Sauce.
  • A cheek of lime.

To prepare

  1. Put fish on foil and spoon topping on. I reserve some of topping to add when serving. Seal foil and put in oven on 180 for 10/15 mins until cooked.
  2. This of course depends on thickness of fish.
  3. When cooked remove from oven and serve with rice.

Enjoy!

Another favourite is Salmon with Linguine.

Ingredients

  • 180gm Salmon
  • 2tbsp Olive oil
  • 1/4-1/1/2 tsp of red chilli flakes. or 1 fresh chilli finely chopped. (you can omit this step)
  • 2/3 large cloves of garlic, crushed.
  • 2 small shallots finely chopped.
  • The zest of 1 lime or you can use lemon.
  • 3/4 tomatoes chopped.
  • Chopped parsley.
  • Fresh parmesan as desired.
  • 400gm of Linguine or pasta of your choice.

To Prepare

  1. I lightly steam my salmon and set aside to cool.
  2. At the same time cook your pasta in boiling salted water as per the packet instructions.
  3. Heat your oil in a pan, add the garlic and the shallots and chilli if you are using cook for 2-3 minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.
  4. I often just add a small piece of butter to this…it stops the olive oil burning.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for two minutes then add the flaked salmon, the lime zest and parsley and cook for a further 2/3 minutes.
  6. Drain the pasta and reserve 70 ml of the cooking water.
  7. Add pasta to the salmon mix and gently combine.
  8. Season and add some freshly grated parmesan cheese…this is where I can get a bit over zealous as we love parmesan, also adjust seasoning if required.
  9. Stir in all or some of the reserved pasta liquid and sprinkle with parsley to serve…with a lovely green salad or some lightly steamed vegetables and of course a glass of your favourite vino.

Enjoy!

Snacking

Sometimes you just want a little snack and this one is quick and easy to do…Most of us have a packet of rice cakes in the cupboard don’t we?…Well lets jazz it up a little and take it from the boring to the sublime.

Just mash an avocado coarsely add some black pepper, lemon juice and a little mint if liked or maybe a little crumbled feta.

Spread on the rice cakes and top with a little smoked salmon…divine.

Having a BBQ?

Then skewer the salmon with some small onions and lemon slices if doing chunks or cut salmon length ways and thread on to the skewer and then brush them with this lovely dip when you turn them on the BBQ or grill.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 2 smashed garlic cloves
  • ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Large pinch of black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil preferably light as extra virgin tends to burn.
  • 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice

Salmon is very versatile and goes with lots of combinations of sauces with oil, white sauces or burnt butter sauce there are many ways you can dress up that lovely salmon

I hope you enjoyed this selection of recipes and reading about the health benefits of the Salmon.

I will be sharing more Cook from Scratch in coming weeks

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!

Connect to Carol

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

My thanks to Carol for these wonderful recipes and I hope you will join us again next week another Food and Cookery Column….Please feel free to share thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Winterise your Body – A little herbal health insurance – Echinacea and Australian Flu update


health column final

In the last two posts I have looked at Influenza, how to avoid and how to recover from a viral infection.  This time I would like to look at an alternative way to boost your immune system ready for the winter virus opportunists.

But first an update on the Australian Flu which is causing concern for health services across the world as air travel spreads the virus.

Australia is having a worse flu season than usual this year, with 93,711 laboratory-confirmed cases reported to its National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System as of August 18, government data show.

That’s almost 2½ times more infections than in the same period last year. According to a surveillance system report, adults over the age of 80 and children between 5 and 9 years old have been most affected.

Does Australia’s bad flu season bode ill for Northern Hemisphere nations, including the US, Canada and across Europe?

“In general, we get in our season what the Southern Hemisphere got in the season immediately preceding us,” Fauci said. An “intelligent guess,” therefore, is that the north will probably have a bad flu season.

Read the whole article here: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/03/health/australia-bad-flu-season/index.html

At this time of year I have a few drops of the good stuff every day.. and no I am not referring to the medicinal brandy in the sideboard in the dining-room. I am talking about Echinacea in the form of a tincture. From October I have 15 drops in a little water daily and touch wood…..I had not had a cold for many years or the flu until this year. I stopped taking taking my Echinacea at the beginning of May and then went over to London for the Blogger’s Bash. I live a fairly isolated existence here on the coast in Wexford and apart from competing in a trolley dash twice a week we rarely have contact with others except close neighbours.

My immune system obviously was not up for two planes full of people coughing and sneezing, or packed London public transport.  Sure enough three days after arriving back I got a stinker…..

Just goes to show, that the care I take the rest of the year, to provide my immune system with a varied and fresh food diet, sunshine and moderate exercise, needs extra help at certain times, especially if I am going to be confined with many others in an enclosed space at 30,000 feet!

Unfortunately, if you have not been following a varied and healthy diet and providing your body with the nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy immune system, taking 15 drops of echinacea is not going to be much help.

echinacea

Echinacea is an herb that is very widely used to boost the immune system and help to alleviate the symptoms of colds and flu, naturally.

The Latin name for this herb is Echinacea Purpurea (Purple coneflower). It is considered to be the primary herbal remedy for the immune system and was first used in a healing capacity by the Native American Indians. They used it primarily for boils, abscesses and snakebites. They also chewed the roots for toothaches, colds, sore throats and coughs. The herb itself actually has no direct effect on bacteria or viruses but instead it is its effect on our own immune system that aids treatment of an infection.

The herbal tincture that you will see in health food shops and pharmacies is made from the roots, flowers and seeds of the plant. You can now buy capsules but I still prefer to use the tincture as I feel it is easier for the body to absorb and faster acting.

When choosing an herbal tincture it is important to buy a high quality product that is holistically standardised. This means that the chemical constituents of the plant are not tampered with in any way and the end product includes the whole spectrum of healing benefits. It is believed that the active ingredients in a plant work together to provide the overall effect. Some processing practices remove or reduce some of the elements of the plant making them less effective. Do make a point to check your labels, or the details of the product, before you buy.

With all alternative medicines you need to regard them with respect. They do not necessarily mix with your own chemical make-up or the chemical elements in your prescription medication. If you are taking other medications, always ask your doctor or pharmacist if there are any contra-indications relating to taking the two together.

One of the other things that I have to mention is that we are not allowed to claim that any diet, remedy or therapeutic therapy can cure you of anything. Please consider that said.

Echinacea acts as an immune stimulant that mobilises our defence system by activating and stimulating the release of white blood cells (leukocytes) which fight infection. The function of our T-cells is enhanced and there is an increase in the number of macrophages, the cells that consume and destroy foreign bodies such as bacteria.

One of the plant’s components is Echinacin, which promotes the growth of new tissue, activating fibroblasts, which are the cells that are responsible for encouraging wound healing.

Echinacea can be taken when an infection begins and it can reduce the symptoms and speed recovery by enhancing the immune system’s own abilities. It can also be taken over a longer period to increase the body’s resistance to infection and I usually recommend that a person start taking 15 drops once a day in the middle of October through to the middle of March if they are prone to colds. Children can take 7 drops of the herb for the same time span if they are under 12 years old.

If you start a cold or the flu you can take 15 drops, two or three times a day in a little water and children can take 7 drops two or three times a day. It is recommended that you do not stay at this dosage for longer than a couple of months but the usual time is the duration of the infection plus a week, then reduce down to the long term daily dose.

You will find that there are a number of products available that contain Echinacea and two of the most effective, in my book, are the toothpaste which helps prevent bacterial build-up in the form of plaque and skin cream which works well on dry and infected skin.

You can buy Echinacea tea in health food shops and with the addition of a slice of fresh lemon and a teaspoon of honey this can be very soothing in the early stages of a cold and also may help you reduce the symptoms.

Echinacea can also be used for pets but there are specific guidelines that need to be followed.

N.B Herbal remedies do not always work well with prescribed medications as their actions can dilute the effectiveness of treatment such as for cancer, or can intensify which may result in side effects.  Always check with your doctor or a qualified herbalist before taking any herbal medicine with prescribed drugs or over the counter pain-killers or medication.

The previous posts on this subject.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/02/smorgasbord-health-2017-winterising-your-body-influenza-the-opportunistic-pathogen/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/winterising-the-body-immune-system-boosting-eating-and-recovery-plan/

Look forward to your feedback thanks for dropping by.  Sally

 

Cooking from Scratch 2017- Guest post invitation to those who love to cook Fresh Food.


Recently you might have seen a series of posts from Carol Taylor and myself on foods, their health benefits and some recipes to encourage us to include in our daily diet.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/08/30/smorgasbord-health-2017-cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-honey-nectar-of-the-gods/

Over the last four years I have enjoyed sharing your recipes that are Cooked From Scratch and I would love to share more of them.

Thanksgiving is coming up on November 23rd so it would be great to start getting recipes for that celebration and for the lead up to Christmas.

I would like to stay within the health area and invite those of you with favourite recipes that are cooked from scratch (no processed sauces etc) to guest post.  Old family favourites and new finds.  They do not have to be for specialised diets as long as they combine fresh food of all types. I am particularly keen on promoting recipes that will suit people on reduced sugar diets or have a problem with gluten.  Very often they can become stuck in a rut eating a handful of dishes that they feel safe with. When you submit a recipe it would be helpful if you have some illustrations with it but I can source those for you.

It would also be great to post dishes from around the world so that we can all share the wonderful ingredients such as spices that are so good for us.

You will of course receive full promotion for your blog, books and social media sites as I would like to make sure that you get some publicity from the post.

If you are interested please send an email to sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I look forward to hearing from you and we can talk about how best to showcase your recipe.  best wishes  Sally

redpeppers

Thank you for dropping by and I look forward to hearing from you.. Sally

The Digestive and Immune Sytems – Short Story – What happens to a chicken sandwich as it digests!


The immune system- The Digestive process.

In my book, Just Food for Health, the chapter on the digestive system is nine A4 pages long (there are a few illustrations). You are used to seeing long posts from me which is why I split the topic over several posts last week. About this time last year I wrote this short story to describe the passage of a very common and tasty snack that many of us enjoy. Usually with only one thing in mind. The taste.. However, perhaps after following this chicken sandwich through your digestive tract you might think about it in a different way. For those who read this last year.. apologies but I wanted to link last week’s digestive system series and the previous immune system together.

Antibiotics.

Firstly, though a little about antibiotics. Most of the stories in the media are about the concerns of scientists and doctors that we are fast running out of effective antibiotics to kill the many strains of bacteria that threaten our health.

If human DNA only mutates every 10,000 years or so, they are outstripped by ‘Formula 1‘ bacteria. They are mutating in a heartbeat to survive and this is where the problem lies with antibiotics. We have over prescribed them in the last 50 years or so, pumped them through the food chain resulting in damage to our immune systems and we have created a group of superbugs that don’t care what you throw at them.

Our immune system is our own personal health insurance and we need to make sure that it is boosted so that it can handle the minor bacterial infections we will all have from time to time and only have antibiotics if our system cannot overcome the problem itself.

The purpose of this post is to illustrate how the food that we put in our mouths is critical to the efficiency of our Immune System. Without the right ingredients that have to be processed at every stage of digestion, there would be no defence mechanism in place and we would die. Therefore you really need to think of these two major operating systems of the body as working in tandem.

Our body is pretty amazing but it is not a magician. You do not eat a meal and are suddenly flooded with vitamins and minerals. It is necessary for the food to go through a complex process before its nutrients can be utilised to combat bacteria and provide us with energy.

For that task we need enzymes and other ingredients produced by our organs. For the purpose of this post I am going to use a sandwich that many of us might eat and then forget about. What happens to it after the juicy chicken and tangy mayo has left our mouth is not our concern surely?  But it is!

One of the most complex systems in our body is already at work having begun the process the moment you started to chew the first mouthful of the sandwich.

chicken sandwich

You take your first bite of a wholegrain sandwich with chicken and salad, a bit of butter and a smidgen salt and mayonnaise (lovely)- in the meantime your teeth, tongue and salivary glands that produce the first phase of enzymes begin the digestive process before passing the food (properly chewed is helpful) into the pharynx at the back of the throat. For example amylase produced by the salivary glands converts the bread in the sandwich into pairs of sugars, or dissacharides.

Salivary Glands

The food then passes into the oesophagus through to the stomach where hydrochloric acid modifies pepsinogen, secreted by the stomach lining to form an enzyme called pepsin. Pepsin breaks down the chicken into smaller units called polypeptides and lipase will break down any fatty globules into glycerol and fatty acids. The acid in the stomach will also kill as much harmful bacteria as possible (not only in the food itself but passed on from the hands that made it and the board it was made on). The end result is a highly acidic liquid that is passed into the duodenum.

Stomach and Pancreas

The duodenum will secrete a mucus in response to two hormones (secretin and pancreozymin) that are released to neutralise the acidic liquid that was your chicken sandwich. Bile is also passed into the duodenum either directly from the liver or from the gallbladder where it has been stored.

Acid Alkali scale-01

Bile is a complex fluid containing water, electrolytes and organic molecules including bile acids, cholesterol, phospholipids and bilirubin essential for the digestion of fats and their absorption along with fat-soluble vitamins as they pass through the small intestine. The bile has also picked up the waste products that have been accumulating in the liver so that they can be passed through the colon for elimination.

Referring back to my cholesterol blogs – https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cholesterol-2015/ –  this is when total levels are affected by the efficiency of the bile process. Cholesterol not only comes from food but is also manufactured in the liver. It is virtually insoluble in most fluids except for bile where the acids and fats such as lecithin do the job. If this process is not effective cholesterol can collect into stones that block the ducts and cause problems with the digestion of fat. Bile levels in the body are lowest after fasting which is why you have a cholesterol test at least 12 hours after your last meal.

Intestines

By the time the liquid sandwich reaches the duodenum the particles within it are already very small, however they need to be smaller still before they pass into the ileum, where the final chemical processing will take place. The enzymes that have joined the mix from the pancreas and amylase will break down the food even further into peptides and maltose which is a disaccharide sugar.7. The small intestine is lined by millions of villi, tiny hair like projections which each contain a capillary and a tiny branch of the lymphatic system called a lacteal (yesterday’s blog). More enzymes maltase, sucrase and lactase are produced to facilitate the absorption of the smaller particles through the villi – including breaking down the sugar pairs into single sugars called monosaccharides which pass through easily.

Intestinal villi

Villi in the intestines

The glycerol, fatty acids and the now dissolved vitamins are sucked up into the lymphatic system through the lacteal and into the bloodstream. Other nutrients such as amino acids, sugars and minerals are absorbed into the capillary in the villi which connects directly to the hepatic portal vein and the liver. It is here, in the liver that certain nutrients will be extracted and stored for later use whilst others are passed onto the body.

Single villus

Single Villus with its complex absorption system

The carbohydrate in the sandwich we have eaten has been broken down into first pairs of sugars and then into single sugar molecules and have passed through the villi into the liver. Glucose provides our energy and the liver will determine current levels in our system, how much glucose to convert to glycogen to store and how much to release directly into the bloodstream as long term imbalance can cause diabetes.

Once all the nutrients have been extracted and passed into the bloodstream, lymphatic system or liver, any insoluble and undigested food moves into the large intestine. Any water and salt remaining in the mixture is absorbed into the lining of the intestine and the remainder mixes with all the other waste products produced by the body such as bacteria and dead cells – it is then pack and pressed and stored for excretion.

So there goes the last of your chicken sandwich. I hope it puts a different perspective on the food that you are putting into your mouth – it also is important to remember that if you have a white diet, white grains, fats and sugars, you are giving your body a great deal less to work with and your body and immune system will struggle to get what it needs to be healthy.

The only foods that provide our digestive system with the raw ingredients to maintain and boost our immune systems are natural, unprocessed vegetables, fruit, protein, wholegrain carbohydrates and healty fats.

If 80% of the time you are consuming these foods cooked from scratch then 20% of the time eating foods that have are not as healthy is not a problem.

Most of us have access to an amazing variety of fresh foods but stay firmly fixed on a handful. We need a really wide variety of food to obtain all the nutrients we need for our immune system and this shopping list might help you out.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/a-basic-shopping-list-for-a-nutritionally-balanced-diet/

©sallygeorginacronin Just Food For Health 2008

Thanks for dropping by and please feel free to share.. your feedback is always very welcome.. Sally