Smorgasbord Blog Magazine- #ItalianCookery with Silvia Todesco -GARLIC, OLIVE OIL AND RED PEPPER SPAGHETTI (Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino)


Delighted that Silvia Todesco will be joining us each month to share one of her delicious Italian recipes.  This month a savoury classic that is a family favourite, very quick and easy to prepare, and I am sure you will enjoy.

Garlic, Olive Oil and Red Pepper Spaghetti…(Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino)

GARLIC, OLIVE OIL AND RED PEPPER SPAGHETTI (Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino)

It is pretty known that Italians are people who enjoy life… eating good food, traveling a lot, and having fun both during the weekends and during the week (many people used to have “happy hour” during the week, usually on Wednesday and Friday nights, but lately also during the other days of the week.)

Did you know that Italy is full of discos? Did you know that if you go to a disco in Italy you can never enter before 11:00 pm (or, it would be really embarrassing to arrive any earlier), and music and dancing never starts before 12:30 or 1:00 a.m.?

Yep, it sounds crazy, but this is true. And you are probably wondering at this point, “Why are you telling me about that?”

BECAUSE after a night awake, after you finish dancing at 4.00 a.m., the most important emotions that rage in Italians minds are: 1) they are a little bit tired 🙂 ; 2) they are starving!!!!

And what’s the food most desired by Italians after a night like that?

SPAGHETTI AGLIO, OLIO E PEPERONCINO…

And at this point you’re probably wondering, why this special dish? And the answer is: because they are cheap, easy and fast to cook, really good for sharing with friends, and for your “night digestion” (especially after one or two drinks too much).

But don’t misunderstand me, I cook this dish for my family at least once a week, and we love it, because it is really delicious!!!

And especially after all the rich festivity meals, why not opt for some food that is more “simple” and “easy” to digest?!

Let’s go find out how to make this new spaghetti sauce recipe. You will be pleasantly surprised by the fact that it will be ready in 20 minutes.

Ingredients (for 4 servings)

  • 1 box of spaghetti
  • garlic there is no “requested quantity”,
  • you usually decide how many cloves according to your taste (I usually pick 6-8 garlic cloves)
  • olive oil (again there is no “requested quantity,
  • you usually decide how much olive oil according to your calories tolerance 🙂 (I usually consider 4-6 tbs. olive oil)
  • crushed red pepper to taste (I usually pick about 3 tps.)
  • 2/3 tbs. canned diced tomato (or pieces of fresh tomatoes)
  • basil to taste (dried or fresh, but preferably fresh).
  • sea salt to taste (for the pasta’s water)

Directions

The preparation of the sauce takes about the time for the pasta to be cooked, so you don’t need to do anything in advance. All the steps will take not more than 20 minutes.

Put the water in a big pot at medium heat. While you wait for the water to boil, peel off the garlic’s cloves, cut them in two pieces.

(If they have the sprout, take it away because usually the sprout makes the garlic taste a little bitter.)

When the water starts to boil, toss the spaghetti in the water and set the timer for the pasta, as directed on the box. With the sauce pan at medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, the basil.

Let the garlic cook for a while (until it becomes blonde, don’t let it brown!).

When the garlic seems golden, add the diced tomatoes and let the sauce cook for a couple minutes more.

Since your spaghetti should be ready, drain the pasta very well, mix them with the sauce, and serve it!!!

Isn’t it easy?!?

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – My husband loves garlic, so when I mix the spaghetti to the sauce, I don’t need to take the garlic aside, but if you don’t like eating garlic (but like me, you just like garlic’s flavor), before to mix the spaghetti with the sauce, take the garlic out of the pot: your spaghetti will taste wonderful anyway!!!

– I usually cook this pasta when I’m totally out of other ingredients: it is so easy that rarely I don’t have these few ingredients to make it!

– If you are on a trip to Italy, and you would like to enjoy a simple dish, you can go to whatever restaurant or “trattoria” you want and just ask for an “Aglio e Olio”, and they will immediately know what are you taking about, because this is exactly the way this sauce is known in Italy.

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do, share it, like it, leave a comment, and subscribe to my blog if you would like to receive a new recipe each week for free.

About Silvia Todesco

I’m Silvia, I come from Veneto Region (from Bassano del Grappa precisely, one hour by car far from Venice), and I moved to Iowa in 2011, because of my husband’s job necessities.

I’ve grown up watching my great-grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother cooking for my family every day, searching carefully for ingredients and preparing fresh food. That was their way to show us how much they cared (and care) about us, and to carry on a tradition. I cannot recall a festivity without relatives everywhere and tons of delicious food to eat!

But my way was different I graduated with honors at the University of Law of Padua, and (obviously) I became a lawyer. As a professional, I used to work 14 hours a day, and, of course, the time I could dedicate to my family (and cooking) was almost none.

Then fate brought us here, and finally I’ve found myself. All my background came up, and I realized that taking care of my family is the most satisfying job I could do, especially because it entails cooking healthy and good food!

So I started to practice what I learned when I was young, and surprised myself in making all those meals that characterized my youth.

Integration in a new society is not easy, but it was nice for us to discover how much Italians are loved abroad! And since every new person we have met asked me if I was a good cook, and told me that they love Italian food, well, I decided to share my Italian cooking culture and recipes with you!

Of course, you won’t need to be an expert to follow my recipes! What I’m writing about is our daily menus- recipes made with simple and few ingredients, most of the time cheap and healthy (because the food is not processed).

Plus, considering my passion for cooking, I will also share with you new recipe I discovered in magazines, websites, or shared by friends, and in this case I will always describe you the origin of my posts objects.

In addition, I promise not only to write about Italian food, but especially to give suggestions related to where and how to find the right ingredients and tools you will need. I really hope that you will enjoy my tips!

Connect to Silvia

Website: https://italiangoodness.net/about/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/italiangoodness.net
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beautyandfourkids/
Mix: https://mix.com/silviatodesco81
Twitter: https://twitter.com/silviatodesco81
Pinterest: www.pinterest.it/silviatodesco/

Silvia would love to receive your comments and it would be great if you could share the post.. thanks Sally.

You can find all the recipes for a four course Italian meal in this file and also Silvia’s monthly posts. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/italian-cookery-with-silvia-todesco/

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Smorgasbord Health Column – Cook from Scratch – Tomatoes for Breakfast Spanish Style


Carol Taylor will be back in the New Year with the Food and Cookery Column after a well earned Christmas break.

In the meantime, I am sharing a breakfast that I was introduced to when we lived in Madrid. I love tomatoes and they were always readily available all year round. With some other simple ingredients, tomatoes provide a wonderful start to the day that keeps you going until lunchtime.

I would love to invite any of you who have favourite recipes that use fresh ingredients, to get in touch at the email at the bottom of the post. And of course another chance to promote your work.

Most of us associate a  breakfast with cereals, breads, butter and jams, a fry up, boiled eggs or perhaps sliced meats and cheese. However, when living in Spain we adopted a different and delicious alternative which is toasted fresh baked bread with olive oil and a spread made from tomatoes.

Over the years I have developed various recipes for this simple dish and it is so easy to whip up and so delicious that I thought you might like to find out more about it.

Although the dish is really easy to make and serve, it is absolutely packed with nutrients that work on so many levels in your body and benefit virtually every major organ, your skeleton and your immune system.

Whilst it makes this post a little longer than a simple recipe I wanted to illustrate how nutritionally important this dish is for our health by giving you a brief overview of the ingredients too.

But first the recipe.

You can make several days’ worth and store in an airtight container in the fridge. As there are no artificial additives and refined sugars it is a great alternative to other spreads and you can enjoy any time of the day. We have eaten in the evening for a supper from time to time. When we have guests we might also add some lean chicken or a piece of roast beef to the top.

The Bread

I tend to use my own homemade wholemeal Irish Soda bread which is yeast and sugar free. It can be a little crumbly but delicious with the tomatoes.

Or you can buy a  wholegrain baguette from a bakery where it has been made on the premises (no additives).

tomatoesBasic Tomato recipe.

You will need one tomato per serving. Using up tomatoes that have gone a little soft is great and just wash and take out the central stem. This recipe is based on four tomatoes cut into cubes and put into a blender.

Add 1 dessert spoon of Extra Virgin Olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blend until a puree.

The skin of the tomatoes will solidify the mix so scrape into a dish or a storage container to serve as soon as blended.

If you would like to add some more depth to the spread you can add 1/2 teaspoon of Pimiento Dulce which is lovely and smokey.

peppersRed pepper addition with onion and garlic.

To make the tomato spread especially rich and also even more nutritionally dense, chop up half a red pepper, half an onion and a clove of garlic and cook off with a little coconut oil or olive oil in a pan; or in a microwave without oil with a little water for 10 minutes. Add to your tomatoes and blitz it all up together.

Putting it together

Take a fairly thick slice of bread and toast both sides, or split a small sized wholegrain baquette and then drizzle a little olive oil over while hot. Use a spoon and add a good amount of the tomato spread making sure that it covers the surface of the toast.

Enjoy…

Here is a brief look at the health benefits and the nutrients that are packed into this easy to make and healthy alternative to a sugar laden breakfast.

Although it contains fats they are healthy fats and if you need to lose weight just use less on your toast as there is plenty of flavour in the spread already.

olive oilExtra virgin olive oil which is from the first pressing of the olives is the best oil to use as it contains higher levels of nutrients, particularly Vitamin E and Essential Fatty Acids.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesise and must be obtained through diet.

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

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

In a human trial it was found that polyphenol rich olive oil included in the diet improved the health of blood vessels which was not the case for another group of volunteers that included oil in their diet with the phenols removed. Obviously the healthier the blood vessels the more effective the entire circulatory system

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are another very nutritious food that tends to be taken for granted. We expect to see in the summer with salads but raw or cooked the tomato is a powerhouse of health benefits.

Tomatoes contain Vitamins A, C, and K. Folate and Potassium and provide good quantities of B Vitamins Thiamin, Niacin, B6 as well as the minerals magnesium, phosphorus and copper.

With the addition of fibre, regular inclusion of tomatoes in your diet, helps protect you against high blood pressure, too much oxidised low density lipoprotein cholesterol (the unhealthy kind) and heart disease.

Combine this with beta-carotene which is found in brightly coloured foods such as carrots, eating tomatoes offers some protection against sun damage. The lycopene content also has been show to make the skin less sensitive to UV light damage helping keep your skin looking younger.

As we age we also lose bone density and the Vitamin K, calcium and lycopene are essential in the production of new bone.

Red Peppers

Red peppers are packed with vitamin C, in fact more than most citrus fruits, and they have a high anti-oxidant level including Vitamin A, adding to that already present in the tomatoes.

They also add more B vitamins into the recipe including B6 which makes neurotransmitters that might help inhibit the development of breast cancer.

As well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, red peppers have a good amount of manganese, needed for bone density and tendons and cartilage.

Onions and Garlic
 onionsOnions and garlic fit well into the category of ‘Superfood’ as they are both nutritional and can influence health in a very positive way.

The onion has a powerful sulphur-containing compound, which is responsible for the pungent odour and for the health benefits. Onions contain allyl propyl disulphide, chromium, Vitamin C and flavonoids, the most beneficial being Quercitin.

Allyl propyl disulphide lowers blood sugar levels by competing with insulin, which is also a disulphide for space in the liver where insulin is normally deactivated. This results in an increase in the amount of insulin available to move glucose into cells causing a lowering of blood sugar.

Chromium is a mineral that also helps cells respond efficiently to insulin, which in turn decreases blood sugar levels. These two properties in the onion make it a vegetable worth including in our daily diet as we get older to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Chromium has also been shown to improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels, and decrease total cholesterol levels whilst increasing levels of the healthy cholesterol (HDL).

Garlic contains many helpful compounds including thiosulfinates such as allicin, sulphates including alliin and dithins the most researched being ajoene.
(Just a quick note on the addition of garlic you might want to time this ingredient so that it does not clash with a business meeting or a romantic date….)

Research has identified that garlic lowers blood pressure, decreases the ability of platelets to clump together forming clots, reduces blood levels of lousy cholesterol (LDL) whilst increasing levels of healthy cholesterol (HDL). It also helps our blood vessels relax which prevents atherosclerosis, heart disease and the risks of heart attacks and strokes.

Garlic, like the onion is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. With the current concerns that we have about potential ‘Super bugs’ it is interesting that garlic appears to be an effective antibiotic, even against some of these resistant strains.

Cancer protection is essential for all of us. The compound ajoene might be effective in the treatment of skin cancer and eating two or more servings a week of garlic may help prevent colon cancer.

You can find out more about the essential nutrients we need to be healthy in this Directory

If you have a favourite recipe that is made from all fresh ingredients then please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com

I hope you have enjoyed the recipe and that you will enjoy eating tomatoes for breakfast from time to time…thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Winterising the Body – Immune system boosting eating and recovery plan.


Smorgasbord Health 2017

As we head into October there is the likelihood that you will bump into someone who is desperate to pass on their cold or flu to you.  Whilst you may take every care and have a healthy diet, if you are stressed, overworked, or been on a plane recently!  You might be a perfect host for the odd virus or two.

In the last post I looked at Influenza in more detail as it can move through a family or community rapidly with some serious health concerns for both the very young and old.

The key to preventing upper respiratory infections such as colds and flu developing into the more serious bronchial conditions is to make sure that your immune system is fully functional.

Catching it early

If you are suffering the early signs of an infection, you should understand that it is a secondary condition. The primary condition that you are suffering from is called Lifestyle Induced Health Crisis! It sounds a bit dramatic but the reason you have become susceptible to a virus or bacteria is that your body is not fit enough to fight it. The fact is that we all have germs in our bodies that lie in wait, looking for a chance to escape into the bloodstream and wreak havoc.

When we are poorly nourished, under stress and using too many stimulants, such as cigarettes, sugar, caffeine and alcohol, any pathogens we are hosting get the chance they have been looking for.

Then we have the external opportunists such as cold and flu viruses who are looking for a new host with all the facilities necessary to help it flourish. Both bacteria and a virus love oxygen starved, nutrient poor, acidic, sugar laden, immune impoverished host who has little or no resistance.

The key to not picking up frequent colds, flu and other viral and bacterial infections is keeping your immune system in good working order.  To maintain a healthy immune system it requires constant attention.  You cannot choose a couple of weeks a year to give it a boost.  You have to maintain it with a mainly fresh, unprocessed diet of fresh vegetables, fruit and lean proteins for 80% of the time so that you can enjoy the other tasty foods we all enjoy 20% of the time.

If you eat that way and get fresh air and regular exercise you will find that you do not become susceptible to infections in the first place .  If you do contract a viral or bacterial infection then you need to give your immune system a boost to help it out.  Working with it rather than against it by consuming over the counter cold medication that drive the infection deeper into the system and only masking the symptoms. (Remember that antibiotics are not effective for viral infections such as colds)

Here is a link to a basic shopping list that provides the nutrients for a healthy immune system and in the header you will also find a nutrient directory that list those that are essential for our health with the foods that supply them.

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

lemons

Before I take a look at the foods, herbs and natural supplements that you can take to help fight, alleviate and protect you from an infection, I am going to give you the golden rules to follow that will support your body and let it heal when you are suffering from an infection of any kind. For those of us who have a pretty good immune system a cold will last approximately 7 days, and for children and young adults, will in fact mature and strengthen our resistance to future viral infections.  The problem is for babies, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems following long term illnesses or the treatments such as for cancer.

So for the rest of us, provided you treat the cold symptoms and your body’s defense mechanism with respect you should not suffer beyond the initial misery of the first few days.  Here are some tips to getting through them without complications to yourself or passing it on to others.

Oh and in case you did not read last week’s post.. it is lovely when you meet someone you know to stop and have a hug, a kiss or two on the cheek and to hold their hand in yours….. But do you know where they have been… and if they have a cold or flu?  Be a little more circumspect from October to May…. might save you 7 days of coughing and spluttering.

  1.  Rest is critical: your body, although great at multi-tasking under normal operating circumstances, needs to focus all its energies on fighting the invaders. Sleep is a great healer and you should just go with the flow. If you go to work you are going to pass on your cold to everyone anyway and you will also extend the length of the cold and possibly develop a more serious chest infection. Go to bed or lie on the sofa with a box of disposable tissues and plenty of fluids to hand.
  2. Fluids are also absolutely essential as your body will not only dehydrate but will be forming thick mucus in great quantities, blocking airways. You are likely to have a slight fever, which will raise your body temperature and you will also suffer chills that will make you feel cold. A combination of fresh fruit and vegetable juices and soups, along with 2 litres of fresh water will help flush the toxins from the body efficiently.
  3. The body, as I have just mentioned, needs to focus on getting rid of the infection and it has not got the resources to digest large and stodgy meals during the first few days. Little and often is the key and this is where the soups come in. I will give you the recipes for a chicken and vegetable soup, onion and garlic soup and a beef tea that are great, packed with infection fighting nutrients and can be served with brown rice, a little fresh-baked wholegrain bread or toast. Easily digestible foods such as milk free scrambled egg or spinach omelettes are ideal during this time.
  4. Dairy products increase the production of mucous and therefore congestion and I strongly suggest that you avoid them during the early stages of an infection. Also if bronchitis or other lung problem develops you should also give them a miss. Calcium however is very important in the battle against infection so you need to include other foods that contain this vital mineral.
  5. Bacteria and viruses love warm, moist, sugary and acidic conditions and so processed and sugar based foods and drinks are definitely off the menu. This includes all fizzy drinks, sugar on cereal and in tea and coffee, chocolate and heavily processed meats such as ham.
  6. The symptoms of a cold, flu and of bronchial infections are a detox process, with your body working extremely hard to get rid of the bacteria or virus. Taking suppressive over the counter cold remedies therefore drives the infection back into the body – and this is one of the reasons why something that begins as a simple cold, that the body can deal with, can turn into a more entrenched condition such as bronchitis.
  7. Use tissues rather than a material hanky and throw away after using – it may sound wasteful but if you continually apply infected nose mucus to your hands you will not only re-infect yourself but also others who your hands come into contact with. Put used tissues in a plastic bag and knot securely and dispose of safely.
  8. Wash your hands regularly or use a natural anti-viral hand lotion(see avoiding colds and influenza)
  9. If you are in bed or using a pillow on a sofa do remember that you will be sneezing and contaminating the pillow case during your infectious period. Change every morning and wash at high temperature.
  10. If you have a partner then if possible as soon as you have symptoms go and sleep elsewhere and do not share toothbrushes etc for the duration. Love might be blind but it is certainly not bug resistant!!
  11. If you feel a sneeze coming on then do cover your mouth and nose with a tissue so that you do not dispense germs across the universe.

Components of the immune boosting eating plan

This plan contains all the elements to help relieve symptoms and boost your immune system. The purpose is to boost your immune system as well as naturally support your body as it fights the infection on your behalf.

Fluids

  • Two litres of fresh water. Combats dehydration and helps flush toxins from the body.
  • Fresh squeezed grapefruit and orange juice. Use ½ grapefruit to one large orange. Juice of a whole lemon in hot water with some Manuka Honey. Vitamin C and Manuka honey 15+ has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
  • Cranberry juice –  Antibacterial and for Vitamin C.
  • Herbal Teas – Drink as many of these as you like.
  • Green tea with juice of ½ lemon & teaspoon of honey. Antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidants, Vitamin C and energy. Soothing for throat and chest.
  • Fenugreek & thyme tea with a slice of lemon and spoon of honey. Expectorant – ridding the body of mucous, tonic and soothes sore throats.
  • Camomile tea with a slice of lemon and ginger. Soothing and anti-inflammatory. Ginger also promotes sweating part of the bodies defence system for getting rid of toxins.
  • Elderflower tea – Immune stimulating, anti-inflammatory and relieves catarrh. You can mix this tea with Green tea and serve hot or cold with lemon.
  • Soups – Have three times a day with a small piece of wholegrain toast or mixed with a tablespoon of cooked brown rice. Garlic and onion soup might leave your breath less than fragrant, but the combination of these ingredients provides many health benefits. Garlic, like the onion is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. With the current concerns that we have about potential ‘Super bugs’ it is interesting that garlic appears to be an effective antibiotic, even against some of these resistant strains.
  • Chicken and vegetable soup – Chicken contains Cysteine an amino acid that has a similar action to a drug called acetylcysteine, which is used to treat patients with bronchitis and respiratory infections. This soup relieves nasal congestion, reduces inflammation caused by active white blood cells, and provides most of the essential immune system nutrients and fluid and warmth.
  • Beef tea soup – This is an adaptation of the tea that has been used for hundreds of years to help invalids recover from most infections, particularly if they were bedridden for days or even weeks. This provides lean protein which the body needs to recover, the B vitamins essential to combat the stress of infection and rehydrates the body.

Light Meals

  • As I have already mentioned, it is a good idea not to overload the body with heavy stodgy meals while it is trying to fight infection. Salads tend to be unappealing which is why soups are so good at this time.
  • If you feel like eating something more solid then omelettes and scrambled eggs are light and easy to digest. Add spinach and onions to the omelettes to give you a nutrient boost and serve with a slice of toast.
  • A bowl of porridge with honey and a mashed banana and rice milk makes a creamy and nutritious breakfast or snack. You can also make a rice or semolina pudding with rice milk and add dried fruit or honey.

Fruits

  • Apart from the fluids and juices that I have mentioned, eat whatever fruit appeals to you while you are feeling unwell. Any will give you a great boost to the immune system.
  • One in particular though is great at this time and that is pineapple. Apart from the usual healthy properties it contains Bromelain which reduces inflammation in general but also in the glands that tend to be swollen during an infection.
  • Pineapple also works to cleanse the body and blood and increase circulation, allowing toxins to be moved from effectively from infected sites and out of the body.

Supplements

Thankfully, I do not often get colds but if I feel that I am getting some of the symptoms such as a scratchy throat and runny nose, I immediately start a course of 1,000 mg of Vitamin C three times a day with 30 mg of Zinc.

Zinc is also available in lozenge form and is great for sore throats. Both Zinc and Vitamin C are covered in more detail in the October Issue.

Increase the amount that you are eating as you begin to feel better but still stay with six light meals a day for a period of time until your body is fully recovered.

Recipe for Chicken Soup

Cook whole chicken. Take out of water and remove flesh before returning the carcass to the water for further hour to simmer. Remove carcass and add two finely chopped carrots (vitamin A and C), finely chopped large onion (antibacterial) ½ clove of crushed garlic (anti-bacterial and antiviral), bag of fresh chopped spinach (magnesium, iron and calcium). Bring to boil and cook for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add back chopped chicken meat and bring back to boil. Either add a tablespoon of cooked brown rice to the bottom of a soup bowl or serve with wholegrain toast with olive oil.

Recipe for Beef Tea

This is an adaptation of the tea that has been used for hundreds of years to help invalids recover from most infections, particularly if they were bedridden for days or even weeks. Take 1 lb. of lean beefsteak (lean protein and vitamin Bs) and cut into cubes. Place 1-½ pints of cold water in a pan and bring to the boil. Skim of excess fat that accumulates on the surface. Add the salt and simmer for about an hour. Remove any scum on the surface during this time. Liquidise. Store in the refrigerator until needed and then bring required amount to the boil in a saucepan. Serve again with a little brown rice or whole grain bread and olive oil.

onions

Recipes for Onion and Garlic Soup

Onion Soup
2 Tablespoons of olive oil.
2lbs (1kg) of peeled and thinly sliced onions
11/2 pints (900ml) of vegetable stock or water
2 garlic gloves, peeled and crushed
Lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Chopped parsley or chives.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and then fry the onions until they are soft and deep golden brown but not burnt. Add the stock or water, garlic and a few drops of lemon juice. Bring the soup to the boil and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the chopped parsley or chives and serve with warm wholegrain bread or add two tablespoons of cooked brown rice.

Creamy Garlic Soup
8oz (225 gm.) potatoes scrubbed and diced but not peeled.
2 garlic bulbs broken into cloves.
1-tablespoon olive oil.
Salt to taste
2 ½ pints (1.5litres) water.

Put the potatoes and the garlic in a pan with the water, bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potato is tender. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then liquidise and pour through a sieve into a clean pan. Add more water to adjust the consistency to your liking. Whisk in the olive oil and add salt to taste.

Gently reheat before serving with wholegrain bread or Pitta bread.

Next time some alternative help in boosting your immune system… thanks for dropping in and look forward to your feedback.. thanks Sally

 

 

 

 

New Series Cook From Scratch – Continental Breakfast the Spanish Way.


A couple of years ago I ran a guest post series called Cook from Scratch with wonderful healthy recipes from around the world that not only included fresh ingredients but were flavour packed. I would love to invite any of you who have favourite recipes that you would like to share to get in touch at the email at the bottom of the post. And of course another chance to promote your work.

Most of us associate a  breakfast with cereals, breads, butter and jams, a fry up, boiled eggs or perhaps sliced meats and cheese. However, when living in Spain we adopted a different and delicious alternative which is toasted fresh baked bread with olive oil and a spread made from tomatoes.

tomato

It is something we would eat frequently when we were out for coffee instead of something sweet and because I tend to eat between 12.00 and 8.00pm each day as a form of intermittent fasting, it is my first meal of the day. (See yesterdays post on Intermittent Fasting).

Over the years I have developed various recipes for this simple dish and it is so easy to whip up and so delicious that I thought you might like to find out more about it.

Although the dish is really easy to make and serve, it is absolutely packed with nutrients that work on so many levels in your body and benefit virtually every major organ, your skeleton and your immune system.

Whilst it makes this post a little longer than a simple recipe I wanted to illustrate how nutritionally important this dish is for our health by giving you a brief overview of the ingredients too.

But first the recipe.

You can make several days’ worth and store in an airtight container in the fridge. As there are no artificial additives and refined sugars it is a great alternative to other spreads and you can enjoy any time of the day. We have eaten in the evening for a supper from time to time. When we have guests we might also add some lean chicken or a piece of roast beef to the top.

The Bread

I tend to use my own homemade Irish Soda bread which is yeast and sugar free. It can be a little crumbly but delicious with the tomatoes. (recipe coming next week).

Or you can buy a  wholegrain baguette from a bakery where it has been made on the premises (no additives)

tomatoes

Basic Tomato recipe.

You will need one tomato per serving. Using up tomatoes that have gone a little soft is great and just wash and take out the central stem. This recipe is based on four tomatoes cut into cubes and put into a blender. Add 1 dessert spoon of Extra Virgin Olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blend until a puree. The skin of the tomatoes will solidify the mix so scrape into a dish or a storage container to serve as soon as blended. If you would like to add some more depth to the spread you can add 1/2 teaspoon of Pimiento Dulce which is lovely and smokey.

peppers

Red pepper addition with onion and garlic.

To make the tomato spread especially rich and also even more nutritionally dense, chop up half a red pepper, half an onion and a clove of garlic and cook off with a little coconut oil or olive oil in a pan; or in a microwave without oil with a little water for 10 minutes. Add to your tomatoes and blitz it all up together.

Take a fairly thick slice of bread and toast both sides, or split a small sized wholegrain baquette and then drizzle a little olive oil over while hot. Use a spoon and add a good amount of the tomato spread making sure that it covers the surface of the toast.

Enjoy…

Here is a brief look at the health benefits and the nutrients that are packed into this easy to make and healthy alternative to a sugar laden breakfast. Although it contains fats they are healthy fats and if you need to lose weight just use less on your toast as there is plenty of flavour in the spread already.

olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil which is from the first pressing of the olives is the best oil to use as it contains higher levels of nutrients, particularly Vitamin E and Essential Fatty Acids.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesise and must be obtained through diet.

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

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

In a human trial it was found that polyphenol rich olive oil included in the diet improved the health of blood vessels which was not the case for another group of volunteers that included oil in their diet with the phenols removed. Obviously the healthier the blood vessels the more effective the entire circulatory system

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are another very nutritious food that tends to be taken for granted. We expect to see in the summer with salads but raw or cooked the tomato is a powerhouse of health benefits.

Tomatoes contain Vitamins A, C, and K. Folate and Potassium and provide good quantities of B Vitamins Thiamin, Niacin, B6 as well as the minerals magnesium, phosphorus and copper. With the addition of fibre, regular inclusion of tomatoes in your diet helps protect you against high blood pressure, too much oxidised low density lipoprotein cholesterol (the unhealthy kind) and heart disease.

Combine this with beta-carotene which is found in brightly coloured foods such as carrots, eating tomatoes offers some protection against sun damage. The lycopene content also has been show to make the skin less sensitive to UV light damage helping keep your skin looking younger.

As we age we also lose bone density and the Vitamin K, calcium and lycopene are essential in the production of new bone.

Red Peppers

Red peppers are packed with vitamin C, in fact more than most citrus fruits, and they have a high anti-oxidant level including Vitamin A, adding to that already present in the tomatoes. They also add more B vitamins into the recipe including B6 which makes neurotransmitters that might help inhibit the development of breast cancer.

As well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, red peppers have a good amount of manganese, needed for bone density and tendons and cartilage.

Onions and Garlic
 onionsOnions and garlic fit well into the category of ‘Superfood’ as they are both nutritional and can influence health in a very positive way.

The onion has a powerful sulphur-containing compound, which is responsible for the pungent odour and for the health benefits. Onions contain allyl propyl disulphide, chromium, Vitamin C and flavonoids, the most beneficial being Quercitin.

Allyl propyl disulphide lowers blood sugar levels by competing with insulin, which is also a disulphide for space in the liver where insulin is normally deactivated. This results in an increase in the amount of insulin available to move glucose into cells causing a lowering of blood sugar. Chromium is a mineral that also helps cells respond efficiently to insulin, which in turn decreases blood sugar levels. These two properties in the onion make it a vegetable worth including in our daily diet as we get older to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Chromium has also been shown to improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels, and decrease total cholesterol levels whilst increasing levels of the healthy cholesterol (HDL).

Garlic contains many helpful compounds including thiosulfinates such as allicin, sulphates including alliin and dithins the most researched being ajoene.
(Just a quick note on the addition of garlic you might want to time this ingredient so that it does not clash with a business meeting or a romantic date….)

Research has identified that garlic lowers blood pressure, decreases the ability of platelets to clump together forming clots, reduces blood levels of lousy cholesterol (LDL) whilst increasing levels of healthy cholesterol (HDL). It also helps our blood vessels relax which prevents atherosclerosis, heart disease and the risks of heart attacks and strokes.

garlic

Garlic, like the onion is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. With the current concerns that we have about potential ‘Super bugs’ it is interesting that garlic appears to be an effective antibiotic, even against some of these resistant strains.

Cancer protection is essential for all of us. The compound ajoene might be effective in the treatment of skin cancer and eating two or more servings a week of garlic may help prevent colon cancer.

To find a list of all the major nutrients that the body needs to be healthy and the foods that provide them click on this link.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/nutrient-directory-a-brief-overview-of-the-nutrients-we-need-and-the-foods-that-supply-them/

Photo Tomato y Pan – Flickr

I would love to have your recipes that are cook from scratch and made with healthy ingredients. I will add your links and that includes to your books and blog so an excellent way to showcase your work.. Contact me sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Food Pharmacy – Stops Vampires in their tracks and the inspiration behind breath mints! Onions and Garlic.


Food Pharmacy – Stops Vampires in their tracks and the inspiration behind breath mints! Onions and Garlic..

via Food Pharmacy – Stops Vampires in their tracks and the inspiration behind breath mints! Onions and Garlic..

Food Pharmacy – Stops Vampires in their tracks and the inspiration behind breath mints! Onions and Garlic.


The last in my current Food Pharmacy blogs, next week Herbs – at certain times in my life I have found taking specific herbal remedies have allowed me to recover or to minimise symptoms of hormonal changes or minor infections.  However, today – foods that make a Vampire stop in his tracks and probably the inspiration behind breath mints!

ONIONS

Despite the current emphasis on healthy eating and weight, not many of us look at a plate of food and separate the ingredients out according to their nutritional or therapeutic benefits.  However, many foods have a long and distinguished history in natural medicine and the inclusion on a regular basis in your diet can bring many benefits.

One of the enormous benefits of living in Spain is the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables available in supermarkets, most of which is sourced from within Spain and the Islands.  Despite my concerns about our modern diet, there is a positive, and that is with vastly improved transport links and methods, the same foods can be enjoyed in most countries in Europe.

Although the French may lay claim to being the ‘Onion Kings’, Spanish onions are well known for their pungent and flavourful addition to cooking around the world.

Onions and garlic fit well into the category of ‘Superfood’ as they are both nutritional and can influence health in a very positive way.

Despite any claims to the contrary, onions (Allium cepa) originated from Asia and the Middle East and have been grown for over 5,000 years.  They were even used by the Egyptians as a weekly wage for the workers who built the pyramids, not something they would get away with today.  They were sent into the afterlife with Pharaohs and used in this life by many different cultures to prevent a premature passage to the other side.  The Israelites apparently wandered the wilderness longing for the onions, leeks and garlic that they had left behind in Egypt, something to think about when you next pass them in the grocery section of the supermarket.

The onion is part of the Lily family, which includes garlic, leeks, welsh onions and chives.  The word onion comes from the old English word unyun derived from the French word oignon, which in turn came from the Latin unio.  There are words for the vegetable in ancient languages but none seems to be related to each other indicating how widespread the use of the vegetable was.

Onions have been used for thousands of years as a seasoning for otherwise bland food and today we can buy them all year round and use them raw or cooked in a wide variety of dishes.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF ONIONS.

The onion has a powerful sulphur-containing compound, which is responsible for the pungent odour and for the health benefits.  Onions contain allyl propyl disulphide, chromium, Vitamin C and flavonoids, the most beneficial being Quercitin.

Allyl propyl disulphide lowers blood sugar levels by competing with insulin, which is also a disulphide for space in the liver where insulin is normally deactivated.  This results in an increase in the amount of insulin available to move glucose into cells causing a lowering of blood sugar.  Chromium is a mineral that also helps cells respond efficiently to insulin, which in turn decreases blood sugar levels.  These two properties in the onion make it a vegetable worth including in our daily diet as we get older to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Chromium has also been shown to improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels, and decrease total cholesterol levels whilst increasing levels of the healthy cholesterol (HDL).

The reduction in unhealthy cholesterol levels leads to reductions in blood pressure levels, which is of course a leading cause of cardiovascular disease. Eating onions with other foods with high levels of Bioflavonoids (tea, apples, broccoli, cranberry juice etc.) has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease

Quercitin combined with Vitamin C work together to kill bacteria, which is why they are so valuable added to soups and stews during the cold and flu season.

There are other areas where eating onions regularly can reduce your risk on developing degenerative and sometimes life threatening diseases.  These include Colon cancer, Osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and other inflammatory diseases.

An exciting area of research into bone health has identified that a compound in onions with a mile long name but GPCS for short, may inhibit the activity of osteoclasts, which are the cells that break down bone. 

Onions also contain healthy amounts of other nutrients such as manganese, Vitamin B6, tryptophan, Folate, potassium, phosphorus and copper making onions a well-rounded nutrient source.

GARLIC

The garlic is a multi-bulb cousin to the onion.  Again originating in Asia it has been used for thousands of years as a pungent additive to food but also as a healing agent.  In recent years, its reputation has been validated by hundreds of research studies and like the onion; it is worth including in your diet very regularly.

Garlic contains many helpful compounds including thiosulfinates such as allicin, sulphates including alliin and dithins the most researched being ajoene.

Research has identified that garlic lowers blood pressure, decreases the ability of platelets to clump together forming clots, reduces blood levels of lousy cholesterol (LDL) whilst increasing levels of healthy cholesterol (HDL).  It also helps our blood vessels relax which prevents atherosclerosis, heart disease and the risks of heart attacks and strokes.

Garlic, like the onion is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. With the current concerns that we have about potential ‘Super bugs’ it is interesting that garlic appears to be an effective antibiotic, even against some of these resistant strains.

Cancer protection is essential for all of us.  The compound ajoene might be effective in the treatment of skin cancer and eating two or more servings a week of garlic may help prevent colon cancer.

Allicin has also been researched in regard to weight loss, as there is some indications that in the laboratory at least, that this compound may inhibit weight gain.

As in the case of most spicy and pungent foods ‘less is more’ with this particular flavouring especially if you wish to maintain close relationships with family and friends.

 

http://auroralapetite.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/rich-onion-garlic-thyme-spaghetti/

http://fatisrecipes.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/glorious-garlic-prawns-and-vegetables-recipe/

http://dkscooks.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/savor-it-peppery-balsamic-onion-and-roasted-garlic-jam/

Thank you for following this series and from Monday it will be Herbs.