Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Start today

There is no time like the present.
Stop wishing.
Stop thinking about it.
Take action.

Choose one thing to change in your life and start. 

So, what's it going to be?

Lyndal @ Lean Green and Healthy

Recipe - caramelised honeyed apples (perfect for pork)

One of those lovely traditions for those who enjoy pork is pork chops and apple sauce, or roast pork and apple sauce. This recipe is not about the pork,  its about apples.  Most commercial apple sauce is highly processed and packed with either sugar or aspartame - neither of which I want to eat.  

Now home-made apple sauce is great. If you have the time, the inclination and don't mind a hearty quantity of brown sugar, then there's a great traditional recipe here. But there has got to be an easier way!  

So welcome to my honeyed caramelised apples. This is the world's easiest recipe, but I have no idea how I ate pork any other way now.

Core and slice 1 or 2 apples into fine slices (leave the skin on, its tasty and good for you!) I use whatever apples we happen to have at home- usually pink lady or royal gala apples, but you can use anything at all, red or green. In fact the method would work just as well with a crispy pear. Aiming for about half an apple per person will be plenty - I use two apples for my family of three.

Heat a pan on medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil and drop in the apple slices.  They will soften, turn golden and caramelise relatively quickly but they can burn easily due to the natural sugars in the fruit so watch them. Better to keep it lower and take a little longer if needed. As they are cooking add a squeeze of orange or lemon juice for tang and a sprinkle of cinnamon (or nutmeg or ground cloves if you feel like some variety and a little more spice).  Finally, turn the heat right down (or off) and stir through a spoonful of raw honey just before serving.

Spoon on top of your pork (I think it would be nice with grilled chicken too or even as a dessert spooned over yoghurt or with some mascarpone cheese? ). These are sweet, but with the combination of fruit, raw honey and the squeeze of lemon juice, are nothing like the sweetness of sugar laden processed foods.  Trust me, you will never want to eat apple sauce out a jar again :)

Lyndal @ Lean Green and Healthy

Omega 3 fatty acids - fish and more!

Brain food! And yes, my herring salad was delicious!
I love eating fish  

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for optimal health. The only way we can gain them naturally is though our diet. Omega 3 has well established health benefits - not only does it prevent heart disease and is vital for brain health and development, it has also been shown to be  beneficial in conditions such as diabetes, obesity, depression, arthritis, ADHD  and skin disorders. It also has strong anti inflammatory properties which are very important for people with chronic disease. 

Because of these known benefits, lots of people buy fish oil supplements which is of course fine. But you really don't need to. Did you know a can of sardines or herrings (like I had for lunch today) contains over 3,000mg of DHA? Fresh cold water fish like salmon or albacore tuna are also excellent sources as are oysters, mussels and squid. In a statement by the American Heart Association it was confirmed that eating fresh fish twice a week reduced the risk of sudden cardiac death by 50%!!  

Don't eat fish? That's okay!  Omega 3 fatty acids are also found in flaxseeds, soybeans, chia seeds and walnuts as well as green leafy vegetables. The recommendations is that we should be including more of all sources in our diet on a daily basis, not just fish.

And here's the kicker - while the evidence for inclusion of more fresh sources of Omega 3 in our diets is clear, the evidence for fish oil supplements is a little less impressive. Nutrition science is complex, and as has been found in so many cases when we try and break down the microcnutrients of each food to find the "magic bullet" we don't always get exactly the same benefits.

Just eat real food. 

Lyndal @ Lean Green and Healthy.

More information?
University of Rochester medical center 

Recipe - hearty beef stew (with variations!)

So its shopping day today and I have some random leftover veggies in my fridge. Not much gets wasted around here, so I'm always proud when there are only a handful of sad looking pieces of fruit and veg needing to be used up. So what to make with it?  Its a cool autumn evening and I think a great night for a beef stew! 

This is a "template" recipe, meaning that you can interchange many parts of it. A bit like my curries and soups, this recipe is different almost every time I make it depending on what's in the fridge, in season or on special... but is a great hearty home cooked meal for a cool evening. This will take about 90 minutes (prep and cooking time) on the stove or if you have time throw it in a slow cooker for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Its also cheap, tasty and a great way to get more vegetables in your diet!

Ingredients for tonight's version (with other suggestions in italics)
500g diced gravy beef (or lamb or chicken or pork or no meat at all)
1 onion diced
1 red capsicum
2 carrots diced
2 stalks celery diced
1 tsp minced garlic or 1 clove finely diced
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons plain flour (I use GF flour but any flour would do)
1 400g tin diced tomatoes
1 400g tin borlotti beans (or use kidney beans, lentils, chick peas)
2 cups beef stock (or chicken stock or veggie stock depending on what youre making)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 slop (about 100ml) of red wine (any wine or beer or brandy or sherry works great too)
All the veggies you can find (I used sweet potatoes, mushrooms, peas, parsnips, spinach, carrots, pumpkin but really anything works)
Fresh or dried herbs of your choice(I used rosemary, oregano, thyme and a bay leaf for cooking and parsley for garnish)

Start by using a heavy based pot - I use cast iron as it retains heat and gives a lovely even cooking temperature throughout.  Dice your onions, carrot, celery and capsicum, throw in the pot with a slop of olive oil, the garlic and paprika and start cooking, stirring the garlic and paprika into your veggies.. It will need about 5-7 minutes until your onions are translucent and everything has gone a lovely orangey red from the spices. 

While this is cooking, dice the hardest of your vegetables -in my case carrots and parsnips - and if you are using mushrooms I also add them now. I also add the dried herbs (except the bay leaves) at this point. Tonight I added dried oregano, thyme and rosemary. Give these veggies another 5-7 minutes, cooking and stirring, until everything is softened and well coated in garlic, herbs and spices.

At this stage add your meat. I used diced beef - but any meat of your choice is fine. Just vary your herbs, wine and stock accordingly. Add your beef and 2 tablespoons of plain flour. Mix everything together roughly so the beef is well coated with flour and the flour will absorb all the juice from the pan.  (this well ensure your stew has a nice thick gravy at the end). It will brown slightly as you stir but will remain mainly pink, this is fine. Some recipes want you to fully brown and sear the meat- I don't think its necessary and it actually ends up more tender this way in my experience. 

Add a slop of red wine into the pot and stir it through. Next add your tin of diced tomatoes and your tin of drained and rinsed legumes (I used borlotti beans) and mix them in. Add 2 cups of beef stock and if you like an extra rich flavour a few tablespoons of tomato paste. Add the remaining vegetables roughly chopped into small pieces. (if you are using peas spinach or green veg don't add them yet).

Pop on the lid and pour yourself a (small) glass of wine. Turn the heat to low and simmer for half an hour, stirring once if need be to ensure nothing sticks on the bottom. After half an hour check on the flavour. At this point I usually add a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar for a yummy caramel flavour, add the peas, spinach and any other green veg and stir through any additional fresh herbs plus the bay leaf (remember to remove it before serving). Season with plenty of ground black pepper. Sit down with your feet up and finish your glass of wine for another 20 minutes or so for it to finish cooking and thicken up. Your kitchen should be smelling pretty awesome by now. 
Your dinner should now be ready! This recipe makes an enormous pot and will feed 6-8 (or in our house that's my husband and I, our bottomless 16 year old son and 3 meals for the freezer!) Garnish with fresh herbs and if you're feeling indulgent you may need to acquaint it with (just a little)  crusty sourdough bread. 

Lyndal @ Lean Green and Healthy