Sunday, 7 August 2016

August 2016: number one


NUMBER ONE






We can learn a lot from studying our urine. When I was young, in Holland we used to have toilets with a little platform, so we could see what we had produced. I gather they still have them in Germany. Things are less clear with the British, more considerate, system. However, it can be useful to be aware of what's going on.

The LOOK
If everything is normal and healthy, the colour of your urine should be a pale yellow to gold.
If it has no colour at all, you may have been drinking a lot of water or taking a diuretic [1]. But there are other possibilities.
Very dark honey coloured, orange or brown: you’re dehydrated and need to get more fluids right away. It could also warn of liver problems, or bile in your urine.
Pink or red: you’ve eaten carrots, blackberries, beets, or rhubarb. It can also be an effect of medications. If not, there may be blood in your urine, caused by kidney disease, a UTI (urinary tract infection, see below), prostate problems, or a tumor.
Bright yellow or orange: you may have had a lot of vitamins C or B2, carrots, beets - or it can be caused by medications.
Blue or green: shows food dye or medications, or, possibly, a few rare conditions.
Foamy or frothy: a sign of protein in your urine, which may mean you have kidney issues.
Cloudy urine suggests the presence of phosphates, possibly a precursor of kidney stones. Cloudiness can also indicate an infection. If it worsens and you feel burning or urgency, you may have a UTI - see below.

The SMELL
Ammonia means dehydration: drink!
Sweet-smelling urine may be a sign of diabetes or liver disease.
Foul smell can mean you have a UTI. Other symptoms are: burning during urination, fever, chills, and back pain.
Asparagus has its own aroma, but coffee and vitamin B6 supplements can also affect the urine.

The FREQUENCY
If you’re constantly feeling the urge to go, without drinking any extra fluids, this can indicate: an overactive bladder, a UTI, interstitial cystitis, or diabetes. Urgency means you need to go right away, have difficulty holding it in, and wake up several times to use the bathroom.
For men, urgency and frequency could be symptoms of a bladder problem or, more commonly, an enlarged prostate. Prostate problems can also cause incomplete emptying of your bladder, so you still feel like you have to go again minutes later. This is not something to be ignored, and won’t go away on its own.
Increased frequency and urgency in women may be a symptom of infection, kidney stones, or a more serious condition.
Don't assume drinking less water will lessen the trouble, for dehydration can cause urinary issues too.

Check with the doctor if you notice a change in your pee that doesn’t seem linked to new medications or a recent meal - especially if it lasts more than a day or so, or if it comes with fever, back or side pain, vomiting, feeling very thirsty, or discharge. 
For more detail, see http://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/truth-about-urine and http://www.lifescript.com/health/centers/oab/articles/what_your_urine_says_about_your_health.aspx.


INCONTINENCE

There is stress-, urge-, and overflow incontinence [2], each of which needs a slightly different approach. For exercises and other natural remedies, see

The risk of getting a UTI is increased if you don’t drink enough, have frequent baths (retrograde infection) or wait long to urinate; or if you are pregnant, menopausal or use a catheder. With diabetes the risk is worse, as a high sugar level in the urine is very favourable for bacteria.
Make sure you use cotton underwear, wipe from front to back, urinate before and after sexual activity and don’t wear tight clothes.
Though most will want to take their UTIs straight to the doctor, there are things you can do yourself once you have it.
Drink plenty of water! Avoid drinks that may irritate your bladder: coffee, alcohol, and soft drinks containing citrus juices or caffeine. Unsweetened cranberry juice, blueberries, and vitamin C are excellent. For more food and drinks which help, see http://everydayroots.com/uti-remedies.
See also http://www.everydayhealth.com/urinary-tract-infections/helpful-home-remedies-for-urinary-tract-infections.aspx.

And since you ask, yes, unless you have kidney problems, you can drink your own urine. See http://www.innerself.com/Health/urine.htm.


PS
“Full-fat food can reduce obesity."
“Leading public health bodies collude with food industry”
“The recent Eatwell Guide from Public Health England was produced with a large number of people from the food and drinks industry.”
Says the independent professional organisation Public Health Collaboration.
Who knew? If you read Thought for Food regularly, you did. [3]


And some good news: Asda now sells boxes of imperfect in-season vegetables! One box will feed a family of four for a week and costs £3.50 – 30% less than standard lines. [4]



~~~~~~~~

EAT:
Veg: aubergines, french/runner/broad beans, calabrese, cauli, cucumbers, fennel, chard, spinach (beet), summer squash, sweetcorn, globe artichokes, beet, carrots, courgettes, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, peppers, radish, turnip, marrow, tomatoes, spring onions, salsify/scorzonera, samphire, rocket, watercress.
Cheap, free range good-for-you meat: rabbit and wood pigeon. Puffballs!
Fish is excellent at this time of year: mackerel, black bream, crab, grey mullet, trout, scallops, sea bass, flounder.

SOW:
Chinese cabbage, spring cabbage, chicory, kohl rabi, lettuce for harvesting November/December, quick variety peas, mooli (=white) and black radish, chard, spinach beet. Lamb's lettuce (corn salad), rocket and especially land cress will survive the winter.
Perpetual spinach, (spinach beet, or leaf beet) tastes as good as 'true' spinach, is more forgiving of soil and weather and doesn't go to seed so quickly. Sow now for winter/spring crop.
Early August only: chard, florence fennel, spring onions, turnip.

BRAISED LETTUCE and PEAS for 2.
2 roundhead lettuces, 1 tblsp oil/butter, 3 thinly sliced shallots or 1 onion, 1 tblsp flour, 200ml stock/water, 300g (frozen) peas, (3 tblsp yoghurt or sour cream).
Remove lettuce cores, halve and thinly slice the leaves. Sauté the shallots, ab. 2 mins. Add flour, stir, ab. 30 secs. Add stock, bring to the boil. Stir in the lettuce and peas, cover, and simmer until they are both tender. (Stir in yoghurt or sour cream.) Season.

PARSLEY SALAD: served as a small sidedish to go with meat. Enough for 8 people, but the leftovers will keep. 
100g Italian parsley, 2 tblsp fresh lemon juice, 2 tblsp lemon zest, 6 tblsp walnut oil, 2 tsp dark sesame oil, 1 tsp honey, salt, pepper, 3 tblsp toasted sesame seeds.
Discard parsley stems. Whisk together lemon juice, zest, walnut oil, sesame oil, honey, salt and pepper. Add parsley and sesame seeds and mix. Let sit for at least 30 mins so that flavours meld.

For more recipes, see former August issues: click on 2016 at the right hand side of this page. 



[1] Normally drinking too much does not matter, but if you go really over the top this can lead to hyponatremia, which occurs when someone drinks so much liquid the body’s balance of sodium to water goes off-kilter - a dangerous condition. Other risk factors for hyponatremia include some medications and medical conditions, such as kidney disease.


Next month: forgetfulness or Alzheimer's?





August 2015: diarrhoea




What to eat and drink when you have DIARRHOEA
(or: who needs Imodium?)




Bananas: 
Bland and easily digested, bananas are rich in pectin, a soluble fibre that helps to absorb liquid in the intestines. Their high level of potassium helps to replace lost electrolytes. Bananas also contain inulin, a prebiotic, which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria (probiotics).

White rice and (peeled) mashed potatoes
Low in fibre, they're easily digested. Eat rice and potatoes plain; the fat in butter irritates and contributes to intestinal cramping.

Applesauce
Apples, too, are a good source of pectin. However, the fibre in raw apples makes them too rough for a dicey intestinal system, so they need to be cooked. Cooked carrots are also good.

Yoghurt
Generally, dairy products should be avoided during acute diarrhea, but yoghurt is excellent. Look for a type that contains live or active cultures, or more specifically Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum.

Steamed Chicken
Steamed chicken is a bland, easily digested source of protein. However, avoid the use of butter or oil.

Blueberries
Either chew dried blueberries or make a tea by boiling crushed dried blueberries for 10 minutes. They contain tannins, an astringent, which contracts tissue and reduces inflammation and secretion of liquids and mucus. Blueberries contain not only pectin, but anthocyanosides, which have antibacterial properties, as well as being a good source of antioxidants.

Peppermint tea
Peppermint soothes the gastrointestinal system. It calms and relaxes the intestinal muscles, reducing spasms. It also reduces gas. [1] 
Other herbs for diarrhoea are: sage, plantain, lavender, lady’s mantle, bramble, nettles and salad burnet.

Avoid foods with high sugar content. Don’t consume lots of fibre, which is in: nuts, seeds, fruit and whole grain products. Stay away from caffeinated drinks, spicy/fried foods and full-strength fruit juices.

ALSO
do keep eating: you will recover sooner if you don’t fast. 
sugar is bad (where did I hear that before?): it “passes right through you and draws water and salts out of the body, leading to vomiting”. Diet drinks are even worse. By far best are starchy liquids: a thick soup or drink made from any starchy food, such as rice, corn, wheat or potatoes. [3]

CAUSES:
Of course, it is important to know the reason for your trouble. This may be:
* bacteria and parasites
* medications [4]
* surgery or radiation therapy
* digestive disorders such as celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease.
* food intolerance, such as difficulty digesting dairy products. Artificial sweeteners and fructose can also cause diarrhoea.



~~~

Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, Health Senior Scholar with the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, Research Director for the University of Alberta’s Health Law Institute and Trudeau Fellow:
“The real secrets of a long life? Don’t smoke, exercise, eat real food, watch your weight, wear a seatbelt, get a good night’s sleep and love somebody.” [5]

 ~~~

EAT:
Veg: aubergines, french/runner/broad beans, calabrese, cauli, cucumbers, fennel, chard, spinach (beet), summer squash, sweetcorn, globe artichokes, beet, carrots, courgettes, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, peppers, radish, turnip, marrow, tomatoes, spring onions, salsify/scorzonera, samphire, rocket, watercress.
Cheap, free range good-for-you meat: rabbit and wood pigeon. Puffballs!
Fish is excellent at this time of year: mackerel, black bream, crab, grey mullet, trout, scallops, sea bass, flounder.

SOW:
Chinese cabbage, spring cabbage, chicory, kohl rabi, lettuce for harvesting November/December, quick variety peas, winter-hardy spring onions, salad leaves, fast-maturing carrots (Adelaide), endive,  red, white (= mooli) and black radish, spinach beet. Lamb's lettuce (corn salad), rocket and especially land cress will survive the winter.
Perpetual spinach, (spinach beet, or leaf beet) tastes as good as 'true' spinach, is more forgiving of soil and weather and doesn't go to seed so quickly. Sow now for winter/spring crop.
Early August only: chard, florence fennel, turnip.
Plantcauliflowers (early in the month), winter cabbages, kale.  


RECIPES


BROAD BEANS with SOUR CREAM
1k unshelled broad beans, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp grated rind, 1 tsp mustard, 1 beaten egg yolk, 120ml sour cream, nutmeg, 1 tsp chopped mint, (2 tsp brown sugar), salt, little soy.
Shell beans, steam till tender. Put everything bar the yolk in a pan. Let thicken over low heat. Add yolk, stir but don't boil. Serve immediately. 

RUNNER BEAN STEW serves 2
300g runner beans, 3 tblsp olive oil, 3 sliced garlic cloves, chilli powder, 2 cloves, 400g tomatoes and some tomato puree or 2x400g tins; basil, grated cheese.
Destring beans and cut on the diagonal into 1cm pieces. Heat oil in a frying pan, add garlic. Cook for 1-2 mins then add beans, potatoes, chilli and cloves. Cook for 2 mins, then tip in the (drained) tomatoes (and puree). Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes until the beans are tender and the sauce is thick and rich. You may want to add a bit of water while this is cooking, but don't add too much. Stir through the basil just before serving and season to taste. Serve with grain or pasta and grated cheese.

FRENCH BEANS and CARROTS SAUTEED in BUTTER and GARLIC
300g French beans, 2 large carrots, butter, chopped garlic, salt, pepper.
Trim beans and cut carrots into sticks the same size as the beans. Cook carrots until they start to soften but are not yet done. Add beans to carrots, cook some more. The veg should be just a bit underdone. Drain, set aside. When almost ready to serve, heat butter until foamy, throw in garlic and veg, stir for 2 mins. Season.

BROAD BEANS with CHARD and DILL
280g shelled broad beans, 280g sliced chard (leaves and stems), 5 tbsp butter, 1 diced onion, 8 tbsp chopped fresh or 1.5 tsp dried dill; 1/2 tsp salt. 
Heat butter: when foaming, add onion and stir for 1 min. Add beans, saute 1 min. Add chard and dill, stir for some mins. Add salt and 3 tbsp water. Cover tightly and simmer for 15 mins. Serve hot or warm with grains or pitta bread. (Gardenorganic).

FRENCH BEANS and MUSHROOMS with SOUR CREAM
225g French beans, butter, 225g mushrooms, 120 ml crème fraîche, salt, pepper.
Steam beans until just tender, drain. Melt butter and sauté mushrooms on a high heat so they don't lose their juices. Cook slowly until tender. Stir in beans, heat through. Add crème fraîche, season. Cook briefly; serve immediately.

VEGETABLE MARROW HONGROISE
25g butter, 1 marrow, seeded and cut into slivers, 1 tblsp finely chopped onion, 1 tblsp vinegar, dill or the crushed dill seed, salt, pepper, 1 tsp paprika, 1 heaped tsp flour. 
Melt 3/4 of the butter, add marrow, cover and cook until it's soft, stirring frequently. Remove marrow, add the onion to the pan and fry until soft. Stir in vinegar, dill, salt, pepper and paprika, then return the marrow to the pan. Mix and cook gently for 2 mins. Mash the remaining butter with the flour to make a paste and add to the pan, stirring well. Simmer until thick. The dill can be replaced by cumin or coriander. 

COLEY/POLLOCK with CIDER
700g coley or pollock, 250ml cider, 2 onions, green pepper, 3 tomatoes, marjoram, cayenne, 3 tblsp breadcrumbs.
Bring cider to the boil, add onions and green pepper, simmer for 5 mins or until the cider has reduced by 1/4. Remove from heat.
Cut fish into 10 cm pieces: put into ovenproof dish. Stir in cider mix and tomatoes, marjoram, cayenne, salt, pepper. Cover; bake at 170°C for 30 mins or until the fish is cooked: the flesh should flake easily. Uncover and sprinkle breadcrumbs over it. Grill until the topping is lightly browned.
The fish can also be put in a frying pan on top of the cooker, covered with the cider sauce and other ingredients. Cook without lid till done. When done, (and not too wet anymore), cover with breadcrumbs and put under the grill. 

BARE BUTTOCKS in the GRASS (that’s what it’s called in Holland ...)
1-1.2k new potatoes, 500g runner beans, 1 tin ab. 400g white beans, 200g very mature cheese, chives, 150-200ml milk or stock, mustard, 8 gherkins.
Cook potatoes in not too much water - 20 mins. Cut up runner beans, also cook - 10 to 12 mins.
Rinse or drain the white beans, and heat them with the runners for a few minutes. Chop cheese into small cubes. Chop chives. Heat the milk or stock. Mash potatoes and stir in the liquid, then the bean mix, cheese and chives. Season. Heat through till the cheese is just starting to melt. Serve with mustard and gherkins.
For a non-veggie version, serve with sausages instead of cheese.



[4] Antibiotics, while going after bad bacteria, also kill the good ones which protect you. See also http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/medications-that-can-cause-diarrhea

NEXT MONTH: antibiotics




August 2014: eat food





 


EAT FOOD


It's almost impossible to resist. Once you're in that supermarket, the wares pull at you and the more refined they are, the harder they pull. The experts who created them know their job. They play on your deepest urges, make a token gesture to any health-ideas you might have picked up (where from?) and have you got the time to produce something from scratch? Of course not.
So 1) avoid the supermaket, 2) avoid watching tv ads, 3) ....  no, it can't be done.

All I've got to help you in this difficult situation is some quotes to remind you of what it is that matters when you buy food.

The first five come from Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.

“Avoid food products containing ingredients that are A) unfamiliar B) unpronounceable C) more than five in number or D) that include high-fructose corn syrup.”

“Don't eat anything incapable of rotting.”

“If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat”

“You are, what what you eat eats.”

“While it is true that many people simply can't afford to pay more for food, either in money or time or both, many more of us can. After all, just in the last decade or two we've somehow found the time in the day to spend several hours on the internet and the money in the budget not only to pay for broadband service, but to cover a second phone bill and a new monthly bill for television, formerly free.”


“Another reason to eat whole foods is that many nutrients work together. You need vitamin C to absorb iron, and saturated fats extend the use of omega-3 fats. There are countless relationships like this in nutrition. There is no need to remember them. Just eat whole foods in their natural state and in classic combinations, such as leaves with olive oil, or fish with butter, and you’ll get everything you need.“ http://www.foodrenegade.com/food-not-nutrients/



EAT:
Veg: aubergines, french/runner/broad beans, calabrese, cauli, cucumbers, fennel, chard, spinach (beet), summer squash, sweetcorn, globe artichokes, beet, carrots, courgettes, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, peppers, radish, turnip, marrow, tomatoes, spring onions, salsify/scorzonera, samphire, rocket, watercress.
Cheap, free range good-for-you meat: rabbit and wood pigeon. Puffballs!
Fish is excellent at this time of year: mackerel, black bream, crab, grey mullet, trout, scallops, sea bass, flounder.

SOW:
Chinese cabbage, spring cabbage, chicory, kohl rabi, lettuce for harvesting November/December, quick variety peas, winter-hardy spring onions, salad leaves, fast-maturing carrots (Adelaide), endive,  red, white (= mooli) and black radish, spinach beet. Lamb's lettuce (corn salad), rocket and especially land cress will survive the winter.
Perpetual spinach, (spinach beet, or leaf beet) tastes as good as 'true' spinach, is more forgiving of soil and weather and doesn't go to seed so quickly. Sow now for winter/spring crop.
Early August only: chard, florence fennel, turnip.
Plantcauliflowers (early in the month), winter cabbages, kale.   

Yes, you can still have fresh vegetables in your garden this winter, if you sow now. Here is what and how:  http://www.verticalveg.org.uk/winter-growing-its-time-to-plan-and-sow/

Raw tomatoes are best for vitamins, as cooking reduces vits C and B6 and strips some of the fibre. However, cooking boosts levels of lycopene, which combats heart disease and prostate cancer. Frying helps the body to absorb the lycopene. So: have them however you fancy!


RECIPES

BROAD BEAN and COURGETTE SALAD  
4 courgettes, 200g podded broad beans (1kg unpodded weight), 2 tbsp olive oil, 10 walnut halves, thyme or savory.
For the vinaigrette: 1 tbsp cider vinegar, 50ml olive oil.
Whisk vinegar and oil with seasoning, set aside. Cook beans in boiling water for 3 mins. Drain, and if they are very old, you may like to remove the skins. Cut courgettes into four lengthways and slice into 5mm thick pieces. Heat oil, add courgettes. Cook, stirring, for 8 mins, until they are light golden. Add beans, thyme/savory and seasoning, cook for another 30 secs. Remove from heat and stir in vinaigrette while still warm. Serve warm with chopped walnuts on top, or cold with some lettuce leaves.

CHARD SOUP with SOUR CREAM (or use spinach)
200g Swiss chard, 3 tblsp sour cream, 1.5l water/stock, onion and/or garlic.
Saute onion (and garlic), add liquid, bring to the boil. Add finely chopped chard, cook 
till done, blitz if you like. Dilute the sour cream with some of the soup, mix all together, season. 

RUNNER BEAN STEW serves 2   
300g runner beans, 3 tblsp olive oil, 3 sliced garlic cloves, large pinch chilli flakes, 2 cloves; 2 x 400g tins plum tomato drained of juice or 400g tomatoes and some tomato puree; basil, grated cheese.
Destring beans and cut on the diagonal into 1 cm pieces. Heat olive oil in a frying pan, add garlic. Cook for 1-2 mins then add beans, potatoes, chilli and cloves. Cook for 2 mins then tip in the drained tomatoes. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes until beans are tender and the sauce is thick and rich. You may want to add a bit of water while this is cooking, but don't add too much. Stir the basil through just before serving and season to taste. Serve with grain or pasta and grated cheese.

BLOTE BILLETJES IN HET GRAS
*1k potatoes, 600g chopped runner beans, 1 tin white beans ab. 400g, 200g extra mature cheese, 10g chives, lump of butter, mustard, gherkins or capers. 
Cook potatoes in salted water for 20 mins. Cook runner beans till done. Drain white beans and heat them up with the runner beans for the last few mins. Cut cheese in small cubes, chop chives. Mash the potatoes in (some of) their cooking water. Stir in both kinds of beans, the cheese, chives and the butter. Season. Heat till cheese is starting to melt. Serve with mustard and gherkins.
For a non-veggie version, serve with sausages instead of cheese.
 

PASTA with SUMMER VEGETABLES, GOAT'S CHEESE and CHIVES
Cook pasta, and when it is almost ready add peas, broad beans, thinly sliced runner beans and thinly sliced carrots. Strain and immediately put back over the heat with a splash of the best olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, snipped chive blossoms, small pieces of goat's cheese and chopped chives or chervil. Stir briefly together.

HERRING ROE on TOAST
Some say you shouldn't eat roe, as this affects fish that are breeding and so the population of the species. However, if you do find some roe in your herring: it's tasty, quick, cheap and very nutritious. Remove the black vein that runs along the sacs, dredge roes in seasoned flour (black pepper, paprika). Heat butter and once bubbling, cook 2-3 minutes on each side. On hot, buttered toast. Lemon juice optional.


SPICY CORN-SPINACH-TOMATO PANCAKE for ONE
ab. 50g cooked corn (from the cob, or a tin), 100g spinach, 130g tomatoes, small onion, 1 egg, 5ml water/milk, 30g flour, salt, pepper, butter/olive oil, chilli pepper (grated cheese).
Mix flour, egg, and liquid into a batter, add corn, season. Saute chopped onion with sliced chilli for 1-2 mins, add chopped tomatoes, fry for 2 mins. Add batter, spread it well over the mixture, cook very low without stirring. In the meanwhile, cook spinach, drain. When the top of the pancake mix is dry, turn it over, fry for 1 min. Put on a plate, spinach on top, plus some cheese if you like.

BOLTED LETTUCE (and the likes) MADE EDIBLE
If you have nothing much in the garden, try the following:
use one variety of greens, or a mix: bolted lettuce, beet greens, borage, spinach, oriental greens, rocket, cos etc, does not matter whether rough, bitter or not very pleasant. Dunk in water immediately - this is important! - after picking, and keep submerged for a few hours. Strain. Cut the leaves. Add some chopped onions and plenty of garlic if you like it. Also lots of herbs and spices - the leaves themselves will have hardly any flavour.
Saute in oil or butter. First, stirring, on quite a high fire to let them wilt; then turn it down. Simmer very gently, covered most of the time for half an hour or longer. Stir every so often. Add salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. Also grated cheese if liked. Stir and heat through. Done! Nice, and not bitter at all, in spite of the title.




* This is a traditional Dutch recipe. The name means: bare buttocks in the grass.

NEXT MONTH: Traditional Chinese Medicine.



August 2013: soy



SOY

food of choice for veggies the world over

and forced down the throats of the rest of us?

More than 60% of all processed food in Britain today contains soya in some form. You find it in breakfast cereals, cereal bars and biscuits, cheeses, cakes, dairy desserts, gravies, noodles, pastries, soups, sausage casings, sauces and sandwich spreads.
Soy can appear on food labels as soya flour, hydrolysed vegetable protein, soy protein isolate, protein concentrate, textured vegetable protein, vegetable oil (simple, fully, or partially hydrogenated), plant sterols, or the emulsifier lecithin.

When you research 'soy' on the internet, you'll find thousands of pages stating it is wonderful; a similar amount claims the opposite. However, when you look more closely, you soon notice that many proponents have, directly or indirectly, a financial interest in the matter. Soy is a multi-billion dollar business.

There are several problems with soy.

1) Almost 85% of the EU's imported soy comes from South America. Most of the soy grown there is genetically modified, high-spray, intensively-farmed Roundup Ready soy. (Roundup is a herbicide - Roundup Ready soy is specially developed to be tolerant to it). Vast chunks of rainforest are cut down to grow it.

2) Soy beans contain toxins. Many are deactivated when the bean is fermented as is done traditionally in Asia: so tamari, miso, and tempeh give no problems. But unfermented soy has been linked to indigestion, immune system breakdown, PMS, endometriosis, reproductive problems, allergies, ADD and ADHD, risk of heart disease and cancer, malnutrition, and loss of libido. Babies having soy formula are most at risk, but so are vegetarians, and mid-life women thinking soy will help with the menopause.

3) Soy's phytoestrogens are strongly implicated in thyroid disorders, behavioural and developmental disorders and cancer.

4) Soy's trypsin inhibitors interfere with digestion; phytoestrogens disrupt hormone function and disturb the thyroid. Soy contains a large amount of aluminium, and it reduces assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. It increases the need for vitamins D and B12, which we are often short of anyway.

5) Processing denatures the proteins in soy and forms the potent neurotoxin MSG, lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.

So should we - and can we - avoid soy?
Yes, unless it has been fermented. Tamari, miso, tempeh are all right.  Tofu has only been fermented if it says so on the wrapping, which is rare. It's a pity especially for vegetarians, who find much of their supply of meat substitutes cut off .....
Which is why next month, I promise, there will be a VEGETARIAN issue.
See also http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/2009/11/19/soy-is-not-a-health-food/ and http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/soy-milk-harmless-or-harmful/.

EAT:
Veg: aubergines, french/runner/broad beans, calabrese, cauli, cucumbers, fennel, chard, spinach (beet), summer squash, sweetcorn, globe artichokes, beet, carrots, courgettes, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, peppers, radish, turnip, marrow, tomatoes, spring onions, salsify/scorzonera, samphire, rocket, watercress.
Cheap, free range good-for-you meat: rabbit and wood pigeon. Puffballs!
Fish is excellent at this time of year: mackerel, black bream, crab, grey mullet, trout, scallops, sea bass, flounder.

SOW:
Chinese cabbage, spring cabbage, chicory, kohl rabi, lettuce for harvesting November/December, quick variety peas, winter-hardy spring onions, salad leaves, fast-maturing carrots (Adelaide), endive,  red, white (= mooli) and black radish, spinach beet. Lamb's lettuce (corn salad), rocket and especially land cress will survive the winter.
Perpetual spinach, (spinach beet, or leaf beet) tastes as good as 'true' spinach, is more forgiving of soil and weather and doesn't go to seed so quickly. Sow now for winter/spring crop.
Early August only: chard, florence fennel, turnip.
Plantcauliflowers (early in the month), winter cabbages, kale. 

COURGETTE and CREAM CHEESE SOUP 
600g courgettes, 250g potatoes, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1 chopped onion, butter/olive oil, 150g soft cheese, herbs like thyme; (paprika powder), 1.5l water.
Chop courgettes and potatoes into small pieces. Gently sauté onion, garlic, thyme and potatoes for a few minutes, stir, cover, cook for a few more mins, then add water (and paprika), bring to the boil and cook until soft, stirring occasionally. Blitz or mash, season.


RUNNER BEAN SOUP
900g runner beans, 3 onions, 1 large potato, water, 50ml milk, sour cream, mint, olive oil.
Chop onions and fry in olive oil until they turn clear. Prepare beans and add to the onions. Chop potato into chunks, add, plus some mint torn into small pieces. Cook gently for a few mins. Add enough water to cover. Simmer for 20 mins, add milk. When the veg are cooked, blend. Add more liquid if the soup is too thick. Add sour cream to each bowl, some croutons and chopped mint.

STIR FRY LETTUCE and GARLIC
3 tbsp oil, 3 cloves garlic, chopped; 250g cos or iceberg lettuce leaves torn into quarters, soy sauce.
Heat oil on high heat. Sauté garlic till it starts to go golden. Add lettuce and soy, stir fry till just wilted. Serve immediately.

FRENCH SALAD NIÇOISE serves 4-6 as a side dish. Great for barbecues!   
200g new potatoes; 2 handfuls halved French beans; 1/2 small red onion, cut into thin strips; 4 handfuls cut veg like carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, mushrooms; 1 handful black olives; 2 tblsp capers; 2 tblsp fresh basil or tarragon; 2 eggs, hard-boiled, quartered; 2 minced garlic cloves; 1 tsp Dijon or 1/2 tsp English mustard; 3 tblsp lemon juice or 1 cider vinegar; 2 tblsp olive oil.
Combine garlic, mustard and lemon/vinegar and gradually whisk in oil. Cook potatoes in salted water, drain, cut small. Cook beans until tender but still firm: drain. Put them both in the dressing while still warm. Leave to cool, season. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix.
   
COURGETTE PASTA in CREAM CHEESE SAUCE (with peas or green beans) 
450g grated courgettes, 120g cream cheese, (any peas or green beans), 340g uncooked pasta (maybe a bit less if you add peas/beans), 2 finely chopped cloves garlic, 125ml milk, butter/oil, chopped basil, salt and pepper, some grated mature cheese, (thyme, cream). 

Cook pasta in lightly salted water, along with the peas or beans. Drain. Sauté garlic and courgettes for 10 mins, until some of the moisture has evaporated. Pour milk into the frying pan and stir in cream cheese, warm through. Mix in basil. Season and sprinkle with cheese. Serve over the pasta. If you are going to freeze it leave the cheese out and stir in when reheating. I had it with sugarpeas cooked with the pasta: delicious. You can also add some cream at the last minute.

CHILLI RUNNER BEANS       
450 g runner beans, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 sliced chilli, 2 chopped cloves garlic, salt.
Remove the bean strings. Slice, then tip into a pan of boiling salted water to blanch for a few minutes until they soften slightly, but still retain resistance to the bite. Warm olive oil in a pan large enough to hold the beans, add sliced chilli and leave to infuse the oil for a few minutes on a low heat. Stir in the warm beans and soy, serve at once.

FRENCH BEANS with SOUR CREAM and PAPRIKA
700g French beans, 25g butter, 1 small chopped onion, 1 tsp paprika, salt, pepper, 150ml water, 145ml sour cream. 

Top and tail beans, cut into 2.5cm lengths. Melt butter, sauté onion gently for few mins until soft but not brown. Add half the paprika, the beans, stock, salt and pepper, bring to boil and cook for 10 mins until beans tender. Take off the heat, stir in sour cream, reheat without boiling. Dust top with rest paprika.

SAUTEED SPINACH with GARLIC and WHITE WINE
250g spinach, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 tblsp olive oil, 130ml (cheap) white wine.
Heat oil: when hot but not smoking, toss in garlic and move it around constantly. Once it becomes fragrant (very quickly), drop all the spinach into the pan and stir. When this begins to wilt slightly, pour wine over it. Don't cook it for too long – you want the leaves to still be bright green when you take it off.

Next month: protein.



August 2012: breakfast cereals


  BREAKFAST




Why turn good, natural, healthy grains, into sweet, scientific, industrial concoctions?
Breakfast cereals have been a triumph of capitalism: take a cheap agricultural commodity, process it to death, and market it as healthy. We Brits consume 6.7k each of steamed, crushed, flaked, baked, puffed, extruded, shaped, salted, sugared, artificially flavoured breakfast cereal a year. Processing grains raises the glycemic index, so they break down quickly during digestion, leaving you hungry sooner. It removes most of the nutritional benefits. The end product tastes of nothing, so sugar is added, and then synthetic vitamins and minerals, so the manufacturer can claim it contains "thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, iron and calcium". The 35% sugar is not mentioned, of course.
Listen to this:

"Many brands perceived to be healthy, like Kellogg's All Bran, Bran Flakes,   Special K, had high levels of sugar. Morrisons Choco Crackles has more sugar than a Cadbury Flake, followed closely by Kellogg's Coco Pops Moons and Stars, Frosties and Ricicles, which are more than a third pure sugar. Tesco Special Flakes contains as much salt as ready salted crisps." - http://bit.ly/MewoVp.

"Should we be worried about all this sugar in the morning? Starting the day with a sugary meal raises the risk of tooth decay unless your kids clean their teeth scrupulously afterwards. Second, sugary cereals just aren’t filling, particularly if you stick with the tiny portions recommended on the packet, so you either end up eating a lot more calories and sugar than you need, or hungry again a couple of hours later. So there’s a risk of being overweight and getting high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Third, kids get used to the taste of high-sugar foods. The best breakfasts are those that fill you up, provide decent levels of fibre, carbs, protein, vitamins and minerals, and are quick to prepare! My recommendations? Oat-based cereals, porridge with milk, wholegrain toast plus milk or yoghurt, or eggs on toast." (Anita Bean, nutritionist)

"Kellogg's and other manufacturers use labels based on Guideline Daily Amounts. We are told how much fat, salt and sugar a portion of the product contains as a proportion of a guideline amount. This Guideline Daily Amount is calculated by the industry itself. Needless to say, it is much more generous than official targets. Originally the Food Standards Agency rejected this scheme, but Kellogg's told us that it had 'lent them one of our researchers, so we've been in on the consultation process and got the Guideline Daily Amounts into the final FSA testing.' " http://bit.ly/L8B8MO

How then to start the day? Sugar-free muesli or granola, minimally processed porridge oats, wholegrain toast with cheese, milk, yoghurt or beans. Egg in all its forms, nuts. Yum. [1]

EAT:
Veg: aubergines, french/runner/broad beans, calabrese, cauli, cucumbers, fennel, chard, spinach (beet), summer squash, sweetcorn, globe artichokes, beet, carrots, courgettes, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, peppers, radish, turnip, marrow, tomatoes, spring onions, salsify/scorzonera, samphire, rocket, watercress.
Cheap, free range good-for-you meat: rabbit and wood pigeon. Puffballs!
Fish is excellent at this time of year: mackerel, black bream, crab, grey mullet, trout, scallops, sea bass, flounder.

SOW:
Chinese cabbage, spring cabbage, chicory, kohl rabi, lettuce for harvesting November/December, quick variety peas, winter-hardy spring onions, salad leaves, fast-maturing carrots (Adelaide), endive,  red, white (= mooli) and black radish, spinach beet. Lamb's lettuce (corn salad), rocket and especially land cress will survive the winter.
Perpetual spinach, (spinach beet, or leaf beet) tastes as good as 'true' spinach, is more forgiving of soil and weather and doesn't go to seed so quickly. Sow now for winter/spring crop.
Early August only: chard, florence fennel, turnip.
Plantcauliflowers (early in the month), winter cabbages, kale. 

What to do with courgettes?
* Slice thinly, then fry (with thyme?) on low heat till nearly done. Add chopped garlic a few mins before they are soft. Add crème fraîche or ricotta, some tomato puree or tomatoes, heat through.
* Or parboil, cut up in fairly large pieces. Cook those in olive oil (with thyme). Add finely chopped garlic a few mins before they are soft. Add crème fraîche and halved cherry tomatoes (and basil), heat through.

STIR-FRY GARLIC SPINACH with ANCHOVIES, serves 2
200g spinach leaves (stems removed), 2 tbsp chopped garlic, chopped onion, 1 finely sliced carrot, some anchovies, 2 tbsp olive oil.
Heat oil, saute onion and garlic. Add sliced carrot and chopped anchovies, stir fry for 3 mins. Add spinach, stir fry briefly. Spinach cooks quickly so take it off the fire as soon as the leaves have softened/wilted. Perpetual spinach may need a bit longer. Good with fish.

AIOLI with STEAMED COLD VEGETABLES
Make the mayonnaise yourself or flavour bottled mayonnaise with lemon, garlic, anchovy, etc. You can add pot marigold petals for looks. Serve with lightly cooked carrots, french beans, sugar snap peas, purple potatoes, seafood, tomatoes etc.

FRENCH BEANS
Boil for just 4 mins, drain, return to pan with some butter, and a bit of of grated garlic. Sweat very gently for 2 mins, serve straightaway.

CHARD PASTA 
340g chopped chard, 1 onion; 2 cloves garlic; 2 tbsp olive oil; 110ml single cream; 25g grated mature cheese; 25g pine nuts; salt, pepper; 225g pasta.
Put water in the bottom half of a steamer and bring it to the boil. Put chard in the top half and steam for 10 mins. If you’re using a pan rather than a steamer, don’t put any water in and just cook down the chard for 5-10 mins over low heat. At the same time, put pasta on to cook – you can put it in the bottom half of the steamer, or in a separate pan. Cook pasta 12 mins, al dente. Chop  onions and garlic, saute in a deep frying pan for 10 mins. When the chard is cooked, add to onion mix and stir in cream, pine nuts, cheese and season. Cook the sauce for 2 mins and serve on top of the pasta.

CHILLED CUCUMBER AND POTATO SOUP
Gently cook onions and cooked potato in lots of olive oil until the onions go translucent. Add a clove of chopped garlic the peeled, diced flesh of two cucumbers, and some water. Whizz up, chill and serve cold for a summer starter.

LETTUCE with CREME FRAICHE
1 bunch spring onions, 30g butter, 1 large/2 small cos lettuces or 4 little gem, 4 tblsp crème fraîche, (nutmeg).
Slice white part of the onions and gently soften in butter. Slice lettuce into thin ribbons, add, and stir until it begins to wilt. Mix in creme fraiche and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Serve immediately.

BRAISED LITTLE GEM LETTUCE
For a delicious alternative to cold salad - cut little gem in half lengthways and rub the cut edge with olive oil and the edge of a cut clove of garlic: season. Place in a hot frying pan or on a barbecue griddle for 2-3 mins on each side.

SPICED RUNNER BEANS, serves 4 as a side dish.
300g runner beans, (1 red or yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped); 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tblsp tomato puree, 150ml water, 15ml olive oil, ½ tsp ground coriander seed, ½ tsp ground cumin, ¼ tsp ground chilli or ½ fresh chopped chilli, (pinch of turmeric), soy sauce, salt.
Prepare runner beans: slice on the diagonal. Slice onion and garlic, saute in oil for a few mins. Add spices, continue to saute. If using the pepper: cut in half, remove seeds and cut into thin strips. Add to pan and stir. Add beans, tomato puree and water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 5 mins or until the beans are tender. Season with soy and salt if needed.

[1] www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/may/16/taste-breakfast-cereal-changing.
And if you fancy preparing something more complicated, here are some ideas: http://nourishedkitchen.com/boxed-cereal-is-not-food-plus-two-nourishing-alternatives-for-breakfast/.




Direct expanded breakfast cereals extrusion line:
The dry ingredients are blended in a mixing vessel and metered into the extruder along with the liquid ingredients. The co-rotating screws form a homogeneous dough. The extrudate is subjected to heat and shear to optimise the starch conversion according to the quality profile of the final product. Processing temperatures are precisely regulated through individual heating and cooling systems in each section of the extruder barrel. Expansion takes place when the water in the extrudate flashes off as the product is forced through the die. The product shape is determined by a combination of the die aperture, expansion and the die face cutter. The product enters a belt dryer which reduces and stabilizes the moisture content. If a sweetened cereal is desired, the product may enter a coating unit for a liquid confectionery application, followed by a final drying procedure before packaging.

Next month: why do we get ill?