Saturday, 1 October 2016

October 2015: salt (II)


SALT (II)



Natural salt is an essential element in the diet of humans, animals, even of many plants. Its use is as old as history. It contains vast amounts of minerals which are essential to our functioning.
Our bodies crave salt. Our blood contains 0.9% salt, which maintains the delicate balance of sodium throughout our bodies. Just about every system needs salt to make it work, and it is especially important for our nervous systems.

On the labels in supermarkets and health food shops, the word 'sea salt' appears often. However, this  'sea salt', has been totally refined. Originally it may have come from the sea, but has been artifially degraded and heated to crack its molecular structure. It has been robbed of its essential minerals, which are, after all, much more valuable if sold to be used on their own. It has been adulterated by chemical additives to make it free-flowing, bleached, and iodised.

When salt is being harvested, the water is naturally evaporated by the sun: dirty brown salt is left on the bottom and pretty white salt at the top. As most people are used to the pretty white version, the top salt is skimmed off and called 'sea salt'. Unfortunately, the trace minerals are mostly in the brown stuff at the bottom …
The best natural salt is not white and it is not dry. It is grayish and feels a bit damp.  It must be labelled 'unrefined, no additives added'. It usually comes in a bag or jar. 
However, the 'fine sea salt without additives' which you see in wholefood shops, is a whole lot better than table salt. This refined salt is 99.9% sodium-chloride. It contains additives like potassium iodide, sugar - to stabilize the iodine and as an anti-caking chemical - and aluminum silicate.
The result of consuming table salt is the formation of overly acidic edema, or excess fluid in the body tissue. That’s why doctors tell us to avoid salt. 
Natural salt, on the other hand: helps stabilize heartbeats, clear lungs of mucus and phlegm, balance sugar levels, absorb food, and maintain libido. It prevents muscle cramps, osteoporosis and gout, and clears catarrh and sinus congestion. See also [1].

People who suffer from high blood pressure tend to have an improper balance of salt/potassium. If you are trying to bring down your blood pressure, you want to stop or limit consumption of table salt, and replace this by proper natural salt. It also helps if you consume more potassium-rich foods such as leafy greens, prunes, apricots, bananas, broccoli  and beetroot. [2]

Listen to your body. Let your salt craving dictate how much salt to consume. But let it be good salt. 

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BY THE WAY:
The New Scientist of 14/8/15 tells us that eating more trans fats is linked to coronary heart disease. However, eating saturated fats is absolutely fine
Most advice recommends limiting consumption of saturated fats, which are found in butter, milk, meat and egg, due to the risk of developing heart disease. But Russell de Souza of McMaster University in Ontario could not find a clear association between these fats and the chances of heart/cardiovascular disease.
This wasn’t the case with industrial trans fats, made by hydrogenating plant oils and found in refined/packaged or ‘partially hydrogenated’ food [3]. Eating more trans fat is associated with a 28% rise in the risk of dying of heart disease.
Who knew? Well …… see Thought for Food March ’10, June ’10, Oct ’13 …..

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EAT:
Veg: celeriac, turnip, beet, broccoli, cabbage, calabrese, carrots, cauliflower, chard, fennel, kohlrabi, runner beans, salsify/scorzonera, spinach, tomatoes, Jerusalem/globe artichokes, brussels', chicory, endive, swede, celery, corn salad, leek, peas/mange tout, courgettes, marrow, pumpkin/squash, (white) radish, rocket, spring onions, watercress, sweetcorn.
Meat: rabbit, goose, grouse, guinea fowl, partridge, pheasant, wood pigeon, duck, venison, squirrel.
Fish: crab, clam, cuttlefish, lobster, mackerel, mussels, scallop, sprats, cockles, black bream, gurnard, winkle, pollack, grey mullet, American signal crayfish.

SOW:
broad beans, land cress, round seeded peas, chinese leaves, corn salad, winter purslane, winter lettuce
Plant rhubarb sets; spring cabbage; garlic; autumn onion sets if the weather is good. The garlic should be suited for autumn planting. Don't use old cloves! Plant out spring cabbage and, in the South, cabbages and winter/spring lettuce.


RECIPES




PUMPKIN SOUP - what do do with the pumpkin contents at Halloween?
200g peeled and deseeded pumpkin, 1 onion, 1-2 garlic cloves, celery leaves, coriander leaves or seeds, ½ l water/stock, butter, seasoning.
Cube pumpkin, sauté with crushed coriander seeds, chopped onion and garlic in butter for a few mins. Add liquid and chopped celery leaves (or -seeds), cook till the pumpkin is soft. Squash or puree, maybe add some water if it's got too thick, season. 


GARLIC BROCCOLI WITH COCONUT-PEANUT SAUCE (vegan and gluten-free)
Broccoli for 4, chopped into florets and small stems; 2-3 chopped garlic cloves, olive oil.
Sauce: 240ml coconut milk, 2½ tbsp peanut butter, ½ tsp sea salt, ½ tsp nice vinegar, ½ tsp turmeric, 1 pinch cayenne pepper
Carefully sauté garlic in oil for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add broccoli and turn up the heat a bit. Sauté for 3-5 mins until the broccoli is bright green and browning in spots. If you like your greens soft, add some water, put a lid on and cook for longer. For the sauce, put the ingredients in a small pan. Whisk together until thick and bubbly. Spoon over the broccoli - and rice if desired. Or stir in, if serving with noodles.

CURRIED SQUASH/PUMPKIN and GREENS
Ab. 300g cleaned squash meat, 4 tblsp butter, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, ¼ tsp garam masala or curry powder, ¼ tsp ginger, ¼ tsp cinnamon or cardamom, 1 tsp sea salt, 2 tblsp olive oil, (cayenne); ab. 250g cleaned greens: kale, collards, chard, etc.; 2 tblsp water.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease large baking sheet. Mix spices and salt, set aside. Peel squash, discard seeds. Chop into 1-2cm cubes. Melt 2 tbsp butter, add spices and sauté for 2-3 mins until the flavours release. Don’t let it smoke!
Turn off the heat, add squash, mix well. Spread this evenly onto a greased baking sheet - keep the spicy pan for reuse. Bake squash for ab. 10 mins at 200°C. Take out, stir, and put back for 10-15 mins until soft and starting to brown.
Meanwhile, wash and chop greens. Melt 2 tblsp butter in spicy pan, add 2 tblsp of water. and sauté until done. If they start to stick, add a a bit more. When the greens are done, add squash, stir in lightly. Serve.

BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP
1 tblsp butter, 1 chopped onion, 60ml butter and 60ml flour, 1l stock/water, 200g chopped broccoli, 100g carrots, salt and pepper, ¼ tsp nutmeg, grated sharp cheddar.
Saute onion in butter: set aside. Make a roux with the 60ml butter and 60ml flour as follows: melt butter, add flour using a whisk. Add liquid bit by bit, slowly, adding more only when it boils. After a while you can add the rest more quickly, whisking all the time*. Add broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Season. Blend or puree if you like. Stir in some cheese and the nutmeg, serve with more cheese.
* If you use brown flour, it’s easier!
KOHLRABI MASH 
Chop 2 pounds kohlrabi. Cook in boiling salted water until soft, about 20 mins; drain. Puree with 1 tblsp each heavy cream and butter; season. Drizzle with olive oil and top with chopped parsley. 

CABBAGE and SARDINES for 2 
(Mike liked this, I wasn't sure. Try for yourself! A lot must depend on the quality of the fish)
½ cabbage, 1 large tin spicy sardines in tomato sauce (or add spices yourself), 2 tblsp butter, 1 onion, 120ml water, salt, seasonings.
Chop cabbage and onion. Sauté onion until soft. Add sardines, cabbage and water, let simmer for 5 mins. Season.

FENNEL and CELERY SALAD
Cut 2 fennel bulbs in quarters lengthwise, discard outer layer if tough. Slice quarters very thinly; slice three celery ribs equally thin. Put it all in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Season and combine. If liked, top with lots of grated mature cheese and chopped fennel fronds.

This one's so lovely, wholesome and easy. I can't resist mentioning this, although it's not often people spot an endive/escarole in their shop/back garden. If you want to grow some yourself, make sure it's an escarole type. Here it is:
DUTCH ENDIVE MASH (Andijviestamppot)
1k starchy potatoes, ab. 250g endive, large onion, 150gr cubed bacon or cheese, vinegar, milk, butter, salt, pepper.
Cook potatoes as usual. Chop endive finely, drain well. Fry bacon and onion gently in butter. Mash potatoes. Put endive on mash, pour bacon with fat over it, mix. If dry, add milk or butter. Let everything heat through, but the endive must stay more or less raw.
In Holland they use 'rookworst' instead of bacon, but that is not easy to get here. Cheese instead is fine.




[2] Plus mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, peas/beans, yoghurt, molasses, (shell)fish, beef, poultry and raw fennel! See also http://wakeup-world.com/2012/05/21/good-salt-bad-salt/.
[3] Trans fats are found in margarine, vegetable shortening, ice-cream, puddings & pudding mixes, ready-made pies, cakes and cake mixes, biscuits, pizza, potato chips, fritters, doughnuts, gravy and sauce mixes, artificial creamers, confectionery and other processed foods, including many foods marketed at children, including some sugary breakfast cereals. They are also commonly found in restaurant food, especially - but not only - in fast food. So inspect the ingredients before you buy, looking for hydrogenated vegetable oil, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, vegetable shortening, and margarine. (http://www.tfx.org.uk/page13.html)