Tuesday, 27 December 2016

December 2016: heartburn



WHAT CAUSES



A burning sensation radiating up from your stomach to your chest and throat. Bloating, belching, a sour taste. It's typically most bothersome at night, and tends to occur in connection with certain activities, such as: after eating a heavy meal; bending over; lifting; lying down, especially when lying on our back.
Too much stomach acid? 

Too little, more likely. Which is why treating it with the usual medications often in the long run has the opposite effect. They may soothe the pain today, but will cause major trouble later.

Why the confusion?
The contents of our stomachs must be acidic to trigger the release of food into the small intestine. When acid is too low, it won’t trigger this release. As a result, the trapped food shoots back up into the esophagus.
Our acid may be too low to digest the food, but it’s still too acidic for the delicate tissue of the esophagus. Hence that fiery pain of heartburn and acid reflux. We have too little stomach acid, but it is going where it’s not supposed to go [1].
To counteract this discomfort the doctor will prescribe antacids or proton pump inhibitors, PPIs. Antacids neutralize, but don’t affect secretion of new acid; PPI’s suppress the secretion of gastric juice entirely [2].
However, as explained above, most people who are taking these medications actually have too little stomach acid – not too much! The actual cause of low stomach acid is not addressed and often things get worse.

Stomach acid is very important for our digestion. It triggers the pancreas to secrete digestive enzymes, and makes the gallbladder secrete bile.
Enzymes and bile help ensure proper nutrient absorption. They also protect against infections and parasites, and help the large intestine to function properly.
Chronically low stomach acid hinders these organs in their work and often leads to larger problems throughout the digestive tract [3].
So lowering it via antacids or PPIs is, in most cases, the very last thing we should do. 

But what should we do instead?
If you are already using PPIs, never stop taking them cold turkey. Wean yourself off gradually: see [4].
And to slowly heal your gut naturally, try the following.
  • As soon as you wake up, drink 1 tsp. unpasteurized/raw apple cider vinegar in warm water. You can add lemon. Or drink 125ml warm water 30 minutes before each meal and after meals. Or sip with meals, in a little bit of water.
  • Add naturally fermented foods such as unpasteurized sauerkraut (from wholefood shops!) kimchi or other vegetable ferments [5].
  • Some find that eliminating dairy, coffee, tea and high fat/spicey foods prevents symptoms. So does leaving out alcohol and nicotine.
  • Chew your food well. Only eat while sitting down, not on the run!
  • Try reduce stress. Take 3-5 deep breaths before you start eating and let them out slowly.
  • Don’t drink with, or close before a meal, and not within one hour after it. Drinking more than 125ml water with a meal dilutes the stomach acid which is already short. 
  • Teas of slippery elm bark or ginger root help. 
  • Raw honey: 1 tsp. twice a day on an empty stomach heals your stomach lining and encourages production of gastric juices [6].
  • Take digestive bitters 15-20 minutes prior to meals with water. 
  • Use quality, unprocessed seasalt to encourage acid production. Ask in a wholefood shop. Leaving off ‘table salt’ is a good idea anyway [7].
  • Avoid eating too much processed food and sugar. 
  • You can, temporarily, take a hydrochloric acid supplement. See how: [8]
To see all this explained in more detail, visit one or more of the following:



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Do you foresee trouble keeping your new year's resolutions?  The Healthy Home Economist has some good advice. See [9].
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EAT:
veg: Brussels', beet, sprout tops, cabbage, celeriac, celery (with Stilton!), corn salad, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, salsify, kale, kohlrabi, landcress, leeks, parsnips, pumpkin/squash, rocket, spinach, swede, turnips, winter radish, endive, winter purslane.
meat: wood pigeon, pheasant, wild duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison. For (Christmas) game recipes, see www.gametoeat.co.uk/
fish: coley, megrim, clams, crab, cuttlefish, mussels, oysters, scallops, whiting.

PLANT:
Shallots are traditionally planted on the shortest day. You can still plant garlic.
If you leave veg in the ground, apply a thick mulch (straw, bracken or newspaper) for protection, and so as to get them out easily.

~~~~~~~~~~~~


RECIPES

To find out what you can do with celeriac, see [10].

Here are two recipes with the Italian kale type, cavolo nero. Interestingly, one cooks it for 10, the other for 45 minutes. Strangely, both are lovely. 

CROSTONE with CAVOLO NERO and BEANS
1 bunch cavolo nero, 120ml dried beans* or 400g tinned (ideally cannellini or borlotti), 2 garlic cloves, pepper, 4 sage leaves, 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, seasalt, extra olive oil to serve, 8 slices of sourdough bread.
Drain the beans. Tear thick ribs off cavolo, cut finely. Sautée in 2 tblsp oil, adding tiny bits of water every so often, to prevent browning. Do this for ab. 10 minutes, until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat beans carefully in oil with sage and 1 chopped garlic, adding a bit of water so it won't burn. 
When cavolo and beans are ready, toast the bread. Rub toast with the last garlic. Top bread with cavolo, then beans. Drizzle oil on top, add pepper and some seasalt. Serve immediately.
*If using dried beans, soak in water overnight. Next day, cook in water with 2 tblsp olive oil, sage and 1 garlic. Don’t add salt yet or they'll stay hard. Cover, simmer until cooked, add salt.

BRAISED CAVOLO NERO with ORANGE serves 6-8
300-350g cavolo nero weighed after removing the tough stems, 120ml freshly squeezed orange juice, 2 diced onions, 4 minced garlic cloves, chilli/cayenne pepper (optional), olive oil, salt.
Cut cavolo into bite-size pieces. Sauté onion, garlic, salt, red pepper until soft, 4-5 mins. Increase heat, add orange juice, bring to a simmer. Add a few handfuls of kale and, as it wilts, continue to add a handful at a time, stirring constantly, until all the kale is in. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until all the kale is wilted - 10 mins? Season, serve immediately.

LAMB with CHRISTMAS SPICES for 6
2 chopped large onions, 4 sliced garlic cloves, 5cm shredded root ginger, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1½ kg lamb neck fillets cut into chunks, 2 cinnamon sticks, 8 cloves, 6 cardamom pods, good pinch saffron, 2 bay leaves, 2 tsp ground coriander, 3 tbsp ground almonds, 850ml beef stock, 250g dried apricots.
Fry onions, garlic and ginger in oil for about 15 mins. Add lamb and stir-fry until browned. Add spices, cook over the heat to release their flavours, then add almonds. Pour in the stock, season. Cover pan and simmer for 45 mins, stirring occasionally. Add apricots, simmer 15 mins more until lamb is tender. Thin with a little water if the sauce gets too thick. To freeze, cool, then pack into a container or bags. Keeps for 3 months. 

RED CABBAGE the DUTCH WAY 
Red cabbage, large cooking apple (or 2), onion, bay leaf, cloves or ground allspice, raisins, butter, water, salt. 
Bring 2cm water to the boil, add the sliced cabbage, chopped onion, a bay leaf with a couple of cloves stuck in it (or some ground allspice), and raisins to taste. Cook slowly for 20 minutes, then add the chopped apple and a bit of salt. After 10 more minutes everything is cooked: take out bay and cloves. Pour off any liquid, or leave it in and use flour to thicken it. Add butter and stir, heat through. You might want to add a bit of vinegar and sugar (are you sure?): that depends on you and on the apple! 

MARINADE for TWO PHEASANTS
100ml soy sauce, 4tblsp balsamic vinegar, bay leaves, chopped onion.
Mix everything and steep the pheasant - best cut in pieces - in it for a few hours or overnight. Cook as usual. It should take less long and have more taste!

Jerusalem artichoke's best friends are sage, thyme, butter, bacon, bay, cream, breadcrumbs, cheese and anything smoked. Or try this:
SAUTÉED JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES with GARLIC and BAY
600g Jerusalem artichokes, olive oil, bay leaves, 2 cloves garlic, splash cider vinegar, salt, pepper.
Wash or peel the artichokes, cut into thin slices. Fry slowly until golden, then add bay leaves, 2 sliced garlic cloves, vinegar, salt, pepper, a tiny bit of water, and cover. Cook till they have softened, checking every so often whether they need just a drop more water. Remove lid and bay. Continue cooking for a couple of mins to crisp them up one last time, serve straight away.
They go well with both meat and fish or in soups or warm salads.

For more recipes, see old December issues.
[2] I find it useful to know that PPIs, as one of the most widely sold drugs in the world, are an excellent source of income for their producers. 
[6] If you are going to eat honey for health, raw is best. Manuka honey is expensive, but not necessarily better than other honey, provided this is raw. Unspecified table honey is often adulterated. See http://www.thehealthcloud.co.uk/manuka-vs-raw-honey/.
[7] See the Thought of October ’15 or http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/october-2015-salt-ii.html.

December 2015: fever





December is unquestionably the most feverish month of the year. Which one of us does not feel their temperature rise when thinking of Christmas? 
Even those who take a relaxed view of the festivities in general, find something to get het up about. The crowds and the inescapable carols. The relentless cheer, dutifully punctuated by thoughts for those less favoured than ourselves.
Even if all this hoo-ha leaves you cold, you could do worse than prepare yourself by reading up on fever. Just in case some unfortunate might need your attention in the coming weeks!

Fever is always a symptom of an underlying health problem. When you are sick, your body employs defense mechanisms to rid itself of the virus, bacteria, toxin, or inflammation. Raising the temperature is one such mechanism. The warmer you are, the faster your immune system works to heal you. And virus and bacteria don’t like heat.  
We are used to seeing fever as an enemy: in fact it is a friend, and we fight it at our peril. [1] 

So what should we do instead of grabbing a tylenol? 
- drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
- rest. Rest! Don’t force yourself into work out of a misplaced sense of duty. Rest will heal you faster, and everyone benefits.
- there are herbs you can take to promote sweating and get rid of toxins. Chamomile, thyme, sage and mint for instance. [2] 
- for children, a sponge bath may help bring the fever down a bit. “The biggest challenge is to keep children hydrated. Children that will drink fluids are usually safe using natural methods. ‘Dry’ fevers are dangerous as the child will not drink and this may necessitate going to the doctor.” [3]
- avoid anything with sugar, refined foods, caffeine and alcohol.

~~~~~

To counteract all the festive cheer, you might like to read 'The dark side of clinical trials', see column on the right.


EAT:
Veg: Brussels', beet, sprout tops, cabbage, celeriac, celery (with Stilton!), corn salad, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, salsify, kale, kohlrabi, landcress, leeks, parsnips, pumpkin/squash, rocket, spinach, swede, turnips, winter radish, endive, winter purslane.
Meat: wood pigeon, pheasant, wild duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison. For (Christmas) game recipes, see www.gametoeat.co.uk/
Fish: coley, megrim, clams, crab, cuttlefish, mussels, oysters, scallops, whiting.


PLANT:
Shallots are traditionally planted on the shortest day. You can still plant garlic.
If you leave veg in the ground, apply a thick mulch (straw, bracken or newspaper) for protection, and so as to get them out easily.

DRINK:
As it is December, you might want to look at our tips for preventing and curing hangovers in last year's December issue. See archive on the right hand side. 

~~~~~

RECIPES

For simple xmas recipes and websites for people on special diets, see December 2014 in the archive on the right hand side. 

CREAMY KOHLRABI SOUP
2 tblsp butter, ab 600g kohlrabi, 1 chopped onion, 1100ml water/stock, 100ml milk, 1 bay leaf, salt, black pepper.
Saute onions and cook gently until soft, 10 minutes. Add kohlrabi and cook 2 mins. Add stock, milk, bay, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 25 mins or until kohlrabi is tender. Remove bay, blend, season. 

SEA BASS with APPLES (or other firm white fish grey mullet, pollack, snapper, grouper, coley)
This recipe originally adds honey, but I think it’s better without that. The result depends a lot on the quality of the apples, and tangy is best. 
4 apples - cored and cut into thin wedges, 14 tblsp butter, (2 tblsp honey), 60ml cup flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, ab. 480ml dried bread crumbs, 1 beaten egg, 4 fish fillets of ab.150g each.
Melt half the butter, fry apples until tender. (Stir in honey). Keep warm. Mix flour, salt, and pepper. Place crumbs in another shallow bowl, egg in another. Melt rest of butter. Dip fish in flour, egg, and crumbs. Place in hot pan, cook for 3-4 mins per side. The fillets should be brown and flake easily. Serve with the apples on top.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS + HAZELNUT BUTTER, serves 2. 
20g chopped hazelnuts, 20g butter, softened, 300g brussels sprouts, salt + black pepper.
Dry roast nuts until golden. Mix into butter. Boil sprouts in salted water for about 10 mins. Drain, mix with hazelnut butter, season.

CREAMY SHREDDED CAVOLO NERO with MUSTARD
300g shredded cavolo nero (or kale), 1 tbsp oil, 1 sliced onion, 140ml double cream, 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard.
Cook cavolo for 6-8 mins till tender, drain. Meanwhile fry onion for 4-5 mins. Add cream and mustard. Stir in cavolo nero and heat through, season. 

LEEKS with CREME FRAICHE (or sour cream) 
Sautee leeks until softened, added some stock and cook it all down for about 20 mins. Season. Add a tiny pinch of sage, and stir in some crème fraîche. Adding more stock and crème fraîche would make this recipe more of a sauce  – a good topping for pastas.

CURRIED SQUASH and WINTERGREENS
ab. 300g clean squash meat, 4 tblsp butter, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1/4 tsp garam masala or curry powder, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cinnamon or cardamom, 1 tsp sea salt, 2 tblsp oolive oil, (cayenne), ab. 250g cleaned greens: kale, 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.

SWEDE and COCONUT DAAL serves 4-6
Good with for instance whole roast pheasant, but we had this with just boring cooked potatoes and green veg and loved it. If you haven’t got some of the ingredients just use your fantasy, but the coconut milk is essential.
240ml lentils (pref. brown or green), 200g finely diced swede, carrot or squash, 1 diced onion or 6 chopped garlic cloves, olive oil, 2 bay leaves, 1 chilli, 1/2 cinnamon stick, 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 mug of coconut milk, 3 mugs of water, 1 lime or lemon, zest and juice, handful of toasted dessicated coconut and/or almonds, large handful of fresh coriander, sea salt, pepper.
Saute diced veg, season and sizzle till just softened and starting to colour up a bit. Add bay, chilli and cinnamon. Stir in the lentils, onion/garlic, ginger, cumin and coriander seed. Pour in coconut milk and water, cover. Simmer for 45 mins or till the liquid is absorbed into the lentils. Stir every so often. Add a little more water when needed. Taste, add more spices if you like. Season. Finish with a hit of lime/lemon zest, the juice, toasted coconut and/or almonds and fresh coriander. 

VERY NICE AFTER-XMAS PUD
leftover xmas pudding, (leftover) custard, clementines/oranges, double/whipping cream, flaked and toasted almonds, finely grated orange zest, cinnamon, (brandy).
Share out the pudding over the right number of glasses, or put in a large glass bowl. Peel citrus and slice into rings. Arrange these on top, sprinkle over some cinnamon. Put the custard on top of that. Whip the cream and add brandy or sugar if you wish. Just before serving, scatter almonds and zest on top.





~~~~~

[1] There are exceptions. When a fever is caused by an overdose of, for instance, insulin, i.e. artificially, it can be dangerous. See http://www.karenhurd.com/pages/healthtopics/specifichealthconcerns/ht-shc-fevers.html

Next month: PLAY!!!




The dark side



Sunday, 27 December 2015


the dark side of clinical trials

"In addition to price gouging, Big Pharma has been widely accused of hiding evidence that their drugs could cause potentially devastating side effects. In a recent series at the Huffington Post, journalist Steven Brill reported that one company, Johnson and Johnson, aggressively marketed an anti-psychotic drug called Risperdal to young patients, covering up an internal study that had found 5.5 percent of boys who took the drug developed large breasts. Hundreds of boys were affected, including one who developed a 46DD bust. J&J's deception was caught, and the company agreed to pay $6 billion in misconduct settlements. But the company probably isn't too concerned: Profits from Risperdal totaled $18 billion in the U.S. and $30 billion around the world. Avandia, a diabetes drug produced by GlaxoSmithKline, emerged from a 2006 trial with glowing reports about its effectiveness. Every author on that trial, it turns out, had received money from the company; four of them were actually company employees. But Glaxo's own research had found that Avandia could dramatically raise "bad" cholesterol levels — a revelation that one employee said in an internal email should never "see the light of day." Nine years later, Avandia is believed to have been responsible for up to 100,000 heart attacks."


from: The Week USA, December 2015

Thursday, 1 December 2016

December 2014: drink, drank .... drunk?






DRINK   -   DRANK  -           

Drinking is vital. Keeping hydrated is not a bad idea. But drinking 8 glasses of water a day is an invented rule, heavily supported no doubt by the bottled water industry, which makes no sense at all.
Do you nibble crisps of an evening? Toast every slice of bread you eat? Drink coffee, alcohol? How much salt do you use? Do you have central heating? What’s the weather like? How do you spend your days?
All these things influence the amount of water you need. How can that be the same for everybody?
The common sense approach is to drink when you’re thirsty. That is how we, humankind, have survived. So far. [1]


                                       DRUNK???


Now onto ‘drinking’ in the more interesting sense. I’ll keep it simple, it’s December after all, and will just offer you some tips. Most of them you will know already, but they are easily forgotten in the heat of the moment:

* Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Have plenty of (healthy) carbs and protein first. 
* No dark coloured drinks and sweet blended concoctions (yuk).
* No strong - fortified - lagers or ciders, the ‘special brews’. All they’ve added is more chemicals. 
* In general, the more expensive the better. Organic is best if you can afford it. 
* Try to have a glass of water between every drink, if you can manage. 
* Lots of water afterwards! 

Next day:
* Try avoid painkillers. Side effects can be magnified when there is alcohol in your system, and they don’t do your liver any good. [2]

* Coffee nor milk are recommended. Coffee dehydrates you even more, milk makes you queasy. Take instead (flat) ginger ale, fruit (juice), water and honey or lemon, or honey by itself.

* Protein helps your body deal with blood sugar problems. 

* Cysteine breaks down the hangover-causing toxin acetaldehyde. Found in: eggs, pork, poultry, dairy and red peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, brussels’ sprouts, and whole grains like oats.

* Bananas, tomatoes (or juice) will replenish potassium. Ginger tea helps your stomach. 

* You could keep a hangover diary. If you notice a hangover happens every time you drink champagne or whenever you have a "fruity" drink, try and avoid those. 

* Exercise: a walk in the fresh air is excellent but don’t overdo it.

* Sleep and rest.

And "if you are still keen on binge-drinking occasionally, at least start the evening with a slab of smelly cheese or a glass of high-fat natural yoghurt”! [3]
See [4] for more lengthy explanations and tips, and enjoy December, with or without alcohol.




NB: The 'fight against cancer' may be reaching a new low. See what the New Scientist says about the government's plan to expand screening for breast cancer: not just useless and expensive, but positively dangerous: see 'Wider breast screening' under Thought for Food Archive, on the right hand side (click on December 14)

~~~



Winter is fast approaching now: a good time to experiment with this most nutritious of vegetables: kale - and its fashionable relation, cavolo nero. Don't they look good in the shop! You can easily grow them yourself too, sow April for early winter, June to last till spring. For delicious recipes, see www.discoverkale.co.uk/what-is-cavolo-nero.

EAT:
Veg: Brussels', beet, sprout tops, cabbage, celeriac, celery (with Stilton!), corn salad, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, salsify, kale, kohlrabi, landcress, leeks, parsnips, pumpkin/squash, rocket, spinach, swede, turnips, winter radish, endive, winter purslane.
Meat: wood pigeon, pheasant, wild duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison. For (Christmas) game recipes, see www.gametoeat.co.uk/
Fish: coley, megrim, clams, crab, cuttlefish, mussels, oysters, scallops, whiting.


PLANT:
Shallots are traditionally planted on the shortest day. You can still plant garlic.
If you leave veg in the ground, apply a thick mulch (straw, bracken or newspaper) for protection, and so as to get them out easily.


RECIPES


BEETROOT and MELTED BRIE on TOAST, serves 2.
4 slices thick cut nice bread, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 400g cooked beet cut into thick wedges and dipped in vinegar (not pickled), 200g brie cut into slices, pepper.
Toast the bread, and rub one side with garlic. Brush with oil. Preheat grill to high. Arrange beet wedges on the toast and lay over the slices of brie. Grind over pepper to taste and place under the grill. Cook until cheese is bubbling. Serve immediately with a green salad.

SWEDISH CREAM CHEESE
Cream cheese, apple, celery, chives/spring onions, toasted mashed coriander seeds, dill, salt, pepper.
Take the cream cheese out of the fridge well before, so it's easier to handle. Chop and mix the ingredients, let stand for a few hours so the tastes mingle.  

SAGE and CHESTNUT SOUP
300g chestnuts (250g if cooked and peeled), 100ml crème fraîche, 6 chopped sage leaves, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped garlic clove, 1l water, butter, salt, pepper, oil.  
Remove hard outer skin of the chestnuts. Cook, drain, remove thin inner membranes. Heat butter and sweat onion until translucent. Add sage and garlic, sauté for a minute. Add water and most of the chestnuts. Season, simmer for 15 mins, stirring from time to time. Purée. Add crème fraîche, adjust seasoning. Warm through gently – don't let boil. Meanwhile, slice the reserved chestnuts. Heat oil and sauté sage leaves for a few secs until crisp, drain. Ladle soup into bowls, add small spoon of crème fraiche and gently swirl into it, scatter on chestnuts and sage leaves. Serve immediately.

MEDITERRANEAN KALE, serves 2. 
300g kale, ½ chopped red onion, 2 tbsp butter, olive oil, 30-50g feta cheese, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar.
Sauté onion in butter for 3 mins. Remove thick stalks, chop and add kale a little at a time, keep stirring. Once the kale has been added, add olive oil. Cook for 10-12 mins or until kale has cooked down. Some browning is all right. Add balsamic and feta, stirring every so often for 5 more mins. 

SAUSAGE, PUMPKIN and SAGE CASSEROLE
50g butter; 6 qualitsausagespricked; 1 sliced onion; 3 chopped shallots; 2 chopped garlic cloves; 1 tbsp sage; 1 small pumpkin, seeds removed, cut; 200g canned chopped tomatoes; 400g canned cannellini beans (or other), drained; 400ml stock; 1 tblsp cider vinegar; salt, pepper, parsley.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Fry sausages in half the butter for 5 mins. Add remaining butter, onion and shallots, fry for 3 mins. Add garlic and sage: cook for 3 mins, stirring. Add pumpkin, stir. Add vinegar and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Add tomatoes, cannellini and stock: season. Bring mix to boil, transfer to oven for an hour. Serve with parsley.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS DIFFERENT
Cook brussels sprouts with some crumbled chestnuts, and then mix with butter, crispy bacon, some garlic, nutmeg, finely chopped rosemary and pepper. 

SOMERSET TOURTIERE a bit more work, but good for a veg(etari)an Christmas: 
480ml cooked lentils, 480ml walnut halves; 10 chopped mushrooms, 180ml grated floury potato, 120ml dry cider, 1 tblsp olive oil, 1 large diced onion, 3 minced garlic cloves, 300ml water/stock, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1/2 tsp dried savory, 1/2 tsp ground sage, 2 bay leaves, salt, pepper, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce (optional), pastry dough (for 1 double pie crust of 23cm diameter).
Sauté onion in oil until it begins to soften, add mushrooms. Sauté until most of their juices have been released. Add garlic, sauté for 2 more mins. Grind walnuts. Mix in lentils, walnuts, broth, wine, thyme, savory, sage and bay. Season and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove bay and add: liquid, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and potato. Cook until potato is soft, about 10 mins. Season; chill for 1 hr.
Roll out 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface into a 30cm round. Transfer to pie dish, leaving overhang. Fill with lentil mix. Roll out remaining dough disk into a 10″ round. Place dough over filling. Fold overhang over top crust and crimp edges. Brush crust with milk. Cut 3 6cm slits in the top. Let rest for 1 hr or put in the fridge till tomorrow. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Bake for 30 mins. Reduce heat to 180°C; bake until the crust is golden and the filling bubbles, 40-50 mins. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

BRAMLEY APPLE BREAD 
Good warm with butter and honey, or cheese and soup.
150g plain flour, 200g wholewheat flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1 large cooking apple, coarsley grated, 50g melted butter, 1 whisked egg, 250ml apple juice, (handfuls of chopped nuts and/or dried fruit).
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease tin, coat with flour. Combine dry ingredients. Fold in grated apples. Top with wet ingredients and nuts and/or dried fruit: save some nuts. Gently fold ingredients together, careful not to overmix. Tip into tin. Dot reserved nuts over the top. Bake for 30 mins, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool for 10-15 mins before serving or trying to remove from pan.



http://www.npr.org/2008/04/03/89323934/five-myths-about-drinking-water - though drinking diet soda is not a good idea.
http://www.natural-homeremedies-for-life.com/hangover-cures.html - useful tips, though I'd forego the sports drinks.
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/natural-hangover-cures-food.html
And from a friend of mine, well acquainted with the subject, come the following suggestions: 
"Hangovers are noticeably different depending on what I've been drinking, and so my recovery is similarly different. I'd go for a different hangover 'cure' after a night on cocktails to that following a night drinking beer in the pub, and usually my body is pretty good at telling me what I want. Cocktails usually involve reasonable amounts of fruit juices, and for some reason the resulting hangover (in my case) often calls for bread, bacon, cheese - more stomach settling things, along with water if they've been quite spirit heavy. Beer, on the other hand, demands vitamin C - most notably orange, grapefruit, or cranberry juice in my case.
My other golden rule is to avoid herbs and spicy things. I don't know why, but even innocent herbs hidden in sandwiches, such as basil, make my hangover worse. Likewise, anything involving chilli, or cajun spices, that kind of thing, just does not go well with a hangover. I've never understood why this is, but I often find myself picking the rocket out of a salad the day after a big night...! Odd, seeing as rocket, fresh basil leaves, cajun chicken etc are normally some of my favourite things..."


Next month: DIETING (nooo!)