Sunday, 1 January 2017

January 2012: calories


It is an almost universally held belief that people who are overweight, just need to eat less and/or do more.
If only it was that simple! [1]

Calories are energy, and energy is a good thing. It's how we fuel ourselves, all our actions, our ability to think and interact with the world. 'Calorie counting', however, encourages us to see calories as the baddies -- you like to eat, but want to minimize your calorie intake. As if eating is a pastime, and calories an unfortunate side-effect.

All calories are not equal. Five hundred calories from a piece of cake is not the same as five hundred calories from a slice of wholemeal bread with cheese and tomatoes. Like putting petrol in a diesel car, putting sugar, transfats and empty calories in our body is harmful.

'Calories' are handy for those who like their facts clear even if nonsensical. Crucially, however, they are immensely profitable for the food industry. Go to the freezer compartment in the supermarket, get your ready meal and you know exactly how many are in it. Cook a couple of spuds, a piece of cauli, some runner beans and an omelet and where are you? No wonder calories are loved by industry and supermarkets alike.

Some high calorie foods are bad (you know who you are!) and some are good: nuts for instance, give our body all it needs in the way of fat, yes fat, the very substance that keeps your body going. Real foods have a feedback mechanism to keep you from overeating. Eat nuts, and not only will you be healthy, but you'll feel nicely full for quite a while. Eat the same number of calories in pizza, and 1) you'll want more, 2) you'll be hungry again soon, and 3) you'll feel yucky and if you go on doing it, you'll get ill.

Eat real food and forget about the calories. Cook for yourself and you never have to count them again. [2]

You might like to remember, though, that even a moderate amount of alcohol makes you feel hungry .....

TO SOW/PLANT if the weather is suitable: early peas, broad beans. Apple trees, if the weather isn't too severe and the ground not waterlogged or frozen.

Veg: beet, broccoli, brussels, cabbage, carrots, chard, celeriac, kale, leek, parsnip,
potato, pumpkin, rocket, spinach, swede, turnip, jerusalem artichoke, chicory, celery, corn salad, endive, kohlrabi, salsify, winter purslane.
Meat: goose, mallard, partridge, pheasant, venison
Fish: bib, cockles, crab, dab, flounder, lobster, mackerel, oysters, pollack, scallops, seabass, whiting.

is an excellent source of vitamin C, betacarotene, folate and many other nutrients. It contains cancer-fighting phytochemicals and lutein. People who eat enough lutein are less likely to suffer from AMD, a major cause of blindness. Kale and garlic is a particularly good combination, both as regards taste and health. But how to use it?
Don't eat kale before it's had a good frost: this makes it much sweeter.
Kale works well in stews and soups. Or sauté with chilli and garlic and use to dress pasta with olive oil, salt, pepper and some grated mature cheddar. Or in a risotto with spicy sausages, cream, lemon zest and grated cheese. Or Chinese style Рslice very finely and deep fry until crispy, then drain and sprinkle with soy sauce.
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SPICED SQUASH SOUP,  2 large portions.
1/2 (butternut) squash, 2 carrots, 1/2 onion, mixed spice, nutmeg, (chilli powder), stock, oil.
Roughly chop the onion and put in a pan (on medium heat) with a dash of oil. Peel and chop the squash, peppers and carrots into chunks and add to the pan, frying for a couple of minutes. Add spices and stock to the pan until it just covers the vegetables. Stir and let simmer for 20 mins. Take off the heat and mash. (Add grated cheese.)

3 beet, ¼ pumpkin/squash, 2 carrots, 2 garlic cloves, ginger, oil, butter, seasoning. Yoghurt, or cream and lemon juice. Spices like mustard, cumin, fennel and/or coriander seeds. 
Chop veg, garlic and a small piece of ginger. Heat oil/butter and fry garlic and ginger for 1/2 minute. Add spices and cook for another minute. Add veg, saute gently for a some more mins., stirring regularly. Add liquid to cover them, bring to boil and simmer till soft. Blend, check seasoning. You may need to add more liquid. Serve with double cream and lemon juice, or yoghurt.

725-900g cleaned pumpkin flesh, 1 onion, 225g mushrooms, 2 tblsp oil, thyme, sage, marjoram, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper.
Preheat oven to 220°C. Peel squash and cut with onion and mushrooms into 1-2 cm pieces. Mix them with oil, herbs, salt, pepper. Spread on baking sheet, put in oven for 20-25 mins until tender. Stir half way through.

340-520g potatoes, cut in pieces; 100-125g kale, weighed after stripping from the stalks and cut finely; some leftover meat, large onion, 1 or 2 cooking apples, salt.
Put potatoes in a pan with some salted cold water. When it boils, put the kale on top. On top of that the meat leftovers. Meanwhile, fry slices of apple and onion in butter. When everything is done, mash it up ad serve the kale/potato/meat stew with apple/onion slices on top.

500g cooked chopped beet, 500g cooked chopped potatoes, 90ml sour cream, 1 tblsp fresh dill (1 tsp dried), salt, pepper, 25g butter.
Place beet and potatoes in a bowl with all everything bar the butter. Puree to a paste, adjust seasoning. Reheat gently with the butter if needed, although it is just as nice cold with bread sticks.

Cut green cabbage into 1"x1" chunks, stir-fry with chopped garlic, chillies and soy/tamari.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS with a difference, 4-6 servings. 
Slicing the sprouts is a bit of a nuisance, but the result is worth it. 
550g brussels', 1½ tblsp fresh lemon juice, 2 tblsp olive oil, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tblsp poppy seeds, 120ml white wine, ¼ tsp salt. 
Halve sprouts lengthwise, then slice into thin slices, mix with lemon juice. Warm oil almost to smoking point. Stir in sprouts, garlic and poppy seeds. Add wine, cook for 3-4 mins, stirring constantly, until the sprouts are lightly softened but still barely crunchy. Reduce heat to low, season, cook for 1 more min, serve.