Tuesday, 2 May 2017

May 2016: emulsifiers

or Flora, Clover, Countrylife ….

“Bad digestion is the root of all evil” - Hippocrates, 400 B.C.

For years, nutritional guidelines discouraging fats and eggs have led us to use more and more artificial emulsifiers. Eggs, traditionally used as binding agents, were considered bad for you, and fat was something to be avoided at all costs.
What those costs are, is only now starting to get clear.

Eggs do not appear to raise blood cholesterol after all [1]. The cholesterol which you eat has very little impact on how much cholesterol is in your blood. Because when you eat more cholesterol from foods, your body produces less of it. And when you eat less cholesterol from foods, your body produces more. Recent research has even found that cholesterol isn't so bad for you anyway.
In fact, cholesterol happens to be one of the most important nutrients in your body.
However, many vested interests have put their money in cholesterol-lowering drugs and heavily advertised ‘low cholesterol’ products. So it may be a while before the results of this research percolate through to the medical community, and to the buying population. It’s not easy to admit you’ve been wrong! [2]

The evidence also points away from fats: fat is not bad! With the exception of chemically altered trans-fats, found in margarine and other processed foods. See [3], and the Thought of June 2010: “fat is bad?”
The fat-free and low-fat products which we were encouraged to eat instead, not only include more sugar and starch, they are also likely to use artificial emulsifiers.

Recent research [4] has found that mice which consumed synthetic emulsifiers [5] underwent changes in gut bacteria, resulting in inflammation, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Tests on humans haven’t been done yet. However, interest in gut organisms has only recently taken off, and current tests for food safety were developed before their vital importance was understood [6]. Also called ‘microbiome’, gut organisms have a huge impact on our health, our ability to digest food, and more. So, synthetic emulsifiers are not the innocent little additives we think they are.

Now, before you decide you can’t really eat at all if the latest research is something to go by, relax. My advice is the same as always: try eat simple, homemade, not-processed foods. Eggs and REAL real butter are as easy to come by as their fancy, dressed-up, slogan-enhanced replacements. Oil-and-vinegar is as easy, and far better for you than bought salad cream. You can’t help swallowing a few synthetic emulsifiers unless you live on a desert island. But the less, the better.
Yes, it’s easy to lift a box of ice cream out of the freezer, but how about a nice apple crumble? Or if you really haven’t got time, some fruit? With (full-fat!) cream? [7]
Good for you! Just go easy on that ice cream …..

direct: beet, calabrese, carrots (though June sowings get less rootfly), french/runner beans, kohlrabi, lettuce, sweetcorn, swede, spring onions, spinach (beet), courgettes, marrows, (sugar) peas. If pea moth's a problem, wait till mid May.
in seedbed to transplant: leeks, cabbage, cauli, sprouting broccoli (early May), kale.
in traysbeans, courgettes, cucumbers, melon, pumpkins, pepper, sweetcorn, tomatoes.
plant out: cauli; cucumbers, marrows, pumpkins, tomatoes, squashes late May.
green manureif you have space, do it now. See www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/basics/techniques/soil_growgreenmanure1.shtml.

Veg: spring greens, cabbage, spinach, chard, cauli, salad leaves/lettuce, radish, rocket, asparagus, sorrel, watercress, rhubarb, seakale.
Herbschives, parsley, mint, lovage, summer savoury and chervil.
Wild food: broom buds, chives, dandelions, fat hen, hogweed shoots, hop shoots, meadowsweet, sea spinach, sorrel, watercress, wild fennel, wild garlic, wild rocket, samphire.
Game: wood pigeon, lamb, mutton, guinea fowl, rabbit, duck.


GARLIC and ANCHOVY SOUP, serves 2 
1 sliced (red) onion, 4 chopped garlic cloves, 2 tblsp butter,  ab. 4-6 anchovy fillets, 1 cooked potato, thyme leaves, salt, pepper, 700 ml stock/water, (parsley).
Melt butter, add garlic, onion and anchovies; cook slowly until translucent. Add potato, thyme and liquid, cook for 10 mins and mash or blend, season.

56g tin anchovy fillets, drained, chopped, reserving 1 tsp. of the oil; 2 large onions, sliced, 1200g potatoes, 360ml heavy cream.
Sauté the onions, stirring until golden. Slice the potatoes thinly and layer in a buttered dish with onions, anchovies and a bit of pepper. Form several layers and end with a layer of potatoes. Drizzle the top with the reserved anchovy oil, and bake at 200°C for 10 mins. Pour ¾ of the cream over the potatoes. Bake for 20 more mins. Add the remaining cream, reduce heat to 145°C and bake for 30 more mins or until the potatoes are tender. Serve with lots of green veg. 

1 green cabbage, cored and diced; 240ml stock/water, 1 tblsp olive oil, 1 diced onion; 225g mushrooms, 1½ tblsp cornstarch mixed with 60ml water; dill; 1/2 tsp paprika, salt, pepper.
Cook cabbage in the stock for 5 mins until it wilts but is still bright green. Remove from heat, 
uncover. Sauté onion and mushrooms in oil until brown. Add cabbage, heat through. Add cornstarch mix. Bring to the boil, stirring, until it thickens. Season with dill, paprika, salt and pepper.

1k stewing lamb/mutton in 7cm chunks, 250g stoned dates, 2 diced onions, 20g butter, sea salt, 2 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp cinnamon, 15g fresh ginger, (flat-leaf parsley, mint).
Sauté the onions till soft and light brown. Add meat, spices and ginger: then 700ml water.
Stir. Bring to the boil and let bubble, uncovered, for 30 secs. Cover and simmer slowly for 1½ hr. Halve the dates, add. Simmer uncovered for 30-45 mins or till the meat is tender and the sauce sticky. Serve with parsley and mint.

4 potatoes, 4 tblsp flour, mixed herbs/spices, 4 tblsp dripping, pepper, salt. 
Grate the potatoes, add flour, herbs and plenty of seasoning. Heat the fat, drop heaped tablespoons of the mix in. Fry 4 minutes on each side. With chutney for instance. 

1 bunch of radishes, 2 chopped cloves of garlic, 1 chopped spring onion (white and green parts), 1 tsp soy sauce, white pepper, ½ tsp sesame oil, ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
Separate the leaves from the radish roots. Quarter the roots, chop the leaves very fine. Saute the garlic and the white parts of spring onion in sesame and olive oil for a few mins. Add the leaves and seasoning, stir-fry for 1 more min. until they are wilted. Scatter the chopped green parts of the spring onion over to serve.

Sautée with olive oil, tomatoes and garlic and serve over pasta.
Or make a simple hash, with mashed potatoes and fried onion. Add the fish late, it’s best uncooked.
Or mix with boiled potato to form cakes, and fry.

280g fresh or 220g frozen spinach; 110g cream cheese; ½ tsp nutmeg, (almonds).
Cook the spinach, drain until almost dry. Add cheese and nutmeg; heat through, and sprinkle with slivered almonds. 

8 lightly toasted slices bread cut into 1¼cm cubes, 360ml milk, 4 tblsp butter, 5 eggs, 240ml sugar, ¼ tsp salt, 1tsp cinnamon, 800g chopped rhubarb, 60ml brown sugar, 60ml chopped nuts.
Put the bread cubes in a greased 2l casserole. Melt butter with milk, pour over the bread and let sit 15 mins. Mix eggs, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Stir in rhubarb, and then all of this into the bread mix. Top with brown sugar and nuts. Cover. Bake at 180°C 55-60 minutes until set; about halfway through, you can take the top off. Serve warm.
If you have a sweeter tooth than we do, you might like to add more sugar.  

Next issue: Did you know?


[1] The research which originally discredited eggs was funded by the breakfast cereal producers. 
[5] - emulsifiers are found in most processed foods, like bread, spreads, margarine, ice cream, chocolate, baked goods, soft drinks, salad dressings, veggie burgers, coffee whitener etc. etc. 
Natural emulsifiers come from nuts, berries etc.: eg. carnauba, jojoba, rice bran, xanthan gum. Synthetic emulsifiers are usually petroleum/hydrocarbon derivatives: alkoxykated amides:  TEA, DEA, MEA, MIPA and PEG compounds, sorbitan stearate, laurate, palmitate, oleate, ceresin, silicone, isopropyl stearate are just some of them. 
However, to see how thin the line is between ‘natural’ and ‘synthetic’ flavouring, check out http://www.ewg.org/foodscores/content/natural-vs-artificial-flavors.