Tuesday, 1 August 2017

August 2012: breakfast cereals


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]

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?