It's almost impossible to resist. Once you're in that supermarket, the wares pull at you and the more refined they are, the harder they pull. The experts who created them know their job. They play on your deepest urges, make a token gesture to any health-ideas you might have picked up (where from?) and have you got the time to produce something from scratch? Of course not.
So 1) avoid the supermaket, 2) avoid watching tv ads, 3) .... no, it can't be done.
All I've got to help you in this difficult situation is some quotes to remind you of what it is that matters when you buy food.
The first five come from Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.
“Avoid food products containing ingredients that are A) unfamiliar B) unpronounceable C) more than five in number or D) that include high-fructose corn syrup.”
“Don't eat anything incapable of rotting.”
“If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat”
“You are, what what you eat eats.”
“While it is true that many people simply can't afford to pay more for food, either in money or time or both, many more of us can. After all, just in the last decade or two we've somehow found the time in the day to spend several hours on the internet and the money in the budget not only to pay for broadband service, but to cover a second phone bill and a new monthly bill for television, formerly free.”
“Another reason to eat whole foods is that many nutrients work together. You need vitamin C to absorb iron, and saturated fats extend the use of omega-3 fats. There are countless relationships like this in nutrition. There is no need to remember them. Just eat whole foods in their natural state and in classic combinations, such as leaves with olive oil, or fish with butter, and you’ll get everything you need.“ http://www.foodrenegade.com/food-not-nutrients/
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.
Plant: cauliflowers (early in the month), winter cabbages, kale.
Yes, you can still have fresh vegetables in your garden this winter, if you sow now. Here is what and how: http://www.verticalveg.org.uk/winter-growing-its-time-to-plan-and-sow/
Raw tomatoes are best for vitamins, as cooking reduces vits C and B6 and strips some of the fibre. However, cooking boosts levels of lycopene, which combats heart disease and prostate cancer. Frying helps the body to absorb the lycopene. So: have them however you fancy!
BROAD BEAN and COURGETTE SALAD
4 courgettes, 200g podded broad beans (1kg unpodded weight), 2 tbsp olive oil, 10 walnut halves, thyme or savory.
For the vinaigrette: 1 tbsp cider vinegar, 50ml olive oil.
Whisk vinegar and oil with seasoning, set aside. Cook beans in boiling water for 3 mins. Drain, and if they are very old, you may like to remove the skins. Cut courgettes into four lengthways and slice into 5mm thick pieces. Heat oil, add courgettes. Cook, stirring, for 8 mins, until they are light golden. Add beans, thyme/savory and seasoning, cook for another 30 secs. Remove from heat and stir in vinaigrette while still warm. Serve warm with chopped walnuts on top, or cold with some lettuce leaves.
CHARD SOUP with SOUR CREAM (or use spinach)
200g Swiss chard, 3 tblsp sour cream, 1.5l water/stock, onion and/or garlic.
Saute onion (and garlic), add liquid, bring to the boil. Add finely chopped chard, cook till done, blitz if you like. Dilute the sour cream with some of the soup, mix all together, season.
RUNNER BEAN STEW serves 2
300g runner beans, 3 tblsp olive oil, 3 sliced garlic cloves, large pinch chilli flakes, 2 cloves; 2 x 400g tins plum tomato drained of juice or 400g tomatoes and some tomato puree; basil, grated cheese.
Destring beans and cut on the diagonal into 1 cm pieces. Heat olive oil in a frying pan, add garlic. Cook for 1-2 mins then add beans, potatoes, chilli and cloves. Cook for 2 mins then tip in the drained tomatoes. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes until beans are tender and the sauce is thick and rich. You may want to add a bit of water while this is cooking, but don't add too much. Stir the basil through just before serving and season to taste. Serve with grain or pasta and grated cheese.
BLOTE BILLETJES IN HET GRAS
*1k potatoes, 600g chopped runner beans, 1 tin white beans ab. 400g, 200g extra mature cheese, 10g chives, lump of butter, mustard, gherkins or capers.
Cook potatoes in salted water for 20 mins. Cook runner beans till done. Drain white beans and heat them up with the runner beans for the last few mins. Cut cheese in small cubes, chop chives. Mash the potatoes in (some of) their cooking water. Stir in both kinds of beans, the cheese, chives and the butter. Season. Heat till cheese is starting to melt. Serve with mustard and gherkins.
For a non-veggie version, serve with sausages instead of cheese.
PASTA with SUMMER VEGETABLES, GOAT'S CHEESE and CHIVES
Cook pasta, and when it is almost ready add peas, broad beans, thinly sliced runner beans and thinly sliced carrots. Strain and immediately put back over the heat with a splash of the best olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, snipped chive blossoms, small pieces of goat's cheese and chopped chives or chervil. Stir briefly together.
HERRING ROE on TOAST
Some say you shouldn't eat roe, as this affects fish that are breeding and so the population of the species. However, if you do find some roe in your herring: it's tasty, quick, cheap and very nutritious. Remove the black vein that runs along the sacs, dredge roes in seasoned flour (black pepper, paprika). Heat butter and once bubbling, cook 2-3 minutes on each side. On hot, buttered toast. Lemon juice optional.
SPICY CORN-SPINACH-TOMATO PANCAKE for ONE
ab. 50g cooked corn (from the cob, or a tin), 100g spinach, 130g tomatoes, small onion, 1 egg, 5ml water/milk, 30g flour, salt, pepper, butter/olive oil, chilli pepper (grated cheese).
Mix flour, egg, and liquid into a batter, add corn, season. Saute chopped onion with sliced chilli for 1-2 mins, add chopped tomatoes, fry for 2 mins. Add batter, spread it well over the mixture, cook very low without stirring. In the meanwhile, cook spinach, drain. When the top of the pancake mix is dry, turn it over, fry for 1 min. Put on a plate, spinach on top, plus some cheese if you like.
BOLTED LETTUCE (and the likes) MADE EDIBLE
If you have nothing much in the garden, try the following:
use one variety of greens, or a mix: bolted lettuce, beet greens, borage, spinach, oriental greens, rocket, cos etc, does not matter whether rough, bitter or not very pleasant. Dunk in water immediately - this is important! - after picking, and keep submerged for a few hours. Strain. Cut the leaves. Add some chopped onions and plenty of garlic if you like it. Also lots of herbs and spices - the leaves themselves will have hardly any flavour.
Saute in oil or butter. First, stirring, on quite a high fire to let them wilt; then turn it down. Simmer very gently, covered most of the time for half an hour or longer. Stir every so often. Add salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. Also grated cheese if liked. Stir and heat through. Done! Nice, and not bitter at all, in spite of the title.
NEXT MONTH: Traditional Chinese Medicine.