ALMOND BROWNIESFOR BROWNIES:
1. Soak all the dates in a small amount of water about an hour before preparing brownies, then put them in the blender and blend until smooth.
2. Melt 8 tablespoons of coconut oil and leave it to cool down.
3. Use a medium bowl and put dry ingredients into it (2 cups of almond flour, 5tbsp of cocoa powder, salt) and mix. Add the puree made from dates, 3tbsp of honey and vanilla extract and combine together.
4. Separate egg whites and egg yolks and using hand mixer mix first the egg whites until thick and add the egg yolk and mix together.
5. Very gently fold the eggs into the chocolate mixture using a wooden spoon until the two mixtures are the same colour, doing it very slowly will prevent knocking out the air. You need to keep the mixture as light and airy as possible to achieve nice brownie.
6. Prepare a medium baking tin and grease it well with coconut oil. Again very gently pour the mixture into the tin and bake for about 30 minutes in 180°C.
7. Leave to cool down completely before adding your chocolate.
FOR CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
1. Melt 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon of water and bring it to boil on a very small fire stirring all the time.
2. Add 1 tablespoon of honey or a bit more if you like to sweeten it.
3. Pour the chocolate straight away on the top of the brownie and decorate with whatever you wish or just leave it as it is with just shiny chocolate on the top. Enjoy your healthy, homemade snack any time of the day!
|Published on: 2019-08-28||Likes:
CABBAGE STEW1. Chop onions, meat, bacon, parsley, carrots and cabbage and leave in separate bowls to add in order.
2. In a large pot put and melt the lard, add onions first and fry until golden in colour. Add bacon and meat and fry together until golden brown.
3. Add some water, then cabbage, carrots, parsley and all spices. Cook together for about an hour; keep checking if the meat and vegetables are tender. The time of cooking the dish can vary depending on the meat and cabbage you bought, but usually, it takes about 2 hours slow cooking.
4. When meat and vegetables are tender enough add tomato passata and simmer for another 5-10 minutes then turn off.
5. Serve hot with fresh bread, enjoy!
|Published on: 2019-08-17||Likes:
PUMPKIN AND SUNFLOWER ENERGY BALLS1. Soak the dates in water an hour before making the bites.
2. Melt coconut oil and leave it to cool down.
3. Use a large pan and roast first desiccated coconut until golden, then put it in a glass bowl to cool down. Do the same with sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, you can mix them together for roasting. Leave them to cool down in a glass bowl.
4. When everything has cooled down put desiccated coconut, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in a food processor and grind it as desired. You can grind it really well for a more smooth effect or leave a bit rougher for the crunchier effect it is up to you. Add dates and melted coconut oil and turn on the food processor and mix until the mixture comes together then turn off.
5. Make small size bites and put them on the plate and keep it in the fridge.
|Published on: 2019-08-15||Likes:
DELIGHTFUL CINNAMON AND GINGER PULLED PORKTo prepare pulled pork it would be good to have a roasting dish with a lid. If you do not have one use a regular dish and cover with tin foil.
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1. In the evening before you are planning to make slow-cooked pork marinate the meat. If you have bought boneless pork solder remove the string and unroll the pork. Rub the salt into the meat. If you bought with the bone just rub salt into the pork.
2. In a small bowl mix spices, smoked paprika, black pepper, cinnamon and ginger. Use roughly 2/3 of spices to rub all over the pork. Once finished place pork in a foil and in the fridge over the night. Save 1/3 of the spices for a vegetable roast tomorrow.
3. In the morning preheat the oven at 220°C. Take a roasting dish and rub a bit of lard on the bottom. Remove the foil from pork and place it in the dish. Cook in the oven for about half an hour until the pork browns.
4. Once brown, reduce the heat in the oven on 150°C add water in the dish and place the lid on.
5. Cook in the oven on low heat for about 6 hours or until meat is tender. Check occasionally if the water evaporated add some more to avoid burning.
6. While pork is roasting prepare vegetables. Peel and wash carrots, remove the outer leaves from the cauliflower and wash it, wash broccoli and plums and peel the onions. Chop vegetables into smaller pieces, halve the plums and remove the stones.
7. Use butter to rub on the bottom of a baking tray and put chopped vegetables and plums in it. Use the remaining spices from last night to season vegetables.
8. 40 minutes before pork is ready put the tray with vegetables in the oven below the pork.
9. Plums will need 10-15 minutes to be ready. Take them out when they soften up. Continue roasting vegetables for another 20-25 minutes.
10. About 10 minutes before pork is ready to increase the heath in the oven at 220°C, remove the lid from the pork and roast for 10 minutes. This will make the outer layer of the pork nice and crispy.
11. Once ready take the pork out and leave to rest for half an hour.
12. Serve with vegetables and plums.
|Published on: 2019-08-13||Likes:
SUNFLOWER BASE RASPBERRY CHEESECAKEThe base:
1. Soak the dates for about an hour before making the base.
2. Use a medium pan put all the desiccated coconut and roast for 2-3 min or until golden. Remove from the pan into a bowl. Do the same with sunflower seeds. They need to be roasted separately as they might need a slightly different length of time to be golden.
3. Melt butter and leave it to cool down.
4. Put sunflower seeds and desiccated coconut in a food processor and blend together for a few minutes until it starts coming together then add dates and melted butter and blend again until combined well together.
5. Use a round cake tin and distribute the mixture evenly, then press firmly down into the base with the bottom of the glass to even up.
The cream filling:
1. Use a large bowl, pour all double cream into it and mix it with a hand mixer until thickened up.
2. Add cream cheese and honey and mix for another minute.
3. Pour the mixture over the crust and refrigerate while you are preparing the gelatine.
1. Use a medium pan and put your raspberries in it. Bring them to boil and add a glass of water, boil again and leave it to cool. Add a bit of honey to sweeten it up if the raspberries are not giving enough sweetness.
2. Prepare your gelatine, depending on the producer follow the instructions on the packaging.
3. Add gelatine into raspberries and leave to cool.
4. Wait until it starts thickening, you might need to put it in the fridge for a bit to help thickening process.
5. Pour the mixture on the top of the filling and refrigerate for at least 4 hours until the jelly and everything else has thickened up before cutting a slice. Enjoy.
|Published on: 2019-08-02||Likes:
GRILLED CHICKEN SALAD1. Cut chicken breast into smaller pieces, rub some salt and pepper into it and grill until cooked properly or 6-8 minutes. If you do not have a grill you can fry it for 3-4 minutes from each side.
2. Use a large bowl and add cooled grilled chicken into it.
3. Cut avocados into medium cubes and add it to a bowl with chicken.
4. Slice cucumber and onions and cut plum tomatoes into halves and add everything into the bowl.
5. Add all spices: salt, pepper and ground cumin and mix until all ingredients combined together.
6. Decorate the plate with lettuce and sprinkle some chopped red chilli on the top, serve fresh.
|Published on: 2019-07-30||Likes:
THE TALE OF CHILLI CON CARNEI first tried chilli con carne when I was in the Lake District on a short break. We went out in a little family-run cafe and ordered jacket potato with chilli con carne topping. The fist mouth full and I was amazed by the flavour of chilli and cumin seeds. I remember thinking that it was an Indian meal.
Naturally, when I try something new I want to know more. So I dag a little bit deeper and discovered that it was a meal that originates from northern Mexico and South Texas.
The history is unknown so is the authentic recipe. The legend says, that the first recipe was written down as early as the 17th century by a Spanish nun Sister Mary who was mysteriously known to Indians as “La Dama de Azul” commonly called “the lady in blue”. Even though she physically never left Spain, her body would go into trances for many days and travel to an unknown land to preach Christianity to Indians. King Phillip IV of Spain was convinced that she was “the lady in blue” of Indian legends. Apparently, Sister Mary wrote down the recipe during one of her trances. Her version contained venison or antelope meat, some onions, tomatoes and chilli peppers. There are no written records of it anywhere but it is good to keep an open mind after all even facts about the recipe origins are not so clear.
Another story says that the dish was invented by prisoners in Texas. They made some kind of stew from the cheapest ingredients they had available to them under difficult circumstances, so just with a little bit of beef and chillies boiled in water for a very long time until it’s edible. It became so popular in Texas prisons that the inmates used to rate jails on quality of their chillies they served to them.
When translated from Spanish Chilli con carne means meat with chilli. In early days, before use of fridges and freezers, it was sold in bricks after pressing out all the moisture. Later on, the dish evolved, new spices were added such as cumin and new versions of dishes were developed such as Cincinnati Chili, Springfield Style Chili or Chase’s Chill but the best known is, of course, the Texas chilli. The state of Texas in 1972 proclaimed chilli con carne for state food and San Antonio in 80s has established a tribute to chilli as a state dish and started celebrating “Return of the Chilli Queens Festival” every year in May.
The history that surrounds this dish is mysterious and intriguing; the same can be said for the dish itself. My first attempt to make chilli went better than I thought it will. I made a big dish that lasted us a few days and I was amazed by how nourishing it was.
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Let us know what is your favourite chilli con carne variation?
COMPLICATED COOKWARE PART 1For the next few weeks, I will be posting more info on the most common and popular pots and pans materials and try to give the pros and cons to make it easier for you to make your choice. This week we will focus on iron cast and stainless steel. Maybe you will find something you didn’t know about?
IRON CAST vs STAINLESS STEEL
Nowadays we have such a versatile choice of cookware that if we don’t inform ourselves properly we might end up transforming our beautiful and tasty meals into poisonous one just with simply wrong choices. We can also damage our brand new cookware when we have no knowledge of how to look after it properly.
How do we make our decision when it comes to buying a cooking pot or a frying pan? We consider one or more of the following:
- <span style="font-style:oblique; font-weight:600;">budget</span> – it is important to know how much we spend or what is our price range.
- <span style="font-style:oblique; font-weight:600;">cookware size</span> – how many people we are cooking for will depend on making that choice.
- <span style="font-style:oblique; font-weight:600;">safety</span> – some materials can be toxic when others are much safer or completely safe to use.
- <span style="font-style:oblique; font-weight:600;">ease of use</span> – some materials are easier to clean and non-stick while cooking when others require more time to clean and season.
- <span style="font-style:oblique; font-weight:600;">durability</span> – again it depends on the equipment, some might be cheaper but get damaged quicker and others can be very durable, even hard to destroy!
It is probably most old fashioned of all materials but practically indestructible when taken care of properly. Cast iron comes as a bare one or enamelled. The second one has one great advantage that it does not need seasoning like the first one.
• Its versatile use, you can put it in the oven, use it on the campfire or on the stove at home.
• It delivers great flavours and keeps the temperature for quite a long time.
• It is very durable it can last through a lifetime if you look after it properly.
• It offers some health benefits as it allows some amount of dietary iron to leach into food.
• It’s non-toxic, which is the most important fact.
• It can be quite a time consuming to take care of it and remember that you cannot use washing up liquid on it or any abrasive materials to clean it.
• You need to apply a coat of oil after every cleaning to replenish the seasoning.
• You need to season it every so often in order to keep its non-stick qualities.
• It can rust.
• It is quite heavy compared to some pots and pans.
• It is important to know that cast iron is not good for preparing any dishes containing tomatoes because of its acidity that interacts with pH of the pan and destroys the flavour.
Stainless steel is a material made of different elements. Steel itself is not resistant enough to make good cookware from it, it can rust and corrode easily, that is why chromium is added to it to make it stronger. The higher amount of chromium the better corrosion resistance of stainless steel. Also, nickel is added to make it more resistant to rust and corrosion particularly when it comes to acidic materials. It also gives that nice shine to the metal.
Stainless steel gets its name from the fact that it does not stain or rust like steel. It actually contains only about 10% of steel and the rest are chromium, nickel, nitrogen or titanium etc. But there are so many versions of stainless steel made with different percentage of the elements mentioned above and the quality of them depends on it.
• It’s durable, it’s probably the most durable cookware it does not scratch easily, and you can wash it with washing up liquid without any damage and use a sponge to clean it.
• It’s easy to maintain, easy to wash and dry and if it loses its shine you can easily restore it with vinegar.
• It’s non-reactive to food, especially to acidic food.
• It’s versatile; you can fry in it, steam, poach, and boil anything you want really.
• It’s a good value for money. Stainless steel is very affordable when you take into consideration its durability, it can last for many, many years.
• It’s a safe cookware option.
• It does not distribute heat that well as some cookware materials like aluminium or copper.
• It sticks so it takes some experience to learn how to cook in it and adjust the heat accordingly.
• It’s harder to clean than some other cookware.
• Some types of stainless steel are not suitable for induction hobs if they contain nickel so if you have induction hob you need to choose magnetic stainless steel cookware.
So just to summarize both cast iron and stainless steel are great choices. There are some small differences which can be quite important to some people. For instance, cast iron can be a little bit more time consuming to season it regularly unless you have purchased the enamelled version than that problem is eliminated straight away. Another difference is reactivity and it that instance again cast iron is reactive to acidic food so you cannot use it for frying tomatoes as the meal will change the taste. But on the other hand cast iron is perfect for frying omelettes where stainless steel struggles to perform without sticking.
INTRIGUING WORLD OF HONEY HISTORICAL VIEW
Delicious, sweet honey has been made by little, busy bees for thousands of years. Its importance dates back as early as 7000 BC, there are some cave paintings discovered in Spain that show the earliest records of beekeeping.
In ancient Egypt, honey was used as a sweetener and as a gift to Gods. In ancient Greece, honey was not only an important food but also a medicine. Romans also valued honey in cooking as well as a gift to the Gods, therefore beekeeping during Roman Empire thrived.
Later on, when Christianity was well-established there was a high demand for honey and beeswax in order to make church candles. It all continued in Europe until the Renaissance when sugar slowly took over and by the 17th century was regularly used as a sweetener and that meant reduced honey usage dramatically.
The bees, on the other hand, continued to play an important symbolic role as they were considered to have special powers by pharaohs in ancient Egypt, often found on hieroglyphs symbolizing royalty. Very frequently used as an emblem in Greek mythology, on coins in a Greek city in the third century BC or by Napoleon who carried a flag representing bees but also had his robe embroidered with bees.
Nowadays we enjoy honey made from different plants and are overwhelmed with the choices and because of that sometimes we do not know what to choose. It is good to know some basic information about honey in order to benefit from its special properties. People who like to eat honey are very often driven by the flavour as a first thing to consider when choosing it. But is the flavour the only thing we should look at?
I have made my own research on honey a while ago and came to some own conclusions on how to choose honey, where to buy it, what to pay attention to and what is less important.
RAW HONEY VS REGULAR HONEY
I’m sure that everybody came across so many types of honey and tried lots of them but never even considered that some honey might be less nutrient than others. It turns out that raw honey and regular honey have many differences.
Raw honey is first of all not as widely available as the other, its less commercialized so the best place to look for it is probably online or the bee farm. Raw honey is pure and unprocessed; it comes straight from the beehive. It only goes through a gentle filtration process that involves straining it through the cloth to remove dead bees and beeswax. After filtration, it goes straight into a jar to be sold as raw. That process preserves all natural vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients and other nutritional elements present in honey.
Raw honey facts:
- It’s rich in antioxidants.
- It’s rich in B vitam.ins and contains A, C, D and E vitamins.
- It contains prebiotics that protects your gut and helps good bacteria thrive.
- It contains bee pollen that normally would be destroyed in processed honey. Bee pollen contains many nutrients necessary for the human body. It’s a source of proteins, vitamins, minerals, beneficial fatty acids etc. It also contains lots of antioxidants.
- It contains propolis made of organic compounds that are extremely rich in phenolic compounds, many vitamins and minerals.
- It protects the digestive system and does not ferment in the stomach, unlike other sugars.
- Raw honey is alkaline therefore it helps the body to maintain a neutral alkaline balance.
- It is known to help melatonin production to improve sleep.
- It has antibacterial properties that help in wound healing.
- It tastes better than regular honey.
But as everything else raw honey should be consumed in moderation.
Regular honey is made from raw honey; the difference is that it has been pasteurized and that means heated at high temperature to kill yeast and prevent fermentation. It also prevents it from granulating and that is supposed to make it look better for customers who are choosing an appealing product. Commercial honey is smoother and has a more regular colour. It is widely available everywhere in shops and costs a bit less than raw honey.
Regular honey facts:
- It is processed; high temperature is applied to it to pasteurize it.
- It might contain hidden sugars and sweeteners.
- It has a similar amount of antioxidants as raw honey.
- It has fewer enzymes than raw honey.
- Some vitamins are destroyed during pasteurization.
- It is suitable for people who have pollen allergy as it doesn’t contain any pollen.
- It is a good sugar substitute.
HONEY COLOUR AND FLAVOUR
There are so many different flavours and colours of honey, some experts mention over 300 types. They all depend on nectar source where honey bees were collecting it. Honey colour ranges from very light to dark brown and the general rule for flavour is that light-coloured honey has a milder taste and darker has a stronger taste, but of course there are some exceptions.
Examples of light-coloured honey:
- Orange blossom
Considering that there are so many flavours means that everybody should be able to choose their favourite one from the range available. If you are going to buy honey and get all the benefits from it you should probably choose raw honey. It has not been processed, you get it in its most natural form and that means you get all the nutrients from it. This is the only way to know that you bought healthy honey that you can enjoy. While it can cost a bit more and it might be more difficult to get it, it’s totally worth the effort. So enjoy and stay healthy!
FOOD HABITS IN TIMEIt is very interesting to look back and realize how our needs have changed when it comes to food consumption and preparation. It seems that very gradually we have shifted our way of thinking and taste preferences throughout history. But the big question is: “What has changed?” The answer depends on how far we want to journey back in time and of course on the part of the world.
I will just mention very briefly that in Europe during Middle Ages breakfast was not something that people would practise and it was not because they were poor and could not afford it but even monarchs just simply did not eat breakfast. They would typically have only two meals a day. The first meal would be around 11 am and the second one about five hours later. Eating breakfast was considered medicinal therefore only ill people and children would typically have it.
The rise of a working class around the 16th century has slowly changed the habits and breakfast was introduced for those working long hours. Nowadays we continue to eat breakfast in the morning and it has become a part of our daily routine.<br><br>
The real change did not come until the19th and 20th centuries. That period of time has revolutionized the food industry and changed our habits so cooking has slowly been replaced with convenient options. I will list some of the diverse ideas that were introduced back then and implemented into our lives as innocent discoveries.
- Fish and chips – appeared as early as the 19th century and the first fish and chips shop was open in 1860 in Oldham!
- Vending machine restaurant – the first one opened in 1896 in Berlin and then in 1902 in New York which started the fast food industry in the US.
- First hamburger chain – first restaurant serving hamburgers was open in 1916 selling large numbers of cheap hamburgers was soon franchised in 1921.
- McDonald’s – opened in 1948 by McDonald brothers, now holds around 31000 restaurants in 21 countries around the world.
- Crisps – invented accidentally in a restaurant in 1853 and manufactured in 1895. It is a bit of a funny story about how they were invented. George Crum was a restaurant owner and served French fries to a customer, who complained they were too thick. He made them again, but a lot thinner but the customer was still not happy. To annoy the fussy diner Crum made them very thin and crunchy, but the effect was quite opposite – the customer loved them.
- Carbonated soft drink – invented in 1767
- Cola flavoured drink – 1881 and then 1885 “Dr.Pepper” and just a year later “Coca-cola”.
Nowadays having a pack of crisps, biscuits, chocolate bar, a variety of burgers and fizzy drinks is the cheapest and easiest option for many leading busy lives. Junk food is everywhere and many people might not even be aware of what they are consuming at all. I think that all of us tried most of the foods listed, not to mention pizza, kebabs, sandwiches etc. They might even seem like good food, because what else can you grab on the go when you are hungry?
The way people shop today is very different too and it is nothing to do with what they want to buy, but with what is being sold to them. Looking around the supermarket there are not many fresh, unprocessed products that we can buy. Instead, we have canned food, frozen microwave meals, endless shelves of sweet and savoury snacks, fizzy drinks, puffy bread and pastries empty in calories and full of additives to preserve it for longer.
What happens when we eat that way?
• we are constantly hungry eating food that has no nourishment but is high in calories
• we end up eating more often than three times a day
• we choose processed food that is very unhealthy due to a busy lifestyle or inability to cook<br>
• we waste time and money and do not benefit from it
• we have weight problems or are already obese
• we have health problems like diabetes, anaemia, a variety of food allergies etc.
So what is the solution when we are surrounded by junk food and we think we have no time or skill to prepare meals at home?
Firstly we think that everybody can cook. Cooking that we survived through generations is not high-end restaurant cooking that we think of when we say “I will never be able to cook that good”. Well, you do not have to be that good. You have to be enthusiastic, open to new challenges and make the first step. Nowadays we have all these cooking utensils, we have internet, YouTube channels… We have endless resources that people didn’t have 50 years ago but they still managed. If they could cook we can too.
Secondly, start small. If you never cooked before and you do not have much time, start from one meal a week. Surprise yourselves with a delicious <a href="http://www.apple-green.com/recipes-view.php?id=110" style="color:#029934;" target="_blank">omelette</a> for breakfast. You deserve it.
After all, it is all about changing habits!