Borscht: the Beetroot Soup

I love this stuff! Probably because I know how good beetroot is for you. But this soup has other greatness in it too: onion, leek, carrot and cabbage. They’re all powerful anti-oxidant containing veggies. I particularly like veggies of the allium (onion & leek) and cruciferous families (cabbage) because they help to remove heavy metals from our bods (‘de-toxify’ us) but the old carrot’s beta-carotene (for vitamin A production) content makes it a valuable ingredient too.

Borscht is an Eastern European (think Poland, Russia) dish and traditionally includes meat; usually beef or veal but sometimes pork. I prefer to make mine meat-free, though. But when I say meat-free, I mean there’s no chunks of animal flesh in it. To clarify, I like to use a beef stock. But all you veggos out there rest easy… I have made it on a veggie stock base a few times and it’s still just as delicious.

Soups are pretty easy meals to make but when you have a Thermomix they’re even easier again. I’m providing the recipe for both methods, but the Thermomix will yield less because, unless you’re lucky enough to own the newest model (TM51) it simply doesn’t have the capacity to safely hold the same quantities as a large saucepan can.Food Fervour

So, Manual Cooks, you will need: 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped stalk celery, 1 chopped leek, 1 carrot, 2 beetroot, 250gm sliced cabbage, 1 tablespoon tomato paste (or 1 large tomato) & 5 cups beef (or vegetable) stock

Simply warm the EVOO in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion, celery & leek. Sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the carrot, beetroot, cabbage, tomato/paste and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for an hour. Carefully blend in batches

Thermomixers, you’ll need: 30gm EVOO, 1 small quartered onion, 1 roughly chopped stalk celery, ½ roughly chopped leek, 1 roughly chopped small carrot, 1 large  roughly chopped beetroot, 150gm sliced cabbage, 1 tablespoon tomato paste (or 1 large tomato), 3½-4 cups beef or vegetable stock

Placing the onion, celery and leek in the bowl, chop for 5 seconds on Speed 5 then add the EVOO and cook for 4 minutes on Varoma, Speed 1.5. Add the carrot, beetroot and cabbage and chop for a further 5 seconds at Speed 5. Add the remaining ingredients and set to cook for 22 minutes at 100ºC, Speed 1-1.5. Finally, set to 1 min 30 seconds and slowly accelerate to Speed 9.

Serve immediately and ENJOY!

Advertisements

Food & Sun Sensitivity

Food FervourI’ve had a couple of skin cancer ‘experiences’ in the past couple of years: in late 2015 I had a BCC (basal cell carcinoma) cut out of the tender skin under my left eye and a pre-cancerous one removed from the outer corner of my right eye at the same time. (Yes, I did very much resemble a street-fighter… see right!) And earlier this year I was directed by my dermatologist to undergo a course of topical cream (Efudex) to kill off another spot on my left cheek. (You can’t miss that red dot in the pic below! That was about halfway through the treatment.)Food Fervour

It was only when I went for my check-up last week that I was given some information that I considered so important that it warranted this post. It’s not particularly new science, but I hadn’t heard of it before and it really surprised me because it involves particular (natural, everyday) wholefoods that I eat regularly.

Simply, some foods have been shown to increase your sensitivity to the sun. And I mean, when you eat these foods in daylight hours it’s an open invitation to skin damage. The dermo’s nurse literally said to me, “it’s like holding a magnifying glass against yourself and saying to the sun ‘Here I am! You’re welcome!'”

So what are they and what makes them so ‘dangerous’? Well, there are surprisingly quite a few, the most widely consumed being celery, carrots, figs and citrus fruit. And it’s because they contain psoralens.Food Fervour

Psoralens are a naturally occurring compound and “when activated by sunlight or another source of ultraviolet light (they) may have phototoxic, mutagenic and photo-carcinogenic effects”. Hence the nurse’s magnifying glass analogy. For a fuller explanation (and a great list of the foods that contain them) see this article I found on the website healwithfood.org (it’s the source for the above quote).

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat these foods, it just becomes a timing thing. My doctor said to simply avoid consuming them before 4pm. (I know right, that’s a bit specific!) The gist is, save them for dinnertime …or anytime after dusk. So if you eat grapefruit or usually enjoy an orange or veggie juice (including carrot & celery) as part of your morning/breakfast (or even lunch) routine it’d be best to change that habit. (Don’t be juicing anyway, ’cause you’re losing all that super-beneficial fibre!) Check out this article on Brown University’s website, for a study conducted specifically with citrus fruits.

Of course, changing your consumption habits for psoralen-containing foods in no way means you should disregard your normal sun protection practises. Think of it as an added safety measure.

 

 

Slow Cooker Ratatouille

It was one of those days. I had no ideas, no incentive to cook, but I had heaps of veggies I felt compelled to use up.

Nothing even remotely appealed to me in the pages of recipes I scrolled through on the net. All I knew was that I couldn’t use the oven because it was just waaaaay too hot. I vacillated between Thermomix and slow cooker recipes but the slow cooker won in the end, simply because I knew I could leave it on overnight.

A lot of slow cooker recipes are deceiving in that they’re not just one-pot: many require you to pre-cook some of the ingredients. To a lazy cook like me that just doesn’t make sense. I want to throw everything into the crockpot at once, put the lid on and walk away.

So when I found a recipe that fit the bill on Voracious Veggie‘s website (direct link below) I proceeded to adapt it… just by adding more stuff, really.

Slow Cooker Moroccan Eggplant

Food FervourHere’s what I used:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), 1 diced onion, 1 finely chopped garlic clove, 1 small diced carrot, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon chili powder (double this if you actually want to taste it!), ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ cup tomato paste, 1 cup vegetable stock, 8 mushrooms sliced, 1 small eggplant (cubed), ¼ butternut pumpkin (peeled & cubed), salt & pepper.

And this is all I did:

Pour the oil into the slow cooker, adding the onion, garlic and carrot, followed by the rest of the herbs & spices. Mix in the tomato paste & stock next, then add the mushrooms, eggplant & finally the pumpkin. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on low for at least 8 hours (I left mine on overnight… a total of 14 hours!) You can stir it up every now & then if you like.

Food FervourFor my first meal, I mixed through fresh basil leaves, then topped the lot with chopped kalamata olives and crumbled feta (see left). Deeelish. For the next serve, I popped a piece of grilled wild salmon on top of a plateful.

There are so many ways you could serve it up. Super simply, with bread or on toast (mmm, melt some parmesan in or over it!) or as a pasta ‘sauce’. The point is, it’s dead easy, it’s packed with micronutrients and fibre, low in fat & complex carbs (for those concerned about them) and …..it’s just EASY!!! (Yes, I repeated myself.)

Don’t despair if you don’t have all of the veggies I used… the following will substitute perfectly : capsicum, zucchini, actual tomatoes (this will significantly increase fluid content FYI) …even cauliflower and broccoli (just don’t expect the broccoli to hold its colour) The more the merrier! Let me know what you use. 🙂

Roasted Lamb Steak, Brussel Sprouts & Broccoli

I saw – somewhere – a picture of oven roasted brussel spouts the other day and I couldn’t get it out of my head. Even though we didn’t eat these fellas often as kids, I’ve never really hated them unlike the majority of people on the planet. So when I saw a bag of organic brussels at the markets on Saturday morning, it was ON!

I’m envisioning heaps of olive oil & garlic. Then I see broccoli in the mix. This is getting good! I bought some fresh grass fed lamb steaks at the markets as well, and since (er, excuse the candidness) it’s getting close to ‘that time of month’ I really feel like a good dose of haem iron.

So, here’s my dinner adventure for tonight:

Food FervourI used 3 ( yes 3!) garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, (approx) 100gms grass fed lamb steak, 1 small carrot, 7-8 brussel sprouts, 4-5 broccoli florets.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC

Finely chop 1 garlic clove, add 1 tblspn Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspn EVOO & 1 squeeze (approx 1 tspn) lemon juice, mix then marinade your lamb steak (approx 100gm) for at least 10 mins…

Quarter (lengthwise) 1 small carrot then, adding 1 tablespoon EVOO, 1 finely chopped garlic clove and salt to a (preferably glass) baking dish, throw in the brussel sprouts, and rub with the garlic, oil & salt mix. Do same for the carrot quarters.

Next, pop a small frypan on the stove, on high heat. Meanwhile prepare (slice) your broccoli florets. A drop of EVOO (about 1 teaspoon) will tell you when the frypan is hot, then you want to pop in your lamb… and I’m talkin’ 20 seconds tops…. turn it over, another maximum of 20 seconds then pull it off the heat. Unless prefer your meat a little more ‘rare’ (in which case just allow it to ‘rest’) add it to the baking dish with the veggies and pop it in the oven. Set your timer for 5 minutes.Food Fervour

Drizzle oil over your broccoli florets, squeeze some more lemon over then then massage the lot through. (Did I mention you should have washed your hands before you started cooking?!) When the 5 minute timer sounds, add the broccoli (& the meat, if you haven’t already) to the baking dish, turn the carrots/brussels if you wish, and reset the timer for 15 minutes. If you can remember, try to turn everything at about 7-8 minute mark. (I usually do this by deliberately setting my timer for 7 or 8 minutes… no forgetting then!)

When the timer sounds for the last time, it’s time to serve and enjoy. I think what made the dish for me was the sweetness of the Worcestershire and the wonderful tang of the lemon. Deeelish!

 

 

Mushroom & Lentil Bolognaise Stew

With Winter smacking us in the face this week, I felt the need for a nice thick, warming stew. But having had (what I considered to be) too much meat for some days prior, I wanted something plant-based… that would satisfy me.

Knowing how damned good legumes are for us (very high fibre and plant-based protein) and having a bag of mushrooms in the fridge that I knew needed to be used up, I began the search for a recipe but as usual, nothing I found comprised a vast array of veggies. So, true to form, I ended up adapting; fusing two different recipes together: one Thermomix Lentil & Veg Stew with a Mushroom & Lentil Bolognaise recipe on taste.com.au.

While I chose to make this using my Thermomix, it could be easily replicated by non-Thermie cooks because it’s a one-pot recipe. But a word of warning to Thermomix users: the quantities I used brought the bowl contents right up to the maximum (2 litres) so if you’re a little reticent, perhaps halve the quantities. It will still result in a decent amount of stew.food fervour

Grab the following:

35ml extra virgin olive oil, 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 large carrot, 1 stalk celery, 2 potatoes, 170gm uncooked brown lentils, 200gm button mushrooms, 2 tablespoons Thermomix vegetable stock paste + 600gm water (non-Thermies use 700-800ml vegetable stock), 2 bay leaves, 400gm passata (or entire contents of a 400gm tin of tomatoes)

Thermomixers: Add the onion (quartered) garlic cloves, roughly chopped carrot and celery to the bowl and chop for 5 seconds @ Speed 5. Scrape down sides then cook for 3mins @ 100ºC on reverse Speed 1. Meanwhile, dice the potatoes and roughly chop the mushrooms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the potatoes, mushrooms, lentils, stock paste, water, bay leaves and passata (or tomatoes). Stir gently before locking the lid in place and cooking for 45 minutes @ 100ºC on reverse Speed ‘Stir’, with the MC off and the basket (or a light dishcloth draped) over the top to catch splatters.

Stovetop Cooks: Finely chop the onion, garlic, carrot and celery, then warm the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the veg and cook for 3-5 minutes (until onion has softened) stirring occasionally while you dice the potatoes & roughly chop the mushrooms. Add the potatoes, mushrooms, lentils, stock, bay leaves and passata (or tomatoes) to the saucepan and bring to a gentle boil before reducing to a simmer, partially covered for approximately 40 minutes.

Allow the stew to rest for at least 5 minutes (ThermoServers are the perfect receptacle) before serving so that the some fluid may be further absorbed by the lentils. It’s a perfect meal on its own, or with spiralised zucchini noodles, but you could add some pasta if you feel that you need “carbo-loading” 😉

Raw Carrot Cake with Lime Cashew Icing

I’ve had this recipe earmarked to try for quite some time now… but it was only this week I found the (time &) motivation. Included in a handout from a raw food demonstration I attended years ago, I’d filed it away in a cooking folder, to sit idly waiting for me to visit it.

food fervourWell, this week, it was Time. And I was impressed with the result. As usual, I made a few alterations to the original recipe (including halving all the amounts) and I believe there is yet more room for improvement!

Apart from a powerful blender (I used my Thermomix and later, to fine tune the icing, the Magic Bullet) you will need:

1 cup brazil nuts, 5 medium carrots, ¼ cup dates, ¼ cup maple syrup (I actually used ‘date water’ which isn’t as sweet as the syrup so you may find you could reduce this amount) ½-1 teaspoon grated ginger, 1½ cups desiccated coconut, ¼ sultanas, 1½ tblspns psyllium husk

Mill the brazil nuts first (TM: 10secs, speed 9) and set aside, then grate the carrots (TM: 10-15secs, speed 5-6). Next, blend the dates, liquid sweetener & ginger (TM: up to 30secs, speed 7-9). Finally, add in the nut meal, carrots and remaining ingredients and mix well (TM: approx 1min, speed intermittent (knead) scraping down then mixing 30secs, reverse speed 4). Empty the mixture into into a greased (coconut oil) lined dish (the mixture perfectly filled a 15 x 20cm stoneware baking dish I have) pressing it in and smoothing it over. Refrigerate, or freeze if you prefer.

For the icing, mill ½ cup raw cashews (TM: 10 secs, speed 9) then add approximately 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup (again, I used date water instead) the flesh & rind of half a lime and a dash of coconut oil. Blend well (TM: 30-60secs, up to speed 8. You will need to scrape down a few times. This is where I transferred the mixture to my Magic Bullet short cup for a smoother consistency). Simply spread over the top of the ‘cake’ and refrigerate (or freeze) until ready to devour!

 

 

Red Lentil & Veggie Curry

This is one of my fall-backs. You know: one of those recipes that is quick & failsafe and you know it’s full of goodness. It’s a slightly adapted version of a soup recipe I found in a Women’s Weekly cookbook I snapped years ago, because of its title:food fervour

All I’ve done is reduce the fluid ingredients to ‘thicken’ the soup to a curry consistency. Too. Easy.

To make this delish meal you will need the following:

1 teaspoon coconut oil, 2 tablespoons red curry paste, 400gm passata (or can of crushed tomatoes if you prefer) 2 cups chicken (or veggie) stock, 1 large diced carrot, 2 finely chopped celery stalks, ¾ cup (washed) red lentils, 2 cups broccoli &/or cauliflower florets, 1 large chopped zucchini, handful of roughly chopped snow peas, ⅓ cup (80ml) coconut cream, 2 tablespoons fresh coriander

Method:

Melt the coconut oil in a very large saucepan, then add the curry paste, stirring for about 1 minute. Add the passata/tomatoes, stock, carrot and celery, bringing to a boil before reducing to simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the lentils (& cauliflower if using), cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables (broccoli, zucchini & snow peas) mixing well and leave to simmer again, covered, for 5-10 minutes (depending upon how ‘al dente’ you prefer your vege). Stir the coconut cream and coriander through just before serving. food fervour

I love this with or without rice and can even gulp it down cold from the fridge when I’m in a hurry. It makes at least 4 meals for me… and I’m a pretty big eater!

If you have a bit of a clue about curries, I’d encourage you to experiment with the vegetables. My attitude regarding them is “The More, The Better” 😉