Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nutrition 101

I seem to write this article over and over again, without ever getting to the end of it, or never complete enough to finally press the publish button. So this is my next attempt.

This blog is all about healthy eating – eating for sustained energy throughout the afternoon / cooking with nutrient-full ingredients / cooking without chemical additives.

The concept behind Low GI food fits into my (personal) diet paradigm quite nicely – I couldn’t really care less about losing weight (although that’s Wifey’s focus), what I want is to be energetic throughout my day; to have my mind alert and responsive; to get regular exercise with the goal of slowly becoming stronger, fitter and more active. Low GI foods = slow release of sugars = sustained energy. I have a feeling it relates exclusively to carb’s and sugars (fats and proteins (I guess)). I should add calcium and omega-3 for brain performance. Omit simple carbs and sugars (for example SUGAR, you dimwit). Eat complex carbs – wholewheat bread; oats and cereals for brekkie; ummm, and stuff.

Wifey wants to lose weight. Really this is exclusively related to eating fewer calories than you’re burning. Simple as that. (I truly apologize if my attitude to weight-loss is to brush it off as unimportant, it’s just because I have one of those bodies that doesn’t change shape no matter what I abuse it with, except that I’m kind of a skinny runt these days.) So for Vix it’s a case of increasing the amount (and intensity) of exercise she gets, and eating foods that make her feel full and give her the energy she needs without adding too many calories. She also needs as many anti-oxidant and vitamin-type foods, because she gets sick way too often.

Back to me for a little bit – I need to be dramatically improving my exercise habits as well. I’d like to focus on muscle building a fair bit (in order to get bigger). I want Vix to focus on muscle-building a bit so that her muscles get stronger and burn more calories when at rest. Both of us could do with regular time on the exercise bike – I know that this isn’t actually supposed to help that much, but it’s a simple start to get us into the habit of exercising. Exercise (especially the muscle building kind) needs protein to build the muscle tissue with – protein is to come from lean meat, low-fat dairy, and eggs. Please note that all of the above are also sauces of nasty saturated fat, which is to be avoided, so really, you’re screwed. Actually you’re not screwed – fat is pretty easy to remove from a solid piece of meat, and while it clearly adds flavour (think fillet versus entrecote), that flavour can be added with rubs, marinades and other sources.

So then, the plan...

Breakfast is supposed to be packed with slow carbs, a bit of protein, and a variety of fruits and veggies. Simple method – oats with milk, nuts and fruit (fresh or dried) sprinkled over the top. Complicated or dumb methods – (1) whole-grain bread roll with poached egg and coleslaw; (2) BLT salad as tried before (with avo); (3) actually that’s all I can think of right now.

Snack food is to be fruit (fibre, nutrients, and stuff); nuts (good fat, protein, and stuff); and stuff (stuff).

Lunch - I dunno, this is why I never finish writing this article.

OK, the disclaimer is that lunch and dinner (and sometimes breakfast), are things which require a healthy dose of variation, and that’s what this website is all about. I’ll write again when I’ve got a decent lunch and dinner recipe. I’m going to start by checking out mediterrasian.com again, which I haven’t done for a while.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Notes from this WebMD article I just got emailed:

Soluble fiber (from beans, fruits, etc) aids in satiety (keeps you feeling full).
Insoluble fiber (found in wheat bran, whole grains, nuts, etc) keeps you regular.
For folk 50 years or younger - Women should have 25g of fibre, and men 38g - each day.

Chow a high-fibre breakfast - if label says 5g fibre per serving, that 15% - 25% of the job done. Add some fruit on top - bananas (3.1g each), blackberries (3.8g / 1/2 cup), hummus (2 tablespons = 1.6g).

Chow fruity snacks. (This means making sure fruit is always on hand, at home and at work). Half a cup of raspberries = 4g fibre. A papaya = 5.5g. 5 rings of dried apple = 2.9g. Make sure you eat the peels when eating fruits and veggies (i.e. IMHO potatoes should only be peeled if they're going to be roasted) for extra fibre.

"Beans are bursting with fiber". Pinto beans = 15.4g / cup!!! Black beans = 15g / cup!!! Beans can easily be snuck into soups, stews and salads a few times a week. Proving, once again, the Superfood-ness of beans. Go find my Warm Bean and Chorizo salad, but beans in Veggie soup, pumpkin soup, any stew, curry or casserole ... and stuff.

Try to find quick-cooking brown rice and whole grain pasta. (This is probably completely impossible in Mauritius, which actually suits me fine. Every time I've tried the brown or whole-grain experiment, it all tastes crap!) (Also I don't think I cook it properly.)

Remember fruit smoothies.

"Substitute quick- or old-fashioned oats for up to one-third of the white flour called for in recipes." Sounds dodgy - I'll give this a try and let you know if it works.

Skewer fruits and veggies and cook 'em on the barbie! Wicked idea. I'm definitely in. Might have to figure out which food works best for this though.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Leftover Lamb Pie

Right. So the Easter weekend is officially over. Everybody in the household is feeling shitty from eating way too much rich food and chocolate over the weekend - and a significant amount of liquor. What better way to cure everybody than to feed them MORE fatty lamb?

As usual the recipe comes from taste.com.au, but when it came to actually cooking it I found that the quantities of leftovers I had didn't at all match what the recipe said, so its pretty ad-libbed. I've posted my version below.

Once again, my cooking shenanigans have progressed to the next level of mastery - I used pastry! Granted, I didn't make the pastry, it was a roll of store-bought puff pastry. But to me pastry was another one of those mental blocks - looks complicated and technical and a little bit too organized for the king of ad-hoc cookery. I do, of course, feel like a little bit of a silly twat now that I've tried it and seen how simple it is to use. But that's why Life is a Journey, if we started off knowing everything then the whole trip would be a whole lot less trippy.

Stop talking crap Murray!

Leftover Roast lamb and veggie pie

Left over meat from 3 legs of lamb - chopped into bite-sized bits
Big bowl of left over roast pumkin
Big bowl of left over roast potatoes
Smaller bowl of left over green beans
Some leftover mint sauce
Just under a litre of beef stock
About 3 tablespoons Bisto
An Onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
Oil for frying
A packet of puff pastry

Preheat oven to 200

Fry onion and garlic for a few mintues, till onion is transparent and squishy, but not brown
Add lamb and veggies.
Fry for a few more minutes to slightly brown/crisp everything.
Stir in stock and bisto.
Stir in some mint sauce (add sauce, stir, taste, repeat until awesomeness is achieved)
Bring to the boil, and then let simmer for 10 or 15 minutes.

Taste the stew. Awesomeness.
Spoon stew into a casserole dish (I think that's what they're called), till its about 5cm deep.

Roll out a piece of puff pastry and lay over the top of the stew. (I'm going to assume you know how to do this because I don't feel like writing it all out. Wifey had to teach me last night.)

If you happen to get 2 pies out of this mission (like I did), then you now is the time to clingwrap one of them and stick it in the freezer for one day in the future when you're no longer sick of roast lamb.

Poke holes in the pastry to it doesn't explode (the pie you're baking, not the one you're freezing). Brush with egg.
Bake for a few minutes until golden brown and delectably crispy.

Decide that I'm too tired to eat supper tonight, put pie in the fridge for lunch tomorrow.
Sleep like the dead trying to recover from whatever it is that's making me feel like this.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Successful Easter - Roast Lamb et al.

So despite my expectations, it turns out Easter lunch was actually really good, with lots of relaxing fun and good conversations had by all, and I managed to not be stuck in the kitchen the whole time, as everybody else pitched in to help.

For snacks (because I don't think I can spell Hors'd'ouvres) we bought a platter of Vietnamese spring rolls from our favourite Thai restaurant, Thaifoon. Granny-in-law brought fois gras on melba toast. Such a pity that the toast was stale, but no-one else seemed to notice.

We sat down to eat a palm-heart and smoked salmon starter from Wifey's aunt Maryvonne. Despite my oft-stated belief that palm-hearts are more like chopped up bits of wood than a supposed delicacy, on this occassion at least I was proved wrong.

Wifey sorted out the vegetables for the main course (roast potatoes, roast pumpkin, and green beans) which were simple and really good. Mother-in-law bailed me out of having to make gravy. I roasted (on the braai, of course) a few legs of lamb, and actually successfully made a mint sauce (first attempt for me, and I made it just before the guests arrived on the day - no opportunity to stuff up and try it again.)

France brought a collection of different desserts, and cake and such for after lunch.

Everybody thanked us for being such fantastic hosts, they all buggered off home, and I flopped into the sea to let my aching bones recover slightly.

Lots of beer, wine, champagne, wine, and a little coffee, were enjoyed by all.

We succeeded. Now I'm exhausted.

Anyway, the recipe ...

Herbed Roast Leg of Lamb (recipe from Epicurious.com, go look for it there)
Per leg of lamb, mix together ...
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced, and mashed to a paste with 1/4 tspn salt
A lot of finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus some for garnish
A lot of finely chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus some for garnish
1 1/2 tbspn soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper.
Add 2 tbspn of olive oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk until it all becomes one.
Brush the sauce over the roast.
Marinate as such for the night.
I re-brushed the roast with sauce first thing in the morning and once during cooking.
Allow meat to return to room-temperature before cooking.

Cook on a medium to low braai, indirect heat, try not to open the braai lid too often, but also be careful not to burn at the beginning, or let the fire die at the end.

Drink beer while staring at the closed lid of the weber, and tell anyone who asks that you're busy, and can't help with the flowers right now.

I started the fire at 9. Put the meat on at 10 (although this might have been slightly too soon), and took it off the fire at about 12:30. Meat was cooked to well-done, but not overcooked. A meat thermometer would obviously be helpful in this regard, or next time I'll just cook for half an hour less.

Mint Sauce (from taste.com.au)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup castor sugar
Put in pot.
Stir over medium heat for about 5 min. until sugar dissolves.
Bring to boil.
Let simmer softly for about 10 min., letting the liquid reduce by half.
Stir in A Lot of finely chopped fresh mint.
Let sauce cool to room temperature before serving.

This tasted wicked. I'm stoked.

2009 Bordeaux

Completely off topic for my normal posts - I just received word (from here) That the 2009 vintage Bordeaux, which is yet to be released, is due to be a great vintage. Drawing parallels with the very tasty 2005, and even the fabled 1947.

I'm writing it down here so that I might remember when I eventually see the stuff appear on the shelves of my local wine merchant (or more like, the supermarket).