bell pepper

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND EDAMAME PEANUT STEW

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND EDAMAME PEANUT STEW

Every day I look at the latest health news and what particularly caught my eye in the last few days were several articles on the causes of obesity. It is a rather mixed bunch of possible causes. Here is the list:

  1. The less you sleep the more weight you gain
  2. The environment in mothers womb (due to lifestyle) might be linked to obesity
  3. CO2 concentrations in the air increases weight gain
  4. Gene mutation so called “greedy gene” causes weight gain
  5. Obesity is fuelled by gender-bending chemicals
  6. Obesity is contagious (microbe imbalance)

Wouldn’t it be nice if things were so simple? On the other hand if these studies are right we are all destined to become the chubby mobility scooter bound people from Wall-E. Of course things are not so simple, none of these studies seem to be conclusive. NHS behind the headlines had debunked the womb environment argument, the study only found a link to height not weight (but weight makes a better headline). The greedy gene mutation was studied in mice, but is extremely rare in humans. CO2 and gender-bending chemicals? Hm I am going to wait what NHS behind headlines comes back with but it seems extremely far fetched.

There has been an explosion of TV programs about obese people trying to loose weight and changing there lives. I particularly like
Obese a year to save my life (preferring the UK version) especially because the program explores the reasons behind the overeating habits of the person. Another great one is Supersized v Superskinny, how fantastic to be shown both sides of an eating problem. What is the common denominator of these programs? The people who are obese are eating 2-3 times their daily recommended calorie intake and lead sedentary lifestyles. They don’t seem to be particularly overdosing on CO2, or toxins from cans or having a gene mutation.Their sleep problems are stemming from their weight not vice versa. Most of them, under the right guidance and support ,strong will and determination, loose weight and regain health and energy.

It is human nature to blame something else, gene, toxin, our mothers, but in most cases it is us who are responsible for our health. Even if scientists come up with a pill that allows us to eat tons of doughnuts without putting weight on this would not equal health. Education is one of the most important ways to bring on a healthier future.


BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND EDAMAME PEANUT STEW
This stew is rich creamy and spicy. I have not used any added oil in cooking it, especially because I am adding peanut butter in the end which is high in fat. This dish serves 4 very satisfyingly therefore the amount of fat from the peanut butter is just about 10g per person (about what one average pork sausage would have).

Serves 4

peanutstew

ingredients
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped (use a peeler to remove the stringy parts)
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 small to medium, bell peppers (2 different colours), cut into 1cm (about 1/3 inch dice)
1 Scotch Bonnet pepper, slit in the side
3 sprigs of thyme
450g (1lb) butternut squash (cleaned weight), cut into bite size pieces
1 orange sweet potato, peeled cut into bite size pieces
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
375 ml (1 and 1/2cup) of vegetable stock
130g (1 cup) shelled edamame beans (I used frozen)
80g (1/3 cup) smooth organic no sugar added peanut butter
fresh coriander for garnish

method
  1. In a large casserole pan heat 60ml (1/4 cup) water. Add the onion, celery, garlic, peppers, Scotch Bonnet and thyme. Saute till vegetables soften about 10min, add more water if they start to stick.
  2. Add the tin of tomatoes, the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
  3. Next add the butternut squash and the sweet potato. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 min.
  4. Add the edamame beans and simmer for further 20min.
  5. To finish the dish add the peanut butter, let it heat through and melt thus creating sumptuous creamy sauce. Don’t forget to fish out and discard the Scotch Bonnet!
  6. Serve with quinoa or rice, garnish with fresh chopped coriander. Some steamed green veggies on the side will finish this dish perfectly.


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ORZO COOKED IN TOMATO PASSATA


It is orzo, pasta that looks like rice. In my family we love it. This time cook “eintopf” style. A meal cooked it one pot saves time and washing up, perfect recipe for a weeknight dinner. There is something utterly comforting about orzo cooked directly in tomato sauce. And anything both kids can eat a whole bowl (or two) of must be a good thing. Just remember to stir it every couple of minutes to prevent any sticking to the bottom of a pan. If you don’t wish to decorate your kitchen with tomato sauce make sure to use a lid, the sauce has a tendency to spit quite violently.
orzo


ORZO COOKED IN TOMATO PASSATA
Whole wheat orzo is a bit trickier to find, I tend to get mine from one of my favorite health food shops. Well worth it. If cooked like any other pasta, in boiling water it only takes about 6 minutes, cooking it in directly in a tomato sauce will take longer.
Serves 4

ingredients
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 small red pepper, cut into 1cm cubes
680g bottle of passata
600ml of water
300g orzo (preferably whole wheat)
parsley, basil or oregano for garnish

method
  1. In a large wide lidded pan saute the onion till translucent, add the garlic and red pepper. Saute for about 5 min, till the pepper softens.
  2. Add the passata and water, bring to a boil.
  3. Pour the orzo to the sauce and bring to a boil.
  4. Turn the heat down and cook for about 12 min or till the orzo is soft.
  5. Season and serve topped with herb of your choice.
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TOFU AND BROCCOLI NOODLES


Those were my daughter’s exact words as she proceeded to jump up and down with excitement asking me for a slice of plain tofu. No, I am not bragging about my daughter being a superior healthy food loving child. She is definitely not but tofu (or as she use to call it TOFOOD) is definitely one of her favourites. Paired with noodles, two happy kids in the house, without too much effort.

Like Nigella I get rather excited about finding new ingredients in food shops of any kind, sometimes gems can be found during a regular shop to a supermarket, but I do love to visit ethic shops, health food shops, delis and markets. One of my latest finds (in a supermarket) was a bottle of vegetarian oyster sauce. Perfect for tonight’s dinner.

tofu-noodles

TOFU AND BROCCOLI NOODLES

My kids are chilli phobic, my husband not overly keen, so there is no chilli in this recipe but if I was making this for myself I would add some chilli to the ginger +garlic step. At least there is the option of adding some chilli sauce at the table...

I have used whole wheat eggless noodles but any other noodles will be great. There are so many fab noodles on the market, brown rice, buckwheat, green tea.... the possibilities are endless.

Serves 4

ingredients
for the tofu
1 package of firm tofu
1 Tbs each ketjap manis (or dark soya sauce), light soya sauce, agave syrup, ketchup
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 large head of broccoli, separated into florets, cut in half lengthways if too large
200 g whole wheat eggless Chinese style noodles
1/2Tbs rapeseed (canola) oil
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbs ginger, finely chopped
5 spring onions, white parts thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
5 Tbs veggie oyster sauce
2 Tbs light soya sauce
1/2 cup cashews, dry roasted

method
  1. Preheat oven to 190 C. Cut the tofu into bite size pieces. In a bowl combine the soya sauces, ketchup, agave and sesame oil.
  2. Line a roasting sheet with baking paper, place the tofu on it in a single layer, and bake for about 20 min or until the tofu starts to caramelise on the edges.
  3. Steam broccoli for 3-4 min to crisp tender. Set aside.
  4. Cook the noodles according to package instructions, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  5. Heat the oil in a wok, add spring onions, ginger and garlic. Stir fry for a minute. Add the red bell pepper, stir fry for a minute.
  6. Add the broccoli, tofu and noodles. Next put in the sauces, heat through. If the noodles seem too dry add few tablespoons of water.
  7. Scatter with cashew nuts and serve.
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