pinenuts

ROASTED TOMATO MAC AND “CHEEZE”

ROASTED TOMATO MAC AND “CHEEZE”

Last night I watched a 3 part BBC documentary titled Cherry Healey:Old Before My Time.
Cherry Healy explored the effects of alcohol, drugs and obesity on young people’s health. What surprised me the most was the totally carefree attitude of the “20 something” generation towards potentially life threatening consequences of “having a good time”. When confronting the ravers (high on ketamines and other drugs) or the way over the alcohol limit party goers Cherry got the same answer : I will worry about it later, now we are having fun.

Can we afford this kind of attitude? Seeing the pain of the parents who lost their children to drugs (not a regular user) or alcohol was heartbreaking. So was seeing a woman in her 30’s looking 9months pregnant due to the fluid accumulation caused by liver failure. Or a young man who had to have his bladder rebuilt (due to drug use) and is now left with the unsightly task of draining mucus from it every couple of weeks. The pain of the young mother who couldn’t look after her children due to her alcohol addiction. Another young mother on more medications than a pensioner having to have her stomach reduced to an egg size in a potentially dangerous surgery. This was a last attempt to reverse her obesity and hopefully need for all the medication but mainly give her children their mother back.

This documentary series should be shown in schools, before kids embark on these health and life damaging habits. I want my kids to see it, partly to scare them but mainly to educate them. Educations is the most powerful weapon we have. The good news that largely we have our health in our own hands. It is time we realise it. Young bodies are resilient but certainly not invincible.

If you haven’t seen it worth watching on BBC catch up.

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ROASTED TOMATO MAC AND “CHEEZE”
This is yet another version of the family favourite mac and cheeze, usually I make it with butternut squash blended into the sauce, but I had none. Therefore I came up with this version. Kids were rather happy, eating seconds ( and thirds).

Serves 4

ingredients
4 medium tomatoes
400g (just under a pound) macaroni or other tube shaped pasta
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup non dairy milk
1 cup water
1/2 tsp dried garlic
1 tsp dried onion
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp corn flour (corn starch)
2 tsp tomato puree
1 tbs lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of peas (frozen are fine)
3 spring onions, finely chopped
basil to garnish (optional)


thick and creamy
roast-tom-mac&cheeeze-3

method
  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line a baking sheet with a aluminium foil or other non-stick paper. Cut the tomatoes in half and roast in the oven for 30min.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
  3. Next place the rest of the ingredients (apart from peas and spring onions) together with the roasted tomatoes (you can remove the skins) and any tomato juices left in the bottom of the roasting pan into a blender. Blend till smooth. Adjust seasoning.
  4. Place the pasta, sauce, peas and spring onions into a large pan. Heat till the sauce starts to bubble and thickens.
  5. Serve immediately with some fresh green salad and some steamed veggies.

Before being heated and thickened
roaste-tom-mac&cheeze-1

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BAKED MAC AND (NO) CHEESE

BAKED MAC AND (NO) CHEESE

The Huffington Post recently asked readers to vote for the best health book out of 50 chosen titles. I was jumping with joy when I found The China Study by T.Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell occupying the number one spot.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/09/best-health-books-huff-po_n_1862250.html

http://www.thechinastudy.com/


Reading The China Study was indeed a turning point for me. Go back 2 years: I am watching a Man V Food episode with my kids. (They both find it rather entertaining with my daughter shouting GO ADAM GO whenever Adam Richman is battling just another heap of meat, cheese, grease and white flour. ) My son casually says that he would like to eat meat. Shock horror!!! My kids have been vegetarians from birth. To be honest I always expected this question to pop up but I hoped it would not. Especially since I always maintain that should my kids decide to eat meat I would allowed them to do it. Not without a bit of education first.

That evening I stormed the internet and searched for “the healthiest diet”. I am not sure what I was expecting to find. As if by magic the first thing that popped up was The China Study. Not long after reading the article two copies of the book were in my Amazon basket (my friend’s birthday was coming up). I read it immediately and never looked back. Indeed my vegetarianism was confirmed and more. The dairy had to go too.

Professor Campbell is, along with other plant based diet promoters, often accused of “vegan agenda” by his critics. The diet he promotes is however a result of decades of sound research. His (and other researches') findings lead him to the conclusion that diet without animal proteins is the best way to prevent chronic disease.

My son is old enough to understand charts from this book and together with few You Tube videos this was convincing enough for him to vow never to eat meat and reduce dairy (not 100% but he is doing great). My daughter still likes cooking shows but anytime she sees meat being cooked she utters “poor chicken, cow, fish....” They may still change their minds one day but we are safe for now.

My recipe stems from one that used to be my kids favourite, baked mac and cheese. I have posted a recipe “mac and whizz” before , these two recipes are similar, with mac and whizz being the speedier version. Baked mac and (no) cheese has tofu added to the sauce which makes it more suitable for baking. It souffles and browns nicely. I also added some crunchy topping to make it extra special.

BAKED MAC AND (NO) CHEESE
This recipe serves a crowd, so please feel free to halve everything (but the butternut squash). I am always happy to serve it twice, just with different veggies on the side. Makes a great potluck dish too.

bakedmacandcheese

Serves 8

ingredients
500g (1lb 6oz) whole wheat macaroni
sauce
1 cup of cashew nuts
3 water
250 g tofu (preferably silken)
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and steamed till soft (or roasted)
2 tsp onion powder
3/4tsp garlic powder
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbs white or yellow miso
1 tsp paprika
2 heaped Tbs nutritional yeast
squeeze of lemon to taste
crumb topping
60ml (1/4cup) pine nuts
2 tbs nutritional yeast
3 Tbs bread crumbs

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method
  1. Cook the pasta according to instructions.
  2. In a food processor combine all the sauce ingredients and process till you get a smooth thick sauce. Taste for seasoning.
  3. Mix the pasta and sauce and pour into a large baking dish.
  4. Next place the pine nuts into a food processor and pulse until you get bread crumb texture.
  5. Mix with the nutritional yeast and bread crumbs. Sprinkle on top.
  6. Bake in a 180C oven for about 30-40min or until the top is golden brown.

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MORE FRUIT AND VEG Part 2: Snacks - “CHEESY” COURGETTE DIP

MORE FRUIT AND VEG
Part 2: Snacks
“CHEESY” COURGETTE DIP

Have you noticed how snacking can creep up on you? After a long day, you get home, feeling slightly peckish or just outright starving, dinner won’t be ready anytime soon or you may be waiting for the rest of the family to come home for dinner. What do you do? Open the fridge or cupboards and scoff anything in your sight. That’s when we are most likely to eat to wrong stuff. Potato crisps, cakes, biscuits, chocolates...

Many times I heard my friends saying how they make themselves a cup of tea, open a packed of biscuits and just keep going. One is never enough. My solution is not to buy any biscuits in the first place but that will keep you feeling peckish. Keep in mind that 1 biscuit averages around 75cal and gives your body no nourishment whatsoever. Only cravings and unhealthy sugar spikes.

Why not snack healthily and work towards your fruit and veg quota while doing so? The obvious and easiest way is to have some fruit around, just grab and go. Cut up veggies are another easy option. With a little bit of planning you can make fruit and veggies even more sexy.

One of our favourites is keeping grapes in ziplock bags in a freezer. I buy a huge box in Costco, take them off their stalks and freeze them in batches. My son says they are better than sweets. Freezing intensifies the flavour and since they are frozen you will take a while eating them. Perfect when watching a movie.

Some of our snack staples include kale chips, dehydrator apple or banana crisps, Medjool dates, raw “balls” and bars, hummus with carrot sticks or linseed crackers (or good quality, sometimes homemade tortilla chips) with homemade guacamole (have you noticed shop bought one has double cream in it?!!!) or good salsa.

My snack recipe is courgette dip, it is raw and incredibly versatile, the pine nuts give it a cheesy texture, reminiscent of ricotta. You can use it as a dip, spread, or even stir it into your pasta “pesto” style. And of course it counts towards your 5(or 10)-a-day.


“CHEESY” COURGETTE DIP

courgettedipdetail

This dip will keep for a couple of days in the fridge, if you are making it ahead use 2 Tbs of lemon juice. When stored the lemon juice looses some of its power.

Makes about 1 cup

ingredients:
2 young crisp courgettes (zucchini)
70g (1/2 cup) pinenuts
1 small garlic clove
1 cup basil leaves, packed
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs lemon juice
salt to taste

courgettedip

method:
  1. Grate your courgettes coarsely, mix in 1 tsp of salt. Place the courgettes in a collander that is set over a bowl. Put a small plate on top of the courgettes and place some full tins on top to weigh it all down. Leave for about half an hour.
  2. Place your courgettes in a cheese cloth (clean tea towel or a good quality paper towel will do the job), squeeze as much of the water out as you can. You don’t want a watery dip.
  3. In a high speed blender or a food processor combine all ingredients and process until the desired texture (see picture)
  4. Garnish with basil leaves and pinenuts and serve with vegetable crudites or crackers (preferably raw).
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