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Sweet and sour red cabbage casserole

flickr.com/photos/geishaboy500

I love the mix of sweet and savoury and the vinegar in this recipe gives it a slightly sweet and sour tang.

About half a red cabbage will be plenty for two people if it is the only vegetable or will serve several for a bit of a party.

This is my standard basic recipe, but you can try different vinegars, soy sauce or even mustard to alter the flavour and add nuts, seeds or sultanas for slightly different textures. I think this recipe might also work quite well with peeled orange segments instead of the apple, but I haven’t tried that yet – let me know how it tastes if you do!

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • Half red cabbage
  • 1 apple (or apple juice, but leave out the water)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar – white wine, red wine or balsamic
  • 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
  • Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sultanas, walnuts, pine nuts (optional)

To Cook

  1. Grease the casserole dish with olive oil to stop the cabbage sticking during cooking.
  2. Finely shred the cabbage, peel and chop the apple into small pieces and mix in a casserole dish with the other ingredients. You can substitute apple juice if you don’t have an apple handy, but then leave out the water.
  3. You can either simmer this on the stove or cook in the oven at 200oC/400oF/Gas mark 6 until the cabbage is well-cooked and soft. Give it a stir now and again and add more water or juice if the cabbage is sticking.

Pancakes!

 Pancakes

It will soon be Shrove Tuesday, the day we all call “Pancake Tuesday”, some cultures refer to it as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday but where did this ritual come from and why pancakes?

Photo credit: Genevieve Howard, Flickr, Creative Commons frugal-cafe.com

Did you know that…….

In most traditions Shrove Tuesday precedes Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent and the beginning of ritual fasting before the big feast of Easter.  The reason we eat pancakes is that  they are made out of foods such as sugar, fat, flour and eggs that traditionally needed using up before the ritual 40 days of fasting for Lent begins when consumption of such rich foods was traditionally restricted.

Throughout the UK, pancake races are held on Shrove Tuesday where participants race through the streets tossing their pancakes without tripping over in a bid to get to the finishing line. If men take part they are encouraged to wear an apron and often a bandana!

I love pancakes but they are quite tricky to get right, especially the frying and tossing bit.

The recipe I use for the batter is:

Serves 6-8 thin pancakes

  • 150g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 225ml semi-skim/skim or soya milk
  • 225ml water

For vegan pancakes – omit eggs, use soya milk and you can add gram flour and poppy seeds to give more texture.

Top Tip:

It’s best to make the batter the day before and store it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

How to make the batter:

On Monday:

Weigh out the flour and sieve into a large mixing bowl

Make a “well” in the flour and add the eggs

Give it a good mix

Gradually add the milk and water but whisk briskly as you add them

Keep whisking until you get a lovely smooth but thick consistency

Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge overnight

  

Pancake Tuesday

Take batter mixture out of the fridge and give it a really good whisk until you can see lots of tiny air bubbles.

Get a large frying pan (ideally non-stick) and add about a teaspoon of veg/sunflower oil.

Heat it up to get piping hot.

Use a cup or a ladle and pour your pancake batter so it just covers the bottom of the frying pan when you swish it around.

This is the tricky bit –

Make sure you keep a watchful eye on your pancake as it cooks

Use a slice to stop the sides sticking to the pan

When you think the first side is cooked, carefully flip over and cook the other side.

When the pancake is thoroughly cooked on both slides and moves around the pan then go ahead and Toss It!

But…..         watch out for pets passing by and low ceilings

Finally place on a plate and smother with your favourite topping

My personal favourite is freshly squeezed lemon and a sprinkling of sugar.

I would be very interested to hear yours.

Here are a few other ideas for toppings all suitable for vegetarians. Apologies in advance for

the cheesy one.

Savoury

Melted mozzarella, tomato and basil

Spinach and mushroom

Cream cheese with green salad leaves

Sweet

Stewed berries with crème fraiche/cream/yoghurt

Apple slices with alcohol of choice

Fruit jam

Melted chocolate with orange

Freshly squeezed lemon and sugar

Maple syrup and banana with vanilla ice cream/iced yoghurt

The Nutrition Bit

Although pancakes are inevitably high in calories, the toppings can be as healthy or as indulgent as you want them to be.   As a Nutritionist I don’t have a problem with eating an indulgent treat once in a while as long as it is a treat and not a daily habit!

It’s always a good idea to have a lighter main course like carrot soup  or a salad if you are eating pancakes for dessert. One of the ingredients of pancakes: eggs are a great source of high quality protein for vegetarians, they also contain many vitamins and minerals including iron and B2 (Riboflavin).

Tuck in and enjoy your pancakes responsibly!

High 5 for Winter Puds

We all fancy something sweet from time to time as a treat. Winter puds don’t necessarily have to be stodgy and full of calories. They can be bursting with nutrients and even add to your 5 a Day.  This is a golden opportunity to experiment with different fruits and toppings.  

 Apples, Pears and Berries and other fruity delights

 Why are they so good for you?

Many fruits such as blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are full of vitamin C, other minerals and vitamins and high in dietary fibre.

They can be eaten raw as a snack or following a meal or they can be stewed and made into pies and crumbles,  chopped up and eaten with a little soy yoghurt or crème fraiche or popped on top of a meringue for a light refreshing dessert.

Fruits also contain some protein and are not very high in calories (unless you smother them in sugar or oil) compared to other sweet treats like chocolate so can be eaten in between meals as a healthy snack. All fruits will count towards your 5 a Day.

What is 5 a Day?

Five a Day is based on the advice from the World Health Organisation that we should all eat 400g of fruits and vegetables ( in 5x 80g portions) in any one day to lower the risk of certain illnesses such as coronary heart disease, obesity, strokes and Type 2 Diabetes (non-insulin dependent).

It is important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables so that you get the right combination of vitamins and minerals in your diet as different fruits and vegetables will contain different proportions of vitamins, minerals, other nutrients and dietary fibre

For more information about 5 a Day see:  http://bit.ly/7vvurV

 The Sciency bit

Although fruits contain a combination of vitamins and minerals, for this section, I am going to focus on Vitamin C. 

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that can’t be stored in the body and therefore it is essential we eat foods containing vitamin C on a daily basis. 

Vitamin C is vital for the body as it needs it to make a substance called collagen. Collagen is a type of protein found in many different types of tissue, such as skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage (which covers the surface of joints).

The body needs to regularly produce collagen. Without vitamin C, collagen can’t be replaced and the different types of tissue break down, leading to scurvy.

Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. It has several important functions:

  • helps protect cells and keeps them healthy
  • is necessary for the maintenance of healthy connective tissue, which gives support and structure for other tissue and organs 
  • Keeps skin and gums healthy

Other great sources of vitamin C:

Citrus fruits such as lemons and limes; oranges, watermelon, kiwi fruit, cranberries, papaya, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, mango, quince.

Vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, green peppers, asparagus, cabbage

 

Myth buster:

Taking large doses of vitamin C supplements will NOT stop you getting a cold. There is no evidence that vitamin C will stop you getting a cold. As it is an antioxidant, eating foods containing vitamin C will boost your immune system and therefore should help your body fight against the cold but once you have a cold, vitamin C may only help lessen the severity and duration of the symptoms.

 

Top Tips

  • Vitamin C is water soluble and will leach out on cooking so if you do stew fruit make sure you don’t add too much water and always use the liquid component for your crumbles, pies and pastries.
  • Carry a small piece of fruit in your bag for when you get peckish
  • Always have fruit available and in reach of children at home – that way they can try different fruits and expand the varieties they will eat 
  • Small pieces of chopped fruits look colourful on skewers as fruit kebabs and are easy and fun to eat as well
  • Fresh, canned, dried and frozen fruits all count towards your 5 a Day.  Some fruit smoothies will count for 1 or 2 (depending on how many portions of fruit has been used to make it) Fruit juice only counts as 1 of your 5 a Day even if you drink the whole 1l carton!
  • Frozen berries can be just as nutritious and sometimes more nutritious than fresh ones especially when eaten out of season.

Vegetarian Sunday Roast

flickr.com/photos/angeljohnson

So many pubs don’t serve a veggie roast, leaving us lusting after the roast potatoes on the plates of meat eaters,whilst we slog our way through yet another bowl of pasta or mushroom risotto . Forget finding a meat substitute, adding large slabs of goat’s cheese or heavyweight pies – bring back the nut roast.  It’s easy to make and very tasty.

Here’s my veggie Sunday dinner – these dishes are about a great combination of textures, colours and flavours and much of the preparation can be done in advance – anything to save getting up early on a Sunday morning!  I use Bisto onion gravy because you can make it to your favoured consistency and it gives a good flavour.

Menu

Nut roast

Rosemary and garlic roast potatoes

Balsamic roasted vegetables

Spinach with toasted pine nuts

Sweet and sour red cabbage casserole

Jill’s apple crumble 

Spinach with toasted pine nuts

flickr.com/photos/lablasco

Ingredients

  • 900g (2lbs) spinach (serves about 4)
  • Handful of pine nuts

To Cook

  1. Toast the pine nuts in a small frying pan or under the grill – watch them like a hawk as they burn easily!
  2. Wash the spinach and place in a large pot, heat until wilted – takes about 5-10 minutes
  3. Drain spinach, add the pine nuts and serve

Balsamic roasted vegetables

flickr.com/photos/cookingforvegans

Ingredients

  • Courgettes
  • Red onions
  • Red and yellow peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic – unpeeled
  • 1-2 cloves garlic – crushed
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Black pepper

To Cook

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
  2. Chop red onion into segments, slice peppers into thin strips and slice courgettes, leave tomatoes and unpeeled garlic cloves whole and place the whole lot in a roasting tray
  3. Drizzle oil and balsamic vinegar over the vegetables, crush the garlic over the top and add a sprinkle of black pepper.
  4. Toss it all together with your hands and put in the oven for 25 minutes.

Garlic and rosemary roast potatoes

flickr.com/photos/nsalt

Ingredients

  • Potatoes (Desirée, King Edward, Maris Piper)
  • Red onions
  • Garlic
  • Oil
  • Rosemary

To Cook

  1. Peel and chop the potatoes into even sized pieces. Part boil, drain and leave to cool and dry off on some kitchen towel or a clean tea towel.  I usually prepare these early and put them in the fridge when dry.  When cold, roll them in plain flour and put to one side.
  2. Peel and thickly slice a red onion (any onion will do but a red one adds a splash of colour), peel and chop/crush some garlic
  3. Cover the base of a baking tray with oil and heat until very hot – this is essential. If the oil is not hot enough, the potatoes will go soggy.
  4. When the oil is very hot, add the potatoes, turn quickly so they are covered in oil, then sprinkle the red onions, garlic and rosemary over the top (fresh or dried herbs both work) this smells heavenly whilst it’s cooking!
  5. Cook at 200°C for about 30 minutes.  Halfway through cooking, turn the potatoes so that they are crispy on all sides