Cider Poached pears with spices and toasted almonds

At the July residential yoga weekend, I wanted a dessert that would be light, yet full of flavour and would round off a fairly substantial meal without leaving guests with that “heavy” feeling. This was a huge hit, and I’m delighted that this recipe will be featured in the December issue of Bee Green Magazine, but just for subscribers. In the meantime, here’s a sneaky peek:

This is such an easy recipe to make. It would be a lovely way to end a meal with friends and it doubles (or triples!) up easily too. The orchard on the farm is full of pears, plums and apples right now, and I can’t wait to make the most of the season’s bounty at our next Yoga weekend in October. There are still places left, so if a weekend of yoga and delicious food in the depths of the Dorset countryside sound good, do get in touch.

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 firm ripe pears (Conference pears work well)
500ml bottle cider (medium/dry)
50g demerara OR golden granulated/caster sugar OR Honey/Maple Syrup/Agave
1 cinnamon stick or 1tsp ground cinnamon
6 cardamom pods (swap for cloves, all spice or ground nutmeg for a more “festive” vibe)
1-2 tsp pink peppercorns
60g toasted, flaked almonds
Extra thick cream, greek yogurt or coconut yogurt, to serve.

Method
Peel the pears, leaving the stalks on and set aside. Place the cider, sugar and spices into a large saucepan with a lid, give it a good stir, then place the pears in and put the lid on. Simmer over a medium heat for around 20-30 minutes, or until a round bladed knife passes easily through the thickest part of the pear. Carefully, remove the pears from the poaching liquid using a slotted spoon, set aside and keep warm. Turn the heat up under the poaching liquid, and with the lid off, reduce until thickened and syrupy. Remove the cardamom pods and the cinnamon stick but keep the peppercorns in. Put the pears into individual serving dishes, spoon over the syrup and sprinkle with toasted almonds then serve with a dollop of cream or your favourite yogurt or dairy-free alternative on the side.

 

PHOTO-2018-09-19-12-52-35

Summer Refresher

The weather this summer is very thirsty work, and with Wimbledon and the World Cup looming, we all need a thirst quencher to slake our thirst before we start the celebrations.

Whenever friends and family are around, I make this big Jug of Summer from the herbs outside the back door. I make it a few hours beforehand, or leave it overnight in the fridge, so the taste of the lemon balm and mint really does come through.

Put a large sprig of lemon balm and mint in a jug. (You could also use lemon grass.)

Fill two thirds with water.

Add 6-10 thin slices of cucumber, half a lemon (thinly sliced) and squeeze in the rest of the juice.

If you like a little sweetness add a dash of elderflower cordial.

Leave to steep for a few hours.

Top up with ice before serving.

And if you haven’t heard about the magical effects of cucumber water, may I present Macka B: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVfNrNcvlto

Creamy Porcini Mushroom Pasta

Last week we tried out our pasta machine (purchased from a charity shop over a year ago) for the first time, and made buckwheat pasta. It was a great success, and it was much easier than I thought it would be. We used two eggs, buckwheat flour and a little bit of water, then rolled it through the pasta machine in the usual way. After this, we left it to dry for about 5 mins, then rolled again through the spaghetti cutter, and blanched in boiling salted water for maybe 5-6 minutes. Then we rinsed it in cold water and drizzled olive oil over it and set aside to be heated in the pasta sauce, which I will get onto now. You can obviously just use normal dried pasta, as you probably have better things to do, especially on a weeknight. Also shop-bought dried egg-free pasta makes the dish vegan.

I’m not vegan, but I don’t eat meat or dairy, and I can’t eat wheat. I had been eating a lot of shirataki noodles and pasta, in order to keep my carb intake down, but because they come shrink-wrapped in plastic, we have decided to stop buying them and try to also reduce our plastic consumption. This sauce idea came to me after craving a creamy-tasting risotto. I thought I would experiment with trying to create a vegan version of a rich, Italian dish.

Ingredients:

Dried Porcini Mushrooms (I got these from Lidl), soaked in hot water for 40 mins

Chestnut Mushrooms, sliced

One Onion, finely chopped

Three garlic cloves, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

Sea Salt

Olive Oil (or similar)

Splash of White Wine (optional)

The Mushroom Water (from the dried mushrooms)

200ml (ish) unsweetened Soya Milk

2 Tablespoons of Vegan Protein Powder

One Teaspoon of Gluten Free Flour (or similar)

 

Method:

Gently fry the onions until they are soft, and then add the garlic and fry for a further 3 minutes. Cook them on a medium heat and make sure you don’t let the garlic catch or burn. Once they have softened, remove them from the pan and put them to one side.

Using the same pan, fry the chestnut mushrooms in a little more oil or vegan butter, with the salt and pepper (to taste) until they have a nice golden brown colour to them. Set these aside with the onion and garlic while you prepare the rest of the sauce.

In a jug, mix together the soya milk, protein powder, flour, white wine and some of mushroom water (about 100ml but make sure it’s not hot). Beat the mixture until it’ is smooth with no lumps, then heat the mixture in the frying pan and whisk it gently as it heats. It should start to thicken into a creamy-looking sauce. Once it has started to thicken, add in the cooked mushrooms, the softened porcini mushrooms, and the onion and garlic mixture, and continue to heat the sauce. Once you are happy with the texture (it will continue to thicken the more you heat it) then you can remove it from the heat and stir in the cooked pasta. Allow the pasta to heat up in the sauce before you serve it, and be sure to check the seasoning.

Serve on warm plates, with freshly chopped basil, more black pepper and truffle oil for extra flavour and richness.

 

HDB xx

 

Top 10 Reasons & 101 Foods for a Low-Carb Lifestyle.

The low-carb lifestyle is not just ‘another fad diet’. It’s a method of enjoying your food, staying healthy through your life, and eating in a way that supports your mental and physical well-being.  We all want to look and feel our best, and so much excellent research has been done now into this that we think it’s really important to understand a  bit about the science behind it.

And to help you make a start, here a list of 101 low-carb foods (approx – we haven’t counted!)

Top 10 reasons for low carb living:

1. The low-carb lifestyle.
First point, this isn’t about a ‘diet’ in the old, weight loss sense of the word. It’s about salmon-dish-food-meal-46239.jpegyour lifestyle choices. You can manage your health by keeping your carb intake at a sensible level, and manage your weight by reducing that a little further.

2. Eating low-carb foods reduces your appetite.
Because of its effects on blood sugar levels and therefore cravings, one of the best things about eating low-carb is that it leads to a natural reduction in your appetite. Gradually, your appetite tends to go down and you often end up eating much fewer calories without trying. To manage hunger pangs at key points in the day (11, 4 and pre-dinner snacks) we have developed some easy and quick little recipes for sweet and savoury stopgaps HERE.

3. Managing your weight with a low-carb lifestyle.
Studies show that people comsuming low-carb foods lose more weight, faster, than people restricting their fat intake… even when people are actively restricting calories. One of the reasons for this is that low-carb diets tend to get rid of excess water from the body. Because they lower insulin levels, the kidneys start shedding excess sodium, leading to rapid weight loss in the first week or two (1, 2). In studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, the low-carbers sometimes lose 2-3 times as much weight, without being hungry (3, 4). (It’s true – we’ve been there!) So if you find you’re losing weight, add in a portion of healthier carbs when you have reached your goal weight.

4. A low-carb lifestyle should lead to a drastically reduced risk of heart disease and tdiabetes-blood-sugar-diabetic-medicine-46173.jpegype 2 diabetes.
A large percentage of the fat lost on low-carb diets tends to come from the harmful fat in the abdominal cavity that is known to cause serious metabolic problems. We have both subcutaneous fat (under the skin), and visceral fat (in the abdominal cavity). It this visceral fat is fat that tends to lodge around the organs and can cause serious problems. Having a lot of fat in the abdominal cavity can trigger inflammation, which leads to and exacerbates all kinds of ailments. It also increases insulin resistance, believed to be a leading driver of the metabolic dysfunction that is so common in Western countries today (5). So a low-carb lifestyle should lead to a drastically reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

5. The low-carb lifestyle is better for your heart, triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
A low-carb lifestyle is very effective at lowering blood triglycerides, which are fat molecules in the blood and a well-known risk factor for heart disease. It will also increase the levels of HDL (High-density lipoprotein), one of the lipoproteins that carry cholesterol away from the body and into the liver, where it can be reused or excreted. The Triglycerides:HDL ratio is another very strong predictor of heart disease risk. By lowering triglycerides and raising HDL levels, low-carb diets lead to a major improvement in this ratio. (6, 7, 8).

pexels-photo-220723.jpeg

6. And has a tendency to lower blood pressure.
Having elevated blood pressure (hypertension) is an important risk factor for many diseases, including heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Studies show that reducing carbs leads to a significant reduction in blood pressure, which should lead to a reduced risk of many common diseases.

7. The effects of low-carb on Type 2 Diabetes is amazing!
When we eat carbs, they are broken down into simple sugars (mostly glucose) in the digestive tract. From there, they enter the bloodstream and elevate blood sugar levels. Because high blood sugars are toxic, the body responds with a hormone called insulin, which tells the cells to bring the glucose into the cells and to start burning or storing it. For people who are insulin-resistant this can lead to Type 2 diabetes, when the body fails to secrete enough insulin to lower the blood sugar after meals. By cutting carbohydrates, you remove the need for all of that insulin – both blood sugars and insulin go way down (9, 10).
According to Dr. Eric Westman, who has treated many diabetics using a low-carb approach, he needs to reduce their insulin dosage by 50% on the first day (11).
In one study in type 2 diabetics, 95.2% had managed to reduce or eliminate their glucose-lowering medication within 6 months (12).
***If you are currently on blood sugar lowering medication, then talk to your doctor before making changes to your carbohydrate intake, because your dosage may need to be adjusted in order to prevent hypoglycaemia.***

8. It can help Metabolic Syndrome.
The metabolic syndrome is a collection of symptoms that is highly associated with the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

  • Abdominal obesity
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated fasting blood sugar levels
  • High triglycerides
  • Low HDL levels

Amazingly, all five symptoms improve dramatically on a low-carb diet (13). Unfortunately, the government and major health organization still recommend a low-fat diet for this purpose, which is pretty much useless because it does nothing to address the underlying metabolic problem.

9. Low-Carb Diets Improve The Pattern of LDL Cholesterol.
Scientists have now shown that it is the type of LDL that matters. Low-density lipoproteins, often referred to as the “bad” cholesterol, are not all equal. It is the size of the particles that is important.

  • Mostly small particles = high risk of heart disease.
  • Mostly large particles = low risk of heart disease (14).

When you eat a low-carb diet, your LDL particles change from small (bad) LDL to large LDL – which is benign. Cutting carbs may also reduce the number of LDL particles floating around in the bloodstream. Who knew?!

headache-pain-pills-medication-159211.jpeg

10. Several Brain Disorders respond well to the low-carb lifestyle.
We need a quick recap of the Ketogenic diet here:
Glucose is necessary for the brain and that’s why the liver produces glucose out of protein if we don’t eat any carbs. But a large part of the brain can also burn ketones, which are formed during starvation or when carbohydrate intake is very low. This is the mechanism behind the ketogenic diet, which has been used for decades to treat epilepsy in children who don’t respond to drug treatment (15). Very low-carb/ketogenic diets are now being studied for other brain disorders as well, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease (16).

Few things are as well established in nutrition science as the immense health benefits of a low-carb lifestyle. Which makes it even more amazing that we can still find sweets at the checkout, fizzy drinks, crisps and chocolate in vending machines in sports halls, hospitals, schools, blah blah blah! After 40 years preaching this I feel like a stuck record…..

Print out this list of 101 low-carb foods and get going. What have you got to lose?

This is a synopsis of the article written by Kris Gunnars BSc for www.healthline.com. (For more information and some of the research, click on the hyperlinks.)
For more excellent medical information, visit http://thenoakesfoundation.org
For help with diet and recipes, see https://www.dietdoctor.com