food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

soft polenta with broccoli-blue cheese sauce // food to glowI love broccoli in all its forms: the year-round green, fat-headed bunches (the only time fat-headed is not an insult!) – perfect for chopping and throwing in soups and pasta, as well as the more delicately-shaped purple sprouting broccoli that is so welcome come early spring. My own purple sprouting broccoli is a miracle survivor in my garden; I’m still snipping its now-waning and rather skimpy stalks and using some most days, although it is now verging on July. That’s Scotland for you!

But, as the purple stuff goes I replace it mostly in the form of Tenderstem® rather than the chubbier calabrese that I grew up eating. With calabrese it is all about the head, its unwieldy and intimidating bulk made more manageable with dividing and conquering. It always feels a bit like performing minor surgery, hacking away with my trusty Japanese knife. Perhaps it is just as well I am not a doctor… Continue Reading

pineapple spinach and mint juice // food to glowI’ve been juicing off and on for a loooong time. By long time, I mean longer than some of you have been alive. That long.

I’m not a pro at juicing: I’ve never done – or felt the need – for a juice cleanse, nor do I juice every day. Most days, sometimes more than once a day, but not every day. To some this may seem like slacking, but I eat plenty of vegetables, and don’t feel the need to add more in the form of juice every single day just for the sake of it. But I often want a boost to my energy or mental clarity, or wish to benefit from some of the extra nutrients from foods I don’t eat on a daily basis (carrots), or in amounts that have a meaningful impact (say, beets). And also, it’s darn delicious.

People juice for all kinds of reasons, often during times of illness or especial stress. But mostly people seem to juice because they feel a benefit from doing so – glowing skin, improved digestion, greater energy, mental focus.

I know I do.
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marinated mushroom banh mi // food to glow #sandwich #vitetnamesefood #mushrooms #vegetarianBanh Mi is one of those foods that anyone interested in food must try at least once in their life. It is simply a stunning confluence of colours, flavours and textures. And yes, it is a sandwich. A humble sandwich.

But what a sandwich. Crispy light baguette (not the chewy kind), tangy lightly pickled vegetables, creamy mayonnaise and, um, steamed liver pate. Well, it used to be liver pate and tiles of sliced cold meats. Now almost any protein seems eligible for the banh mi treatment, but usually still meat: grilled pork and pork skin, roasted chicken, seared beef. In some cafes and off some food carts the original light-style sandwich can still be found: a smear of seasoned mayo, a few thin slices of meat, a light hand with the veg and herbs. Once it went Stateside things naturally went large. I think this is somewhere in between. And no meat, of course. Continue Reading

mexican barbecued vegetable salad // food to glow #salads #bbq #sweet potatoes #guacamoleAt any given weekend, from now until sometime in September, those puffs of smoke and enticing aromas emanating from nearby gardens are as likely to be barbecuing vegetables as they are sizzling meats. Certainly around these parts, despite the stubbornly cool temps and challenging winds, I have heard beery shouts and rose’-induced giggles marking the British barbecuing season.

And not all the smells have been meaty. The sweetness, the herbalness (I have a strangely acute sense of smell) indicate to me the influence of perhaps someone whose first name starts with Y and ends with M. I reckon not an immodest amount of aubergines have been sacrificed in his name of late. There may also be spaces on supermarket shelves where tahini used to be. But in my back garden this past week, I was – shock – influenced more by Mexico than the Middle East.  Continue Reading

cashew and coffee cookies // food to glow  #vegan #grainfree #glutenfree #nuts #cookies #bakingI am surrounded by suitcases, scattered clothes, and the sense that I am forgetting something vital. It can only be one thing, of course: the hell that is packing. I hate it with a passion veering on angina. Seriously. Summer clothes that I have had for years suddenly become invisible; dainty peep-toes and sandals vanish; nothing I have seems to go with anything.

‘Bag lady goes on holiday’ is the look I usually sport.  Continue Reading

lookwhatifoundThis is the third edition of my “Look What I Found!” Friday feature, Usually this is where I share what I have found, been given, picked, planted and bought. But this week I have a collection of cookbooks to share with you. As a bonus, I am hooking you up with a great non-food gift idea for Father’s Day. A Father’s Day recipe will follow soon. Enjoy! Continue Reading

rhubarb and strawberry salad // food to glowGrowers of rhubarb – of the assertive and open-air type rather than tender and under wraps – will have already witnessed the wonder that is its growing habit. From a tight-fisted angry bunch, bursting through cold soil, near-tropical leaves unfurl and cover anything under its considerable umbrella. This bulky plant – a vegetable actually – takes up considerable room but rewards not only with its flavourful and versatile stalks, it keeps on going right up until the first frosts.

Spring and summer acid-green stalks often give way to deepest pink as it approaches the leaf end, but not always. Some of the best examples of rhubarb wear their green with pride. Raymond Blanc, as much aesthete as chef (he is French, after all), prefers the assertively acidic, and frankly quite monstrously large, open-air rhubarb to the paler, more uniformly pink varieties of winter. I quite agree. And it is much more affordable too.rhubarb and strawberry salad // food to glow

As with the last few rhubarb recipes I have posted, I am emphasising its mouth-watering tartness. Feel free to sprinkle on – or cover – in more sugar, but do add the citrus and also the pomegranate, if you have the latter, as they really bring out the best of summer rhubarb. Strawberries are much more of a summery treat to most, but of course their lifespan is not so generous. Pick up the sweetest berries and you can get away with less added sugar; the suggested lemon verbena heightens and brightens things further still (but not shown as I used dried and it was quite ugly). I have just planted out a lemon verbena plant, as well as lemon bergamot, so I will soon have fresh leaves to tear into any likely summer dish. Right now the dried leaves given to me by Karen (she is the Maggie’s Edinburgh gardener and garden designer) go into every morning cup of hot lemon water. Delicious, and naturally sweet.

I do hope you enjoy the tart-sweet flavours of this simple salad. The dots of Scottish full-fat crowdie cheese are obviously a bit specialist, but best quality soft cheese or goats cheese would also be superb and offer a slightly salty yet soft edge to the mix. Best creamy yogurt of any description (plant or dairy) would be welcome too: rhubarb loves yogurt. Fabulous on its own, or perhaps with a fillet of grilled fresh mackerel, we are loving this naturally cleansing and fresh way to eat summer’s “steady-eddie” of a veg(gie). Enjoy xx

rhubarb and strawberry salad // food to glow

Rhubarb and Strawberry Salad with Almonds, Mint and Lemon Verbena

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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This salad doesn’t last long once made up so keep it to just the amount needed for your meal. Having said that, a slightly wet but still delicious bowlful was had the next day and enjoyed very much. Oh, and don’t bother making this unless your berries are tip-top and sweet. I love Scottish berries best. 

adapted from bon appetit.

80g (scant 1/2 c) blanched almonds (I use Marcona)

1 stalk rhubarb, thinly sliced, on the angle

2 tbsp sugar of choice (I used coconut blossom sugar but brown, or golden caster, will be good too)

2 tsp pomegranate molasses/syrup/grenadine – optional, but really works here

1 tbsp each of lemon and orange juice – fresh please

5-8 lemon verbena leaves, slightly bruised – optional

400-500g (1 lb) juicy strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered

Small handful of mint leaves, torn or sliced

Soft cheese, such as Scottish crowdie or goats curd – amount up to you. Optional but nice.

 

1. Toast the almonds on a tray in a 180C/350F oven for eight minutes. Remove and let cool.

2. Toss the rhubarb slices, sugar, pomegranate molasses, citrus juices and verbena leaves in a non-reactive bowl (I always use Pyrex) and leave to macerate for up to one hour. You want those juices to run!

3. When you are ready to eat, pour the rhubarb into a serving bowl (pick out the verbena leaves) and add in the strawberries, mint and almonds, and dot with cheese. Serve immediately.

Scottish strawberries // food to glowrhubarb and strawberry salad // food to glow

Other deliciously unusual ways with rhubarb from others:

Maple-tossed Rhubarb, Strawberry and Lentil Salad – Recipes From A Pantry

Potato Salad with Rhubarb and Balsamic Dressing – Tinned Tomatoes

Roasted Rhubarb, Watercress and Feta Salad – The Botanical Baker

Vanilla and Turmeric Polenta Cake with Roasted Rhubarb and Grapes by food to glowThe first, slender shocking-pink stalks of January’s forced rhubarb have come and gone. And at quite a ticket. Did you take home a paltry bundle at exorbitant price like I did? If so, did you roast it to enjoy with slices of blood orange, or poach it gently under foil? Did you pair it with apples under a blanket of nubbly crumble and dig in with a spoon? Or did you stew it to silky strands with spoons of sugar and fold it into an airy cloud of whipped cream?

Read the rest of the post and get the recipe over at A Scot’s Larder.

fresh garden rhubarb by food to glow

rhubarb from my neighbour’s garden

 

freekeh, broad beans, broccoli, thyme and soft cheese broth // food to glowWe are betwixt and between seasons up here in Scotland. It is allegedly spring – verging on summer – but no one told May.

This month has been cool, windy, and really rather disappointing. May is traditionally the time when we get flashes of summer, which is nice for most of us, but for students it makes exam revision rather more difficult than it should be. While the rest of us may be daringly having coffee and croissants at pavement cafes, or swanning about the place showing off our newly shorn legs, students are cruelly forced inside, surrounded by a year’s worth of scrawled notes, and countless half-drunk cups of coffee. Or they should be at any rate. It is not infrequent to see groups of students sprawled in public parks, lying about with books and bought, carton-wrapped picnics; some of these students may actually be completely prone using books as a kind of rudimental sunscreen. I should know. I did that myself in the mid-80s. :-) But no such excuses for not studying in 2015.

purple sprouting broccoli // food to glowBut anyhow, at least we can warm ourselves up with soup. Spring soup. British purple sprouting broccoli is abundant and really lovely just now, so I thought I would show it off a little in this easy-prep but kind of fancy, soup. It’s more of a broth really, and uses the flavoured and viscous cooking water from the grain that accompanies the greens to thicken it all up rather nicely.

have also used broad beans here because they are coming into season very soon and, like the spring onions of the previous post, they don’t get much love. At least not here in the UK. Also called fava, these podded beans are best known as Hannibal Lecter’s only known vegetable. But don’t let that gruesome fact put you off.

broad/fava beans // food to glowAfter many years of eyeing them with keen distrust I have finally warmed to these cozily-podded legumes. To be fair to them, the only times I have previously eaten them was when they were a bit past it, all dusty tasting and bitter. Or, still in their little sticky indigestible skins – eurgh. All the olive oil or Jersey butter in the world isn’t going to sort that out.

In a past life I had a custodial relationship with broad beans. Andrew and I used to grow them on an allotment we shared with friends, where its main use was a nitrogen-fixer for the over-worked soil. None of us were too keen on them so would allow them to grow to triffid-like proportions before harvesting and attempting to eat them. Not to be recommended. Happily, I have discovered the delights of frozen young broad beans and have been using them in soups and pasta dishes ever since.

Rather than rootling around in the deep-freeze I am now starting to come across fresh very young broad beans in farm shops and supermarkets. Perhaps where you live they may even be available now as PYO. In any case, if you buy fresh beans, you can look forward to settling down to the meditative task of shelling and podding. It is oddly calming to set about unzipping the rather prim-looking grey-green beans from their velvety jackets, boiling them up, and slipping them out of their inner coats to reveal chartreuse seeds. They will reward your efforts handsomely and deliver a host of valuable nutrients to boot. You will notice that I didn’t bother skinning my little beans. Although it is well worth doing, when very young these hardy little beans are just fine as is. The colour will be that much more vivid if you do go to the little effort though. I don’t do effort if I can get away with it.

broad/fava beans // food to glowNutrition Notes: Known also as fava, pigeon beans, Windsor beans and horse beans, broad beans are in the same botanical family as peas and alfalfa. Used extensively, and creatively, in Italian, Egyptian, Latin American and Chinese cooking, these temperate-climate beans are good sources of protein, fibre, vitamins A and C, and decent sources of phosphorus, copper, potassium and iron. They are a particularly good source of folate. Some of these nutrients are lessened with cooking, but you will still take in useful amounts. In this recipe they get only a dip in warm broth so will retain much of what Nature has bestowed upon them. As a bonus broad beans even contain levodopa (L-dopa), a chemical the body uses to make dopamine (a neurotransmitter associated with the brain’s reward and motivation system). So, if you cook them correctly (never eat raw) they can help make you happy and satisfied. Especially if you have them in a soup with some lovely soft cheese, like I am doing for you today.

How do you like your broad beans? Or do you call them fava?

freekeh, broad beans, broccoli, thyme and soft cheese broth // food to glow

Freekeh, Broad Bean, Broccoli, Thyme and Soft Cheese Broth

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Making up the freekeh (or your chosen grain) in advance keeps the freekeh’s bite, and makes the resulting broth lighter and clearer too. Use fresh or frozen young peas if broad beans aren’t available, or you don’t fancy them. xx

100g (1/2 cup) freekeh OR quinoa, or barley – instructions are for freekeh so adjust if using other grains

1 tbsp olive oil

500ml + (17.5 fl oz +) best vegetable stock – this is important

3 spring onions, thinly sliced; mainly the white portion

Handful of trimmed purple sprouting broccoli or young broccoli

Handul of podded young bread beans/fava – skinned if you like, or if they aren’t very small

1 tbsp young thyme leaves

Best quality soft cheese or goats cheese – I used Scottish crowdie cheese

1. Boil the freekeh in three times its volume in salted water with the added oil for eight minutes; drain and save the liquid. Rinse the grains. You will probably not use all of it but it is difficult to cook a smaller amount properly.

2. Bring the vegetable stock to a fast simmer and add the thyme, spring onions, beans, and broccoli and simmer for two minutes., adding some of the freekeh liquid if you wish it to be thicker or have more liquid volume.

3. Spoon some cooked grains into serving bowls and add in the vegetable broth. Dot with small spoons of cheese and grind over some pepper. Serve as a light supper.

freekeh, broad beans, broccoli, thyme and soft cheese broth // food to glow

 

 

 

turmeric milk

The day has got away from me. I am still cooking for a class this evening (it is 4.18 pm) but I really, really wanted to give something to you today. For the first time ever I am pretty much re-posting one of my top posts; one that many of you will not have seen.

I don’t have much truck with the idea of super foods, as for nearly anything you can name context is so important and the term super food as typically used gives a false sense of importance in the diet. But, I will stick my neck out a bit and tentatively declare a daily ‘dose’ of turmeric to be a jolly good idea. Read the following and you will see why, and just how to get it into your life in the easiest way possible. Just a warning though: I know many people who have ditched their coffee habit and acquired a turmeric milk habit.

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{Originally published August 2013} This is my science-updated take on an old Ayurvedic treatment beloved of Indian grandmothers. Treatment for what, you may wonder. Just about everything. Although clinical evidence supporting its cure-all reputation is scanty (not many big studies have been funded), what is around looks very promising. Very promising indeed. And with 14 centuries of culinary and medicinal use, perhaps grandmother really does know best. Continue Reading

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