RecipeBlogs: Meatballs & Baked Zucchini

Posted by dom on June 22nd, 2007 — Posted in Recipes

meat.jpgPart of eating a more healthy diet is eating seasonally but it can be easy to fall into a rut. My family can be more open minded to eating their veg when they are prepared with a bit of imagination rather than boiled and dumped at the side of the plate. On this occasion, I had courgettes / zucchini in mind when I started looking for new recipes to try.

I stumbled on Almost Turkish and found a wonderful assortment of fast and interesting meals. Burcu posts traditional and modern dishes with mouth-watering photographs, including the jackpot for our own dinner: her mother’s recipe for baked zucchini (courgette).

It may sound silly to base a meal around a side-dish but that’s exactly what I did. It was easy though, spoilt for choice on Burcu’s site. I opted for the traditional meatballs that Burcu has recreated as remembered from her hometown of Tekirdağ. These are made with a mixture of lamb and beef and mirror the pepper and mint flavour of the vegetables. The recipe as given would feed four with ease, I froze half for a future fast meal.

Unfortunately I was low on dried mint, so I used it on the zucchini and used fresh mint for the meatballs, a slight change which did not harm the flavour at all. I wouldn’t recommend trying fresh mint on the vegetables though as they would not stand up to the cooking time.

The turkish meatballs were really nice — however, I would cut the chile seeds right down if you are serving to young children. My partner thought they were fine but turned down my offer of extra chile sauce on the side. The zucchini was lovely, soft and spicy with the flavour of the mint really coming through. I took Burcu’s advice and added a bit of garlic to the yogurt.

We had a roasted pepper salad with some chopped up preserved lemons as a side dish. The sweet flavour balanced well with the rest of the meal – and the lemon was perfect. If I hadn’t used the preserved lemons then I think I would have used lemon juice in some way, as a salad dressing or mixed into the yogurt perhaps. The flavour really complimented the rest of the meal.

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As a side-note, I made a small batch of these without the breadcrumbs/semolina in order to offer a low-carb meal. I would cut down the egg a bit and you need to take care when forming and serving the meatballs but the result still got positive reviews.

Almost Turkish has a wide variety of interesting (and simple) dishes to try, with an emphasis on vegetables. If you want to try to add a bit of unexpected spice to your meals, I certainly recommend giving her blog a browse.


Very Low-Carb Diets Health Risk

Posted by dom on June 20th, 2007 — Posted in News

Science Daily is reporting the results of a study which suggest people on very low-carb diets are putting themselves at risk because of a reduction in butyrate (a fatty acid) in the gut.

Butyrate is used as a form of energy by the bacteria in the gut, and reduced levels can lead to increased risk of colon & bowel cancers.

Our usual advice applies here. Always see your doctor or a dietitian before starting any diet, and if you are feeling any ill effect, see them again.

[Read More]


Japanese Style Veg

Posted by dom on June 14th, 2007 — Posted in Tips

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Sometimes getting more veg into your diet is just a case of thinking about your food from a different perspective.

This Japanese-inspired meal started with a bowl of chicken broth, quick and easy to heat up and serve. If you live in the city, you could probably easily pick up noodles to make it a bit heartier.

The main course is that old standby: cold roast beef (I like mine really rare, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t serve it well-done if that’s your preference). Instead of mustard though, serve it sliced thin with a bowl of soy sauce for dipping in. Add in a touch of wasabi (Japanese horseradish) for authenticity, or simply a bit of crushed garlic. I tossed in a few chile seeds for heat.

Then, clockwise and up from the soy sauce, we have avocado with pickled ginger, tinned palm hearts, sliced raw fennel and a spicy italian pickled chile pepper. A variety of flavours and textures and bite, combining into one very healthy meal. And the best thing? As we had the roast beef already from the night before, the entire two-course meal took me 10 minutes to prepare.

My other half only had one gripe: it’s a lot harder to eat avocado with chopsticks than you might think. Next time, I’ll add a few more minutes to the prep time and stab ‘em with toothpicks.


Seasonal Produce – June

Posted by dom on June 4th, 2007 — Posted in Tips

veg-stall.jpgJune! The sun is shining and the season for sweet-but-tart delicious tastes has begun.

This is the time to indulge your sweet tooth. Fresh fruit starts to appear in June and July: a veritable feast of flavour! Strawberries with real summer flavour have finally arrived and you should start to see grapes, apricots, melons and nectarines.

Personally, I am looking forward to my very favourite dessert, fresh raspberries with cream: perfection. But if you aren’t familiar with gooseberries,you should definitely try this 15th century recipe for gooseberry fool. There’s no point in trying to improve upon perfection.

This is your last chance for seasonal asparagus but you’ll find summer vegetables at their prime. Perk up your salads with young and crunchy raw veg: baby carrots and thin-sliced fennel and spring onion and sliced radish with salt. Try updating your salads with different types of lettuce and young spinach and watercress. It is also a good time to explore the versatility of courgettes / zucchini, a type of small marrow that soaks up flavour, making it perfect for eating with herbs and butter. The smaller they are, the more flavour they tend to have. Broad beans are at their best now too, still young and soft enough that you can serve them steamed.

Need more inspiration? Things to Try Eating (Seasonal Food) is a great diagram by Andrew Fox showing seasonal food throughout the year – go large!


Hershey's Goodness Range

Posted by dom on May 10th, 2007 — Posted in News

Hershey's GoodnessThe health benefits of chocolate are well known – in particular, dark chocolate has already been credited with helping fight heart disease, skin cancer, high blood pressure and many other ailments.

Hershey’s are the latest to capitalise on this with a new range called Hershey’s Goodness. What’s interesting about this is that two of the three products in the range are milk chocolates. One is a whole bean milk chocolate and the other has added natural flavanol antioxidants.

Are Hershey’s jumping on a health bandwagon? Possibly – but our sister site Chocablog will be reviewing all the ‘Goodness’ range shortly.


Seasonal Produce – May

Posted by dom on April 30th, 2007 — Posted in Tips

May means Spring is truly sprung and the tastiest healthy food is all in season. Asparagus may be available year-round these days but the taste in May is infinitely better, somehow greener. Buy it by the bundle and try these recipes from the California Asparagus Commission.

Salad leaves of all types are available now: get inventive and try something different instead of sticking to safe and steady iceberg; even my fussy kid loves spinach salads with croutons and bacon. Add seasonal zing to your spring salads: avocados, onions, and fresh garlic! For more ideas, take a look at How to Make Fabulous Green Salads on the Fabulous Foods site.

Cauliflower remains available and I have to bring up the lovely appetiser I had at lunch the other day: grilled cauliflower florets! Large florets sliced thick and brushed with olive oil, cooked fast over high heat so that they retained a bit of crunch. I immediately searched for a recipe when I got home and was pleased to find a recent article on hogwash, which I immediately added to my bookmarks.

Jersey Royals are ready to be lightly boiled and served with butter and just a touch of parsley but if that’s not exciting enough for you, you’ll find everyday and Chefs’ recipes on The Jersey Royal Potato website. Did you know their name comes from the neighbours calling it a “right royal fluke” when Hugh discovered them?

Dessert is a doddle with cherries just coming into season: just serve them fresh as they come! Choose Cherries claims that they are a superfruit with the “highest level of disease-fighting antioxidants compared to other fruits” All we know is that they taste good.

A few additional articles if we’ve not convinced you yet how simple it is to eat seasonally:

World Community Cookbook offer an Online Fruit and Vegetable guide as a part of their Simply in Season online site.

There’s a good article on seasonal food pros and cons over at The Tracing Paper.

Eat the Seasons offers recipes and recommendations every week so you are never short of inspiration.


RecipeBlogs: Spinach & Red Onion Pizza

Posted by dom on April 23rd, 2007 — Posted in Recipes

Spinach & Red Onion PizzaAlbion Cooks is an blog by English ex-pat Catherine offering healthy and delicious vegetarian recipes.

For our taste-test we wanted to stay kid friendly, so we gave her Spinach and Red Onion Pizza a try.

Fast and easy, just the way we like it. And because it’s a pizza, the fussy child gave it a try! OK, so only after the haughty sounds of “Spinach? On a pizza? You must be kidding!” were completely ignored, I admit. But in the end he described it as “not bad at all” and cleared his plate.

Boboli is a fine thing but not available at our local shop. I bought pizza dough instead (yes, I can make pizza dough but I’ve found to my great disappointment that the bought stuff tastes better) and split the cooking into two stages. I baked the dough with the oil/garlic/mozzerella and onion for 10 minutes and then added the spinach and feta and baked it for another 8 minutes. Worked a treat.

If you are feeling more adventurous, I highly recommend giving her Chard, Cauliflower & Olive Soup a try.


Win a Veggie Cookbook

Posted by dom on April 15th, 2007 — Posted in Links

Alanna wants vegetable lovers to speak out! She’s finished the Alphabet of Vegetables and to celebrate, she’s offering free veggie cookbooks.

There are two ways to enter: subscribe to her email newsletter or comment on her Alphabet of Vegetables. Head on over to A Veggie Venture and enter now.


RecipeBlogs: Spiced Lamb Meatballs

Posted by dom on April 11th, 2007 — Posted in Recipes

This article is part of our Healthy Food Blogging series – an irregular series of articles featuring your own healthy recipes and tips which we’ve tried ourselves.

What’s the recipe today Jim?‘ is written by Rosie, “not so much wannabe chef as a wannabe food taster” with an eclectic combination of recipes, travel notes, and book reviews. The full set of recipes is listed down the left sidebar so you can quickly scan through to find an appealing dish.

MeatballsI opted for Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Couscous for our recipe of the day. The instructions were easy to follow and the meal was quick to make. I like recipes where you can make ahead and reheat – the meatballs definitely fit this criteria. 15 minutes before dinner, my companion received a phone call and asked if we could eat late. Late ended up being an hour later but to no detriment to the meal: a winner in my book. When he was ready I just turned the heat back up on the stove and started on the couscous.

The meal itself was nice, although my son picked around the raisins in the couscous and seemed rather unimpressed with it in general. I think I might be more liberal with the lemon juice next time.

The tomato sauce was a little bit sweet, I’d be tempted to leave out the sugar next time. It got pleasant reviews from our test-tasters of all ages though, so there will be a next time!


Easter Treats

Posted by dom on April 7th, 2007 — Posted in Misc

You don’t have to miss out on Easter treats just because you’ve sworn off sweets. I have found a lot of fun and cute food that’s healthy, too.

Easter eggs are fun to make — just a few drops of food colouring (or you could use natural dyes from food) mixed with vinegar will quickly dye the shells of hard-boiled eggs to make a pretty centrepiece and, later, a healthy snack. But you could make Chinese marbled eggs instead, using colours instead of tea. In Mama’s Kitchen has easy to follow instructions for making marbled eggs, just use food colouring and water instead of tea and soy sauce. I used cereal bowls, putting a few eggs in each, so that I could have lots of different colours.

The cutest easter rabbit I’ve seen this year is Easter brunch bunny bao on Just Hungry. They are wonderfully cute and we’ll be making it Sunday morning to serve for lunch.

Or you could follow Nigella Lawson’s example and make a simple spicy rabbit curry to serve as Hot Cross Bunny. Devilled Rabbit might do in a pinch.

And if it’s really got to be chocolate this Easter, why not check out Chocoblog! (We recommend adopting a look but don’t touch policy here!)