How To Cook Buckwheat

Why do bodybuilders eat buckwheat?  Because they “eat clean” to build lean muscle.  Buckwheat is a super-food, high in protein and fibre, rich in nutrients and antioxidants.  And, like most whole foods high in fibre, buckwheat has a low GI which means, it releases energy slowly and keeps you full for longer.  Consequently, it helps you lose weight, when eaten as part of a calorie-controlled diet.

Buckwheat is gluten-free. It is not a whole grain; it is a seed, completely unrelated to wheat, barley or rye.

What are the benefits of buckwheat?

  1. It improves heart health, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure
  2. Contains antioxidants which help fight against cancer
  3. Provides highly digestible protein
  4. High fibre content helps improve digestion
  5. Low GI helps prevent diabetes
  6. Gluten-free
  7. Good source of vitamin B.

Buckwheat is an ancient food.  It knows its origins to Asia and is a staple in Russian cuisine – used as a breakfast cereal, in soups, salads and stews.  In the recent past, the versatility and nutritional benefits of buckwheat have become recognised in the Western world.  Buckwheat flour is used in making pancakes and muffins.

How do you cook buckwheat?

Buckwheat has a subtle nutty taste, but similar to quinoa, it benefits from being used with tasty ingredients for a boost.  I paired it with mushroom and kale and the result was great!

Here’s the recipe for you to try …

Serves 2

  • one cup dry roasted buckwheat – rinsed
  • one medium-sized onion – finely chopped
  • three garlic cloves – crushed and chopped
  • good pinch of dried, crushed chillies (optional)
  • two tbsps olive oil
  • 150grms mushrooms – wiped and quartered
  • 150grms kale – rinsed, stalks removed and leaves torn in bite-size pieces
  • 375ml vegetable stock (I used two tsps Swiss Bouillon powder dissolved in hot water)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Put the oil in a sauce pan and saute the onion until soft.  Add the garlic and chillies (if using).  Then add the mushrooms and kale leaves, stir and saute for two to three minutes.  Tip in the buckwheat, stir until the seeds are covered with the vegetable mixture. Add the hot stock, stir well and cover with a tight-fitting lid.  Bring to the boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for a few minutes. Remove the lid, season with salt and pepper to taste, fluff with a fork and serve.

Try it and leave me a comment to let me know how you got on.  It’s so quick and easy to make … and the result is amazing!  Enjoy …

My thanks go to:

 

 

Lose 4 Kilos By Summer

Are you following my blog from Malta?  Would you like to shake off those kilos that crept in under your winter sweater? You’re sick and tired of yo-yo dieting? Or maybe, you would like to go for the in-thing, and kick start your new, healthy lifestyle?

If you answered, “Yes,” to any of the above questions, join my Nutrition and Weight Management Programme, starting on 4th May.

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This is not a diet clinic to give you a beach body.  At the end of eight weeks, you do not “come off” your diet (and start piling the weight back on!)  But you will feel confident and motivated to take control of your weight and manage it brilliantly, on your own.

The programme is made up of eight one-hour sessions, starting Thursday, 4th May.

During this programme we will be discussing:

*your eating habits

*guidelines for a healthy diet

*principles of weight management

*healthy eating plan

*nutritional value of meals

*physical activity vs exercise

*emotions, food and body image

*progress made and motivation

Old habits die hard. But if you are committed to change, this Nutrition and Weight Management Programme is just for you.

Contact me for further information or to book your place.

Why Choose a Plant-Based Diet?

Have you ever considered moving to a plant-based diet?  I can hear some of you say, “No way!” But what if you have to move, for health reasons? Would you move to a plant-based diet, if you have to?

By a plant-based diet I mean completely vegan – i.e. no meat (including fish), no dairy, and no eggs. Admittedly, it can be challenging and takes getting used to – especially, if meat is a staple in your diet.

Why opt for a plant-based diet?

A plant-based diet is sustainable whilst livestock is a major contributor to greenhouse gases.

In her book Plant-Based Cookbook, Trish Sebben-Krupka, refers to the United Nations’ 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Sebben-Krupka, quotes the report as saying, meat and dairy account for 70 per cent of global freshwater consumption, 38 per cent of total land use, and 19 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

A plant-based diet is also clean when compared to the meat industry.  The amount of meat recalls over the years suggest serious problems within the industry.  Livestock farming is increasingly being linked to antibiotic resistance – a serious threat to human health.

What are the benefits of a plant-based diet?
Cardiologists recommend a plant-based diet for the prevention of heart disease.  This diet is also linked to the prevention of a number of illnesses, such as, diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and a host of other diseases.

Besides, a plant-based diet helps you control your weight, gives you healthy skin and hair plus plenty of energy.  What more could you ask for from your diet? Who would not want to feel and look good?

What do you eat?

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Nowadays a quick search on the Internet gives you plenty of ideas for vegan recipes.

A vegan diet consists of:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Beans and legumes (chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans etc.)
  • Whole grains (basmati wholegrain rice, kamut, farro, quinoa etc.)
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, cashews, chia, flax seed, hemp etc.)
  • Meat substitutes (organic tofu, tempeh and soya products)

How do you become a vegan?

Unless you are very determined, you do not become a vegan overnight.

Start by making small changes to your diet.  Replace one meal a day; go with whole foods as much as you possibly can.

Plan your food. Clear out your larder and stock up on beans and pulses, rice, and other grains.  Cook ahead and keep a stock of raw fruits and vegetables (frozen fruit and veg are also good for you and can be used in cooking).

Increase your plant-based meals as you go … until you achieve your goal.

Trish Sebben-Krupka says, “If you fall off the the plant-based wagon, just dust yourself off and start again the next day.”

Finally a quote from Albert Einstein (Nobel prize 1921): Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.

My thanks go to:

Plant-Based Cookbook by Trish Sebben-Krupka
Time for Change
Jamie Oliver – Vegan
Web MD
Image – Carla Golden Wellness / The Wall Street Journal

How To Bake Fish In A Potato Crust

Have you tried fish baked in a potato crust?  The first time I tried it at a local restaurant, I wasn’t impressed, but last weekend I tried it again in Rome.  The fish was so tender and moist; simply divine!

It was presented in a simple yet elegant way – sea bream covered with a layer of overlapping paper thin potatoes slices.  The fish sat on its own juices – no sauces masking the delicate taste of the fresh fish.

When I returned from Rome I decided to have a go at this dish.  I did some research about it and came across a very similar version of baked fish and potatoes – interesting – but not quite what I had in Rome.  So I decided to try my own version of this dish.

I used sweet potatoes cause that is what I had available.  Besides, all the nutrients found in sweet potato, they do not need parboiling before baking which makes them quicker to use.

Ingredients for four persons

  • four fillets of sea bream
  • two sweet potatoes
  • fresh thyme
  • four tbsps olive oil
  • juice from half a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • line a baking dish with heavy duty foil and brush lightly with olive oil
  • place the fish fillets on the foil

    Fish partialy covered with sweet potato
    Fish partially covered with sweet potato
  • squeeze the lemon on the fillets and sprinkle with fresh thyme, salt and pepper
  • scrub the sweet potatoes and pat dry
  • slice thinly using a mandolin slicer or similar
  • cover the fish, overlapping the potatoes as you go
  • brush the potatoes with the remaining olive oil, sprinkle with fresh thyme, salt and pepper
  • bake in a moderate oven for 25 minutes or until the potato is cooked.

    Baked fish in potato crust
    Baked fish in potato crust

I grilled the potatoes for the last five minutes to get that char grilled tinge on the edges.

Serve with seasonal vegetables or fresh salad.

Baked fish and potatoes served with saute zucchini
Baked fish and potatoes served with saute zucchini

Voilà, dinner in 30 minutes!

My next experiment with this recipe is adding a thin smear of pesto to the fish, before covering it with potatoes.  Not too much pesto, because it’ll overpower the taste of the dish.  Just a hint of pesto – especially if you do the homemade pesto with parsley and walnuts instead of basil and pine nuts – should enhance the taste.

Have you ever baked fish in a potato crust?  If not, give it a go.  It’s so simple to make.  Leave your comments below and let me know how you get on.

Until next time … happy cooking.

 

My thanks go to

 

How to cook ‘Minestra’- chunky vegetable soup

Minestra‘ is a typical Maltese dish.  It is very similar to the Italian ‘minestrone’.

Maltese food is influenced by the cuisine of countries who ruled over these islands and also by countries close to our shores.  The pasta we use in our kusksu bil-ful is a larger version of couscous – pasta typical of north Africa.  We give food a twist to suit our culture and traditions.

The stuffat tal-fenek (rabbit stew) – the national Maltese dish – goes back to the days of the Knights.

Many of you will associate soups with cold weather.  In Malta, however, minestra is one of those foods cooked all year round.

With Malta being so tiny, you’d think there’s just one recipe for minestra. This is not the case; you will find there are a number of regional variations.  I remember my mother used to add pasta to the soup to make it more filling.  Some Maltese families serve it with crusty bread.  I prefer thicken the soup with a mix of grains and pulses.

This is my favourite minestra recipe.

Ingredients

200g soup mix (dried beans, lentils, chick peas, peas etc.)
400g leek
500g pumpkin
300g carrots
300g turnip
300g potatoes
300g cauliflower
500g courgettes or marrows
300g fresh tomatoes
150g celery (Maltese celery is not sweet)
200g pinto beans (or similar)
20g Swiss bouillon
2tbsps olive oil

Method

  1. If using dried beans, soak for four hours, put in boiling water and simmer for 25 minutes (drain) – you can use canned beans
  2. Saute the leek in olive oil until soft but not coloured
  3. Put in the soup mix (grains and pulses) and cover with water.  Bring to a rapid boil, lower the heat and simmer until you prepare the vegetables
  4. Prepare vegetables – wash and cut into similar-sized cubes (approx 3 x 3cms)
  5. Add the chopped  vegetables (except tomatoes), Swiss bouillon and cover with boiling water – stir and cover
  6. Boil rapidly for 3-4 minutes, lower the heat completely and simmer gently for 20 minutes
  7. Add the pinto beans (or similar) and chopped tomatoes – stir gently, cover and simmer for a further five minutes
  8. Turn off the heat and leave to stand, covered, for a further 10 minutes – season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

 

Paraffin stove
Paraffin stove

My mother, and her mother before her, used to leave the minestra simmering for at least an hour on a paraffin stove.  Nowadays the trend is not to cook your veg to a pulp.  I like my veg with a bite to them and find the timing suggested above is just right.

Minestra is not expensive to make, filling, kind to your waist line and very nutritious.

 

 

Give it a try and leave me your comments below.

 

My thanks go to

A Maltese Mouthful
Wikipedia
Visit Malta