How to make your own Buddha bowl

It seems like the “Buddha bowl” is the latest buzz word in the world of food and nutrition. 2017 was the year of the Buddha bowl and restaurants started offering this trendy option on their menus.

At first, Buddha bowls (or grain bowls) were associated with veganism.  However, judging by the numerous photos on instagram, it is clear to see that Buddha bowls are not necessarily vegan.

How did the term “Buddha Bowl” come about?

In her article “How the Buddha Bowl got its name“, Katherine Sacks makes reference to the book “Buddha’s Diet”. The authors of the book say Buddha was a thin person. At dawn, he’d go round the streets with an empty bowl and people donated whatever food they could afford. It is very likely that the food donated was simple and inexpensive. Buddha’s diet was therefore made up of food donations.

Why are Buddha bowls so popular?

Accoring to Charles Spence, food psychologist, as quoted in The Guardian, eating out of a bowl offers comfort and is more satisfying. “That weight is likely to make your brain think the food is more substantial and you are likely to rate it as more intensely aromatic than exactly the same food sat passively on a plate.”

What is the concept of a Buddha bowl?

In my mind a Buddha bowl is “comfort” food; whatever, you have available and whatever ticks the box for you. From a nutrition perspective, as long as it provides you with the right balance of macronutrients – carbohydrates, fat and protein – it is good for you.

How can you make your own Buddha bowl?

Think on the lines of carbs, fat and protein – all three in moderation. Here’s an example of a Buddha bowl I prepared yesterday. This “bowl” was for sharing at a BBQ and the only container I had which was large enough was a dish.

Buddah-Bowl-to-share.jpg
Buddha Bowl to share

Ingredients:

  • steamed quinoa with roasted walnuts
  • green beans
  • red kidney beans
  • rocket leaves
  • cucumber
  • black olives
  • cherry tomatoes
  • roasted vegetables (peppers, courgettes, garlic and aubergine)
  • cooked beetroot
  • raw buckwheat and toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on top
  • Tahini dressing – mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, salt and pepper
  • feta cheese (optional)

I am not giving quantities or a method of how to do the recipe. You are free to add or remove ingredients, according to your preferences. Vegetables – raw or cooked – rice, grains, pulses, seeds, nuts, fruits (fresh or dried), pasta are all good for your Buddha bowl. If you prefer, you may also add, cheese, meat or fish.

The binding ingredient is the dressing. Keep it simple so it does not over-power the taste of your other ingredients.

The secret of your Buddha bowl is variety: plenty of colour and texture. Try it, and share your comments.

My thanks go to:

@veggininthecity

Epicurious.com

Theguardian.com

 

 

Freekeh salad with sumac dressing

For those of you who are not familiar with “sumac” here’s the definition: its a powder made from the fruits of the flowering plant Rhus coriaria. It is generally used in Middle Eastern and south Asian cuisine.

Sumac has very high antioxidant levels. It helps lower blood sugar levels and sumac juice is high in vitamin C.

This spice has a tangy, lemony taste and can be used with fish, meat and salads.

I bought my sumac from Borough Market in London. However, if you do not find it locally, you can get it online.

In this simple freekeh salad I used sumac to give the salad a fresh citrussy flavour.

Freekeh salad with sumac dressing
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

This is a very light and simple salad. It can be used as a standalone for lunch or supper or as a side served with grilled fish or meat.

Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Keyword: Freekeh, salad, Sumac
Servings: 4 people
Author: Colette Cumbo
Ingredients
  • 200 grms Greenwheat Freekeh
  • 2 tsps Lebanese Sumac
  • 1 telegraph cucumber
  • 15 teardrop cherry tomatoes
  • 2 spring onions
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh mint
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Boil freekeh grains in 200ml of water for 15 minutes (or according to packet instructions).

  2. Drain the grains and stand them in a colander to cool down whilst you're preparing the other ingredients.

  3. Rinse the tomatoes and mint and scrub the cucumber and lemon.

  4. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and chop the mint. Cut the cucumber into small cubes and slice the white part of the spring onions.

  5. Put the freekeh into a salad container and add the chopped ingredients - mix well.

  6. Grate the lemon rind and extract lemon juice. Add the rind to the freekeh mixture and put the lemon juice in a screw-top jar.

  7. Add 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil to the lemon juice, 2 tsps sumac and salt and pepper to taste. Close the jar and shake well.

  8. Divide the salad into four portions and serve each portion with 2 tbsps of sumac dressing.

Recipe Notes

Some facts about freekeh - it has four times the amount of fibre as brown rice and twice the amount of protein as white rice. It's a low GI food which means it keeps you full for longer. Freekeh is also high in magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron.

Freekeh has a nutty taste and can be used in pilafs, soups and salads.  

How to benefit from Medjool dates

Have you ever used Medjool dates to sweeten your cereals or smoothies? I use Medjool dates as a sweet treat, either on their own or paired with walnuts … heavenly!

These very large dates are native to the Middle East and North Africa. They’re the first ever cultivated fruit and their cultivation dates back some 6000 years. Historically, they were known as “the king of fruits” or “the fruit of kings”, however nowadays they’re widely available all year round.

Medjool dates are soft, chewy and juicy. There’s a hint of caramel in their taste (without the added sugar). These dates are sweeter than the regular Deglet Noor dates which are smaller, firmer in texture and have a delicate taste when compared to the full, rich taste of the Medjools.

Nutritional benefits of Medjool dates

Medjool dates are rich in vitamins and minerals.  They contain 50% more potassium than bananas. Both Medjools as well as Deglet Noors are good sources of selenium (helps anti-aging process in the body), copper (together with iron enables the body to form red blood cells), potassium (helps lower blood pressure) and magnesium (supports healthy immune system). Dates also contain vitamins B3 and B6 and are rich in fibre.

This is a very simple recipe. It requires very little prep time and no cooking, just setting in the fridge. After whizzing a refreshing banana,berry and almond milk smoothie, I showed my client and her seven-year old son, Beni, how to prepare these energy-packed balls.

This recipe is inspired by Dr Axe.  The original recipe calls for hemp seeds. I replaced them with chia seeds, simply because hemps were not available. The result was great!

I am sharing this post with The Recipe ReDux community. This is my first post on this website … fingers crossed all goes well! Check out the linky at the bottom of this page for plenty of delicious recipes shared by other bloggers.

Pecan Coconut Balls
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

This recipe is so quick and easy to make. It's the ideal recipe to involve children help in the kitchen. 

Course: Dessert, Sweet treat
Cuisine: gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 10
Author: Colette Cumbo
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pitted Medjool dates roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Process pecans in food processor until ground.

  2. Add roughly chopped dates and process further until mixture is sticky and binds.

  3. Add the chia seeds, coconut flakes and the vanilla extract. Pulse process for a few seconds.

  4. Roll mixture into small balls and refrigerate for an hour until firm.

  5. (pulse processing does not break the coconut flakes completely and the white bits of coconut contrast nicely with the dark brown colour of the dates)

Recipe Notes

Makes 40 small coconut balls.

I used these balls as a sweet treat after supper on the terrace. They can also be used as a snack.

 

 

 

 

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Is it time Governments introduce a tax on junk food?

Statistics issued in May 2018 reveal that Malta has the highest rate of child obesity in Europe, the highest rate of type II diabetes and the lowest level of activity (1).

Similarly, UK stats for 2017 show that 617 thousand admissions in NHS hospitals were obesity-related. And in 2016, 26 per cent of British adults were considered obese (2).

 

 

How does it compare to 50 years ago?

In the 60s only one per cent of men and two per cent of women were considered obese in the UK (3).

The major differences are attributed to a more sedentary lifestyle and a higher consumption of processed foods.  Despite the fact that in the 60s gyms were hardly heard of, people were significantly more active. They walked more and spent less time in front of TVs and computers. Children played active games as opposed to hours spent on a tablet and ready-made foods were hard to come by.  The majority of households cooked their meals from scratch, using fresh products. People’s diets were not full of preservatives and dining out was an occasional treat.

Another factor that contributed towards weight gain is food portions. The average dinner plate in the 60s had a diameter of 7-9 inches (17.78-22.86 centimetres). Nowadays, plates have a diameter of 11-12 inches (27.94-30.48 centimetres) in Europe and 13 inches (33.02 centimetres) in America (4).

Public Health vs Votes?

Do you think it’s time Governments take serious action?  In the same way taxes were imposed and regulations enforced on cigarettes and alcohol,  it may be high time something’s done about the amount of junk food consumed.

If there is more awareness about the consequences of fat, sugar and salt in junk food and ready-made meals and if fresh food is more affordable, maybe people will be in a better position to make healthier choices.

Why are fast food chains allowed to be become richer and the average tax payer has to foot the bill of obesity-related diseases?  Why doesn’t junk food packaging come with sickening images, similar to the ones found on cigarette packets? Should junk food companies be allowed to brainwash children and youngsters thanks to their strong marketing position?

In the UK, Jamie Oliver is campaigning to control the advertising of junk food, especially for children (5). You would think it’s in the interest of Governments to promote the health of its citizens by making fresh food more affordable.

No; I’m not kidding myself into thinking that if junk food is more expensive than healthy food, people will make an overnight change – they won’t.  Besides, as we’ve seen above, there are various factors that lead to obesity.  Junk food is just one of them.  However, in a similar way awareness and levies brought down smoking rates (6), serious campaigns, taxes on junk food (including ready-made foods) and subsidies of good fresh food, may lead to health improvement.

What do you think?

 

My thanks go to:

(1) Bay.com.mt

(2) NHS Digital

(3) The Telegraph

(4) Quora

(5) Jamie Oliver – #AdEnough

(6) Economicshelp.org

Infographic thanks to Gastrosurgeon.com

Springtime Barley Risotto

Have you ever thought about the nutritional benefits of asparagus?  It’s a very unusual looking veggie and comes in thick stems (like the ones in the photo which I took at Borough Market) or with thinner stems which do not require peeling. The thinner asparagus are known as “baby asparagus”.

Spring is asparagus season in most of Europe.  Although, nowadays, it is not unusual to find asparagus in supermarkets almost all year round.

Is asparagus good for you?

If I say asparagus is a powerhouse, you probably say that I think most veggies are. But if I had to list all the vitamins and minerals found in asparagus you will probably agree with me.  So I’ll just highlight a handful of benefits which explain why I chose asparagus to be the star ingredient for today’s recipe.

Asparagus

  1. is a good source of Vitamin K, the blood clotting vitamin;
  2. contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties – protects your body against free radicals;
  3. acts as a natural diuretic – i.e. it makes you pass water which helps you get rid of excess salt and lowers high blood pressure;
  4. the nutrient inulin provides food for the good bacteria in your body, protecting you against colon cancer;
  5. provides you with folate, an essential requirement for the production of red blood cells;
  6. good source of fibre;
  7. good source of Vitamin B1 (thiamine);
  8. contains glutathione, an antioxidant which helps fight cancer.

The ladies attending my cookery classes asked if I can help them make a “healthy” risotto. We cooked two risottos – the typical Italian recipe inspired by Gennaro Contaldo and then we cooked a tweaked version, with barley. My springtime barley risotto is completely vegan too.

Springtime Barley Risotto
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Resting time
5 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

This recipe requires less attention than the typical risotto as you do not have to stand by and stir continuously. I replaced the rice for barley, a grain which is by far healthier than rice.  It helps control your cholesterol levels and protects against heart disease. It also contains more fibre than rice and keeps you full for longer. 

I gave this recipe a vegan spin and left out the wine, butter and cheese.

It is inspired by the Springtime Risotto of Gennaro Contaldo, a chef I truly admire.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Plant-based, vegan
Servings: 4 people
Author: Colette Cumbo
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pearl barley rinsed
  • 1 medium-sized onion chopped finely
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp smoked crushed chillies optional
  • 2 cups asparagus chopped
  • 1 cup fresh garden peas shelled
  • 1 1/2 cups zucchini sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ltr vegetable stock hot
  • 1 tbsp lemon rind grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint chopped finely
Instructions
  1. In a heavy-based pan heat the oil and gently fry the onion.  When it starts to soften, add the crushed garlic and smoked chilli flakes (if using). Stir to avoid sticking.

  2. Add the chopped asparagus and the sliced zucchini to the pan. Stir until the vegetables are covered with the onion mixture. Keep stirring gently for a couple of minutes for the vegetables to soak up the flavours.

  3. Add the rinsed barley and stir well into the vegetable mixture. After stirring for one minute or so, add 500ml of hot vegetable stock.  Give the mixture a good stir, bring to the boil, cover with tight fitting lid and lower the heat. Simmer for 10 minutes.

  4. After 10 minutes, check the barley, add more hot water as needed.  Do not let the mixture stick to the pan.  Add your peas, stir and cover.  Simmer for a further 10 minutes. Add more hot water as required, stir, cover and simmer for the last 10 minutes. Barley takes between 30-40 minutes to cook, depending on your preferred texture.

  5. After 30 minutes of simmering, check the texture of the barley. I like my grains al dente, but you may prefer a softer texture, in which case, add a little bit more hot water and simmer for a further 5 minutes. When barley is ready all your stock should be absorbed, but the mixture should not be too dry. Give the barley and vegetable mixture a gentle stir, cover and leave to rest for 5 minutes. 

  6. Add the chopped mint and lemon zest and give the mixture one final stir (if it is slightly dry add half a cup of hot stock and stir).

    Your barley risotto is now ready to serve.  

Recipe Notes

As the name implies this recipe is made with springtime vegetables which are in season. In this recipe, I used baby asparagus to avoid having to peel the stems. I just trimmed the very end of the stem and used the rest. When using seasonal vegetables you benefit from full flavour, better taste and less money.

You may wish to leave out the smoked chilli flakes for a truly fresh taste.  However I find that a tiny amount of smoked chilli flakes give the dish a nice kick.  

I would love to receive your comments after having tried my springtime barley risotto.

My thanks go to

Gennaro Contaldo for the inspiration

Dr Axe 

Food to Live

 

Balanced Diet vs Healthy Diet

Is your diet balanced? Is it healthy? Or maybe it’s both?

What is a Healthy Diet?

Easy! A healthy diet is made up of fruit, veg, some meat and / or fish, low in fat with limited amounts of alcohol. Sounds good?  Actually, it’s not too bad.

What is the difference between a healthy and a balanced diet?

A balanced diet is healthy, with extras thrown in for good measure.

What makes a Healthy Diet “Balanced”?

  • A balanced diet provides the body with sufficient nutrients (macro – i.e. carbohydrates, fat, protein and micro – vitamins and minerals);
  • A balanced diet provides the body with the right amount of energy (calories) – an imbalanced diet leads to weight gain or weight loss;
  • A balanced diet includes sufficient fluids (mainly water) to keep the body well-hydrated;
  • A balanced diet limits counter-productive foods such as sugar and salt.
  • A balanced diet forms part of a healthy lifestyle which includes regular exercise.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) makes five recommendations:

  • Consume the amount of calories your body requires to function;
  • Limit your fats;
  • Eat more fruit and veg;
  • Limit your sugars;
  • Limit your salts.

Why is a Balanced Diet good for you?

A balanced diet keeps you feeling good about yourself.  You can enjoy good quality life, preventing diseases such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and some forms of cancer.

A balanced diet also provides you with high levels of energy.  It gives you shiny hair and strong nails.  Your skin looks plump and clear.  Your waist line remains in check, without too much effort.  Who’s complaining?

How do you “Balance” your Diet?

Most countries have their recommended dietary guidelines. These guidelines are set keeping culture in mind. So for example, the Eatwell Plate – the dietary guidelines for the UK – includes foods such as baked beans, crisps and porridge.  The Mediterranean diet includes olive oil and wine in moderation. The Chinese dietary guidelines recommend a diet based on whole grains, fruit and vegetables with tiny portions of protein, dairy and fats. Both the Mediterranean and the Chinese guidelines recommend plenty of water as well as exercise.

All good, but how does this work for you?

  • Establish your recommended calorie intake according to your lifestyle. If you have a sedentary job and you do not exercise regularly, your body needs less calories than a person who exercises seven days a week. A person who does not have a sedentary job also requires more energy to keep them going.
  • Get your energy (calories) in the right amounts:
    • 50-55% from carbohydrates
    • 33-35% from fat
    • 10-15% from protein.
  • Drink plenty of water – recommended guidelines 1ml water / 1kcal of food you consume.
  • Exercise regularly.

You are probably wondering how you can lose weight or maintain good weight when 50% of your energy intake comes from carbs.

Carbs are not only found in starchy foods such as potatoes, rice and pasta. You can get your carbs from fruit and veg. One important fact to bear in mind is that your brain requires carbohydrates. Carbs, in the form of glucose, are the only food the brain uses to function properly.

Balance out your healthy diet by eating a variety of foods in the right amounts. With the right food intake, water and exercise you’re on your way to healthy lifestyle.

Watch this space for more on the subject.

 

May thanks go to: