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?

wfpb-food-pyramid (1)

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

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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

 

15 Benefits of Pomelo

What is Pomelo?  Pomelo or Chinese grapefruit is pomelo-in-netthe largest of citrus fruits.  It can weigh up to nine kilos and has a soft outer skin which makes it easy to peel.  The taste is a cross between a sweet orange and a grapefruit.  The pulp of the pomelo varies in colour from a pale yellow to orange, to a bright red.

The pomelo is a native of China but is now found growing across South East Asia, the United State and India.

As you know, fruits and veg have numerous health benefits, but this fruit checks so many tick boxes – it’s unbelievable!

The pomelo 

1. Prevents Urinary Tract Infections
2. Promotes Healing
3. Keeps Gums Healthy
4. Promotes a Healthy Heart
5. Prevents Anemia
6. Prevents Colds and Flu
7. Fights Cancer
8. Keeps Aging at bay
9. Aids in Weight Loss
10. Prevents Osteoporosis
11. Helps Digestion
12. Prevents Muscle Cramps
13. Speeds Wound Recovery
14. Checks Blood Pressure
15. Cleanses Arteries

Nutrition Facts

As with other citrus fruits, the pomelo is rich in vitamin C.  It also contains vitamin A (beta-carotene), essential for maintaining a healthy skin and for growth.

Pomelo contains vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and B2 (Riboflavin).  It also contains potassium a mineral involved with maintaining a healthy heart besides other organs.  Over and above, this fruit is a good source of folic acid, healthy fats, protein and fibre.

In other words, it packs a punch!

Pomelo In Recipes

I like using fresh fruit in my salads and citrus add a nice tangy taste, especially with fish.  I ran a quick search for a recipe using pomelo and came across this interesting Thai Salmon and Pomelo Salad which I intend trying out tonight.

thai-salmon-pomelo-salad
Thai Salmon and Pomelo Salad

By the way, in Malta you can get pomelo fruit from the big supermarkets.

Try this recipe and leave your comments.  Sharing is caring; please share any pomelo recipes you come across.

Good weekend everyone!

My thanks go to

Stylecraze.com
My Relationship with Food

 

 

How to make your own granola

How important is breakfast? It’s been labeled ‘the most important meal of the day’ and the nutrition author Adelle Davis advised people to “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a pauper“. So why all the hype?

Is breakfast good for you?

There are two schools of thought.  Harvard School of Public Health researcher, Rania Mekary PhD. carried out various studies which suggest that, making breakfast part of your healthy lifestyle, is good for you.  In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in 2013, Mekary reported that there is a link between breakfast eaters and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes as well as other illnesses such as heart disease.

A study carried out in Chinese kindergartens in 2013, concluded that children who ate breakfast every morning had a higher IQ than those who didn’t.

Can breakfast help you lose weight?

Not everyone agrees that breakfast helps you lose weight.  Evidence shows, people who do not eat breakfast tend to snack on sugary food mid-morning and eat a bigger lunch. So, if you are skipping breakfast to cut down on calories, you might want to think again.

What can you have for breakfast?

There are a number of options to choose from.  I am a firm believer of the good, old porridge bowl, but a couple of weeks ago I came across a recipe for homemade granola which I’d like to share with you.

homemade-granola
Homemade granola

It’s so easy to make, and it keeps for 5-7 days in an airtight container.

Ingredients – yields 10 helpings

320g rolled oats
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
60ml grape seed oil
60ml maple syrup
25g of each chopped hazelnuts,
almonds and walnuts
25g chopped dried apricots
50g raisins, sultanas or cranberries
4 tbsp pumpkin seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius (300 degrees Fahrenheit / gas mark 2)
  2. Toast the nuts and seeds for 3-5 minutes (watch them closely)
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the grape seed oil and the maple syrup
  4. In a large bowl mix together the oats, cinnamon and ground cloves.  Fold the oil and syrup mixture into the oats until they’re well coated
  5. Spread on a large baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, turning over twice during baking
  6. Allow to cool and add the dried fruits, toasted nuts and seeds
  7. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

This is my version of the recipe I came across; you can easily tweak the ingredients to your liking.  You may use different fruits and nuts, or you may add coconut or chocolate chips.  You can also use different spices – ground nutmeg and cinnamon work nicely together.

The original recipe contained salt and twice the free sugars.  I went for a healthier version and cut down on both salt and sugar.

Give it a go and leave a comment below.  This recipe proved very popular at home.  Serve the granola with milk or yogurt for a nutritious breakfast or nibble for an on-the-go snack.

Enjoy!

My thanks go to

Independent.co.uk
WebMD.com

Carbs and weight gain: myth or fact?

You want to lose weight. Should you stop eating carbs, even if for a short time? How fast can you lose weight if you cut out on your carbs?

What are carbohydrates (carbs in short)?

The term carbohydrates is given to a food group which provides the body with energy. Carbs provide energy for the brain and the central nervous system to function. The brain in particular, needs a constant supply of glucose for it to function properly.

There are two types of carbohydrates – simple carbs and complex.

Simple carbohydrates, or sugary carbs, as they are more commonly known, are found in fruits, vegetables, milk and dairy products.  They are also found in manufactured food stuffs such as cakes, biscuits, pastries and processed foods.

Starchy carbs on the other hand are more complex.   The reason why they’re referred to as ‘complex’ is because this type of carbohydrate can be sub-divided into various components such as resistant or digestible starch and soluble or insoluble fibre.

Starchy carbs can be found in foods such as bread, pasta, rice, cereals, potatoes, rye and barley.

starchy-carbs
Starchy Carbs

Are carbohydrates making you gain weight?

One gram of carbohydrate has less than half the amount of calories found in fat. There are 4 kcals in one gram of carbs as opposed to 9 kcals in one gram of fat.

Carbohydrates do not contribute to your weight gain if

  • they are consumed in the right amount, as part of a calorie-controlled diet and
  • you do not add too much fat to them.

Cooked in the right way, served in proper-sized portions and with low-fat ingredients added, carbs can be a low calorie food.

Will you lose weight if you cut out carbs?

You will lose weight if you cut out any food group from your diet.  However, knowing how important carbs are for your body, would you be ready to cut out them out long term or for good?  You may be able to cut out carbs for a few months, but it will not be sustainable in the long run.

If you cut out carbs completely from your diet, you notice you will find it difficult to concentrate.  Your brain gets ‘foggy’. You will also slow down your metabolism and when you re-introduce carbs to your diet, your slow metabolism will not cope and you end up gaining weight.

You want a long term solution to your weight management. Cutting out food groups, such as carbs, certainly does not help you achieve your goals.

Instead of eliminating carbs, go for wholegrain varieties  which keep you full for longer. Wholegrain carbs also provide you with fibre, B vitamins, iron, calcium and folate, which are all very essential vitamins and minerals.

For further reading on the benefits of including starchy carbs in your diet go to Nutrition.org.uk