Top Twenty Healthiest Foods #4 Blueberries

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blueberries

Once upon a time you would only hear of blueberries on sentimental TV dramas, usually in the context of how much some freshly scrubbed all-American boy loved “Momma’s blueberry pie”. For years I didn’t know what a blueberry was and I had never tasted one until I was about forty. But that was before blueberries became a regular on the shelves of every supermarket all year round.

I’ve become used to them now and often have them on my morning cereal, even though I do find them very expensive  – and sometime a bit bland and squishy. To be quite honest, they’re not a blackberry, are they? But they are pleasant enough and they DO have lots of health benefits.
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What can I do with all those apples?

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apples

You know autumn’s here when you hear someone moaning about all the apples they’ve got and don’t know what to do with! Really, though, this is nothing to complain about – far from it.

It’s been a few years since we had a couple of nice apple trees in the garden. We used to have loads of apples every autumn and, over time, I’d collected some lovely recipes which I looked forward to using each year. Sadly, both trees caught some nasty disease and died. We miss them! This autumn, though, I’ve been lucky enough to be given some apples by family and friends who do have trees and it’s been good to revive my favourite apple recipes and pass them on. With careful planning, your apple tree can give you pleasure all year round.

General information about apples

If you’re not sure whether they’re cooking or eating apples, try a sample when they’re ripe (i.e. the pips will be brown). If they’re cookers, they’ll taste very sharp and they also tend to have thicker peel. You could also try cooking one. A cooked eating apple doesn’t taste of much at all whereas a cooked cooking apple is delicious.

Divide your apples into blemished and unblemished ones. The blemished ones need to be used first, whereas those with no marks on them can last for months if you wrap them in newspaper and store them somewhere cool. Just make sure they’re not kept too cold, because frost will spoil them.

Blemished eating apples need to be eaten quite quickly and you don’t have many options except to cut out the bad bits and eat them. So if you’ve got a glut, pass them on to friends! Cooking apples, however, are a different matter and there are lots of wonderful things you can do with them. A simple idea is to peel and slice them, then put them into plastic bags for freezing. They’ll be great stewed for desserts or to put on breakfast cereal and they combine well with most other fruits. They’re also lovely when added to savoury dishes such as Normandy chicken, roast pork and curries. There are hundreds of lovely apple recipes to choose from. Here are my favourites, all tried and tested year after year.

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Top Twenty Healthiest Foods #3 Pineapple

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pineapple

Of all the fruits, pineapple has to be the most refreshing, sweet and delicious. In my childhood it was usually only available in tins, but now whole pineapples can be bought quite cheaply in supermarkets almost all year round.

It’s great that we can now have fresh juicy pineapple whenever we fancy it, but even more wonderful that this most succulent of fruit has a whole range of health benefits.

How unusual that something which tastes so sumptuous is so good for you!
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Top Twenty Healthiest Foods #2 Broccoli

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When my children were small, I encouraged them to eat broccoli by calling it “baby trees”. If time permitted, we could make dinner look more appealing to young eaters by arranging the food on the plate as a garden with a forest of broccoli on the plate rim. Actually, it is one vegetable which appears to be quite popular with young children. Apparently it’s a regular favourite in school dinners – as far as any vegetables are favourites with children, that is.

And there are so many reasons for encouraging both children and adults to eat broccoli! Continue reading

Developing your Creativity

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What is Creativity?

What do we envisage when we hear someone called a “very creative person”? Possibly we assume that he or she is a gifted artist or composer, or someone whose home is filled with beautifully hand-crafted objects. Maybe it sounds like this is someone we should be in awe of. Then we might compare ourselves –inevitably unfavourably , telling ourselves that we just couldn’t hope to compete , that we’re “not that creative”.

But creativity has nothing to do with competition. The etymology of the word “create” is connected with the idea of giving life – of producing something where nothing existed before. Beyond this, it has the sense of being able to transcend traditional ideas to produce something original and imaginative. In other words, to come up with something a bit different. Continue reading

Herbs #1 Coriander Leaves (Cilantro)

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Apparently some people don’t like coriander (known as Cilantro in North America)! I find that hard to believe. There’s even a website for people who hate it! How could anyone possibly hate the fragrant, distinctive flavour coriander brings to so many dishes.?Though, if overdone, I suppose  maybe it can be a bit insistent at times.

Anyway, for those of us who do cherish a pot of coriander on the kitchen windowsill, here are 10 tasty ways to enjoy it:
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Use your leftovers

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FoodA couple of years ago, I was coming out of a tube station in south London when I was confronted by an interviewer with a microphone and a cameraman.

Do you use up leftovers or do you throw them away?

I was asked. I’d like to be able to tell you that I launched into an eloquent speech itemising all the food items I have left over and exactly how I make use of them, with a few tempting recipes clearly explained along the way so that TV viewers would be amazed and inspired by my resourcefulness.

Unfortunately, though, my mind went completely blank and I just mumbled some nonsense which had no chance of ever being broadcast. Which was a shame because, as I later found out, this had been my big chance to make an impression on BBC News! And, more to the point, I DO consistently use my leftovers and rarely throw food away.
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