Friday, July 27, 2007

Mood Food

Seeds and grains are so nutritious that they are said to be nature's superfoods. A spoonful eaten every day is said to help reduce stress. So let's all start using more and end up happy bunnies. A few facts:
Linseed: Contains the same omega 3 and 6 oils as do fish. Best absorbed by the body when ground. Can be bought at health food stores and in the special diet sections of some supermarkets.
Pumpkin Seeds: Lower in fat than most seeds. Rich in Vit K and phosphorus. Use in salads, stir-fries and add to cereals (muesli for instance). Can also be ground down to make dips and sauces. Most large supermarkets sell them.
Sesame Seeds: Nutty flavour, contain the antioxidents selenium and zinc. Use for coating fish or chicken fillets, add to stir-fries, main ingredient of Tahini, used when making Hummous. Lovely when toasted and scattered over salads etc. Most large supermarkets stock them.
Sunflower Seeds: Strong nutty flavour, good for adding texture. Contain large amounts of copper, magnesium, sinc and B vitamins. Toast lightly to bring out their flavour and a handful of these makes a good snack. Found in supermarkets and health food shops. Or why not grow your own?
Barley: Sold either as pot barley, which is less refined than the more usual pearl barley. Use to thicken soups and stews or as an alternative to boiled rice. Rich in fibre, easy to digest and lowers cholesterol. Takes about threequarters of an hour to cook in boiling water. Pearl barley is stocked by major supermarkets, and look in health food stores for the pot barley. One of the cheapest grains on sale.
Bulgar: A cracked grain with a subtle nutty flavour. Can be cooked and used as a substitute for rice and pasta. Not a complete grain it still has a good source of B vitamins and a low GI. Very quick to prepare, either pour over boiling water and leave to stand (as for couscous) or simmer until as soft as you want. Stocked in major supermarkets and health food stores.
Oats: Again a nutty flavour, can be used for many things from making porridge, adding to soups to aid thickening, or use as an extender when making spag.bol.meat sauce. Makes great biscuits and flapjacks. Contains protein and soluble fibre, proven to lower cholesterol. Most food stores stock oats.
Qinoa: Adds texture to salads and stir-fries. A vegetarian source of all essential amino acids. Also contains calcium, iron and B vitamins. To cook, boil in water for 10 minutes until the grains turn translucent. Stocked by many supermarkets in the special health section. Also can be found in health food stores.

Note: To avoid the possibility of choking, don't let small children (under five) eat whole seeds. Either grind them down or puree them so they can still get the benefits.

Breakfast in a Bar: (1) makes 12
4 oz (100g) butter
3 tblsp golden syrup
3 oz (85g) demerara sugar
5 0z (140g) porridge oats
good pinch cinnamon
2 oz (50g) desiccated coconut
2 tblsp linseeds, lightly crushed
1 tbslp sesame seeds
4 oz chopped nuts, either hazlenuts, almonds or walnuts (your choice)
Melt the butter, syrup and sugar in a pan, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Pour into a greased 9" (23cm) square cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes at 170C, 325F, gas 3 . Leave to cool for five minutes before cutting into slices. When cold store in an airtight container where it will keep for at least a week.

Breakfast Bar:(2) makes 16
11 oz (300g) porridge oats
4 oz (100g) pumpkin or sunflower seeds (or mixture)
2 oz (50g) sesame seeds
2 oz (50g) desiccated coconut
2 oz (50g) plain flour
7 oz (200g butter
7 oz (200g) golden syrup
5 oz (150g) soft brown sugar
5 oz (150g) chopped dried apricots, or dried tropical fruits or other (dates etc)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Make up using method as for the first recipe, but using a lined 8 x 12" (20 by 30cm) baking tin. Bake as at above temperature for 25 - 30 minutes until golden and slightly firm. Cool in the tin, remove, still keeping the paper around it, and cut into 16 bars (or whatever size you want). Cool then store in an airtight tin. Note these keep for a shorter length of time - up to four days.

Morning After - stress busting Muesli: serves 2
Said to be a guaranteed hang-over cure
2 tblsp semi-skimmed milk
1 tblsp rolled or jumbo oats
1 tsp oatmeal
3 fl.oz (70g) plain yogurt
1 tsp runny honey
1 small apple, peeled and grated
1 small pear, peeled and grated
4 oz (100g) fresh (or frozen) berries
small handful of pumpkin seeds
1 tsp linseeds
Two ways to prepare. Either warm the milk and pour over the oats and leave in the fridge to soak overnight, or skip the soaking stage and make up with cold milk the next morning. When ready to eat, add the yogurt, honey, grated fruit, berries and pumpkin seeds to the soaked oats then scatter over the linseeds.

Apple Snacking:
Eating apples, cored but not peeled
1 tblsp runny honey
Pre-heat oven to 300C, 400F, gas 6.
Thinly slice the apples, brush on both sides with the honey and bake in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Pack in plastic bags. Makes a good addition to a packed lunch or chop up and add to a morning dish of muesli.