Monday, June 13, 2011

Vegetable Proteins

The older our cookbooks are the more inclined to be generous with the amount of meat cooked. That was probably in the days when all we knew was that meat should be part of our diet, and probably the amount (and type) served was more to do with class, status, wealth than for our nutritional needs.

Have to say when faced with a 'pie chart', showing the percentage of the correct balance of nutrients for adults am very conscious that my meals are not balances with such accuracy. A 'balanced' meal to me usually meant (and to some extent still does) 'meat and two veg'.

On of the good things about the food we buy is that it has little to do with the nutritional side. The amount we are asked to pay has quite a lot to do 'fashion' (the more popular a food is, the more expensive it becomes), and demand. So with all the variety to pick and choose from, and a bit of knowledge, we should still be able to feed our families very healthily without breaking the bank.

Yesterday dealt with the most expensive proteins - those contained in animal products. But as we can all live healthily on vegetarian protein (given that we know the correct 'pairing' or our bodies won't be able to absorb it - but remember taken with any animal protein, this could be milk, the body will absorb all).
So my suggestion to cut costs is to serve less meat. Once upon a time it was suggested we had a vegetarian meal once a week. More recently that we should alternate over the week, meat dish one day, vegetarian the next. Now no reason not to have two days veggie, one day meat, or even a whole week without eating meat. We won't come to any harm.

Not sure who it was, might have been Daniel, but in the Bible there was a man who was captured (or the slave) of a man (might have been a king). The 'nobleman's family' had dreadful skin conditions, lots of spots etc (probably acne!), and Daniel (if it was he), said the family should eat beans instead of meat. This they did and the spots disappeared. Might be a moral there somewhere.

We think of vegetables as something we need to eat for their protein content (and fibre), and this is true, but we also get vitamins from meat as well, but that's another story. Today am concentrating on the protein content of certain vegetables. Many also contain a fair amount of carbohydrate, but again that's another story. It's protein we need and provided as cheaply as possible.

The list below is given in portion sizes (usually 100g unless otherwise stated), and am giving only the names of those that have enough protein g's to be worth a mention. No point in saying asparagus has 2.9g (and that's almost three times more than red cabbage), as we''d need to eat a lot to compare with a helping of meat, and it would almost certainly prove more expensive. Any veg over 3.0g will be given, but again - price should dictate what we decide to buy/eat.
Brussels Sprouts: 100g = 3.5g
Broccoli: 100g = 4.4g
Broad beans: 100g = 5.7g
Cauliflower: 100g = 3.6g
Kale: 100g = 3.4g
Mange-tout peas: 100g = 3.6g
Peas, fresh: 100g = 6.9g
Peas, frozen: 100g = 5.7g
Potatoes - oven chips: 100g = 3.2g
Potatoes - frozen and deep fried: 100g = 4.1g
Potatoes, boiled: 100g = 1.8g
Sweetcorn, frozen kernels: 100g = 25g
Sweetcorn baby cobs: 100g = 2.5g

Adzuki beans: 50g dry weight = 10g
Baked beans in tomato sauce: 5 tblsp/100g = 4.8g
Black eyed beans: 50g dry weight = 12g
Broad beans (dried): 50g dry weight = 11g
Butter beans: 50g dry weight = 10g
Chickpeas : 50g dry weight = 11g
Chickpeas, canned, drained: 100g = 7.2g
Haricot beans: 50g dry weight: = 11g
Lentils: 50g dry weight = 12g
Red kidney beans: 50g dry weight = 11g
Red kidney beans, canned, drained: 100g = 3.5g
Soya beans: 50g dry weight = 18g
Split peas: 50g dry weight = 22g

Quorn chunks: 100g = 12g
Tofu: 100g = 8.1
Vegeburger: 1 x 50g = 8.3g

Bulgar wheat: 50g dry weight = 4.8g
Pearl barley: 50g dry weight = 4.0g
Couscous: 50g dry weight = 5.3g
White flour: 50g dry weight = 4.7g
Wholemeal flour: 50g dry weight = 6.3g
White pasta: 50g dry weight = 6.0g
Wholemeal pasta: 50g dry weight = 6.7g
White rice: 50g dry weight = 3.7g
Brown rice: 50g dry weight = 3.3g

Peanut butter: 25g = 5.7
Yeast Extract (Marmite): 1 teaspoon 3.7g

We can see now how similar most of the dried foods are regarding protein content, with the exception of split peas (still one of the cheapest foods we can buy) that has loads more.
Also (strangely) boiled potatoes are very low, but when fried the protein content high (as fats only have a trace of protein, this might be because the water has evaporated from the spuds during frying and so we end up with more (by weight).
While brown pasta has more g's than white, it is the opposite with rice.

Urbanfarmgirl wonders whether it is cheaper to buy dried or canned beans. Having worked this out myself think it is always cheaper to buy the dried (their weight increases by the amount of water they soak up - usually ending up at least 3 times as heavy). To avoid the 'keep forgetting to soak them' that we all have, it's a good idea to soak, then cook a whole pack (normally 500g) at a time. Once tender they can be drained well, spread out to dry off most of the moisture, drizzled with a little oil to prevent them sticking firmly together, and then be frozen in small amounts. If you want 'free-flow' beans to store in one box, spread out on a single layer on a baking tray and open-freeze, then once solid, break up and store 'loose' in one big container/bag.

If there is plenty of freezer space it is worth cooking several different varieties of beans at the same time (each in a separate pan). My choice would be butter beans, red kidney beans, cannellini beans, pinto beans and ALWAYS chickpeas. These together - with a good dressing - make lovely 'Mixed Bean Salad', and of course the chickpeas can be used to make hummous, and also a traditional ingredient in Tagines etc.

As to whether it is cheaper to buy canned beans. Much depends upon the price, and - because at the moment we have little spare freezer space, am now forced to do this, but tend to buy the store's own-brand. Red kidney beans being cheap enough.
Having a large enough freezer, it is always worth cooking the dried beans for not only do they work out cheaper than canned, we always have a variety to choose from and no cans to open (leaving more shelf space free for other things).

It usually takes at least 45 minutes to cook dried beans - but the 'fresher' they are the quicker they cook. Dried beans stored for a couple or so years will take much longer. Stored for five or so years probably will never soften. So by reducing the cooking time by (say) 15 minutes, then draining and freezing will mean the beans will still be indigestible, but when added to (say) a casserole that itself needs a fairly lengthy cooking time, the beans will then continue cooking until tender.

Note: and this is important! Only a few of the many dried beans contain a toxin that can make us quite poorly when not cooked correctly. Certainly red kidney beans contain this, but to be on the safe side the advice given (and this is usually on the packet anyway) is ALWAYS rapid boil ALL soaked pulses over high heat for 8 minutes, before reducing to a simmer, covering and continuing cooking until tender. This higher boiling temperature kills the toxins, simmering often doesn't. Once they have had the initial fast boil, then can then be cooked in a slow-cooker for several hours.
Another important thing is never add salt to the water when soaking/cooking. This will toughen the skins.

Although the above list of veggie proteins are given as an alternative to serving meat, we shouldn't forget that bread and other baked products also contain protein (because of the flour used). So even eating a slice of toast spread with peanut butter can be added to your protein intake for the day. If adding up is what you intend to do (in the Goode kitchen life's too short to stuff a mushroom...!)

Again given by portion size (100g) unless otherwise stated:
Brown bread: 100g = 9.0g
Ciabatta: 100g = 9.7g
Croissant: 1 x 60g = 5g
French: 100g = 9.6g
Granary: 100g = 9.3g
Malt: 100g = 8.3g
Pitta: 1 x 75g = 7.1
Rye, dark: 100g = 8.3g
Wheatgerm: 100g = 9.2g
White: 100g = 8.4g
Wholemeal: 100g = 9.2g

1 jam doughnut: 43g (for interest only!!)
Scone, plain: 1 = 3.5g
Cheese and Tomato Pizza: 200g slice = 18g
hit wrong button again - am continuing, so return if you have only seen the above.
Muesli, no added sugar: 50g = 5.3g
Porridge oats: 30g = 3.4g
other breakfast cereals contain protein - suggest read the pack.

Something else we often don't consider is the difference between the old imperial and our (new) metric weights. Nearly every portion above is 100g, but this isn't the 4 oz as we expect it to be, it is slightly less, more like 3 1/2 oz. However small the difference, if on the right side these all add up over time, so myself - when cooking savoury dishes tend to use 1lb when a recipe says 500g (this being 1.2 lbs - almost 3 oz more). The old fashioned half-pound packs of butter weighed (naturally) 8 oz, now they come in 250g packs which weigh exactly (or as near as dammit) 9 oz. At least we've gained an ounce when it comes to using 'old' recipes.

On the other hand, metric works very well when it comes to costing out (and even measuring out) portions. Many ingredients come in 500g (or 1kg) packs, so that means five (or 10) servings per pack. Divide the price by 5 (or 10) and we find the cost per portion.
It's also easier to divide or increase a weight when they are given in metric. So why do I persist in still using the old imperial when cooking. Firstly because my balance scales have only a range of weights from 2 lbs down to half an ounce. My other scales have both weights but its very hard to weigh a small amount on them, and anyway - am just used to the imperials.
Although I have a nifty (but quite large) 'calculator' that shows me ounces in grammes, lbs in kilos and fluid oz/pints in millilitres (plus comparative oven temperatures in C's, F's and gas), still cannot get my head around the cms and mms when it comes to measurements (needed these days for tin sizes etc). My hand span is exactly 8", and tend to use this as a guide when trying to find the right tin for the job. Anyway, what's an inch here and there.
Generally it's the volume of (space within) a tin that matters, esp. when baking. Once we know what size of tin to use, we can fill it with water to the brim, measure this, and if we have any other shape of tin that holds the same amount (be it wider, deeper, longer....) this could be used instead. A wider tin would make a shallower cake, so probably need less cooking time, otherwise - generally - follow the cooking times and 'cake-test' to see when it is cooked.

Seems that some of us are now having rain, (we keep getting rain, and it is so cool that we had to put the heating on again yesterday), and had to have a wry smile when I read Wen's comment that the rain has prevented her from picking elderflowers. They are not around for that long, so have to say when it comes to 'fresh produce' "never put off until tomorrow, what you can do today". Let us hope you get some dry weather to be able to pick the flowers in time Wen. Otherwise go out and pick 'em wet, and use them immediately. Pity to miss out.

That Marguerite Patten book that you bought Scarlet sounds really good. One of my first cookbooks (and favourite at that time - and still used) was written by M.P. Loved the sound of your soup and your soup bowls. What a bargain. We can often pick up lovely 'stuff' from carboot sales, myself always zooming into anything that has to do with food. Wish I was able to waddle around the carboots now, but Norris is too big to fit into the car without being dismantled (and that is something B does not wish to be bothered to keep doing), so have to confine my search to charity shops, although so far have not ventured into any in Morecambe. We really have enough stuff without adding more. Had to get rid of loads of my 'collections' when we moved here due to 'down-sizing". And how I miss them. Luckily B hasn't that problem as he brought all his with him.

Yes, have been watching Jamie Oliver in LA Susan G. But not all of each programme. The American dislike of even considering how awful the food served to children in their schools sort of sticks in my throat, and I feel that Jamie (certainly in LA) is not going to get very far. As he said on 'The One Show' the other day, they won't even allow programmes/documentaries about their food products on TV. Are they afraid of the truth coming out?
Here we show 'food critical' progs. all the time, giving us enough info so that we can at least be aware of what is healthy and what is not. In America it seems that junk-food is 'commercial' and - as always over there - 'money counts'. It doesn't matter how cheap (and grotty) food is, if people are prepared to eat it (usually by persuasive adverts) then this will be sold, because the profits are bigger. Of course there are bound to be folk who feel the schools (and takeaways) ought to be providing better and healthier food, and there will be American cooks who probably do their best to get people to home-cook and provide there families with better food. It's just that we don't hear about them.
At least here in the UK have heard that McDonalds' have had to change the quality of meat they purchase to bring their burgers sold in their outlets here up to our standards, In the US they (I say 'allegedly')still use a meat of lesser quality). Mind you, have never eaten food from any burger place, or Kentucky Fried, and only twice a home-delivered pizza, so who am I to point the finger?

Made a lovely Lamb Rogan Josh for B's supper yesterday and managed to put half in a container to freeze before B got the chance to take his portion (he would have had at least 2/3rds of it). Considering it was a 300g pack of diced lamb used, that should have been enough to feed three, but there you go.

When cooking 'stewing meat' on the hob, once it has come to the boil, turn down the heat as low as possible so that it just simmers. 'Just' being the operative word. Meat will cook to tenderness at less than boiling point, just need plenty of time. Our gas hob has four burners of varying sizes, but even the smallest - when turned as low as possible - still gives enough heat to give (what I call) a 'high simmer'. What I want to see is the surface just giving the odd bubble now and again (A.W.T calls this 'a burp'). The best stock is made at 'burping' temperature.
The only way I can get this is to place TWO diffuser mats over the flame. The first 'diffuser' is put over the burner with the heat turned high, then when hot enough, the heat is then lowered. Still too high, but suitable for certain cooking. Another diffuser (but this slightly different and called a 'simmer mat' (both from Lakeland) when put on top and heated makes it just right for my needs, and because the heat is spread over a wider distance than the burner itself, this also works using wider pans, so saves on fuel as normally a larger burner would have to be used.

So looks like the recipes today should be bean-based, so let's call them 'Bean Cuisine'. Because of the above 'Jamie' mention, burgers have sprung to mind, so we start with these.

The following burgers are best fried in a pan rather than directly on a grill or barbie, as they are not as firm as burgers containing meat. Adding an egg will both increase the protein content and also help them hold together when cooking.
Red Bean and Mushroom Burgers: serves 4
1 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp each ground cumin and coriander
half tsp turmeric
4 oz (100g) finely chopped mushrooms
1 x 400g (14oz) red kidney beans
2 tblsp fresh chopped coriander (or other herb)
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion until softened, then stir in the garlic and spices, cook/stir for one minute then add the mushrooms. Cook on until the mushrooms are softened and dry, then remove contents of the pan and place in a large bowl.
Drain the beans thoroughly, put them in another bowl and mash with a fork (or can be blitzed in a food processor if you don't mind making extra washing up), then add them with the herbs and plenty of seasoning to the onions.
Using floured hands, form into four flat burger shapes, and if too sticky to handle, work in a little flour. Brush with a little oil and cook on a barbie (or in a frying pan) for 8 - 10 minutes total (turning once) until golden brown. Lovely eaten in a bun with a dollop of yogurt and a crisp salad.

Next dish has plenty of protein as it contains both beans and canned tuna. Definitely a storecupboard main meal, and a good one to serve on a warm summer's day (if we ever get one). Adjust the herbs according to what you have, not of course using the stronger ones (rosemary, sage etc). The beans also can be any you wish of the 'pulse' type (in other words not green beans or - for that matter - baked beans).
Tuna and Bean Salad: serves 4
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 - 2 tblsp Dijon mustard
half pint (300ml) olive oil
4 tblsp white wine vinegar
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tblsp chopped fresh chives
2 tblsp chopped fresh tarragon
1 x 400g (14oz) can haricot or cannellini beans
1 x 400g (14oz) can red kidney beans
1 x 225g (8 oz) can tuna, drained and flaked
First make a dressing by whisking together the mustard, oil, and vinegar with the chopped herbs. Drain and rinse (then drain again) both cans of beans, and mix the dressing, beans, and onion together, finally carefully folding in the flaked tuna. Serve immediately.

Next is another 'double-protein' dish as it is made with broad beans and feta cheese and a good one to make as it can be eaten warm or cold - so any leftovers could be taken the next day as a 'packed lunch'.
Warm Bean and Cheese Salad: serves 4
2 lb (1kg) broad beans, shelled and cooked
4 tblsp olive oil
6 oz (175g) plum tomatoes, quartered
2 - 4 garlic cloves (to taste), crushed
4 oz (100g) feta cheese, cut into chunks
2 tblsp chopped fresh dill (or other herb of choice)
12 black olives, pitted
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the tomatoes and garlic. Cook over low heat, shaking the pan now and again, until the tomatoes are beginning to change colour. Add the chunks of cheese to the pan and heat/toss for one minute. Mix in the drained beans, dill and olives with seasoning to taste. Serve warm or cold.

This next recipe is called 'a delicious alternative to the ubiquitous potato salad', and considering the much higher protein content, could also be called a 'healthier version'.
This is one recipe where cooking our own beans much improves the dish as they take in the flavour of the stock used. It you HAVE to use canned beans, then that's fine, but then the dish won't taste as good as it could. Any dried white beans can be used: cannellini, haricot, butter beans etc, although suppose pint0, black-eyed and really any other type could also be used, but as the dish is supposed to end up looking 'white' then white beans it should be.
Celery and White Bean Salad: serves 4
1 lb (500g) dried white beans (see above_
1.75 pints (1 ltr) vegetable stock
3 ribs celery, chopped
4 fl oz French dressing
3 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
Put the beans in a bowl and cover them with plenty of cold water. Soak for at least 4 hours, then drain and put the beans into a saucepan. Cover with water and simmer for about an hour and a half, or until the skins are broken - the beans should also squash easily when pressed between finger and thumb. Drain well.
Place the cooked beans in a large pan, add the vegetable stock and celery and bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes then drain thoroughly, put into a bowl, moisten with the dressing, then leave to cool completely. When ready to serve, add the chopped parsley and seasoning to taste. Mix well then serve.

Those who have less time on their hands might prefer to cook 'Bean Cuisine' in a slow-cooker, and this next recipe will work just as well in a slow (convential) oven or over a very low heat on the hob (see above re diffuser mats).
Any type of bean (and proportions of) can be used for this dish depending upon what we have in store (here I am thinking of using canned, but home-cooked can also be used. Instead of the green beans, use mangetout or sugarsnap peas.
Sweet and Sour Mixed Bean Casserole: serves 6
3 tblsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 oz (50g) plain (pref wholewheat) flour
half pint (300ml) tomato passata
4 oz (100ml) unsweetened apple juice
4 tblsp soft light brown sugar
4 tblsp tomato ketchup
4 tblsp dry sherry
4 tblsp cider vinegar
4 tblsp light soy sauce
1 x 400g (140z) cannelli beans
1 x 400g (14oz) chickpeas
6 oz (175g) green beans, cut into short lengths
8 oz (225g) mushrooms, sliced
1 lb (500g) unpeeled potatoes
1 tblsp olive oil
1 tsp dried herbs
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a pan and fry the onion until tender, then stir in the flour and cook for one minute. Add the passata, the apple juice, ketchup, sherry, vinegar and soy sauce, stir well then bring to the boil - stirring constantly - until it thickens, then remove from heat.
Drain and rinse the beans and chickpeas and place them in the slow-cooker with the green beans and mushrooms and pour over the sweet and sour 'tomato' sauce. Cover and cook on High for 3 hours.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the potatoes and par-boil for 4 minutes, then drain and toss in the olive oil so they become lightly coated.
Stir the herbs into beans in the pot, then add seasoning to taste. Arrange the oiled potato slices on top, overlapping slightly - they should completely cover the beans - cover and cook for a further 2 hours, or until the potatoes are tender.
If your crock-pot will take the heat (not the complete thing, just the removeable dish inside) this can be placed under a grill for 4 or so minutes to brown and crisp up the potatoes. Then ready to serve.

Having plenty of recipes using beans as the main ingredient am spoilt for choice, but time is moving on, so will end with one for those who have a sweet tooth. This starts off cooking on the hob, then transferred to the oven to finish cooking. As the intention of this dish is to provide a good colour combination, black beans are used with the bright red and yellow peppers glowing like jewels. But other beans could be used. Just eat with your eyes closed.
If choosing to use canned beans, then you'll probably need at least 2 (and pref 3) x 400g cans (and these could be different varieties), then drain and use as the cooked beans.
Black Bean Hot-Pot: serves 4
8 oz (225g) dried black beans
1 bay leaf
2 tblsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp made mustard
1 tblsp black treacle
2 tblsp soft brown sugar
1 tsp dried thyme
pinch dried chilli flakes
half a vegetable stock cube
1 each red and yellow bell pepper, deseeded and diced
1.5lb (675g) butternut squash, peeled, seeded diced
salt and pepper
Soak the beans overnight in plenty of water, then drain well. Put into a large pan, cover with with cold water and add the bay leaf. Boil rapidly for 8 - 10 minutes, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about half an hour or until the beans are tender (drain but reserve the liquid).
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until softened, adding the garlic towards the end. Stir in the mustard, treacle, sugar, dried thyme, chilli flakes and seasoning to taste. Cook/stir for 1 minute, then stir in the beans, then transfer to a heatproof casserole.
Add enough water to the reserved (still warm) bean liquid to make 14 fl oz (400ml) and add the half stock cube, stirring until dissolved. Pour this over the casserole contents then bake for 25 minutes at 180C, 350F, gas 4, then add the peppers and butternut and mix well. Cover and bake for a further 45 minutes, then serve.

Main job done yesterday was stocking up the new shelves B had fixed over the washing machine. These now hold ready-prepared bread mixes (plus sachets of yeast), my numerous EasyYo litre 'bottles', plus assorted EasyYo mixes. Also several 2 litre ice-cream boxes full of pasta penne, porridge oats etc. And large glass jars (used to hold instant coffee) full of assorted sugars.

Centuries ago the only 'sweetener' used was honey (although Sweet Cicely leaves can also help to sweeten). Then came granulated sugar, caster sugar, icing sugar, and demerara (which is just coloured granulated). It was some years before I began using soft brown sugar, light muscovado sugar, dark brown muscovado sugar, and anything in between. Now I appear to have them all. Numerous jars of all sizes are lined up on my shelf holding different amounts of each. We mustn't forget that Golden Syrup and Black Treacle are also used to sweeten, and somewhere have a tub of liquid glucose (although why I bought that I'll never know). To the above now have malt extract AS WELL.
Perhaps more than is usually kept in the Goode larder, as not a lot of any of the above is used nowadays due to me being diabetic, but thankfully, sugar (stored correctly - that means in a dry place) will keep indefinitely, so hopefully most will eventually get used up. If not it can be handed down to the next generation -as an 'heirloom'. By which time it will probably be worth more than it's weight in gold the way the price of sugar is rocketing. Hey, that's a thought. By now, sell later and make a profit!

Having looked through my 'menu diary' see that it's about time B had some fish for supper, so that's probably what will be served today. Maybe fish and (oven) chips. That's easy enough.

Thankfully after a wet start to the day (it was raining when I first began writing) the sun has now come out and hopefully I'll find time to finish planting out most of what needs to be planted out.
The very tall cordyline (or is it a yucca?) in the garden, almost guttering height of a two story house, now seems to be quite dead due to the extreme cold and snow of last winter. B will have to cut it down in stages, and maybe be able to use the very straight trunk parts for something. If I was desperate suppose could weave the long (dead) leaves into baskets or hats or something. But not THAT desperate. Yet!

Until tomorrow with the usual plea to keep sending comments. Hope to meet up with you then.