Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Baby foods

There are many commercially produced baby foods available these days. I used to, occasionally, buy the fruit purees for my children when they were babies, but having tasted the bottled ‘dinners’ once, I never bought them again. Cereals are the exception to my ‘home-cooked only’ rule; they are the correct consistency and texture (according to age) and are usually fortified with various vitamins and minerals.

Babies often prefer bland tasting foods and it is really easy to prepare fruit and vegetables for them at home. By cooking at home you have complete control over the amount of salt and/or sugar added, plus the added bonus of the food containing no preservatives, flavourants or colourants.

To begin with, a baby will probably take no more than 2 to 3 teaspoons of ‘solids’ at one time. Obviously, you won’t want to cook that quantity fresh every day, but you can successfully freeze tiny portions in an ice-cube tray. One vegetable I don’t like to freeze is potato. To me, it develops an unpalatable flavour when it is frozen or refrigerated, but you can overcome this by mixing half potato with half sweet potato.

When first introducing ‘solids’, it is probably best to start with root vegetables, although some people do introduce fruit initially, apples and pears often being the favourites. Breast milk and formulas are both sweet, so babies will readily accept fruit, but there are long-term advantages to getting them accustomed to savoury flavours first. Carrots and butternut are both naturally sweet, and most babies will enjoy them.
Broccoli and cauliflower are strong flavours perhaps best kept for bigger babies.

If you feel you must use commercial baby food, then try to buy ‘organic’, and always check the nutrition label and contents. The contents of all food products is always listed from most to least, so if you are buying strained carrot, then carrot should be the first item on the list. And hopefully salt, sugar and fillers will not be included at all.

Salmon Surprise : Wk27/3

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
1 x 400gm tin pink salmon in brine, drained
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
4 eggs, hard boiled and sliced

2 cups fat free milk
1 – 2 Tblsp corn flour

400gm potatoes
1 large tomato, sliced
45gm strong cheese, grated
1 Tblsp chopped fresh parsley

Cook the potatoes in lightly salted boiling water.
Once cooked, drain well and mash.

Heat the oven to 200ºc.

Make a white sauce with the milk and corn flour.
Fold in the peas and salmon.

Place the salmon/sauce mix in a deep dish.
Cover with slices of hardboiled egg.
Then spoon the mashed potato over the top.

Decorate the dish with the tomato, cheese and parsley.
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbling.

Serve with a fresh salad.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin. B6 works in conjunction other B group vitamins, Vitamins A and C, magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc and linoleic acid.

Vitamin B6:
Helps with processing and metabolism of protein
Is necessary for production of neurotransmitters
Is required for mental clarity
Prevents heart disease
Decreases PMS symptoms
Helps to relieve stress and tension
Contributes to healthy muscles and nerves

Sources of Vitamin B6:
Organ meat
Green veg
Whole grains

Deficiency symptoms:
General weakness
Mental sluggishness
Oedema and PMS
Painful wrists

Pyridoxine is sensitive to sunlight, processing and cooking. Cortisone is known to impede pyridoxine absorption. People taking antidepressants, oral contraceptives or HRT may be low on B6, but always check with your doctor before taking supplements of any kind. An excess of any vitamin can have unpleasant side effects. The water soluble vitamins are readily excreted in urine, so toxicity is rare.

Veg pasta : Wk 27/2

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
240gm pasta spirals
2 carrots, chopped
4 courgettes, chopped
2 cups broccoli florets
1 – 2 x 400gm tins chopped tomatoes

60gm strong cheese, grated

Put the pasta on to cook in lightly salted boiling water (use a large saucepan).
Once the pasta is nearly al dente, tip in the carrots, courgettes and broccoli.
Continue to simmer for five minutes.

Drain the pasta and vegetables and return to the saucepan.
Tip in the tomatoes and stir well.
Place back on the stove top to heat through.

Serve with the grated cheese and a good grind of black pepper.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dishing up

Over the time that I’ve been writing this blog, I have collected a variety of plates and bowls – just to keep the photographs from becoming boring; though you may have noticed that you’ve been seeing the same old pasta plate with almost every pasta dish I have presented for the last six months.

When we first move into a ‘home of our own’, we are often gifted odd plates and kitchen ware by family and friends – not much matches anything else. But, after all, we won’t start having formal dinner parties for a while, so odd plates don’t matter.

For anyone buying new china, I would recommend plain white, with no edging or embellishment; plain white china shows off food to its best advantage. I was recently looking through an old cookery book, and what struck me most was the fussy china – I find it detracts from the meal presented on it. You can't decide where the food ends and the pattern starts!

Try to buy from a range that is not going to go off the market; that way you will always be able to match and replace breakages. Woolworths (the S.A. equivalent to M&S or BHS) carry a good range of classic white china. The pieces come individually as well as in boxed sets of four, all at reasonable prices. I have two beautiful Noritake dinner services, but both the designs are no longer produced, so I can’t replace the pieces that have broken over the years. Also, both are trimmed with silver, so I can’t put them in the microwave.

For starters, I think it’s a good idea to buy four of each: dinner plates, side plates, soup/dessert bowls, cups and saucers; I would buy eight mugs – they always seem to be used first. Of course, if you have a dishwasher or a lot of people in the house then you will need more. Again, for serving dishes, stick with plain white or clear pyrex. That way nothing gets dated and it all matches.

Cutlery is another thing best purchased as plain as possible. However many knives, forks and spoons you get, buy four serving spoons. And at least a dozen teaspoons. At least.

Chicken with sweet-earth sauce : Wk27/1

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
4 skinless chicken breasts, butterflied
Chicken spice
1 onion, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
200gm cherry tomatoes, halved
200gm thin green asparagus spears
1 Tblsp red wine vinegar
1 Tblsp fresh chopped parsley

480gm new potatoes
1 small pillow-pack of mixed lettuce

Put the potatoes on to cook in lightly salted boiling water.
Once cooked, drain and keep warm.

‘Butterfly’ the chicken by slicing right through each fillet horizontally.
Sprinkle with chicken spice.
Spray a large frying pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Dry fry the chicken pieces both sides until cooked through (about 5 minutes per side).
Remove the fillets from the pan and keep warm.

Fry the onion and celery in the chicken pan until the onion starts to soften.
Add the tomatoes and the asparagus and cook until the tomatoes start to break down.
Add the vinegar and parsley, and stir well.

Serve 2 fillets per person beside the baby potatoes and a handful of mixed lettuce.
Spoon the sweet-earth sauce over the chicken.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Turning your world upside down

I really enjoy a good book. Though I have very little time to read during the day, part of my bedtime ritual is to read for at least thirty minutes, sometimes longer. Usually a novel. And I like to read authors from, or writing about, cultures different from my own.

The book I’m reading at the moment is “The forty rules of love” by Elif Shafak, published by Penguin. It is a lot more than a love story; I don’t read love stories. Ever. Certainly not Mills and Boon!

This is one of the forty rules:

"Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead, let life flow through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?"

Have a great weekend.

Hurry fish curry : Wk 26/5

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
1 onion, chopped
1 – 2 Tblsp curry paste
450gm skinless hake fillets, cut into large chunks
400gm tin chopped tomatoes
250ml veg stock
2 cups green beans

240gm rice

Put the rice on to cook in lightly salted boiling water.
Drain when cooked, and keep warm.

Spray a pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Dry fry the onion until it begins to soften.
Stir through the curry paste.
Add the tomatoes, stock and green beans.
Lastly add the fish chunks.
Bring to a simmer.
Cook for 5 minutes.

Serve the curry with the rice and sambals of your choice.

I made up sambals of sliced banana and sliced gherkin. And I served it all with popadums and sweet mango chutney.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Link to .pdf files for Week 27

Go here for the recipes and shopping list for Week 27.


Today’s recipe (below) is a risotto, using barley instead of rice. Whole grain barley has a similar glyceamic index to rice, but eating barley can lower the blood glucose response to a meal for up to ten hours after eating – much longer than even brown rice. Barley contains eight of the essential amino acids necessary for health.

Barley is grown as a summer crop in temperate countries, and as a winter crop in tropical areas. Although it prefers cooler conditions, it is not really resistant to the cold. It has a short growing season and is fairly tolerant of drought. There are two varieties of barley – the 2-row and the 6-row. If you take a cross section of the 6-row variety it looks rather like a star anise. The 2-row variety has a row of barleycorns growing up either side of the stem. 2-row barley has a lower protein content than 6-row.

Barley is processed into flour, meal, flakes and grits. In Scotland, whole meal barley flour is used in porridge and gruel, and pearl barley is an essential ingredient in Scotch broth. And of course, you can’t make malt whiskey or beer without barley. German and English beers are traditionally brewed using the 2-row variety because the lower protein prevents the beer from going cloudy. Barley can be used as a substitute for coffee, and roasted barley is used to make a tea popular in Asia.

Many countries in the Southern hemisphere cultivate maize for animal fodder, but northern countries cultivate barley for this purpose purely because of the more suitable climatic conditions. Nearly half of the barley grown in the United States (over 4,5 million metric tonnes in 2007) is used as animal feed. Western Canadian beef is usually fed a ‘finishing’ diet of barley before going to market. According to figures for 2007 (total world production: 136 million metric tonnes), Russia is the world’s largest producer, followed by Canada, Spain and Germany, but since then there has been a slight decline in worldwide production.

In the eighteenth century, barleycorns were used as a system of measurement. It was generally agreed that there were three barleycorns to an inch. Although this method was superseded in the nineteenth century by a standard inch measurement, British and American shoe sizes are still based on one barleycorn equaling one third of and inch.

Try the risotto. It’s good.

Barley risotto : Wk26/4

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
140gm pearl barley
4 leeks, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium butternut, peeled and cut in chunks
2 carrots, chopped
100gm button mushrooms, chopped
1 head broccoli, broken into florets
1 – 2 cups vegetable stock (more if necessary)
2 tsp dried thyme

Grated parmesan and sunflower seeds to serve

Spray a large frying pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Dry fry the leeks and celery until they begin to soften.
Sprinkle over the thyme.
Add the carrots, butternut and mushrooms and cook for a further 3 minutes or so.

Tip in the barley and ½ cup of stock, stir well to combine.
Continue cooking and stirring, adding more stock a little at a time.
Once all the stock is in, nestle the broccoli florets in the pan.
Cover and continue to simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve garnished with freshly grated parmesan and sunflower seeds.

Check that the barley is tender, and make sure there is enough moisture in the pan. A risotto should be smooth and creamy when it’s ready.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Food neophobia

According to research done in the U.K., up to 80% of children inherit their fear of new foods from their parents. Unfortunately, these children will avoid healthy foods like fruits and vegetables preferring to stick with less healthy but familiar foods. We all know children who reject even the idea of tackling Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. The advice offered to overcome food neophobia is to keep serving the new food alongside food that your children are familiar with and happy to eat. Once they gain familiarity with the food, and are comfortable about it being on their plate, they may try a nibble

What intrigues me is: when we weaned our babies, didn’t we start them on strained fruits and vegetables? I know I started my children on carrots, then I added courgettes and potatoes, etc. Over time, the only thing that changed was the coarseness of the mix. Mind you, my children have never suffered with neophobia. My eldest, who used to love all her veg mashed together with the addition of a little gravy or marmite, did get fussy for a while. Then everything had to be separate on the plate – and spaced from everything else. But she did eat it all.

My middle child appeared to stop eating for a while, just long enough for me to wonder if she might be anorexic. But she started eating again after about four days, and even ate enough to make up for lost time! Years later, when she went onto the ‘maintenance’ program with Weight Watchers and continued to lose weight at a rapid rate, her lecturer even asked her if she was anorexic… her reply was that she loved food far too much for that to be the case!

My son was only ever picky about fish – which came about because he always seemed to get at least one bone in his serving. He has overcome this with age, and now enjoys fish.

The moral? Start them out right. Fresh fruit and veg, preferably prepared at home, from the very first meal. Why would they ever look askance at a vegetable?

Beef pittas : Wk26/3

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
4 Tblsp natural fat free yoghurt
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp crushed garlic
2 Tblsp lemon juice

400gm lean beef strips
1 onion, chopped
½ cup of water
1 Tblsp beef stock powder

4 whole wheat pita pockets
Mixed lettuce leaves, to serve

First make the dressing.
Mix together the yoghurt, ginger, garlic and lemon juice.
Set aside.

Spray a pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Dry fry the onions and beef strips until the onion begins to soften and the beef is sealed.
Add the water and stock powder and stir well.
Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Warm the pita breads and cut in half.
Serve the pitas along with the beef strips, with the dressing and lettuce on the side.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic acid

Vitamin B5 is a water-soluble vitamin. B5 works in conjunction other B group vitamins, Vitamin A, C and E.

Vitamin B5:
  • Helps convert stored fats and sugars into energy
  • Is necessary for adrenal function
  • Is required for a healthy nervous system
  • Helps produce hormones
  • Helps to reduce stress
  • Contributes to healthy muscles

 Sources of Vitamin B5:
  • Organ meat
  • Green leafy veg
  • Whole grains
  • EggsNuts
  • Beef
  • Yeast
  • Pork
  • Mushrooms
  • Salt water fish
  • Legumes

 Deficiency symptoms:
  • Tingling hands and feet
  • Teeth grinding
  • Muscle cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic headaches

Pantothenic acid can be lost in cooking, with exposure to acids, such as vinegar, or alkalis, such as baking soda. B5 is largely destroyed in the canning process.

People under stress or prone to allergies and those eating mainly refined foods may be short of B5, but always check with your doctor before taking supplements of any kind. An excess of any vitamin can have unpleasant side effects. The water soluble vitamins are readily excreted in urine, so toxicity is rare.


Chicken and baked bean stew : Wk26/2

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
400gm skinless chicken breast fillets, cut in chunks
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup frozen peas
500ml chicken stock
1 Tblsp corn flour mixed with a little water
2 x 400gm tins baked beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tblsp chopped fresh parsley

Spray a large pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Dry fry the onion, carrots and celery until the onion begins to soften.
Add the thyme and stir well.
Add the chicken and continue stir frying until the chicken is sealed.
Toss in the frozen peas.
Pour in the stock.
Bring to a simmer and continue to cook, covered, for 20 mminutes.

Stir through the corn flour and allow the gravy to thicken slightly.
Add the baked beans and bring everything back to the boil.

Serve with crusty bread, if desired.

The beans make this dish very filling, so I did not serve a starch with it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Essential equipment – Measuring up and mixing

I have two pyrex measuring jugs, two sets of (plastic) measuring cups and two sets of (plastic) measuring spoons. They are in daily use.

At some stage of food preparation we will need to mix or whip something, or just soak dried beans overnight before cooking. Of course, if you’re soaking beans, you could easily do that in the pot you intend to cook them in, but if you want to whip cream or beat up some eggs for a soufflé you will need a bowl or three.

I like glass mixing bowls; they are adaptable in that they can go in the oven, microwave and dishwasher, or you can sit them over a saucepan to make a double-boiler (glass is a good heat conductor). They are largely scratch resistant, so they always look good, but of course, they will break if dropped on a tiled floor! The other disadvantage of glass is that the larger the bowl, the heavier it gets.

Plastic mixing bowls, on the other hand, are light weight. You can still use them in the microwave and dishwasher, but not in the oven or as a double boiler, since plastic is not a good heat conductor; it will melt and even burn under extreme temperatures.

I own and use both glass and plastic mixing bowls, depending on what size I need for the specific task at hand.

Tuna Pasta : Wk 26/1

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
240gm penne
2 small tins tuna chunks in brine or spring water, drained
2 Tblsp pine nuts
1 red pepper, sliced
200gm button mushrooms, sliced
2 courgettes, chopped
150gm cherry tomatoes, halved
2 spring onions, sliced
¼ cup water

Put the pasta on to cook in lightly salted boiling water.
Drain when al dente and keep warm.

Spray a saucepan with non-stick cooking spray.
Toast the pine nuts slightly and then add the red pepper slices, the courgettes and tomatoes.
Add the mushrooms, spring onions and water.
Stir well.
Cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes.

Tip the drained tuna and the pasta into the vegetables.
Stir to combine.

Serve with a mixed lettuce and fresh basil salad.

Friday, June 18, 2010


The most important things in life aren’t things.” Anthony J. D’Angelo

This quote reminds me of the story of the philosophy professor.

When the students arrived for their lecture, the professor had on his desk a large glass jar and three shoe boxes. The jar was empty. One box contained a dozen or so large rocks, the next was full of small pebbles and the last contained sand. Do you know the story?

The professor greeted the class, and then gently placed the rocks in the glass jar until he couldn’t fit any more in. He asked the students if the jar was full, and they agreed that it was.

Next, he picked up the box of pebbles and began to tip them into the jar. With a little judicious shaking, the pebbles fell between the rocks and filled in the spaces. Again, he asked the students if the jar was full. They laughed, and said yes, this time the jar was really full.

Then the professor gently poured in the sand, which filled the remaining gaps in the jar.

Let’s take the glass jar as representative of life, the rocks as the truly important things (family, health, relationships), the pebbles as other important stuff (school, work) and the sand can represent small stuff and material possessions.

If we put the sand in the jar first, there will not be enough room for all the rocks and pebbles. The same can be said of life. If we spend all our time and energy on amassing material possessions, we won’t have the time and energy for the really important stuff.

We need to be cognizant of what in life is vital for our happiness and well-being, and make sure that we invest time and energy in that – follow a healthy lifestyle, play with our children, write to a loved-one far away. There will always be time to clean the house or go shopping for shoes, so tend to the rocks first.

Potato pea omelette : Wk25/5

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
6 eggs
250gms potatoes
2 leeks, sliced
200gm frozen peas
200gm cherry tomatoes, halved
60 gm strong cheese, grated
2 tsp dried sage

Peel the potatoes and cut in slices.
Microwave, steam or boil for about 10 minutes.
Microwave, boil or steam frozen peas for about 3 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and peas well.

Beat the eggs with the sage and a little salt and pepper.
Heat the grill.

Spray a medium sized frying pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Dry fry the leeks until they begin to soften.
Add the tomatoes, potatoes and peas.
Pour over the beaten eggs.
Cook for 8 – 10 minutes until the bottom is well set and browned.

Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top and finish off under the grill.

Slide the omelette out of the pan onto a wooden cutting board.
Cut in quarters and serve with a green salad.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Link to .pdf files for Week 26

Go here for the recipes and shopping list for Week 26.

Parsnips and carrots

I have always liked parsnips (pastinaca sativa) – apparently, they were my father’s favourite veg, too. And I have wondered why they are so infrequent in appearance in South Africa, and so expensive when they are available. I mean, we are continually swamped with carrots (daucus carota sativus) and they are basically the same shape and the same family, and with eyes closed the flavours are not that different. Where carrots grow, surely parsnips grow? Parsnips are also very closely related to parsley. Parsley can be cultivated to produce a very large tap root (Hamburg root parsley) which looks very similar to parsnip, though the flavour is quite dissimilar. Parsnips are richer in vitamins and minerals than carrots (or parsley), and they are a rich source of potassium and dietary fibre

Wikipedia tells me that parsnips are not grown in warm climates because they ‘need frost to develop their flavour’. Apparently they have been ‘naturalised’ into this country – we do get frost here, even snow occasionally – but I guess it is not a huge cash crop. Maybe if I spread the word that the Romans considered them an aphrodisiac, they will grow in popularity and demand will increase!

Carrots, on the other hand, are ubiquitous. In their early cultivation, they were grown for the seeds and aromatic leaves - as parsley, cumin, dill and fennel still are. The leaves are edible as a leaf vegetable, but are seldom eaten by humans. While the usual culinary carrot is orange in colour, other colours do exist – white, yellow, red and purple – but these are usually grown as novelty crops, not for general distribution. There is a variety of carrot grown in northern India which is pinkish red in colour, similar to a raspberry. It is unknown beyond Central Asia, but its popularity is growing.

Remember our mothers used to tell us that carrots would help us see in the dark? This story was spread by the British Royal Air Force, during the Battle of Britain, to cover up their fighter pilots’ successful use of the (then) new radar technology. British fighter pilots ate lots of carrots, so it was said, and could see better in the dark and successfully engage with the enemy. This story actually built on existing German folklore.

A lack of vitamin A in the diet does affect eyesight, including night vision, and adding vitamin A back into the diet counteracts this. 100gms of carrots contains a vitamin A equivalent of 93% of the daily requirements.

Sweet spice chicken : Wk25/4

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
3 skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into small chunks
2 onions, chopped
½ - 1 tsp each of ground cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp paprika
2 x 440gm tins chopped tomatoes
1 x 440gm tin red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tblsp corn flour

240gms rice

Spray a large pan with non-stick cooking spray and place over heat.
Dry fry the onions until they start to soften.
Add the spices, paprika and thyme and stir well to combine with the onions.
Now add the chicken pieces and continue stir frying until it is ‘sealed’.
Pour in the chopped tomatoes.
Add the kidney beans.

Bring to a simmer then cover and cook for about 30 minutes.
Slacken the corn flour with a little water and stir through the pan to thicken the sauce.
Bring back to the boil to cook the flour.

Cook the rice in lightly salted boiling water until tender.

Serve the rice and chicken with a spoon of natural fat free yoghurt spooned over (optional).
Accompany with mango chutney, poppadums and sambals, if desired.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Emotional eating - Kids

Even a pre-school child can use eating as an emotional prop. He thinks he’s hungry, but is he really? If lunch was just half an hour ago, and he ate well, then make the time to ask some questions. Maybe he is bored or lonely. If he forgets about ‘needing’ a snack by being distracted, then he is not hungry.

If children snack whenever they feel like it, they are probably eating and drinking things that are higher in fats and sugars and lower in nutritional value. They are less likely to be hungry at meal times, so less likely to eat the healthy foods offered, and far less inclined to try something new. And they are more likely to develop cavities. Grazing quickly becomes a habit leading to excess weight gain.

A scheduled routine of meals and snacks gives a child balanced nutrition in appropriate quantities. Always sit them in a high chair or at the table to eat: there are fewer distractions to take their attention away from the food you want them to eat.

Asparagus pasta : Wk25/3

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
240gm pasta quills
200gm green asparagus, chopped
250gm button mushrooms, chopped

250gm fat free cottage cheese
1 – 2 Tblsp mint sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tblsp grated parmesan

Cook the pasta in lightly salted boiling water for 15 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and asparagus and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and drain.

Beat the garlic, mint sauce, parmesan and cottage cheese together.

Stir the cheese mixture through the slightly cooled pasta.
Serve with a fresh green salad.

I added the cheese to the pasta a bit too soon; you can see that it separated a bit. It still tasted great.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Vitamin B3 – Niacin, Nicotinic acid

Vitamin B3 is a water-soluble vitamin. B3 works in conjunction other B group vitamins and Vitamin C. It is very easily absorbed by the body.

Vitamin B3:
  • Is essential for energy production
  • Helps maintain mental alertness
  • Assists nervous function
  • Aids in enzyme production

Sources of Vitamin B3:
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Dairy
  • Whole grains
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Yeast
  • Legumes

Deficiency symptoms:
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Skin inflammation
  • Indigestion
  • Dizziness

 Niacin is easily lost when food is cooked in water. Alcohol consumption or a lack of protein in the diet may reduce the amount of niacin in the body.

If you are under fifty years of age, and eating a varied selection of foods from all the food groups, then you are unlikely to need vitamin supplements. Always check with your doctor before taking supplements of any kind. An excess of any vitamin can have unpleasant side effects. The water soluble vitamins are readily excreted in urine, so toxicity is rare.


Cabbage and beans with white fish : Wk25/2

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
4 large fillets of hake (skin on)

4 rashers back bacon, all visible fat removed, chopped
1 onion, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 large carrots, chopped
2 baby cabbages, shredded
1 large potato, cut into small chunks
½ cup dry white wine (optional)
250ml chicken stock
1 x ±440gm tin cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Spray a large pan with non-stick cooking spray and place over heat.
Dry fry the bacon for a few minutes and then add the onion, celery and carrots.
Continue stir frying until the onion begins to soften.
Add the potato pieces.
Pour in the wine (if using) and the stock.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the cabbage and the beans and lots of black pepper.
Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. (The cabbage should still have some crunch)

Now spray a large frying pan with non-stick cooking spray and place over heat.
Spray the fish with non-stick cooking spray, too.
Place the fish in the pan, skin side down.
Cook for about 5 minutes before turning.
Cook the other side until the fish flakes easily.
(Cooking time depends on whether your fish is fresh or frozen)

Serve the fish on top of the cabbage and beans.

I cut my fish fillets in half to accommodate them in the pan – they were about 140gm each.
Cabbage done this way is really delicious.
I left the skin on my potato and par-cooked it in the microwave for a couple of minutes.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Essential equipment – Storage

Many years ago I was, for a short while, a Tupperware agent. I never made any money out of the job because all my commission was spent on the product! I’m sure we all have entire cupboards devoted to storing plastic storage containers. This is the cupboard you are afraid to open in case the contents falls on your head – as has happened to me on more than one occasion.

We need various plastic boxes to house left-overs in the fridge or freezer. And perhaps to keep small fresh vegetables and fruit in. For cereal, for rice, for pasta, for biscuits and as lunch boxes. One of the Tupperware products I really like (and still use) is the sheet of sticky labels to identify contents. What often happens in my kitchen is that plastic containers get lost under other plastic containers, and without some sort of identification I would be hard pressed to visually distinguish between caster sugar and salt, or couscous and polenta. You can, of course, use a felt tip marker pen. I use a pen for stuff going in the freezer which I mark with contents and date. Otherwise, you can pull things out of the freezer that are totally unidentifiable and of unknown provenance. Plastic boxes in the fridge need to be kept to the front – use within a few days or throw out!

So we do need plastic boxes. But a whole cupboard full? Not really. Have a clear out – does every box have a lid? Does every lid have a box? Think what you could do with the freed-up space.

Zip-lock bags work well for short and long term storage – they are inexpensive and take up next-to-no space.

Braised chicken with leeks : Wk25/1

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
8 skinless chicken thighs
2 large leeks, sliced
1 Tblsp Dijon mustard
500ml chicken stock
2 tsp dried tarragon
Juice and grated rind from 1 lemon
125ml fat free natural yoghurt
1 Tblsp corn flour, slacked with a little water

2 large potatoes (±300gm), peeled and cut in chunks
300gm butternut, peeled and cut in chunks
250gm green beans, topped and tailed

Spray a large frying pan with non-stick cooking spray and place over heat.
Tip in the leeks and allow to soften.
Add the chicken all brown all over.
Now add the stock and mustard, the tarragon, lemon juice and rind.
Stir to combine.
Cover the pan and allow everything to simmer for 25 minutes, by which time the chicken should be cooked through.

Meanwhile, put the potato and butternut on to cook in lightly salted boiling water.
Drain and mash when cooked.
Keep warm.

Microwave, steam or boil the green bean until they are cooked but still crunchy.

Stir the corn flour through the chicken and allow the sauce to thicken.
Remove the pan from the heat.
Stir in the yoghurt.

Divide the mash and beans between four plates.
Serve with two pieces of chicken per person.
Spoon over the leeky sauce.

You can cook the chicken for much longer, if you have time. The meat will come off the bone that much more easily.

Friday, June 11, 2010


A friend of mine posts an inspirational message on Facebook every day. Here is just one of them:

Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you sow. (Unknown)

I rather like this. Even if you don’t succeed today, you have contributed in some small way to your eventual success – or the success of someone else, maybe someone close to you, maybe someone completely unknown to you. And that can’t be bad.

Make each day your next step in the right direction.

Have a great weekend.

Spicy chickpeas with pecan sauce : Wk24/5

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
2 large aubergines, peeled and sliced lengthways (±1cm)
1 onion, chopped
1 red chilli pepper, cleaned and thinly sliced
2cm root ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 ±400gm tin chopped tomatoes
1 ±400gm tin chick peas, rinsed and drained
1 Tblsp lemon juice

1 cup natural fat free yoghurt
30gm chopped pecan nuts
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tblsp chopped fresh coriander

Combine the yoghurt, pecans, garlic and chopped fresh coriander. Set aside.

Lay the aubergine slices in a large pan with a cup of water.
Simmer until the slices turn transparent.
Drain and keep warm.

Spray a large pan with non-stick cooking spray, and put on to heat.
Dry fry the onion, chilli, garlic and spices until the onion starts to soften.
Add the tomatoes, chick peas and lemon juice.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Arrange a bed of aubergine slices on each of four plates.
Spoon over the spicy chick peas.
Top with the pecan dressing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Link to .pdf files for Week 25

Go here for the recipes and shopping list for Week 25.

Sunshine fruit

Bananas are fascinating. They look good. They taste good. They are the perfect shape for holding in the hand. They don’t make a mess when you eat them. They are rich in vitamins B6 and C and potassium . Bananas vary in size and colour – green, yellow, red and purple. The green ones are normally used for cooking – they are called ‘plantains’ and are starchier and less sweet than the yellow dessert bananas we normally eat.

Although the plants can grow up to 7 metres tall they are not trees, but rather flowering herbaceous plants growing from a corm. Each trunk or, more correctly, stem is a ‘pseudostem’ which only produces a single bunch of fruits before dying. The corm produces new pseudostems as off-shoots. Each stem usually produces only one sterile male flower; the female flowers, which do not require fertilization, become the fruit. The male flower is called the banana heart, which is used as a vegetable in South East Asia – the flavour is said to be similar to that of the artichoke.

There are some wild species of bananas that have large, hard seeds, but the commercial dessert banana seeds are no more than specks along the centre of the fruit. On the bush, bananas grow pointing upwards, rather than hanging down. They are non-seasonal, and so are available all year round.

Banana plants are used in textile manufacture, too. In Japan the leaves and shoots are harvested and processed to produce differing grades of yarn for specific uses, from hard-wearing table cloths to soft and silky kimonos. In Nepal the pseudostems are softened and the fibre is extracted for use in rug making, these rugs have a silk-like texture.

There is archaeological evidence in Papua New Guinea to suggest that banana cultivation goes back to as early as 5000BC, and this is probably the primary area of cultivation. There are references to bananas in Islamic texts as early as the 9th century. By the 10th century bananas were known in Palestine and Egypt.
Although bananas were available in Europe, they were not widely known there until the Victorian era. Jules Verne gives a necessarily detailed description of bananas in ‘Around the world in 80 days’ (1872).

Bananas can be eaten raw, fried, baked or steamed. They can be sliced and dried. They can be made into jam. Dried bananas can be ground into flour.

I like them best mashed on a slice of toast.

Chicken and veg one-pot : Wk24/4

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
1 onion, chopped
3 skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into bite sized pieces

2 large carrots, julienne
4 – 6 courgettes, julienne
400gm new potatoes, quartered
300gm broccoli florets
125gm sugar snap peas
125gm mushrooms, chopped
400ml vegetable stock
8 - 10 large spinach leaves, shredded
1 – 2 tsp dried rosemary

Spray a large pan with non-stick cooking spray and put on to heat.
Dry fry the onions until they start to soften.
Add the chicken pieces and stir until the chicken is sealed.
Now tip in the carrots, new potatoes, broccoli and mushrooms, followed by the stock and rosemary.

Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the sugar snap peas and courgettes and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Fold through the spinach.
Allow a few more minutes on the heat for the spinach to wilt down.


You don’t need any starch with this – it already has potatoes in it. Maybe some crusty bread to soak up the juices.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pump up the iron

My grandson has just turned twenty months old. He is a happy, smiley toddler; people who see him while we’re out shopping invariably want to talk to him – and he always makes them smile.

The toddler years are a period of amazing intellectual and communication learning, and while physical growth has slowed down compared to babyhood, nutrition is still key. Now is the time, between 12 and 24 months, when a toddler is adapting to eating the same foods as the rest of the family by trying out new tastes and textures (some not readily accepted, admittedly!).

After the first year of getting most of their nutritional needs from breast milk or formula, toddlers usually progress to cow’s milk. Cow’s milk provides calcium and Vitamin D, but it is low in iron – his formula and baby cereal were more than likely fortified with iron – and drinking a lot of cow’s milk can lead to iron deficiency. A child who drinks large quantities of cow’s milk is likely to be less interested in eating iron-rich foods. Milk lowers the absorption of iron, too.

Iron is required for the production of red blood cells. These are the blood cells that absorb oxygen and carry it around the body; a lesser supply of red blood cells leads to a lower oxygen supply, which can be detrimental to mental and physical development. What can you do to ensure he gets the recommended 7mg of iron that he needs each day?

  • Limit your toddler’s milk consumption to 500 – 750ml (2-3 cups or 16-24 fluid ounces) per day.
  • Provide iron-rich foods – meat, poultry, fish, beans, tofu, iron-fortified cereal, eggs, broccoli, raisins.
  • Serve foods rich in Vitamin C (which improves iron absorption) along with the iron-rich foods - tomatoes, oranges, strawberries, kiwi fruit, berries.
I know. Some days it’s an achievement to get a toddler to eat anything! Just stay patient and keep trying.

Never give your toddler a vitamin or mineral supplement without first checking it out with your doctor or pediatrician.



Veg tagine : Wk24/3

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ - 1 tsp cinnamon

1 large aubergine, chopped
4 courgettes, sliced
2 large carrots. sliced
1 x 440gm tin chopped tomatoes
1 x 440gm tin butterbeans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen peas
500ml veg stock
¼ cup raisins

240gm couscous
Fresh chopped coriander to garnish

Spray a large pan with non-stick cooking spray and put on to heat.
Dry fry the onions until they start to soften.
Add the spices and stir until fragrant.
Now add all the prepared veg, the stock and raisins.

Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

While that is bubbling away, make up the couscous according to the directions on the packet.
Do NOT add butter, but feel free to add whatever spices and herbs you like – fresh mint, basil, coriander.

Serve the tagine next to the couscous.
Garnish with fresh chopped coriander.

I actually didn’t bother with the couscous – the tagine alone is very filling.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin

Vitamin B2 is a water-soluble vitamin. B2 works in conjunction with other B group vitamins, Vitamin C and iodine. It is very easily absorbed by the body.

Vitamin B2:
  • Is essential for growth
  • Is used in red blood cell formation
  • Activates B6
  • Helps produce niacin
  • Aids the absorption iron
  • Is an anti-oxidant
  • Maintains mucous membrane in the digestive tract
  • Contributes to healthy eyes, skin, hair and nails

Sources of Vitamin B2:
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Dairy
  • Green leafy veg
  • Whole grains
  • Eggs Nuts
  • Cheese
  • Legumes

Deficiency symptoms:
  • Bloodshot or sensitive eyes
  • Cracked lips
  • Mouth sorea
  • Split nails
  • Skin rashes

Riboflavin is manufactured by the intestinal flora as well as being available from food. However, very little is stored so a constant supply is necessary. Being water soluble, B2 is quickly and easily flushed out of the system.

If you are under fifty years of age, and eating a varied selection of foods from all the food groups, then you are unlikely to need vitamin supplements. Always check with your doctor before taking supplements of any kind. An excess of any vitamin can have unpleasant side effects. The water soluble vitamins are readily excreted in urine, so toxicity is rare.


Stove-top chicken casserole : Wk24/2

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
500gm new potatoes
1 butternut, cut in chunks
1 head broccoli, broken into florets
150gm baby corn, halved

3 skinless chicken breast fillets, cut in chunks
200gm button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
1 x 440gm tin chopped tomatoes
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup chicken stock
8 sweet pepper dews, chopped
1 - 2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 - 2 tsp paprika
1 Tblsp cornflour, mixed to a paste with a little water

Put the potatoes on to cook in lightly salted boiling water.
Microwave, boil or steam the butternut, broccoli and baby corn.
Drain all of these once they are cooked and keep warm.

Meanwhile, spray a deep frying pan with non-stick cooking spray and put on to heat.
Dry fry the onions a few minutes until they start to soften.
Add the chicken pieces and keep stirring until the chicken is sealed.
Sprinkle in the cinnamon and stir until fragrant.
Now tip in the chopped tomatoes and stock and the chopped pepper dews.
Cover the pan and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes (or more, this won’t spoil with longer cooking).

When the chicken is cooked through, stir through the cornflour a bit at a time until the sauce is glossy.

Serve the chicken with the potatoes, butternut, broccoli and baby corn.

I had about ½ cup of cannellini beans that I tossed in this – not essential, but just stretched the meal a bit further. This dish has a spicy sweetness that is deliciously warming.
I hate to heat up the oven for a casserole – to me it is just not energy efficient and it takes too long. One pot cooking is the way I like to cook. Less clean-up time!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Equipment essentials (electrical)

I think the first piece of electrical kitchen equipment everyone buys is a kettle. There are so many designs and colours available these days, we are spoiled for choice, but they vary so much in price. Some years ago I went on a bit of a spending spree and bought a beautiful brushed stainless steel kettle – I only noticed the price when I got home, it cost me nearly R1,000! Did it last any longer than its predecessor? I don’t think so, or not sufficiently to justify the price. The replacement I bought cost less than a third!

The second purchase is probably a pop-up toaster. Again they vary in price enormously. They also vary in size (2 slice or 4), finish (stainless steel, lacquer) and functionality (toast, warm, thaw, loose crumb tray). This is something else I replaced recently, though for aesthetic reasons only. My new one is a 4 by extra thick slice, with all the functions mentioned above. It makes toast, and that’s all I’m interested in – though the thicker slice does allow me to toast English muffins and crumpets without having to dig them out with a knife when they’re done. I do like the loose crumb tray, it’s a neat feature.

Microwave ovens have gained in popularity. I like the microwave/convection variety. I use the convection function for baking, grilling and browning – it’s a far smaller area to heat up than a conventional oven, so more cost effective. And, of course, the microwave function is fantastic for re-heating and steaming vegetables, or thawing something in a hurry. I wish they would invent a ‘reverse-microwave’ for rapid cooling!

The last essential on my list is a ‘blitz stick’. I use mine to part-puree soups and baby food and to make smoothies, but the box says it can make breadcrumbs, chop nuts and crush ice too.

I have a large cupboard in my kitchen, known by the family as the ‘electrical grave yard’; I can barely close the door. It contains all the stuff I have enthusiastically bought over the years, used once or twice and shelved for various reasons – they don’t do what they are supposed to do, or they are a pain to clean or I have found a quicker, cheaper, easier way to perform the task.

What is your favourite, couldn’t-live-without electrical gadget?

Stroganoff de luxe : Wk24/1

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
240gm pappardelle

1 large onion, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
2 sticks celery, sliced
300gm mushrooms, sliced
400gm beef strips
1 cup beef stock
1 Tblsp wholegrain mustard
1 Tblsp tomato paste
1 Tblsp corn flour slackened with a little water
½ glass dry red wine (optional)
½ cup fat free natural yoghurt
2 Tblsp fresh chopped parsley

Cook the pasta in lightly salted boiling water until al dente.
Drain and keep warm.

Meanwhile, spray a deep frying pan with non-stick cooking spray and put on to heat.
Dry fry the onion and celery until they start to soften.
Add the beef strips and cook until the beef seals, stirring all the time.
Now add the bell pepper and mushrooms, followed by the stock and the wine.
Stir well and then cover the pan.
Simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir through the mustard, tomato paste and corn flour.
Allow the sauce to thicken, stirring continuously.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the yoghurt.

Share the pasta and stroganoff between four plates.
Sprinkle liberally with chopped parsley.

Serve with a crisp green salad.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Life’s a journey…

… but with no certain destination, so we should take time to enjoy that journey.

Although achievement and success are what we crave, the satisfaction doesn’t last long once we are there. And if we don’t set new goals, then we soon slide back into dissatisfaction and discontent. So we need to continually challenge ourselves both mentally and physically.

Each goal or project takes planning and commitment. First we have to have a vision, then we have to have an overall plan on how we intend getting there. We already envision and plan objectives all the time – even doing the grocery shopping involves planning, but mini-projects, like shopping, have become second nature so we do them without consciously thinking about them.

If you ask most people what their personal vision is, they will probably say something like … a better job… a bigger house… a newer car… a better life. Each of these answers (and I’m sure there are plenty of others) can be considered objectives. What steps can we take to achieve them? However generous the Universe is, things don’t just fall in our laps, we have to work towards them.

A better job may involve getting some training or gaining experience – so go for it. A better job may well provide the resources for a bigger house or newer car; but a better life? Not necessarily.

A better life can be achieved through a healthier lifestyle – cutting back on fats and sugars, eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, spending quality time with loved ones and starting some form of moderate exercise. And fully appreciating what we already have.

Strive for more, by all means. But enjoy the ride along the way. Stay positive.

Have a great weekend.

Winter vegetables with rice : Wk23/5

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
240gms rice
2 Tblsp chopped parsley
300gms broccoli florets
2 large carrots, julienne
300gms leeks, sliced
120gm mini Italian tomatoes, halved
1 cup veg stock
1 Tblsp tomato paste

Put the rice on to cook in lightly salted boiling water.
Drain once cooked.
Stir through the chopped parsley and keep warm.

Spray a wok or large pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Place on the heat and immediately add the leeks.
Stir fry for 2 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients.
Cover with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve the vegetables next to the rice.

A squeeze of sweet chilli sauce or soy is good with this.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Link to .pdf files for Week 24

Go here for the recipes and shopping list for Week 24.


Botanically, tomatoes (solanum lycopersicum) are fruits, however because they have a lower sugar content and higher acidity than most other fruits, for culinary purposes they are considered vegetables. After all, we are most likely to serve them as part of a salad or cooked in the main course of the meal, we don’t eat them with whipped cream or custard.

Tomatoes grow on sprawling, somewhat untidy bushes, and they are part of the nightshade family. The leaves, stems and unripe fruits contain a poisonous alkaloid, tomatine, but the amount is so small that it is not generally considered dangerous. In 16th century Britain, when tomatoes were a fairly recent addition to the menu, they were considered poisonous. But in reality the acidity of the tomatoes leached lead out of the pewter plates in use at the time.

100gm of tomatoes contains approximately 75kj (18kcal), 4gm of carbohydrate, 2.6gm natural sugar, 1gm of fibre and 1gm of protein. Tomatoes also supply us with Vitamins K, B5, and C, plus lycopene which is an anti-oxidant said to be beneficial against some types of cancer.

Based on the 2008 figures, China is the world’s largest commercial producer of tomatoes (25%), followed by the United States (9%), Turkey (8.5%), India (8%) and Italy(4.6%).

Lemon and rosemary fish with chips : Wk23/4

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
8 small fillets hake (about 60gm each)
1 tsp dried rosemary
40gm dried breadcrumbs
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

4 large tomatoes, halved
2 cups frozen peas
400gm oven chips
1 small pack mixed lettuce

Cook the oven chips according to the packet instructions.
Grill or microwave the tomato halves.
Microwave, steam or boil the frozen peas.

Mix the breadcrumbs, rosemary and lemon rind together.
Brush the fish with lemon juice and coat lightly with the breadcrumb mix.

Meanwhile, spray a frying pan with non-stick cooking spray and heat.
Dry fry the fish for about 5 minutes each side (longer if cooking from frozen), or until the flesh flakes easily.

Divide the chips and other vegetables between 4 plates, with two fish fillets each.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Growing needs

Babies and toddlers have a high proportion of body fat which begins to decrease once they reach about five. During adolescence the fat increases again – by the end of adolescence boys have lost some of that fat, but girls retain it for the rest of their lives. Isn’t this a good reason to teach your children healthy eating habits from an early age?

Another interesting fact is that, during puberty, girls double their muscle mass, while boys triple theirs! This is the reason men and boys require a greater number of kilojoules/calories per day than women and girls. And now you know why your teenage sons have voracious appetites and seem to eat you out of house and home.

Infancy and adolescence are both times of accelerated growth, so there is a greater need for calcium and iron (particularly for girls). We all think of calcium as coming from dairy products, and yes, it does. But dairy is not the only source – seafood, green vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, soybeans, oatmeal, meat and fish all supply bio-available calcium. And for iron, eat eggs, whole grains, broccoli, spinach, raisins, dates, figs, prunes and apricots.

Chicken with tarragon dressing : Wk23/3

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
4 skinless chicken fillets
500gms new potatoes, halved
500gm green beans
4 carrots, julienne
8 slices marrow (or 8 courgettes)
1-2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
200ml natural fat free yoghurt

Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl.
Set aside.

Put the potatoes on to cook in lightly salted boiling water.
Steam, microwave or boil remaining vegetables.
Drain all vegetables once cooked and keep warm.

Meanwhile, spray a frying pan with non-stick cooking spray and heat.
Dry fry the chicken fillets about 10 minutes per side, or until cooked through.
Take the pan off the heat and remove the chicken.

Tip the mixed dressing into the pan and stir briefly to deglaze and warm with residual heat.

Serve the vegetables with one chicken fillet per person.
Spoon the warm dressing over the chicken.

Yoghurt separates when it gets too hot. You only have to warm the dressing, not boil it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Vitamin B1 - Thiamin

Vitamin B1 is the first of the water-soluble vitamins. B1 works in conjunction with the rest of the B group vitamins and manganese.

Vitamin B1:
Contributes towards a healthy central nervous system
Is involved in digestive functions
Aids in carbohydrate metabolism
Is an anti-cancer agent
Is present in the myelin sheath surrounding all nerves

Sources of Vitamin B1:
Pork and ham
Offal meats
Sunflower seeds
Brown rice
Egg yolk

Deficiency symptoms:
Loss of balance
Tingling hands
Cold feet
Poor memory and mental confusion
Muscle degeneration and weakness

Very little vitamin B1 is stored in the body, and depletion can occur within fourteen days. Thiamin is destroyed by cooking and refining of foods.

If you are under fifty years of age, and eating a varied selection of foods from all the food groups, then you are unlikely to need vitamin supplements. Always check with your doctor before taking supplements of any kind. An excess of any vitamin can have unpleasant side effects. The water soluble vitamins are readily excreted in urine, so toxicity is rare.

Apple mint salad with lamb burgers : Wk23/2

Serves 4 : Very easy : Quick
4 lean pure meat lamb burgers

500gms new potatoes
400gm bottled beetroot
200gm pack mixed lettuce

2 large green apples, chopped
60cm cucumber, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
Handful of fresh mint leaves, shredded
1 – 2 Tblsp lemon juice

Cook the new potatoes in their skins – you can serve them hot or cold with this meal.

Combine the apple, cucumber, celery, mint and lemon juice.
Toss well to combine.
Set aside.

Spray a ridged pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Heat the pan.
Place the burgers in the pan and cook for about 3 minutes.
Turn burgers through 180º and cook a further 3 minutes.
Flip burgers over and cook another 3 minutes before turning 180º again to finish.
(Cooking time depends on whether the burgers you use are fresh or frozen, and how well-done you want them).

Arrange the apple salad, potatoes, leaves and beetroot on 4 dinner plates.
Serve one burger patty per person.