26 Sep

Eating for the Seasons – Entering Autumn and Winter

Eating for the season

On my  daily dog walk I am currently waiting patiently for a black elderberry bush to ripen so I can pick the berries. Over the last week they have gone from a green shade to red to almost black/purple colour. I am seeing wild raspberries and blackberries in abundance, the nice thing about the black elderberry it is higher up, less chance of contamination from a dog or cat! The leaves are changing slowly but surely, falling off the trees, the mornings are misty with bright, sunny crisp days and cooler, darker evenings, all signs to my mind and body the summer has ended and we enter autumn.

The appearance of these berries, leaves and weather changing has made me think about seasonality and why being in touch with it, may be beneficial for our health. Black elderberries have been shown to be immune protective and if taken at the start of a bug may be able to fight the infection. It is interesting that they grow at this time of year just when the cold and flu season starts. A study of 60 patients suffering from flu symptoms were tested, some patients received 15 ml of black elderberry syrup 4 times a day for 5 days at the start of their symptoms, those taking the black elderberry recovered 4 days earlier than those taking the placebo. Though a small study it is a safe food to try at the start of a cold or flu bug. A good supplement that is widely available is Sambucol, no not Sambuca – that may have the opposite effect!

Eating for the seasons has many advantages. The food tastes better, food grown in season means the taste and textures are at their peak. If you buy local the chances are it has not been picked too early and not had far to travel. For these reasons, it is often cheaper, there is less chance of it spoiling, it is cheaper to harvest and distribute to the shops because it is at optimal supply. It encourages variety in the diet, you may try different foods in eating more seasonable foods so for example beetroot is in season just now, this is a food not everybody thinks about buying.  Eating seasonally is good for the environment because fewer pesticides are used to keep the food fresher for longer and if you eat local as well there will be less air miles used. Local shops in Edinburgh on your high street are a good place buy fruit and vegetables. Earthy in Cannonmills and Ratcliffe Terrace has array of good quality fruit and vegetables amongst good quality meats, cheeses and fish. Fruit and vegetable box schemes are a good idea, they traditionally will only give you what is available on their farms. Macleod organics, Phantassie, Grow Wild and East Coast Organics are some examples. If you are not from Edinburgh search google for local shops and fruit and veg schemes in your area.

Sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables and beetroot

Sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables and beetroot

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that eating foods right for the season is not only good for the environment it is good for you. They believe winter has yin properties – dark, slow, cold and inverted energy as opposed to summer, which is a yang season – light, hot, quick and open. Some people love winter – they love the cool air, they enjoy long hill walks and embrace winter sports like skiing and sledging. Some prefer to hibernate, stay in doors and be more reclusive, they tend to feel more sad at this time of year and more prone to low mood. TCM believes that you can enjoy winter by living, eating and exercising for the season, they believe by listening to your body you can have a healthy, happy winter. According to TCM It is season for looking after the kidneys, rest is encouraged as is meditation, writing and exercises such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong, it is a time to reflect and look inwardly. Foods that should be consumed are soups with hearty vegetables, casseroles, rich stocks made with vegetables or bones. Typical foods they recommend are: black beans, kidney beans, chicken lamb, walnuts, chestnuts and dark leafy greens as they all support and strengthen the kidneys.

Bone broths

Bone broths

So what is in season, it is quite an abundant time of year for fruit and vegetables. According to eatseasonable.co.uk apples, raspberries, blackcurrants, sweet potatoes, beetroot, pumpkins, squashes, courgettes, cucumber, leeks, horseradish, broccoli, French beans, turnips and celeriac.

Make soups, vegetable and meat casseroles, cottage pies with sweet potato toppings, crumbles with stewed apples and blackcurrants, curries with root vegetables and ginger, foods to warm the heart and soul. Have a scroll through this blog for recipes.

 

spiralled courgette spaghetti with roasted courgette and tomato sauce

spiralled courgette spaghetti with roasted courgette and tomato sauce

Beef stew with peas and chickpeas

Beef stew with peas and chickpeas

You can still eat bananas not all food has to be strictly in season or even local, I don’t think we grow sweet potatoes here. Try and increase seasonal eating and listen to your body. Now what will I do with the black elderberries after I have washed them……any ideas?

23 Sep

Arcobaleno Breakfast Club Recipes

Many people skip breakfast or reach for the breakfast cereals because they are easy. They are not alway the most nutritious way to start the day.

Protein

Out of the 3 main sources of fuel for the body, protein is often lacking at breakfast, especially good quality protein. Eggs are a great source of protein so start to add them to your breakfast, a boiled egg with some wholegrain or rye toast is an excellent choice. Other good sources are: plain natural yoghurt, beans and chickpeas, nuts, seeds, avocados, peas and good quality protein powders. I recommend Solgar Whey to Go, SunWarrior rice protein, Pulsin’ hemp protein or Nuzest pea protein. You can purchase all of these at the Natural Dispensary. If you register quoting my name Natasha Alonzi, you can enter a code at checkout NNA010 to get 10% discount.

 

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Complex Carbohydrates

Porridge is also great, oats are slow releasing complex carbohydrate meaning they will keep you fuller for longer and give you a steady source of energy starting the day.

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Fat

Fat can also be incorporated in the form of olive oil, grass fed butter, coconut oil and nuts and seeds.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil

Colour and nutrients

Finally make sure you start your day with colour: apples, pears, plums, berries, seasonal fruit, green vegetables – spinach, kale, rainbow chard, tomatoes, mushrooms and courgettes. Yes breakfast can be savoury – make vegetable omelettes, or serve veg on the side with eggs. Pancakes are also another good option, make with wholegrain flours and for gluten free option use ground oats, buckwheat or ground chia seeds.

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I have a free e-book to give away with 7 breakfasts for 7 days, if you would like a copy please sign up to the blog and I will send one out to you.

 

20 Sep

Pasta Carbonara (wheat and dairy free style)

Being wheat and dairy free I don’t have dishes like Carbonara now, but I used to love it. Tonight I really felt like it so I invented a wheat and dairy free version and I thought it was so good I had to share. This is ideal for anyone who can’t eat gluten, wheat and/or has a problem with dairy equally it is an alternative to anyone using slightly different ingredients if you want to vary your diet. It was very easy to make, much lighter than a normal one made with cream but still very filling and I served it with a big salad, a quick, simple recipe for week night dinners.

Pasta Carbonara (wheat and dairy free style)

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 packet of Doves Farm Brown rice spaghetti

1 packet of organic or free-range bacon

3 eggs

cup of cashew nuts (soaked for at least an hour)

half lemon juice

splash of water

1 garlic clove

handful parsley

1 tsp. of grain mustard

plenty black pepper

salt

100ml of oat cream

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp tahini (optional)

Method

Fry the bacon at a medium heat in a frying pan, then turn off heat once crispy.

Cashew nut cheese

Drain and rinse cashews and pour into food processor

Add lemon juice and grain mustard

Add black pepper

Pinch of celtic sea salt or maldern salt

Splash of water to loosen mixture

And blend should be a rough texture but add more water if not blended enough

 

Whisk eggs in a jug

Add cashew cheese mix

Add oat cream

Add chopped parsley

Mix

 

Cook pasta

Once cooked drain and add back to pot

Add bacon

Add olive oil

Add the egg mixture and tahini

Mix and serve straight away

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15 Sep

Oven Baked crispy Lemon Sole Recipe

Oven baked crispy lemon sole

Serves 4

4-6 fillets of lemon sole (depending on size)

1 slices of rye bread

2 tbsp. of oats

4-5 basil leaves

1 red onion

1 tbsp. of tomato paste

olive oil

1/2 lemon

Put the rye bread in the toaster. Once toasted add to a food processor with the oats and grind until very fine, add the basil and process again for another minute, add a pinch of salt if desired and a few twists of black pepper. You want the mixture to be very fine.

Sauté 1 red onion in a pan with olive oil and a low to medium heat, add tomato paste and cook until soft.

Empty the bread crumbs into a bowl and then add the onions and tomatoes to the food processor and pulse till you get a rough puree

Place the fish in a square baking dish, drizzle with some olive oil, and squeeze lemon juice over the top, spread the tomato mixture then sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius

Serve with new potatoes and broccoli or a salad.

You can use haddock, hake or even salmon instead of lemon sole. If you do not have a food processor you could buy breadcrumbs and the onion tomato mixture can be used whole spread over the fish.