Wednesday 30 September 2015

On my soapbox!

On Facebook one of my cousins linked to a post by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, about the need for all kids to do sport to combat childhood obesity. This is something I fundamentally disagree with:  kids being forced to do sport as a method of weight control. More relevant would be for parents to teach their kids about food, about healthy eating choices and exercise. Note that I said exercise not sport!

As someone who hated sport at school, as a total waste of the time that I could use for reading, I do so disagree with this. I still hate sport, even more so probably as a result of being forced to do it at school.

Exercise is a different thing. Walking yes, I enjoy very much, and we do need to encourage kids to walk more - walking to school - like I did as a child a mile each way - it is good exercise! But the whole sport thing, that leaves me cold.  Instead of forcing kids to "do sport" we need to explore other options. Not everyone is interested, so why force it down our kids' throats?

Those who want to do it will do so out of choice, in the same way as those who want to do art or ballet or music will do so, those who don't should not be made to do so!

Claiming that school sport is the only way to address childhood obesity is totally wrong. What would be more sensible to to address nutrition, education about healthy eating, about all the additives etc that go into prepared foods that affect the way our bodies process foods.

We are omnivores, which mean we are designed to eat meat and vegetables and fruit. We are not designed to eat E-numbers, artificial colours, flavours, chemicals, preservatives, processed fats like margarines and butter substitutes and cooking oils, GMO foods, etc etc etc.

All the artificial sweeteners which are now being used instead of sugar actually worsen the problem, as they interfere with the way your body handles sugars and the cravings for sugar, and have adverse effects on your brain's functions.  Yet try and find drinks without Aspartame or acesulfame K and you will struggle!

Bring back domestic science in schools so that kids learn about healthy eating. If parents and kids learn how to cook from scratch using proper ingredients, not eating fast food from McBurgers or ready meals from the supermarket, it will help. It takes little more time to cook a meal from scratch than it does to heat up a ready meal, and more importantly, you know what goes into it.

If you are serious about healthy food, do away with your chips, your ice cream, scrap your sweets, cakes, biscuits, crisps, all those other snacks. Eat fruit, eat fresh vegetables - eat 'em raw where you can, they taste great and do you far more good! Limit potatoes and pasta to a couple of times a week. Try rice instead. Eat good quality meat, raised organically or ethically. Choose low fat options, check the % of fat in it. Minced beef at 23% fat isn't a good option!

Balance your diet, don't over eat, walk every day, play sport if you choose to, but as a choice not as a requirement!

<puts soapbox away>

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Bacon and vegetable rice - all in one recipe!

We recently bought a Paella pan from ALDI, and it is the most useful piece of kit!  It's quite big at 39cm diameter, and makes a meal large enough for 4 people. It's now in regular use, several times a week, and we are loving the results. Despite its size it cooks nicely over one gas ring, but would work just as well on an electric hob.  

Tonight's meal is shown above and was made as follows:

Bacon and vegetable rice

250g of Arborio rice
1 litre of vegetable stock (1 litre water and 2 veg stock cubes and 1 green OXO)
1 200g pack ALDI Smoked Bacon Lardons 
1 onion chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 or 4 sticks of celery, cut small - we used the middle part with the leaves still on
1 courgette, sliced into 4 lengthwise and then each length cut into 1cm pieces
1 small orange pepper, deseeded
1/2 red pointed pepper, deseeded
handful of frozen sweetcorn
small handful of mangetout and fine French beans, chopped into 1cm lengths
1 finely sliced lemon grass stick
a few green olives, halved
1 small green bird's eye chilli, finely sliced
sprinkle of herbs (we used Herbes de Provence) 
6 cherry tomatoes, halved

Put rice into paella pan, add stock, sweetcorn and bacon lardons, and stir using a non-scratching spatula (wood or silicon), heat through until rice is almost cooked, adding more boiling water as the stock is absorbed so the rice does not start to stick to the pan.  Cooking the bacon lardons with the rice and stock gives the rice a lovely bacon flavour too. 

Add the rest of vegetables except tomatoes, mixing well and cook for further 5 minutes until all is hot through. Add the tomatoes and heat for another minute. 
Serve in bowls, enjoy! 

It takes about half an hour to make (including preparation) and makes hardly any washing up too, win! win! :)

Wednesday 23 September 2015

The best grapefruit marmalade recipe

Whilst sorting out a drawer I came across various recipes scribbled on bits of paper, so decided to add some of them here for future reference.

I love grapefruit marmalade. There is something about the tangy flavour which is so much nicer than orange marmalade, and one of the recipes I found was this one, which makes amazing grapefruit marmalade!  Sorry that it's in Imperial measurements as it's an older recipe - you will have to convert it to Metric if you don't do Imperial.

Grapefruit Marmalade
2 medium sized grapefruit
2¼ pints water
2¼ lb sugar
juice of 1 lemon

Cut the grapefruit finely, removing all the pips as you do.

Put the pips into a piece of muslin or a (non-paper) teabag/coffee filter type thing.

Soak peel and pulp overnight in the water with the pip bag in a large plastic or ceramic bowl, cover with clean tea-towel to keep it clean.

Next day transfer all the fruit, water and the pips into a large covered pan  and simmer slowly until peel is quite soft. This should take about 1½ hours, but may be a little longer if you have cut the peel thicker.

Take the pip bag out of the pan.

Stir into the pan the sugar and the lemon juice. It helps the sugar dissolve if it's a little warm rather than really cold, room temperature is fine.

Bring the mixture to the boil, and boil rapidly in an uncovered pan until setting point is reached. This usually takes around 20 minutes. Start testing for setting with small quantities after 10-15 minutes. Setting temp is c. 220°F. If you don't have a sugar thermometer then a cold saucer/plate does the job just as well. Pop it in the fridge to make it really cold, then spread a teaspoon of marmalade into a level splodge  onto it and leave it for a minute or two, then push your finger across the surface of the marmalade. If it's at the right temp then your finger will leave a trail across the marmalade. If it's not ready keep boiling and re-test at 5 minute intervals till setting point is reached.

Transfer into hot sterile jars, add a wax paper disc and seal the jar. Label and date. Leave till completely cold, then enjoy! Store opened marmalade in the fridge to prevent mould growth.

Takes 1½ - 2 hours