Hot, hot, hot!


We planted a padron pepper plant this year and really enjoyed the small green peppers.  So tasty and with a nice little kick.

Then one day I made a risotto when a friend was visiting for the weekend and selected just one - bit larger than normal - padron pepper each which I blistered and served on top of the risotto to add a nice little crunch and kick.

Wow! We couldn't believe the difference in just the change of size compared to the heat of the pepper. Even the tiniest piece was incredibly hot!  None of us could eat it - so I was glad I only served the pepper whole and not cut up in anything!

Just another inch in length and they were so incredibly hot.

So we left the larger peppers on the plant and it now looks so pretty - with beautiful red peppers hanging on the all but dead plant.

I have decided to dry the red peppers and then grind them up to make them crushed red peppers, like you buy in the spice jars.  First taste of one I dried showed that it was, thankfully, milder than its green large form.


But in the meantime, I think they look so pretty  hanging on the plant.  I'm hoping they will sun dry but if there is a chance of rain, I'll bring them in and dehydrate them.

Have you ever tried padrons red? Should I be wary? Was the one I tried just an oddity?


Oh yes, and that is our wonderful arugula in the background of the photos.  Again that is super peppery - love it like that. Maybe that raised bed is destined to be hot stuff!
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August harvest - green pears and apples

This week's harvest is the green pear tree and the first of the apple trees. We first finished off gathering the red pears as we'd left a few smaller ones a couple of weeks ago.  They were so large now -  some pears were over 1lb in weight EACH! Monsters.   One pear can feed a family of 4!


We were hoping the green pears would wait a little while, but no. They were ready so they are now stuffed in the fridge for their big chill, along with all the red ones! It's pretty crowded in our fridges right now!


And yet the apples are ready too, so we picked one tree only...but the others need doing probably this week as well.  Yummy green apples that I am eating every day - but also have got our my trusty dehydrator so that is busy at work with the apples, before the next tree delivers!


Nothing goes on the apples.  Just slice them with the mandolin and dehydrate for a few hours at 115 degrees F, to retain all the nutrients.  No need to core or peel - and that way you even get a little star in the middle where the pips were  *  Nice decorative touch, don't you think?

It's a busy time of year :-D
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Vibrant Quinoa Salad

I made this lovely green quinoa salad for some friends last week, when they visited for lunch.


It is very easy to make and seems so perfect for springtime with the lovely green colors.  It tastes nice and fresh with the lemon juice and mint.

Give it a try and let me know what you think:

Ingredients:
1/3 cup quinoa
2/3 cup water
4 scallions/spring onions, finely chopped
1 avocado, diced
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup frozen green garbanzos
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1/2 bunch mint, chopped
1/4 cucumber, diced

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve to remove the bitter coating.
  2. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the quinoa.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. When its cooked, the quinoa should still have a little crunch.  Rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly.  Place in a large bowl.
  3. Put the green garbanzo beans and peas in boiling water and cook briefly for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.  Add to the quinoa.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well. Serve.
  5. Will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. Can be made in advance.
You can obviously add whatever vegetables you like to this dish. I like the green garbanzo beans - as they are new in the stores here, so its good to find a nice dish for them...but you could use sugar snaps or edamame or another vegetables instead.  You could also try celery, or green pumpkin seeds or green pistachios.


The dish provides a good protein source and calcium from the quinoa, and plenty of different phytonutrients from the vegetables and lemon.  The cumin is rich in phytoestrogens and may help with osteoporosis and diabetes.
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Healthy Cooking for children

After posting Jamie Oliver's TED talk on the blog last week, I had a comment back from Jennifer that said:

"This video clip is so moving. Thank you for it, Ruth. What would be the 10 meals that you would teach children to cook that would save their lives?" 


I felt the answer deserved more than just a comment back and so here are some of my suggestions. Remember, children naturally love healthful foods. Their genetic makeup is designed to consume nature's bounty without any coaxing or effort; they naturally like fruit and vegetables.  The following aren't full meals necessarily as salads can be added for appetizers and fruit for dessert etc, but they give you some ideas.

Breakfasts: I would definitely teach the children about healthy green smoothies, especially as it's an easy way to get green vegetables in us at breakfast time.  To begin with, it's important to not go too heavy on the strong flavored green leafy vegetables until they get used to the green taste, so adding more fruit for the first week or so helps, for example a banana or a couple of dates. I make my smoothies with only fruit and vegetables - no milk or yoghurt or anything else.

Photo by jules:stonesoup

1.Mango spinach smoothie.  A bag of frozen mango and a few handfuls of spinach blended up together, with a little water to get the consistency that you want.
2. Applesauce smoothie - 3 apples, a banana, a bunch of parsley and some root ginger and water.
3.Lettuce smoothie - 3 cups of lettuce, 2 pears,half a pint of blueberries and water.

Lunches:  Often school lunches include processed meats and cheese, but there are many other healthy meals like soups and salads or cold left overs that kids can take in attractive containers to school.


4. Raw almond nut butter sandwich on whole grain bread, plus orange or apple slices.
5. Whole wheat pita bread pocket filled with hummus, salad and nut/fruit dressing and some pineapple or seasonal fruit.
6. Carrot cream soup made with carrots, zucchini, onions etc and raw cashews for the creaminess. Kids often like soups cold so they can take it as is or warmed and in a thermos.

Dinners: Dinners a typically a good meal to start with a salad with some beans, mushrooms, onions, seeds, nuts and berries.  The following are suggestions after the salad or to accompany the salad.


7. California Creamed Kale.  Kale is such a high-nutrient green vegetable that you can add to soups or serve chopped.  In this recipe, the kale is lightly steamed and then served with a soy milk and cashew cream
8. Healthy potato fries.  Potatoes, cut into fries,  are mixed in apple juice and left for 5 minutes, then the juice drained and they are baked in the oven for about 20 minutes.
9. Pita-bread pizza.  Using whole wheat pita, no salt tomato sauce, mushrooms, broccoli, onions and soy cheese.
10. Squash Fantasia - Baked dish made with apricots, raisins, orange juice, butternut squash, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Small portions of organic, white meat or eggs can be added to any of these - using meat more as a condiment or flavoring rather than the focus of the meal.

And not forgetting Dessert - how about non-dairy ice cream - made by freezing bananas and then when frozen, blending them in a high powered blender. Yummy on it's own, but even better when other fruit is added to the blender too, like strawberries or raspberries or blueberries or else almond butter, or cocoa or......  Tastes like soft scoop ice cream.



Gosh, this could go on for ever, but I hope this gives some ideas.  What would you suggest? What are your kids favorites?

If you are looking for more information on how healthy eating for kids can protect  them  from diseases, check out Dr Fuhrman's book "Disease-proof your child - Feeding kids right".
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Happy St Patrick's Day

Photo by SweetOnVeg
Instead of wearing green today, for St Patrick's day, why not eat green instead!

Photo by Muffet
There are so many yummy green vegetables out there - gorgeous, vibrant colors, packed with vitamins, phytochemicals, enzymes, minerals etc.   So make a point today to add green to your diet instead of or as well as your attire!

Photo by zbigphotography
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