There's something you might not know about me...
When I was 7 years old I was rushed to the hospital to have my appendix removed. I had been regularly presenting my debilitating, excruciating pains in my lower left stomach to my family doctor for 2 years. This medical professional would tell little 5 year old me that I was lying, as "it was not possible to have pains in my lower intestine". I would relay to him that I didn’t know what was inside me, all I knew was that that’s where my pains were attacking me.
Luckily, my appendix was not removed and the surgeon recommended that I go for food allergy tests, as he believed my pains could be an indiction of my inability to digest certain foods. What a revelation!! Today, food allergies are as commonplace as “today’s special” on a menu, but discovering, 30+ years ago, in rural Ireland, that I was allergic to gluten, I became an outcast & an alien.
For the first decade I found the transition incredibly challenging. I would often lie & choose to “suffer through the pains” just so I could feel that I was “normal” & eat like everyone else. But the consequence of my social anxiety made matters worse, my digestive system was shut down, consistently inflamed & swung like a pendulum between diarrhoea & severe constipation.
The gift of being a coeliac (allergic to gluten-containing grains such as rye, barley, wheat, oats, spelt) that I didn’t understand then, but that I’m so grateful for today, is that it opened me up to alternative health food & holistic health. I began my own journey of discovery & knowledge:
=> learning about food nutrition,
=> researching nutritional supplements,
=> studying the affects of food on the body
=> new techniques to rebuild my digestion system
=> how to cook from scratch.
Fast forward to today & I eat local, fresh, nutritious produce for every meal. Food is my medicine, preparing food is how I relax, cooking for my friends & family one of the things I love to do the most. Along with not eating gluten, I have been vegan since august 2019 (& in 2018 I only ate meat 3 times). I also don’t eat or drink processed sugar or salt. I don’t buy or eat any confectionery chocolate from nestle or milka or cadbury, or any mainstream confectionary company. In fact, even more important to me, is that I am against many industries. In the chocolate industry for example, I feel strongly against the waste, the plastic, the farming of cocoa, the factory wage, the ingredients, the dairy & sugar used, the processed food, the agricultural harm, the slavery. I haven’t eaten a mainstream chocolate bar since 2014. I ‘m also allergic to corn & celery. I don't eat tomatoes or peppers. Packaged & processed foods, salad dressings, pre-made sauces, even mustard & soya sauce contain gluten, therefore I makes sauces & use spices and seasoning to elevate my meals.
My food/eating evolution has taken decades to overcome the social stigma & awkward moments, the discipline and also all the knowledge I have learned from recipes to nutritional value of food.
I often get asked for my recipes & tips on how I put food together . How I eat has become an unwavering extension of me. I would like to start to share more of my food philosophy, recipes & sneaky tips n’ tricks with you… keep an eye in your inbox tomorrow for 3 delicious, highly nutritious, inexpensive recipes (with directions) that could bring in new inspiration into your cooking this festive season! So...
Here's 3 highly nutritious easy-to-try recipes:
For me, cooking begins in the market... what's local & what's available/ in season.
I'm working from the South of Portugal at the moment, 2 weeks ago I arrived in a new area & found out that the local farmer's market was on Saturday, 8-11am. I was warned to be there as early to 8am as possible in order to get the best of the local veg. What this person didn't know to tell me was that on that particular Saturday, the market was moved to a different location. So at 7.50 waiting outside a mighty large gate with a sign that stated that the market was held in this location every Saturday morning 8-am, where the gate was locked & there wasn't a sign of life inside, stood one confused & disappointed Heidi.
Luckily, I didn't let the confusion stop me from going back last Saturday to try the mighty lrge gate, my perseverance paid off & the gate was open & the local farmer's market filled me with joy & excitement. It was an honour to walk around to all the tables, observing the fresh harvest of fruits, vegetables & legumes. I chose to sip on a raw hot chocolate & ask the vendor some important questions. I discovered that the produce here was from local farmers (mainly elderly couples) & because chemicals are expensive & produce is cheap, it is rare that pesticides are used. Only 3 organic farmers, & only of which was certified. Last week the market had moved to a location out of town to participate in a regional festival, & the cherry on top... there was going to be a Christmas market later in the same location. I happily purchased lots of wonderful local nutritious goodies.
Here's 3 highly nutritious easy-to-try recipes:
Golden Quinoa & Ginger Fried Veg
COOKING TIPS & STEPS
1. I don't weigh food amounts when I cook. Through trial, error, correction & repition I get to know the amounts. For Quinoa ( & Rice) I like to use a large heavy frying pan with a lid (or improvise with a wooden chopping board on top) or a large boiling pot with lid. My theory is that a larger surface area will cook the grain more evenly and faster. Grain (either 1/3 or 1/2 the bag) & then add water so that it's 2:1 (2 parts water, 1 part grain). When all the water begins to boil out, I put on the lid & turn off the heat. Leave it for another 10-20 minutes to finish cooking in the retained heat.
2. After the 10-20 minutes (while you cook up the ginger veg below or you can do this as soon as the quinoa is cooked) roughly chop the coriander & the rocket, stir into still warm quinoa with ground ginger, olive oil, turmeric, & black pepper.
Now on to the Ginger Fried Veg
Ginger Fried Veg
3 leaves of Kale
3 leaves of Rainbow Chard
COOKING TIPS & STEPS
You can, of course, chop up all the veg at the beginning & then follow the sequence. I'm sharing how I generally cook, which is without a measured recipe & I chop as I go.
I like my veg to be slightly undercooked, rather than overcooked, therefore, my frying process is fast & all of the following steps are complete within 10 minutes.
For all of these recipes, I have only used olive oil. This is because I'm travelling & therefore only buy one oil for my food (& my body).
What's most important here is to add the foods to the frying pan in layers. As, I'm in Portugal, great olive oil is cheap. However, if I was elsewhere & coconut oil was cheaper (& good quality) I would use coconut oil in place of olive oil.
3. Onions first. Chop up your onions. I half the onion, then cut into the natural lines of the onion to create thin crescents. Heat the pan, add a splash of Olive Oil & add good layer of cumin & some sea salt. Stir every few minutes to fry evenly. As the onions soften, they should be coated evenly in cumin.
4. Chop up the carrot. I half the carrot length ways, then chop into thin pieces. Add to the pan.
5. Half the fennel, chop it finely. Add to the pan.
6. Break up the broccoli & finely chop the stems (always add the stems they are delicious)
7. Now I do a round of seasoning: add little bit of cumin, tumeric, sea salt, black pepper, dash of cayenne pepper.
8. Chop up ginger & add it to the pan.
9. Roughly chop up the kale, the rainbow chard, fennel tips, parsley, coriander. Add to the pan. At this point, you could add a dash of oil if you like.
10. Turn off the flame/heat & stir into 2 large spoons of Tahini.
11. Squeeze half the lemon over the dish & stir evenly through the veg.
Serve with the golden quinoa.
Olive Oil (or coconut oil)
Rice Milk (or whichever animal or plant milk is your preference)
COOKING TIPS & STEPS
1. Prepare the batter: in a shallow largish bowl add the rice milk, cumin, gram/chickpea flour & shredded coconut, stir with a fork.
2. Heat up a large frying pan, when hot add the olive oil, more than enough to entirely cover the base circumference of the pan.
3. Cut the aubergine/eggplant into even (as even as possible), thick-ish circles. Then cut the circles into halves.
4. Add these halves into the batter bowl & coat each of the pieces with the batter, season with sea salt.
5. To ensure each piece fries with a golden crisp exterior, place the halves, piece by piece into the frying pan in a clockwork direction (this is to remember where you began so that you know each piece cooks evenly) around the pan. You may need to do this process twice or three times to cook each of the pieces. Leave the half to cook on the pan until one side is golden & crispy to your likely, then flip it. Each piece needs only to be cooked once on each side.
Serve these as an evening appetiser, a side dish or an interesting addition to a morning brunch.
3 Sweet Potatoes
1 Heads of Garlic
You can only do right with this recipe & practice makes perfect. You can also choose & substitute veggies as you desire.
1. Heat up the oven to 200 degrees celsius, & when you put in the veg, drop the temp down to 180 degrees celsius. You could also preheat your baking tray or dish, while you chop.
2. The most important here is that the sizes of the veg are similar in terms of cooking times, so here are my suggestions, but again the best way to learn is through action & eating. I also prefer to keep the skins on the potatoes, carrots, pumpkin for extra nutrition. So let's start chopping... quarter the potatoes, chop the sweet potatoes to the same size, chop the pumpkin to a slightly smaller size than the potatoes, cut the carrots in half then third the potatoes, cut the onions in half & place facing flat down when roasting.
3. On your heated baking tray, lay out a baking sheet (makes the wash up nice & easy) & all the veg, pour over the oil, a light dusting of cumin & chop up the sea salt, sage, thyme & rosemary. Pop it into the oven for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are crisp on the outside & softly cooked through on the inside.
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