Driving me crackers

You are what you eat

Homemade and healthy

I had just returned after walking the dog and happened to catch something on BBC Radio Devons, afternoon programme that grabbed my attention.

A lady, born in Appledore, North Devon, now living in Canada was describing the larger individuals on this planet as ” Butterballs on legs “. Her words conjured up various mental images in my head, maybe the most amusing being a Mathews Butterball turkey – others are available -. The shape of this frozen lump of Xmas fowl with tiny arms and legs attached was reminiscent of many bodies seen on our streets today. How and why have they got to this stage? We all know we have to eat less and move more, but it’s not just a question of how much we stuff into our mouths it’s also the quality of the food and drink we consume that matters.

I quite agree with Boris Johnson’s statement regarding the state of the nation’s eating habits, especially in the light of the pandemic. We need to keep ourselves healthy and fit in order for our bodies to function efficiently and assist our immune systems in the fight against disease. I have always been an advocate of healthy eating and home-cooked, natural food, however, getting the message across is a difficult thing to achieve. Maybe the only way to make the general public see sense is to put a “Butterball” tax on all unhealthy, processed foods & drinks.

What drives me crackers, is crackers. A quick perusal of the savoury biscuit section in the Super Market the other day revealed that the second ingredient, after flour in any of the well-known makes of crackers is SUGAR. Why? To entice you into eating more, that’s why. Sugar is as addictive as nicotine and we all know what’s been said about that. Moving on to another aisle I am confronted with Sauces and Dressings. Barbeque, Tomato, Sriracha, Ceasar, Chilli you name it, the second ingredient after water, this time is SUGAR. apart from the fact that they are not just heavy on the hips, they are heavy on your purse as well.

Dietary No no’s

Making your own food, does not need to involve long complicated recipes or mounds of pots and pans to wash up. With a few simple ingredients you can produce, healthy tasty meals which are not swamped with sugar, salt and processed ingredients all added to give them taste and get you addicted.

Sugar laden dipping sauce

From the ingredients label on this sauce bottle, you can see that its main ingredient is water! what comes next SUGAR. This dipping sauce only contains 2% chilli & 1% garlic. That means that 97% of this bottle contains nothing that is actually good for you, or nutritious.

You can make yourself a perfectly delicious, quick dipping sauce, by finely chopping a 2 fresh chilli’s – remove the seeds if you don’t like heat – mix with 1 crushed clove of garlic, add 2 Tbspns Tomato Ketchup – contains SUGAR. mix well & thin with a little water, or red wine vinegar, if liked. To make a marinade simply omit the water adding 2 Tbspns oil & 1 tspn red wine vinegar. Brush onto chicken, fish, pork etc before cooking. A recipe for a spicy chilli chutney can also be found on this website.

Next time you are shopping, read the labels to find out exactly what you are eating. Help yourself to get and stay healthy, you will find you save money and you will feel more healthy. If you are a gardener you may like Love your Lettuce and other healthy recipes to be found on this site.

The rest is up to you. Stay Safe and Healthy.

Spice it up

Start a saucy affair

How do you fancy something hot this summer? We all like a bit of spice in our lives now and again. Well, this week I’m going to give you all the ingredients you will need to “start a saucy affair”!

Some like it hot

There are any number of sauces and marinades on the market, all winking at you from the Supermarket shelves, with their bright labelling and clever marketing slogans all begging you to “EAT ME”. Do you ever pick up one of these products and read the ingredients? In most cases you will find the second one is usually sugar! Below you will find two recipes for sultry summer days, which are quick and easy to make and do not contain huge amounts of sugar, salt and other additives. Both recipes can be made in advance and stored in the fridge:

chicken, juices, roasting, sauce, healthy eating
Reserved roasting juices

Spicy Barbequed Chicken

You will need one large fresh free range chicken, or you can use, chicken pieces, thighs, drumsticks etc. If using a whole chicken, turn the chicken onto its breast on a chopping board. Using a sharp knife. cut through the chickens back bone from one end to the other. Turn the chicken over, place in a roasting tin, flattening the chicken and make slashes into the breast and legs of the chicken, to help absorb the sauce into the meat. The chicken will cook through quicker, with this method.

Set the oven

  • 1tbspn Mustard Powder
  • 1tbspn Curry Powder
  • 2tspns Chilli powder or to taste.
  • 1tbspn Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1tbspn Maple syrup
  • 1tspn Cider Vinegar
  • 4tbspns Tomato Ketchup
  • 2tbspns Olive oil

Place all ingredients in a bowl, whisk together to emulsify.

Spread all over the chicken, rubbing well into the slashes you have made. Roast at 200c, Gas Mk6, 400f, for about 1 hour, ( or barbecue ) still thoroughly cooked through. (If you use the Barbeque for this dish, you will not have the juices for the salad).

Drain the juices from the roasted chicken into a bowl. Whisk in 1 crushed clove of garlic. (Reserve for pasta salad)

Remove chicken to a serving dish.

salad, leftovers, sun dried, olives, pasta,
Pasta & Veg Salad

Pasta and Veg Salad

Cook 1 packet of wholemeal pasta, in salted boiling water, with a drop of oil, until al dente. Meanwhile, in a large wok or frying pan gently fry for 10 mins:

  • 1 chopped red onion
  • 2 chilli’s chopped (or to taste)
  • 2 large courgettes. halved lengthwise & sliced
  • 2 large red peppers, deseeded and sliced

Drain the pasta, Pour the reserved juices from the chicken over the veg, allow to bubble for 5 mins. Remove from heat. Add the drained pasta to the veg and mix to blend. Add:

  • 4 chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 2 tspns Capers, drained
  • 2 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
  • 3 tbspns Olives, drained.
  • 2 tbsns Fresh basil and parsley chopped
  • Seasoning to taste

Mix together well, season to taste, serve with the chicken and salad leaves.

Any left over pasta salad and chicken can be stored in the fridge and mixed together to serve for tomorrows supper.

Enjoy your home made food and say NO to convenience foods. Its better for you and your pocket.

Fresh and Healthy

Say No to convenience foods

Following on from last weeks blog: https://truffleicious.blog/2019/07/06/summer-salads/ This week we continue with the fresh and healthy eating theme. Firmly saying NO to pe-packed, sugar and salt laden convenience foods.

Convenience foods, are notoriously bad for you as well as being considerably more expensive than fresh foods cooked from scratch. The salt and sugars added to these products are there to enhance the flavour and texture of otherwise, tasteless, over processed ingredients.

salads, olive oil, healthy eating, gluten free, pulses
Super Summer Salads

This week, I have for you a few quick recipes and tips, which I hope will inspire you to change both your eating and shopping habits for good.

Make your own dressings

Its really easy and much more cost effective to whisk up you own dressings. If you make a large amount in one go – I make 1ltr – and divide it equally into four different screw top jars. Empty gin or wine bottles are excellent or storing dressings, you are also doing your bit to save the planet at the same time. Special equipment, is not needed to make dressings. A simple balloon whisk will do, failing that a fork will combine the ingredients. After decanting into the storage bottles or jars, give them a good shake before serving, the ingredients will then emulsify – make sure the top is securely screwed on -.

recycling, dressings, salads, herbs, homemade
Gin bottle dressings
  • For the basic recipe you will need:
  • 180ml extra virgin Olive oil or Rapeseed oil
  • 60ml white, red or cider vinegar
  • 5ml Dijon on coarse grain mustard
  • Freshly ground salt and black pepper

Makes 240ml. Place all the ingredients into a large jug or bowl and whisk together, taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

You can experiment by using different flavoured oils, mustards & vinegars to your liking. If you find olive oil to strong a taste, replace half or all with rapeseed oil.

If making double the above recipe, divide into four. Add to each of the four portions of oil, add one of the recipes below:

herbs, basil, mint, dill, rosemary, lemon balm
Garden fresh herbs
  • Fresh Herb Vinaigrette 4 tabs Chopped herbs. eg: Basil, Mint, Thyme, Lemon Balm, Dill etc. A simple dressing for any salad.
  • Garlic and Chilli Dressing Add as many fresh crushed garlic cloves & chopped chillies to your taste. Drizzle over you home made pizza or mixed with sweetcorn & pulses for a ziggy bean salad.
  • Blue Cheese and Chive Dressing Mash 100g Blue Cheese with 2 tabs Milk. Add 2 tabs, freshly chopped chives. Whisk into the oil dressing. Gorgeous with wedges of Iceberg Lettuce.
  • Feta and Dill Dressing Mash 100g Feta Cheese with 2 Tabs Lemon Juice, Stir in 2 tabs freshly chopped dill. Whisk in the oil dressing. Lovely served with a traditional Greek Salad, or a simple cucumber salad.

You can experiment with the different ingredients, to make your favourite dressing, to use with your BBQ goodies.

Instead of buying tubs of Coleslaw or Potato Salads try making your own, by combining, grated or shredded veg (carrots, courgettes, red onions & fennel), or cooked potatoes with one of the dressing above. Your options are endless. Go on. Have a go, you know you want too.

For more recipes you can make from scratch, click the link below:

Harissa Chutney

A versatile combination

Hi foodies, after my move through the snow, from Wiltshire to devine Devon in February, I’m afraid I have been a bit slow in wrting my blogs from this gorgeous county.

Low tide, Appledore, Devon, Instow, boats
From Appledoe to Instow

No matter, I’m all settled in now & my mind is brimming with ideas as I fill my new kitcken with some local – & some not so local – ingredients to create tasty recipes to try & tempt your taste buds,

Being health consious & aware of what we are putting into our bodies, I am a big fanatic of home made food. Looking at the labels on jars of chutneys & harissa paste recently, I was amazed at the long list of ingredients – well I say ingredients! – that went into them As well as the amount of sugar & other dubious additives which take you down the highly processed route, in some the first ingredient was water. Are you aware that manufactures have to label their products with the ingredients listed in descending order? So, if water is first & chilli’s last, there isn’t a lot of those litte firey peppers in there.

Having procured a large bag of wonky peppers & some chilli’s I was off home to make my own.

Peppers, red onions, chillis, garlic, chutney
Colourful Veg

Harissa Chutney.

Makes 3.5 kg G/F D/F V Vegan. Utensils: Large saucepan. Sterilized jars & lids.

INGREDIENTS:

2 kg mixed peppers (from your local market). Deseeded & Sliced

2 Large Red Onions, peeled & chopped

100g Mixed Chilli’s. ( Vary the amount according to taste) Finely chopped.

3 Large Carrots, grated

6 Cloves Garlic, peeled & crushed

1 pack Italian Tomato Passata

340g Dark Molasses Sugar

600ml Red Wine vinegar

2 tbspns Rock Salt

3 Whole Star Anise

2 tbspn Ground Cumin

1 tbspn Ground Coriander

Juice of 1 Lemon

METHOD

In a large saucepan, over a medium heat, place the peppers, onions, carrots, & chilli’s. Add half the wine vinegar, cover & bring to the boil & cook until the onions are soft.

Add the remaining ingredients. Stiring, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat & simmer, uncovered until it reaches a jam like consistency.

Allow to cool & pot into sterilized jars.

Serve as a chutney, or if you want to use it as a harissa paste rub. Place a couple of large Tbspns in a blender with a Tbspn of olive oil & blend.

chutney, chillis, harissa, homemade, food
Hot & wholesome