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That Beetroot Salad

Beetroot has long filled the cells of mankind with mega antioxidants, and enough iron to make Popeye quake.

Beetroot puts the super into superfood (and sometimes the hell into healthy, if not cooked adequately). Sometimes I wish Vanilla Ice had included them in his big hit.

This earthy vegetable is a real friend to the kidneys, we’re told. So don’t freak out when your pee turns crimson. That red plant pigment holds a compound called betacyanin, commissioned to do all sorts of fancy ripostes in your bloodstream. The Russians have long known beet’s secret. This might help explain how the Russians can survive Siberia’s winter temperatures, and yet another term of Putin.

Freshly juiced, beets appear to enjoy great repute in cancer care clinics across the globe. I reckon it’s because they taste so sweet and gorgeous, rather than their nutritional currency. Nevertheless, beets are still ranked as one of the most underused and misunderstood veggies. Both cooked and raw beetroot are easy to find in supermarkets, yet doesn’t always mosey their way into our shopping trolleys. Shame that.

 

beet salad healthy 

 

A side of beet, yoghurt and almond

Beetroot ain’t that fussy, so long as it has a lick of olive oil and lemon. This purple veg has helped propel Avoca into celebrity status on the restaurant circuit (you know the dish? Thinly sliced beetroot, thick yoghurt and flaked almonds). My husband once sang the soundtrack to Frozen in Polish for an extra helping from the dinner lady.

It really isn’t necessary to put your husband through that, so here’s the recipe. From them to me, and from me to you. Go bonkers.

Serves 4

3 tablespoons flaked almonds
4 tablespoons of natural yoghurt
Squeeze of lemon, plus a little zest
A few twists of the salt and pepper mill
1 small clove garlic, crushed
4 cooked beetroot (vacuum pack are handy)

 

Start by tanning your flaked almonds in a hot oven for 6 minutes until kissed by a golden zephyr. 200 Celsius will do the trick. If they turn a shade darker, your taste buds will be deeply disappointed.

While the flaked almonds are on the clock, whip your yoghurt with a little lemon and zest to taste, salt and pepper as you like it, and the crushed garlic.

Take the almonds out to cool.

Thinly slice the beetroot and let the yoghurt join the party. Finish with a flurry of tanned almonds on top. That’s all there is to it.

Change it up from time to time with capers, segments of orange, diced red onion or grated boiled egg. It’s a fabulously handy recipe.

 

Breakfast, Lunchbox, Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw, x For Freezer x

Paleo Flapjacks

Nuts are superheroes, with an arsenal of fancy ninja moves.

Some of the largest health studies in history – the Adventist Study, the Iowa Women’s Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Physicians’ Health Study – have consistently shown that snacking on raw nuts can lead to a 50% reduction in heart disease.

Research from the British Medical Journal goes further, identifying nuts as one of seven foods that can help reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 75%. You’ll be relieved to hear that dark chocolate and red wine qualify too. You’re welcome.

But don’t get too giddy my friend. You need to recruit the unprocessed, unsalted variety to make a difference to your ticker. Anything else is cheating.

Those flavoured packets in pubs? Bye-bye. We know that unsalted raw nuts contain special-agent unsaturated fats that help raise your protective cholesterol (HDL) while lowering that menacing cholesterol (LDL). Another special-agent fat, omega-3, may also help prevent blood clots much the same way as aspirin does. You’ll find omega 3s dancing in walnuts.

Many nuts are rich in arginine. Scientists, look away while I mutilate your language. Arginine is an amino acid necessary to make a molecule called nitric oxide that relaxes constricted blood vessels and eases blood flow. Think of it as the Bach of the blood. This might indeed help explain why nuts are applauded for their role in protecting arterial walls, making the walls more pliable and less susceptible to damage. Good news for health insurers.

 

 

paleo flapjacks

 

Paleo Flapjacks

1 cup walnuts
1 cup unsalted cashews
Generous pinch of sea salt
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup any nut butter you fancy
1/4 good honey (preferably local and raw)
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract

 

Pulse the nuts (almonds don’t work here) along with a good pinch of sea salt, the desiccated coconut and your honey in a food processor. A blender will turn it into baby food, which is not today’s vibe.

Add any nut butter you fancy (peanut, cashew, hazelnut or almond), a grating of fresh nutmeg and a whisper of vanilla. Pulse until it clumps together. Don’t be tempted to help the mixture along with water. You’ll regret it! I added a few goji berries for colour too, but they’re not essential.

Scrape and press the flapjack dough into a regular 8×8 brownie square tin. Set in the fridge, and lift out of its tin once firm. Cut into small squares and store in the fridge or freezer. Exactly like flapjacks (until you mizzle melted chocolate all over them of course).

Great with a tall glass of milk.

 

 

Will I see you next week at Avoca Kilmac, between Dublin and Wicklow?? I’ll be signing books from 11:30am on Saturday 28th May 2016, and baking treats for you and your loved ones. Free admission. 

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Breakfast, Lunchbox, Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw

Healthy Marmalade

If you’re not eliminating waste from your bowels, you’ll end up wearing it on your face. Listen up. The skin is our body’s largest excretory organ. Crazy but true. You want luminous skin? Make sure your pipes are on speaking terms with you.

Cranking up the fibre in your diet will have you shaking your booty like Lady Marmalade on the dance floor. By fibre, I don’t mean a bowl of wholemeal pasta. Nice try. When you want fibre, you need to call in the services of black belts like flaxseed, bran, oats, prunes, beans, hummus, and psyllium.

 

psyllium husks

 

Research confirms that scoffing more than 35g of dietary fibre a day can result in a 40% chance of living longer. Jeesh.

Here’s what happens in our very own waste plant. Insoluble fibre from our food acts like a traffic warden, clearing jams and keeping junctions clear. His job is to keep things moving. If nothing moves, waste can build up and re-enter the bloodstream. One way of ridding toxins is to sweat them out on a treadmill. Or frequent the village sauna. Both options are about as appealing as sex with Donald Trump.

So let’s fight with our fork?

Arm yourself with this marmalade. It’s criminally good and much more refreshing than the regular jammy stuff. One taste will ignite your dimples, like kissing Bradley Cooper, or giving Michael Flatley a wedgy live on stage.

The weird sounding seeds can be purchased in savvy pharmacies or health food stores nationwide. They help to set the marmalade. Prunes Shmunes. Psyllium are the King Kong of the colon.

 

healthy marmalade recipe

 

A healthy marmalade

3 unwaxed organic oranges

3 tablespoons psyllium seed husks

Pinch of sea salt

2-3 tablespoons local honey

 

Start by grating the zest from 2 of your oranges. Set aside. Then slice the bum off each of the 3 oranges, and sit them on a chopping board. Carefully carve the skin from each orange with a paring knife, and discard. The white pithy stuff is a little bitter, but it does contain a whack load of nutrition so maybe don’t take it all off.

Cut the orange into chunks, to check for pips.

Add the orange zest, the juicy chunks, your psyllium husks, sea salt and really good honey to the blender (or food processor). Pulse until jammy, but not entirely smooth. You still want beautiful blobs of orange in there.

Scrape into a scrupulously clean jam jar and leave to set for 30 minutes before spreading over hot toast. Refrigerate for 1 week – it will set even more when chilled.