Lunchbox, Vegan &/or Raw, x For Freezer x

Big Bowl of Mexico

This is the only vegetable that sounds like an exciting substance. Maybe that’s why everyone loves a pepper. 

Most other veggies are used in a pejorative sense. Turnip reminds us of our Taoiseach. Pumpkin is one of the clumsy twits from a children’s novel. Aubergine belongs to a thousand bridesmaid dresses. And tomato is the shade many of us sport from May to August. That’s if you’re a ginger.

Pepper’s hell-raising nephews and nieces, the chillies, are indeed responsible for pepping up moods with their ability to release natural endorphins in our body. 

The larger equivalent however is juicier, sweeter and sensationally flavoursome minus the sting. Don’t ignore the plain pepper on your next supermarket trip, especially if you’re a smoker. Peppers contain plenty of beta-carotene, protective carotenoids and vitamin C to toughen up your immunity. Go for the yellow, orange and red ones raw. Green peppers are a little shy and therefore best roasted, grilled or ignored.

 

big bowl of mexico ingredients_edited-1

 

A Big Bowl of Mexico

This is the ultimate comfort food intended to feed indolent limbs and massage achy heads. You’ll find feisty chillis, potent garlic, sharp lime and fragrant coriander – a goblet of goodness. The recipe is a classic Jamie Oliver, morphed into the confines of my kitchen cupboard. He uses tortilla chips the way you would with croutons in a French soup. Let them soak up the soup and carry extra flavour.

Do try sourcing organic tortillas by R.W.Garcia. Celestial stuff. These particular tortillas don’t carry nasty fats or unpronounceable ingredients. You’ll find them in most health food stores and online from Ireland’s organic supermarket.

 

guacamole making with fresh limes
 

I like to lob in loads of fresh red onion. It’s a cheap superfood with a big personality. Think Katie Price. It can tart up a dish and lend some heat with its bite. Chefs, French men and scientists go mad for this bulbous little beaut.

Here’s why. Onions are flush with flavonoids, otherwise known as heavyweight antioxidants that fight ageing and disease. A growing body of research suggests that flavonoids help reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease (but not bad breath. Oh well. Small price to pay for a healthier hummer, no?). According to the Irish Heart Foundation, cardiovascular disease is the most common form of death in Ireland.  No harm in putting onions on your shopping list then, eh?

Quercetin is the red onion’s hallmark flavonoid, the one that robs all the limelight. Quercetin acts like an anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory in the body. Interestingly, quercetin is not destroyed through cooking. It is thought to be transferred into the cooking liquid. That chicken soup granny does for indolent hangovers and the sniffles? It all makes sense now.  

Various studies also point to the onion’s role in maintaining strong bones. One such study, in the journal Nature, fed rats a small amount of dried onion and noted a 17% increase in calcium absorption. Imagine a pill that could promise the same?

 

For the soup:

1 large onion, peeled and diced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 carrots, peeled and cut into mouth-sized chunks

4 peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 cup of cooked black beans

2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 fresh bay leaves (pinch them from a neighbour’s tree)

4-5 cups good vegetable stock

1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika powder

 

For the best bit:

2 ripe avocados

1 lime

2 chillis, deseeded and finely sliced

organic tortilla chips

1 large handful of fresh coriander, torn

 

Put a large, deep-based pan on a low heat and splash in some olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, peppers and gently heat for 10-15 minutes until softened. Stir every-so-often to prevent burning at the bottom.

Add remaining soup ingredients, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

While the soup is gurgling away, peel and dice the avocado. Grate some lime zest over the avocado chunks, and squeeze on the juice to keep it from turning brown. Put in the centre of the table, next to the bowl of fragrant green chilli, torn coriander and plate of tortillas. You can also heat the tortillas in the oven for a few minutes at 180 degrees.

Have a taste of the soup, season, taste again, and once you’re happy, call in the troops.

 

black beans

 

Worried about the social side-effect of eating beans? I ask Harold McGee about the science behind trouser trumpets and beans, here on BBC’s food programme January 4th. Harold is everyone’s hero, but most famously, Heston Blumenthal’s culinary guru. ‘Nuff said.  

 

black beans tinned 

 

These beans are the best tinned variety on the market. Find them in Picado, a Mexican pantry on Portobello Bridge Dublin 2, or order them into your local grocers. The others are yaktastic in comparison …

 

 

 

 

 

Events

My Superfood Satay with Asian Greens: Camile Home Delivery

Guess what? I can cook for you this evening! 

Camile Thai home delivery in Dublin have asked me to design an Asian dish for their menu. It’s only available for 6 weeks, to help kick start your New Year resolutions without sacrificing your time or your taste buds.

I made them a superfood satay sauce inspired by Mother Nature’s feistiest foods: fresh turmeric, ginger, garlic, goji berries and chilli. We serve it alongside stir-fried Asian greens like bok choy, edamame, broccoli, spring onions, fine beans and cabaiste, accompanied with steaming-hot wild and brown rice. It’s 100% vegan and gluten free. Pretty good eh?

Here’s my mug, haunting you across Dublin …

 

Camile Thai Susan Jane White

 

I admire that they choose to source real tofu from non-GM soya beans, and not cheap soya bean isolate like so many restaurants.

So what’s the jazz about tofu?

Many people think that adding tofu to a dish is about as exciting as adding Pat Kenny to a rave. But beneath its blandness lies goodness that should be appreciated. Give it a chance to shine by providing it with the right ingredients – strong flavours like ginger, garlic, chilli, tamari.

Tofu is made from the soya bean, a popular source of protein in South East Asia. You’re probably familiar with other soya bean products such as miso soup, soya sauce or tamari, tempeh and soya milk. Milk is extracted from protein-rich soya bean and used to make soya curd, referred to as tofu. Not unlike cheese making. Made this way, tofu is replete with isoflavones, a big pal of calcium. Isoflavones have been found to assist in bone density as well as hormonal imbalances. These compounds are also linked to the prevention of breast and prostate cancers. Interestingly, Dr Marilyn Glenville’s found that incidences of breast cancer in Japan are one sixth of that in the West. Yet when Japanese women move to the West and adopt our diet, their breast cancer rate rises to Western levels.

Once soya’s health benefits became clear outside of Japan, consumer demand rocketed. Its meteoric rise here in the West encouraged food companies to find cheaper ways of producing it. Consequently, soya’s reputation has been muddied with chemical isolation techniques, synthetic adulteration and genetic modification, all of which spoil the beneficial effects of the original bean. That’s why soya is so controversial. The chemically-altered soya, is a whole different creature to the whole-bean soya associated with the Asian diet. Frustrating, isn’t it?

The only way you can tell the difference is to read the manufacturers label on food before you buy. Avoid soya protein isolates. Up to sixty percent of packaged supermarket foods use this synthetically debased soya as a cheap bulking agent. So don’t be fooled into thinking soya is synonymous with health!

To tap into soya beans’ bone fide health benefits, my advice is to stick with organic, non-GM tofu, and eat no more than once a week. For even the Japanese don’t eat as much soya as we do!

 

fresh soya beans

 

 

 Photogrpahy Jo Murphy

 

 

Events

Nut Milk Demo @ Alchemy Juice Bar

How are those pesky New Year resolutions going? 

Let me show you a simple one that will change your life. It is THE SNAZZ (and so much easier than giving up those deliciously addictive phone aps as I stupidly agreed to, in, oh, just our biggest national paper. Fuzzy Duck!)

 

 Alchemy_rnd2-(stencil)

Saturday 31st, 10:30

 Alchemy Juice Co. upstairs in BT2

 Nut Milk Demo – making almond milk

Free €0

 

 

This Saturday at Alchemy, taste the difference between store-bought almond milk and home-made almond milk. Let me walk you through the steps, and even coax you behind the, erm, blades. Think David Blaine in the kitchen.

 

NY resolutions