Sunday Roast 19th April 2015 #weeklyfoodnews

I had my first ice lolly of the year the other day. Anyone who says that a Twister is not the best ice lolly automatically goes down in my books. They are everything an ice lolly should be – citrusy, creamy and fruity. I judge anyone who buys those bright blue bubblegum lollies; they suggest the eater wants to bring pain, sadness and chemical intoxication upon themselves.

Before I start craving ice lollies at 8am in the morning, let’s get onto the Sunday Roast.

Recipe

Field mushrooms stuffed with quinoa, leek and spring garlic (Vegan)

Saturday marked the first cooking session with my friend Shoji, a vegan ultra-runner with a keen interest in cooking. I should have known that Shoji would want to cook with spring garlic. He has this thing for garlic. The first thing he offered me was ‘black gold’ – a caramelised black clove of garlic which has been slowly heated to give a licorice flavour and chewy texture.

That was simply the garlic appetiser.

Throughout the meal, I watched in admiration and slight concern as Shoji consumed five whole bulbs of roasted garlic. He didn’t even peel them by hand, just sucked the sweet, roasted pulp out of the white husk.

Black gold garlic
‘Black gold’ garlic

Alongside spring garlic, the stuffed mushrooms recipe includes:

Ingredients

  • 4 large field mushrooms (with stems removed)
  • coconut oil for frying
  • 4 spring garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 large leek (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp Jalfrezi curry powder
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 130g cooked quinoa
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • feta (optional)
Preparation
  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C.
  2. Remove the stalks from the mushrooms  – use them in a salad or chop them up and add to spring garlic & leek mix.
  3. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add coconut oil to the pan. You can use any other form of oil, but the coconut gives a slightly sweet taste dimension.
  4. Add the finely chopped spring garlic, leek, curry powder and chilli flakes.
  5. Sautee until reduced and slightly caramelised – it should take approximately 5 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked quinoa to the pan and season well with salt and pepper
  7. Scoop out the quinoa mix and place onto the flat mushroom surface. Compact into a dome.
  8. Put mushrooms in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle feta on top if you want a vegetarian version, but it tastes delicious without.
  10. Enjoy 🙂

We ate the stuffed mushrooms alongside roasted vegetables – parsnips, courgette, pepper, garlic and fennel – and a raw salad of avocado, peppers, sprouting lentil shoots and spinach, all combined together with nutritional yeast.

Baked mushrooms quinoa leek garlic
The baked mushrooms in all their not-so-photogenic glory
Vegan salad roasted vegetables
The final meal – vegan heaven

Oh, and let’s not forget the termites.

Brought back from Japan by Charlotte, our fellow entomophagy friend, they were crunchy and slightly yeasty. Compared to the hornet larvae I tried a few months ago, they were not as flavoursome, so I’d suggest taking a handful rather than just one or two.

Edible termites Japan
Look at those little guys…

Blog

Saveur Best Food Blog Awards 2015 

Alongside shortcuts to my calendars, mailboxes and cloud storage, there is a new bookmark tab on my Google Chrome bar: the Saveur Blog Awards 2015.

If you don’t know already, Saveur is basically the king of food websites – its tagline is “Savour a world of authentic cuisine” and it does so by providing food and drinks recipes, culinary travel tips, kitchen skills and techniques. Simply flicking through the sheer number of articles on offer is enough to get your taste buds tingling and fill you with infinite, delicious ideas.

Saveur Food Blog Awards 2015
Each year Saveur hosts the Best Food Blog Awards, including a ‘Blog of the Year’ award and numerous other food, drink, baking, photography, travel, writing and ‘deliciousness’ awards. Last years ‘Blog of the Year’ was I Am A Food Blog – this fantastic blog sets a very high standard (both in terms of recipes and humour) for 2015’s finalists to follow.
The final date for voting is April 30th. Please check the blogs out and vote for your favourites. As a food blogger myself, I can promise you that just one extra vote would be appreciated – passion, time and energy goes into each article or photo, and Saveur provides a platform to recognise these efforts.

News

Here are the secrets to a long and healthy life, by The National Geographic

Famous comedian, Louis CK, once reflected that the lifestyle recommendations given to pregnant women of having sex and eating curry must have been decided by a group of men. All comedy aside, it seems like this comment has a sturdy empirical foundation…

After compiling 5 years of research from around world, mainly based on anecdotes and case studies collected by Dan Buettner, one National Geographic study confirmed what makes some people live longer than others:

“Diet is key to longevity, but also sex, naps, wine and good friends”

The article focuses particularly on Ikaria, Greece, where the population eats a Mediterranean diet of beans, potatoes, green weeds and salads. They also drink a moderate amount of good wine, nap a lot – approximately 30 minutes a day – and 50+ year olds have sex more than twice a week. All this lowers risk of heart disease, halves rate of mortality compared to their celibate friends, have lower levels of cortisol – a stress hormone – and higher levels of antioxidants.

Well, that’s settled isn’t it.

No, not just yet. There is one catch: maintaining a good amount of physical activity. Gardening, harvesting, putting physical effort into making your own food, walking to the market… They are all simple everyday actions that can dramatically alter longevity. Sitting down behind a desk all day and relying on short bursts of exercise, before plunging into a healthy Mediterranean meal and glass of cheap wine, won’t suffice. It is about continual activity, fresh air, a good clean diet and a slower pace of life.

After all, the tortoise always wins…

Inspiration

Knowledge, Nudge and Nanny, by Professor Susan Jebb at the Future of Food.

The National Geographic article above emphasises the importance of incorporating healthy lifestyles and diets into your everyday choices and actions. Here, I provide you with an interesting video that looks at the ways in which ‘nudges’ can be used to improve diets.

Around 33,000 premature deaths could be avoided each year in the UK if we achieved the dietary recommendations for good health. But the simple concept of eating well belies the complexity of the change required”. 

Professor Susan Jebb is a nutrition scientist who questions how what we eat affects obesity and how to reduce risk of obesity-related disease. In other words, it is not about how to respond to obesity epidemics, but how to prevent them from happening in the first place.

One way of doing so is using ‘nudges’, a term coined by Thaler and Sunstein in 2009. Nudges are essentially things that can influence people’s thinking and decision-making. 

There are plenty of nudges in the food world. Some are blatant, such as advertising slogans which ‘nudge’ us towards certain foods (especially junk foods). Some are more subtle, such as the layout of supermarket aisles – the geography of where certain products are located, and how much effort it takes for us to reach them, cause us to follow a particular route and purchasing pattern.

Google has started using nudges to promote healthy eating amongst employees. They provide both cookies and fruits in their free canteen, so as to not limit choice (people don’t like lack of choice). However, the fruits are visibly on display and the cookies are within a box. The box acts as a ‘nudge’, resulting in consumers going for the most optimal food choice (i.e. the one requiring least time and effort to access) – the fruit!

The question that Professor Jebb poses is whether nudges are enough to transform knowledge about healthy eating into positive action (closing a ‘value-action’ gap), or whether we still need ‘nanny state’ government policy to push us in the right direction. What do you think?

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