Thursday, 4 November 2010

No Potato Shepherds Pie

It's that time of the year again, the clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in. It's time to start cooking up some natural food to keep you warm on these long, cold winter nights.

1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into quarters
5 Oz of grass fed lamb, minced
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
Olive oil
500ml of good quality lamb or beef stock
1 bay leaf
Handful of fresh thyme, stalks removed
Small bunch of chives, chopped
Salt and black pepper
Serve with seasonal steamed vegetables

Fry the onions, carrot and celery with a pinch of salt, pepper, half the thyme and the bay leaf gently in olive oil for 10 minutes until soft but not browned. Turn the heat up and add the lamb until browned. Add the stock, more pepper and the rest of the thyme, turn the heat back down nd simmer for about 40 minutes.
Put the cauliflower quarters into a steamer and cook until tender. Remove the cauliflower and put in a blender and blitz until smooth. Add the chopped chives and season if required.
All you have to do next is to put the meat in the bottom of an oven proof dish (remember to remove the bay leaf) with the cauliflower puree on top. However, I like to sieve the meat sauce and catch the 'gravy' in a bowl, then serve the gravy on top at the end. It really just depends what you like.
Finally put the shepherds pie in a hot oven (Around 190-200 Celsius) for 20 minutes, or until the top is nice and crispy.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Saro's Singapore Chilli Crab

This was cooked for me last night by a friend who has just started eating a natural diet. She is a fantastic cook and her crab has to be one of my all time favourites!

Ingredients: (Serves 3-4 as a starter)
Thumb size piece of ginger
2-3 birds eye chillies
2 lemon grass stalks
1 banana shallot
1 tablespoon Thai Fish Sauce
King crab, frozen and pre cooked, about 1Kg
200ml sieved tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste
Juice of 1 lime
Small bunch of fresh coriander leaves to serve
1 tablespoon olive oil

Put the ginger, shallot, lemon grass and chillies in a blender (or grind up in a pestle and mortar, if you want a workout) and blitz into a paste, then fry over a high heat for a couple of minutes in the oil. Add the sieved tomatoes, shrimp paste and fish sauce, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 5-10 minutes until reduced to a thick consistency. Add the crab and cook for a further 5 minutes until the crab has warmed through. Just before you take it off the heat add the lime juice and stir. Serve with the coriander leaves and enjoy.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

What I am not (eating)

I thought I'd spend some time explaining what sort of food I am eating. Then I realised an ideal natural evolutionary approach could be described as wild meat and fish (including shellfish), seasonal fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some oils and a little honey. It's that simple.

What is more time consuming to explain is the food we should avoid and why. Here is a list of the most common foods found in the modern western diet that we should avoid at all cost:
  • No vegetable oils: Arguably one of the most heinous of all modern food inventions (with the exception of olive oil and some nut and seed oils). I am talking about soy bean oil, palm oil, rapeseed oil, groundnut oil and other similar oils. The worst of this bad bunch are the hydrogenated oils with large amounts of trans fats which should be avoided like the plague.
  • No grains: Examples include oats, rice, barley, wheat, quinoa, cous cous etc etc. This includes all grain derived food like bread, pasta, cereal.
  • No refined sugar: Sugar, syrups (like the evil glucose-fructose syrup) and glucose.
  • No artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, sucralose, saccharine etc.
  • No pulses: Foods like lentils, kidney beans, haricot beans, broad beans, peas.
  • No potatoes: Or potato derived products, sorry all you chip lovers.
  • No processed food: If it's been developed in a lab and produced in a factory, I'm not interested.
Astute readers will notice that I haven't mentioned dairy products yet. The consumption of this food group is fine if you have the genes to metabolise lactose. I'll talk about this subject in depth in a later post.

You can see that nearly all of these foods to avoid are recent additions to our diet (on the evolutionary time scale). Recent research has shown the body adapts genetically to the food we eat, we have been exposed to granulated sugar for about 1700 years and high fructose corn syrup for about 50 years. Give us another 20,000 years and we may have adapted to metabolise these 'foods' efficiently. Until then count me out.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Ingredients: (Serves 2)
1 tablespoon Ras el hanout (you can buy this, but it's best to make your own. There isn't one definitive list even in Morocco, for this recipe I used a mix of 12 cardamom pods (seeds only), 5 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon red chili flakes, 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1/2 nutmeg (grated), 10 black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves and 1 teaspoon of turmeric. Dry fry the seeds, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and bay leaves, then grind in a pestle and mortar. Add the other ingredients and mix together.
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped to a paste
Pinch of sea salt
300g free range chicken, (best to use thighs, but any cut will do - I've used chicken breast, because it's all I had at the time)
1 onion, chopped
1 large fennel bulb, sliced
150g mushrooms, sliced
15 green olives, stoned
500ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lemon, cut into quarters

Ideally you want to marinade the chicken pieces overnight or for about 2 hours in the ras el hanout, ground ginger and ground cumin but if you don't have time just mix together before starting. Brown the marinated chicken pieces in a large heavy based pan (or tagine) with the olive oil over a hot heat. Turn the heat down and add the onion, garlic and fennel pieces and fry for another few minutes. Add the chicken stock and salt then bring to the boil and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover the pan and leave for an hour.

After an hour, put the olives, mushrooms and lemon quarters into the pan and stir. Put the lid back on and simmer for another half an hour.

If there is still too much liquid in the pan, remove the lid and turn up the heat to reduce. Remove the lemon quarters before serving with steamed greens.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Poached Salmon with Fennel, Broccoli and Tomato Salsa

Here is my dinner tonight, a great recipe because it only takes around 30 minutes to prepare and cook and as I've been so busy today, it's just what I need. Salmon and anchovies are oily fish and a good source of omega-3. Plus there's heaps of vegetables and a good shot of olive oil.

Ingredients: (Serves 2)
2 wild salmon fillets
10 peppercorns
2 bay leaves
A large fennel bulb, finely sliced. Top shoots and base of bulb reserved
Tenderstem broccoli or purple sprouting broccoli
4 anchovies, finely chopped
3 vine tomatoes, diced
1 red onion, diced
Handful of fresh basil, ripped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 fl oz olive oil

Put the fennel tops and base, peppercorns and bay leaves into a pan of water big enough to cover the salmon fillets. Bring to the boil.
After a few minutes boiling, remove the pan from the heat and add the salmon, cover and leave for 15 minutes. When done remove the salmon from the stock (keep this for other recipes), and take the skin off then flake into pieces.

While the salmon is cooking, prepare the salsa by combining the onion, tomatoes and anchovies in a small bowl, add the lemon and oil and at the last minute the basil. Mix it all together thoroughly.

Serve the salmon on a bed of the steamed broccoli and fennel and drizzle the salsa over the top.

Caveman genes, spaceman diet

It is generally accepted that the human genome was selected in adaptation to stone age living circumstances culminating in the appearance of behaviourally modern humans between 100,000 and 50,000 years ago. Since then adaptation has mainly involved cultural modification with various ‘revolutions’. The agricultural revolution approximately 10,000 years ago, the industrial revolution from the late 18th century and the technological revolution in the mid 20th century.

During the last 50,000 years there have been few generally recognised genetic changes and our genome remains adapted for a paleolithic lifestyle. This discrepancy between our genes and our culture has produced a mismatch that affects our lives, it is responsible for chronic degenerative diseases that are the cause of most mortality in westernised nations. Differences in reproductive behaviour, sleep patterns, physical activity, microbial interactions, social interactions all play important parts in evolutionary discordance theory.

An important factor is the fundamental change in nutrition, particularly since the agricultural revolution. Before this time our ancestors consumed wild meat and fish, fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds. I have been experimenting with this evolutionary approach to food over the last few years and have created this blog to help me and anyone who may be interested in following a natural diet.