Harvest Health

Harvest Health

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Sweet Potato Wedges

The unseasonal cold weather we've just had made me feel like warm, comforting foods.  To be honest, it made me feel like eating chips!  Luckily I was able to satisfy this craving with some delicious sweet potato wedges, in place of regular potato chips.  It felt good to be getting good nutrition from what is usually an unhealthy indulgence.

Sweet potato wedges
  • Wash 2 sweet potatoes well, but don't peel them
  • Cut them into wedges by cutting lengthways into quarters, and then into desired size
  • Line a baking tin with baking paper, and brush lightly with olive oil
  • Brush the wedges with olive oil and sprinkle with a mixture of ground coriander and salt
  • Roast for about 25 minutes in a reasonable hot oven (190 - 200C), until tender and golden brown.

Sweet potatoes are one of the richest source of beta-carotene - a precursor to Vitamin A.  Not only is Vitamin A  necessary for good eyesight, it is also necessary for a strong immune system and healthy skin.
Sweet potatoes also have a lot lower GI (Glycaemic Index), so are good for those trying to lose weight.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

New Years' Promise

I'm still loving the feeling of it being a new year.  I can't help feeling there is a sort of 'fizziness' to this time of year.  The new year feels like a new start, and without being 'New Agey', it as though there is a fresh energy.  The end of a year, with all its busyness and commitments is exhausting.  It is always such a relief to get through the Christmas period and come out the other side in a brand new shiny year. 

Making a few resolutions has increased my feelings of excitement and promise.  I think perhaps that is what is exciting - the potential of what lies ahead.  There is the potential for changing lifestyle, shifting priorities, new learning and new patterns.

Of course, these feelings of promise and energy might  just be due to the fact that it's Summer and school holidays here, and we have been able to spend some lovely days in the sun!

Diamond Bay

Lionshead beach, Werribee Gorge

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The humble Cabbage

OK, it's not the sexiest, or most fashionable of vegetables, but cabbage has a lot going for it.  It is part of the brassica family (which includes broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts), and this group of vegetables receive a lot of attention for their liver cleansing abilities.  It's the high chlorine and sulphur content in cabbage which together exert a cleansing action.  You can spend a lot of money on liver cleansing packs from the chemist or health food shop, or you can regularly eat cabbage! Cabbage is beneficial for good intestinal flora, which means it's good for your digestion.  It also contains high amounts of Vitamin C. 

The only potential problem with cabbage is that it can be detrimental to people with thyroid problems, as brassica vegetables contain goitrogens, which depress thyroid function.  This is only an issue if you have low thyroid function, and eat cabbage several times a week.

As a child I really disliked coleslaw, but times have changed, and now I love it.  This Summer I have been craving it.  There are countless coleslaw recipes, but here are two I have made and enjoyed in this Year of the Vegetable.

A Basic Slaw
Mix together in a bowl:
1 small cabbage, or 1/2 a larger one, shredded finely
1/2 small red or white onion, sliced as thinly as possible
1 apple diced or grated

Make a vinaigrette by mixing together:
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
Then adding and mixing:
3 tablespoons olive oil

Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and mix well.  Sprinkle with parsley or coriander if desired.

I used savoy cabbage in this, which I think was the main reason it was so delicious.  You could also use normal green cabbage or purple cabbage, or a mixture.

Easy Asian coleslaw
1/4 savoy cabbage, shredded finely
1/4 purple cabbage, shredded finely
1 lebanese cucumber, halved lengthways, deseeded and sliced thinly
1 carrot , grated
Handful of mint shredded
Handful of coriander, shredded
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tsp honey
2 tsp mirin
1/2 lemon or lime, juiced

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients.  Combine the vegetables and herbs.  Add the dressing and toss to combine.  Sprinkle on the sesame seeds.

Although the Asian coleslaw tastes good, I was surprised by how good the Basic 'Slaw tasted.  I have been putting off making it as I thought it was too plain.  Wrong.  The simplicity of it was delicious.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Year of the Vegetable

Initially I thought that I wouldn't write a blog post about New Years resolutions - too cliche, too common, and it has all been said before.  But over one of many BBQ dinners with friends this Summer, an innocent comment led to me feeling inspired, and I have re-thought my attitude.   My friend made the simple comment that she wished she ate more vegetables.  It started me thinking.  The result is a new found respect and interest in new years resolutions and how they can help us live the life we want to live

The simple, but startling fact is that if we all ate more vegetables, the rates of many chronic illnesses would dramatically decrease.  The need for so many pharmaceutical medicines would decrease.  Digestive, reproductive, skin, joint, mental health and immune system problems would all decrease.  I'm not saying they would be cured or disappear, but the overall incidence in our society would decrease.  I can't help thinking that if there was a magic pill that could have the same effect, we would all go out and buy it!  Eating more vegies, however, is somehow not as an appealing option to many people.

Obviously eating more vegetables is not a new idea.  Mothers have been banging on about it for decades.  Somehow though the message is ignored.  I should say - I'm not a vegetarian.  I'm talking about eating more vegetables as well as being a meat eater. 

Personally, my new years resolution isn't about eating more vegetables, it's more specific.  It's about learning new ways of preparing vegetables.  I want to explore new recipes for salads, dips, stir fries, roasts, anything.  (Initially I thought maybe I would try a new recipe each week, but I think maybe each fortnight is more realistic).  It will be a challenge for me, as I often don't follow recipes, but make meals up as I go.  Currently my meals will contain a pile of steamed vegetables, or sliced raw veg in a basic salad.  I like, however, the idea of developing a vegetable repertoire.

So this isn't actually about needing to eat more vegetables, it's about learning new ways to prepare them.  It's about feeling inspired to start the year with a new energy to learn new things to improve my health.

Back tomorrow with some salad ideas.