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Let’s demand Jaggery!

27 Sep

I read a recipe for Goodi Huggi from Namita’s Kitchen today which included jaggery. Never heard of it, so hit Google, and this is what I found on the  Sugarindia site:

A solid block of natural, simply produced jaggery (sugar)

A block of Indian jaggery

Jaggery or “Gur” or whole sugar is a pure, wholesome, traditional, unrefined, whole sugar. It contains the natural goodness of minerals and vitamins inherently present in sugarcane juice & this crowns it as one of the most wholesome and healthy sugars in the world. It Mexico & South America, it is also known as panela.

Jaggery, being a wholesome sugar, without doubt is rich in the vitally important mineral salts: 2.8 grams per 100 grams, that is to say 28 grams per kilogram, while only 300 milligrams per kilogram is found in refined sugar. Magnesium strengthens the nervous system & potassium is vital to conserve the acid balance in the cells and combats acids and acetone. Jaggery is very rich in iron, which, a composite of hemoglobin prevents anemia.

So why are we being sold fancy sugars and sugar substitutes instead of this simple, natural, healthy and cheap-to-produce stuff? Because there’s no profit in it? Because… why on earth not?

Refining – even filtering out the ‘unwanted’ bits – can remove the very substances that keep the balance of health in foodstuffs. I’m not saying that diabetics could chuck their regimes and munch jaggery to their pancreas’s content, but we should look very hard at the refining and processing of basic foodstuffs. All right, all foodstuffs.

Who’s with me? And where can I get hold of jaggery? (in the UK, Romania, Hungary, Germany or Belgium)?

Pick-me-up porridge

23 Jul

Pick-me-up recipe with cocoa, oats and spices

Good-for-you chocolate oats – what better to perk you up when you need it?

This morning I wasn’t hungry, so breakfast (unusually for me) was just a cup of coffee. I felt a bit bleurgh, a bit soggy. Not enough sleep, a bit too much stress… you know how it is.

But around 11.30am  I was feeling a bit light-headed as well as soggy, so although still not hungry, I knew I needed something.

Oats. Easy, quick. Boring. But jazzed up with gusto (did you know that ‘gustos’ in Romanian means taste or flavour? from the Latin, of course…) and rude health, I’m waiting for the zing to zap through me any minute now.

For oomph, the oats. For pick-me-up yum, organic cocoa. For zing, cayenne. For zap, cinnamon. For vim, raw cane sugar. For vigour, flax seeds. For a bit of extra zing, a sprig of mint.

Needless to say the closer you can get to home-grown, organic, free-range, etc, the better. In this picture the mint is from my garden and the cherries from my orchard. The rest is from packets, but organic packets. If organic, home-grown etc is out of reach, then it’s still a pretty damn’ good indulgent health-kick.

What you need

1 mug rolled oats (I like them coarse, but fine if you prefer)

1.5 mugs water

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons raw cane sugar (or soft brown)

2 shakes of cayenne pepper

3 shakes of cinnamon

1 tablespoon flax (lin) seeds

 What to do

Put it all in a pan and bring gently to the boil and simmer till it all goes gloopy. Add a bit more water if it needs it. Should be no more than 10 mins.

Decorate with a sprig of fresh mint and some fruit – cherries, strawberries, pear, raspberries all go well.

Add a few flaked almonds or chopped hazelnuts if you like, and top with some milk or a slug of double cream.

Positive health ingredients: oats, cayenne, cinnamon, cocoa, flax, fruit

PS I’m feeling the zap and the zing already.

PPS This does at any time of day – breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, supper or midnight snack. As well as or instead of – a purely pleasurable pick-me-up.

PPPS Oops – I forget to mention the coconut. Half a handful of organic unsweetened coconut flakes gives you lots more health benefits, a bit of extra bite, and a subtle extra flavour.

Low-cal fruit fondue (still licky-fingered)

28 May

The DIY pud has proved rather popular, but a couple of people have suggested it’s not waist-friendly. My initial reaction is ‘nuts to that – with added choc’, but there are folk who don’t share my ‘to hell with it’ attitude. So for the chocoholic, calorie conscious, healthy-eating, vegan people out there, here’s a variation.

Ingredients and method as before, BUT

It’s got to be unsweetened, and organic. Heavenly brown dust!

Instead of chocolate bars, with all the sugar and delicious gunk that makes them wicked, use organic, unsweetened, preferably raw, cocoa powder or nibs (tiny chunks). This is the healthy bit of chocolate, and it is phenomenally healthy and good for you. This is where the feel-good chemicals are found, and the heart-healthy ones, and the dark delicious flavour.Add a third bowl, with a little brandy (or whisky, sherry, liqueur of choice).

Now spear your fruit, dip it in the booze, then the cocoa, then the nuts. Eat with halo very nearly untarnished and feel all those lovely natural phytochemicals doing the rumba inside you.

DIY fruit fondue

24 May
Fruit Platter

Fruit Platter (Photo credit: Kenski1970)

My friends love a bit of DIY nosh at the party table. This is an easy pudding to put together, and your guests take the components and assemble the finished product to their own specifications. This has a touch of the mud pie about it, with the subsequent licking of fingers and scraping of plates. If there’s anything left on the serving plate – er, I’ll eat it.

Ingredients

Fruit in season, preferably home-grown, from the WI or your local greengrocer/market stall. Bananas, apples, pears, strawberries, melon, grapes, cherries, plums – whatever’s available and delicious.

Mixed nuts (not salted or roasted) chopped fine

Chocolate bars (half per person): good dark chocolate and/or milk chocolate, whatever you like best.

Milk (two tablespoons per person – ish)

First, toast the nuts. In a hot oven, put a baking sheet with the mixed chopped nuts spread out in a single layer. No oil, no salt, no sugar, just the nuts. Let them toast for 10 mins, then check to see how they’re doing. They can suddenly burn, so don’t leave them too long. Lightly toasted is fine – a bit of colour is enough to get that lovely flavour. When they’re done, let them cool, then tip them into a bowl and put them aside.

Next, chop the fruit to bite-size (about 2cm cubes) pieces; turn the fruit in the juice of an orange to keep it from going brown.

Last, break up the chocolate and put it in a non-stick pan with the milk. Heat it gently, stirring every few seconds; the milk will stop the chocolate from burning and going all grainy, and it will all suddenly thicken, at which point take it off the heat and pour into individual dishes (ramekins are ideal).

To serve, put a little dish of chocolate on each plate, and put the bowl of nuts in the middle of the fruit on a platter or two, depending on numbers. Each guest has a fork or a skewer: they spear a bit of fruit, dip it into the chocolate, then into the nuts, then into their mouths. Repeat till the fruit’s gone, then run finger round chocolate dish and lick finger. Mmmm.

Sweet, wicked and green

24 May
Pere Kermanns Absinthe

Pere Kermanns Absinthe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you want to surprise your guests (and no children, for heaven’s sake), then this is an easy pud to make, with a stunning effect.

Make lime (green) jelly as normal (Americans, this is British jelly which I think you call jello), but when you pour in the cold water, substitute a shot glass of absinthe for the last 50ml of water (per 1 pin tjelly packet). I should make it in small glasses, as even a small hit of absinthe is enough if you’re new to it.

For an extra visual kick, drop a blueberry or two into each glass before you pour in the liquid jelly.

Do warn your guests that there’s alcohol in the jelly, or you could give a nasty surprise to any recovering alcoholics or teetotallers.