2014 April |

Monthly Archives: April 2014

Mushroom Bruschetta

mushroom-bruschetta-recipe

This is a quick and delicious recipe which you can enjoy as a starter, or have as a main dish, with a salad, rice or roasted sweet potato wedges accompanying it.

Portobello mushrooms have such a great texture, and when you remove the central stem they are just made to be filled! An excellent alternative indeed to the traditional toasted slices of ciabatta bread.

The filling is based on the classic 4-ingredient-bruschetta: tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and basil.
I prepared my version as a main meal and wanted a little more interest hence I added some red onion, black olives and feta.  All a matter of taste.

There are loads of different takes on this traditional recipe: added balsamic vinegar, rocket leaves, Tuscan beans, lemon, shallots…and lots more.
Personally I loved the filling without vinegar as it let the basil, garlic and tomatoes really show off their flavours.

Serve the bruschetta at room temperature – or if you prefer a warm meal, heat the filled mushroom briefly in the oven before serving.
Serves 4

4 Portobello mushrooms
4 tomatoes, diced
4 crushed garlic cloves
1 large red onion, finely chopped
12 basil leaves – more if you like!
12 black, stoned olives, chopped (optional)
Feta cheese (optional; crumbled on top just before serving)
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:

Mix the tomatoes, garlic, onion, olives, torn basil leaves, salt and ground pepper in a bowl and let rest at room temperature whilst you prepare and bake the mushrooms (about 30 minutes).

Lightly clean or brush the outside of the mushrooms to get rid of any dirt. Place in a 150 degree oven, face down (mushroom dome up!) and coat well with olive oil. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and fill with the tomato mixture. Either serve straight away with a crumbled feta topping, or if you prefer your bruschetta warmed up, place the filled mushroom back into the hot oven for 5 minutes. Remove then add a few more fresh shredded basil leaves and the crumbled feta before serving.

Environmental toxins – reducing exposure

 

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Eat organic where possible – especially when it comes to meats, eggs, dairy produce and grains.  Whatever you do, wash all food well before eating or cooking.
Check out the appleaday facebook post from a couple of days ago, regarding the Environmental Working Group’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ ;  or google ‘Dirty Dozen’ and find out which foods you should really buy organic due to their very high toxic load.

Avoid processed foods, especially those with added colourings, sweeteners and flavourings… I realize most of you are well aware of this however it’s a useful reminder for all to check labels of any canned or bottled foods in the house.  And in this context of ‘clean living’, it simply must be mentioned J

Be aware of the water you’re drinking.  Possible contaminants include small amounts of pharmaceuticals, hormones, nitrates, lead….  Filter your water.  Take a look at multi-stage carbon filters or reverse osmosis filters

Reduce intake of soft-plastic-container bottled water.  Chemicals from the plastics often leach into the water – try glass bottles, or fill up a hard plastic drinking container with your home filtered water.

Avoid sipping your takeaway hot drink through the plastic lid.  And avoid using plastics in the microwave – ensure that any plastic containers you use for storage are free from bisphenol A (‘plastic’ blog will soon appear…)

Replace any Teflon cook and bake ware with uncoated glass, clay, stone or enamel versions

Minimise the use of cling wraps and aluminium foil.  A quick solution for storing left overs, but keep hard plastic storage boxes, and if you do use cling film try to avoid contact with the food it is covering in the bowl.  Best choice is to use glass or hard bisphenol A-free containers.
When baking use an oven container with a lid, or wrap the fish or chicken in baking paper or parchment paper instead of aluminium foil – works a treat.  Some origami in the kitchen, making a slightly loose parcel (ends however firmly closed to ensure no leakage)  and then using a wooden ‘skewer’ to keep it packed.

Avoid eating larger oily fish eg swordfish, tuna, marlin and shark, due to their higher levels of mercury and chemical pollutants compared to smaller fish.  The larger and older the fish, the more toxins they will have accumulated over the years.
Think ‘small fish with big eyes’, a teacher once told me as they live at greater depths (where one hopes the toxins will be more dispersed); being smaller, they will have less heavy metals, plastics etc stored in their bodies.  Wild salmon is a great choice, so keep an eye on offers at supermarkets or your fish supplier – and stock up.

When cooking avoid high temperatures – you don’t want food to be ‘smoking’ and certainly don’t want to eat burnt foods.  Bar-b-qs sadly are not on the healthy list – avoid whilst on a clean-eating, detox week – and otherwise enjoy in moderation – and eat less of those crispy charred bits…

Polyunsaturated fats should not be heated as they are more volatile than heated saturated or monounsaturated fats and therefore more prone to molecular structure changes which are now considered potentially carcinogenic.

Cooking with a monounsaturated oil is usually the advice given – although this is still a hotly discussed topic, as a lot of the beneficial nutrients in, say, virgin olive oil, a monounsaturated oil, will be cooked away (my suggestion: cook with it, and add a slurp of uncooked with your salad!  Difficult for many given the cost, so again, check out offers – there’s usually a virgin olive oil on sale at our local supermarket.  Stock up!)
Coconut oil is a saturated plant fat which, when heated, will not change its molecular structure to the detriment of your health.  There are loads of testimonials about the fantastic health benefits, and I personally love the taste of anything cooked in it;  claimed to be safer than heating animal-based saturated fats like butter however, again, there are opposing opinions on this.  Some CV doctors/nurses say all saturated fats aredetrimental to arteries and heart health – then there are in vitro studies showing massive overall health benefits including improved cholesterol.  Eat in moderation is my current recommendation.

I would  welcome hearing of results of large-scale research studies, preferably in vivo, on coconut oil so do please share any information on this :)

Environmental considerations:

Avoid pesticides or herbicides in your home or garden

Avoid aluminium-containing antiperspirants and antacids – huge links to breast cancer.

Have second-thoughts about water proofing or flame proofing furniture coverings and clothes – you can have severe reactions.

Check out natural carpets or hardwoods instead of the standard carpeting which is treated with chemicals

Hair products and skin care:  look for those without added alcohol, sodium lauryl sulphate, phthalates, parabens or other petrochemicals – look at www.essential-care.co.uk or numerous other natural beauty product sites

Use paints labelled low or no VOC. Various finishes and paints release low-level toxic emissions into the air even years after application – these VOCs (volatile organic compounds) may have short and long-term adverse health effects

Control the dust, mould and bacteria in your home.  Wet wipe, check out home air filters or ionisers…and adopt some indoor plants!

Go natural with cleaning products – make your own (I’ll post some tips about this later as a facebook blog and sometime next week on another website blog) Green People and Ecover are very good but there are now lots of fab choices to be made.www.naturalcollection.com is good to look around

Avoid heavy traffic for long periods of time – yes of course this is NOT always easy to control, however if you can pick your time to travel, avoid work/school traffic times…and if you go for a walk,  stride across fields, parks or small lanes, rather than walking on busier roads and breathing in car fumes. Another addition to your toxic load.

Avoid smoking and smokers….apologies if this sounds trite!  Such a huge subject in a mere sentence however it is too well known to labour the point.  We all know the facts, we’ve seen the packaging change from outdoorsie Malboro man to health warning signs and plain labelling. Smoking is a highly addictive habit and hence difficult for many to just drop.  There are lots of books to google, tapes to buy.  Hypnotherapy and psychotherapy can both be fabulous.
But in the end, it’s up to the smoker ….and those in the vicinity, inhaling a smoker’s puffs!

Electromagnetic fields are shown now to affect more and more people, not just very sensitive allergic individuals.
Restrict mobile phone use (turn off inbetween – it also limits how many ‘quick’ texts you send which can actually wait until later).   Turn off other electrical equipment when not in use and certainly limit the amount of electrical equipment in the bedroom.  T.V.s may be great company but apart from the electrical aspect of sleeping in a room full of equipment (computer, phones, electric alarms…what else?), all those little red and green lights can disturb sleepzzzzzzz.