Late summer and early autumn are the times for apples and blackberries.  Blackberries pack a powerful anti-oxidant punch:  they have one of the highest anti-oxidant contents of all fruit.  They’re also rich in anthocyanins and ellagic acid which have anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties; anthocyanins may also help to reduce inflammation and enhance memory and cognition.  Although blackberries aren’t that great to eat on their own, they do – as luck would have it – go brilliantly together with apples, so scroll down to find a great recipe for apple and blackberry cake (which you can also eat as a pudding) and it’s wheat and gluten free, so if you’re intolerant to those, you can still enjoy it.

It’s also the time of year when greens like cabbage and kale start coming into season.  Yuk? We all know they’re good for us (rich in anti-cancer compounds and substances which help the liver to function efficiently, helping to detoxify and balance hormones), but they’re not always easy to eat.

Kale in particular is a difficult one. It’s super-healthy, but quite strongly flavoured and can be bitter, which puts people off.  Trust me, my recipe (below) for Krispy Kale, aka Kale Chips or Crisps is delicious way to eat it.

And not everyone is a cabbage fan either, so I’ve got an unusual and delicious recipe for that too: it may sound a bit of an odd mix of ingredients, but I love it, and it can make cabbage a bit more child-friendly too, as the apricots lend some sweetness to it.

Sources:

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference; Release 20, USDA; 2008

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; Content of Redox-Active Compounds in Foods Consumed in the United States; BL Halvorsen; July 2006

Oregon State University: http://berryhealth.fst.oregonstate.edu/health_healing/fact_sheets/blackberry_facts.htm

What else is going on?

29th September is World Heart Day

Did you know that although many women’s greatest health fear is breast cancer, you’re more likely to die of heart disease than breast cancer, even if you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer?

(Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110620094438.htm and “Cardiovascular disease competes with breast cancer as the leading cause of death for older females diagnosed with breast cancer: a retrospective cohort study” Jennifer L. Patnaik, Tim Byers, Carolyn DiGuiseppi, Dana Dabelea and Tom Denberg Breast Cancer Research

Dietary factors have an important role to play in heart disease, and there’s a lot of confusion around this.   In particular regarding eggs:  current advice is that there is no need for most people to restrict the number of eggs they eat – although doctors may advise this if you have extremely high cholesterol due to genetic factors (Source: http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/conditions/high-cholesterol.aspx).

There’s also a lot of confusion around fats.   Good fats are actually very important for health in general, and heart health in particular.  So it’s important to get enough good fats, including omega 9 fats from sources like olive oil and avocado, and also the omega 3 fats from oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and herrings. Omega-3 from oily fish can help to lower blood triglyceride levels, helps prevent the blood from clotting, and can also help to regulate the heart rhythm. (Source: http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/conditions/high-cholesterol.aspx)

Unfortunately, lots of people don’t like fish, or just don’t really know what to do with it, so I’ve also go a couple of suggestions for cooking oily fish: one to liven up a boring salmon fillet, and one to hide the fishy taste of fish for people who don’t really like it.

Apple and blackberry polenta cake

This is a great for anyone who is wheat or gluten intolerant – or anyone else for that matter.

You need

175g softened butter
100g caster sugar

3 large eggs

75g fine polenta

125g ground almonds

1/2 tsp baking powder
1 large dessert apple
200g blackberries (washed)

Teaspoon of vanilla extract

Juice of a lemon.

15cm or 20cm loose-bottomed spring-form cake tin, 6cm deep, lined with baking parchment

Method

Preheat oven to 180/gas 5.

  1. Peel and chop the apple or leave the peel on if you like, put in a bowl, sprinkle with lemon juice and mix around.  Leave to one side while you make the cake mix.
  2. Cream butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat eggs and add bit by bit to the butter and sugar mix.  Mix in completely before adding more.  This should stop the mix curdling, but if it does, just ignore it or add a little polenta or ground almonds.
  4. Then add the polenta and ground almonds.
  5. Stir in the chopped apples, then the blackberries.
  6. Spoon into the cake tin and spread it out evenly, though obviously the fruit will make it lumpy!
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes hour, then push a skewer into the centre. It will come out slightly wet from the fruit, but should have no cake mixture on it.
  8. Leave to cool, if you can wait that long, then eat.

 

Krispy Kale

Prep:  about 10 minutes

Cooking: about 10 minutes

You need

1 large bunch kale

1 tablespoon olive oil

Half to 1 teaspoon sea salt + pepper

Method

  1. Preheat an oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
  2. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  3. Strip kale leaves from stems tear into large, bite size pieces.
  4. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. (The drying is important or you’ll steam them and they won’t crisp up.)
  5. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Sprinkle with a little chilli powder or flakes if you like.
  7. Lay on the baking tray.
  8. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.

 

Braised Savoy cabbage with apricots, pecans and caraway

This recipe is from BBC food http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/ which is a brilliant resource for delicious, healthy, easy recipes.

If you forget to soak the apricots, I’ve made it without soaking them first, and it seems to work OK.  I’ve also made it without the brandy, and it’s fine.

You need

30g/1¼oz dried apricots

2 tbsp olive oil

400g/14oz savoy cabbage, shredded

1 medium white onion, halved and thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped

1 tbsp caraway seeds

50ml/2floz brandy

Salt

30g/1¼oz shelled pecans, halved

Method

  1. Soak the apricots for one hour in just enough water to cover them and then slice them thinly.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the cabbage, onion and garlic. Cook for five minutes over a medium heat until the cabbage has softened a little.
  3. Add the apricots, caraway, brandy and a pinch of salt.
  4. Bring back to the boil, turn the heat down to low, then cover loosely with baking parchment and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the cabbage is soft and sweet, stirring occasionally to ensure the cabbage does not stick.
  5. Stir in the pecans and serve.

 

Quick Teriyaki Salmon

This doesn’t require any marinating.  It is adapted from a recipe on the BBC food website:   http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/teriyakisalmon_66107

You need

For 2 people:

2 salmon fillets

4-5 tbspns dark soy sauce

Zest and juice of a lime

1 small chilli or 1 tspn of Lazy Chilli

2 tbspns maple syrup or runny honey

1 chopped garlic clove

1 inch of ginger, peeled and chopped, or 1 tspn of Lazy Ginger

2 courgettes

Method

Slice the courgettes and put on to steam for a few minutes and while they cook, you can do the fish:

Heat some olive oil in a pan and fry the ginger, garlic and chopped chilli.

Add the zest and juice of the lime and pour in the soy sauce.

Add the maple syrup or honey and cook for 1 minute or until reduced and sticky.

Meanwhile, pan-fry the two pieces of salmon for 2 minutes each side in a hot griddle pan, then add the salmon, make sure it’s covered in sauce, then transfer to a plate.

Serve with steamed courgettes, also abundant in late summer and early autumn.

 

Smoked mackerel, potato and spinach curry

The curry hides the fishiness for people who don’t like fish.

For 2 people:

You need

2 good sized smoked mackerel fillets, skin removed, cut into bite-sized pieces.

150g potatoes, boiled and diced

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons of your favourite curry paste

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 large bag spinach

Method

  1. Boil and dice the potatoes.  Set aside.
  2. Dice the onion and fry gently.
  3. Add the garlic and the curry paste.
  4. Add the fish and stir in.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until reduced.
  6. Add the spinach, allow it to wilt and mix in.
  7. Add the cooked potatoes and allow to heat through.
  8. Some water will come out of the spinach but you can add more water for a wetter curry if you prefer it that way.

 


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