The secret to delicious veg

No more mushy veg! Whoever would have thought it, vegetables don’t like to be cooked in water or steamed for that matter. They lose flavour, colour and goodness. They prefer to be roasted or fried. Don’t panic I don’t mean deep fried or fried in loads of oil. I mean cooked in an oven or a frying pan.

We eat a lot of veg in our house, not because we feel we should but because it is genuinely tasty. I feel like a born again veg lover. You name it cabbage, brussels sprouts, peas, cauliflower, parsnip, beetroot, kale, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, tomato,onion, swiss chard, spinach, carrots, leeks, pepper, mushroom, bok choy, courgette, aubergine.

Slice it in to the size you want, mix it up with a bit of olive oil, apple juice or water and whack it in the oven. Avoid using too much apple juice, a splash is great, but after that use water. Sprinkle with seasoning like Chinese 5 spice or seasons all if you want a richer flavour.

If I am cooking more solid veg like beetroot or carrot with leafy veg I do it in stages, use as many stages as you need to. For example I’d cook brussels and leeks first for 5-6 mins then I’d add kale and swiss chard for another 5-6 mins. (The harder the veg the longer it takes to cook, e.g. beetroot and carrot). Cooking time depending on how fine you cut it up and how well you like it cooked, so it might take some experimenting. I always leave very soft leaf like spinach until the end and just stir it into the mix before serving. The heat from the veg start to wilt it enough for my taste. The great thing is you can eat veg raw so you won’t give anyone food poisoning from under cooked veg so feel free to experiment.

For a small amount of veg or if you prefer, you can achieve the same effect in a frying pan or wok. I get the pan hot, add the veg dry, quick whizz round until they start to turn, then I add apple juice or water, put the lid on and leave until done.

Serve just as it in or add a favourite dressing, balsamic, lemon juice, sweet chill, soy (depending on the flavour combo).

You will give a whole new flavour to your veg. Ordinary broccoli takes on a whole new personality, leeks are so sweet you won’t believe it, Bok Choy becomes the centre of attention and people start to like brussels sprouts.

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A brilliant guide to pork

Next to chicken and fish, pork is the one of our highest factory, intensively farmed meats. This means lots of unethical issues, human health, animal welfare, food poverty, environment. So choosing a higher welfare pork makes a huge difference.  Always buy pork with caution.

This great chart from http://farmsnotfactories.org will help 🙂

 

 

Organic

Free range

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RSPCA Assured

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Tractor

No welfare label

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Shared from http://farmsnotfactories.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/pig-welfare-comparison-chart.pdf

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Super easy – yellow split pea Dal

 

I make a really easy (lazy) version of Dal. It hardly warrants and recipe it is so easy. If you have never made or eaten dal is it well worth trying. It is in my top 5 list of comfort foods. I make it as a side dish with curry, but it can be eaten as a main dish with extras thrown in. It is always good to have some for left overs as it is makes a really quick snack and would keep covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.

I made a big batch so use a whole bag of split peas (500gm) which would serve 4 as a main dish or 10 side portions. Ingredients in bold.

 

  • Follow the instructions on the packet, which is usually to wash the peas well in cold water.
  • Add to the pan and add water. I add enough water to cover the peas plus approx 1 inch
  • Add 1 level tablespoon of stock powder. I use ‘Organic Swiss Vegetable Vegan Bouillon Powder’. You can add more stock to taste later if needed.
  • Stir, cover and bring to the boil
  • Turn down to simmer, keep covered
  • Check after 15 mins and add more water to keep the peas cover as they swell
  • You can’t really go wrong, just make sure you don’t add too much water as they need to absorb it all. Likewise you don’t want them to dry out and stick
  • Total cook time for stage 1 is around 45 mins
  • Stage 2 you need to tend them a bit more, leave covered, check every 10-15 mins and add just enough water to stop it sticking. You are aiming them to all break down and turn into a paste. Achieve this be stirring well every check. This takes around 1 hr maybe longer – you can’t over cook them so don’t worry.
  • Once they have all broken down uncover and stir really well, work them into a paste. You can decide how thick you want it, just keep cooking it with the lift off until it has thickened. Tarka dal is traditionally quite wet but for a side I like it quite thick.
  • Add salt, pepper or more stock to taste. This helps gives it a deeper flavour.

I’ve made it sounds complicated but it really isn’t! Peas, water, stock, heat, stir. 500g pack cost around 60p, they are on offer in Waitrose this week at 44p! And the best bit split yellow peas are really good for you – 1.2% fat, carbohydrates 13% (0.1% sugar), fibre 8.2%, protein 8.9% a really well balanced whole food.

 

If you want to go wild and make more effort to serve as a main dish try this recipe:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/tarkadal_90055

 

 

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Don’t freak out

Don’t freak out. Make small changes, one at a time. Focus on something simple and keep working at it until it becomes second nature.

When we start to question things and make changes it is often overwhelming. I say this from personal experience. It is always hard to start doing something new, especially when it involved making an effort.

It is easier to give up before you really get started. It is easier not to bother than to try and fail. We have all done it, especially when we are trying to give something up or make a significant change. Trying to get fit, deciding to read all your emails before you leave work, keeping your car clear, giving up drinking, saving money – (now you’ve got an insight into my world).

Physiologists could explain the reasons for all this. My simple view is that our attempts to change often fail because we try to do too much at once. We overload and pressure ourselves and we check out before we have really checked in.

Me and Mr Ethivore didn’t conscientiously decide to cut anything out and it didn’t happen over night. It happened step by step and we learnt as we went along. Small changes add up and they are easier to stick with. Whether you make one change or a series of changes it is all counts. If 100 people change 1% it is the same of 1 person changing 100% so if lots of us make even the smallest of changes the overall impact is very powerful.

For the record we have successfully changed our diets from 90/10 to 10/90 (I’ll explain more in another post), but the rest of it not so good, I’ll clean my car if I ever have to give you a lift!

Trying, one step at a time.

The Ethical omnivore.

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Children are our future

‘I believe the children are our future,
Teach them well and let them lead the way,
Show them all the beauty they possess inside,
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier,

Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be….’

Whitney Houston knew it and so does the food industry. Teach them while they are young and they’ll never question it when they grow up. Yep I’ve found a child’s colouring book promoting the factory farming of pigs, read it here.
The truth is that the majority of us has a wonky perception of reality when it comes to farming, thanks to our childhood. ‘Drink milk for strong bones’ is the first one that springs to mind. (Which, if you haven’t read the post about ‘calcium and dairy’ you’ll know that bone density is mainly attributed to weight bearing exercise done during your 20s and 30s and over 40 food contain calcium – anyway back to the point…)
Start ’em young and ensure your customer of the future. We all do it, we take the kids on days out to ‘show’ farms. We buy them farm sets of the happy farmer and the animals dotted around the pastures. We coo at the baby chicks. And so we should, we should show our children the sunny side of the street, teach them what a good farm looks like and to love and respect nature. On the flip side we should teach them that not all farms are like that and that they should watch out for it as they would any danger. The same as we teach them about about crossing the road, stranger danger, smoking, junk food.
But to teach children that factory farms are great places – that is wrong for so many reasons. Where taking the pigs away from the mud into the clean barren plastic indoor stall, with a slatted floor (to allow the poo and wee to flow away) is a good thing. Or that small metal cages that house the mummy pigs are a great because it makes it safer for the piglets, or to teach them about mutilation of 3-10 days old piglets, or that ‘culling’ is the practice used to deal with the sick pigs. ‘Don’t worry children the sick pig has been culled, it is all OK now’. YES this is happening. A colouring book and quiz aimed at children of 12 yrs and under is being distributed by the US pork council, and supported by the USDA (equivalent to DEFRA) and the US government. It is lovingly, titled ‘Producers, pigs and pork’, see the real life version here Factory farming colouring books (double click the link), and take the very age inappropriate Swine Knowledge Junior Quizbowl it is worth a look, even for a laugh at how ridiculous it is. If you don’t laugh you’ll cry!

Now this is in the US so why is it relevant to us? Well there is a universal theme here and a serious topic. We are very lucky that people in the UK are not so gullible. No one would ever fall for such a tactic. Would we? Think about how many images and statements of false advertising we see every day relating to food production that we don’t question? The smiling child holding the chicken or the cuddling family in front of their spacious lawn rather than the massive windowless sheds, the Willow farm logo, when no such farm exists it is meat that comes from the EU, not even a specific country. When we start to see past the marketing messages we start to see what we need to and make the right choices.
Get your colouring pencils out, draw a blue sky, big fluffy clouds, a big yellow sun with spikes, a cow grazing in the long grass and a pig laying in a muddy hole. That is the image I want both in my imagination and my reality. P.S. If anyone does do a drawing, I’d love to see it!
Love you Whitney!
The Ethical Omnivore

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