Experiments with pineapple
When I heard that sales of pineapple are booming in the UK, with one buyer claiming that it might start to rival avocado in popularity, I just had to put together a pineapple blog to follow on from last month’s avocado blog.
I’ve got bad memories of pineapple from the 1960s. Tinned pineapple chunks, soggy pineapple rings with evaporated milk and pineapple and cheese cubes on cocktail sticks. Time for a re-think, because pineapples are rich in vitamin C (one serving supplies more than your daily recommended intake), potassium and the enzyme bromelain, which can reduce inflammation. One word of caution though – a serving of pineapple contains 16g sugar (compared with raspberries, which contain 5g sugar per serving). So, rather than eat it on its own, try the three recipes below where the sweetness is balanced by lots of other healthy ingredients.
Green pineapple juice
The addition of pineapple lifts this classic green juice.
One cucumber, roughly chopped
Three sticks of celery, halved
Two handfuls of spinach leaves
Half a pineapple, sliced
One inch peeled ginger, chopped
Juice all ingredients and drink immediately.
Three types of green leaves – I used a bag of pea shoots, two baby gem lettuce and a bag of watercress
50g pomegranate seeds
100g pineapple, cut into small chunks
Handful of mixed seeds (linseed, pumpkin and sunflower)
One sliced avocado
Toss all ingredients in a dressing of flaxseed oil, cider vinegar and lemon. To make more of a main meal of this salad, add an extra avocado and some prawns.
Serves two to three
Two onions, chopped
One inch grated ginger
Two Tbsp curry paste
100g oily toor dhal (or red lentils or similar pulse)
400g coconut milk
400g tin tomatoes
400g mushrooms, sliced
100g frozen peas
one-quarter pineapple, chopped
half mango, chopped
Fry the onion and ginger in coconut oil till soft and add the curry paste and dhal. Stir and add the coconut milk and tomatoes. Simmer for about 20 minutes, then add the mushrooms and peas. Stir for a few minutes, then add the pineapple and mango and heat through.
Next month – experiments with cacao
Experiments with avocado
Avocado is used increasingly to make dishes vegan – instead of butter on toast and in main course salads instead of ham or chicken. But avocado is far more than an animal product substitute. The fruit of the Persea Americana tree is rich in vitamins, including vitamin E, and contains more potassium than a banana. It has a glycaemic index of zero and contains more fat than any other fruit. This is ‘heart healthy’ monounsaturated fat – specifically, oleic acid, which is also found in olive oil. Here are three easy ways to include more avocados in your diet.
Avocado green smoothie
This is a lovely, creamy drink which is rather like a super-healthy chocolate milk shake.
One avocado, peeled, stoned and sliced
300ml hemp, almond or coconut milk (or a mixture)
Blend all the ingredients in a Nutribullet or similar device. Drink immediately.
Avocado on toast
This is my version of avocado on toast, where I replace the traditional poached egg with a version of the classic Italian dish insalata tricolore, which combines avocado with tomatoes and mozzarella.
Serves one as a light main, or make double quantities/add salad for a main for two. You could also cut this into smaller pieces for a party canape dish.
Thick slice of interesting bread (I used walnut, but you could use olive or sourdough), toasted
One sliced avocado
Soft cheese (I used Cornish brie, but mozzarella or feta would also work well)
Chopped mint/basil/microgreens to finish
Layer the avocado, tomatoes and cheese on the toast and heat under the grill until the cheese has melted. Finish with the herbs/microgreens.
This spread is packed with healthy fats from the avocado and the oils.
Makes around four servings
Tub of hummus (suggest going for an ‘artisan’ or home-made version with extra-virgin cold pressed olive oil, rather than standard supermarket product)
One avocado, peeled and sliced
One tbsp. flax seed oil (I used the chilli-steeped version, but the plain version is just as good)
Juice of one lemon
Blitz all ingredients in a Nutribullet or food processor. Serve with crudités and/or pitta bread. Keeps for a day or two in the fridge.
Next month: Experiments with pineapple
R is for Raspberries
We are approaching the peak season for UK raspberries, so make the most of them while you can! Raspberries, which belong to the same botanical family as blackberries and roses, are not only delicious, but low in sugar, high in soluble fibre, vitamin C, potassium and phytochemicals. You’ll be familiar with the red raspberries pictured above, but you can also buy purple, gold and black raspberries. It’s worth seeking out – or even growing – black raspberries, as they are particularly rich in antioxidant phytochemicals like ellagic acid and anthocyanins. Raspberries should always be eaten on the day, as they don’t keep well. But you can freeze them, and keep up your supplies of this ‘superfruit’ all year round (if you are tempted to buy imported raspberries, just think of the air miles and carbon footprint!)
At only 120 calories, and containing five servings of fruit and vegetables and 10g, this is a very healthy and delicious snack or light meal.
Handful of spinach
250ml hemp or almond milk
Blast the above ingredients in a Nutribullet
Red fruit salad
This is a lovely dish, full of contrasting textures and flavours, to take to a summer party or barbecue. Also nice with yoghurt for breakfast, especially with a dollop of stewed rhubarb.
Serves two to four
Wedge of watermelon, cut into chunks
Punnet of raspberries
Punnet of strawberries, hulled and chopped
Mix the fruits and scatter with the mint.
Summer raspberry sundae
This is the recreation of a delicious, yet simple, dessert I had on holiday in Germany a couple of years ago. Go for the best quality ice cream you can find to make the most of it.
Punnet of raspberries
Ice cream (works well with vanilla, coffee, chocolate and, of course, raspberry)
Tip the raspberries into a saucepan and heat on a low heat for a couple of minutes until they make a thick sauce. Serve with the ice cream and a scoop of marscapone.
Raspberry vinegar salad
Search out raspberry vinegar in specialist food shops and use in a sweet/red themed salad. Delicious with or without flaxseed, olive or hazelnut oil in a salad of beetroot, red onion, tomatoes, hazelnuts and cranberries.
A is for Asparagus
The official start of the British asparagus season is May 1 and our native asparagus has begun to appear on market stalls. So enjoy this healthy spring treat over the next few weeks (and don’t even think about buying imported, tinned or bottled).
Asparagus is an excellent source of fibre, folic acid and vitamins A, C, E and K. It is also rich in chromium, which may help improve insulin sensitivity and prevent/control diabetes. It contains glutathione, which helps break down carcinogens and free radicals, thereby protecting against cancer. Incidentally, avocado, kale and Brussels sprouts are also rich in glutathione – making the Superfood salad below a particularly healthy option. Finally, asparagus contains the amino acid asparagines, which is a natural diuretic. It therefore has a ‘cleansing’ effect (good to include on a detox day or week). Incidentally, your urine may smell odd after consuming asparagus, because it breaks down to give sulphur-containing compounds which have a strong odour (but are completely harmless).
I had never juiced asparagus before, but I’m always keen to try new ingredients. Asparagus, Beetroot and Carrot felt like a good combo, to give an almost 100% vegetable juice (with the addition of my usual lemon and ginger). You could also try an all green version, replacing the beetroot and carrot with celery, cucumber and spinach.
Bunch of asparagus, chopped
Lump of ginger, peeled
One lemon, chopped into quarters
Juice all ingredients
Asparagus Superfood Salad
Try replacing tenderstem broccoli with asparagus in a traditional superfood salad. This is very good with grilled salmon.
Bag of watercress
Large avocado, peeled and chopped
Handful of dried cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds
Half packet of alfalfa sprouts
Cook the asparagus in boiling water for around 5 minutes, drain and cool. Then assemble the other ingredients, chop the asparagus into small pieces.
Make a dressing by crushing a clove of garlic with mustard powder and/or some grainy salt till it forms a puree. Then add 1 tbsp cider vinegar, juice of half a lemon and 1 tbsp flax seed oil. Toss all the salad ingredients in the dressing.
There are four green ingredients in this main dish – asparagus, peas, pesto and mint. Of course, you can add more (try chopped baby leeks, broad beans, parsley). If you have a bit more time, you could put together a home-made pesto, maybe even replacing the basil with rocket or watercress. I found a chilli and tomato pesto on the deli counter, which was ideal for me as I find it hard to do pasta without tomatoes! But fresh, regular basil pesto works just fine. Pesto in a jar is OK too.
Tub of fresh pesto
Bunch of asparagus, chopped
Set the pasta to boil. When the pasta is half-cooked (about 5 minutes) add the asparagus and peas. Finish cooking the pasta (about five more minutes). Drain and stir in the pesto. Finish with chopped mint.