Category Archives: Tips

Low in Salt Big on Taste

P1090334There is no doubt that generally there is too much salt in our diet. The main problem is the sodium content which is really high in normal processed table salt or ‘added’ salt in processed food products. This is what gives it the negative health impact. Maldon or similar quality salts (which are specified in the recipes on this blog) still have a high sodium content but are a purer cleaner product. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to say that salt is ‘good’ for you, but I can’t. What I can say though is that salt is necessary to our diet and if you are going to use it make it a good one and try not to buy food with added salt. Better add your own which is of good quality.

P1090329There have been so many misconceptions about salt that most people think that it is bad for you.  The fact is that salt is the most important component in alkalising the blood and tissues.  Your salt intake is essential especially if you follow a unprocessed, vegetable based diet.

Being a chef, seasoning is everything to me.  It is very easy to lean on salt and overcompensate what the natural textures and flavours bring to a dish. In cutting back my personal salt intake I am using the following seasonings to satisfy my salty desires but with a 90 per cent cut back in the amount of salt I consume.

Gomasio

There is nothing new about gomasio, it is a big part of Japanese seasoning and more pertinently to this blog and the ‘macrobiotic’ diet. Accounting for health and taste it is made with a ratio of any thing from 5:1 to 15:1. I am in between this at 10:1 which I think works as a credible replacement for salt. I have also done a salt free version with wakame, a dried seaweed available from healthfood shops and some supermarkets. Unhulled sesame seeds are not the white ones which are common in Asian shops, they are darker in colour found in any health food shops or the healthy section in a supermarket. If you can’t find unhulled then do the pumpkin and sunflower seed version. The white sesame seeds contain little if any nutritional value.

Classic Gomasio

150g unhulled sesame seeds
15g good quality sea salt

Method

IMG_0530Grind the salt with a pestle and mortar . Mix the salt and sesame seeds together in a bowl. In a dry pan toast the mix off, not too much, just until aromas start to become apparent. Next transfer the mix to the pestle and start to work it with the mortar. Start by bashing it then grinding round and round until you have a coarse powder. If you don’t have one then just pulse it in whatever machine you have, don’t over do it with the machine as it will release all the oils and go really thick so you can’t sprinkle it.

Wakame and sesame gomasio

150g unhulled sesame seeds
25g dried wakame

Scrunch up the wakame so its in small pieces and toast off in a dry pan for a couple of minutes. Add the sesame seeds and toss together toasting for another minute or so then grind the mix following the instructions above.

Sunflower and Pumkin seed seasoning (omega rich)

P1090326Grind the salt first then mix the seeds and the salt. Lightly toast until the seeds start popping, When in the mortar you bash to break it up rather than grinding round and round it like the sesame gomasio. Rather than grinding you are breaking down until you have a consistency that you can sprinkle.

All of the above have a long shelf life. Put into a jar or a sealable container and incorporate into your meals and snacks.

Griddle Pan

It’s a funny word griddle, I think it´s often mistaken for grilling, the dictionary definition is exact

griddle |ˈgridl|

noun

1 a heavy, flat iron plate that is heated and used for cooking food.

I use my griddle pan so much I don’t even bother putting it away any more.  It is a permanent fixture on the top of my cooker.  I will bear reference to the use of it a lot in the recipes that I will be posting, but essentially I use it for vegetables, meat and toast.

They come in all diferent shapes and sizes, square, rectangle and round.  If you are going to go out and buy one, I recommend the rectangle ones.

Tamari Seeds

I can’t get enough of these. Always make more than you need as they are hard to stop eating. They keep well in a tupperware making a great addition to green salads and vegetables. When you make them the smell should remind you of twiglets.

Ingredients

75g sunflower seeds
10ml tamari

Method 

Heat a large frying pan and add the seeds.  Dry roast them until they are nice golden colour, remove from the heat and splash over the tamari.  You will need to keep the seeds moving (use a silicone spatula for example).

Once the seeds are evenly coated, put onto a plate and leave to cool.

Roasted Red Peppers

Roasting and peeling red peppers raise these vegetable to another level.The richness of taste and the smoothness of texture make it an unrivaled ingredient to salads, stews and as a side vegetable. They are delicious eaten simply too – on a cracker with hummus or tapenade for example. It is worth doing a batch and putting them in a sealed container in the fridge covered with olive oil.  Raw peppers are raw peppers and are delicious as that, but apart from baking peppers, all dishes seem to be improved by peeling the pepper. I suggest doing this with three large red peppers and forcing yourself to use them when ever possible.

Ingredients

3 large red peppers

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees. Put the peppers on parchment paper, then onto a baking tray. Place them in the oven until they start to blacken, this can take 20 minutes, maybe a bit longer. Take out of the oven and let them cool down a bit, a couple of minutes. Cover with cling film. Forget about them for at least an hour.

Un-wrap  and pull off the skin and remove the seeds. This is never the same process, sometimes the whole skin pulls off and the pepper is in large attractive pieces, other times it can be bitty, messy and annoying.  After you have done this a few times it will become easier.

Sprouted Lentils


Sprouted LentilsMost pulse and seeds will sprout. Health food shops have a good selection of ingredients for sprouting. Alfalfa, broccoli, chickpeas, mung-beans (soy), sunflower and pumpkin seeds all sprout well. In this instruction we are using puy lentils.  With just a small square sealed container and a sieve you can start learning the sprouting process and try to integrate it into your life. If this interests you will find a lot more elaborate equipment to help you out in health food shops or online. This is really just to show you how straightforward it can be to start.

Incorporating sprouted pulses into your diet is a way to avoid the flatulence found in cooked pulses whilst maintaining their benefits in your diet eg  fibre intake, protein content as well as vitamins and minerals. You could have two or three different types of sprouts on the go at the same time. In this recipe 100g lentils are used, this will make enough for two or three salads. They keep well for three days in a sealed container. In my experience the pulses from health food shops that are organically certified are in a different league so far as quality goes. The price difference is not so much.

Ingredients

100g green puy lentils

Method

Sprouted LentilsSoak the lentils in enough water to cover them for 3 to 4 hours, in a sealed container. Drain, rinse and put back into the container and cover with kitchen roll.  Leave at room temperature. I always advise people to leave them close to the washing-up area so you don’t forget about them.

Sprouted LentilsYou have to wash the lentils under cold running water twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.  Use the sieve for this. Always put back into the container and cover with kitchen roll. This process will take three to four days to complete. When ready place in a container with a lid and keep in the fridge. Graze on these, put into salads or use as a garnish on crackers.