Go Back To Your Winter Roots: Celeriac And Rutabaga Fries

Winter ain’t good for much in my book.

If I never see another winter it’ll be too soon.

I mean…um…not that I want to die before next winter; but whhhhhhhhhyyyy can’t it go SPRING! SUMMER! AUTUMN! REPEAT!!!

But…I guess I love skating on the Christmas rinks. And the new Starbucks mulled apple chai with REAL cinnamon sticks is kinda delicious.

And I loooove hot, warming soups and bean stews and curries.

And………

………Wait for it…….

WINTER ROOT VEG!

It’s perhaps worth suffering just a little winter for these?

Now we’re all down with the parsnips, carrots and turnips; but there are two others you may not be so familiar with that would love to be players in your winter meal rotation.

Why?

Just ‘cos they’re darn well delectable that’s why!

Uh, it’s fair to say these two characters ain’t pretty; but their charm is in their rich, earthy taste.

If you haven’t tried them already, get some in and see what you think.

It isn’t always the prettiest veg that taste the nicest!

And they’re cheap as chips, hurrah!

The first is celeriac. This is its prettiest side:

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And this is its slightly grizzlier side!

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Not to put you off, but it looks a little brain-like to me!

But seriously; please don’t be put off by the nobbles or the hairy bits 🙂

The second glorious but lesser known winter root veg is rutabaga; or swede as its known here in the UK.

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This is a little more photogenic – I love the green with the purple.

Oh, also? These two fellas are fibre-filled nutrient bombs.

Celeriac is a great source of Vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, manganese and vitamin C; while the rutabagas will provide you with vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

One of the best and simplest things you can do with these two veg is make fries. YAY, friiiiiiiiies!!

Celeriac / Rutabaga Fries

  • Pre-heat your oven to 200C.
  • The hardest part of this recipe is peeling your root veg and chopping it into fries; but you’re no wuss; you can do it.
  • You’ll want to make the fries quite thin, say, 1cm wide maximum, otherwise they’ll take too long to bake.
  • Lay your cut celeriac or rutabaga fries in a parchment-paper lined baking tray thus; and spray them with either sunflower or olive oil.
Celeriac cut into fries. Yumski!
Celeriac cut into fries. Yumski!
  • Salt generously and sprinkle either fresh or dried rosemary evenly-ish all over.
  • Bake for approximately 35 minutes (or until they brown slightly), turning them once half way through.

These are the fries of the celeriac:

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And these are the fries of the rutabaga:

Gimme dem fries now!
Gimme dem fries now!
  • Serve with vegan garlic aioli, vegan mayo, ketchup etc.

 

Mash

Have a change from potato or sweet potato mash – try mashed celeriac or rutabaga!

You can even do half potato, half rutabaga; or half potato, half celeriac. The other day I mashed a mix of the root veg I had left in my fridge – which happened to be sweet potato, a wedge of celeriac and a couple of turnips. I was doubtful that it could work but it was absolutely delicious!

Make the mash exactly as you would regular potato mash. i.e. boil the veg till soft; drain; mash your veg while adding a splash of soy or almond milk and a knob of dairy-free margarine. Season well with salt and black pepper.

Stews & Soups

Celeriac and rutabaga are great in stews and soups. Try sometimes adding either (or both!) to any recipe instead of potato.

Don’t get in rut with your roots! Shake it up! Don’t worry about the ugly! Isn’t there a saying.. ‘ugly on the table, damn tasty in the mouth?’ No? Well there OUGHT to be.

 

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Constipation. Not A Natural State Of Affairs

Vintage Tins of Ramon's Mild Laxative Pills, Trade Mark - "The Little Doctor", NOS from Flickr via Wylio
© 2013 Joe Haupt, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

I’m hearing frighteningly often that people are constipated.

I’ve heard it so often it seems like it’s an epidemic.

It’s such a shame that people are feeling so uncomfortable when there is no reason at all they should.

Life is too short to spend that much of it in the bathroom!

If you’re suffering with this all-too-common problem, read on.

Once you’ve checked with your doctor that there isn’t a more serious problem causing it; that is, once you’ve been told its good old regular constipation, you can start the remedy immediately.

I know that YOU know I’m about to go on a fibre-filled rant…and you probably suspect I’m going to tell you that the BEST cure is a whole food, plant-based diet, right?

CORRECT!

Give yourself a candy.

To better understand WHY though, we need to be aware of a few things.

Food in = an almost equal amount of stuff coming out the other end, right?

And you eat three/four times a day?

This food needs to pass through our bodies in 8-12 hours, to avoid overstaying its welcome!

If it takes longer to pass through it will fester and putrefy – your body isn’t refrigerated. When you eat you’re pretty much putting food in a hothouse for 12 hours.

Ick.

It’s fibre that takes food through our bodies. So for timeliness of digestion, everything we eat should contain fibre.

There are two main food villains when it comes to constipation.

The first one is ANIMAL PRODUCTS, ALL OF THEM: MEAT, DAIRY AND EGGS. They have a constipating effect due to their lack of fibre, because….

……fibre is ONLY in plant food.

Therefore, the more animal foods you eat, the more chance you have of being constipated.

The OTHER constipating villain(s) you have to look out for is WHITE, REFINED GRAINS such as white rice and any product containing white wheat –  white pasta, white bread, cookies and cake made with white flour etc.

White flour is wholewheat flour with the bran and the germ taken out – the very elements that contain the fibre. White rice is brown rice with the fibrous elements removed; not exactly ideal for easy transition out of the body.

When I hear (and I DO hear this) that a relatively young person has been prescribed prunes (EFFING PRUNES!) for constipation by a doctor, and the doctor hasn’t even recommended a diet rethink; I get a bit crazy.

Nothing wrong with prunes, they are a delightful fruit. But it’s the most root-cause-dodging, short-term remedy ever. Do you have to buy prunes for the rest of your life? What happens when you stop eating the prunes?

Why buy prunes, or take laxatives when you can just erase the constipating animal products and refined starches from your diet and everything will start working as it should, forever?

And doesn’t this tell us that a whole food, plant-based diet is how we are meant to eat for our bodies to perform correctly?

If you can’t eliminate all the constipating animal products and refined starches at once, then add two tablespoons of ground flaxseeds to one of your meals every day (adding it to breakfast oatmeal is probably easiest!)

Try also to eat more bean, whole grain and legume-based curries, stews and soups. These are also full of fibre, and will fill you up so you will hopefully consume less animal products.

Some great fibre-filled recipes are this lentil dhal , this Italian white bean soup , or this delicious Hoppin’ John

Fruits for dessert and snacks will also help.

But if you don’t want to waste time in the WC, lose the constipating animal products and refined grains.

 

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7 Random Unsung Benefits Of Being Vegan

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So we’ve all heard about the weight loss, great skin, higher levels of energy and disease-prevention that comes with a whole food, plant-based diet.

What are some of the less sexy benefits, those we don’t talk about too often but you’ll be darn glad of once you experience them?

Here’s a few to ponder on:

 

1. No more constipation

Let’s just get this one out the way first. I’ve heard of people who don’t have a ‘proper’ visit to the bathroom for up to a week. I can’t even imagine how awful they would feel after a couple of days, never mind seven!!! Once we’ve ingested food, it needs to travel through our body in an expedient amount of time – long enough for us to absorb the nutrients we need, but quick enough that it doesn’t stagnate and fester in our intestines. For this we need to be eating plenty of fibre. A whole food plant-based diet is pretty much ALL fibre. Animal products contain NO fibre. You do the math.

And guess what? After going vegan, your ‘proper’ visit to the bathroom will be much quicker. No need for books, phones, or indeed any in-toilet entertainment at all. You’ll be in and out in a jiffy.

Added Bonus: As the whole ‘process’ is easier and more efficient as a vegan, you are also at much less risk of hemorrhoids.

Phew! I’m glad I got through this without once saying ‘poop.’

Dammit.

 

2. The, um… ‘aftermath’ of the ‘proper’ bathroom visit is not as bad if you’re vegan

You want proof?

Ok!

What smells worse, a dog’s business or a horses?  Which is the herbivore (vegan), which the carnivore?

A corpse of any animal smells bad, even fresh, the smell is weird (does anyone actually like the smell in butchers shops?) and when it exits your body – having been cooped up in this hot, sticky environment for two to three days (a meat dinner can typically take this long to digest) it makes sense that it’s gonna reek pretty horrendously. You have no in-body refrigeration to keep it cool.

By contrast, if you eat vegetables and fruits, they’re out of your system in less than 12 hours.

I’m categorically NOT saying that vegans always smell like a rose garden, far from it, but like it or not – they stink less. Fact.

 

3. No more heartburn/acid reflux

Here’s my short, sweet story. I remember having terrible heartburn as a kid. Since becoming vegan 25 years ago, I’ve not had it once – even at the beginning, when my vegan diet wasn’t particularly healthy. I’ve not actually had ANY digestion issues at all – unless I’ve been a total dolt and eaten something stodgy just before bed – but that’s MY fault, and of course I know not to do this now. I do remember how uncomfortable heartburn was, and am so grateful it’s a thing of the past.

The umbrella term for heartburn, acid reflux, and acidic burning in the throat down to the upper stomach, is Gastro Esophagul Reflux Disease (GERD). If left untreated, it can cause even nastier problems such as esophagul cancer. Meat and dairy are acidic foods, lots of people report being cured of GERD when they remove animal products from their diet. Indeed, the eminent Dr John Mcdougall advises this as a first step to ridding yourself of this problem.

 

4. Periods get easier

Look, sorry, but someone has to write about this. Just scroll down if you’re a dude.

If you’re not eating meat and dairy, you are not taking on the hormone load from animal food, so you only have to deal with your own estrogen levels. This makes for less upheaval in your body at the time of menstruation.

If, also, you are eating a whole food diet (where refined starches and sugars are minimised or eliminated) this will ease discomfort even more, as sugars, too, can mess with hormones. I can attest to the fact that it’s possible to have a pain-free, mood-swing free, easy time of the month, with energy levels kept consistent throughout.

 

5. Your mind gets clearer

Yay, this one’s not icky!

It’s hard to put into words though.

‘…but I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit.’ 

-William Shakespeare (via Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Twelfth Night)

Unlike Shakespeare, I don’t mean plant-based peeps are cleverer per se, though by virtue of their choice to eat plant-based in a meat-loving world they are definitely free, independent thinkers, which does denote a certain level of cleverclogsyness. Hee.

What I really mean is, after a while of ingesting no animal products (and this happens quicker if you are particularly conscious of the ethical reasons for doing it) all other injustices become clearer to you and seem to appear before you in full technicolour. You begin to understand how all oppressions work, and see vividly the constructs that support them.

If you think this is a not a benefit and that it’s too overwhelming to think about all the hate in the world, you have a point.

BUT, there is most definitely a flip-side to this.

While you do empathise more with the terrible oppressions and brutality other beings suffer, equally,  you also feel deeply connected at soul level to all the natural beauty in the world, and you realise in a very primal way that you are of it. There is nothing like being in nature and forgetting who you are; just sensing and being part of the wonder.

 

6. Fewer to no episodes of food poisoning

Back to the ick.

You know that feeling. I remember it well. You’ve had a meat or fish based meal, and a few hours later you start to feel a bit off. This feeling escalates into nausea, and carries on until you are begging sweet Jesus for your body to puke already. You puke. If you’re really unlucky you may even have elimination action going on at both ends. For a short while you feel good again…until the slow waves of nausea hit you once more. Rinse, repeat for at least forty-eight hours.

The bacterias that cause food poisoning all come from pathogens in animal’s intestines.  Why then, have we heard of tomatoes and spinach that have been recalled because of e coli and salmonella scares? Not because veg produce these bacteria, but because we have a big problem with intensive farming, and animal manure (which contains the pathogens) ends up contaminating fruit and vegetables. If you are careful to wash your fruit and veg you should be fine.

I’ve not had a single episode of food poisoning since being vegan – my partner neither.

 

7. Vegans smell sweeter in general*

OK, another silly (yet true) one.

We know that high meat protein diets such as Paleo and Atkins are based on achieving a state of ketosis in the body, where the body burns fat instead of carbohydrates, and the fat releases ketones into the body. Aside from ketosis being an unnatural and unhealthy state, one of the side effects of this is halitosis. More specifically, breath that smells of acetone. Yeah, good luck with that one!

This study, (Dr Michael Greger talks about it here) shows that men who ate red meat smelled less attractive than male vegans. Do you think Julien Blanc (you know, the guy that no-one wants in their country who ‘coaches’ sad sacks how to get girls) knows this? 🙂

Eggs contain concentrated amounts of choline. This compound can cause you to smell of rotting fish. Nice.

Lots of whole, unrefined carbohydrates, nuts, beans, legumes, seeds and plenty of fruit and veg will keep you sweet and fragrant!

 

*unless they’ve just eaten a ton of garlic/onions/marmite!

 

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My Go-To Meals, Part 1 – Sumac Baked Potato Salad

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This recipe is originally from a Nigella Lawson cookbook, ‘Forever Summer’ I think, and it’s remarkably healthy, considering her penchant for adding huge dollops of butter and cream to, er, every damn thing.

She calls it ‘Baked Potato Salad,’ but it doesn’t really feel like a salad to me. Maybe because I never have the patience to let it fully cool before devouring it. You can eat it cold, or if impatient like me, warm.

How easy is it to throw jacket potatoes in the oven? And the rest takes about 10 minutes tops.

It’s great for kids because it’s tasty, but not too refined or acquired a taste for them to pull a face.

It’s also a great casual supper to share with friends, lots of whom might not have heard of sumac before (I certainly hadn’t till I discovered this recipe!) so you have a great ice breaker/talking point right there to start the evening off.

In case you haven’t come across it before, sumac (pronounced IMG_4047soo-mack) is a red berry that is ground into a powder, and used in Middle Eastern cooking. It tastes lemony, but it’s not as tart as lemon; it’s slightly sweeter and has a fuller, rounder flavour. You know what? You just gotta taste it. It goes darn well with baked potatoes, that’s for sure.

What you need:

  • 2 baked potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of sumac (or enough to lightly sprinkle the surface of your dish)
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin (or enough to lightly sprinkle the surface of your dish)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • sea salt
  • chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Add an extra potato per person, but don’t worry if this isn’t exact – you’ll probably want to serve it with something else anyway, so there’ll be plenty.

What you do:

When the baked potatoes are cool enough to work with, roughly mush and chop them up, and spread them out in your serving dish. Please don’t be neat. This is a very rustic kind of a meal – no airs and graces here. Nigella actually says to scoop out the potato flesh and not to mind if a little bit of skin comes with it. However, I just chop it all up, skins and all – are you kidding me? The skins are an amazing source of iron, calcium, fibre, B vitamins and potassium – and they’re yummy and add great texture!

When you’ve done this, drizzle your olive oil all over potatoes.

Then the same with the lemon juice.

Salt evenly all over, to taste.

Sprinkle sumac and cumin evenly all over.

Sprinkle chopped spring onions (and parsley, if using) all over.

Leave a few minutes for the flavours to sink in.

Consume with gusto.

 

Q. What can you eat sumac baked potatoes with?

A. Anything.

Some suggestions:

-veggie sausages

-steamed kale

-Ful Madammas (I’ll have to post my recipe for this soon)

-corn on the cob

-steamed asparagus

-a Mediterranean (or really, any) salad

 

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Why You Need The Facts On Flax

Brown Flax Seeds from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 HealthAliciousNess, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Flax (some call it linseed) is magic. Well, practically. If any seed is on your side, it’s this one. Chia might be the seed ‘du jour,’ but this little grafter needs to be a part of your daily menu (or a few times a week at least).

Just why exactly is it so damned aces?

 

Weight Loss

Never mind the slimming shakes or the cayenne pepper maple syrup (wtf?) diet. These clever seeds are a great aid to anyone wanting to lose a few pounds. As they are so full of fibre, they help everything keep moving through your body, so nothing lingers longer than it should. Ground flax also expands in your stomach, helping you feel satiated for longer.

 

Toxin Remover

You know all that crap you breathe in every day? The toxins and heavy metals and stuff you really don’t want taking up residence in your body? Because it is so rich in soluble fibre, flax acts as a sort of sponge, to soak up all that shizz and transport it out of there. If you live in a city… actually, scratch that. If you live on Earth, you need a food source that helps your body get rid of pollutants and environmental baddies. Flax is it!

 

Cancer Protective

Flax seeds contain a phyto (plant) nutrient called lignan. Lots of plant foods have this, but flax has it in the highest amounts. Lignans are thought to be protective against breast cancer, and have been proved to help in survival after breast cancer when consumed regularly.

 

Best Source Of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acid

You know that Omega 3 fatty acid that we all once thought you could only get from fish? Guess what? Flax is an amazing source of Omega 3 fatty acids. No need to ingest saturated fat, cholesterol and mercury.

 

Beautifier

Like nuts and avocados, flax seeds are a great way to moisturise your skin from the inside out. It is precisely because flax contains so much omega 3 that it does so much good for the skin, helping it retain moisture and reducing any inflammation.

 

System Regulator

As you can see, flax has the fibre factor. Ground flax is insanely good at helping everything move through your body in an appropriate amount of time. Don’t you just hate those ads for women (‘cos it is always apparently women) who suffer from bloating? Consuming ground flax regularly as part of a healthy plant-based diet means you never have to be like them, whining and rubbing their bellies. They will seem like aliens to you.

 

But How Can I incorporate It Into My Meals? It’s A Seed FFS! I’m Not A Bird! Easy peasy. To make it a little easier, you need to invest in a gadget that grinds these little darlings to meal. Some people use a coffee grinder, some use the Magic Bullet. I use the cheaper copy of the Magic Bullet – the Hinari Genie. Hurrah for cheaper copies!!

You can eat flax seeds whole, but you will get the most benefit from the ground meal. Your teeth may prefer them that way too.

I grind 2 tablespoons per day. You can always grind a week’s worth and keep it in the fridge in an airtight container, but, like everything, it’s probably best fresh.

Do you eat cereal? Porridge? Oatmeal? Soup? Stews? Chilli? You can put the ground seeds on practically anything. They have a pleasantly nutty taste, and are good added to sweet or savoury meals. There are not many places flax meal can’t go. You can even use them as an egg replacer in cakes. If you make your own bread, flapjacks, granola bars, cookies etc, you can add whole flax.

Flax it up, now! Get flaxing! Get your flax on! Flax that bitch! Get with the flax! Ok, ok, you know what? flax doesn’t need me to (attempt to) make it sound cool. People have used it for thousands of years for its health benefits. It’s a true gift from nature.

Try it and see for yourself.

 

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