The green folder

cropped-sweet-corn-png-transparent-image.pngSweetcorn – super cob

I grew sweetcorn in the garden when the children were young.  There is something inspiring about planting a tiny kernel and watching it grow so tall.  Sweetcorn requires little care and you are rewarded with the main cobs and tiny offshoots of baby corn. Apart from the messy husks and the furious flossing after eating, I still love eating sweetcorn like a beaver, as I did back then.  I smile when I pull open those husks to find the glass beads of yellow and remember.

When you cook corn antioxidant activity, which helps protect the body from cancer and heart disease, is actually increased.  Don’t write off the tinned or frozen  stuff either, evidence suggests this is just as good, so eat it out of season, its just as nutritious.

corn.jpgBecause sweetcorn is so delicious on its own, I fear it is left naked on the plate, apart from a thin negligee of butter, most of the time.  Give this sweet starchy vegetable another look, let the little gold nuggets shine in other ways.  Oh and do not be afraid of the starch,  an ear of corn has about the same number of calories as an apple and less than one-fourth the sugar, makes you think. Continue reading “The green folder”

The Green Folder


What’s a mung bean? It is three things

A quick and simple guide to cooking and eating mung beans – 4 fabulous dishes

P1130043 (2).JPGHigh in vitamins and minerals, especially iron, calcium, vitamin A, B1, B2 and C, these small green dried beans have a pale yellow inside.  You might not have seen them in this form, but I bet you have seen and probably eaten them as bean sprouts. That’s how they are most commonly used.  Buy them non heat treated and watch them grow!!  Once sprouted, mung beans punch above their weight increasing the amount of Vitamin A by 300% and a staggering increase of up to 600% for their vitamin C value.  Because their starches are converted to simple sugars during the sprouting process, they are easy to digest.  When mung beans are hulled and split they are called mung dal.  Get to know them, in all their forms.mung beans

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The Green Folder


Buckwheat a heavyweight in nutrition

A quick and simple guide to cooking and eating buckwheat, a gluten free food

Buckwheat is a fruit seed – related to rhubarb and sorrel and nothing to do with wheat, good news for all those trying to avoid the stuff. I have seen pictures of buckwheat crops which look like a field full of white flowering weeds. The tiny seeds contain higher levels of zinc, copper, and manganese than other cereal grain. Buckwheat also provides a very high level of  protein which is well-balanced and rich in lysine (think cold sore defense).  Why then, is Buckwheat not carried on our shoulders as a food superhero? Well. there is some evidence that humans find it hard to digest the protein, so absorption is low – pre-soaking before using, makes all grains more digestible. While this makes it a less than ideal source of protein for growing children or anyone with digestive tract issues, for most of us it is a useful food to include in our diets and a must for vegetarians and those that are Gluten free.

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I allow buckwheat polenta to cool and eat as a sort of pate with warn wholemeal toast

Buckwheat’s most common forms are,  hulled groats, which can be cooked like rice. Ground  buckwheat flour, most famously used in Japanese soba noodle and french blinis and toasted groats, which does not take as long to cook. The hulls can be used as  stuffing in hypo-allergenic pillows, heating pads, and other homeopathic applications.  Interesting but how can we eat it.  Here’s how. Continue reading “The Green Folder”

The Green Folder


Couscous Balls – Seriously it works

I jumped up and down when it did, a happy combination.

Sometimes towards the end of the week, I look in my fridge and wonder what to do with its contents.  This is cooking off-piste and actually the most exciting and creative.  Somethings are nearly there and need tweaking, somethings just work straight away.  I had ½ a butternut squash, a bunch of spinach and some cooked couscous left from a previous dish. Drum roll please as I lift the tea towel and bring you………

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I ate six in the testing and they sold so quickly I had to make another batch.  First time around I used fresh spinach, apricots and blue cheese because that is what I had to hand, in the second batch I used frozen spinach, feta and cranberries, which I photographed.  The soft centre and crunchy outside make this dish a versatile winner, use what you have.  I served them with an aubergine relish that I made and then a fig relish that was store bought, they are not fussy and ate well with both.  On a salad or in a wrap or pita, try them. You’re welcome!!

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The Green Folder


Pearl barley, a blast from the past

A quick and simple guide to cooking and eating pearl barley.

Refined into barley malt for use in beer, fed to livestock or hidden in thick soups and stews; poor pearl has been on the bench for many years now.  Let’s give her some new dresses and ask her to dance!!  She is just as good as quinoa.

pearl barley salad
Just waiting for green leaves and roasted pistachioss for a complete vegetarian meal.

I actually do not like the texture of pearled barley in soups, I find it’s kind of slimy and chewy.  When I read that whole grains are a must for the postmenopausal woman I went on a whole grain mission. Pearled barley was on my list, but I left it to last, sad face, because of my stew bias.  It is a great source of fibre and packed with vitamins and minerals. Reading on Health benefits.  I sighed and looked up some recipes I have in old books, they were seriously uninspiring.  I was a little lost until I stopped thinking about pearled barley as pearled barley!!!!!  I thought of it as rice or quinoa. Everything changed.

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The Green Folder


Beetroot deserves more than being trapped in a jar of vinegar

A quick and simple guide to cooking and eating beetroot

Beetroot the beautiful purple root emerged from the sea, many centuries ago.  She shook off her sea beet coat and it is said found a home in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. She went on to become highly esteemed by the Greeks and was even offered up to Apollo. The Romans adored her, Europeans in the mid-1500’s were fascinated by her and doctors used her. The beetroot, as we would recognise now, starts to appear widely in the 17th Century, loved for her sweetness and vibrancy.  Alas, the Industrial revolution was her downfall, she was trapped, pickled and placed in tins and jars.  We still haven’t truly released her. Let’s open the lid and make her beautiful again.

Beetroot does not have to be vinegar sodden, she can be delicate and beautiful.

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The Green Folder


Hi, My name is Tofu – Please don’t hate me.

Tofu is basically curdled soybean milk.  It is made the same way as we make cheese, separating the curds from the milk and then pressing them into a block.  It is high in both protein and calcium, therefore as a vegetarian, it provides a handy ingredient for me.It is relatively mainstream now, and I can pick it up in my local veggie shop, but it is interesting that most of my cooking books go from toffee to tomato.  Three of my Vegetarian books barely pay homage to this versatile little block of white.  The word TOFU actually makes some people shiver involuntarily and it is passed over by chefs in favor of goats cheese 9 times out of 10.

 freeze your tofu first, it will transform your cooking.

Good reading if you want to know more about this unassuming ingredient Continue reading “The Green Folder”