sunchoke (topinambur) & apple salad with smoked mackerel

When I found these two small unusual looking tubers in my veggie box subscribtion I had completely no idea what are they and how to prepare them. Quick investigation (thanks google) and came out that my mysterious veggies are sunchokes. Also called: topinambur or sunroot, Jerusalem artichoke, earth apple or wild sunflower – depending on where you live. Topinambur sounds familiar but it reminds me of long thin root veg, and the one I got were small kind of ginger-like shape with brown potato-like skin.

Came out that sunchokes are species of sunflower native to North America, they vary in colour from pale brown to white, red, or purple and can be eaten raw, cooked or pickled. Despite one of its names, the Jerusalem artichoke has no relationship to Jerusalem, and it is not a type of artichoke though the two are distantly related as members of the daisy family. Italian settlers in the United States called the plant girasole, the Italian word for sunflower, because of its familial relationship to the garden sunflower. Over time, the name girasole in southern Italian dialects was corrupted to Jerusalem. Can you be more confused?

They are not articholes, nor sunflowers, look like ginger, but doesn’t taste like ginger at all. Actually for me they taste more like a potato, but much more creamy than starchy and with slight nutty flavour and also quite sweet. Although I tasted only baked version, so I’m very curious how raw one taste like.

About 150g of raw slices sunchoke contains about 3g of protein, 26g of carbs, 2.4g of fiber, 14g sugar. Although it contains lots of carbs, most of them are not sttarch but inulin. Inulin is a type of soluble fiber that balances blood sugar, and also acts as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are compounds that feed the good bacteria (probiotics) in our gut, thus enhancing digestive and immune health. It stimulates the development of a normal intestinal flora while inhibiting the growth of putrefactive and pathogenic bacteria, and maintains the correct pH. It can be helpful in any food poisoning. Moreover, inulin has an immunostimulating effect on the immune system as well as to bind and excrete harmful compounds that are left in your intestines.

So I started looking for a recipe inspiration as I always do with foods that I never prepared before. And I found a perfect one, as I had (almost) all ingredients. So that’s my version of this sunchoke and apple salad, prepared with the leftovers I already had in my kitchen. I had one organic Gala or Pink Lady apple, leftovers of smoked mackerel insteadt of trout, ordinary brown onion instead of shallots, plus some spring onions from the same veggie box instead of fresh basil. And I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the final taste. It looked a bit like randomly chosed ingredients, but somehow worked together very well.

Tangy and crispy apple, mellow and gentle taste of baked sunchoke, smoked fatty fish broken a bit by the taste of apple cider vinegar and onion. And lots of black pepper that I really enjoyed in this salad, all of that made a great salad I have ate with pleasure.

I’m definitely curious of more sunchoke/topinambur recipe options, and I will be looking for it in my next veggie boxes. That’s what I really like about my veg box subscription – I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before. Each time I found a veg I’ve never tried before I learn something new. And that forces me to experiment, try new recipes rather than stick to couple ones I know by heart and that are easy and convenient. And I encourage you to do the same – look for new ingredients you’ve never tried, find new tastes and flavours. You might fail in your discoveries but you also might find your new favourite taste.


sunchoke (topinambur) & apple salad

with smoked mackerel


INGREDIENTS (for one large portion):

  • 2 sunchoke (topinambur)
  • 1 small apple
  • half of small brown onion
  • handful of chopped spring onions
  • smoked mackerel
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • chopped dill for garnish
  • 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil + tiny bit for a drizzle

DIRECTIONS

Thoroughly wash sunchokes and slice them in quite thick slices (leave the skin on). Sprinkle with black pepper and pinch of salt and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Prepare baking tray and piece of baking paper. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Spread sunchoke slices on the tray and bake for about 25 minutes, until they become golden and crispy on the edges. Then remove from the oven and let it cool down completely.

Cut apple in thin slices, drizzle with apple cider vinegar to prevent from getting dark and unappetizing. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Add very thinly sliced half of small onion and chopped spring onions.

Arrange on a plate together with sunchokes, add bits of smoked mackerel. Drizzle with olive oil, garnish with fresh dill and enjoy.

grilled aubergine and chickpeas salad with sumac dressing

I’m a sucker for a good salad. Recently salads became my go to lunch options, I just open my fridge early in the morning and I pack my luchbox with bunch of veg with occasional addition of meat, cheese or egg. Sometimes it’s even hard to call it a salad, it rather looks like someone placed randomly some foods with splash of olive oil and cream cheese on top (oh, cream cheese is like ice cream for keto-people – yummy). But at 6am that’s sometimes the pinnacle of my abilities.

If I’m more fancy and I get myself together to prepare something on the evening before, it looks more like that.

Although this one looks and tastes much better when freshly made, rather than on a next day, when aubergine becomes a bit soggy and discoloured. Grilled aubergine (and courgette…and peppers… and mushrooms…oh and onion) tastes like heaven, so before I even managed to complete preparing this salad for photos half of it was eaten by my partner (nightmare of food blogers – while you setting up a photo shoot space, your other half shouting from the kitchen: “will you need that veg? I already ate some!”)

Definitely I need to remember that I love grilled aubergine, and use more often my grilling pan that lives on the bottom of the cupboard – forgotten. Apart from being delicious, aubergine is simply beautiful with it’s shiny dark purple firm skin, I’m always amazed by their look. Technically aubergine is a fruit, but I guess apart from bunch of pen-pushers thinking about how to classify a plant or at what angle should the banana curve, no one cares. Aubergine is versatile – it can be baked, mashed into a dip, roast, grilled and cooked – as it easily absorbs other flavours, so it works great in meals rich in spices – like curry’s and stews. Aubergines have a high water content with almost no cholesterol or fat and are a source of vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, dietary fiber, folic acid, potassium, and manganese.

They are though a part of the nightshade family – which also include tomato and bell peppers – and in some cases are known to cause severe allergic reactions. So if you’ve never tried aubergine before and you have a history of food allergies , keep it in mind.

For the lucky ones that can eat aubergine without limits here’s a delicious recipe 🙂


grilled aubergine and chickpeas salad with sumac dressing


INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small aubergine
  • 150g can of chickpeas
  • baby salad leaves (spinach, different types of lettuce)
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • piece of feta cheese
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • couple tbsp olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Heat up a grill pan, drizzle a little bit of olive oil. Cut aubergine in about half inch (1-1.5cm) slices and grill couple minutes on each side. Set aside to cool down.

Prepare dressing: finely chop garlic (or use garlic press), crush it with pinch of salt, add lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper and sumac.

In a large bowl place a bunch of baby salad leaves, arrange slices of aubergine (you can chop them in smaller pieces), halves of cherry tomatoes and chickpeas. Crumble some feta cheese on top and drizzle with sumac dressing. Serve fresh.

You can store it in the fridge for up to two days, but it tastes the best when fresh.

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celeriac and cranberry side salad

I had some leftovers of cranberries and some celery root, and because I like combining fruits and veggies in salads I decided to make this simple side salad. It’s very easy to make mix of celeriac, little bit of apple, some cranberries (but raisins will work too, although they will add more sweetness) and spices. And this purple powder you see on the photos is pinch of pomegranate tea I found in my cupboard. I thought that it’s purple colour will look great with cranberries and it also added some fresh, fruity flavour to the salad. I think that hibiscus tea would also work great as an exotic addition.

Celeriac salad is juicy, nutty and balanced with a mix of sweet apple and sour cranberries. It will work great as an addition to fish or delicate white meat like chicken or turkey. It will also be a great snack or light Summery supper.

Celery root is a perfect source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin K – necessary for proper blood clotting. Also antioxidants and important minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium and manganese. Comparing to other root vegetables have quite low carb content , and it’s also low in glycemic index.

When buying celeriac choose medium-sized roots that are firm and free from soft spots or damage. Celeriac is available year round but is at its best from September to April, so it’s the last moment to make this delicious salad 🙂

celeriac and cranberry side salad

INGREDIENTS:

  • about 250g celeriac/celery root
  • half of small apple
  • handful of dried cranberries
  • pinch of himalayan salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • optionally: pomegranate tea or hibiscus tea

DIRECTIONS

Peel and wash celery root, do the same with half of small apple. Grate both and combine together. Add little bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. Add handful of cranberries and about 2 tablespoons of double cream. Give it a good stir and set aside for couple minutes, so the flavours combine.

Optionally before serving sprinkle with pomegranate or hibiscus tea – it will add fresh and slightly fruity aroma. But if you don’t have any of these teas, just skip this step, salad will be also delicious.

leek, egg, sweetcorn & smoked mackerel salad

This salad always reminds me of Spring and Easter time. I like crunchiness and freshness of leeks, mixed with sweetness of sweetcorn, they give each other nice balance. Quite sharp onion-like taste of leeks also goes great with a bit dull taste of hard boiled eggs. All this gives very nice balance of flavours and variety of textures.

I decided to spice up my salad with some smoked mackerel which I really like, but if you’re not a fan or you don’t want the fishy odour afterwards just skip the fish and stay with basic ingredients.

Which part of leek we use?

For salads are best young and smaller leeks, I also chose organic option. You’ll need white base of the leaves and the light green parts, dark green parts are better for cooking. To make them slightly softer, it’s good to sprinkle them with a little bit of salt after slicing and leaving for about an hour. Salad is extremely easy to make, and will look great on your Easter table packed in a small serving size bowls, garnished with some greens and pieces of smoked mackerel if you decide to add it.

How to choose leeks for salad?

Always choose fresh, preferably organic leek, as they are rich in flavour and nutrition. Look for uniform, long, firm, white stalks with healthy root bulbs as it indicates fresh farm produce. And avoid stems with withered, yellow discolour tops. To keep them fresh, store leeks wrapped in a paper towel and place in the fridge. They should stay fresh for up to a week.

Leek contains many minerals, vitamins and unique flavonoid antioxidants. These compounds convert to allicin by the enzymatic reaction when the leek stalk is sliced or chopped. Laboratory studies show that allicin reduces cholesterol formation, reduces blood vessel stiffness, blocks platelet clot formation and has clot-breaking properties. 100g fresh leek stalks also provide 64µg of folates. Additionally, leeks are one of the good sources of vitamin-A and other flavonoid phenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, xanthin, and lutein, which are beneficial for your eyes.

Leeks are very cheap and easy to grow veggies, but very underestimated, although in Scotland very popular. They add a lot of flavour to all the cooked meals like soups and stews, but they can also be a great base for salads.

If you haven’t try this kind of salad before, definitely give it a try this Spring. It is said that the Buddhist monks of the Mahayana school do not eat leeks because they are believed to “stimulate the senses”. So if you’d like to “stimulate your senses” you should definitely stock up on young leeks 🙂

leek, egg, sweetcorn & smoked mackerel salad

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 small organic leeks
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • couple spoons of tinned sweetcorn
  • 2-3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • good pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • pinch of natural rock salt
  • piece of smoked mackerel

DIRECTIONS

Trim the ends of leeks (we need white base of the leaves and the light green parts), cut them in half (lengthwise) and wash thoroughly under running water. Slice them thinly, place in a container, sprinkle with a bit of salt and give it a stir. Put to fridge for about an hour to become softer.

Peel the eggs, and chop them. Drain sweetcorn from the brine. Add both to leek, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and combine with mayonnaise.

You can leave it in the fridge for another hour or eat immediately. Place some salad in a small serving bowl, place couple pieces of mackerel on top, add couple sweetcorn grains for some colour and something green (little basil leaves in my case) for garnish. Small bowls will look really pretty on Easter table.

Source of knowledge:

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/342617/nutrients

raw beetroot salad, and my brain vs my body

If my brain and my body could have a conversation, it would look more or less like that:

Brain: Oh Body life is hard, let's just sit on the sofa and eat ice cream all day! 
Body: No f***ing way! I don't want to be bloated and in constant crave for something sweet!
Brain: C'mon girl, don't be so stiff let's have some fun and buy a bag of chocolate cookies, you know, the one "freshly baked in store", they're delicious...
Body: Brain, you know we've been there and you don't like it. We always end up feeling like shit. I'm telling you!
Brain: So maybe just one small ice cream tub?...

Yeah, if my body could speak, it would say all that things. Unfortunately (in this case) my brain can speak and sometimes it’s very convincing. Recently we decided that for couple months we will take a break from keto, so we started experimenting with other foods. OK, I wish I could say experimenting, but it’s rather giving a brain freedom to choose. And in the shop brain likes colourful packaging, crispy looking stuff and big ice cream tubs 😉 So there was: cheese crackers, bread sticks, crisps, “freshly baked in store” (!) cookies and buns and obviously tubs of ice cream. And what’s the most odd – even though our taste buds were telling us: these potato crisps have unpleasant artificial flavour, we’ve ate whole pack of it. What I want to say, that even though our taste buds were saying: OK, that’s enough, I don’t need more, brain was eating until the box was empty. There must be something about these foods that you feel the urge to eat more even though you really don’t want them anymore.

So for the last couple weeks my brain instead of focusing on the things I want do do, constantly whispers: I would eat something… And that’s pretty much annoying! So for example I noticed that two big portions of rice with veggies does not only makes me feel still hungry but also bloated and uncomfortable. Do you feel me?

Furthermore when turn of winter and spring I cant wait to eat more fresh and raw foods. I miss freshly made salads, fruits and smoothies. But it’s still a bit cold and my body needs something warming and comforting. (And everybody knows that sugar cookies and cheese crackers brings comfort – for the moment when you eat them.) That’s how the idea for this raw beetroot salad came to me. And you know – I had a giant bowl of it and I felt nourished and fresh.

It’s a great idea for quick breakfast or lunch idea. You can grate the carrot and beetroot in the evening before, prepare dressing and store it in the jar and in the morning just take them all from the fridge, pop on the plate or into a bowl, crumble some feta add broad beans (don’t bother yourself with peeling them, I did it just because it looks more pretty), drizzle with vinaigrette and grab a fork.

It works for my body. And what works for yours?

raw beetroot salad

INGREDIENTS for 1 large portion:

  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 small beetroot
  • handful of rocket
  • handful of cooked and cooled broad beans
  • small piece of feta cheese

INGREDIENTS for #ketofriendly vinaigrette:

  • 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3-4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp your favourite mustard
  • good pinch of lemon pepper
  • pinch of dried or freshly chopped parsley
  • pinch of natural rock salt or Himalayan salt

DIRECTIONS

Start with preparing dressing: mix together all the ingredients and set aside. You can use a small jar, close it tight and shake until ingredients combine.

Peel and thoroughly wash beetroot and carrot. Grate them both on large hoops. Thoroughly rinse a handful of rocket, if you want, you can peel broad beans like I did. If you don’t want to bother yourself with it, just leave it with skins. I did it just because I like the fresh green of them.

Place rocket on a plate and layer the rest of ingredients: carrot, beetroot, broad beans and crumble some feta on top drizzle everything with vinaigrette dressing. Grab a fork and enjoy!

You can also pop all ingredients to a bowl and give it a good stir if you like it more that way, bowl is also more convenient if you like to eat your salad on the sofa rather than at the table 😉



			
		

Christmas inspired red cabbage side salad

Christmas is not only cakes, puddings and cookies. You can spread a Christmas charm on to all festive meals. With couple ingredients, ordinary red cabbage side salad may become more special and festive. Simply by adding, dried berries, some cinnamon, handful of nuts or almonds and orange juice, you can prepare delicious side salad for your Christmas dinner.

Especially vegetarians and vegans may include this recipe in their Christmas menu, adding plenty of nuts to increase the amount of healthy fats. Red cabbage is a great source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K, so make sure you prepare a large bowl of Christmas red cabbage salad for you and your family. Cruciferous vegetables has a high water content, and is a good source of dietary fiber and other nutrients such as antioxidants. Personally I like eating veggies raw – I like the crunchiness and freshness of raw cabbage. But if you have problems with eating raw vegetables, you can easily cook or steam your veggies, so they will be easier to digest. It is best to steam vegetables. As a result of heating, ingredients that need contact with heat will be activated, and the rest won’t go to water. Veggies also should not be overheated. To minimize the loss of valuable ingredients, boil in a little water and strain as soon as the veg is ready. According to 2008 report in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, cooked cabbage (also other veggies) supply more antioxidants, such as carotenoids and ferulic acid than raw. Vitamin C doesn’t like to be cooked so veggies loosing it in high temperatures. So the best option is to eat veggies cooked and raw interchangeably.

Anyway, if you have any problems with eating raw cabbage, you can simply steam it or cook it in some water, don’t forget to add a little bit od vinegar to it to lock in the colour. Cool it down and follow the recipe. I hope this side salad will be one of the stars of your Christmas menu.

Christmas inspired red cabbage side salad

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 red cabbage
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 carrot
  • juice from 1 orange
  • couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 handfuls of dried berries (cranberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants or raisins)
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper (or coarse)
  • good pinch of natural rock salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • optionally: almond flakes or walnuts

DIRECTIONS

Wash all veggies thoroughly. Strip off the outer leaves of cabbage, then slice into quarters, cut out the hard central core on each quarter. Finely sherd and place in the large bowl. Now finely chop red onion, grate the carrot and add to cabbage. Give it a good stir. Drizzle with olive oil, orange juice, sprinkle with salt, pepper and cinnamon. Also add dried berries. Give it a really good stir, so all the ingredients mix together.

Put to fridge for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with almond flakes or walnuts before serving (you can toast them as well if you like). My advice is to add nuts or almond just before serving, if you mix them with salad and leave in the fridge they might become soggy, and won’t be as crispy as they should.

You can store it in the fridge for about 2 days.

Source of knowledge:

quick & easy fennel salad

A quick break from Christmas preparations, to eat something light and nourishing. I had 3 lonely fennel bulbs from my weekly veg delivery, waiting to be consumed. Fennel is not the vegetable I often buy (to be honest I think I never bought any fennel bulbs), but since I got it I had a crunchy salad on my mind. I like quick and easy salads with not a lot of preparations and that’s why I like how this salad came out.

Pleasantly crisp, light and aromatic, because of fennel and it’s characteristic smell and taste (if you ever tried fennel tea, you’ll know what I mean). As a color accent and some spiciness I added a lot of radish. Cucumber goes great with them both. Very simple dressing: olive oil, salt and good pinch of lemon pepper for extra freshness – 10 minutes of work and delicious salad is ready. It will be great with fish or chicken or by itself as a crunchy snack or light supper.

Fennel is a very old veg. Ancient Greeks and Romans used fennel as an effective remedy for headaches, colic and skin diseases. The day before the fight, gladiators rubbed the fennel seed extract into their bodies, believing that it would strengthen them both physically and spiritually. In the Middle Ages, this herb was believed to have the magical power to bring happiness in love and ward off “evil glances”, charms and lightning. Often, therefore, it was an ingredient of love potions and talismans worn on the body.

Average fennel bulb contains about 17 grams of carbohydrates, in which about 7.3 grams is dietary fiber. It’s a great source of potassium, sodium, magnesium, iron and calcium, also contains plenty of Vitamin A, some Vitamin C and B6. Fennel also contains: phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, choline, lutein, zeaxanthin and Vitamins K and E. Numerous studies have identified lutein and zeaxanthin to be essential components for eye health. They constitute the main pigments found in the yellow spot of the human retina which protect the macula from damage by blue light, improve visual acuity and scavenge harmful reactive oxygen species. They have also been linked with reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin can be obtained from dietary sources such as green leafy vegetables and orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. When choosing fennel pay attention to the bulb that should be bright white with no discolorations or soft spots. Store it in the fridge in a plastic bag or container.

Also radish is a great veg, low in carbohydrates (about 3.4 g per 100 g), it’s a great source of folate, lutein, zeaxanthin, Vitamin C, and some minerals like potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Look for radishes that are smooth, brightly colored, with tops that are green and fresh looking. Avoid the one that are soft, dull-colored, have scars, black spots or are slimy.

This salad will be also great after Christmas, if with New Year you’ll decide to eat more healthy or include more veggies into your diet. So keep this recipe in mind 😉

quick & easy fennel salad

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 fennel bulbs
  • about 10 radishes
  • a piece of fresh cucumber
  • some spring onions
  • good pinch of lemon pepper (or coarse pepper and 1-2 tsp lemon juice)
  • pinch of natural rock salt
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Thoroughly wash all the veggies. Prepare fennel: cut off the hard tip at the root and the stringy base of the stems. Cut the bulb in half and into thin slices. Slice radishes and cucumber in half – slices (you can peel it or leave the skin). Chop some spring onions. Mix all veg together, sprinkle with generous amount of lemon pepper (or coarse pepper and a teaspoon or two of lemon juice), drizzle with olive oil. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes, so the flavours combine.

Source of knowledge:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26541886/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23571649/

https://www.odzywianie.info.pl/kuchnia/encyklopedia-ziol-i-przypraw/art,Koper-wloski-Fenkul-wloski-.html

polyphenol bomb – halloumi & pomegranate salad

Polyphenols are abundant micronutrients in our diet, and studies show that they have an impact in prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases is emerging. Polyphenols act as antioxidants, decreasing oxidation in the body and protecting cells from free radical damage. But their health effects depend on the amount consumed and on their bioavailability. Several thousand molecules having a polyphenol structure have been identified in higher plants (means all the plants that can be “planted”), and several hundred are found in edible plants (some of them are: flavonols, flavones, isoflavones, flavanones, anthocyanidins, and flavanols). This subject is very wide and complicated, and scientists still have not found complete knowledge about them.

What’s important, although polyphenols that are the most common in the human diet are not necessarily the most active within the body, either because they have a lower internal activity or because they are not fully absorbed from the intestine, highly metabolised, or rapidly eliminated. It doesn’t mean though, that we should stop consuming foods that contain these important components. According to this article published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there is couple factors we have influence on:

  • storage – may affect the content of polyphenols that are easily oxidized. Such changes may be beneficial (as is the case with black tea) or harmful (browning of fruit) to consumer acceptability. For example after six months of storage, wheat flour contained the same phenolic acids in qualitative terms, but their concentrations were 70% lower. On the other hand, cold storage did not affect the content of polyphenols in apples, pears and onions. At 25°C, storage of apple juice for nine months results in a 60% loss of quercetin and a total loss of procyanidins, despite the fact that polyphenols are more stable in fruit juices than is vitamin C
  • preparation – for example, peeling of fruit and vegetables can eliminate a significant portion of polyphenols because these substances are often present in higher concentrations in the outer parts than in the inner parts. Cooking may also have a major effect. Onions and tomatoes lose between 75% and 80% of their initial quercetin content after boiling for 15 minutes, 65% after cooking in a microwave oven, and 30% after frying
  • industrial food processing – highly processed foods contain much less polyphenols, than unprocessed ones
Conclusion?
Always the same: fresh, unprocessed foods are always more healthy and contain more nutrients than, processed, chemically preserved foods with a long shelf life.

The types of fruit and veg having the highest content of polyphenols you can see here in the table, prepared by the authors of the article published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Today I prepared for you real polyphenol bomb 🙂 Quick and easy halloumi and pomegranate salad. All you need is 4 ingredients, and 2 of them are rich in polyphenols: pomegranate and mung bean sprouts.

Pomegranate.

The antioxidant capacity of pomegranate juice was shown to be three times higher than that of red wine and green tea (122 phytochemicals found in pomegranate juice). It was also shown to have significantly higher levels of antioxidants in comparison to commonly consumed fruit juices, such as grape, cranberry, grapefruit, or orange juice. Although, 92% of the antioxidant activity of pomegranate juice and are concentrated in the peel, membranes and piths of the fruit. So in the parts of fruit that we don’t consume. Commercial pomegranate juice is made by pressing whole fruit and its peels, although anyway the content of polyphenols depends of the fruit itself, processing and storage we’ve been talking about.

Studies showed, that consumption of pomegranate juice has anti-inflammatory effects, also therapeutic effects in diabetes and atherosclerosis (cardioprotective benefits by decreasing or reversing the progression of ischemic lesion areas, as well as having a beneficial effect on intimal media thickness and systolic blood pressure).

Pomegranate is good source of folate and potassium, and very good source of vitamin K, vitamins E, B6, C and pantothenic acid.

Mung bean sprouts.

Mung beans has a long history of usage as traditional medicine in Asia. It’s a great source of protein, dietary fiber, minerals (phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, iron), vitamin B, and significant amounts of bioactive compounds, including polyphenols, polysaccharides, and peptides. Mung beans may be cooked, fermented, parched or sprouted. Sprouting process results in improvement in vitamin content, also eliminates anti-nutritional factors in the mung bean like phytic acid (sprouting makes phytic acid contents lowered by 76%, and bioavailability values of zinc and iron increased were 3.0 and 2.4 times higher than that of raw mung beans). Sprouting improves the amounts of polyphenols – the total contents of phenolic acids and flavonoids, in the mung bean sprouts were significantly increased, up to 4.5 and 6.8 times higher than that of raw mung bean seeds. Mung beans sprouted for 3-4 days results in higher content of ascorbic acid (from 30 to 54 mg/kg to 73 to 383 mg/kg). Also quality of proteins after 60 hours of sprouting was also improved. So they are great source of protein for all vegans, or simply for those whose economic situation does not allow to consume necessary protein from animals. What’s interesting, in many studies, the mung bean was recommended as a supplement for preparing an infant’s weaning food because of its high protein content and hypoallergic properties.

If you’re interested in this subject and you’d like to read some more about it, you can have a look on the articles I’ve linked below.

Now lets jump to the recipe.

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halloumi & pomegranate salad

INGREDIENTS for one portion:

  • handful of rocket
  • handful of pomegranate seeds
  • handful of mung beans sprouts
  • piece of halloumi cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • good pinch of lemon pepper (or coarse pepper and a teaspoon of lemon or lime juice)

DIRECTIONS

Preparations are as easy as you can imagine:

Just heat a frying pan and toast halloumi pieces couple minutes on each side, until they get crispy and golden. Take your favourite plate, grab a handful of rocket and place it in the middle. Then grab some sprouts and pomegranate seeds and toss all over. Arrange couple pieces of toasted halloumi, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with generous amount of lemon pepper. If you don’t have lemon pepper, take some coarse pepper and 1 teaspoon of lemon or lime juice.

Enjoy!

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Source of knowledge:
https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/79/5/727/4690182#109820542

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/23790554_Pomegranate_juice_A_heart-healthy_fruit_juice

https://crec.ifas.ufl.edu/extension/pomegranates/health.shtml

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627095/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232167161_Nutritional_Value_of_Sprouted_Mung_Beans

quick morning salad with figs & tangy dressing

As I have mentioned, salad and fried eggs is my top breakfast option, so I’m constantly looking for new ideas, because I usually end up with the same salad made of my favourite ingredients. This time though I decided to try something different, as you may know I like adding fruits to my salads, when I saw a small pack of four figs in reduced section, I grabbed them with immediate decision to make a fig salad. If you’ve never tried fresh figs, you might be very surprised with their taste. As dried ones are veeery sweet, fresh figs are rather quite gentle. I don’t want to say tasteless, but gently sweet. What I like about them is the texture – very fleshy, soft, full of seeds crackling when chewing. Not juicy, just chewy. You can eat it with the skin if it’s soft enough. Figs goes well with more flavoursom tastes, like olives, brie, camembert or other strong cheese. Unfortunately I’ve run out of camembert, but added green olives and generous amout of tangy dressing, made with extra virgin olive oil, mustard, apple cider vinegar and lemon pepper.

You must know, that if you’re on ketogenic diet, figs are not the one you should be looking for in the shop. As I’m still in my transitioning phase between low carb and keto, sometimes I let myself eat something with larger amounts of carbs (figs have over 40g of carbs per 100g). So keep it in mind if you’re trying to reduce carbohydrates.

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quick morning salad with figs & tangy dressing

INGREDIENTS for 1 portion:

  • 1-2 figs
  • handful of rocket and spinach leaves
  • handful of walnuts
  • couple green olives
  • 1/2 avocado
  • optionally: couple pieces of brie or camembert
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard (or Dijon)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of natural rock salt or Himalayan salt
  • pinch of lemon pepper
  • 1-2 tsp of water

DIRECTIONS

Start with making a dressing, give it a while for the flavours to melt together. Take a small jar, add olive oil, mustard, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper and a bit of water to make it slightly thinner. Close the jar and shake until you get smooth texture. If you’re planning to repeat this salad, you can make some more dressing and keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days.

You can toast walnuts on a frying pan if you wish, but as it was my quick morning salad, I skipped this step. Wash figs and cut them in quarters. Peel avocado and slice.

Take your favourite plate, place a handful of rocket and spinach leaves, couple olives, quarters of figs, walnuts, pieces of brie or camembert (I would add them, but run out of). And finish with generous amount of tangy dressing.

I’ve added couple of fired eggs, as it was my morning meal. The best is to eat it freshly made, after couple hours greens are getting soggy and avocado changes its colour, looking not very appetizing.

Enjoy!

bacon & egg keto salad

Who said that keto must be boring? Who would resist to this colorful, delicious salad with bacon and cheese? My partner bored with scrambled eggs or omelette for breakfast asked me for something different. He’s a team: “salad for breakfast won’t make me feel full”. You know this kind of people? I’ve managed to convince him only because of smoked bacon 🙂 The outcome? He asked me couple more times to make this salad for him 🙂

We eat with eyes…

Prepare nice big plate, colorful veggies, other ingredients you like (cheese & bacon team), make some aromatic dressing and surprise your other half (or yourself, your kids, your mum or dad) with salad like from the restaurant. You don’t need to have master chef skills, just a bit of willingness and some imagination. Even if you make it for yourself, it’s good to spend two more minutes to place the ingredients nicely on your favorite plate. If you’re worth wearing nice clothes, pretty makeup, you’re worth having a delicious, fresh and healthy food. So make it special, leave your phone in other room, switch off your laptop or tv and focus on your meal you’ve made especially for yourself. Focus on flavour, texture and taste, and you might be surprise that the ingredients you’ve been eating thousands of times before now have brand new quality.

Eat slowly…

We live in a rush and the rush makes every activity we perform regularly automated. In a hurry, we do not pay attention to who we pass by on a sidewalk, to plants and animals around us. Even our conversations are sketchy and insignificant. We pay attention to how we look, fortunately we’ve started to pay more attention to what we eat, but still we don’t focus on how we eat. Focused on daily problems, things to do, errands to run, sometimes we forget to taste what we eat. Eating fast, eating meals on autopilot like it’s just another necessary activity to be done on a given day, often additionally perceived as a waste of valuable time. When we eat, it takes 20 minutes for the signal from the stomach to tell our brain that we are full. If we eat in a hurry, such a signal may appear delayed in relation to the food consumed. Salads are great way to practice mindful eating. You have to put each ingredient on the fork, you can try each ingredient separately or in pairs. You have to chew for a while, so you can focus on the texture. Crispy iceberg salad, firm and juicy tomatoes, salty bacon, sharp and mature cheddar, slightly bland egg white dipped in spicy dressing. So many taste sensations in one salad. I encourage you to spend some special time with yourself when preparing and eating this salad. Even if you think it sound kind of ridiculous giving so much attention to a simple thing like this one.

egg & bacon keto salad

INGREDIENTS (for one giant portion):

  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • couple slices of smoked bacon
  • bunch of iceberg salad
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • piece of mature cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 tsp your favorite mustard
  • 2 tsp mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 big garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill (or fresh I you have)
  • pinch of natural rock salt
  • pinch of lemon pepper (or coarse pepper)

DIRECTIONS

Use a small cup or jar to mix all the dressing ingredients: olive oil, mustard, mayonnaise, pepper and salt, dill and finely chopped garlic. Live on a side for all the flavours to combine.

Dice your bacon and fry until golden on non-stick pan. Thoroughly rinse all veggies under running water. Chop some cheddar cheese, slice cherry tomatoes in half. Dice yellow bell pepper.

Thorn some salad on the plate, place bell pepper, tomatoes, cheddar and bacon. Slice hard boiled eggs in quarters and place them on top of the salad. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

Enjoy!