Mar
16
2010
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Eating Naturally

Still working on using up last season's carrots

Still working on using up last season's carrots

We’re being asked to do so many things when it comes to food and diet these days. The new drive to combat obesity spear-headed by Michelle Obama in the United States is long overdue yet at the same time opens the floodgates for all sorts of new diets suggesting a host of rules and regulations about eating and food preparation. Today it is common knowledge that rigid diets do not serve us well over the long term. They might reduce weight for a time but they won’t do anything for us as the years go by. So what do we do?

At the same time as we are being urged to think about how to eat for healthier weight, we are also being asked to choose in relation to the environment, taking climate change, pesticide use and genetic modification into account. On top of all of this we should prioritize fair trade, meaning the purchase of food products which improve the working and living standards of producers in developing countries.

All of this seems a tall order. You could be forgiven for standing in your kitchen holding your head in your hands. It was with all of these various new demands in mind, the experience of winning over a food disorder and the strong desire to have a natural relationship to food that I came up with The Natural Eater system for thinking about food choices. On the concept page you can read about this values based idea for having a relationship to food that feels freeing and healthy rather than constraining and leading only to short-term health solutions.

With The Natural Eater system in mind, I’m freeing you up with a refreshing little recipe for using up whatever is left and creating a hearty meal out of it. One of the operating principles of The Natural Eater is that food is creativity. For this to be so, it’s important to have enough food preparation skills so that you can look into your fridge or pantry at any given time and prepare something good to eat. Limitation is the mother of invention if you have certain basic food preparation skills. The idea of using whatever is left also relates to another important Natural Eater value which is that food is solidarity with the planet and its peoples and therefore we do not waste it.

I opened my fridge at about 5 pm this weekend and found a few carrots, a carton of champignons, a bit of cottage cheese, a stick of mozarrella cheese and some remaining soured cream.  I had a few other odd ingredients around and wondered whether I should instead shoot off to the supermarket to reduce my thinking time. Then I thought of one of my favorite food programs shown on BBC television for years in which a well-known chef was asked to prepare a meal with a bag of inexpensive ingredients purchased by a regular everday person who would be their assistant. Using this program as my inspiration, I came up with the following:

Carrot & Champignon Lasagne (serves 8 persons)

1 package of lasagne sheets
6 carrots, peeled and grated
dried or fresh herb such as parsley, tarragon or nettle
1 box of champignons, rinsed and sliced
1 onion, sliced thinly
2 dl or 1 cup soured cream
2 dl or 1 cup cottage cheese
500 g or 1 lb mozarrella cheese
3 dl or 1.5 cups milk
canola or olive oil
salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 C or 390 F. Grease a rectangular pyrex (mine is 30 x 17 cm or 12 x 7 inches)and cover the base with lasagne sheets. Set aside. Prepare the lasagne fillings. Toss the grated carrot with 2-4 tablespoons of herb. I used dried nettle which you cannot find in shops but parsley, tarragon and a host of other dried or fresh herbs work just as well. Drizzle over a bit of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss. Set aside. Drizzle some olive oil into a pan and saute onions and garlic over medium heat for two minutes. Add the sliced champignon and saute for another two minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. In a mixing bowl blend the cottage cheese, soured cream and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Slice the mozarrella thinly.

Assemble the lasagne. Spoon half the carrots onto the bottom lasagne sheets and cover with a new layer of pasta. Spoon half the mushrooms onto the new layer of lasagne sheets and cover with half of the milk mixture. Cover with another layer of lasagne sheets and repeat the layers once more, finishing once you have spooned over the rest of the milk mixture. Cover the surface of the lasagne with mozarella slices, season with salt and pepper and drizzle over oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until the lasagne sheets are soft and the mozarella is lightly browned. Serve with your favorite salad.

I thought the dish would last us for two days. It didn’t. We probably ate one too many portions, but at least you know that this recipe lives up to the taste test!

Sep
03
2009
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Lovely Leftovers

We love them at nordicwellbeing.com!

We love them at nordicwellbeing.com!

My grandmother always used to say that most things that you prepare taste even better the next day if you rehash them a little bit. I guess she had to develop this approach having lived through two world wars. The thing is, I tend to agree with her. I don’t know whether it has to do with actual taste or just the satisfaction of not wasting food.

Who doesn’t have a sealed tub of leftover cooked pasta in their refrigerator? Please raise your hand. Aha! As I suspected, no one is raising their hand. As I had just pulled this year’s beets out of the ground in my kitchen garden yet didn’t feel like spending too much time cooking, I decided to put two and two together and came up with this little number that is just superb. I know you must think that we are beet-lovers at nordicwellbeing.com (yes we are! see our Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook).

Beet Pasta
(per person to be served)

50-100 g or 2-3 oz leftover cooked pasta or cook up some new
2 medium beets, cooked*
30g  or 1 oz. Goat’s cheese: feta or chevre
2-3 tbsps roughly chopped hazelnuts
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt/Pepper

Place the pasta in a microwave-proof bowl. Chop beets into bite-size wedges and add to the pasta without blending. Crumble over goat’s cheese and add hazelnuts. Cover and heat in the microwave until warm (1-2 minutes on maximum). Drizzle over the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss. Enjoy with a green salad.

* Cooking beets: Remove most of the stalk leaving about 2-3 cm or 1 inch on the beetroot. Wash and place in a cooking pot. Cover with water and add a bit of salt. Bring to boil and then lower heat leaving to cook about 30 minutes or until you can easily pierce the beets with a fork or other. Drain away the water and allow to cool. Remove the skin to use in food preparation. It should slide off easily.

If you do like beets (a wise health choice), please look no further, check Paavo’s Bytes and The Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook.

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Along the lines of food and frugality, please do check out the Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm which is now home to the Manna Exhibition which has toured Sweden, Denmark and the US. The new cafe, MatMekka, established simultaneously with the exhibition is well worth a visit!

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