We were lucky to receive several new cookbooks this Christmas and we look forward to reading, creating and sharing some of those recipes with you. This healthy and delicious soup is so simple to make and utterly delicious. This is more than a soup! This hearty herb-based staple of Persian cuisine is the best comfort food on a cold day, and virtuous enough to be the perfect meal all year round.
By Sabrina Ghayour, featured in Bazaar: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes
A one-day intensive writing course with award-winning journalist and regular Guardian contributor Louise Tickle, for anyone who has an urge to write with a mission in mind. If you want to challenge existing views, change practice, campaign against injustice, confront a local problem or influence policy, Louise has designed this one-day course to help you:
Venue: South Woodchester
Participants: maximum 6
Cost: £130. Three places are available at an EARLYBIRD PRICE of £115 until Friday 20 December.
Info and booking: Eventbrite (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/writing-with-a-purpose-tickets-85229209861?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&aff=estw&utm-source=tw&utm-term=listing&fbclid=IwAR3ExC13KR7gGeoHI0oEJrWK-rh_jo3KbesND4j5exrvW3m4HCaYydB-2Bc)
If you would like to find out more about Louise, a selection of her journalism can be seen at www.louisetickle.co.uk
Adapted from Gjelina, Cooking from Venice, California, by Travis Lett
85g bacon, cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
465g Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
85g pitted dates
240ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Heat a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat and add the bacon and olive oil. Cook until the bacon has rendered most of its fat but is still juicy, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a bowl and increase the heat to high. Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan cut-side down and sear hard, without shaking the pan, until well-charred and beginning to black (see photo above), about 5 to 7 minutes. The idea is to get a deep, penetrating sear that nearly blackens the sprouts, but keeps them relatively green inside. Reduce the heat back to medium, flip the sprouts, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the dates and cooked bacon and toss well. Add the stock to the pan, a little at a time, using a wooden spoon to smash the dates into the stock, breaking them into smaller pieces as the stock reduces into a sauce. Once the dates are incorporated, add the vinegar.
Continue cooking for 2 or 3 minutes, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the sprouts but be careful not to reduce it too much or the sauce will become cloyingly sweet and sticky. (If you do over reduce it, add a splash of stock or water to get it back to where you want it.) Transfer to a serving platter and serve warm.
This delicious recipe is adapted from Gjelina ‘Cooking from Venice Beach’ and although I was initially put off by the brining of the chicken, it’s certainly worth the effort. The braised kale makes a great accompaniment to this dish but could easily be eaten on its own!
240ml warm water
240ml ice water
1 lemon cut into rounds
4 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 dried guajillo chilli – or chilli of preference
4 chicken breasts – skin on
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onions, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (pimentón)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
480ml vegetable or chicken stock
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 bunches washed kale (I used spring greens), thick stems discarded or cut into thin strips, leaves cut into thick strips
Place a large, heavy-bottomed, high-sided sauté pan or casserole dish over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook until they soften and begin to turn translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add tomato paste and smoked paprika, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until the paste begins to caramelize, about 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add stock and vinegar, and allow to come to a boil.
Add half the kale, cover, and cook for a minute or two, until it wilts. Repeat with remaining kale. Stir to incorporate the onion mixture into the soft kale and simmer until tender, 20 to 30 minutes, partly covered. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside in preparation for the chicken.
Pre heat the oven to 260c
Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Season both sides with salt and pepper
Heat a large oven proof frying pan over high heat until very hot. Add enough olive oil to coat the chicken. Place the breasts skin side down into the pan. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, basting the chicken with the oil, fat and juices until the skin is well seared, about 3 minutes.
Without flipping the chicken, move the pan to the hot oven and roast until crisp and golden, approx. 10 minutes
Remove the chicken from the pan and discard some of the cooking fat. Add the braised kale, with enough of its cooking sauce to keep it moist. Nestle the chicken breasts skin side up and return to the oven. Cook until the chickens are cooked, 2-5 minutes approx.
Remove the chicken and stir some more red wine vinegar into the pan. Spread the kale onto a serving plate and pour the juices over it and top with the chicken. Serve hot.
With the party season upon us and the prospects of consuming more, food, alcohol and endless sweet treats on offer, it’s easy to overindulge at Christmas. It is easy to write off the month and plan to do the January detox or diet, but what if you could have fun over Christmas without putting on half a stone?
Here are a few simple ideas for you to try that will help you keep the ‘Christmas’ weight off this December
1. Maintain a routine
Try as much as possible to keep some part of your normal routine going.
If you always get up and go to the gym, why can’t you continue that most days over Christmas? If you normally juice every morning, why can’t you keep doing that?
Try and start your day with a good breakfast which is full of protein, this will give your body a good start to the day, keep you fuller for longer and may help with cravings.
2. Start the day in credit!
Make the most of the fact that you will not be racing off to the office or on the school run. Get into credit early in the day by going for a brisk walk; make time in the middle of the day for family winter walk, it will boost your Vitamin D level and help take some of the ‘festive ‘stress.
3. Finish the day in credit!
It is easy to end up drinking every night throughout Christmas due to all the socialising and the bottles of Advocaat, Baileys Cream and Dubonnet that reappear on the sideboard at this time of year! Take one or two nights off a week and get an early night. This will stop your adrenal glands going into overdrive and producing lots of cortisol which, in turn makes you crave sugary and salty foods more.
4. Eat more vegetables
Have a lighter Christmas dinner by filling at least half your plate with vegetables before adding anything else. (Caution – does not include roast potatoes! )
Green vegetables are excellent as they are low in calories and high in fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Prepare several vegetable side dishes and look for recipes to make them more interesting – (we have included 2 new recipes for you!)
5. Drink plenty of water
As well as your normal 1 1/2 litres of water every day, (yes you need to drink that much and no you won’t keep going to the toilet and if you do, think of all those extra steps!) try to have a glass of water between each alcoholic drink. It will slow down your drinking and help keep you hydrated.
Just pause and consider this for one moment; you live in a box, go to work in a box, do most of your work sitting in front of a box, go back home to your box and then sit in front of another box to relax! Now consider this; your body was designed to move! We are all the direct descendants of hunter gatherers and it is in our genes to move. If our distant ancestors were unable to move would not be able to find food and would ultimately become food! In short without motion they wouldn’t survive. As intellectual industrialised beings we no longer have to worry about surviving, yet we have 639 individual muscles (approximately 400 skeletal muscles) and over 200 bones that need movement to thrive!
“Today, unlike our ancestors, we may choose not to move. In modern life, moving appears to be optional. Thus what we do to work and play no longer fully engages our musculoskeletal functions….The less we move, the less we are capable of moving”. Pete Egoscue
The human ‘body’ has not changed in hundreds and hundreds of years, yet how we use our bodies has changed dramatically, particularly so over the past fifty years. Although we may strive for comfortable lifestyles, with minimal time spent on manual chores, the hours invested in inactivity will ultimately provide us with an uncomfortable life. Pain, illness discomfort and disability will be the price we pay for a lack of activity. Movement and motion have now become our medicine; they are our daily prescription for healthy living.
There is no getting away from the fact that inactivity is a major health burden. The good news is, it’s never too late to start exercising and benefitting from all the health benefits that physical activity brings. Even if you have had, or you feel like you have had a lifetime of inactivity, we know that it can be hard to get started, but one of the easiest things to do is to try and reduce the amount of time spent sitting every day. Don’t worry about which exercise you need to do, or which class to attend, just think about moving more and moving well!
– Chinese proverb
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.
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