For those who have an interest in food and a concern about food issues, the last Thursday of every month is worth marking in your diary â€“ Cork Free Choice Consumer Group will have a speaker at the Crawford Art Gallery from 7:30pm to 10:00pm. The subject can be as varied as â€˜Water, Grown your Own Vegetables, Vegetarian Food, Herbal Medicines, Bees, German Cuisine, French Cuisine, Grow your own Fruit and Nuts, Cheese Production and Breadâ€™ It is always food related and is without exception worth making an effort to attend.
The Cork Free Choice Group aims to support and promote producers of high quality food in Co Cork, especially small specialist and traditional producers, to put them in contact with interested consumers and to create more awareness of availability and production methods. For more information contact 021-7330178 email@example.com
Sometimes there is a standing room only, as with recent â€œHow to grow Year Round Vegetablesâ€ it was oversubscribed, over 50 people had to be turned away. Such is the burgeoning interest in vegetable gardening and self sufficiency.
On other occasions it is not full as with the recent brilliant talk by Daphne Lambert on â€œPlant Foods for Health and Vitalityâ€ (it was a beautiful evening perfect for gardening)
I was one of the fortunate ones who made it. Daphne Lambert is the owner of Greencuisine â€“ A Healing Food CentreÂ in Herefordshire, UK, and is an award winning chef, nutritionist and author of â€œLittle Red Gooseberries â€“ Organic Recipes from Penrhosâ€Â ISBN-13: 9780752838441. She also contributed to â€œA Slice of Organic Lifeâ€ edited by Sheherazade Goldsmith ISBN â€“ 13: 9780756628734
According to Daphne health and vitality is far more than just food, the strength of the community, music, dance, theatre, all contribute to our sense of wellbeing but Daphne decided to concentrate on nutrition and distil it down to its most important elements.
Soil â€“ the Fundamental Element.
All good food comes from fertile soil but nowadays we rarely get our hands dirty any more.Â There are more micro organisms in a handful of rich organic soil than there are humans on earth. Our gut hasnâ€™t changed for over 10,000 years; itâ€™s an extraordinary eco-system. Plant life is what supports us, but nowadays our systems are being challenged with all kinds of alien foods that are difficult and in some cases impossible to digest. Daphneâ€™s hypothesise is that we are not just what we eat but what we digest. Healthy vibrant soil grows healthy mineral rich food, minerals are spark plugs of life, we cannot survive without them, and they are required to activate 20,000 enzyme reactions in the body.
Daphne, who is a hugely successful practicing nutritionist and herbalist, says that in her experience, lack of minerals is at the base of virtually every condition she looks at. There has been a dramatic loss of minerals particularly trace elements over the last 50 years.
Sodium 49% potassium 16% magnesium 24% calcium 46%Â iron 27% copper 76% zinc 59% minerals in agricultural soil worldwide have fallen by 72%Â if minerals are not in the soil they will not be in the plantsÂ and our bio-chemistry is dependant on minerals.
In the words of Lady Eve Balfour – one of the founders of the Soil Association â€“ that the health of humans, animals and soil are one â€œindivisible wholeâ€ and that biological balance begins and ends with a â€œtruly fertile soilâ€.
Wild plants contain most minerals, then home-grown organic, commercial organic and least are found in chemically grown plants. As every organic, biodynamic and good farmer knows it is vital to feed and enrich soil with humus and well rotted compost.
We need 92 minerals and trace elements for optimum health; ideally we should be getting those from our food not from bottles of supplements.
Some foods have far greater health enhancing properties than others providing us not only with the chemical components of carbohydrates, protein, fats minerals and vitamins but a living energy. Living energy is found in biogenic foods which includes sprouted seeds and freshly gathered young green leaves, these foods have the restorative power to enhance our vitality and life force Bio-active foods are raw organic vegetables and fruits these are important to help sustain a healthy life force
Bio-static foods are cooked organic vegetables, fruits, grains and eggs; they provide warmth and energy but are very limited in the subtle energies that feed our life force
Bio-acidic foods are highly processed chemical foods especially white sugar & white flour products and factory farmed meat, these foods increase toxicity in the body so disrupt and deplete our vitality and our living energy
Nettles are one of the most nourishing foods we can eat â€“ young leaves can picked at present and can be cooked and used like spinach, made into juice or nettle tea. According to Fitz Albert Popp wild organic food supports us most physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Fermented foods are another group of foods vital for health but most lacking in our Western diet. Examples of this are sauerkraut, Korean Kimchi, Nepalese gundrie, miso, and tempeh. Grain ferments include ogi, amazake and kvass.
Dairy ferments â€“ yoghurt and keffir. The process of fermenting harnesses microorganisms in the environment produces alcohol, lactic acid and acetic acid. It preserves food, retains nutrients and stops spoilage.
Fermented foods create nutrients, microbial cultures create b vitamins and anti-oxidants. They are powerful healing foods.
Seaweeds are another vitally important food group, according to Daphne; they are “the richest source of organic minerals and vitamins as well.” We should eat a little seaweed every day for balance and energy. Seaweeds are an excellent source of calcium, iodine (lack of iodine contributes to colds and flu and in extreme cases to goitre) they is rich in potassium, manganese, zinc, boron and silicone.
Seaweed is also good for blood pressure nails, glossy hairâ€¦ The algenic acid binds with heavy metals (have you still got your iodine tablets?)
Seaweeds are easy to use; Wakame seaweed has 11 times more calcium than milk and in the correct ratio. Kelp for example can be added to soups, stocks and bean stews, to increase mineral content. Nori, mainly used to wrap sushi rolls can also be snipped into salads. Dilisk or dulse so beloved on Irish coastal communities is high in iron, can be added to breads, soups, biscuits and mashed potatoes.
Carrageen Moss is probably the best known and most widely used of all the seaweeds and is, in my estimation a wonder food for children, adults and animals.
Donâ€™t forget how important seaweed is an a fertiliser for the land so next time you are walking along the beach after a storm, fill a few bags with seaweed, take it home and use it on your vegetable patch. It doesnâ€™t need to be composted. For more information about Daphne Lambertâ€™s Healing Food Centre and courses visit http://greencuisine.penrhos.com/courses/ or telephone 0044 1544 230720.
Here are a few simple, healthy and delicious recipes from Daphne Lambert.
Daphne Lambertâ€™s Hijiki-Carrot Salad
110g (4 oz) carrot
50g 2 (oz) hijiki
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons tamari
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon orange juice
Salt and pepper
110g (4oz) very finely sliced Chinese cabbage
2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
Soak the hijiki in warm water for 30 minutes, drain and cover with fresh warm water and soak for a further 30 minutes and drain.
Grate the carrot and put into a bowl with the hijiki.Â Blend the dressing ingredients together and pour over the carrot and hijiki and leave to marinade.
Arrange the cabbage on four plates.Â Spoon the hijiki-carrot mixture on top and scatter with sesame seeds.
Daphne Lambertâ€™s Avocado & Spiced Lentil Salad
110g (4 oz)
2 carrots cut into fine julienne strips
1 spring onion, finely sliced or small leek
1 clove garlic, finely diced
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Â½ teaspoon curry powder
Â¼ teaspoon cumin
Â¼ teaspoon cayenne
A selection of salad leaves (rocket, garden cress, spinach, cos, mizuna)
Combine the green lentils, carrot, spring onions and garlic in a bowl.Â Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, curry powder, cumin and cayenne together and pour over the lentil mixture.Â Cut the avocados in half, remove the stone and peel.Â Divide the salad between four plates.Â Place an avocado half with the hole uppermost in the middle of each salad, pile the lentils into the cavities and serve.
Daphne Lambertâ€™s Alfalfa, Spinach & Dulse Salad
2 large handfuls of spinach
2 large handfuls of alfalfa sprouts
1 handful of dulse, rinsed and finely chopped
4 tablespoons pine kernels
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt & pepper
10 finely shredded basil leaves
Finely shred the spinach and put in a bowl.
Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice,Â salt & pepper and mix into the spinach, add the sprouts and dulse, scatter over theÂ pine kernels & basil and serve
Daphne Lambertâ€™s Sprouted Seed Salad
3 oz (75g) sprouted sunflower seeds
3 oz (75g) sprouted lentils
2 oz (50g) sprouted alfalfa
2 oz (50g) sprouted wheat
1 yellow pepper diced
1 red pepper diced
Â½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 clove garlic crushed
2 teaspoons fresh ginger
2 teaspoons tamari
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 sprigs of fresh fennel
In a bowl combine the sprouts and the peppers.Â Whisk the remaining ingredients together, pour over the sprouts and peppers and gently toss together.
Daphne Lambertâ€™s Sprouted Quinoa Salad
8 oz (225g) sprouted quinoa
30 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Â½ cucumber, diced
6 sticks celery, finely sliced
small bunch of mint, chopped
Combine all the ingredients together.Â Pour over the dressing made from blending the following ingredientsâ€¦
Juice & zest of 1 lime and of 1 orange
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons hemp oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper
Daphne Lambertâ€™s Dulse & Potato Soup
30g (1Â¼ oz) dried dulse
1 carrot, chopped
1 medium floury potato, diced
1 stick celery, chopped
1 leek, white part only & chopped
60g (2Â½ oz) butter
Â½ teaspoon salt
Soak the dulse for 5 minutes.Â Melt the butter in a large pan and soften the vegetables over a gentle heat.Â Add the stock and drained dulse and simmer with a lid on for 30 minutes.Â Process in a food processor and serve in individual bowls
Ballymaloe Homemade Yoghurt
Making oneâ€™s own yoghurt is a very satisfying and easy thing to do. This recipe will yield about 2 1/2 pints of yoghurt.
2.3l (4 pints) milk
300ml (1/2 pint) double cream
250g (9 ozs) live yoghurt
Place milk in large saucepan and bring to the boil.Â Turn down to a gentle simmer and reduce by a third, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and transfer contents to another container. Add the cream and stir well. Allow to cool. When the milk has cooled to the point that you are able to hold your finger in it for a count of ten, add yoghurt and stir well. It is important that the milk is not too hot when the bacteria are added, because it will be killed. Leave to stand overnight or until set in a warm place.Â The longer the mixture is kept warm the better because the bacteria love a little bit of heat.Â The yoghurt should thicken at lower temperatures but it may take longer to do so.Â A classic place is in the airing cupboard but covering in cling film and wrapping in towels helps a lot. It keeps in the fridge for up to a week/ten days.
Food Proof Food
Bring fresh cold water to the boil.Â Scald a china tea pot, take a handful of fresh nettle leaves and crush them gently. Wear gloves for this. The quantity will depend on how intense an infusion you enjoy.Â Put the crushed leaves into the scalded teapot.Â Pour the boiling water over the leaves, cover the teapot and allow to infuse for 5 â€“ 10 minutes.Â Serve immediately. Combine fresh spearmint and lemon balm leaves with the nettles for a fresh flavour.
Mince up leftover cold cooked roast beef or roast lamb in a food processor and freeze to make a shepherds pie at a later date. All the better if you also have some left over gravy to freeze to add to the pie.
Patrick and Ronite Ganiger sell eight varieties of organic sprouts: mung beans, aduki beans, green lentils, brown lentils, puy lentils, sunflower seeds, chick peas and soya beans. Sprouts are one of the super foods; the vitamin content can be up to 6 times higher in sprouts than in the mature plant. Combine all eight types of sprouts for the ultimate vitamin boost, toss them into salads, whizz them up in the liquidiser with fruit or lightly cook them in stir fries or soups. Buy them at Mahon Point Farmers Market every Thursday, Kinsale Farmers Market on Tuesdays and at Cork City Farmers Market on Saturdays. Enquiries: 023 69151.
Seaweeds are widely available from Healthfood Shops, Sea Breeze and Clearspring are both recommended brands.
Teagasc publishes A Guide to Vegetable Growing
Stephen Alexander, a vegetable specialist for Teagasc has written a booklet â€˜A Guide to Vegetable Growingâ€™ that is packed full of information on how to grow vegetables in small areas, Mr Alexander said, â€œPeople should be aware they can take a large amount of food from a very small area and this can save the average family a great deal of money annuallyâ€ The booklet is available from the website www.teagasc.ie
Food Writing Course
There will be a unique chance to learn about the art and craft of food writing from Irelandâ€™s “leading food critic” John McKenna during the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry in July. The five day food writing workshop will introduce aspiring food critics, cookbook would-be writers and those with an interest in writing about food to the strong literary tradition within food writing. The cost of the course is â‚¬175 and takes place from Monday 6th â€“ Friday 10th July from 9.30am to 12.30pm. To find out more have a look at www.westcorkliteraryfestival.ie or 027 55987