When I was young, one of my mum and dad’s “go to” dinnertime meals, was a rather interesting dish known as kedgeree – a delicately spiced, hard-boiled egg, rice and smoky fish dish. Trust me, I know how it sounds!
I remember my dad telling me that kedgeree was conceived in England during the Second World War when food was at its most scarce. He sold me the story that the dish was invented using only a few ingredients available to the Brits during food shortages, and this is how the potluck dish came about.
Knowing my dad, there are bound to be a few holes in this story, the tale however, always stuck in my head. I remember smiling at him and my brothers from across the dinner table as my imagination ran wild over an aromatic bowl of steaming hot rice (Believe it or not, the dish tasted great!)
I was intrigued by the idea of throwing a mish mash of ingredients together to create a dish for the times, and imagined frantic old English maids with their curly haired buns dusting out gloomy cupboards in search of a solution for their ravenous soldiers.
Years later, and I find myself adopting the same strategy when having to come up with my own new and exciting mealtime creations. Every day I have available to me, different ingredients in my kitchen. Inspired by my dad’s story, these become challenging and creative spaces for me to throw something new together.
This technique is especially helpful on days where 5 o’clock rolls around and I haven’t even considered what to prep for dinner. Hopefully, the simplicity and high satiety of this dish will inspire you to do the same.
On Goji Berries – Winter’s Antioxidant Rich Super Hero
The reason I love gojis as a winter fruit, is that well, if you don’t eat dried berries in winter in South Africa, then you don’t eat berries (They are generally a summer thing.) Since it’s at this time of the year when our immune systems are most compromised, it’s nice to be able to dose up on high levels of antioxidant containing foods. Goji Berries rank extremely high on the ORAC (Oxygen Radicle Absorbance Capacity) scale, which compares the antioxidant values in food. In fact, if one were to compare the antioxidant levels of gojis to raspberries, strawberries or blueberries – gojis would put them all to shame.
The recommended daily intake for gojis is between 8-30 g per day, or a minimum of 10-15 g per day (roughly a small handful). Most people that I’ve spoken to associate gojis with a bitter, slightly unpleasant flavor. However, I am here today to tell you that once these little berries have been rehydrated they become soft, plump and juicy with a unique and slightly sweet taste. Just soak them in water for a few minutes and you’ll see what I mean – magical red berries of pure delight!
It is said in China, that eating a handful of gojis per day will make you happy for the whole day, and that such a practice has a cumulative effect over time. I think we should all test out this theory!! Gojis grow naturally in harsh and dry environments, giving them an adaptogenic effect – meaning that they invigorate and strengthen the body and help it to deal with stress by supporting the adrenal glands.
Note – Make sure that you only buy certified organic gojis, as it has become commonplace in China to grow them in artificial pesticides and thereafter sprayed with preservatives. Unfortunately, when there is profiteering involved, unconscious farming practices are often adopted.
On Lentils – & The Beauty of the Legume
Because of their high protein content, legumes are often seen to be a cost effective and partial replacement for animal protein. They are also high in fats and carbohydrates and are rich sources of potassium, calcium, iron and B-vitamins. Sprouted legumes have the added bonus of being rich in vitamin C and enzymes.
There are many people who don’t digest legumes very well at all, which can result in gas and allergies. In many of these cases, the correct cooking procedure, choice of legume and food combining “know-how” can alleviate symptoms. My advice is to listen to your body and avoid foods that cause any uncomfortable reactions.
Improving the digestibility of legumes:
The reason why people have difficulty digesting beans and legumes is because of the trisaccharides (a type of carbohydrate that contains three monosaccharide molecules) which lead to bloating and gas. Healthy intestines contain the enzymes the body needs to break these trisaccharides down, and as a matter of fact, eating small amounts of these types of foods actually promote the formation of these enzymes. Below are some techniques to enhance a legume’s digestibility.
- Chew your legumes thoroughly and eat small amounts at a time.
- Make the right choice of legume. Lentils, mung beans and peas are easier to digest then chickpeas, kidney beans and pinto beans.
- Use the right food combinations. Lentils combine well with green and non-starchy vegetables.
- Soak legumes for 12 hours beforehand. Soaking softens the skins and begins the sprouting process, removing phytic acid and thereby making beneficial minerals more available. Soaking also decreases cooking time.
- Boil legumes without the lid on. This allows steam to rise, which breaks up and disperses indigestible enzymes.
- Add a little apple cider vinegar to the water in the last few stages of cooking. Vinegar softens legumes and breaks down protein chains
And there you have it. If you’re like me and refuse to give up legumes, because they’re just SO good, then by following the above cooking instructions, you may be able to spare yourself the stomach cramps and some potentially awkward social moments.
For the Salad
2 C Water
1 C Green Lentils
20 Purple Olives
1 C Baby Spinach
½ C Almonds, soaked
¼ Onion, thinly sliced
1/3 C Goji Berries, Soaked
For the Dressing
½ C Olive Oil
1 Lemon, Juiced
2 T Raw Honey
1 Garlic Clove
½ t Spirulina
½ t Salt
Soak the lentils first if possible – drain and rinse well. Bring the lentils to a boil in 2 cups of water, turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes with a few pinches of salt. Drain and lightly rinse.
In the meantime, soak your goji’s and almonds separately, pit your olives, finely slice your onions and rinse and chop your baby spinach. Chop the almonds roughly and add everything into a big bowl, mixing together well.
Make your dressing by whizzing all of the ingredients in a high-powered blender.
Plate up, drizzle the dressing over the top and bedeck with half a sliced avo.
Sit down on a comfy couch with a warm blanket and chew consciously, staring lovingly at your creation whilst enjoying the taste and textures of all the ingredients.
So much Love,