31 August, 2009

3 Grain Breakfast with 3 Fresh Fruit

About a year ago, I read a few books of the German doctor Max Otto Bruker. This was after I realized that my consumption of refined sugars (especially in the evenings... in the form of chocolates etc) made me feel wobbly, lethargic and tired the next day. Apart from that, it messed with my appetite: I would only have appetite for breakfast at lunchtime, another snack in the afternoon, some dinner and then again still be sort of hungry later in the evening and stuff myself with sweet stuff. It was a vicious cycle.

Bruker (1909-2001) recommends a diet high in whole foods. Nothing new, but I needed this eye-opener. He considers most of today's civilization diseases (like diabetes and arthritis) as diet-related illnesses, caused by malnutrition from vitamin-deprived and sugar-loaded or white flour based foods, too much meat and other animal proteins.
He looked at the whole foods diet as the original diet that was created for man. This includes whole grain cereals (preferably freshly ground), fruits, vegetables, salad and unprocessed nuts and seeds. One third of a daily diet should be raw since these foods contain more vitamins, minerals and trace elements than the processed counterparts. Refined sugar and flours should be totally avoided.

Since I read those books, I managed to cut out most of refined sugars and flours from my diet and moved towards natural foods, fresh or as little processed as possible. I still like my chocolates though, but I have cut them down by quite a bit (on most days......).

Changing my breakfast routines was one of the easiest parts. This recipe is loosely based on Bruker's recommendation of eating lots of raw foods. The millet, oat and spelt flakes (being bought in the shops as they are) have surely been treated somehow to make them last longer. But it will still be better than some white bread (refined flour) with margarine (hydrogenated fats) and jam (refined sugar).

And with regards to the FIVE A DAY portions of fruit or vegetables: this breakfast has at least two!!!

(Print Recipe)

1 tablespoon raw millet or quinoa
1 tablespoon jumbo oat flakes
1 tablespoon spelt or barley flakes
3-4 tablespoons water

1 banana
1/2 peach (or other fruit of the season)
1/2 apple
1 tablespoon of yogurt or cream (optional)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Put millet, oat flakes and spelt flakes in a bowl and add the water so that they are just covered. Soak the grains for at least half an hour (better one hour), to soften them. All water should be absorbed. The millet/quinoa takes longest to soften. If you don't have the time, leave them and use more flakes instead.

Chop the banana and the peach. Drain any excess water from the grains. Combine grains and chopped fruit in a breakfast bowl. Add grated apples on top. Garnish with yogurt or cream and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Gesund durch richtiges Essen.   Unsere Nahrung unser Schicksal
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26 August, 2009

Spinach Apple Salad

We never used to be fans of the regular leafy salad, like iceberg salad etc. It seemed too tasteless and watery. Rocket salad is nice at times but can be a little too bitter. Only two exceptions are made to green up our salads: baby spinach and bakla. Bakla is a little teaspoon-shaped leaf that the Arabs have in their regular salads, along with mint, tomatoes and cucumbers. I am not sure what the English term for this particular leaf is, but will let you know as soon as I find out. It's not that easy... even the world wide web is very not helpful this time.
Bakla and spinach leaves can be combined with anything fruity, fresh, light or heavy to anything ranging from a light lunch to a full dinner. Today's recipe goes into the fruity light lunch section.

PS: Bakla leaves are purslane.

(Print Recipe)

4 cups of baby spinach, loosely packed
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1 red apple, cored and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons roasted seeds or nuts
4 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
4 tablespoon raisins

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcester Sauce

Serves 4
Wash and dry the spinach leaves. Mix with raisins, sliced onions and apples. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the dressing and pour over the salad. Sprinkle with roasted nuts and feta cheese. Ready to serve.
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25 August, 2009

Pumpkin Soup

This is another one of our favorite soup recipes, and a good, not so sweet alternative to the carrot soup. Light, healthy, vegetarian, simply yummy. Easy to make, and it might even be good to tidy the fridge off some lonely onion, potato or carrot. This is, what I often find in the deeps of my fridge......... Just buy a big piece of pumpkin and dinner is saved and fridge cleared.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
1 big potato
2 carrots
500g pumpkin
1-1,5 litres water
2-3 cubes of vegetable stock
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves
Peel potato, pumpkin and onion and cut them plus the carrots into chunks. Fry in the oil for a few minutes. Add water and the vegetable stock cubes. Bring to boil and simmer until all vegetables are soft (10-15 minutes). Blend the soup and cream. Season with nutmeg to according to taste. Sprinkle with cut coriander before serving.

Serves 4-6.
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22 August, 2009

Clams in Tomato Sauce

I never used to have much seafood in my diet while I was living in Germany, apart from the occasional fillet of salmon, herring, trout or tin of tuna.
The reason might be that especially shellfish costs a fortune in Germany, money I didn't have as a poor student. Or wouldn't have spent on shellfish if I had had it.....
Only when I went to South Africa and subsequently to Dubai, I was introduced to shellfish. Ever since I have enjoyed prawns and clams as often as I could. They always make a full and yet light meal, perfect for Dubai summers and for cooler temperatures anyway.
Here is my favorite clam recipe, always eaten with fresh baguette bread to be dipped in the tomato sauce.

(Print Recipe)

2kg clams (with shells)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 onions
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs
1/2 glass of white wine
1/4 cup single cream or milk (optional)

Serves 4
Keep the raw clams in cold water for a few hours or half a day to rinse out the sand.

Heat the oil in a pan. Cut the onions into fine rings and fry them until soft, about 5 minutes. Add crushed garlic and fry for another minute. Add chopped tomatoes to pan. Add tomato paste, salt, herbs and white wine and bring to boil. Cover with lid and simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes.

Stir in the washed clams and cook for another 10-15 minutes. This dish is better when made in advance and heated up. Just before serving, add the cream/milk to the dish to make the sauce smooth. Serve with fresh bread.

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21 August, 2009

Mutter Paneer (Pea and Cottage Cheese Curry)

Mutter Paneer is an Indian vegetarian curry based on green peas and Indian cottage cheese (Paneer). It was one of the dishes I liked to try and cook myself at our curry night with friends the other day. It was a whole new cooking experience for me: by using yoghurt for the cooking, experimenting with the (to me still very exotic) spices (I must admit that in most cases I still don't know what spice does what to the dish - apart from chilli, that I know) and adding home-made Paneer. It turned out really nice and seemed to be popular among our guests. Served with either rice or some flat bread it makes a perfect, not to heavy main dish, that can be prepared well in advance.

350g green peas
250g Paneer
2 medium onions (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 red chillies (chopped)
250g tomatoes (peeled and sliced)
Salt To Taste
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
4 bay leaves
2 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Make a paste by grinding together one onion, the garlic and coriander seeds. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and cut the Paneer into 2.5cm cubes. Fry the Paneer to a light brown. Pat them dry with kitchen towel and leave aside.
Add the remaining onion and the ginger to the oil in a pan and add the bay leaves and fry until the onion is golden brown. Add the turmeric and the paste mixture and fry until the oil starts to separate. Add the Paneer and mutter (peas) along with the yoghurt, chilli, tomato and salt. Stir for 5-6 minutes over low heat. Pour in the water and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Serve the Mutter Paneer sprinkled with Garam Masala and coriander.
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18 August, 2009

Indian Cottage Cheese (Paneer)

After our summer vacation in Germany, my husband got a big craving for a nice Indian curry. We have an excellent Indian restaurant in Dubai where we always eat when Indian food cravings come up. However, I suggested to invite some friends over to our house and have some home-cooked curries instead (the dessert will be German Apple Strudel with vanilla ice cream, but that's another story/blog post).
Whenever we eat at that Indian restaurant, I like to order Mutter Paneer, a vegetarian curry with green peas (Mutter) and cottage cheese (Paneer). I'd like to do this dish when our friends come over on the weekend and I tried to make the cottage cheese today. It's another one of those recipes where I am just so surprised how easy it is to make at home.

2 litres whole milk
6 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar

Bring the milk to the boil and take of the heat immediately. Add the lemon juice, one teaspoon at a time and keep stirring the milk after each addition, until the milk separates; the solid curds will separate from the green watery whey.
Allow the curds and whey to cool for a half hour (or until still warm, but at a temperature you can handle), then strain through cheese cloth (a cotton kitchen towel or muslin will do) in a strainer. Save some or all of the whey; it can be used to make your next batch of Paneer, producing a slightly more tender cheese than lemon juice. The whey can also be used to keep the Paneer in in the fridge for a few days.
Wrap the cheese cloth on itself in order to squeeze out moisture from the curds. The more you squeeze, the firmer the resulting Paneer.
Shape the Paneer, still in the cheese cloth, into a block, wrapping it tightly with the cloth. By putting a cutting board or something heavy and flat on top of the Paneer, you can force out more moisture, and make it into a firmer block, suitable for slicing and frying. The longer you press the cheese, the firmer it gets.
Soak the block of cheese in chilled water or its whey for 2-3 hours. This is optional, as the intention is to improve appearance and texture.
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Crispy Bread

We just got back from a three-week vacation in Germany. It was lovely! Nice weather: sunshine, fresh to warm 20 to 25 degrees, nice wind, occasional rain or thunderstorm. A welcome change to the blistering heat and sand storms of Dubai that has us back now. Lovely traditional home-made foods and cakes at my family's and public places... some of those recipes will appear here in my blog sooner or later. Lots of little or big excursions and meetings with old friends and family. It was wonderful and we all relaxed.
At the same time, it's nice to be back home after three weeks. I missed my little cooking experiments, and our very own traditional homemade foods.
Anyway, here we are. There will be a lot of things to cook and bake and blog in the next couple of weeks. So let's start.


125g oat flakes
125 g wholemeal wheat flour
400ml water
1 teaspoon salt
60g sesame seeds
60g flax seeds
60g sunflower kernels
60g pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon oil

Mix oats and wheat flour Add the water and stir until you get a thick liquid. Leave aside for about 1 hour to soak.
Add salt, sesame seeds, flax seeds and sunflower kernels. Spread the oil evenly on a baking tray and then spread the dough evenly in a thin layer. Sprinkle more seeds on top according to your taste.
Bake at 175 degrees Celsius for about 60 minutes or until brown and crispy. After 15 minutes baking cut strips or triangle shapes into the dough in order to break them into portions after the baking.
After about 45 minutes you should check more often on the bread as it burns rather quickly.
Once it's finished pull them out and let them cool on a grill.
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