02 February 2011

Healthy eating

At last those potatoes are ready to dig. It feels like ages since they were planted. They have been well looked after, with plenty of water and lots and lots of mulch so I expected to get a decent crop. I think my expectations have been exceeded.

I planted 8 potatoes, so 32 quarters went into the dirt. We've dug up one row of 4 plants and as you can see by the photo, there were a lot of spuds! I weighed the bag and it's just on 5 kilos - 4995 grams to be exact.  That's not a bad result from 4 little quarters.

They are mostly nice, big potatoes. I much prefer big potatoes, mainly because I'm lazy when it comes to peeling. Bigger spuds are much easier to peel. Or scrub. They're nice and clean too, so a scrub will be all they need before they are cooked. Mulching with straw helps to keep them nice and clean. It also adds to the soil for the next planting. One of the boys will dig it in for me over the weekend and then those beds can rest for a while, ready to be planted out next spring.  Well that's the plan anyway.

Did you know that new potatoes are good for boiling or steaming and mashing, while older potatoes are best for roasting, chips and wedges?  The new potatoes hold their shape and are less inclined to be mushy, while older potatoes (they show signs of age just like us, they tend to wrinkle as they get older) are softer and less dense so they bake and fry quickly and evenly.

How do you like your new potatoes? I love them steamed with a little herb butter. Or steamed, then sliced and very lightly fried in a little garlic oil. Yum.

These days when I roast potatoes I like to peel them, then score them all over with a fork. Then just before they go into the oven I drizzle a very little olive oil over them, roll them around to make sure they are covered and then bake them on a baking paper lined cookie sheet. They come out crisp on the outside and nice and fluffy on the inside, just the way we like them.

I don't bother with par-boiling, that's just more work and cleaning up to do. For health's sake I like to "dry" roast them too. In the olden days they would have been dropped into a baking dish of hot fat and cooked. Then in the '70s that became unfashionable and cooking them in vegetable oil was the go. A good inch of oil in the baking dish, add the potatoes and bake, turning often so they browned all over.  That's just extra work and too much fat.

I can skite that my way is also dietician approved.  I went with Wayne last week to his dietician appointment because I had lots of questions about our diet and how to adapt it for Wayne. I floated out of there, with a huge smile on my face and a great weight off my mind.  Ever since his heart attack I have been going over and over the what, when and how much we eat.

Turns out we eat well and healthfully. We cook from scratch, avoid packet mixes and pre-prepared meals, watch portions and get plenty of fruit and vegetables, and a good mix of them to boot. I printed off a couple of meal plans and took them with me and we went through each meal and how it was prepared, what ingredients were used etc. David (the dietician) was very happy. In fact he said I scored 150% for healthful cooking!

So here are the things I do that earned me that 150% score:

1. Dry fry. I have cast iron and non-stick pans. To sauté I heat the pan, add the onion, celery, capsicum or whatever, stir for a minute then add 1 tsp of water. The water evaporates almost immediately but it also browns the veggies.

2. Dry fry rissoles. Again I heat the pan. If the rissoles are covered in crumbs I use olive oil spray in the pan to brown them. If they are covered in shake-n-bake then they are just fried as there is oil in the shake-n-bake.  For speed I use the fry pan. If they aren't coated then they are just fried in a hot non-stick pan.
Baked vegetables - toss with 1tbsp olive oiland into the pan to bake

3. Dry roasting. Anything coated with shake-n-bake is cooked on a baking paper lined tray. Veggies I do the same as the potatoes above.

4. Only non-fat milk is used in cooking. I make it up from non-fat milk powder and use it to make all cream sauces, custards, cakes etc

5. To mash potato I use some of the water it was steamed or boiled in.  It makes the fluffiest mashed potato ever, try it. And there's no added fat!

6. Everyday we eat at least 5 serves of vegetables. For most veggies a serve is a half cup, so it's not really a lot of vegetables. Spread over three meals and a couple of snacks it's very easy to do.  We also eat at least 2 serves of fruit, usually more. Fruit is easy to eat, it's great to snack on and compared to other snacks it's great value. It's not always fresh fruit, that includes dried and tinned fruit.

7. Watch the portions, especially for meat and poultry. We eat way to much meat in our diets. A good size is a piece of chicken or steak about the size of the palm of your hand. Enough said.

8. Lots of vegetarian meals. Loads of legumes and pulses, whole grains and vegetables.

9. Dairy - we eat quite a lot of cheese so I try to opt for the lowest fat and salt cheeses I can find. We've tried some of them and they are just horrible. Others aren't too bad.  I like to use butter in cooking, but for sandwiches and other things we use olive oil spread. Thankfully none of us is very fond of a thick layer of marg or butter on our bread so sandwiches are often dry or just a smear of mayo. In fact that was the one area I fell down. I had been buying Logicol for Wayne to use, in a vain attempt to lower his already quite low cholesterol. Turns out you need to use at least 25g of the stuff a day for it to work.  When we measured how much he was getting it was barely 9g a day! Oops! He eats so little spread on his bread it's not worth the expense so he's back to olive oil spread like the rest of us when this tub runs out.

10. Salt. In the 22 years we've been married I've bought one small container of salt. I don't like salt so I don't use it in cooking and it's never on the table. If I'm buying tinned foods I go for the no-salt options whenever possible. While it has its good points, its not-so-good points outweigh them.

Well that's quite a list, most of them things you probably already do. It was nice though to have my efforts applauded. And to know that my cooking, shocking though it can be, isn't hurting my family.

1 comment:

  1. Hummos is a lovely healthy spread for bread, especially salad based sandwiches.

    I often make my own, but also buy it very cheaply from Woolworths-Yumi's Brand, at 1kg for $6.39 [Coles do not stock it]

    Our household follows a diet just about the same, except an average of 8 vegetables a day.



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