Turmeric, Tomatoes, Tinned Foods and Tuna!
The infamous spice that is the addition to every curry, latte, juice or new food trend of the moment.
The only bad thing about turmeric from what I can see is it's ability to stain nearly everything that it touches.
For a single ingredient that is used as a spice, turmeric can pack one might health punch.
The reason being is that turmeric contains the compound curcurmin - which has long been known for it's impactful health benefits. Curcurmin is what gives turmeric its bright orangey hue and is where it holds the health benefits.
Benefits gained from incorporating turmeric in to your diet can be wide ranging. It is known to be antibacterial, antimicrobial. anti-inflammatory and to also have strong antioxidant effects.
It is however important to notice, that often these benefits are difficult to be gained just through eating turmeric as part of your diet - due to the levels of curcumin required to have an impact.
Anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric:
It is important for our body to have inflammation as it helps to repair our bodies and can defend our bodies against unwanted foreign invaders, however this is when it is short-term in nature. If inflammation becomes chronic it can also start to attack your own tissues.
Studies have shown that even low-level chronic inflammation can be detrimental to our health and can play a role in certain health conditions and diseases such as heart disease, some forms of cancer, Alzheimer's disease and other degenerative conditions.
Anything we can do to help alleviate chronic inflammation will only be beneficial to our longer term health.
Antioxidant benefits of turmeric:
Oxidative damage is believed to be a main contributor to ageing and many diseases.
Antioxidants are so important to get in to your diet through correct foods as they are crucial for protecting you against free-radicals.
Free radicals are ultimately atoms which can damage cells and long term cause aging and illness.
Curcumin is a very powerful anti-oxidant.
Turmeric may help lower heart disease:
Curcurmin - the compound in turmeric has been shown it may help to reverse the steps in the process of heart disease.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death globally.
Curcumin has also been shown to help improve heart health as well as reduce inflammation and oxidation which are both contributors to heart disease.
Turmeric may help to prevent cancer:
Curcumin has been shown to help prevent or even treat cancer. This is because it has an impact at he molecular level.
Curcumin has been shown in research to help contribute to the decline of cancerous cells
Minimise the spread of cancer
Minimise the growth of new blood vessels in tumours.
Turmeric may help with arthritis:
Studies have shown that curcumin (again the compound in turmeric) due to its strong anti-oxidant capacity, has been associated to help reduce the effects of arthritis.
As most types of arthritis are inflammation of the joints in some cases - curcumin has been shown to be more effective than prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs for those with arithrits.
On the whole turmeric because of it containing curcurmin is never going to be a bad thing to add in to dishes - there are lots of other health benefits to be gained by including turmeric in your diet that I haven't mentioned here too.
It is important to note however some of these benefits only come when curcumin is taken in high doses - which can often be in forms of a supplement rather than via edible turmeric such as powder or fresh. It is also important to note how best to make sure your body is suited to uptake the curcumin available. It is said in order for your body to make the most of the compound, it should be eaten with black pepper.
Quick Eats: Sweet Potato Summer Salad
This is from a lovely cook - Alexandra Dudley, who has a strong focus on sustainability. Alexandra makes super simple but delicious dishes to tuck in to. This is from her latest book - land and sea.
Here is a yummy summer salad which you could also use as a meal - maybe topped with some hunks of feta. Of course, turmeric features heavily in the dressing.
2 large sweet potatoes
1 tsp nigella seeds
1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped
handful of dried apricots (roughly chopped)
handful of pitted dates (roughly chopped)
100g flaked almonds, toasted
a generous handful of coriander
a generous handful of mint
bag of spinach (optional but I love it)
seeds from a pomegranate
For The Dressing
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 clove of garlic, crushed or very finely chopped
6 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tsp Ras el Hanout (or a mix of cumin, paprika, nutmeg, ground coriander and turmeric)
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp mixed spice (or cinnamon)
2 tbsp honey
salt and pepper to season
Roughly chop the sweet potato in to chunks.
Steam until just cooked - approx 6-7 minutes - a knife should be able to be inserted effortlessly.
Add to a big bowl - then add in the rest of the dry ingredients.
Make the dressing. You can use the zest of the orange that you are using in the salad to to add a little extra zing.
Mix the dressing until it is thick and combined together.
Pour over the ingredients then give a good toss with your hands (or utensils).
Plate and serve. Yum! and packed full of goodies!
The most versatile of fruits (yes fruits) and they're absolutely fantastic as an ingredient.
They often form the bulk of a lot of dishes. Whether that's a classic tricolore or tomato salad, a rich tomato soup, a spaghetti bolognaise, a curry - tomatoes feature heavily in many dishes. And rightly so - as they bring amazing health benefits to many of our body systems as they're a brilliantly nutrient dense superfood.
Benefits of eating tomatoes:
There are so many benefits to eating additional fruits and veggies in the diet and it's no surprise that as we eat more, the less at risk we are to developing nasty diseases and illnesses.
Adding tomatoes to the diet is no exception. There are many sizes, shapes and varieties of tomatoes and some can bring different health benefits as a result. For instance - cherry tomatoes contain more beta-carotene than other regular tomatoes.
1. May help to prevent cancer
Tomatoes contain high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C. Antioxidants are responsible for combatting free radicals in the body - free radicals are known to cause cancer.
Tomatoes contain the antioxidants - beta-carotene and lycopene - both of which have been shown in studies to help reduce the risk of certain cancers - especially prostate and colon.
2) Helping to reduce blood pressure
Along with maintaining low sodium levels to help with maintaining a healthy blood pressure, potassium, which tomatoes contain, is also an important mineral to help with widening arteries.
The added benefit of potassium is also that it can help to protect muscles and bones from deteriorating.
3) Benefits to heart health
There are many nutritional benefits contained within tomatoes that help contribute to heart health. No only are low sodium and high potassium intake important factors, but so are fibre and vitamin C in the diet, both found in tomatoes.
Tomatoes also contain folate which helps to balance out homocysteine levels in the body which if not well managed can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
4) Helps eye-health
Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, leutin and beta-carotene - all powerful antioxidants that have huge benefits for eye health. They have been shown to help to protect against the development of light-induced damage, cataract development and age-related macular degeneration.
5) Skin health
Collagen production is reliant on vitamin C. Collagen is an essential component of skin, hair nails and connective tissue. If we have a lack of vitamin C in our diet it can lead to things like scurvy, increased damage from sunlight, pollution and smoke which in time can lead to skin damage such as wrinkles, blemishes and other adverse effects of the skin.
Food Hack: How to remove tomato skins
Personally, I absolutely love the skins however some recipes call for it to be removed, and some people prefer to not have it on. This is a super easy way to remove the skin. Start by boiling the kettle. Then, slicing a cross on the bottom of the tomato (it doesn't want to be very deep in to the tomato - just enough to go through the skin.)
Once the kettle has boiled - put the tomatoes that you want to remove the skin from in to a bowl - then cover them with enough boiling water to fully submerge them.
Leave for a couple of minutes. Then with a slotted spoon remove them. You will find the skin has become soft - and started to peel away from the tomato. Peel the skin off and discard.
This is great if you want to make something like veloute or gazpacho where you need a very smooth consistency and no bits.
Quick Eats: Slow Roasted Tomatoes
I absolutely adore slow roasted tomatoes - they are so intense in their flavour and they are such a nice addition to so many dishes, risottos, salads, pastas, cold meat and cheese platters. Literally anything.
They are incredibly easy to make and can be stored in the fridge in a jar for up to a week or so or even frozen.
Cherry tomatoes (if possible on the vine)
1 bulb of garlic (optional)
salt + pepper
fresh rosemary or thyme (optional)
These delicious taste bombs couldn't be easier to make.
Pre-heat oven to 160oC.
Fill a baking dish with tomatoes (ideally ceramic) or if you have a roasting tin you can always line it with foil then add in the tomatoes.
Add in your garlic cloves (I often leave the skins on but if you prefer - you can remove these.)
Cover with a good glug of olive oil
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add in your herbs - I often add in whole sprigs but also pull some off the stem and scatter the leaves.
Put in the oven and cook slowly for about 2 hours. They will go shrivelled in their skins and some slightly darker in places.
Use the tomatoes and the oil and garlic - it's all delicious.
Tinned foods come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You can find almost anything in a tin - and there are some really brilliant things you can buy in a tin and always have well stocked in your store cupboard.
A lot of tinned food are cheap and convenient - and not to be scoffed at. However some should probably not be eaten everyday.
It has been shown too that often canned foods can have higher nutritional values than their fresh counterparts. It's just making sure you chose the right ones! For instance - tinned tomatoes contain more lycopene than their fresh counterpart!
The other benefit of tinned food is that when the food is in the tin, it holds on to the nutrients that are intact when canning - whereas with fresh produce like fruit and veggies, these can deplete over time. It has been shown that fresh veggies can lose up to 30% of their nutrients in the first 3 days after harvest! and for some that might be even more.
Therefore there is a big argument towards using more canned foods in your every day cooking.
Top 10 tinned foods for your cupboard:
Tinned tomatoes are a great store cupboard addition. They can be used in infinite numbers of dishes from curries, to soups, bakes, braises and those trusty favourite hearty meals like chilis and bolognaise.
Tomatoes are one of the great exceptions to the rules that as you cook them, the don't lose the benefits. For example lycopene which is found in tomatoes and has been shown to help protect against certain cancers as well as help with bone health. As an antioxidant, it is actually better absorbed when it has been heated.
Tinned tomatoes can be very cheap and get quite expensive - however sometimes the cheapest are false value - as they are watery and a little tasteless - so it's always good to find the brand that gives you best bang for buck.
2) Baked Beans
Those trusty favourites which are brilliant to reach for a quick wholesome supper with a jacket potato and cheese.
You can also add them in to chili to bulk it out too and other casserole dishes too.
Make sure that you choose low sugar and salt versions as some versions especially cheap ones can have lots of hidden sugar and salt in.
These little salty flavour bombs are a great addition to so many dishes. They're always worth having in the cupboard as they can be added to meat dishes like slow roasted lamb, salsas like salsa verde, or in to pasta sauces. They can even be mashed in to butter to add the extra umami-like flavour which is oh so tasty. The oil they're preserved in is often brilliant for adding in to dishes too. So don't throw it away - as long as it's olive oil. They're also a cheap addition too.
Peaches, pears, pineapple, cherries, prunes, apricots - the list could go on. You can find so many wonderful fruits tinned. Again, they're often a lot cheaper too. But be really mindful when purchasing as they can often be hidden in sugar syrup - so aim to buy in natural juice. That way you can always use them in sweet or savoury dishes (pineapple makes a great savoury chutney).
If you can't find them in natural juice - just rinse the sugary syrup off.
They are great to turn in to purees for smoothies, or to add to natural yoghurt for a breakfast or to use in curries, tagines or even cakes and puddings.
A great source of plant-based protein lentils are a brilliant source of fibre too which can help to lower cholesterol - which comes to being important when looking at heart health. They're great for bulking out salads and dishes especially because of their relatively neutral flavour - they can be great to use to take on or add in other flavours to a dish.
6) Kidney, haricot, cannellini, butter and black-eyed, borlotti, beans and of course, chickpeas
The list of beans/legumes is endless - and all of them make great additions to your store cupboard. A lot of them contain great levels of fibre, carbohydrate, and important minerals like zinc, potassium, zinc, iron etc. They are great for throwing in to a salad, adding in to a healthy mash (e.g. mashing cannellini with cauliflower or broccoli), or turning in to a side dish like a tasty hummus. Best of all they're super cheap and for the value pack a hugely nutritional punch.
6) Mackerel and Sardines
Great oily fish to consume and very interchangable. Sardines have long been hailed a brilliant food sources and best of all they're so so cheap.
Great to eat straight out of the tin, added to toast and topped with fresh tomatoes or added in to many dishes from salads, to tomato sauces, to fishcakes etc.
As the name suggests, a delicious sweet kernel which makes a fabulous addition to so many dishes; again, stews, salads, slaws, mix it with tuna, mix it with other tinned beans and pulses.
Of course we couldn't forget the classic tinned fish that is super quick and easy to use in hot dishes, salads, just as a snack. Tuna, unlike sardines and mackerel, doesn't count as an oily fish if tinned (however fresh tuna does) but for females it's still important to remember to be careful about how often you eat it - as due to the low level of mercury - it should be considered as an oily fish - and only be consumed a maximum of twice a week.
9) Coconut milk
A great store cupboard addition - for both sweet and savoury dishes. Try and find one which isn't laden with thickeners and stabilisers. It contains both saturated and non-saturated fats and is a good source of potassium. Use in curries, soups, baking, puddings - the list in endless.
For the vegans and veggies out there - jackfruit has become an incredibly popular fruit that can be used as a meat substitute. Meaty in texture - it can even be made in to things like pulled meat dishes. It's a real hassle to prepare fresh so tinned is the way forward.
Quick Eats - 'Put it with everything' Tomato Sauce
A great staple for your freezer is to keep a stock of tomato sauce that you can defrost and add to any number of dishes. Batch cooking is a great way to save you time and also money. And when you're leading a busy life - whether with work or children - it's a great way to have a simple and easy meal at the ready.
You can put it on fish, pasta, pizza or meat.
This is a recipe from Rosie Sykes - head chef of Fitzbillies
Serves 4 3 tbsp olive oil 3 medium red onions, finely sliced 4 garlic cloves, crushed 1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced 1 tbsp sherry vinegar 400g chopped tomatoes 3 tbsp water 1 bay leaf 2 sprigs of thyme ½ tsp salt 1 tsp sugar 30g butter 1 tbsp capers A small bunch of basil, chopped
1 Heat 2 tbsp oil in a shallow pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 15 minutes, stirring now and then, until soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic and chilli. Stir for a few minutes, add the vinegar and leave to evaporate.
2 Add the tomatoes, water, herbs, salt and sugar, bring to the boil. Lower the heat and leave to simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until it has almost reduced to a paste.
3 Take off the heat, fish out the herbs, stir in the butter, and season to taste. Blend until smooth. Stir in the capers and chopped basil.
If you want to make more, you can always double up.
Raw, tinned, fresh, seared, the options with tuna are pretty endless.
It tends to be most common tinned and is a great store cupboard essential for those pescatarians and carnivores amongst us.
It can be added to sandwiches, salads, pasta bakes, quesadillas, wraps, or just straight out of the tin.
It pares well with tomatoes, legumes like butter, cannellini any sort of white or kidney beans and chickpeas, sweet corn and numerous other veggies and salady bits like lettuce, rocket, avocado, olives the list literally goes on.
Benefits of tuna:
Helps reduce risk of cardiovascular disease
Tuna contains high levels of omega 3 fatty-acids. Incorporating more omega 3s in to your diet has been shown to help reduce rates of cardiovascular diseases including heart attacks.
Help maintain eye health
Omega 3s are also thought to have a positive impact on the overall health of the retina (an essential part of the eye which enables vision). They have also been shown in studies to help alleviate dry eye.
Helps reduce the risk of cancer
Omega 3s again have been shown to help reduce inflammation in the body A lot of types of cancer are related to chronic inflammation in the body. Omega 3s are also believed to help slow the growth of tumour cells in the body too.
Aids weight loss
Tuna is a a great fish to eat if you are trying to lose weight. Studies have shown that on average by incorporating it in to your diet in exchange for other proteins you are more likely to lose weight than not. It is lean and relatively high in protein but low in calories. The good protein levels help keep you feeling fuller for longer. That being said - it isn't a free invitation to just consume as much as you like - all in moderation as with everything. Balance is key.
Quick Eats: Tuna pasta bake
If you're not a fish fan, this probably isn't for you but if you are, this is a very simple, hearty dish that can be made quickly and from mainly store cupboard ingredients.
Pasta, tuna, cheese, tomato. What more could you want?
This recipe is super simple. Minimum ingredients, minimum effort, minimum fuss.
You can use any type of pasta shapes - I'd just avoid using long pasta like spaghetti or tagliatelle - but any other shape should work.
You can also change out the mozzarella for something else too. Cheddar is always a good option. Especially if it's a strong mature cheddar.
Tomatoes as the recipe says, you can swap crushed tomatoes (which are also chopped canned tomatoes) for passata - but just make sure you don't use tomato sauce /ketchup.
Quick eats: Tuna Nicoise Salad
As I've said tuna is a super versatile ingredient (especially canned) that can be used in a huge number of recipes.
Tuna nicoise is a delicious salad packed full of protein and flavour and super quick and simple to whip up mid week as a lunch or a quick supper.
If you want some more great tuna recipes - have a look here at Country Living's top 27 canned tuna recipes.
Fresh tuna is great - but there is an infinite list of what you can do with canned tuna!