Food Facts A-Z - welcome week C - carrots, cheese sauce, cauliflower and more..
First up, the vibrant orange veggie found in everyone's fridge; carrots
5 Food Facts:
1. Help maintain vision
Carrots will not improve your vision but they contain Vitamin A which is key to maintaining eye health.
2. Help reduce the risk of cancer
Consuming foods high in carotenoids (the orange pigment found in carrots) may help reduce the risk of cancer.
3. Help manage blood pressure
The fibre and potassium present in carrots may help prevent the risk of high blood pressure and other heart related issues.
4. Help prevent osteoporosis
Carrots contain Vitamin K, small levels of Calcium and Phosphorous. All of these aid bone health and may prevent bone degeneration.
5. Help balance blood sugar
Carrots have good levels of soluble fibre which helps regulate blood sugar and support digestive health supplying a steady supply of energy.
How To: Keep flavour in carrots when cooking them.
Cook carrots whole to preserve their nutrient content - you can lose up to 25% of the nutrients in a carrot if you cut them up. If you are going to cut them up - make sure you do it just before cooking to ensure they don't leak their nutrients.
Ensure you use as little water as possible to cook the carrots to minimise the amount of nutrient loss.
Swap your biscuit or choccy bar for a carrot!
Carrots are great for a snack as they are crunchy, nutritious, low calorie and sweet! You'll be surprised how full and satisfied you feel! If you feel like it dip your carrots in some hummus or just eat them au naturel!
Quick Eats: Tasty Carrot Side
One of my favourite and to be honest the only way I ever really cook carrots. It makes them super tasty and is a great substitute for a boring boiled carrot for any meal!
Grate or julienne your carrots (julienne will just give you nice matchstick size bits with a bit of texture, grating will be a little softer.) Put the carrots in a pan - add a knob of butter (or vegan alternative), and a squeeze of honey, or sugar. Add a small splash of water.
If you have an orange, grate the zest off this in to the carrots and then squeeze in to the juice, replacing the water for orange juice (you could also use orange juice from a carton here).
Pop a lid on and soften the carrots until cooked. Make sure they don't run out of liquid and end up sticking to the pan. You want to condense the liquid as much as possible to intensify the flavour, that's why you keep the amount you use to a minimum. If you need to add a splash or two more of water do.
Season to taste and add in some chopped parsley if you feel like it at the end.
Delicious and so simple!
Next in the list for the C's - Super simple cheese sauce!
I believe keeping it simple when it comes to cooking is KEY!
I have popped below a quick and easy recipe to the perfect cheese sauce. You can use this just about anywhere - to lather over pasta, make in to the perfect cauliflower cheese, add to a lasagne, make a fish pie, honestly the opportunities to use it are endless.
The best thing too - if you make too much, just pop it in a tub and put it in the freezer!
4 tbsp plain flour
100g grated strong cheddar - I always use a strong cheddar so you can taste it - if you don't like strong cheddar - use whatever cheese tickles your taste buds OR whatever cheese needs using up in your fridge! Also - play with your taste a little - you can add more or less cheese depending on how flavourful you want your sauce to be.
Melt the butter over a low heat in a sauce pan. Add the flour to the melted butter and gently cook. Keep moving it to make sure it doesn't stick and burn. The idea hear is to cook the flour with the butter. After a few minutes you will notice a change in the mixture - it goes almost paste like.
Once the flour has cooked through - add some of the milk - this will immediately go very thick. Keep gradually adding milk until it has all been incorporated (you might need less you might need more than the 500ml.) You can then add your cheese and let it melt or you can add it before you finish adding all the milk. Don't be too rigid. Cooking is meant to be fun :)
Keep whisking to get all of the lumps out then use it on whatever dish you fancy.
Video on how to make below:
Next up Cauliflower - often not the vegetable people jump at. It might look bland but my goodness does it pack some bang for your buck when it comes to its benefits (so much so its been named as a nutritional superstar).
5 Food Facts:
1. Rich in Vitamin C
It is a highly vitamin rich vegetable so is a great one to put on your plate regularly!
2. The whole cauliflower plant is edible
You can eat its stalk, leaves and the flower head.
3. Highly versatile
Can be eaten raw, cooked, mashed, roasted or made in to pizza base or rice!
4. Fat free
Cauliflower is a brilliantly healthy vegetable it's also fat free.
5. Cauliflower is part of the cruciferous family
It is related to broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnips etc.
How to: Choose a good head of cauliflower.
The head wants to be tight and bright creamy-white with vibrant green leaves ideally without brown spots! The outer leaves help keep the cauliflower fresher for longer.
Make sure you keep it in a cool place and to keep it fresh as long as possible store in your fridge.
Cauliflower 'rice' can make a great rice substitute for rice. Grate or chop cauliflower very finely and then just gently warm in a pan with a tiny bit of water to just soften it.
A great healthy swap!
Quick Eats: Cauliflower Cheese
A delicious and comforting supper - to make vegan just substitute with dairy-free alternatives
First make your cheese sauce - using our how to make a cheese sauce tutorial above.
Bring a pan of water to the boil. Cut your cauliflower in to equal sized pieces (I wouldn't recommend too small! - probably 3 cm in diameter but don't get your ruler out!!)
Add the cauliflower including the green leaves don't use the big, tough outer leaves but the bright green inside leaves are yummy!)
When your cauliflower is cooked - you will be able to insert a knife in to it easily with just a little resistance (you don't want it to go sloppy!!). Cooking time should be about 5-7 mins - the fresher the cauliflower, the quicker it will cook!
Drain the cauliflower or keep the water to add to a soup.
Pour over the cheese sauce - and either eat straight away - or grate over more cheese option to add bacon if you wish, and pop under the grill until just bubbling and golden brown on top (this won't take many minutes!)
Enjoy! Pure comfort food.