Sunday, 17 September 2017

Autumn Series - Post #4 - Mexican before it's Monday

Recipe of the week...
... Feta & Sweet Potato Taquitos

Ingredients: 1 tablespoon smoky chipotle paste, 1 little gem lettuce, 1 spring onion, 6 white tortilla wraps, 400g sweet potatoes, 100g feta cheese, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 2 tomatoes, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, olive oil, salt and pepper

Time taken: About half an hour

Serves: 2 super filing, super healthy, super tasty portions

--

Hi readers,

How are we all today? As I write, it’s late afternoon in Autumn. A sunny September day – a Sunday, no less – and all is well with me. I’ve had a wonderful weekend spent reading a good book (Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land), drinking cocktails and dancing with the girls. I’ve been on a walk in the country, watched When Harry Met Sally (for the first time – and I liked it) and I’ve baked buns to take into work with me tomorrow.

Pretty good weekend, I think? How about yours, readers, what wonderful times have you been having? Have you stretched your legs and cleared your head and danced around the room? I hope you have, readers. And if you haven’t yet – there’s still time! We have hours of the weekend left still – make the most and go crazy, Sunday evening style (ie. in PJs and slippers). Do it!


On the foody side of life, readers, I’ve been thinking these past few days about habits. I was talking with my Father Bear about this earlier on our country walk, about being stuck in a rut with food. But how is it that we get into the habit of eating habitually? A tongue twister, I know! But a curious question. As anyone that took psychology at school (hands in the air!) will know... habits develop when you repeat a behaviour in the same situation, and get a reward each time.

Then, over time, this continues and the behaviour gets to be more automatic and a habit forms. Like – without fail, I buy Belvita every time I see them on offer in a shop. This means I always will have plenty of breakfast biscuits in my drawer at work, I’m rewarded with breakfast on weekdays, and I never have to think about keeping this drawer stocked. Ta-da!

In some instances of habitual behaviour, it can be the case instead that the ‘reward’ = you stopping something bad from happening. Like – when we have leftover water in the jugs at work, which we didn’t drink the day before, I water the plants in the office with it. And then the plants (mostly) live. Like magic! I stop them (some of them, anyway) from dying. 

Can you think of examples of your own, readers? Instances where you perform a habitual behaviour effortlessly – it needs little / no conscious awareness on your part to make it happen – when you encounter a specific situation or a cue to trigger the behaviour in you.

According to the re:wellbeing program I’ve been working through, food habits can develop in childhood. “As a baby, you were given a bottle to comfort you. As a child you were likely given food as a reward for doing well, being good, or to console you when you were upset or something went wrong – do you remember a being allowed to buy sweets after a trip to the doctor’s office or a good exam result? We also learn to associate certain foods with special events and feelings, for example cakes are associated with celebrating a birthday and feeling a sense of fun and enjoyment.”

Then, it’s often quite simple to see how these associations can live on into adulthood. Research has shown that we might crave creamy foods when we’re in need of comfort – it’s mad to think, but the logic is that the creamy food’s simulating the milk we were given as children. Crazy, right? But, a real thing!

And a habit doesn’t have to just be an action, like buying Belvita or watering the plants, you can also develop habitual patterns of thinking. Say you treat yourself to dessert even though you hadn’t planned to – it tastes great but straight away you think to yourself ‘my diet is ruined’. And, then, it’s thoughts like these which can trigger habitual actions – like opening a tub of Ben & Jerrys! Why not – your diet’s ruined, right??

What a fucking nightmare. And, often, emotional eating (go see my last blog post) can be thought of as a habit because the eating is triggered by a cue – a situation or thought that evokes an emotion – which then causes you to eat food in order to deal. You see, readers?

Eating becomes automatic – often you’re done before you engage with what’s happening – and it can feel like you’re running on auto-pilot as you eat. In such times, eating is a direct response to an emotion that’s been thrown up by a specific situation or thought, and it leads to a reward, like a sugar rush or feeling like you’ve dealt with the emotion.

So, the habit goes on. This idea of emotional eating as habitual can explain why people continue to eat even if they feel bad about it… the eating is a habit triggered by a cue. Simple as that. Understandable and – in my mind – something to be overcome. You’re an adult now and habits can be broken, you can make up a new response to a cue.

Say you’re in a situation where you’ve eaten an unplanned dessert – think how lucky you are to be able to afford to eat dessert. To have been born in an area of the world where anyone can eat desserts. To be able to enjoy dessert at the end of the day, as a reward for everything you’ve accomplished today. Think how many desserts the Queen must have eaten by now – and she’s in champion health. Aren’t desserts wonderful.

Say you’re hit by the thought ‘my diet is ruined’. Is it? Are you giving up on it right now? Are you about to throw it out the window? Really – after you’ve tried so hard? But, you’ve been enjoying it loads and feeling really good about yourself for eating well! You’re inspiring folk with tales of how well it’s working. A dessert won’t break a diet – you will, if you choose to.

Can you think of examples of your own, readers? If you keep enforcing a powerful response, one that you choose, and you’re of sound mind that this is the better response, then it could go on to become a habit of its own over time. Stick at it and you could soon have formed a new habit, one triggered by the same cue that you were responding to differently before.


ANYWAYS. I will leave it there with my food habit-related pondering, readers. I know it’s late on a Sunday and about time for brains to be turned off. But, interesting! I think so anyway. And now I have for you… a recipe! Hurray! Here’s a recipe I’d like to share with you to end this week on a foody high, readers, a Gousto recipe for Feta & Sweet Potato Taquitos, which you can rustle up in just 10 simple steps…

--

Recipe: Feta & Sweet Potato Taquitos



1.     Set aside all your cares and concerns… now is the time for Mexican food. First, get your ingredients out on the counter, pour yourself a drink – you’ve earned one – and heat the oven to 220C.

2.     Begin by chopping the sweet potatoes (skins on) into small, bite-sized pieces. Then place the sweet potato on a baking try, drizzle with cooking oil, and sprinkle with ground coriander.

3.     Season your sweet potato generously with salt and pepper, give your potato chunks a good mix up until they’re well covered, then carefully transport into the oven to roast for 15 minutes.

4.     Meanwhile, as your sweet potato sizzles, prepare your salad ingredients. Cut the little gem lettuce in half lengthways, and finely slice. Chop the tomatoes into tiny, baby bite-sized pieces. Trim the spring onion and slice finely.

5.     Crumble the feta into small bite-sized bits and set a little aside for serving up. Once your sweet potato chunks are tender, remove them from the oven. Leave the oven turned on for now.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: If – like me – you’re not a fan of greasy foods, take a moment now to tip your sweet potato out on some kitchen roll and pat dry to remove any excess oil.

6.     Divide the sweet potatoes evenly between the tortillas, placing them on one side of the tortilla and leaving the other side empty for now. Crush the potato down gently with the back of a spoon, to help the contents of your taquito to stay together, and then crumble feta over the top.

7.     Roll each taquito tightly to form a cigar shape and place them snugly side by side on a baking try, with the seam face down. Pop in the oven to bake for ten minutes.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: When rolling wraps, I try to fold over the top and bottom of the tortilla first and then roll, so there are no escape routes for the contents of the taquito. But everyone has their own method – good luck however you roll!

8.     Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise and chipotle paste with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the chopped tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and mix together – this is your spicy tomato sauce.

9.     Once your taquitos are starting to brown around the edges, safely take out of the oven and turn this off. Serve between two dinner plates and top your taquitos with spicy tomato sauce.

10.  Add some lettuce and spring onion salad, and crumble the remaining feta over the top – now get stuck in and enjoy your Mexican feast!

Ta-da! What a cracking plateful of food!

--

In the words of Gousto…

“Taquitos are Mexican rolled tacos, filled with a plethora of delicious meats, cheeses and vegetables. They are usually deep-fried, but without Gousto makeover we have made these incredibly easy to cook, at a fraction of the calories. Ours are filled with sweet potato and feta, creating the perfect balance between salt, tang and sweetness.”

What do you think, readers? Are you tempted by these taquitos?? Might you get the ingredients in and give these a go sometime this week? I recommend you do! These taquitos are – obviously – super tasty to eat, readers. Also, easy to cook – it’s a really straightforward recipe – and you use your hands so it’s a fun one to take on.

I say go go go taquito! Please let me know, readers, if you give this recipe a try – wat do you think of taquitos? Do you like? Did it go well? Did you have fun in the kitchen? Fill me in, readers? I’m wishing you every success in the kitchen – I’m sure you’ll be fine – and I’m wishing you a week filled with fabulous foods, readers. Eat only the best! Have a wonderful week.

Feast safely,


Hayley






Monday, 11 September 2017

Autumn Series - Post #3 - Emotions & eggs

Recipe of the week...
... Dukkah-Rolled Middle Eastern Eggs

Ingredients: 10g fresh dill, 2 tablespoons harissa paste, 150g Greek-style yoghurt, 130g freekeh, 4 free range eggs, 1 garlic clove, 1 teaspoon nigella seeds, 125g cherry tomatoes, 30g hazelnuts, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, olive oil, sugar, salt & pepper

Time taken: 40 minutes max

Serves: 2 super filing, super healthy, super tasty portions

--

Hi readers,

Happy Monday! And I mean that in all seriousness – with a straight face – I hope you’re all enjoying a happy Monday so far. What do you reckon? How’s it going?? Are you kick-starting the week? Off to a tremendous start?

I do hope you are, readers. Start as you wish to go on, and all that jazz. Mine’s a funny start to the week as I’m back to work after a week off! It’s funny to set the old alarm and get back into commuting and packing my lunch. But good to see colleagues and throw myself back into working and being purposeful.


And I’ve brought baking in for everyone! Banana buns to start the week on a high for my lovely colleagues in the office, to widespread praise. J On a foody note – continuing my current blog theme of thinking about our food habits – my latest realm of wondering and pondering has taken a turn towards our emotions. This past week off work, readers, I’ve been thinking about how it is that emotions can get in the way of rational eating.

Emotions – these crazy, unpredictable tides of feeling that set us apart from robots – can definitely affect the ways we eat. They switch things up! Have you ever thought about this, readers? Emotions are one of the factors that stop us from eating robotically, in set patterns. But they can also mess things up sometimes, too, and lead us to eat irrationally in ways we wouldn’t necessarily choose.


What is emotional eating? In the re:wellbeing program I’ve been working through, “Emotional eating is defined as ‘eating a large quantity of food in response to internal cues that aren’t physical hunger’. Emotional eating and overeating doesn't have to be a bad thing. It’s totally okay to eat for enjoyment, to make yourself happy and to overeat on occasions (e.g. eating cake at a birthday party even though you have already filled up at the buffet). It’s okay if you’re choosing mindfully what and how much you are going to eat.”

Which – I’d say – makes good sense! As long as you have your thinking cap on and it’s you that calls the shots, then it’s great to let your emotions guide the food choices you make. If you’re feeling drunk in love and some god of a bloke is trying to feed you strawberries dipped in champagne – eat. those. strawberries.


If you’re nervous ahead of an exam or an interview or a presentation, and don’t feel like eating, then you don’t need to force food down. If that same bloke is trying to ghost you, like those strawberry times never happened, and you’re feeling like murder – you could cut him up and eat every tiny piece of him if that’s what you choose to do. Jus sayin.

On the flip hand, according to re:wellbeing, “The link between food and our emotions becomes a problem when we try to self-medicate with food all of the time, in large quantities and when we haven’t dealt with the emotions, issues and situations that are underlying our cravings to eat. If we don’t know how to recognise and accept/respond to our feelings then we can believe that we are powerless to change. In most cases emotional eating isn’t about wanting to eat the food, it’s about how it makes you feel and what it allows you to escape from.”


Which, I get. When you’re eating as a distraction from something you don’t want to really think about right now. Or to cheer you up a little because something’s happened to get you down. As an antidote to a problem you’re not sure how to fix otherwise… can you relate this at one time or another, readers?

And maybe this pattern of reactionary eating when something bad comes along, that then becomes something you feel bad about in itself, thus triggering more eating in response? You can see how easy it would be to get stuck in a rut with this. And how hard it would be to fix if you lose track of what it was in the first place that started everything, which is maybe a negative feeling you still haven’t found a solution to all this time later. Following me?


In the words of re:wellbeing, “Often emotional eating happens in the form of binge eating, where you feel that you are out of control and are unable to stop eating even though you’re not hungry. You are likely to eat faster than normal and may hardly even taste the food – you’re just desperate to eat more and more. Emotional eating is frequently done in 'secret' or when you eat alone. After eating you may feel happy and satisfied, but it’s more likely that you may feel guilt or other negative emotions.”

And this is no good! If once in a blue moon you have a Bridget Jones moment where you take to bed with an expensive box of chocolates and a cheap bottle of wine – this sounds as though it’s entirely justified. I salute you. Whoever it is – your boss, your ex, your ex-best friend, your personal trainer – they were mean to you and you’re better than them.


In other cases – say you can clearly remember the last time this happened. It wasn’t that long ago, it was only last week or not long before, and really what was that about? Was it necessary? Why was it that happened? Are you standing defiant right now – having drunk dialled them into next year – or are you maybe a little let down with yourself? Unsure whether it was okay. Guilty that you got away with it and worried about a repeat.

That’s when, I’d say, your emotions and the foods you eat have formed unhappy company. They’ve grown a little too close? You’re not sure whether you’re calling the shots anymore. Whether the brakes are still working or it would seem you’re skidding off-track. But that’s not YOU. It’s just a bad patch with food you’re in. LOOK AT YOU – you’re not a bedridden whale-sized human quite yet. Things aren’t that bad.


Say you’re been eating emotionally – it’s totally within your power to cut it out. Rise above it and start afresh and be as wonderful as you like. Begin acting like the funky, cool human everyone knows you are – why not book some time in with your friends to remind you how brilliant life is? Chin up and kick start things again! I believe we all have it within us to be strong, healthy, happy humans.

And – on that high note – I have some food for you, readers, to enjoy in wonderful company, with laughs all round. My recipe of the week, readers, is the third I’ve taken on – with great success – from recipe and ingredient home delivery company, Gousto. Feast your eyes on this recipe for Dukkah-Rolled Middle Eastern Eggs, in just 15 simple steps…

--

Recipe: Dukkah-Rolled Middle Eastern Eggs


1.     Get your game face on. Hair back, drink poured, ingredients out on the counter. Set some upbeat music playing, to carry you through. Boil the kettle and heat the oven to 220C.

2.     Rinse the freekeh in a sieve under cold water, then add it to a pan with a lid, along with 500ml boiled water. Boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and leave cooking for 20 minutes.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: Wondering what freekeh is? Fear not – I googled it. Freekeh is young green wheat that has been toasted and cracked. It's a healthy whole grain food, like bulgur wheat. Although freekeh’s been around for centuries, its recent resurgence has been traced back to an Oprah segment featuring freekeh in 2010. Freekeh, along with quinoa, is part of the "ancient grain" food trend storming our supermarkets in recent years. Freekeh has a very high fibre content and makes an excellent source of protein for vegetarian and vegans. Who knew??

3.     Then, pop your hazelnuts on a small baking tray and put the tray in the oven for 5 minutes.

4.     Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the garlic, and set the kettle boiling again.

5.     Once your hazelnuts have slightly darkened, remove them from the oven and turn this off. Set aside for now.

6.     Carefully add the eggs to a pan of boiling water with a large pinch of salt, and leave to boil over a high heat for 7 minutes.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: I learned from this recipe that the salt prevents the eggs from cracking! I’m always learning something new.

7.     While your eggs boil, combine half of the chopped garlic with the Greek-style yoghurt. Add a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside for now – this is your garlic yoghurt.

8.     Once the eggs are ready, drain the water from their pan and re-fill with cold water. Leave then to cool in this cold-water pan.

9.     Don’t forget about your freekeh! After about 20 minutes, once it’s cooked through, drain and then return the freekeh to the pan.

10.  Chop your dill finely, including the stalks, and stir most of it through the freekeh (save the rest for garnish). Season generously with salt and pepper. Set aside for now.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: I then popped the pan full of freekeh in my still-warm (but switched off) oven, to keep warm.

11.  Next, add the toasted hazelnuts and cumin seeds to a food processor and blitz into a rubble (if you lack a food processor – try whizzing about in a smoothie maker or grinding using a pestle & mortar!). Season generously with salt and pepper and stir in the nigella seeds – this is your dukkah.

12.  Peel your eggs carefully. Then – this is the fun part – roll the peeled eggs in the dukkah mix until fully coated. Isn’t it amazing how everything sticks to the eggs! Set aside for now. Keep hold of any leftover dukkah.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: Your eggs can join the freekeh in the oven, if you like, to keep warm.

13.  Final thing to do – chop your cherry tomatoes in half. Wipe out the egg pan and return to a medium heat with a splash of cooking oil (or a knob of butter for extra richness).

14.  Once hot, add the tomatoes, the remaining chopped garlic, the harissa paste, and a pinch of salt and sugar. Cook for 5 minutes or so, until the tomatoes have softened.

15.  Time for assembly… spoon your freekeh evenly between two bowls, add the garlic yoghurt, and then the harissa tomatoes.  Halve your eggs and add to the dish, then garnish with the remaining chopped dill and sprinkle over any leftover dukkah. You’ve done it – now time to tuck in!

To an exciting eggy, grainy tea!

--

In the words of Gousto…

“These eggs are cooked somewhere between soft and hard boiled, giving them a solid shape with a yielding middle. We’ve served them rolled in a hazelnut ‘dukkah’ – a traditional Egyptian spice blend seasoning made with toasted nuts. Finished with a cool garlic yoghurt and harissa braised cherry tomatoes. Egg-stra special stuff!”

What do you think, readers? It’s a bit of a funny recipe, isn’t it. You’re going to need a big supermarket for a few of the ingredients involved, which aren’t likely to be stocked in your local corner shop (I’m thinking harissa paste, freekeh, nigella seeds), but if you’re planning a trip to a big supermarket – then no problemo!

I had never heard of freekeh, before trying this recipe, but liked it a lot! As grains go, it reminded me most of bulgar wheat I’d say. Tasted fine! Nothing markedly different from grains I’ve eaten before, and quite tasty here in this recipe paired with the eggs, and a cool yoghurty dollop, and the slightly spicy tomato addition.


There’s a lot going on in this dish, readers, and it may look like there are a lot of steps to the recipe. But none of them are difficult! It’s easy to throw together, really. And an interesting plateful of food to serve up – you’ll impress if you serve to friends. And tasty, too! I thought this was a filling and great-tasting tea. Unusual and pleasantly surprising.

What do you reckon, readers? Looking at the photos – might you give this a go? Is this the kind of food you fancy?? Lemme know! If you give this recipe a whirl, please share how you get on in the kitchen. Nightmare? Success? And what do you think of the food – do you like it?? Generally – shout out with your thoughts on freekeh, readers, and any suggestions for other recipe ideas involving this mystery grain.

Wishing you ALL a brill week ahead. The best one yet…

Freekeh safely,


Hayley

--

An informative footer

I’d like to note, the above is part of a series of posts that I’m currently having fun writing, while undertaking a fresh start with food. Food bloggers can’t admit they got bored with food, you say? Well, I beg to differ! In August 2017, I made two wonderful decisions; I signed up for Gousto – a food delivery company who send recipes and ingredients in the post – and I began a health & wellness program to transform my food habits, with Rachel of re:Wellbeing. In this blog post, and others like it, I share one of the wonderful recipe that I’m taking on, and an idea that I’m exploring as part of this fresh start.

If you would like to find out more about Gousto, please visit https://www.gousto.co.uk/

(I have a sneaky discount code! If you’re new to Gousto, then click HERE for 50% off your first 2 boxes and I’ll get a discount too for referring you… so errrrybody wins)

And, if you would like to learn more about re:Wellbeing, then visit https://www.rewellbeing.com/