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I simply can’t have enough of vegetables! I am visiting my parents now. They and my aunties got a garden where they grow organic vegetables. I simply can’t have enough of vegetables. It is time to harvest them and I enjoy it so much – carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, parsnips, courgettes, pumpkins, beans and many others. I love them raw, but I especially love them roasted in the oven. How do you usually roast your vegetables in the oven? I love it simply having with caraway seeds (so called Lithuanian cumin), salt and olive oil.  No need to add any additional seasonings because the vegetables are already so delicious. I start with hard vegetables and once they get softer I add softer vegetables like courgette, pumpkin. Again, let me say it load that I can’t have enough of my roasted vegetables!

How do you roast your vegetables – please share your yummy recipes.

roasted vegetables

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Nuts are nature’s way of showing us that good things come in small packages. These bite-size nutritional powerhouses are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. But be aware that although nuts are a healthy choice by themselves, they’ll quickly become detrimental to any diet when paired with sugary or salty toppings or mixes. 

Nuts are must in our diet because:

  • Nuts and seeds are rich in energy and nutrients. Nuts nutrition loaded with excellent source of monounsaturated-fatty acids which help to lower “bad cholesterol” and increase “good cholesterol.” 
  • They are rich source of all important omega-3 essential fatty acids. It can help you to lower the risk of blood pressure, coronary artery disease, strokes and breast, colon and prostate cancers. Omega-3 fatty acids also offer some benefits in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and in cases of Schizophrenia, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Nuts and seeds are rich in antioxidants such as carotenes, resveratrol, lutein, cryptoxanthin, etc. These compounds have been found to offer protection against cancers, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and viral/fungal infections.
  • Nuts nutrition is complete in the sense that in addition to calories, and vitamins, they are rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, fluoride and selenium. Manganese is a co-factor for the enzyme superoxide dismutase, which is a very powerful free radical scavenger. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Copper is required for the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for red blood cell formation. Fluoride is a component of bones and teeth and plays important role in prevention of dental caries.
  • They contain very good levels of vitamin-E, a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E is required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin; thus, protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
  • Nuts nutrition provides many vital B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. These vitamins are essential for optimum health and well-being.

This is just a small piece of benefits why must include nuts in our diet. 

The next question is how often and how many nuts should you you eat nuts? I would recommend eating nuts every day as much as what fits in the palm of your hand. And they can be a mixture of nuts or a handful of one kind, like almonds. Variety is better than one kind.  It is about 120 to 200 calories, depending on what kinds are in your hand. NOTE, I am talking about nuts that are not salted or chocolate-covered or candied either. Should be pure nuts, washed and if wanted slightly roasted. 

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So which nut is your favourite? Is it:

  • Almonds: protein, calcium; contain the most fibre compared to other nuts, and are richest in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. Almonds are especially healthy for people worried about their blood sugar.
  • Brazil nuts: fibre and selenium. Just two Brazil nuts pack more than 100 percent of the daily value for the mineral selenium, which may help prevent certain cancers, including bone, prostate, and breast cancer. 
  • Cashews: rich in iron and zinc. Iron helps deliver oxygen to all of your cells, which can prevent anemia, and zinc is critical to immune health and healthy vision.
  • Chestnuts: fibre and exceptionally rich in vitamin-C (although much vitamin C is lost during cooking)
  • Hazelnuts: fibre, potassium, folate, vitamin E that may prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, maintain healthy skin, and reduce risk of dementia.
  • Macadamias: highest in monounsaturated fats, thiamin and manganese. But be careful because they’re one of the most calorie-dense nuts.
  • Pecans: fibre and antioxidants. They may help prevent plaque formation in your arteries. 
  • Pine nuts: vitamin E and contain healthy amounts of essential minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium.
  • Pistachios: protein, rich in the antioxidant gamma-tocopherol, a form of cancer-fighting vitamin E. Pistachios are also packed with potassium, a mineral essential for a healthy nervous system and muscles, and are a good source of vitamin B6, which can lift your mood, fortify your immune system, and more.
  • Walnuts:plant omega 3 and antioxidants which fight inflammation. They’re an especially great way to get these healthy unsaturated fats if you’re not a fan of fish, where these types of fats are predominantly found.

My favourite nuts are brazil nuts, almonds and cashews. I take them every morning to give me a good source of fibre and vitamins for the day. I also love drinking nuts milk which is so easy to make. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 40 g  –  cashew nuts (or any other nuts, preferably soaked for few hours)
  • 250 ml – water
  • 1 tea spoon vanilla sugar
  • 1 table spoon honey
  • Himalayan salt

Washed and soaked nuts to be placed in the blender. Put water only that covers the nuts. Start blending until the nuts become mashy and start adding more water. Finally add vanilla, honey and a bit of salt. The best and tastiest is when you use cooled water. Nuts milk you can drink on it’s own, add extra fruits and berries and prepare a smoothie. Also you can bake pancakes, boil porridge or put it in your tea, hot chocolate.

Enjoy your favourite nuts!

Another couscous salad

I really do like sometimes eating out, or eating at friends places.  I usually get inspired by other people prepared meals and always try experiment myself.  Recently my mother visited her colleague who prepared very nice couscous salad.  Salad consisted only of 4 ingredients.  Yes, only 4 ingredients can make such a nice taste.  And because it is made from couscous the salad is filing and could be eaten as a main meal.

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Ingredients:

Couscous

Asparagus

Hazelnuts

Baby spinach leaves

 

Boil water and add to couscous in a bowl.  Let the couscous soak in a boiling water.  I usually add a bit of salt and olive oil and mix everything together.  While couscous is getting ready, fry asparagus and nuts on the pan.  Fry until asparagus gets brown color.  But do not burn it.  Finally, remove asparagus and nuts from the pan and add couscous for couple of minutes to fry.  Serve on the plate with spinach leaves.  I love olive oil therefore I always sprinkle on the salad.  Use salt according your taste.  Note, asparagus should be crunchy.

 

Vegetarian diet

I just wanted to share with you some vegetarian nutrient sources if you are not a big meat, fish and dairy products eater as I am.  Although, to be honest, I love diary products, but it is not my everyday food.  Here you go – some ideas for vegetarian diet:

 

Vegetarian nutrient sources

Giant couscous

Have you ever heard about giant couscous? I learnt about it quite recently. Once I bought some take away healthy salad and one of the ingredients was giant couscous.  So, first I thought it was green lentils.  However, the texture and taste is different.  I am sure that most of you have already tried usual couscous, yellow and very fine grains, reminds me a bit of millet or corn flour.   Giant couscous is also called Israeli couscous.

Giant couscous has more nutritions than regular couscous.  It is also called pearl couscous, is similar to regular couscous in that it’s a small, whole grain-like food made from semolina or wheat flour.  Giant couscous also has a low glycemic index, making it a healthy and high-fiber food.

How does it sound for you?  Try it instead of pasta, rice or regular couscous.  I also made it to eat with chickpeas curry.  So, how it is made?

Couscous giant

 

You can find many different ways how to cook giant couscous but I have fried them in the pan.  I washed the couscous – do not get afraid, it will get sticky.  Prepared the pan – fried onions, cumins, turmeric and a bit of red pepper powder.  Once it gently fried – added couscous and fried for a minute or so.  Then added boiling water and allowed to cook for 8-12 minutes.  As I mentioned above, I served the giant couscous with chickpeas curry.  Oh, it was very delicious.

NOTE: Only a small amount of the salt will actually be absorbed by the couscous. You need to add the salt to the couscous so that it can seep into the couscous as it cooks and flavor it from the inside out.

 

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Ar esate kada girdėję, ragavę didžiojo kuskuso?  Dar kitaip vadinamas Izraelietiškas kuskusas.  Aš visai neseniai apie juos sužinojau ir skanavau nusipirkus sveikuoliškų salotų.  Iš pradžių, galvojau, kad tai lęšiai, tačiau paragavus tesktūra ir skonis labai skyrėsi.  Gal kažkiek primena ryžių skonį.  Tikiu, kad esate ragavę įprasto kuskuso, geltonos kruopelės, primenančios kukurūzų ar sorų kruopas.

Didysis kuskusas turi daugiau maistingų medžiagų, nei įprastasis kuskusas.  Jis taip pat yra vadinamas perlinis kuskusas, pagamintas iš pilno grūdo manų kruopų arba kvietinių miltų.  Didysis kuskusas pasižymi žemu Glikemijos indeksu, todėl yra sveikas ir turi daug skaidulinių medžiagų.

Kaipgi paruoši didyjį kuskusą?  Yra įvairiausių būdų, kaip skaniai pagaminti, bet aš tai kepiau keptuvėje.  Pirmiausia, nuploviau kuskuso kruopas, neišsigąskite, jei sulips.  Paruošiau keptuvę – pakepinau svogūnus, prieskonius (kmynus, ciberžolės ir truputį raudonosios paprikos miltelių).  Kuomet svogūnai lengvai apskrudo – sudėjau didyjį kuskusą.  Kepiau minutę ar dvi gerai maišydama, o po to įpiliau verdančio vandens ir ant mažos ugnies kepinau/troškinau.  Jei matysite, kad kuskusas sugėrė vandenį – įpilkite dar vandens.  Ir taip troškinkite 8-12 minučių.  Labai skanu su avinžirnių troškiniu.

PASTABA: Negailėkite įdėti druskos, nes tik nedidelį druskos kiekį įsisavins izraelietiškasis kuskusas.  Ir dėkite druskos dar verdant, kad patektų į kuskuso vidų.

So what would you say about another salad?  The weather is getting warmer and warmer here in UK;  it is time when you want less and less heavy food.  Nice salad always saves us.

I love experimenting new salads.  I actually even more like creating new salads.  Sometimes the taste surprises me a lot,  I mean in a good way.  I often do not plan salad but use what we have in the fridge.  Our fridge is a very ‘veggie’ fridge so it is always easy to compose something.

Beetroot salad

Let’s try again beetroot salad.  I just love the taste of beetroot.  I love that sweetness.  Also, you must know that beetroot is very beneficial to our bodies:

Beetroot is of exceptional nutritional value; especially the greens, which are rich in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. Beetroots are an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of fibre, manganese and potassium. The greens should not be overlooked; they can be cooked up and enjoyed in the same way as spinach.

So, what do we need:

Mix of salad leaves (spinach, round lettuce, red chard, gourmet medley)  

Beetroots

Green peas

Tomatoes

Onions

We are going to fry onion, tomatoes and chopped beetroots.  Let it fry on a low heat.  Add some cumins, herbs, soya souse.  Let it roast on a pan.  To finish add green peas and leave for another 5 minutes.  Meanwhile prepare the mix of salad leaves on the plate.  Additionally you can add some feta cheese and/or olives.  When the beetroot is ready put on the salad and add a little bit of olive oil.  I could not stop eating and was very sad when the salad finished.  Try it and enjoy!

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Ką gi pasakytumėte apie dar vienas salotas?  Anglijoje orai vis šiltėja ir šiltėja.  Ateina metų laikas, kada norisi labai lengvo maisto.  Salotos visada atgaivina ir pasotina.

Man labai patinka eksperimentuoti darant salotas.  Dar tiksliau pasakius, man labai patinka kurti naujus ir neragautus salotų derinius.  Salotų skonis dažnai mane nustebina.

Dažniausiai aš neplanuoju salotų, kadangi mūsų šaldytuvas, galima sakyti, beveik yra daržovinis, tai visada lengva kažką sukurti.

Pabandykite šį kartą vėl pasidaryti burokėlių salotas. Man labai patinka burokėlio saldumas.  Primenu, kiek gerų savybių turi burokėliai:

Burokėlių šakniavaisiuose yra daug baltymų, ląstelienos, cukraus, riebalų, magnio, jodo, kalcio, kalio, fosforo, geležies, vitaminų C ir PP, B grupės vitaminų, karoteno, folio rūgšties. Raudonuosiuose burokėliuose esanti ląsteliena ir organinės rūgštys gerina virškinamojo trakto veiklą, stimuliuoja skrandžio sulčių gamybą, gydo širdies ir kraujagyslių Ilgas, aterosklerozę, mažina kraujospūdį, stabdo vėžinių ląstelių dauginimąsi, gydo moteriškąsias ligas. Burokėlių organinės medžiagos didina kepenų ląstelių gyvybingumą ir gerina kepenų veiklą. Šiose daržovėse esančios pektininės medžiagos naikina puvimo bakterijas storojoje žarnoje ir šalina iš organizmo radioaktyviuosius junginius.

Taigi, mūsų salotoms reikės:

Įvairiausių salotų lapelių

Pomidorų

Burokėlių

Svogūno

Žaliųjų žirnių ankštyse

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Pirmiausia, pasikepinkime svogūną, pomidorus.  Tuomet sudėkime supjaustytus burokėlius ir palikime paskrusti ant silpnos ugnies.  Sudėkime žolelių prieskonių ir kmynų.  Pasūdinimui naudojau sojos padažą.  Į pabaigą sudėjau žirnių ankštis.  Dar palikau paskrusti penkiom minutėm.  Tuo tarpu ant lėkštės sudėkite salotų lapus.  Jeigu norite dar papildomo skonio – įdėkite fetos sūrio ir/arba alyvuogių.  Kai burokėliai bus paskrudinti – sudėkite viską ant salotų lapų.  Galima dar švelniai pateškenti alyvuogių aliejaus.  Jau taip skanu, kad negalėjau sustot valgyti.  Būtinai paragaukite, netgi jei nesate dideli burokėlių gerbėjai.  Skanaus!

100 layers

If you are a real Lithuania you probably thought that I am talking about hundred layer poppy seeds cake.  Indeed, it is a very yummy cake that I must share the recipe with you one day. However, today I am talking about Arabian 100 layers desert.  If you are a fan of Arabian food or you had a chance to taste it so you got a right guess.  That’s true – a week or even two weeks ago I baked baklava and finally decided to share the recipe today.  What I like about this recipe that you can improvise as much as you like.  If you do not have any of the ingredients I am sure you can still find something in your kitchen cupboards to subsidise  it with.

The other reason what I like about this goodie is that it is not as sweet as chocolate or any other creamy cakes.  Of course, it is very sweet and it requires a lot of honey or maple syrup but the orange taste  balance the sweet taste.

Thirdly, it is a very simple recipe and makes a lot of ‘food’.  You get the ingredients and here you go:

2 packed boxes of phyllo pastry sheets

500 g butter, or ghee butter (I used normal butter)

400 gr walnuts

300 g almonds

250 g brown sugar

250 g honey or maple syrup

spices: 1 big cinnamon stick, cloves

1 pealed orange skin

1 squeezed small lemon juice 

250 g water

Take the baking tray and start adding layer after layer of phyllo pastry and each layer has to be covered with melted butter. Keep doing that until you add 8-10 layers.  Then add chopped and lightly toasted nuts.  By the way, when you chopped nuts and put on the frying pan you can add a little bit of oil and grounded cinnamon for better taste.   Divide nuts into three equal parts and each time use each part of nuts.   So, when you done with first nuts layer, again add one sheet of phyllo pastry and again add melted butter.  When you done four layers like that, then add the second part of nuts.   Take the pastry and put four layers with butter.  Finally, add remaining nuts and remaining pastry.  I had eight layers on top.  Depends on how many sheets you had left.  Once it is done – add to the oven for 45 mins until the baklava is very golden brown.  The temperature should be around 170 C degrees.

IMPORTANT: Before you put baklava to bake in  the oven you must take a sharp knife and cut into small square pieces.

Let’s make the syrup now.  Take non-stick pot and add water, sugar, honey, spices, orange skin and lemon juice.  Let it boil for 10-15 mins.  Do not forget to stir while it is boiling.  Feel free to add other spices and ingredients.  It all depends on what taste you would like to have.

When baklava is baked, take it out from the oven and start adding the syrup.  Use the trainer that only liquid would cover the pastry.  It should be good if the syrup covers more than half of  baklava.  The liquid will be easily absorbed by the pastry.  Leave it to soak. Let the baklava sit, uncovered, on the counter for several hours before you dig in.

As with all my other recipes, do not forget to improvise.  Use different spices, grapefruit and lime in stead of lemon and many more other yummy ingredients.  Enjoy and make sure you share it with your family, friends, community, colleagues and neighbours otherwise it will be too many calories for your own.. Just joking.

Baklava

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Perskaitę šio recepto pavadinimą, ko gero, pagalvojote, kad kalbu apie šimtalapį.  Tikrai taip, tai labai skanus pyragas.  Bent kartą per metus mes mėgstame išsikepti.  Būtinai kito kepimo metu pasidalinsiu receptu su jumis.  Bet šiandien noriu pasidalinti arabišku desertu, kuris irgi turi daug daug sluoksnių.  Tai yra baklava.

Viena iš priežasčių, kodėl man patinka šis receptas, tai, kad gaminant jį galima daug improvizuoti.  Kita priežastis – šis gardėsis nėra toks įkyriai saldus, kaip šokoladas ar kitas kreminis/sviestinis tortas.  Būtent citrinos ir apelsino skonis atgaivina visą saldumą.  Bet neapsigaukime, tikrai šio recepto metu sunaudosime daug medaus ar klevų sirupo ir cukraus.   Galiausiai, tai tikrai labai paprastas receptas, o pagaminamas didelis sluoksniuotas ‘pyragas’.

Taigi, mūsų ingredientai gaminant baklavą:

2 dėžutės šaldytos Filo (phyllo) tešlos

500 g sviesto, ar ghee lydyto sviesto

400 g graikinių riešutų

300 g migdolo riešutų

250 g rudo cukraus

250 g skysto medaus arba klevų sirupo (galima abu maišyti ir kartu dėti)

prieskoniai: 1 didelė cinamono lazdelė, džiovintų gvazdikėlių

1 apelsino nulupta žievelė

1 citrinos sulčių

250 g vandens (galima ir daugiau)

Pirmiausia, pasiruoškime skardelę, iššsitirpinkime sviestą.  Paimkime atšildytą tešlą, ir sluoksnis po sluoksnio dėkime į skardą.  Ant kiekvieno tešlos lakšto tepkime ištirpdintu sviestu.  Kartokime taip iki kol sutepsime aštuonis/dešimt tešlos sluoksnių.  Prieš tai susismulkinme ir paskruzdinkime riešutus.  Kepinant riešutus galite įdėti cinamono ir pašlakstyti truputį aliejaus.  Taigi, visus pakepintus riešutus padalinkite į tris lygias dalis ir pirmąją uždėkite ant tešlos.  Po to vėl keturis sluoksnis tešlos, ir antrąją dalį riešutų.  Vėl dėkite keturis tešlos lakštus užteptus sviestu ir likusius riešutus.  Tuomet uždėkite paskutinius tešlos lakštus, kur kiekvienas išteptas sviestu.  Prieš dedant kepti į orkaitą būtinai reikia supjaustyti baklavą į mažus keturkampius gabalėlius.  Naudokite ypač aštrų peilį.  Kepkite apie 45 min 170 C temperatūroje.  Baklava turi gražiai paruduoti.

Kol baklava kepa – pasidarykite sirupą.  Į verdantį vandenį sudėkite cukrų, medų, prieskonius, apelsino žievelę ir citrinos sultis.  Galite dėti ir kitokių prieskonių – viskas priklauso nuo tai, kokio skonio jūs norite.

Kai baklava iškepė – išimkite iš orkaitės ir apipilkite sirupu.  Pilkie per kiaurasamtį, kad baklavą padengtų tik tai sirupas.  Būtų idealu, kad sirupo užtektų apsemti daugiau negu pusė baklavos.  Nebijokite, sirupas puikiai įsigers į tešlą.  Ideliausia ragauti kitą dieną, bet jei norisi dar tą pačią dieną, tad palikite bent jau porai valandų, kad sirupas visiškai susigertų į tešlą.

Eksperimentuokite, ragaukite.  Bet nepamirškite šiuo iškeptu gėriu pasidalinti su giminaičiais, draugais, kolegomis, kaimynais, nes jums tikrai užteks kalorijų.  Juokauju.