Sunday 17 January 2016

New Year's Resolutions

What are my New Year's resolutions? Write my blog more often. It is already the 17th January and this is my first post of the year. Brilliant start! 
The others were drink less and eat more healthily. I managed to go six days without any alcohol which is probably the longest stretch I have managed since I was last pregnant, 9 years ago. 
As for the healthy eating; I have been scouring the newspapers and magazines for the latest ideas. Deliciously Ella is very last year now but Amelia Freer’s second book Cook. Nourish. Glow. seems to be very “of the minute”.  She is a Nutritional therapist and wants to completely re-educate the way you eat. She explains that we eat too much sugar, dairy, processed food and gluten. To summarise, somewhat briefly, she believes in buying good, seasonal, preferably organic produce and taking a little time to cook them at home. Good news for all my readers because that is exactly what you have been already doing for years. Not exactly rocket science!
But my personal diet message to myself as I get older, is all about re-hydration. There is no doubt as we age everything: our hair and nails and skin gets drier and moisturising from the inside as well as the outside can really help.  We are used to rubbing fatty moisturisers into our skin, but this is constantly at attack from the environment, so it would seem that it might be more effective to put the fats inside you, so that your body can do the job of lubricating you itself. Of course, by this I mean good fats rather than bad fats, namely Omega 3 fats, essential fatty acids. I think we all panic at this word, imagining that we have to consume bucket loads of sardines and mackerel to achieve our daily quota, but whilst fatty fish are clearly good for you, all sorts of vegetables, seeds and nuts are also excellent sources.
Here are a few to try and include in your diet
Brussel Sprouts
Winter Squash
Green Beans
It is not only Omega 3 which provides good fats. Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats are also good. A moderation of saturated fats are also acceptable from whole milk, coconut oil and grass-fed meat but tran-fats should be avoided at all costs in commercially baked goods, packaged snack foods, margarine and commercially prepared fried foods.
To make sure you are getting enough good fats (Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated) stock up on avocados, olives, nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews and walnuts), seeds (sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds), flaxseed and fatty fish.
Luckily I had a couple of Avocados in my Riverford box this week, so I set about making up a new salad. I am particularly pleased with the salad dressing which turned out really creamy and fresh. I just used tarragon, which always goes well with chicken and some basil for added zing. 
I also like chicken cooked in this butterflied method as it cooks in minutes, as it is so thin, and stays really juicy and tender. Finally, of course you can add any other vegetables you have to hand and your salad leaves are up to you too. I used a mixture of rocket, watercress and a few sprigs of mint. So get hydrating!

Grilled Chicken with Almond Dressing, Avocado and Vegetable Salad
50g almonds, soaked
A few sprigs of what herbs you fancy – coriander, basil, parsley or
tarragon, leaves picked
100ml extra virgin olive oil
2 x 150g chicken breasts
Zest of a lemon
Dried oregano
Extra virgin olive oil
Mixed salad leaves and maybe a few sprigs of herbs
1 bulb fennel
1 carrot
1 small courgette
1 ripe avocado
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
lemon wedges, to serve
For the dressing drain the almonds, add the olive oil, the herbs, a good pinch of salt and pepper and some water and puree with a hand blender until smooth and creamy. Add more water to get a good consistency and check for seasoning.
Take each chicken breast and cut it through the from one side to the other, stopping just short of the edge. This is difficult to explain so please follow link. Unfold the chicken breast and lay flat. Season with salt and pepper, dried oregano and lemon zest on both sides. Drizzle with olive oil.
Shave the fennel, courgette and carrot with a mandolin. Peel and thinly slice the avocado. Dress the salad and shaved vegetables with a little olive oil and a small pinch of salt. Arrange on plates. Heat a griddle pan of just a large frying pan. Arrange the avocado on the plates with the salad. Grill the chicken on both sides until just cooked. Place on top of the salad. Drizzle with almond dressing and serve with a wedge of lemon.

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