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Saturday, 4 December 2021

Sausage with Cauliflower and Parsley Rice : Saturday Night Supper : Lower Carb Recipe

Yes, it's Saturday once more, and indeed the first Saturday in the month of December, we have already had a few Christmas Cards drop through our post-box, it is lovely to receive them. I am pleased to say we have also made a promising start on gift shopping and the shops do look so festive. I do hope that where you live you are able to get out and about and enjoy the season, although I know Covid restrictions are still around. 

Saturday at this time of year (for me) means watching Strictly Come Dancing, and it has reached quarter-finals week. I am looking forward to watching it, although it is not Eddie's favourite programme. I think this show is known as Dancing with the Stars in some countries. 

So a favourite TV programme needs a favourite Saturday Night Supper doesn't it!

Our choice will be a recipe I first saw at Diet Doctor site back in 2017, read more about it below.

Back in 2017 when Anne Aobadia first published this recipe it caused a bit of a 'lower carb' stir! She described it as Sausage Stroganoff, and people were saying Stroganoff, not according to Wikipedia! However, as Anne went on to say "it is a delicious take on the classic Russian dish beef stroganoff". She teamed it with fluffy cauliflower and parsley rice... gorgeous! The result being a family favourite that per serving works out at approx. 15g carb. This can alter slightly depending on what sausage you use ... we quite like a Toulouse style or one mixed with chorizo. I wonder which type you may choose ...

Serves Four
15g carb per serving
1 red bell pepper
2 yellow (white) onions
2 oz. / 55 g butter
1 lb / 450 g fresh sausage, use ones with a lot of flavour such as Toulouse or chorizo (also check carb content)
1 oz. / 28 g sun-dried tomatoes, preferably in olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1¼ cups / 300 ml heavy (double) whipping cream or sour cream
salt and pepper
Fried cauliflower and parsley rice
1½ lbs / 700 g cauliflower
4 oz. / 110 g butter
¼ cup / 60 ml chopped fresh parsley
Can be found at Diet Doctor site here

I always think a dish like this goes down a treat at the weekend (or around mid-week), but it really is up to you dear reader to choose when you may like to sit and tuck into the flavourful plateful.

~ I always enjoy see colourful Poinsettias at this time of year ~

Please note, you will find a variety of recipes within this blog, and not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Friday, 3 December 2021

Calcium - has several important functions

Calcium has several important functions.

These include:
helping build bones and keep teeth healthy
regulating muscle contractions, including your heartbeat
making sure blood clots normally

A lack of calcium could lead to a condition called rickets in children, and osteomalacia or osteoporosis in later life.

Sources of calcium include:
milk, cheese and other dairy foods
green leafy vegetables – such as curly kale, okra but not spinach (spinach does contain high levels of calcium but the body cannot digest it all). Spinach is high in both calcium and oxalates, so people who are at a high risk of developing kidney stones should limit their intake
soya drinks with added calcium
bread and anything made with fortified flour
fish where you eat the bones – such as sardines and pilchards

How much calcium do I need?
Adults aged 19 to 64 need 700mg of calcium a day.

You should be able to get all the calcium you need from your daily diet.

What happens if I take too much calcium?
Taking high doses of calcium (more than 1,500mg a day) could lead to stomach pain and diarrhoea.

What does the Department of Health and Social Care advise?
You should be able to get all the calcium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.

If you take calcium supplements, do not take too much as this could be harmful.

Taking 1,500mg or less a day is unlikely to cause any harm.
Words above taken from here

Related Posts
Five Ways That Drinking Milk Can Improve Your Health see here
Cheese Is Good For You - Some Reasons Why see here
Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium-Rich Foods see here

The above is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider.

Dear reader, a variety of articles, studies and recipe ideas are within this blog, and not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Thursday Three : Low Carb Recipe Suggestions

This 'Thursday Three' of lower carb recipe suggestions has a vegetarian / vegan theme.
I hope you enjoy these suggestions.

The first one in this Thursday mix is
Roast Vegetable Mix
and can be enjoyed any day of the week

This picture shows the vegetables in our blog header after chopping.
They can be used with almost any meal.
More details here

The next recipe suggestion is for a lovely
Tomato Tricolore Salad

For some of us it's winter, but for those living in the Southern Hemisphere it's summer!
Wherever you live if you'd like to enjoy a taste of summer how about this recipe suggestion.
More details here

The last recipe is for a vegan low carb treat
Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 12 Cookies
160 ml (75 g) almond flour
¼ tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
3 tbsp powdered erythritol
120 ml peanut butter
1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
Chocolate dip
110 g (200 ml) sugar-free baking chocolate
Recipe instructions
more details here

I hope you've enjoyed this 'Thursday Three'.
I wonder have you a favourite looking recipe out of these three?
For me it's the roast vegetables, they are so tasty!

Dear reader, you will find a variety of recipe ideas within this blog. Please note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

December Arrives, the twelfth month

Yes, December arrives and for many our thoughts turn to Christmas and the Holiday Season. Of course with Covid still around, many of the ways that Christmas is celebrated might be different, but I am sure those of us that do celebrate will do their best to enjoy it, taking any Covid precautions into account.

I wonder have you put your Christmas decorations up yet? Eddie and I have made a start, and the rest we will do this coming weekend. I am getting on well with writing the Christmas Cards and have even wrapped some presents. 😀 

But for the moment I am taking a quick break to share twelve December facts with you, I hope you enjoy them. Of course there are many more, do please share any you know in the comments below.

1. December is the twelfth and last month of the year in the Gregorian calendar and one of seven Gregorian months with the length of 31 days.

2. December starts on the same day of the week as September starts every year, and ends on the same day of the week as April ends every year.

3. December’s flower is the narcissus or holly.

4. December’s birthstones are turquoise, lapis lazuli, zircon, topaz (blue), or tanzanite, (quite a choice!).

5. If you were born in the month of December you will belong to the zodiac sign of Sagittarius (December 1st to 21st) or Capricorn (December 22nd to 31st).
Sagittarians are represented by the archer and are independent and compassionate, while Capricorns are represented by the goat and are practical and stubborn.

6. In the Northern Hemisphere December contains the shortest days of the year making it the darkest month on the calendar. In places like Alaska, Siberia and the Canadian territories, December is the month when the sun never rises, pitching thousands of people into complete darkness for several days.

7. December brings the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the shortest day of the year (the day with the least amount of daylight). In 2021, the solstice occurs on Tuesday, December 21. Of course for those living in the Southern Hemisphere the December solstice marks the longest day.

8. Lights are very symbolic to the month of December. Millions of people decorate their houses with twinkling lights at Christmas. Others light candles and place them on the windowsills, (being fire-aware careful of course), and 
let’s not forget the nine candles that are lit during Hanukkah

9. Common decorations on a Christmas tree each have their specific meanings. Candles – the light of the world, the Star at the top is a reminder of the first Christmas night and candy canes are to represent the shepherd’s cane.

10. December astronomy facts; the constellation Orion dominates the sky in December. Look southeast to find three stars lined up in a row. This is Orion’s Belt. Also, look out for Sirius, the brightest star in the winter night sky. Look skyward on the night of December 13 after 9pm for a chance to catch a glimpse of the Geminid meteors, the Geminid meteor shower is the most active shower of the year.

11. A popular Christmas Carol/Song is "Jingle bells" but it is not a Carol at all! It was composed in 1857, but not for Christmas – it was meant to be a Thanksgiving song!

12.  If you go into the woods on Christmas Eve (24 December) an ancient legend states that forest animals can speak in human language on Christmas Eve!
Facts above from here and here and here

Some Helpful December/Christmas Posts
If you would like some Low Carb Christmas Tips, have a look here
Looking for a fool-proof way to cook your turkey look here
Fruit Cake (a low carb alternative) and could be just right for Christmas, look here
You may want a low carb mince pie recipe look here
Have you seen 'The Best Low Carb Christmas Pudding Recipe Ever', look here

If you should need alternative Vegetarian Christmas recipe ideas, look here
If you should need alternative Vegan Christmas recipes look here
Please note not all shown in the two links above are low carb!

As regular readers know, this blog is presented in a magazine style - we hope something for everyone. You will find a variety of articles, studies, thoughts, photographs, music and recipes!

However, not all the recipes ideas featured in this blog may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Creamy Turkey Bake with Broccoli and Mushrooms : Low Carb

It's definitely the time of year for Turkey! Why not try this one step low carb creamy turkey bake. Minimal preparation is required, making it perfect for busy weekdays... or any day!

Serves 3/4
3.4 g carbs per serving
300g tub of full fat crème fraîche
3 tbsp. milk
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage (or 1 tsp dried)
Salt & pepper to taste
600g fresh (British) Turkey breast, diced
1 head of broccoli, cut into thumb sized florets
250g mushrooms, sliced
To Serve
Some may choose boiled new potatoes …
My choice, lower carb oven-baked swede (rutabaga) wedges.
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C / 160 fan / gas mark 4.
2. In a large bowl, combine the crème fraiche, milk, garlic, mustard and sage. Season well to taste with salt and pepper and mix until smooth.
3. Add the diced turkey, small broccoli florets and mushrooms to the sauce and mix together really well so everything is coated with the sauce.
4. Pour into a large oven dish and bake for around 45 minutes until the turkey is cooked through and the broccoli is tender. If the sauce splits a little, give it a mix when it comes out of the oven, and it will come together again.
5. Garnish with a few crispy-fried sage leaves (if desired), and serve with your choice of accompanying vegetables.
From an idea here
You could of course use chicken in this recipe, and for our vegetarian/vegan readers, I'm sure you could use substitutes such as tofu...

Did you know
Broccoli contains almost 5 times as much vitamin C as potato, 8 times as much calcium as potato and almost 2.5 times as much dietary fibre as potato.

~ it's starting to look a little Christmassy ~

Dear reader, you will find a variety of articles and recipe ideas within this blog. It is important to note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Monday, 29 November 2021

Why You Should Rest Your Chopped Garlic for 5 Minutes Before Cooking

Researchers at the American Institute for Cancer Research found that chopping or crushing garlic activates its natural cancer-fighting components. But you should let the chopped garlic sit for about 5 - 15 minutes before you cook it, or most of the cancer-fighting substances are deactivated.

Garlic is a recipe-changing flavour, and I do enjoy using it in recipes. The best part about garlic is it doesn’t just add a mouth-watering taste, it’s packed with delicious benefits.

Acillin is the 'magic' compound
So what is acillin? We know that it’s a compound, but what does it do? Research has shown that this compound may help ease swelling and block free radicals that harm cells and tissues within your body and lead to disease. The compound is one of the main active components of garlic and what gives it its distinct taste and scent.

And where do we find it? The chemical is found in fresh garlic. An enzyme called alliinase is activated when the clove is chopped or crushed. This enzyme converts alliin into allicin.

Why You Should Chop Your Garlic And Let It Rest
Pure allicin only remains stable in freshly crushed or cut garlic for a short time. But letting garlic sit for 5-10 minutes after crushing or cutting it may help boost levels. So before you start cooking your garlic straight away, remember, 'Chop, then stop' is the health mantra for garlic lovers, or even 'Crush don't rush', and for those who like to use a garlic press it's 'Press, then rest'. 😀
Words above from here and here

Do you like to use garlic in your recipes and menu plans?
If you would like some recipe suggestions that include garlic, here are some.

Pork Stroganoff
more details here

Mustard and Sage Chicken with Celeriac Mash
more details here

Baked Garlic Parmesan Salmon
more details here

Smoky aubergine/eggplant timbales
more details here

Dear reader, this blog brings a variety of articles and recipe ideas, and it is important to note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Saturday, 27 November 2021

It's The Weekend

Yes, the weekend is here.
Will you be shopping, seeing family / friends, writing Christmas cards, catching up with housework,
or perhaps you may find time to put your feet up and relax with a good book or listen to some music.

If you plan on taking some time to relax, with a cup of tea / coffee
you may also like to enjoy a slice of
Clementine Almond Cake
the recipe is low carb, flourless and gluten free
see more details here

~ However you spend your weekend, I wish you a good one ~

Dear reader, you will find a variety of recipe ideas are within this blog, but please note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Friday, 26 November 2021

'How To Choose The Best Olive Oil'

Today I am sharing an article by Mark Sisson, he writes:
"When you go to a grocery store, you’ll see a lot of different kinds of olive oil – different colours, from almost clear to yellow to deep green, different descriptors on the label, and vastly different price ranges.

Which one goes with which application? How does the taste compare? Is the expensive stuff worth the money? In this article, we’re going to go through it all.

Types of Olive Oil
Virgin, extra virgin, light, blended… what does it all mean? Here, we will go through the different types of olive oil and the pros and cons of each.

Virgin Olive Oil
Virgin olive oil is produced only by physical means, rather than by chemical treatment. The best stuff comes from only ripe olives (as green and overripe olives produce bitter and rancid oil, respectively) ground into a paste using millstones or steel drums. By definition, a virgin olive oil has not undergone any processing other than washing, decanting, centrifuging, and filtering (although none of these are required for virgin oil, nothing else is permitted). Some heat can be applied and, as long as it doesn’t alter the composition of the oil, the process can still be dubbed virgin pressing.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is extracted from the first press. As with virgin olive oil, processing involves only washing, decanting, centrifuging, and filtering. Low heat can be applied as long as it does not alter the quality of the olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil is widely regarded as the pinnacle of olive oils. According to the International Olive Oil Council, extra virgin olive oil must contain at most 0.8% acidity, with a “superior taste.” Extra virgin can also be unfiltered (which deepens the flavour and reduces shelf life) or cold-pressed (wherein the pressing is slow and gradual, without generating much frictional heat, and which results in better flavours). Most extra virgin also contains the most polyphenols, which are some of my favourite antioxidants.

Extra virgin olive oil will generally be more expensive than virgin olive oil of similar quality.

Light Olive Oil
Light olive oil doesn’t have fewer calories than the other varieties of olive oil. It just lacks flavour and colour. It may also contain less of the beneficial polyphenol compounds that make olive oil so appealing.

Refined Olive Oil
Refined olive oil takes poor quality (either due to acid content or other defects) virgin oil and processes it until it is edible. Refining is usually done with charcoal filters or chemical processes. Refined olive oil is more shelf-stable, but it’s also essentially flavourless.

Olive Pomace Oil
Olive Pomace oil is extracted from the olive solids (pomace) leftover from the pressing, usually using chemical solvents. This isn’t culinary olive oil, and it’s definitely not meant to be eaten. Most olive oil-based soaps you see are made with olive pomace oil.

Blended Olive Oil
Blended olive oils are, in my opinion, to be generally avoided. While it can be a blend of different olive oil varieties, most often you’ll find it blended with cheaper industrial seed oils like canola or some other vegetable oil. You’ll get increased shelf life and polyunsaturated fat content along with less monounsaturated fat. No thanks.

What to Look For When You Buy Olive Oil – A Few Things to Keep in Mind
Just because something is labelled “extra virgin,” though, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good. In fact, rather than buying a mid-priced or inexpensive bottle of Italian or Greek extra virgin olive oil, you might look for a domestic brand. Those extra virgins are fragile oils, and the journey from the Mediterranean can result in a bland bottle. I’ve also read that a lot of the extra virgin that makes it over here to the USA in mass quantities isn’t worth it (and that’s been my experience, sadly).

When choosing an oil, treat it a bit like wine and engage your senses. Smell it – it should smell like olives, very clean and almost like grass and apples. Don’t rely too much on sight – the colour of an oil is easily manipulated. Instead, go with the one that really matters: taste. Take a half teaspoon or so into your mouth and swirl it around (again, like wine). First and foremost, it should taste like olives, but there are other flavours in the best oils. Grassiness, apples, even fennel are pretty common in really great olive oil. If it’s metallic-tasting or has a faint paint thinner scent, it’s probably rancid. If it’s light, delicious, and barely coats your mouth (without feeling greasy), it’s probably great stuff. And then my favourite part, the finish. The best oils from the first harvest with the highest antioxidant content will leave a spicy finish on your throat, like mild peppers.

Just experiment. Keep trying them until you find one you like. The different varietals are all unique, so your journey might be a long one. 

The thing with olive oil is that you need to use it the right way. The best extra virgin, unfiltered, cold-pressed olive oil should never be used to sauté something because heat can mar the delicate flavour. Instead, use high quality stuff as a finisher. Cook with butter then top the dish off with your prized extra virgin oil. That way, the taste and nutritional benefits are retained without wasting any of your precious nectar on a cast iron skillet.

Olive Oil Storage
Store your oil in a cool, dark place. Heat and light are now your biggest enemies (be sure to buy an oil in a dark bottle). Extra virgin is the least stable, so keep it at a good temperature (somewhere between 57 and 65 degrees, like a wine cellar). You can refrigerate other olive oils if your kitchen is too hot, but refrigerating extra virgin olive oil can disrupt the delicate flavours. If you get extra virgin that’s tasty enough, of course, you won’t have to worry about long-term storage – you’ll be guzzling it straight out of the bottle."
These above words by Mark and all relevant links can be seen at original article here

Two Related Posts You May Wish To Read

The Best Oils To Cook With
Choosing the best oils to cook with doesn’t need to be daunting, it simply comes down to a simple two-step approach. Firstly, is the oil or fat in its nutritious raw form and suitable for human consumption in small amounts? And secondarily, does the oil have a high smoke point, in that it can resist high temperatures before oxidizing, which can create harmful free-radicals? More to read here

Olive Oil, some facts and information
Olive oil is probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's mainly made in the Mediterranean, primarily in Italy, Spain and Greece (though countries such as America and Australia also produce it). Much like wine-making, climate, soil and the way the olives are harvested and pressed all have an impact on an oil's character. More to read here

Do you like to use Olive Oil?  I always have some Extra Virgin Olive Oil in my Low Carb Pantry

Dear reader, you will find a variety of articles and recipe ideas within this blog. Please note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake : Enjoy A Slice : Low Carb : Vegan

As good today as it was in 2018 when I first shared this low carb vegan version of lemon poppy seed cake. Make sure the kettle is on, a slice is perfect with a cup of coffee or tea!

2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup stevia (sweetener)
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. flaxseed meal
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
lemon zest, 1 1/2 lemons
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp. coconut oil
3/4 cup water
pinch salt

1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease a loaf tin with cooking spray and line with baking paper. Set aside.
2. Add dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix well. Add the lemon zest.
3. Add lemon juice and the rest of the wet ingredients a little at a time, stirring well between each addition.
4. Transfer batter to loaf tin.
5. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
6. Allow to cool in tin before inverting onto a place and cutting into slices.

This low carb vegan recipe makes 9 slices, each slice is 16.6g fat, 3.7g protein, and 4g net carbs.
If you need help with weight/measurement conversion, see here

There is also a nice Orange and Poppy Seeds Cupcakes low carb recipe here

We bring a variety of recipe ideas to this blog, but please note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Thanksgiving 2021

Here in the UK the Countdown to Christmas continues. Christmas Cards are being written, Christmas Gifts being bought … and possibly you've got some food in the cupboard or freezer waiting to be consumed over the Christmas festivities.

Of course if like us you have American friends and bloggers they have been getting ready for Thanksgiving Day which is tomorrow, Thursday 25th November, … for our blogging friends in Canada they have already celebrated theirs!

As Covid is still a world-wide issue holiday celebrations for many of us may still be different this year but we can all do our best to have a healthy holiday season.

"Thanksgiving is an unusual holiday because it doesn’t always fall on the same day of the year. But unlike Halloween and Christmas the holiday always falls on the same day of the week, Thursday.

While this may make planning around the holiday easier every year, many people don’t seem to know why the holiday is scheduled this way.

This year, Thanksgiving will fall on Nov. 25, which is the fourth Thursday of the month. This has been the way that the date for the holiday has been determined since 1941. Before this, the holiday was traditionally held on the last Thursday of November.

In 1939, however, the last Thursday of the month was also the last day of the month. President Roosevelt was concerned that this would hurt shorten the Christmas shopping season, so he issued a proclamation that Thanksgiving would occur on the second to last Thursday of November instead.

This was a controversial decision, and in 1941, the House and Senate passed a resolution saying that Thanksgiving would occur on the fourth Thursday of November. This would thereby maintain the Christmas shopping season during years when November had five Thursdays.

This may answer why the holiday is scheduled the way that it is, but it doesn’t explain why Thursday was chosen instead of another day of the week.

The reason for this is a bit unclear. Going back to the earliest days of the tradition.

Historians believe that Thursday was chosen because it was one of the more convenient days of the week to have an annual feast. For the early Puritan settlers, Sunday was the Sabbath. It’s likely that the early days of giving thanks were purposely scheduled not to interfere with the Sabbath. Also, Fridays were commonly days of fasting, making them inconvenient feast days for many people.

Since ministers would often give lectures on Thursdays in the New England area, Thursday seemingly became a convenient day for Thanksgiving. As the years went by, it became a tradition. By the time George Washington issued a proclamation for a day of Thanksgiving, Thursday had already been associated with feasts of that nature."
Words above from article here

Related Post
Turkey, a fool-proof guide, perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas - see it here

Looking for alternative Vegetarian and Vegan Thanksgiving / Christmas recipes have a look here please note not all shown in the link are low carb!

This blog brings a variety of articles and recipe ideas, and it is important to note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

Wishing all our readers who may be celebrating Thanksgiving a Happy Day
Good luck and good health to you all

Jan and Eddie

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Tarragon Chicken ... it's terrific !

Today, I am sharing a Chicken recipe, inspired by a French classic. It is a rich, creamy and fragrant chicken dish. Simple but stylish, which makes it perfect for both casual suppers and dinner parties, Covid restrictions allowing!

Serves Four
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp olive oil
8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin removed
6 garlic cloves, sliced in half lengthways
4 large shallots, peeled and finely sliced
8 rashers smoked streaky bacon, rind removed and sliced into 2cm/¾in pieces
280g/10oz chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
400ml/14fl oz dry cider
4 tsp Dijon mustard
30g/1oz tarragon leaves, finely chopped
150ml/5fl oz double (heavy) cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Melt the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large casserole dish over a medium heat. Season the chicken thighs and fry on both sides until golden before removing and setting aside.
2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the casserole and add the garlic, shallots and bacon. Sauté for about 8 minutes, stirring often, until the shallots have softened and the bacon has started to colour.
3. Add the mushrooms, fry for a few minutes and then add the cider, mustard and half of the tarragon. Return the chicken to the casserole and bring to a simmer. Place the lid half on and gently cook for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
4. Stir in the cream, bring back to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes with the lid off. Season with salt and pepper to taste, scatter over the remaining tarragon and serve.

Recipe Tips
Some may like to serve this dish with basmati rice, or creamy mashed potatoes.
A lower carb alternative would be cauliflower rice, or mashed swede.
However, a big pile of greens, such as steamed spinach, chard or green beans is lovely too.
From original idea here

Tarragon is a popular and versatile herb, it has an intense flavour that's a unique mix of sweet aniseed and a mild vanilla. The leaves are narrow, tapering and slightly floppy, growing from a long, slender stem. It's a key herb in French cuisine (it's an essential ingredient in sauce Bernaise), and goes very well with eggs, cheese and poultry.

For readers who may like a vegetarian recipe, there are five choices here
For readers who may prefer a vegan recipe, have a look at these five choices here

Dear reader, you will find a variety of articles and recipe ideas within this blog. It is important to note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Monday, 22 November 2021

'The Health Benefits of Grandmas'

"It's official : Science says grannies are good for you:

Scientists say they have proven what many people fortunate enough to grow up with theirs have known all along: Grandmothers have strong nurturing instincts and are hard-wired to care deeply about their grandchildren.

A new study recently published in the Royal Society B is the first to provide a neural snapshot of the cherished intergenerational bond. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers at Emory University in the southern US state of Georgia scanned the brains of 50 grandmothers who were shown pictures of their grandchildren, who were between three and 12 years old.

As a control, they were also shown pictures of an unknown child, an adult parent of the same sex as their grandchild, and an unknown adult. "They recruited areas of the brain that are involved with emotional empathy, and also areas of the brain that are involved in movement and motor simulation and preparation," James Rilling, an anthropologist and neuroscientist who led the study told AFP.

"When they're viewing these pictures of their grandchild, they're really feeling what the grandchild is feeling. So when the child is expressing joy, they're feeling that joy. When the children are expressing distress, they're feeling that distress."

The same motor related regions of the brain also light up in the brains of mothers, and are thought to be related to the instinct to pick up a child or approach and interact with them.

By contrast, when the grandmothers viewed images of their adult children, there was a stronger activation of brain regions linked to cognitive empathy -- trying to understand what a person is thinking or feeling and why, without as much emotional engagement.

This, said Rilling, might be linked to children's cute appearance -- scientifically known as "baby schema," which the young of many species share in order to evoke a caregiving response.

First of its kind study
Unlike other primates, humans are "cooperative breeders," which means mothers get help in rearing offspring.

Rilling, who had previously conducted similar research on fathers, had wanted to turn his attention toward grandmothers in order to explore a theory in anthropology known as the "grandmother hypothesis." This holds that the evolutionary reason that human females tend to live long lives -- well beyond their own reproductive years -- is to provide benefits to their grown offspring and grandchildren.

Evidence supporting the hypothesis has been found in societies including Hadza hunter-gatherers of northern Tanzania, where grandmothers provide nourishing tubers to their grandchildren.

The effect also been seen in other species such as elephants, and has been observed in orcas, which like humans -- but unlike the vast majority of mammals -- also experience menopause.

"This is really the first look at the grand maternal brain," said Rilling, explaining that brain scan studies on the elderly normally focus on studying conditions like Alzheimer's disease. The grandmothers, who were drawn from the Atlanta, Georgia area and came from a cross-section of economic and racial backgrounds, were also asked to fill out questionnaires. Grandmothers who reported a greater desire to be involved with caring had greater activity in brain regions of interest.

Finally, when comparing the new study with the results from his earlier work on fathers, Rilling found that overall, grandmothers more strongly activated regions involved with emotional empathy and motivation. But he stressed that this finding was only an average and doesn't necessarily apply to any given individual.

Rilling also interviewed each of his subjects to get a sense about the challenges and rewards of being a grandparent. "Consistently, the challenge that came up the most was the differences of opinion they would have with the parents in terms of how the grandchildren should be raised -- their values, and the constant struggle to step back from that," he said.

On the other hand, "We joked about it, but a lot of them talked about how you can give the grandchildren back, it's not a full time job," he said. Many grandmothers felt they could be more present now that they were free of the time and financial pressure they experienced when raising their own children. "So a lot of them reported actually enjoying being a grandmother more than they enjoyed being a mother," he said."
Words above from article here
h/t Marks Daily Apple here

From personal experience this Grandma (Jan) and Grandad (Eddie) love to spend time with all our family which includes five grandchildren, in the photograph below we were able to make more happy memories with two of them.
Do please share your thoughts about this article in the comments section below.

~ peek-a-boo Grandad we can see you ~
photograph from post here

The best things in life
are the people we love,
the places we've been,
and the memories we've made
along the way.

All the best Jan

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Quiche Origins and three low carb recipe suggestions

Although quiche is now a classic dish of French cuisine, quiche actually originated in Germany, in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule, and which the French later renamed Lorraine. The word ‘quiche’ is from the German ‘Kuchen’, meaning cake.

The original ‘quiche Lorraine’ was an open pie with a filling consisting of an egg and cream custard with smoked bacon. It was only later that cheese was added to the quiche Lorraine. Add onions and you have quiche Alsacienne. The bottom crust was originally made from bread dough, but that has long since evolved into a short-crust or puff pastry crust, including variations to encompass a lower carb recipe.

Quiche became popular in England sometime after the Second World War, and in the U.S. during the 1950's. Because of its primarily vegetarian ingredients, it was considered a somehow ‘unmanly’ dish, - “real men don’t eat quiche.” Today, one can find many varieties of quiche, from the original quiche Lorraine, to ones with broccoli, mushrooms, ham and/or seafood (primarily shellfish). Quiche can be served as an entrée, for lunch, breakfast or an evening snack.
The words above taken from here

So now onto three delicious low carb quiche recipe suggestions, which one catches your eye and taste buds, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Crustless Quiche Lorraine
This simplified version of the classic French tart requires no pastry skills.
Delicious served warm from the oven or cold the following day.
Serves Four
4g carbs per serving
low-calorie cooking spray
8 lean bacon rashers, roughly chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
6 large free-range eggs
100g/3½oz Cheddar, grated
2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
100g/3½oz cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
salt and freshly ground black pepper
crisp green salad, to serve
can be seen here

Ham and Cheese Quiche With Cauliflower Crust
This lovely quiche features a crust made out of cauliflower rice.
It is a wonderful low carb brunch or dinner recipe.
Serves Six
4g net carbs per serving
350 g cauliflower florets, riced
40 g shredded/grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
170 g smoked deli ham, cubed or diced
110 g cheddar cheese, shredded/grated
5 large eggs
80 ml heavy (double) whipping cream
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
can be seen here

Vegetarian Low-carb Quiche
always enjoyable and great for Thanksgiving and Christmas
Six Servings
10g net carbs per serving
Pie crust
2 oz. butter, softened or coconut oil
1¼ cups almond flour
½ cup sesame seeds
1 egg
1 tbsp ground psyllium husk powder
1 pinch salt
9 oz. kale, de-stemmed and chopped
3½ oz. leeks, finely chopped
5 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
3 eggs
1¼ cups heavy whipping cream (double cream/thickened cream)
3½ oz. walnuts, chopped
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
4 oz. sun-dried tomatoes in oil
can be seen here

Need help with weight/measurement conversion
see here

Dear reader, you will find a variety of recipe ideas and articles within this blog, but please note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Wildlife Photography To Make You Smile

From time to time we post something completely different …
Like these photographs from the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

'Can I Play You A Tune'
The Flautist - Ground Squirrel - R Kranitz

'He Went That Way'
Directing Penguin - C Taylor

'I Guess Summers Over'
Pigeon - J Speirs

The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards was co-founded in 2015 by professional photographers Paul Joynson-Hicks MBE and Tom Sullam who wanted to create a competition that focused on the lighter side of wildlife photography and help promote wildlife conservation through humour.

This year, the competition is supporting Save Wild Orangutans by donating 10% of its total net revenue to the charity. The initiative safeguards wild orangutans in and around Gunung Palung National Park, Borneo.

“We were overwhelmed with the number and quality of entries we received this year, with well over 7,000 photos submitted from every corner of the globe,” says Paul Joynson-Hicks. “It was an amazing turnout, especially given the impact of the pandemic. The huge number of images we receive every year illustrates the appetite there is to engage with conservation and reminds us that wildlife truly is incredible and hilarious and, we must do all we can to protect it.”

Read more, and see other, amazing photographs here

All the best Jan

Friday, 19 November 2021

'Floor Sitting Is Good For Your Health'

"Why Longevity Experts Say You Should Get in the Habit of Sitting on the Floor

Sitting on the floor may not be that comfortable, especially when compared with the relative luxury of a chair, but the simple practice is great for your longevity, according to a study of the world's longest-living populations.

Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner says that people living in Okinawa, Japan, keep furniture to a minimum in their homes, so they naturally do most of their sitting on the floor. And, he says, the health benefits are evident. "The longest-lived women in the history of the world lived in Okinawa, and I know from personal experience that they sat on the floor," he says. "I spent two days with a 103-year-old woman and saw her get up and down from the floor 30 or 40 times, so that's like 30 or 40 squats done daily."

Some researchers wouldn't be surprised to learn that a woman who is able to repeatedly stand up from a seated position on the floor has lived to be (at least)102 years old, as they claim that your ability to stand up from a seated, cross-legged position without using any of your limbs (known as the sitting-rising test) is a good marker of your longevity. A study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology suggests that those least able to complete this movement were five or six times more likely to die than those who were best able to complete the task.

“It is well known that aerobic fitness is strongly related to survival, but our study also shows that maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength, power-to-body weight ratio and co-ordination are not only good for performing daily activities, but have a favourable influence on life expectancy,” the study's lead researcher, Claudio Gil Araújo, said in a press release.

Moving from a seated position on the floor to one standing, multiple times per day, strengthens the core muscles and works balance, both of which can improve and extend your overall muscular-skeletal fitness and mobility. It can also help prevent you from falling down when you're older, which is one of the top causes of unintentional-injury-related death for those over 65. "Another huge benefit is when you are able to sit down and stand back up from the floor with relative ease, it’s a wonderful sign of overall structural, skeletal health and muscular balance and alignment," says body alignment specialist Lauren Roxburgh.

Many of us have been sedentary for too much time, she says, and in likely less-than-ergonomic environments. "Getting out of your chair and sitting cross-legged onto the floor can help realign your body, centre your sitz/sitting bones, and engage your core stability—improving strength, natural flexibility and overall movement," she says.

With that said, Roxburgh notes that if you're going to engage in floor-sitting, it's important to pay attention to your posture. "Avoid slouching, which can increase pressure and lower back pain," she says. "Make sure you also keep your weight centred over your hips so you reduce the pressure in your ankles and feet." In her opinion, the best way to sit on the floor for optimal alignment is by sitting on a cushion, the edge of a folded blanket, or a soft, squishy ball. "This helps raise your hips slightly for better alignment."

Nobody is saying you need to spend the entire day on the floor, though Buettner does advocate for buying lower furniture, or getting rid of a few pieces of furniture altogether. Fortunately for those who aren't going to clear out their homes of seating anytime soon, however, Roxburgh says it's most important just to mix it up. "The key to longevity, staying flexible, fluid, and maintaining a healthy body is to create continual postural shifts throughout the day [as you're able]," she says. "So sitting on the floor and periodically doing long, deep squats are a great way to boost circulation, blood flow, and energy, increase flexibility and range of motion, create space and build some deeper awareness of your body while helping you feel grounded."
Above words and picture from article here
h/t Marks Daily Apple here

Fellow bloggers at The Diabetes Diet Blog wrote about 'The Sitting Rising Test' back in 2017 - see here 
You will also see my comment "The older we get the more difficult this gets for most of us. Just a gentle word of warning. If readers should try this … I would suggest care is taken … the last thing you would want is to over balance and fall. I do know of folks this has happened to."

Other related articles/posts you may want to read
Are You Sitting Comfortably ? - see here
Is Sitting Too Much Bad for Your Health? - see here
Is Eating While Standing Up Bad for You? - see here

Dear reader, do please share your thoughts and comment about the above.

I hope you are having a pleasant November

A variety of articles and recipe ideas are within this blog. Please note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan