Welcome to Meatless Mondays Australia!
Spring is almost upon us. The weather starting to warm. The days getting longer. Birds nesting. Flowers blooming. New growth everywhere. To celebrate the new season, this week we are honoured to feature a mouth-watering vegetarian recipe from the delightful Maggie Beer, a recipe that will definitely put some spring into your step and those you choose to share it with. We tell you about the health benefits of walnuts, and let you know why eating seasonal produce is better for you. We give you some tips for lighting your home economically and environmentally, and finally we tell you how to make the most of the spring sunshine to meet your Vitamin D needs.
Spring is the season of renewal, not just for nature but for us as well. It is the time for making life changes, creating new behaviours and habits that are good for us and good for the planet…like going meat-free at least one day a week is good for you and good for the planet.
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Food of the Week
Walnuts are a delicious way to add extra nutrition to your diet. Not only are they rich in omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are loaded with vitamins and minerals essential for good health. They also have a high antioxidant content and make a great choice for a healthy protein source.
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids
- High levels of Vitamin E, manganese and copper
- Tryptophan, an essential amino acid for the synthesis of protein
- Phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc and trace elements of iodine
- B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, B6, and folic acid
- Dietary fibre
Eating walnuts regularly has been shown to:
- Improve cardiovascular health
- Help to reduce blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels
- Assist with the control of blood sugar levels
- Support a healthy immune system
- Maintain healthy bones
- Aid cognitive function
- Promote sleep
Eat walnuts as a snack, or toss chopped walnuts into your breakfast cereal or salad. They are delicious with apples and cinnamon, or even pears. You can buy walnuts in their shells – look for shells that are not cracked, broken or stained – and enjoy the experience of cracking them yourself. Shelled walnuts are readily available but are perishable. Store them in an airtight container either in the fridge or a cool, dark, dry place where they will keep for up to six months.
And don’t forget to look for the locally grown product so you don’t add to your carbon footprint. If your greengrocer or supermarket doesn’t stock locally grown produce, please encourage them to do so.
Recipe of the Week
Maggie Beer’s Pumpkin, Walnut, Cheese and Verjuice Terrine
This recipe has been reprinted from Maggie’s Kitchen by Maggie Beer (Penguin) with permission from Maggie Beer.
This week’s recipe comes to us compliments of the wonderfully warm, ever-smiling, Maggie Beer, one of Australia’s most loved celebrity cooks. Maggie has written many popular cookbooks, appears on the TV cooking program ‘The Cook and the Chef’, and produces her own range of gourmet foods. This is what Maggie has to say about her fabulous recipe:
“Though not vegetarian, I do love vegetables and am delighted to contribute this recipe! It is only worth entertaining the idea of making this dish if you’ve found a wonderfully ripe, deep-coloured pumpkin, the star ingredient here. It makes a great luncheon dish for guests as all the work is done the day before, and it really gets a chance to set in the terrine mould in the refrigerator overnight. Make sure that it’s really cold before cutting it, and use a serrated knife to cut through the vine leaves. Add a spoonful or two of Eggplant Pickle as an accompaniment if you want to serve it as a main meal.”
Serves 8 – 10
150 gm walnuts, roasted, skins rubbed and chopped
8 fresh vine leaves blanched or preserved in brine,
750 gm peeled, seeded and cubed mature pumpkin pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus extra, drizzling)
1 tablespoon lemon thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup verjuice
150 gm Gruth Ricotta
140 gm white castello cheese
4 free range eggs
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons sage, chopped
Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan forced).
Place walnuts on a flat tray and bake for 10 minutes, checking the walnuts do not burn. Immediately put into a clean tea towel and begin to rub skins off. Sift rubbed walnuts to discard skins. Cool and chop a little.
Lightly grease a 12 cm x 22 cm x 6.5 cm deep loaf tin, then line (base and sides) with vine leaves, (reserving 1 leaf for later use).
Place pumpkin, olive oil, thyme and salt and pepper in a roasting pan, tossing until well combined. Roast pumpkin for 30 minutes or until it is soft and caramelised. Deglaze pan with verjuice and return to the oven for 5 minutes until all juices have evaporated. Leave to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 180°C.
Meanwhile, mix together ricotta, castello, sage and nutmeg with the lightly beaten white of one of the eggs, until well combined. Place cooled roast pumpkin in a food processor. Add remaining 3 or 5 eggs and egg yolk and process until well combined.
Scatter nuts into the base of the prepared loaf tin then spoon cheese mixture over that, then pour over pumpkin mixture. Place the remaining vine leaf on top of the pumpkin. Place the loaf tin in a deep roasting pan, then fill halfway with boiling water.
Bake for 30 minutes or until pumpkin mixture is set, test this by inserting a skewer. Remove from oven and leave terrine to cool in the water bath, then cover with plastic film and refrigerate overnight.
Cut thick slices of the terrine, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and serve with rocket or other green leaves to the side.
Healthy You Quick Tip
Buying seasonal produce that is locally grown has many benefits:
- It is generally fresher and therefore, more nutritious
- Tastes better because it is harvested close to its natural ripening
- Improves your health by getting you back in harmony with the rhythm’s of nature
- It is usually cheaper
- Supports local farmers, the local economy and local biodiversity.
Healthy Planet Quick Tip
In the home, lighting can account for a considerable amount of your electricity usage, costing you money and generating greenhouse gases. To reduce the impact to your wallet and the environment:
- Turn off all lights whenever a room is not being used
- Open curtains during the day to let in natural light
- Think about installing solar light tubes to light dark areas of your home during the day. They let in daylight with minimal heat transfer between inside and outside
- Use task lighting instead of lighting a whole room
- Use dimmer switches to reduce electricity consumption
- Install motion detecting lights outside your home so lights are on only when needed
- Invest some of the savings you make from conserving electricity into signing up to a green energy plan with your electricity provider. Power sourced from renewable energy sources costs a lot less than you may think
- Finally, always use the most energy-saving light bulbs – just like in this cute little video:
Meeting Your Vitamin D Needs
As well as eating lots of healthy foods and exercising regularly, your body needs regular exposure to natural sunlight to retain its peak condition and vitality. Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin essential to good health and strong bones, can only be made by the body when your skin is exposed to the sun. As the weather gets warmer and we see more and more sunshine over the next few months we need to think about our sun exposure and how to ensure we meet our body’s need for Vitamin D without risking skin cancer:
- If you live in the southern parts of Australia and haven’t spent much time outdoors over winter, your body’s stores of Vitamin D may be depleted. To restore your Vitamin D levels, try to expose your face, arms and hands, without any sun protection, to about 15 to 20 minutes of sun daily (two to three hours of sunlight over a week). Make sure you do this outside the peak UV radiation period between 10am and 3pm, and as we approach summer, drop back to only a few minutes sun exposure daily.
- If you live in the northern areas of Australia you probably get more than enough sun and Vitamin D going about your day-to-day activities. You need to remember to slip, slop, slap to protect your skin from the sun and skin cancer.
For more information about safe sun exposure and Vitamin D see the Cancer Council Australia guidelines.