Tag Archives: low GI

Spiced cauliflower with Bill’s ginger pachadi

Part of the flowering greens family, which also includes  “regular”, tenderstem and purple sprouting broccoli and romanesco, cauliflower is available pretty much all year round but at its best in winter.

Although delicious and popular, there are more ways to prepare cauliflower than covered with a cheesy bechamel sauce.

Try adding lightly cooked cauliflower florets to macaroni cheese next time, or bake sprinkled with a mixture of wholemeal breadcrumbs and Parmesan.

When buying, look for caulis with white, tight heads; avoid if discoloured or if they smell strongly.

Cook all varieties as lightly as possible to avoid the unpleasant sulphurous smell and to retain nutrients.

Brown basmati rice is rich in vitamin B and has a low GL (glycemic load) score which means that the energy is released slowly into the bloodstream to help keep your blood sugar levels even.

Broccoli contains substances called sulphurophanes, which have been shown to help remove liver toxins and support the immune system. The combination of ginger, in the recipe below, and the cauliflower is packed with antioxidants.

Sesame seeds are a good source of omega-6 fats and, toasted, have a delicious nutty flavour.

In the delicious and easy recipe below I have used ginger pachadi from Bill’s Produce Store www.billsproducestore.co.uk to add an exotic touch to cauliflower.


Pachadis are spice mixtures, popular in South India: use them like I have done here, to flavour vegetables, mix into natural yoghurt and use as a dip or marinade for meat or fish.

This meal, which is really quick to prepare and can be on the table in minutes, serves 2 as a wholesome, vegetarian main course.

This is what you need:

2 generous handfuls of cauliflower florets, cut into bite-size pieces

1 heaped tbsp of Bill’s ginger pachadi

2 tsp turmeric dissolved in 100ml of hot water

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

juice of 1/2 a lime

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds (toast in a dry, hot frying pan until seeds begin to pop + colour – watch closely as they can burn quickly!)

1 tbsp sunflower oil

2 large free-range hen (or try duck for a wonderfully rich, creamier taste) eggs

half a small bunch of coriander

wholegrain basmati rice, cooked according to the instructions on the packet

This is what you do:

  1. heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat
  2. add the cauliflower florets and stir-fry for 2 minutes
  3. add the chilli flakes and ginger pachadi and stir in to mix
  4. add the hot water with turmeric  and lime juice
  5. simmer for 2 minutes; the liquid will almost disappear
  6. in the meantime, break the eggs in a bowl and beat lightly
  7. pour the eggs into the cauliflower mixture, stirring around for 30 seconds or so until the eggs scramble
  8. sprinkle with a ltlle bit of sea salt, chopped coriander + sesame seeds
  9. eat immediately – with the wholegrain basmati rice

Bon appetit!

Monique x



Thai red curry with lean beefsteak mince

A Tweet from @nutritionguru1 aka Dora Walsh this morning reminded her “followers” of the importance of including a little red meat in your diet.

I have known for a while that lean beef and lean lamb are a good source of easily absorbed iron, but I thought there was no harm in re-iterating this to you. Well reared and trimmed leab cuts can contain as little as 5% fat.

Iron is needed to keep your blood healthy and oxygenated and to prevent iron- deficiency anaemia. Red meat is also an excellent source of protein.

The recipe below is an example of how you can eat well with the minimum of fuss.

For two generous portions, this is what you need: 

 1onion, cut into 8 segments

2 medium tomatoes, cut into quarters

350g of lean beefsteak or lamb mince

1 heaped tbsp of red Thai curry paste (I like “Thai Taste”, available from Waitrose), or more if you like your curry really hot

4 spring onions, finely sliced

1 soup ladle of reduced fat coconut milk

2 handfuls of spinach leaves, washed and drained

half a bunch of coriander

This what you do:

1. heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan

2. add the onion and brown over low/medium high heat for about 5 minutes

3. remove from the pan onto a plate and set aside

4. turn up the heat under the pan and add the mince

5. break up the mince using a plastic spatula; keep turning it over until there is no more pink meat visible

6. drain off any fat which has run from the meat

7. add the tomato quarters and the curry paste and coat the meat, then add the coconut milk followed by a splash of hot water

8. simmer gently over low heat for 10 minutes

9. just before serving fork in the spinach and cover the pan with a lid; this will make the spinach wilt very quickly

10. sprinkle with the sliced spring onions and scatter with roughly chopped coriander

Delicious served with basmati rice (which has a low GI – glyceamic index – score, meaning that energy is released into the bloodstream slowly, helping to keep bloodsugar levels even and prevent energy dips and hunger pangs).

Eating spinach with something that contains vit C, such as the tomatoes in this recipe, makes more of the iron in the spinach available for absorption by the body.

I hope you find the prepation easy and enjoy this quick supper dish.

Do send me your pictures of the finished dish, or even better, people enjoying it!

Bon appetit (not sure what that is in Thai?),


Beat the marketing hype: get label savvy!

I wrote this article some time ago for WeightMatters, www.weightmatters.co.uk , health clinics who help people change the way they eat – forever.

But having watched Monday night’s Jeremy Vine’s Panorama documentary on BBC1 about children’s diets, I am shocked again by how many people are confused about food and taken in my the marketing hype of food manufacturers.

So here it is again, some handy tips & hints to help you make up your own mind about what to feed yourself and your children.

 Marketing versus science

 Do you ever look at the nutrition labels on many processed foods and ingredients and regret that you never did do A level chemistry!

Overwhelming us with excessive nutritional information and spurious health claims is one way in which food manufacturers cleverly try to persuade us to buy their products.

However, armed with a basic understanding of the classic marketing tactics, getting label savvy is easy.

 Common labelling tricks

Low GI

“Low GI” (low glyceamic index) means that an ingredient or product contains low GI carbohydrates, which are digested slowly, helping to keep you feeling full for longer.

You may assume that all foods bearing the “low GI” symbol are a healthy choice and in the case of for example wholegrain basmati rice and oatcakes, this assumption is correct. However, some foods like ice cream and chocolate are low GI because their high fat content slows down the digestion of sugar.

Savvy tip: remember, although a food may be low GI, it still supplies calories and could be high in fat.

Low carb

Foods with this description have had sugar replaced with artificial ingredients such as sorbitol. Because sorbitol does not raise blood sugar as quickly as normal sugar, manufacturers do not count it as a carbohydrate. However, low carb products often contain the same calories as the original, normal carbohydrate, version.

Savvy tip: be aware, low carb does not necessarily equal low calorie.

Light or “lite”

These descriptions can refer to the texture of the product, meaning it is light in consistency. Examples of this are a “light” chicken liver pâté or “light” fruit cake. It does not mean that the product has fewer calories than an equivalent, non-light, product.

Savvy tip: ignore the “light” claim and instead check the nutritional breakdown per 100g and per serving.

Low fat

The legal definition of “low fat” is that the product in question contains less than 3g of fat per 100g. However, low fat spreads have their own rules and to count as “low fat” the product must contain less than 40g of fat per 100g.

Savvy tip: there is no such thing as a spread that is truly low in fat. Personally, I much prefer to use a small quantity of real butter which gives you all the delicious taste but none of the chemicals added to margarine.


Peach “flavour” yoghurt is yoghurt that gets its taste from artificial peach flavours. A peach “flavoured” yoghurt however must have most of its taste coming from the real thing. A cheaper, healthier and often tastier option is to mix some real fresh or dried fruit through some naturally low fat plain yoghurt.

Savvy tip: to cut down on artificial flavourings, avoid products that use the word “flavour”.


Emotive words are used to persuade us to buy a product but they actually mean very little. Examples of this are “farm fresh”, “country style” and “ocean fresh”.

Savvy tip: don’t be persuaded by the marketing hype and check the nutritional information on the pack.

For more information on healthy eating and how to make dinner time easier and more delicious, go to www.savvycook.co.uk .

What’s cooking next week?


Fish fillets baked with a spicy tomato sauce, butternut squash and basmati rice

A healthier interpretation of a West African dish; orginally created as a nutritious alternative to appeal to Chelsea Football Club’s West African 1st team players. Now a favourite with non-athletes too!


Moroccan spiced turkey with carrots, chickpeas and bulghur wheat


Baked pancakes with spinach, chestnut mushrooms and Gruyere, served with balsamic roast tomatoes

A great warming dish! Gruyere, like other dairy foods, is a valuable source of calcium – a mineral essential for healthy bones and strong teeth. Spinach provides good amounts of several antioxidants including vitamins C and E. It also contains substantial amounts of B vitamins, including folate, niacin and B6.


Rose harissa baked salmon with Persian spiced pilaff, green beans and minted yoghurt

Salmon is an oily fish and can therefore be particularly beneficial to health as it provides omega-3 fatty acids: benefits include protection against heart and circulation problems. Basmati rice has a low GI (glycaemic index) score which means the energy is released slowly into the bloodstream, helping to keep blood sugar levels even and preventing feelings of hunger and energy dips.


Chianti baked Aberdeen Angus meatballs with penne and rocket & Parmesan salad

Lean beef is a great source of easily absorbed iron. Iron is needed to keep blood healthy and oxygenated and to prevent iron-deficiency anaemia. Tinned tomatoes are an excellent source of an anti-oxidant called lycopene. Cooking the tomatoes means that the lycopene is released from the tomato cells and more easily absorbed. Lycopene can help protect against eye disease and cancer.

Bon appetit!