Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ingredients

1 cup bulgur wheat
2 red bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and cored
2 yellow bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and cored
1 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for brushing
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricot, chopped
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
3 tbsp plain low-fat yogurt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  2. Place the bulgur wheat in a bowl, pour over 1¼ cups boiling water, and leave to stand for about 15 minutes.
  3. Pace the bells peppers in a shallow, lightly oil dish.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp oil in the saucepan, and fry the onion over medium heat for about 3 minutes, or until soften.
  5. Stir in bulgur wheat, hazelnuts, apricots, ginger and cardamom. Cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously.
  6. Add cilantro and yogurt, mix well and remove from heat.
  7. Stuff the filling into the pepper shells. Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Healthy Vegetarian Cooking

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Gadget: Leather Case for Chocolate and Chewing Gum

Source: Village/Vanguard Online Store

Gluten-free Food – Against the Grain

A growing desire to avoid gluten is changing the food industry.

McDonald’s is by no means the most accommodating of fast-food chains to people with special dietary requirements. Many of its restaurants in America and Britain do not even serve a meat-free burger for vegetarians. But in a week-long trial ending on October 21st, the chain’s British outlets offered a new burger whose fillings did not contain gluten, an allergen commonly found in wheat, with a view to making the new product a permanent addition to its menu.

At first, that may seem to be an odd decision. Vegetarians outnumber those who avoid gluten. But the food industry is finding that there is no longer much money to be made in making meat-free products. Sales of alternatives to meat have flattened in America in real terms since 2008; in Britain they have plunged by a third.

Consumer demand for products without gluten, however, is rising rapidly. Health-conscious Americans were first to avoid it in significant numbers. Sales of gluten-free food and drink there have surged from $5.4 billion to $8.8 billion over the past two years, according to Mintel, a market-research firm. They are set to grow a further 20% by 2015. Europe is now quickly catching up: there is double-digit sales growth in most countries, with Britain leading the way. This makes for tasty business. Sales in America of food untainted by gluten are forecast to grow by a further 61% by 2017, with similar increases expected in other rich countries.

Shops have reshuffled their shelves and restaurants rewritten their menus to keep up with demand. Big supermarkets have been slimming down their range of vegetarian products and are stocking more gluten-free lines. Even small convenience stores in remote parts of rural Ireland and Italy now stock ranges of gluten-free bread and cakes. Restaurants, in particular, have rushed to launch menus that banish the stuff. The number of options that leave out gluten in British restaurants has tripled since 2011, says Emma Read at Horizons, a data firm. That is less because restaurateurs fear losing bookings from diners who want to avoid gluten, but more that they worry that their family and friends will not come along either.

Yet some retail analysts fret that the wheat-free bubble will eventually burst, as it already has for meat substitutes. Many doctors say that only a few of the one-in-ten households that now regularly buy such products have a member with coeliac disease and a medical need to avoid gluten. But research from Monash University published last year shows that many more people may be sensitive to other allergens that are found in wheat. And according to a survey by Kantar, a research firm, only 22% of people who buy gluten-free food say they do so for non-medical reasons. This could be one foodie trend that turns out to be much more than a fad.

Source: The Economist

It’s the Time of the Year to Cook Squash

You can buy winter squash in the supermarket most of the year, but now is the time to enjoy this season’s harvest when flavours are at their best and nutrients are at their peak. While all types of squash are healthy additions to your fall menu, there is one that outshines the others when it comes to nutrient content.

The most common winter squashes you’ll find in grocery stores and farmer’s markets are butternut, acorn, hubbard and spaghetti squash. Other varieties include buttercup, kabocha, delicata, turban, sweet dumpling and sugar pumpkin. (My nutrient showdown includes butternut, acorn, hubbard and spaghetti squashes, the four varieties that have complete nutritional information.)

Winter squash delivers on the nutrition front. In general, it’s a good source of magnesium and potassium, minerals tied to healthy blood pressure. Squash also serves up folate, vitamin C and calcium. And it’s one of the top food sources of beta-carotene, a phytochemical the body changes to vitamin A. (Vitamin A supports healthy vision and immune function.) Beta-carotene also acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from free-radical damage.

If you choose the right squash, you’ll also get plenty of fibre, mainly soluble fibre, the type that helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels. In fact, one-half cup of winter squash has as much soluble fibre as one cup of lentils, one cup of barley or three-quarters of a cup of cooked oat bran. Impressive.

So which winter squash is the overall nutrient heavyweight? Acorn squash wins the match. It offers more folate, calcium, magnesium (nearly one-third of a day’s worth in one cup) and potassium than butternut, hubbard and spaghetti squash. Eat one cup of cooked acorn squash and you’ll get more potassium (896 milligrams) than if you ate two medium bananas (844 mg). Who knew? (Adults need 4,700 mg of potassium each day.)

Acorn squash is no slouch when it comes to fibre, either. One cup of cooked squash offers nine grams of fibre, putting a sizeable dent in your daily requirement. Adults, aged 19 to 50, need 38 g (men) and 25 g (women) a day; older men and women require 30 and 21 grams, respectively.

Second place goes to butternut squash, outscoring acorn, hubbard and spaghetti squash on vitamin C and beta-carotene. There is no official recommended intake for beta-carotene but experts suggest a daily intake of 3 to 6 mg helps prevent disease. One cup of cooked butternut squash supplies 9.4 mg of the antioxidant. Butternut squash is also a decent source of alpha-carotene, a cousin of beta-carotene that’s thought to guard against cancer.

Spaghetti squash had the lowest overall nutrition score. But that doesn’t mean it’s void of nutrients. And, at only 42 calories per cup, spaghetti squash is a tasty low-carbohydrate, low-calorie alternative for pasta noodles.

Acorn squash may outperform other types of squash when it comes to certain vitamins and minerals, but don’t limit yourself to eating only one type of squash this season. Mix it up to add a variety of nutrients and flavours to your meals.

Winter squash can be steamed, sautéed, grilled, microwaved or roasted (my favourite). Roasting intensifies the flavour of squash and gives you the opportunity to season it while it cooks. Subtle flavour boosts include cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, maple syrup, rosemary, cumin, smoked paprika and chipotle chili powder. (Roast for 40 to 45 minutes at 400 F, or until fork-tender. Roasted squash freezes well.)

Versatility is one of the reasons I love to eat squash this time of year. While it’s a delicious side dish eaten on its own, its sweet and nutty flavour lends itself to so many dishes. Add cubes of roasted squash to green salads, quinoa and brown-rice pilafs, black-bean burritos, chili, stews and casseroles. Blend roasted squash into soups: squash and pear, squash and apple, and squash and carrot are all delicious combos.

Add puréed cooked squash to smoothies, pasta sauces and muffin and pancake batters. Make squash fries by baking strips of winter squash tossed lightly in olive oil and seasonings. Or for a vegetarian meal, stuff half a baked squash with cooked brown rice, lentils and chopped walnuts and dried apricots; bake for an additional 15 minutes.

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Winter squash by the numbers

Nutrient values are for one cup, cooked.

Acorn

115 calories, 30 g carbohydrate, 9 g fibre, 90 mg calcium, 88 mg magnesium, 22 mg vitamin C, 39 mcg folate, 1.2 mg beta-carotene

Butternut

82 calories, 21.5 g carbohydrate, 6.6 g fibre, 84 mg calcium, 59 mg magnesium, 31 mg vitamin C, 39 mcg folate, 9.4 mg beta-carotene

Hubbard

102 calories, 22 g carbohydrate, 10 g fibre, 35 mg calcium, 45 mg magnesium, 19.5 mg vitamin C, 33 mcg folate, 7.3 mg beta-carotene

Spaghetti

42 calories, 10 g carbohydrate, 2.2 g fibre, 33 mg calcium, 17 mg magnesium, 5 mg vitamin C, 12 mcg folate, 0.09 mg beta-carotene

Source: The Globe and Mail


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