Mushroom Bruschetta

mushroom-bruschetta-recipe

This is a quick and delicious recipe which you can enjoy as a starter, or have as a main dish, with a salad, rice or roasted sweet potato wedges accompanying it.

Portobello mushrooms have such a great texture, and when you remove the central stem they are just made to be filled! An excellent alternative indeed to the traditional toasted slices of ciabatta bread.

The filling is based on the classic 4-ingredient-bruschetta: tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and basil.
I prepared my version as a main meal and wanted a little more interest hence I added some red onion, black olives and feta.  All a matter of taste.

There are loads of different takes on this traditional recipe: added balsamic vinegar, rocket leaves, Tuscan beans, lemon, shallots…and lots more.
Personally I loved the filling without vinegar as it let the basil, garlic and tomatoes really show off their flavours.

Serve the bruschetta at room temperature – or if you prefer a warm meal, heat the filled mushroom briefly in the oven before serving.
Serves 4

4 Portobello mushrooms
4 tomatoes, diced
4 crushed garlic cloves
1 large red onion, finely chopped
12 basil leaves – more if you like!
12 black, stoned olives, chopped (optional)
Feta cheese (optional; crumbled on top just before serving)
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:

Mix the tomatoes, garlic, onion, olives, torn basil leaves, salt and ground pepper in a bowl and let rest at room temperature whilst you prepare and bake the mushrooms (about 30 minutes).

Lightly clean or brush the outside of the mushrooms to get rid of any dirt. Place in a 150 degree oven, face down (mushroom dome up!) and coat well with olive oil. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and fill with the tomato mixture. Either serve straight away with a crumbled feta topping, or if you prefer your bruschetta warmed up, place the filled mushroom back into the hot oven for 5 minutes. Remove then add a few more fresh shredded basil leaves and the crumbled feta before serving.

Environmental toxins – reducing exposure

 

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Eat organic where possible – especially when it comes to meats, eggs, dairy produce and grains.  Whatever you do, wash all food well before eating or cooking.
Check out the appleaday facebook post from a couple of days ago, regarding the Environmental Working Group’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ ;  or google ‘Dirty Dozen’ and find out which foods you should really buy organic due to their very high toxic load.

Avoid processed foods, especially those with added colourings, sweeteners and flavourings… I realize most of you are well aware of this however it’s a useful reminder for all to check labels of any canned or bottled foods in the house.  And in this context of ‘clean living’, it simply must be mentioned J

Be aware of the water you’re drinking.  Possible contaminants include small amounts of pharmaceuticals, hormones, nitrates, lead….  Filter your water.  Take a look at multi-stage carbon filters or reverse osmosis filters

Reduce intake of soft-plastic-container bottled water.  Chemicals from the plastics often leach into the water – try glass bottles, or fill up a hard plastic drinking container with your home filtered water.

Avoid sipping your takeaway hot drink through the plastic lid.  And avoid using plastics in the microwave – ensure that any plastic containers you use for storage are free from bisphenol A (‘plastic’ blog will soon appear…)

Replace any Teflon cook and bake ware with uncoated glass, clay, stone or enamel versions

Minimise the use of cling wraps and aluminium foil.  A quick solution for storing left overs, but keep hard plastic storage boxes, and if you do use cling film try to avoid contact with the food it is covering in the bowl.  Best choice is to use glass or hard bisphenol A-free containers.
When baking use an oven container with a lid, or wrap the fish or chicken in baking paper or parchment paper instead of aluminium foil – works a treat.  Some origami in the kitchen, making a slightly loose parcel (ends however firmly closed to ensure no leakage)  and then using a wooden ‘skewer’ to keep it packed.

Avoid eating larger oily fish eg swordfish, tuna, marlin and shark, due to their higher levels of mercury and chemical pollutants compared to smaller fish.  The larger and older the fish, the more toxins they will have accumulated over the years.
Think ‘small fish with big eyes’, a teacher once told me as they live at greater depths (where one hopes the toxins will be more dispersed); being smaller, they will have less heavy metals, plastics etc stored in their bodies.  Wild salmon is a great choice, so keep an eye on offers at supermarkets or your fish supplier – and stock up.

When cooking avoid high temperatures – you don’t want food to be ‘smoking’ and certainly don’t want to eat burnt foods.  Bar-b-qs sadly are not on the healthy list – avoid whilst on a clean-eating, detox week – and otherwise enjoy in moderation – and eat less of those crispy charred bits…

Polyunsaturated fats should not be heated as they are more volatile than heated saturated or monounsaturated fats and therefore more prone to molecular structure changes which are now considered potentially carcinogenic.

Cooking with a monounsaturated oil is usually the advice given – although this is still a hotly discussed topic, as a lot of the beneficial nutrients in, say, virgin olive oil, a monounsaturated oil, will be cooked away (my suggestion: cook with it, and add a slurp of uncooked with your salad!  Difficult for many given the cost, so again, check out offers – there’s usually a virgin olive oil on sale at our local supermarket.  Stock up!)
Coconut oil is a saturated plant fat which, when heated, will not change its molecular structure to the detriment of your health.  There are loads of testimonials about the fantastic health benefits, and I personally love the taste of anything cooked in it;  claimed to be safer than heating animal-based saturated fats like butter however, again, there are opposing opinions on this.  Some CV doctors/nurses say all saturated fats aredetrimental to arteries and heart health – then there are in vitro studies showing massive overall health benefits including improved cholesterol.  Eat in moderation is my current recommendation.

I would  welcome hearing of results of large-scale research studies, preferably in vivo, on coconut oil so do please share any information on this 🙂

Environmental considerations:

Avoid pesticides or herbicides in your home or garden

Avoid aluminium-containing antiperspirants and antacids – huge links to breast cancer.

Have second-thoughts about water proofing or flame proofing furniture coverings and clothes – you can have severe reactions.

Check out natural carpets or hardwoods instead of the standard carpeting which is treated with chemicals

Hair products and skin care:  look for those without added alcohol, sodium lauryl sulphate, phthalates, parabens or other petrochemicals – look at www.essential-care.co.uk or numerous other natural beauty product sites

Use paints labelled low or no VOC. Various finishes and paints release low-level toxic emissions into the air even years after application – these VOCs (volatile organic compounds) may have short and long-term adverse health effects

Control the dust, mould and bacteria in your home.  Wet wipe, check out home air filters or ionisers…and adopt some indoor plants!

Go natural with cleaning products – make your own (I’ll post some tips about this later as a facebook blog and sometime next week on another website blog) Green People and Ecover are very good but there are now lots of fab choices to be made.www.naturalcollection.com is good to look around

Avoid heavy traffic for long periods of time – yes of course this is NOT always easy to control, however if you can pick your time to travel, avoid work/school traffic times…and if you go for a walk,  stride across fields, parks or small lanes, rather than walking on busier roads and breathing in car fumes. Another addition to your toxic load.

Avoid smoking and smokers….apologies if this sounds trite!  Such a huge subject in a mere sentence however it is too well known to labour the point.  We all know the facts, we’ve seen the packaging change from outdoorsie Malboro man to health warning signs and plain labelling. Smoking is a highly addictive habit and hence difficult for many to just drop.  There are lots of books to google, tapes to buy.  Hypnotherapy and psychotherapy can both be fabulous.
But in the end, it’s up to the smoker ….and those in the vicinity, inhaling a smoker’s puffs!

Electromagnetic fields are shown now to affect more and more people, not just very sensitive allergic individuals.
Restrict mobile phone use (turn off inbetween – it also limits how many ‘quick’ texts you send which can actually wait until later).   Turn off other electrical equipment when not in use and certainly limit the amount of electrical equipment in the bedroom.  T.V.s may be great company but apart from the electrical aspect of sleeping in a room full of equipment (computer, phones, electric alarms…what else?), all those little red and green lights can disturb sleepzzzzzzz.

Easter cleanse

detox-easter-appleaday

For those of us who may have indulged in an Easter Chocathon,  appleaday is running a repeat of the spring clean-eating week.
This is another Detoxathon 🙂  a 5-day online event.  All about cleaner eating and healthier lifestyle choices to do as a group from 19th-23rd May (or you can join the event, get all the information, recipes, daily email health blogs for that week, but do it at a later date to suit your diary).

What’s it all about?

Five days of gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, stimulant-free foods – with new yummy recipes, and no hunger pangs.  Please note that there are two new recipes to add to the March Detoxathon, but otherwise it is the same event.

What does the Detoxathon include?  

Lead- in sheets explaining the foods to gradually decrease, and those to increase; what to stock up on, what to let go of, what lifestyle tweaks you can be making, what juicer to try out;  all sorts of useful info which will stand you in good stead for the future.

These are emailed 1-2 weeks BEFORE the event so you won’t suffer coffee headaches or alcohol-free scratchy moods.

Also included, and emailed before commencement:  a daily eating plan, delicious recipes for the week, a food shopping list to make life easy for working people…. and daily information about digestive and liver health, emailed by nutritional therapist me (Monica), with relevant questions answered at the end of each day of the 5 day cleanse.

What’s the benefit of doing a ‘group’ event?

Based on past Detoxathons, it has been a real positive being part of a group, sharing the daily thoughts on how you feel, how easy or difficult it is, what you think of the recipes and ‘new’ foods, reading about the highs and lows being experienced…

A group event also helps you to keep on track…

By the last day you can share your newly found energy and those lost pounds…and for those who didn’t do the 1-2 week lead-in… you can talk about the headache you finally got rid of.

Basically, it’s about group support when trying out something which may be totally new to some of you, but perhaps too something you’ve always wanted to try.  With a qualified nutritional  therapist playing mum!

You can of course not share, and just keep to yourself during the whole event 🙂

What does it cost?

£10 per person.  This is a ridiculously low cost born from last year’s personal wish to do a detox with friends so that I would keep on the straight and narrow and not cheat.
It was fun, but a lot of work hence the cost can only be kept low if the group is a minimum of 30.
That way, too, the comments, feedback and daily interaction will naturally be more interesting than doing it, say, with 3 others….

If the Detoxthon does not reach 30 it will be postponed 🙁 So do please share this blog if you have like-minded friends.
The more the merrier.

How do you join?

Anytime from now until 12th May, please email or write on this website’s comment sheet, or facebook ‘monicasappleaday’ and tell me you’d like to take part.
I will then email you payment details together with the lead-in sheets – and you’re away!

The food shopping list and recipes will be emailed to you well in advance so you can stock up if necessary.

The ingredients are mainly vegetable-based, hence not expensive, however if you want to continue eating fish and organic chicken, that is your choice and also fine.
A juicer is a necessary part of it, however a blender would work too.  Note:  this is NOT a juicing-only event.

No red meat, no gluten or dairy, alcohol or sugars will form part of these five days.
A great challenge which happens to be healthy.

The sooner you begin, the easier you’ll find these dietary tweaks, additions and exclusions.

And if it’s weight loss you’re after, then you will lose more lbs if you start as soon as possible, making gradual small changes (do please check out the testimonials on my events & workshops page for more insights).

If you have any questions just email me.  It’s early days but so far we are eleven 🙂

Detoxathon time again

detox-heartAppleaday is running another Detoxathon starting March 24th.    There’s still time to do the guided lead-in to prepare you for the five days of clean-eating.

This is about  discovering the nutrients which support a healthy liver and body detoxification, and about dropping some old habits which are doing your health no favours.  During the event there will be daily emails and facebook postings about specific food benefits and lifestyle tips to make your cleanse successful.

The Detoxothon is not about fasting, nor is it a juice-only ‘diet’, although juices do figure daily in the menu plan, either as snacks or as a breakfast option.

A menu plan, recipes and a shopping list are all provided to make it easier.   There will also be alternative suggestions for some of the daily meal recipes, with a check list of ‘allowable’ foods (new this time to the Detoxathon), in case you want to replace some of the ingredients to suit your palette and diet.

The lead-in sheets are sent prior to the event; they offer a greater store of information than last year’s event, namely how to track your progress using your BMI and Waist:Hip ratio as well as a symptom questionnaire and ‘journaling’;  also in the lead-in are the lists of foods to gradually reduce and increase before the event; some useful online stores to obtain some of the new ingredients as well as recommendations regarding juicers, water filters and ‘greener’ home products…lots of ideas to make the Detoxathon easy and enjoyable.

In order to keep this an affordable, community event the cost is £10 for the 5 days.  For anyone unable to do the full five days (away on holiday…or just too busy at the moment) you can still do the event, receive the emails and see the facebook  posts – but do it when you have 5 clear days.

Joining is easy.  Just email (or call on the mobile below), and I’ll send you the registration form, payment details and lead-in sheets. The menu plan for the days you’ve signed up for, plus the shopping list, can be sent soon after so that you can buy your fresh vegetables, spices and pulses!

There will be daily group emails (plus info on the appleaday facebook page), with health information relevant to a detox, which will also provide a platform for you to share experiences and ideas.

The detoxathon last year had great feedback – weight loss, increased energy levels and less dependence on the daily caffeine and sugar hits!  I’m looking forward to another inspiring group of participants.

Email:  ; mobile 0777 846 5222.  Or leave a comment showing your interest on the appleaday facebook page:  www.facebook.com/monicasappleaday.