Monday, 14 April 2014

Flax Chapattis

Rustle up a stack of flax chapattis next time you're cooking curry!
You may remember our post on omega oils- well continuing on that theme, here's a great way to add the top plant source of omega 3s, flax (or golden linseed), to your daily fare: flax chapattis are an enriched dough that is easy to knead and roll out- and, once cooked, they seem to stay soft longer than regular chapattis.
Makes about 14:
2 cups wholemeal bread flour* (1 cup=250ml)
1 cup plain white flour*
(*or 3 cups wholemeal instead of 2:1)
2 tabs ground linseeds
a pinch of salt (optional)
water to mix

  • Mix the flours, flax and salt together in a large bowl.
  • Add enough water to form a firm (but not too dry) dough. You should be able to poke a shallow dent in it without it sticking to your finger too much.
  • Knead for a couple of minutes to get the dough smooth and springy.
  • Roll out into thin circles.
  • Cook each chapatti on a tawa (available from Asian shops) or non-stick frying pan, turning frequently. They will puff up a little.
  • Keep them warm (I wrap them in foil) until you're ready to serve them.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Omega 3s for Breakfast!

Omega3- rich porridge with yummy fruit, nuts and seeds and deliciously creamy hemp milk...

It's good to be writing a blog post again after several days off- I think our crazy busy spell may be letting up a little now (hope I didn't speak to soon there) so I'm also hoping to catch up with reading all the fantastic posts you guys have written while I've been otherwise occupied :)
We all need to get our balance of omega oils right. Omegas are essential fatty acids, and our bodies cannot make them so we have to include sources of them in our diet. Why are they essential?- Because without them our bodies would not be able to manufacture the hormones needed to regulate immune functions, blood clotting, cell growth and a host of other vital stuff. In short, omegas are both necessary for our bodies to function and for helping prevent disease (including cancer). There are three types of omega oils: 3s, 6s and 9s. Omega 9 is non essential but good because it has oleic acid, which may help reduce blood pressure (find it in olives, nuts and seeds). Without proper planning, a vegetarian diet may be lacking in Omega 3 fatty acids. Luckily, it is pretty easy to meet Omega 3 recommendations once you know the sources. Foods such as oils, nuts and seeds are very high in Omega 3. However, the problem with a lot of these foods (like walnuts and sesame) is that they are also high in the other type of essential fatty acid: Omega 6. Omega 6 oils are more readily found, but they need to be kept in balance with the omega3s for your health to benefit as too many 6s inhibit the conversion of the 3s into fatty acids. Luckily, hemp seeds contain omega 3s, 6s and 9s in perfect balance. Some of the best plant sources for omega 3s are: linseeds (aka flax), chia seeds, hemp seeds, mustard oil (if you need to cut down on omega 6s, replace olive oil with this), leafy greens, blueberries and Winter squashes.I was shocked to find this article, which claims that scientific studies have shown that people with plant-based diets could be more at risk of cardiovascular disease than they thought: While I don't endorse the opinion that all veggies/ vegans are at risk- after all, most of us have a lot of nutritional knowhow and eat well- it is true that attention is needed to getting enough omega 3s (and vitamin B12 too) in balance with the omega 6s to ensure a properly-functioning cardiovascular system. In other words, we need to get our good oils, guys. Don't be tempted to eat junk food (yes, you can easily get vegan junk food!) all the time- it's better to spend those calories on nourishing food that's going to do you good. A lot of people eschew seeds and nuts because they are calorie-dense, but they are actually vital in a plant based diet because of nutrients like omega oils, protein and minerals. (If you're concerned about calories, then up your excercise: we think it's better to consume a few more calories eating nutrient-dense foods than to limit your food intake and miss out on vital nutrients.) One way I like to get them into my diet is by keeping  four seed sprinkle in the fridge and adding it to cereals, shakes, smoothies, desserts etc. My husband likes to grind seeds and add them to soup (they give a wonderfully creamy texture) and we recently experimented by adding a couple of tabs of ground linseeds to chapatti dough (see a future post) with delicious results. We are also currently playing around with flapjack recipes which contain no added oil, just ground seeds (we'll let you know more about that one when we've done some more experiments). My husband dreamed up this delicious way of adding omega 3 to our porridge the other day:

You need:
pumpkin seeds
dried apricots
whole hemp seeds

  • Make a porridge to your preferred consistency with some water, the oats and all the other ingredients apart from the hemp seeds.
  • Make a creamy hemp milk by grinding the hemp seeds to a powder and blend with water. Use a sedds:water ratio of 1:4.
  • Stir the hemp milk into the porridge, warm it gently and enjoy a healthy start to your day!
Fun Fact: Eating seeds is not a modern trend; the 8th-century European King Charlemagne was so enthusiastic about the health benefits of linseeds that he passed a law making all his subjects eat some every day!
                        What's your favourite way of adding nuts and seeds to your diet?