The house is so busy right now in the run up to Christmas. The tree is already decorated – at least two weeks earlier than I normally put it up, but I couldn’t hold out any longer from the onslaught of requests to get “ in the Christmas spirit.” So tree up, Christmas presents bought, (well nearly all) and wrapped. One main topic of conversation is “what are you going to be eating for Christmas dinner.” Vegetables of course! There are those among us who do still eat meat and dairy so they will be catered for. Hopefully, there will be a few of us to share the chore of cooking the big meal and preparation is key. I will do as much in advance as I possibly can so it doesn’t become a huge chore. Vegetables have always been the star of the show anyway as I never was a big meat eater although I did enjoy pigs in blankets and Yorkshire puddings! I’ll be preparing some plant-based dishes and they will either be eaten or not – if not, no harm done it can be frozen or chilled – nothing will go to waste and I’ll have dishes I can use throughout the following few days.
Still playing Monopoly (other board games are available). A grandson bought a different version, its larger, where the original game has 3 and sometimes 2 properties in a set, this game has 4 and 3. As well as houses and hotels, it has skyscrapers and depots (specifically for train stations). Another addition – Bus Stop cards and 2 Bus Stop squares on the board – giving you the opportunity, when you land on it, to move to any space on the side of the board you are currently on. I have to say, in our family, there are some interesting interpretation of the rules…that’s all I’m saying!
Continuing the alphabet theme, looking at the nutritional values and health benefits of fruit and vegetables – F is for:
Fennel: information taken from http://www.whfoods.com
Fennel is crunchy and slightly sweet. Composed of a white or pale green bulb from which closely superimposed stalks are arranged. The stalks are topped with feathery green leaves near which flowers grow and produce fennel seeds. The bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds are all edible. Fennel belongs to the Umbellifereae family and is therefore closely related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander. Fennel has a licorice-like flavour.
Nutrition facts -one raw fennel bulb (234grams approx) contains: information taken from – medicalnewstoday.com
- 73 calories
- 0.47g of fat
- 2.9g protein
- 17g carbohydrate
- 7.3g dietary fibre
- No cholesterol
- 360mg potassium
- 43mg calcium
- 10.4mg vitamin C
- 0.64mg iron
- 0.041mg vitamin B-6
- 15mg magnesium
Benefits of eating fennel:
- Bone health – builds and maintains bone structure and strength.
- Blood pressure – the potassium in fennel (helping to meet the daily 4,700 mg recommended amount) plays a role in vasodilation, the dilation and contraction of blood vessels.
- Heart health – the fibre, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B-6 and phytonutrients content in fennel, coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all support heart health.
- Cancer – Selenium is a mineral found in fennel but not most other fruits and vegetables. It contributes to liver enzyme function and helps detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body. Selenium can also prevent inflammation and decrease tumour growth rates. Fibre intake from fruits and vegetables like fennel are associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer.
- Immunity – the selenium found in fennel appears to stimulate production of killer T-cells. This suggests it camps improve the immune response to infection.
- Inflammation – Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient in fennel that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. It also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and contributes to reducing chronic inflammation.
- Metabolism – Fennel is a source of vitamin B-6 which plays a vital role in energy metabolism by breaking down carbohydrates and proteins into glucose and amino acids. These smaller compounds are more easily used for energy within the body.
- Digestion and regularity – the fibre content in fennel helps to prevent constipation and promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
- Weight management and satiety – dietary fibre is an important factor in weight management and works as a “bulking agent” in the digestive system. It increases satiety and reduces appetite, making us feel fuller for longer.
My second choice is a fruit
Fig – Nutrition (one small 40-gram) taken from http://www.healthline.com
- Calories: 30
- Carbs: 8 grams
- Fibre: 1 gram
- Copper: 3% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Magnesium: 2% of DV
- Potassium: 2% of DV
- Riboflavin: 2% of DV
- Thiamine: 2% of DV
- Vitamin B6: 3% of DV
- Vitamin K: 2% of DV
Fresh figs contain some calories from natural sugar, but having a few fresh figs is a reasonable low calorie snack or addition to a meal. On the other hand, dried figs are high in sugar and rich in calories, as the sugar becomes concentrated when the fruits are dried.
- Promotes digestive health.
- May improve vascular and heart health.
- May help manage blood sugar levels.
- Potential anti cancer properties.
- May promote healthy skin.
I have never eaten a fresh fig but I will definitely be including them in my diet from now on. I did used to enjoy fig biscuits dunked in coffee – but that’s in the past!
The what shall I eat dilemma:
This afternoon I found myself once again in the position of wondering what to eat and having nothing prepared in the fridge or freezer so turned to my go-to option – a throw together veggie stir fry, using in the main, frozen veg from the freezer. Diced an onion and sautéed with a little water in a pan on a medium heat for a few minutes until tender. Added a tablespoon of minced garlic and cooked for a further minute. I had 2 red peppers in the fridge that I’d forgotten were there so finely sliced them and added to the pan. From the freezer I added broccoli, sprouts, chopped leaks and green beans. Placed a lid on top of the pan and continued to cook on a medium heat. In the meantime I’d found some mushrooms, sliced them and added to the pan. Didn’t need to add any more liquid because the frozen veg took care of that. I had already decided to add rice and a look in the cupboard revealed a microwaveable pack of whole grain rice. 2 minutes later that went in the pan along with some soy sauce, maple syrup, water and a teaspoon of cornflour whisked together. Then I remembered I’d bought some frozen quorn pieces so put them in the pan and left this to cook on medium heat for a further 10 minutes. The result was a delicious, very simple and easy to make dish. I would say temptation had been avoided at this point but in reality, even though my food preparation had been lacking this week, any thoughts of grabbing something “off plan” is a fleeting thought these days.
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