Healthy Balanced Eating – A Simple Checklist

Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating

It’s been rather a long time since my last post, so I thought I’d start again with some advice on how to eat healthily rather than a recipe.

Inspired by rather a good book that I was given to read this summer on healthy eating (Food & Healing by Annemarie Colbin) here’s a quick checklist on how to cook/eat to support your health…

1. WHOLE: As nature proves them, with all their edible parts (grains with their bran and germ, apples with their skin), cooked or raw vegetables and fruits rather than juices or vitamin pills. Whole foods supply all of nature’s nutrients in a team, as well as providing us with the life energy of the food.

2. FRESH, NATURAL, REAL, ORGANICALLY GROWN: Not canned, not frozen, certainly not irradiated or genetically engineered; free of chemical additives, colourings, preservatives. The foods we choose should be the real thing, full of their life energy, not imitations (like margarine or artificial sweeteners), which invariably turn out to have some health-damaging effect. Organically grown foods not only have been shown to be higher in nutrients but also taste far superior to the commercial kind.

3. SEASONAL: To be in harmony with our environment, it is a good idea to choose summery foods in the summer, wintery foods n the winter. Fruits and vegetables in season are cheaper and do not lose nutrients like foods that have been transported long distances (not to mention the lower carbon footprint of less transport). They also taste better.

4. LOCAL: Local produce tastes better, costs less and is more nutritious because it is picked riper.

5. TRADITIONAL: We should pay attention to what our ancestors ate and incorporate those foods into our modern diet whenever possible. If our ancestors ate it then it will be more appropriate for us i.e. oats and barley from the UK, rye and wheat from Europe, millet and rice from Asia etc

6. BALANCED: It is important to make sure there is enough protein, carbohydrates, fat and micronutrients in our diet as a whole. For sensory and aesthetic satisfaction, we also need to include foods with a variety of flavours, colours and textures.

7. DELICIOUS: There is no point in eating ‘healthy’ food if it doesn’t taste good!

learn to enjoy YOUR OWN food!!!

Very interesting talk on food, home cooking, and the corporate ways of feeding/duping us.

ps, apologies for the lack of posts recently, I have been moving house, in storage and sofa surfing for a couple of months!  Will post more very soon when I, at long last, am in my new pad :-)   xx

Bean Cooking Times


Beans are a great addition to any well-balanced diet, they are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber but if you wish to avoid a swollen tummy and bottom burps you will need to prepare, soak and know your cooking times.

So to give you a helping hand I have prepared this little guide…..

CLEAN YOUR BEANS – give them a good wash, picking out any discoloured beans, debri or dirt.
SOAK YOUR BEANS – IN PLENTY OF WATER – for most beans this will need to be an overnight affair, even longer if you have large or old beans.  I like to soak chickpeas for a minimum of 24 hours, changing the water a couple of times.  In general your beans will need enough time to soak up the water and swell in size. Place a stick of dried Kombu (seaweed) in the soaking water with the beans, this will help to reduce gas.  Discard soaking water when beans are ready to cook.
COOK YOUR BEANS WELL – using fresh water, add the beans and Kombu to a saucepan with a lid or better still a pressure cooker.  Cover beans with water using a 1:3 ratio (3 being the water) do not add any salt at this stage, this can harden the shell and make them difficult to cook and digest.  Scrape of any foam before the beans come to boil.  Once boiling and foam free cover and simmer on a low heat (I have heard that some people discarding this water and then starting the cooking process again, I don’t, but you may want to try this if you have trouble with gas).
TEST YOUR BEANS – always good to test before you turn them into something yummy. The beans are cooked well when you can easily crush the bean against the roof of your mouth using your tongue (wait for the tester bean to cool before putting it in your mouth).  When the beans are ready I like to cook for a few more minutes using a little salt for flavour and a little apple cider vinegar to aid digestion.
CHEW YOUR BEANS – chewing your beans until they are like a watery paste is the most sensible way to eat them.  Your saliva contains enzymes that are going to begin the digestion process before they even hit your belly! If you are new to beans, start with the smaller variety which are easier to cook and a little less gassy.  Don’t eat too many,  beans are incredibly yummy and satisfying but they are also rich and heavy.  Too many beans can make you feel sluggish, find out what is right for you.

Rough guide on cooking times for some popular beans – always wise to leave some extra time incase they need a little longer.  Remember this is a rough guide, your cooking time will depend on variety, age, hard water etc.  Always check the packet.

BEAN                            SOAK                              COOK                           PRESSURE COOK
Aduki beans                 none – 3 hours                45-50 mins                    15-20 mins
Mung beans                 3 hours – overnight         1-1½ hours                   10-15 mins
Chickpeas                   overnight -24 hours         1½-2½hours                 1-1½ hours
Pinto beans                  overnight                         1-1½ hours                   10-15 mins
Black (turtle) beans     overnight                          45-60 mins                    15-20 mins
Lentils                           none                               15-45 mins (depending on variatey)