Monday 10 January 2011

Root Vegetable Rosti

"The secret to maintaining a healthy mind and body is to forget the word "dieting" and think instead of introducing some balance and variety into every aspect of life." 

This quote is from "Mind Mood Foods" by Hazel Courteney and Kathryn Marsden. It's a book that has been around for a while, published in 1998, but it's message is just as relevant today, probably more so.  Mood swings, constant tiredness and inability to concentrate are all symptoms that are commonplace today and they can all be caused by what we eat.  Cutting down on sugar, caffeine, processed foods and animal products can transform our well-being, not only feeding our bodies but helping to lift our spirits and calm our mind too.

What I like about this particular quote is that it highlights the fact that it's important to feed our whole self, not just our stomachs!   Everything we do each day, our work, hobbies, interactions with others, etc. impacts how we feel.  The health of our mind depends totally on the quality of our thinking. The health of our bodies does too. When we're fulfilled and happy in our lives, our bodies respond to those good feelings.  When we're bored and frustrated, our bodies feel it too and no amount of good food can make up for that.  When food is just an escape, a quick-fix to get us through the day, our bodies are forced to cope and they usually do, for a while.  In the long-run though, it's about finding "balance and variety,"  that vital combination of good food, good thinking, good living that ultimately creates a healthy mind and body.

I have to admit the book concentrates on nutritional values a little too much for me.  Worrying about vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and proteins has never been a priority for me.  I like to keep things simple and I know my body well enough by now. It works best on a daily supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, taken regularly through the day, with occasional fish, rice and pasta,  a minimum of sugar, very few processed foods and no meat or animal produce.  This has worked fine for me for the past thirty years and couldn't be easier!

Eating lots of freshly cooked vegetables need never be boring if you make your plate look appetising, taking into account colour, texture and flavour.  Here's a lovely vegetable recipe from "Mind Mood Foods" (with a few added comments of my own!) that I've enjoyed and I hope you do too. I've always loved potato rosti and this one contains parsnips and carrots too which add both colour and flavour.  You can use sweet potatoes instead of ordinary ones or swede instead of carrot. Also it's easy to reduce the quantities if you're only cooking for one or two. 

Ingredients              Serves four

225g (8oz) medium-sized potatoes, peeled
2 medium carrots, washed
2 small or 1 large parsnip, peeled
2 tbsp fresh chopped chives or parsley
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped (or 2 shallots)


Cut the potatoes into quarters if large.  Cut the parsnips in quarters lengthwise and remove the woody centres. Slice the carrots  in half lengthwise. 

Place in a large saucepan of lightly salted water and boil for for 6 minutes.  Drain well.  When cool enough to handle, grate the parboiled vegetables into a bowl (or use the grater attachment on your food processor).  Stir in the chopped parsley and seasoning.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add the chopped onion and cook for a few minutes until golden.  Add the vegetable mixture, stir briefly to mix, then form into a large cake the size of the frying pan, pressing down gently with a fork.  Fry over a medium heat until golden brown underneath.

Carefully turn the cake over. I find the best way is to slide it out onto a large dinner plate,  then holding the sides of the plate firmly,  flip it over as you return it the pan.   This needs to be done quickly with a certain amount of precision!

Fry until the under side is browned and crisp too.   Cut into wedges and serve with  freshly cooked vegetables, such as green beans and baby spinach leaves.

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