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The new 3 minutes max rule

A new New Zealand-Australian study has undertaken research to separate the facts from the old wives’ tales and provides a new ’3 minute max’ cooking guideline for steaming and stir-frying vegetables that optimises their taste and nutrition.
Steaming has very low water contact that leaves vegetables brightly coloured, crunchy and tasting great, and minimises loss of water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C.
Stir-frying includes the addition of a small amount of oil that makes fat-soluble vitamins and phytonutrients (like beta-carotene in carrots which makes vitamin A) more available to our body.
Alternatively, a good cooking option for starchy root vegetables is oven-baking, which allows the release of energy and makes fibre available to our body.

Source: veggycation.com.au

Why chillis are hot and mint is cold

Taste is the sensation produced when a substance in the mouth reacts chemically with taste receptor cells located on our tastebuds. The heat sensation in chilli peppers is caused by capsaicin, a colourless, odourless, oily chemical found in chilli peppers.

Capsaicin binds with sensory neurons which trick your body into thinking that it is experiencing excessive amounts of heat in the area that the capsaicin comes into contact with, even though no actual physical burning is taking place.

Conversely the chemical in mint, menthol, makes us think the area of skin touching the menthol is cold, by binding with cold-sensitive receptors, and tricks your brain into thinking you are feeling a cold sensation when in fact everything is more or less the same temperature as before.

For more information go to the chilli peppers page or the fresh herbs and garnishes section on mint.

Reference Dr Jocelyn Eason, NZ Herald February 16, 2015

Enjoy a delicious fresh salad with roast lamb to celebrate National Lamb Day

Sweet marjoram lamb with summer leaves

Add delicious fresh vegetables to roast lamb to celebrate National Lamb Day.

The industry hope Kiwis here and around the world will recognise this incredible feat and celebrate it by enjoying lamb for dinner on Sunday February 15, which is National Lamb Day.

This year marks the 133rd anniversary of one of the most significant milestones in New Zealand’s sheep meat industry. On this day in 1882, William Davidson and Thomas Brydone achieved the remarkable, by launching the first shipment of frozen sheep meat from Port Chalmers in Otago on the Dunedin, bound for London.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Rod Slater says this day also gives New Zealanders an opportunity to recognise the hard work of our farmers and as a nation, a reason to be proud.

“So let us here in New Zealand celebrate with some delicious New Zealand lamb,” says Mr Slater.

Sweet marjoram lamb with summer leaves includes baby cos, baby spinach, radishes and marjoram.

 

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” – the words of Michael Pollan, whose latest book Cooked- a natural history of transformation, is a ‘why cook?’ cookbook.

Many people don’t cook due to lack of time and Pollan aims to show people how interesting home cooking can be.

“Cooks get to put their hands on real stuff, not just keyboards and screens but fundamental things like plants and animals and fungi.  They get to work with primal elements, too, fire and water, earth and air, using them – mastering them! – to perform their tasty alchemies.’

In a culture of celebrity chefs and food reality shows, in countries which are crammed with fresh ingredients flown in from every corner of the Earth, we nonetheless year-on-year wade ever deeper into a great swamp of processed foods. The more we watch food on television, the less food we actually prepare and cook.

Michael Pollan’s marvellous new book is a clarion-call for the virtues and values of proper cooking – an essential, defining human activity which sits at the heart of our cultures, shapes family life and is in itself hugely enjoyable. In a series of brilliantly observed encounters with chefs from around the world, Pollan takes us on a journey through the fundamentals of cooking, uncovering the inner mysteries of everything from tiny specks of yeast to a whole hog roast.  The result is an extremely funny and surprising book that encourages us to revel in the magical activity of making food.”

Michael Pollan’s Cooked – a Natural history of Transformation is published by Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin.

Source: Penguin.com.au

Summertime is salad time!

Create your own signature salad with an array of great New Zealand grown fresh vegetables.  Whether you are making the salad a meal or an accompaniment, it’s time to get adventurous and let your culinary imagination explore some new combos.

Try these delicious and colourful combos:

- add radish and or celery leaves to salad greens

- julienne the stems of cauliflower or broccoli and add to potato salads for extra crunch

- peel strips of cucumber, carrot and fennel

- toss grated raw carrot and beetroot with some chilli sauce for a fiery red salad

- dress coleslaw with peanut oil and garnish with plenty of chopped mint

- cook extra potatoes or kumara and use them the next day as the basis of a salad

- try chilled salads like gazpacho

- stir spinach leaves through warm salads

- use a variety of raw, blanched, roasted or chargrilled vegetables

Happy salad-summer days!

 

The complete pizza oven – a new book by Alan Brown

We congratulate Chef Alan Brown on his new book – here is our review.

The Complete Pizza Oven by Alan Brown. Published by Bateman, November 2014

Alan Brown is arguably New Zealand’s most highly awarded chef tutor, holding the AUT Vice Chancellor’s Academic Excellence Award and the City & Guilds’ International medal of excellence.

He demonstrates his array of talents with food, his cookery skills, and his friends and colleagues in this comprehensive, attractive book.

After building his pizza oven 5 years ago, Alan noticed the lack of information available for pizza oven owners – this book fills the gap magnificently. There are  scrumptious recipes with great photos of pizzas, seafood, joints of meat, vegetables, desserts, bread and brunch the next day, all cooked in the pizza oven.

Immediately you look at the book, if you don’t have one already, you will want to rush out and build a pizza oven – and you can, by following the ‘How to’ instructions in this book.

However, you can use the recipes in a regular oven while you wait for the pizza oven to be finished!

Congratulations Alan, on a wonderful book – we highly recommended it.

 

New Zealand Population Health Congress

 

The inaugural New Zealand Population Health Congress was held in Auckland in late 2014. Over 600 delegates attended the Congress which was run by the New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine, the Public Health Association and the Health Promotion Forum.

The Congress delivered three days of stimulating educational sessions which provided opportunities to learn, discuss, and share knowledge and experiences in the latest advances of population health thinking and practice.

Vegetables.co.nz had a stand to showcase our range of resources. Have you visited vegetables.co.nz and checked out the resources lately?

Vegetables.co.nz Resource section

Gluten-free mania to liven up fresh food

Analyst Insight by Simone Baroke – Consulting Analyst (above)

Gluten-free eating is taking the world by storm. But it is not just all about gluten-free pasta, bread and biscuits. Exciting new opportunities are also emerging for fresh food, including starchy roots, vegetables and pulses.

The new generation of gluten-free consumers is really not that difficult to cater for as it cares less about purity, and more about choice and variety. In the past, the only people avoiding gluten were those individuals suffering from coeliac disease, an auto-immune condition in which the consumption of gluten causes the body to attack its own digestive tract. Nowadays, however, a growing number of consumers are eschewing gluten because they believe that their bodies are sensitive to this cereal protein in some way. They attribute a wide variety of persistent symptoms to gluten sensitivity.

There is also have the potential for vegetables to benefit. Weight-conscious gluten avoiders, in particular, are partial to replacing the carbohydrate part of a meal with vegetables, especially dense-textured types like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and other brassicas.

Read the full article here:

 

Use vegetable or olive oil in place of coconut oil

The New Zealand Heart Foundation is advising Kiwis to continue using unsaturated plant oils rather than switching to coconut oil as their main cooking oil.

Coconut oil has recently gained popularity as a result of heavy marketing in both the US and Australasia. There is widespread misinformation about the health benefits of coconut oil, with claims of it being a ‘superfood’.

In light of this, the NZ Heart Foundation recently commissioned Dr Laurence Eyres, New Zealand’s leading specialist in oils and fats, to prepare an academic paper called ‘Coconut Oil and the Heart’.

Dr Eyres has summarised the existing literature on coconut oil and its impact on heart health. He found nothing which disputes the fact that coconut oil raises cholesterol.

He concludes that the claims for coconut oil’s healthiness simply don’t stack up.

“Traditionally, coconut oil hasn’t been recommended because it is extremely high in saturated fat. This advice remains, despite the large number of marketing claims to the contrary.”

He says switching to coconut oil is likely to lead to less favourable lipid profiles and potential increased risk of coronary heart disease.

“Consumers who are using a lot of coconut oil due to the current fad would be well advised to either limit its use, or to blend in some unsaturated cold-pressed oil such as olive, avocado or canola oil. Although it may be a better choice than butter, coconut oil cannot be recommended as a suitable alternative to non-hydrogenated vegetable oils.”

Dr Eyres says the wide range of research often quoted to support the use of coconut oil is largely based on animal studies or interpreted from research on medium-chain triglyceride (MCTs) oils. But the triglycerides in coconut oil cannot actually be classed as MCTs, which means this research is not relevant.

Nutrition information panels now on Select a vegetable page

 

Most vegetables in the Select a vegetable section now have nutrition information panels. The nutrition information is from a New Zealand source – The Concise New Zealand Food Composition Tables 10th Edn, Plant & Food Research 2014. If no New Zealand information is available, data from Fruits & Veggies More Matters or the USDA National Nutrient Database for standard reference has been used.

These panels provide information on the average amount of energy, protein, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugars and sodium (a component of salt) in the food, as well as any other nutrients about which a nutrition claim is made. For example, if a food had a ‘good source of dietary fibre’ claim then the amount of dietary fibre in the food must be shown in the nutrition information panel. The nutrition information panel must be presented in a standard format which shows the average amount per serve and per 100g (or 100ml if liquid) of the food. For more information go to the Select a vegetable index page.

Source: FSANZ 2012

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