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Food as Medicine

Alexandra Tylee01 August 2018

BB42

Three simple recipes to make you feel better this winter.

As a cook and restaurant owner I am naturally very interested in the healing ability of different foods. One of the things that constantly draws me to the kitchen and keeps me there is the fresh produce. And while when I first started cooking I was more interested in food’s ability to nurture and sustain, over time the ability of food to heal has become a huge interest and priority.

The idea of food being able to prevent illness and heal is of course nothing new. Hippocrates (460-370BC) was the first person to introduce the idea that illness was caused by something other than a disgruntled god punishing people for something they had or had not done. He suggested that in fact what you ate played a big part in the health of your body and mind. This must have been very empowering for people at the time, suddenly there was the possibility that they could have some control over at least their health. 

The more I learn about the healing properties of food, the more empowered I feel also. And I am reminded that all those recipes ringing in our ears that our great grand people used, are real, true, and very powerful. 

So while we can all get very excited about each new superfood as they come back to popular culture – having been buried under piles of pills for centuries – it is important not to underestimate the power of the common remedies that roll off people’s tongues every time you present with the tiniest of symptoms. For instance, drinking a lemon, honey, and ginger drink (with maybe a little thyme) when you get the slightest sniffle is a wonderful idea. But better still, have one every day as a preventative.

While we might dream of being able to spend all day in the kitchen brewing and fermenting, activating and dehydrating, it is just not going to happen this week. So I am giving you some recipes that are very quick and very, very good for you, and can be prepared ahead.

Turmeric Tonic

Makes 4-5 cups

Tumeric is not something my family would have used a lot but it has been a huge part of the Indian diet for centuries and is used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine and diets. You can play around with the measurements below adding more honey or less ginger etc, but the stronger the better. 

For the paste:

4 tablespoons fresh ginger grated finely

2 tablespoons powdered turmeric or 4 tablespoons fresh finely grated turmeric

Skin of 1 large lemon, finely grated

4 tablespoons of runny honey

Pinch of ground black pepper

To serve:

1 cup boiling water per person

In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients together making a paste. Next fill a mug with freshly boiled water, wait for a minute, then add 1 tablespoon of the paste and stir to dissolve. I like the texture of the grated turmeric and ginger in the tonic, but if you prefer a smooth drink you can blend it in a food processor. The paste is also very good spread on toast, and will keep in the fridge for a month, covered.

Miso, Shiitake and Seaweed Soup

Serves 2

Ingredients:

4 cups of water, filtered, unchlorinated 

4 medium-sized shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced

20 grams dried wakame seaweed

½ cup miso paste

3 teaspoons soy sauce

In a large pot bring the water to the boil, add the mushrooms and simmer gently for 5 minutes until the mushrooms are soft. While the mushrooms are cooking, rehydrate the dried seaweed by soaking in warm water for a few minutes. Next drain the seaweed, slice into half centimetre strips, and add it to the soup. 

Mix the miso and soy sauce together in a bowl, then add the mix to the soup. Simmer for another two minutes, check seasoning and serve.

If you want to vary the recipe next time, you could gently sautée some leeks or shallots and ginger in the pot at the very beginning before adding the water. Also it does rather lend itself to a sprinkling of spring onions, tiny bits of tofu, and maybe some toasted sunflower seeds for crunch. 

Garlic Soup

Serves 3-4

For the soup:

2 litres of free-range or organic chicken stock

400g potatoes, peeled and chopped into smallish pieces 

200g whole peeled garlic cloves

Flakey salt to taste

Good grind of black pepper

To serve:

Loaf of good European-style bread

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves whole peeled garlic

Parmesan cheese to grate

To make the soup:

Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan, then add the potato and garlic and cook for 15-20 minutes until completely soft. Now put this mix into a blender and whizz untilsmooth, do this in batches if you need to. Season with salt and pepper, how much really depends on how salty your chicken stock is.

To serve:

Set oven to 180°C. Cut the bread into chunky slices, allowing a couple of slices per person. Brush the slices with oil on both sides and put in the oven until golden brown and toasted. When the bread slices are done take them out and rub both sides with some raw garlic. Now put a slice of toast into the bottom of each bowl, pouring hot soup over to serve.

If you like cheese, now would be a good time to grate some Parmesan of even Grùyere on top of your soup.

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Alexandra Tylee01 August 2018

BB42

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