Italian Polenta and Quinoa “Polenta”

Serves 2-3 as a main
(No gluten, dairy, legumes, egg, or nightshades)

Polenta is the Italian word for coarse cornmeal and also the dishes made from it. This is made with maize, which grows like corn on the cob, but is chosen for its starchiness – rather than sweet eating properties – and mostly ground into flour. Traditionally, yellow maize is seasoned and cooked in stock like a savoury porridge. It is then served as a side dish similar to a vegetable mash.

Or the porridge is poured into an oiled square or round dish and chilled until firm. Immaculate golden slices can then be sliced and baked or fried, forming a satisfyingly crisp, toast-like crust with tender interior. These are consistently popular. Some restaurants slice polenta into baton shapes and serve them like chips. Read more

Quinoa ‘Risotto’ and Quinoa Pilaf

Serves 3

No gluten, dairy, nightshades or legumes

Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’) is a seed from Peru. It is high in protein and fibre while low in starch; a good source of manganese, magnesium, folate, flavonoids, some Omega 3 and other anti-inflammatory factors. It has a mild nutty taste; resembles and is used like a grain such as rice. Many people who are grain-sensitive (often to the gluten-containing grains) can do well on quinoa as it is not a member of the grass family. Whole quinoa (looks like bird seed) and flaked quinoa (resembles rolled oats) are in most supermarkets.

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Smoky Eggplant Cashew Dip

Makes 2 cups
(No gluten, dairy, legumes*, cane sugar; with options for nightshades*)

Food advice can have fashions that may not be related to wisdom. For too long elegant, sleek eggplant has been subjected to the abuse of being peeled (and lose that colour-related beauty and antioxidants – shame!) and its flesh then salted (not necessary unless old and bitter – sigh). This vegetable is popular throughout the Mediterranean and Asia. There are thin ones, bulbous, tiny, hefty, purple and green varieties. A constant though is to buy one that is firm and sleek without the wrinkles that come to most with age.

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Vegan Mexican ‘Queso’ Sauce

For nachos, tacos, lasagne, pasta, legumes, veg, fish or chicken
Makes 1½ cups
(Vegan; no gluten, dairy, tomato, soy or other legumes)

The original Mexican queso sauce (KAY-zo: meaning cheese) and the American versions are basically cooked or raw vegetables (usually tomato, onion and chilli) mixed with melted cheese and served warm. Traditionally this is poured over nachos, used as a filling for tacos or warm tortillas, or used as a dip. Some US recipes use almost 1 kilo of cheese – mostly processed!

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Fast Fab Ways with Fish and Seafood

(No gluten, dairy and with options for most diets)

Squillions of possibilities follow from a few core concepts. There is a specific recipe (one of my favourites) and then a range of easy ideas.

Fish is an excellent source of Protein, Zinc, iodine, selenium, Magnesium, Calcium (see related articles under website TIPS), many B vitamins and a good source of iron. Iodine and selenium are low in New Zealand soils so fish and seaweed are critical sources. The darker, oilier types of fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are high in the anti-inflammatory brain food Omega 3 fatty acids (TIPS: The Fats of Life). These are also critical to heart and arterial health. See the HEALTH STORE page for my report: The Heart of the Matter for how to treat and prevent cardiovascular problems.

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Personalised Pizza

(With options for every diet)

Can’t eat gluten, bread, yeast or starch? No cheese? No tomatoes? No problem!

Sometimes your body needs extra care around food choices. You can ignore it; complain about it; or you can be resourceful. As a recent update on the ‘make lemonade’ aphorism advises, “If life hands you lemons, give them back and ask for chocolate”. There are usually innovative options to most predicaments. Diets aren’t limited so much as attitudes are. Read more

Coleslaw with Tahini Dressing

(Vegan: no gluten, dairy, cane sugar, egg or nightshades)

When I arrived in New Zealand in 1973, coleslaw was an exotic newcomer. As if mandated by legislation there was only one other existing salad. This consisted of iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, with optional tinned beetroot or hard boiled eggs, and a thick dressing made from sweetened condensed milk.

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Asian Cashew Combo

Hot Veg Combo, Salad or Main – serves 4
(No gluten, dairy or cane sugar; with options for soy and potato)

This is a substantial side dish with mild but evocative Asian flavours. It can readily achieve status as a main. Four tasty versions follow. The colourful Sauce/Dressing can also bring instant pizzazz when tossed with or draped over Asian noodles or steamed fish.

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