ME and Ophelia

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

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Manuka Honey Dijon Salad Dressing

Right now my housekeeper is making a Summer Leaf Salad with honey and mustard dressing: fresh raw spinach, bunch of watercress, Romaine lettuce, organic cooked beetroot diced, boiled eggs quartered, smoked streaky bacon bits fried with garlic til crunchy. That covers my daily diet of five fresh vegetables (par boiled broccoli florets have been added).

Two dinner plates of the salad will be set out for today's lunch and dinner, drizzled with honey and mustard salad dressing. The rest of the salad is stored, for tomorrow, in a lidded salad spinner outside in the cool because a few days after groceries arrive, there is not enough room in the fridge. In storage boxes, in the fridge, are the bacon pieces, cubed beetroot and brocolli florets.

Tomorrow, for lunch and dinner, I'll serve up two plates and drizzle the dressing. In time to come, I'll have menus planned that will give a two-day salad a twist on day two, ie: serving chicken strips, cooked Chinese style, instead of the bacon pieces. And I'll eat two portions of rhubarb crumble with raspberry and yoghurt topping. By my side here are two bowls of red and green grapes, plus a sealed box of shelled mixed nuts. So, that neatly covers - over two days - my daily programme of eating five times a day (almost every two hours) five vegs and four fruits. It has all taken my housekeeper one hour to prepare, including tidying the kitchen, washing up from yesterday and today, folding away clean laundry and bringing in the mail.

Summer Lead Salad is usually made with 200g trimmed cooked green beans. Grocer had none in stock, so I've substituted with fresh spinach. Also today, used red lettuce instead of Romaine.

Yesterday, my fortnightly grocery delivery arrived with a large jar of Comvita Active Manuka Honey. It's sourced from New Zealand's remote pollution-free forests and is world renowned for its unique properties. Special techniques are used to preserve Manuka Honey's exceptional health-giving activity ensuring that one receives the product in it's raw state just as nature intended.

GBP 10 per jar seems costly but it contains 500g/1.1lb and considering what those beautiful hardworking bees put in, and all their flying around, it seems worth every penny.

Over the years, I've collected well over 50 cookery books. Couldn't find a recipe for mustard and honey dressing, so looked it up on the net. Found this useful site for Honey Dijon Mustard Recipes and Honey Dijon Salad Dressing Recipes.

Enjoyed the ambiance. Soothing music. The view is almost identical to what me and ophelia see in front of us, hour after hour, day after day...
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Here is a copy of today's recipe test. I don't drink milk, so I'll update the changes I've made and proportions. Ingredients:

2 tablespoons distilled vinegar
2 tablespoons grated onion
1/2 cup clover (or other mild) honey
6 tablespoons medium brown mustard (such as Gulden's), or coarse Dijon mustard
3/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise (1 fat gram per tablespoon)
2/3 cup low-fat (1 1/2-percent) buttermilk

Preparation: In a medium glass or ceramic mixing bowl whisk together all ingredients, cover and chill at least one-half hour. Makes 2 1/2 cups.
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Update - A Honey of a Dressing Cuts the Mustard:

The finished honey mustard dressing has a nice bite and is very drizzable. Like the creator of this recipe, I believe there are few great-tasting commercial honey mustard dressings. Many are too sweet and few have enough mustard bite. That's why I too have created my own. Mine also has a bonus; it is low in fat and calories, and is easy and quick to prepare:

Using four clean tablespoons - and one teaspoon - here are the ingredients I put into a small glass jar with a lid:

2 tablespoons organic white wine vinegar (or organic cider vinegar)
2 tablespoons Manuka Honey (very level - or less)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (very level - or less)
2 tablespoons organic mayonnaise (rounded not heaped)

Shut lid. Shake. Open lid. Stir with a teaspoon. Shut lid. Shake. Voila. Done. Great consistency. No need for the buttermilk or grating of onion. These proportions could make at least four good servings.

Jar fits nicely in the door of the fridge. Because I did not use milk, it'll probably last for as long as mayonnaise usually does. Next time, I'll try doubling the proportions.

I'm very pleased with this innovation. The consistency of the mix is a great basis for experimenting further with proportions. I'll tweak and test it as a dressing for Caesars Salad. Next time I'll add 1-2 cloves crushed garlic. There was no need for salt or pepper. And no fiddling around with dried mustard, herbs and olive oil.

Dessert of Hot Rhubarb Crumble (4-6 servings) - topped with fresh raspberries mixed in thick creamy organic yoghurt and Manuka Honey:

Heat oven on high (as per roasting a chicken).
Wash and chop 2lbs of raw rhubarb - into inch pieces - and place in ungreased baking dish.
Put 8oz brown flour, 4 oz soft brown sugar, 3 oz butter into food processer and whizz with chopping blade for 30-60 seconds. (Note I used gluten-free brown flour).
Pour mix evenly over rhubarb. Place it into oven for 30 - 40 minutes according to taste.
Portions freeze well on plastic boxes or tinfoil. Can be eaten frozen like an ice cream -- don't laugh! one gets desperate at times for some instant sweet - and quite frankly, on a hot day, anything will do :-)

Fresh raspberries in thick organic yoghurt mixed with Manuka honey

Dollop 4-6 servings of thick creamy organic yoghurt into a shallow plastic box with lid.
Mix in one tablespoon of Manuka Honey.
Add one punnet of washed raspberries.
Store in fridge.

This acts as a dessert by itself (raspberries can be substituted with sliced banana - sprinkled with chopped nuts if desired) but because my special diet includes 4 pieces of fruit a day, I use this mix as a topping for the hot rhubarb crumble that I eat for a dessert at lunch and dinner. Heat up a bowl of rhubarb crumble in microwave for 1-2 minutes before topping with the yoghurt and raspberries.

A note and hello to any real cooks out there re above recipes: I've reduced the amount of detail one has to remember, plus the time, energy, standing, lifting, moving, chopping, cleaning etc., that is normally expended on preparing such dishes. Over the past few years, I've experimented with many recipes and grocery orders - and cut lots of corners - in order to try and maintain the style of eating that I was accustomed to before becoming ill. Groceries need to be planned two weeks in advance. Recipes are restricted to certain ingredients that store well up to two weeks at a time.

The end results are not chef's standard and many ingredients I use may appear expensive but I use food as a way of trying to recover my health. Many M.E. patients use costly pills, medicines and alternative therapies - and frozen/processed foods which are actually more dear. I take no medications or herbal remedies, not even painkillers. I use natural fresh organic non-processed food, liquid and herbs as my medicine.

Note for anyone interested in eating only fresh produce. My weekly grocery bill - and I eat organic fruit and veg and fresh meat, poultry and fish - for everything including herbs, olive oil, spices etc., roughly evens out to GBP 35 per week. That amounts to GBP 5 per day for great food. I *shudder* to imagine the checkouts at supermarkets where people fill their trolley with crisps, fizzy drinks and things in tins and packets that came from goodness knows where. I enjoy knowing exactly what I am eating and from where it originated.

If a war broke out and the supermakets no longer received processed food and packaged goods, I wonder how many people these days would know how to manage on a restricted budget. Domestic science in schools is an important subject. Like swimming is too. Every adult needs to know how to cook from scratch using basic nutritious ingredients. And how to swim. Survival could depend on it.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 3/31/2004
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