Monday, 1 August 2011

You have the guts


Onions at the Sands Farm, Farham -Surrey

Last Thursday, Dianne, one of my colleagues from college, organized a trip to a family-run farm in Farham, Surrey, owned by Barry Smith and his wife Ann, who are also responsible for a product called Symprove (a probiotic that has been developed by them for 25 years). Barry and Ann were great hosts. After lunch, Barry took us for a tour on his vegetable garden and I became green with envy. He had beautiful patches of courgettes, raspberries, sweetcorn, tomatoes, potatoes, herbs and onions (which won him several awards). I was given some of those vegetables and sprigs of rosemary and couldn’t wait to make something with them.


But before we get to the delicious recipe I share with you this week, I would like to leave the kitchen for a sec, so to speak, and stray a bit into the nutritionist role.

One of the most important things I learnt while I was at college was that if we didn’t know what was really going on with our patients, we should start treating their guts. A happy gut means a happier you and a happy functioning body. With today’s overuse of antibiotics and other heavy duty medicines, people are becoming a lot more susceptible to new diseases/illnesses (don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the existence of antibiotics, I just don’t agree with overusing them). Antibiotics alter our gut flora and upset the balance of our microbes. So, in order to rebalance our gut flora we need to replenish it with friendly bacteria.

King's College is currently conducting the world’s largest study on probiotics and their effects on IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) & IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). The product they are using in their trials is Symprove, the one produced in the Surrey farm we visited. The results of the IBS study, which seem to be very positive, will be published shortly.

Barry did a presentation for us nutritionists on the probiotic product and its effectiveness. (If you would like to know more about Symprove, click here) And  Dianne, who organized the trip, was enthusiastic about the results she had with this probiotic herself, her family and now her clients.

To Dianne, Janaina, Lauren: I had a great time chatting with you and “feeding” each other on the latest nutritional wonders.

To Barry and Ann: Thank you for the hospitality, presentation and congratulations for the amazing work.

Back in the kitchen, the onions given to me by Barry was cooked with care and greatly enjoyed. Inspired by my friend Tania, I made an oven baked onion. Here goes the recipe, for a happy stomach and healthy gut.



The star of the day
The ingredients
Peel the onions and cook them until tender
Chopp the rosemary leaves and mix them with the cream
Pour the rosemary cream on the top of the onions
and scatter the pecorino cheese
Bake them until golden
My oven baked onion. It's delicious by itself!

Oven Baked Onions with Fresh Rosemary Cream
Serves 4

A delicious side dish to add to any family meal. Its full of fibre and protein.

How I made it

I pre-heated the oven at 180 degrees.

I peeled 3 large onions, placed them in a deep pan, brought to the boil and let them simmer for about 25 min until they became tender.

Meanwhile, I mixed 230ml of organic double cream with 2 tbsp of chopped fresh rosemary.

I sliced the onions in half, from tip to root, and placed them cut side down in an oven proof dish.

I then tipped the cream over the onions, seasoned with salt, pepper and 50g of pecorino cheese, and baked them for 30 min or until golden.

Some of the main ingredients and their healthy benefits

Onion (Allium cepa): belongs to the allium family (leeks, garlic and shallots).  It contains powerful antioxidants and antiviral properties. It’s also anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, providing relief to an upset stomach. Onion contains the compound quercetin, which supports the immune system and acts as an anti-allergenic. People who suffer from hay-fever are often recommended a therapeutic supplementation of quercetin. That may help alleviate their symptoms. Quercetin also improves prostate health.

Research has shown that onions help build strong bones and keep serum cholesterol and blood pressure low, preventing heart disease. They are rich in vitamins A, B and C, in minerals like iron, chromium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. The chromium content in onions is very beneficial to bring levels of insulin down, which makes this vegetable very helpful for diabetic patients.

Pecorino Cheese: a hard cheese made from sheep’s milk. It is a very good source of protein, calcium, vitamins B2 and B12. Universities in Italy announced a result of a six year study confirming that Pecorino cheese contains anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties. It can protect against cardiovascular diseases due to high amounts of CLS (conjugated Linoleic Acid – reduces fat, preserve muscle tissue and inhibits tumor growths on the skin, mammary glands and stomach).

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinnalis): has been known for years as the herb for the remembrance. It is good for the heart as well as for the memory. A tea made with the herb is good to help you when you are feeling forgetful and mentally tired. You can inhale some drops of rosemary oil (or you can also crush the fresh herb) to stimulate the brain cells. Rosemary is good for indigestion, stomach crampness and flatulence. It is normally added to meat dishes to help with the digestion. The essential oil of rosemary has antibacterial properties. Rosemary has a long history of medicinal use and has been used to treat many ailments. Recent studies have shown that this herb has the ability to prevent age related skin damage, boost the healthy functioning of the liver and acts as a diuretic. It contains vitamin E.

More pictures of the day
Courgettes (see what to make with them here
and here)
The scent of a beautiful rosemary bush
Sweet and juicy raspberries
Dianne and Barry

My lucky day! Fresh vegetables from Barry's garden
 
photo by Janaina Roschbach

Well my lovely readers, I am off to Brazil this coming  Wednesday and will probably be away from the blog for a month. I might be able to do some brief posts from Brazil bringing some food news from the tropics otherwise I will be back with lovely recipes in the second week of September.


Have a good and a nourishing Summer break!

Till September!