Peoplewhoeat’s Weblog

April 22, 2008

Brain food

Filed under: Healthy — Tags: , , , — peoplewhoeat @ 9:53 am

You know it’s the exam period when meals become erratic, people run around sleep deprived and we start maxing out our library loans. Sometimes we spend so much time studying (or sleeping…or cleaning our rooms to avoid studying…) that we forget to eat, or at any rate forget to eat balanced meals.

There are plenty of foods which can provide you with a boost, whether in terms of energy or brain power. It’s well known that omega three fatty acids are essential for proper brain function, so fish is definitely on my menu plan…

Some of us are snacking on bananas, which are high in potassium and full of those slow-release calories which can give us a quick and often much-needed energy lift, particularly around mid-day. Dried fruit (prunes, apple rings, dehydrated mango and more) can dispel those hunger pangs as well, and are a good substitute for sweet things like cookies and cake, which are often craved during such stressful times. The energy boost of a good old-fashioned peanut butter sandwich is certainly hard to beat, at least according to some of us…some still need to be convinced.

Other foods great for brain power? Salmon, of course, is rich in those essential fatty acids, but other fish are good as well. Even some simple tuna salad does the trick. Vegetarian? Avocado is (as far as I can remember) one of the few non-animal sources of omega three fatty acids. (Try some of Emma’s guacamole). Walnuts and sunflower seeds are also full of essential nutrients that help our brains function at maximum capacity. Remember to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, because some nutrients can only be absorbed at maximum capacity in the presence other nutrients. Your five-a-day is more important now than ever, because the last thing you want in the middle of exams is to fall sick.

Gingko biloba is thought to be a memory-booster, although as with most herbal remedies, how much of this is folklore and how much is medical fact remains in dispute. While I don’t think I’ll be taking any gingko supplements, avid tea-drinkers could try some gingko tea, available at most health-food stores. At any rate, it can’t hurt. Mint tea is also supposed to aid memory if you drink it while studying.

To anyone undergoing their exams at the moment (whatever kind of exams they may be), good luck! And remember…eat well, because life’s too short not to!



April 21, 2008

Easing into the wonderful world of breads…

Filed under: Dinner, Vegetarian — Tags: , — peoplewhoeat @ 7:04 pm

When someone says baking, i immediately think of extravagant yet comforting desserts, the scent of vanilla gracing the household and of course, the warm, chewy centre of a perfect fudge brownie. While i knew there was more to this fine art than just sugary delights, i somehow never came around exploring other options until a few days ago.

Originating in central Asia, and now more popularly known as one of the many kinds of indian bread, naan traditionally cooks in a tandoor, or clay oven, from which tandoori cooking takes its name. Its common practice to serve naan with any kind of meat or bean dish that can be scooped up but there are a whole range of variations when it comes to innovating this humble piece of bread from the peshawaari naan (with mixed nuts and raisins), keema naan (stuffed with minced meat) and the aloo naan (stuffed with potatoes) to name a few.

When i stumbled upon this recipe i decided to give it a go as it looked relatuvely simple and required such minimal ingredients. I soon discovered that savoury baking is in fact a possiblity and i would recommend this recipe to anyone who is yet to venture into the wonderful world of breads.. or simply because a good naan should be on your menu anyday! 



2 cups flour

3/4 cup water

2 tbsp cooking oil (any kind)

2 1/2 tbsp yougurt

i tsp sugar

i tsp salt

a pinch of baking soda

i tsp yeast


1. Mix the yeast into the water and set it aside.

2. Measure out the flour and transfer it into a relatively lareg pot/bowl.

3. Stir the salt, sugar and baking soda into the flour.

4. Pour in the cooking oil, mix thorouhly and repeat this with the yogurt. Using your hands would be ideal for this as the dough gets pretty sticky from this point on and trying to handle it with utensils can be really annoying.

5. Add in the water and yeast mixture and work the dough untill everything is completely incorporated Rub your hands with a little bit  of oil at this point as it makes kneading the dough much easier.

 6. A few minutes of kneading will result in a homogenous blob of goodness and you have now created the perfect dough! Cover the bowl with some cling  and leave the dough to rise for about 3-4 hours.

 7. Now, the dough should have doubled in volume and we are now ready to roll out the naan. I deally, we should use a rolling pin for this but i highly doubt most university students, with our “state of the art” kitchen facilities would own one. What we often do have lying around however, are used glass bottles, with smooth, cyndrical surfaces. This will serve as a perfect substitute.

8. Preheat the oven to about 220 degrees celcius. 

9. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. 

10. Dip each ball in flour before rolling them out.

11. Roll them out in any shape you fancy, but remember that they should be at least about 1/4 of an inch thick.

12. Depending on the size of your oven/baking tray, use your discretion to determine how many naans you want to bake at any one time. Keep in mind that they will puff up slightly.

13. Bake the naans for about 7-8 minutes, or until they look gorgeously tanned in most areas.    

14. Once out of the oven, brush each piece with a thin layer of butter, ghee or even margerine if thats what you have. The spread will melt beautifully, leaving the naan glistening with goodness.. and you can now serve it with any curry/chutney/dish of your choice!


Eat well…. because life’s too short not to !


April 20, 2008

Do-It-Yourself Chilli

Filed under: comfort food, Dinner — Tags: , , , — peoplewhoeat @ 7:05 pm

I’m calling this Do-It-Yourself, because this isn’t so much a recipe as it is a list of flavors, and directions for what I did.  Chilli is one of those things that everyone and their uncle has their own way of doing, and I don’t want to interfere with anyone’s family traditions. 

The essence of chilli is ::drumroll please:: chilli powder!  Cumin also plays a major role, as do tomatoes and beans.  Ground meat is key for those who aren’t vegetarian, but the type of meat is up to you…beef is common; we used pork; venison, lamb, or turkey could also be delicious.  Vegetarian chilli can also be delicious: peppers, zucchini and corn are a few possible ingredients that come to mind.

Here are the directions for our chilli:

I started off by sauteeing a chopped onion and some garlic in vegetable oil.  When the onion started to go transparent, I added chilli powder (the amount depends on how hot you want it, and how hot your chilli powder is) and cumin.  After a bit I added some tomato paste and kept sauteeing.  Once it had reached a nice gloopy consistency, I added the pork, and sauteed it until it was no longer red and was nicely coated with the spices.  Then I added some creamed tomatoes and water to give it a soupy consistency, added some chopped tomatoes and bell peppers, and the beans which had been pre-soaked overnight.  We used a mixture of black beans and butter beans, and it was delicious, but kidney beans are traditional.  The trick now is to let it simmer for a good long while…ours cooked for six-ish hours.  You want everything to look fairly gloopy.

Let us know if you come up with some great additions to the basic recipe!

Have fun!


Patty Melts

Filed under: comfort food, Light lunch — Tags: , , , , — peoplewhoeat @ 12:32 pm

This is a food that to me is incredibly simple…I can’t imagine that people haven’t had it before.  The beauty of them is that they are a cross between a tuna salad sandwich and grilled cheese.  My family frequently has these for a weekend lunch, and they’re delicious.  As my Mom and I say, ‘They’re not as bad for you as they taste’

Ingredients (makes two sandwiches):
1 can tuna
1 heaping Tbsp mayonnaise
1 medium dill pickle, diced (or 1 tsp dill relish)
         you can use sweet pickle if you prefer, I just personally don’t like them

Cheddar Cheese 
4 pieces bread (use something that will grill and crisp up nicely, I like pita bread, white bread, or a light sourdough)
butter or olive oil to grill

Mix the tuna, mayonnaise and pickle to make a tuna salad.  Spread the tuna salad on bread and top with cheddar cheese, and then add the other slice of bread to make a sandwich.  Butter the bread (or drizzle olive oil) and place the sandwich in a frying pan on medium heat, so the bread gets crisp and golden and the cheese melts.  Make sure to toast both sides!  This is nice served with veggie sticks, crisps, pickles, and fruit.



April 15, 2008

Mom’s Pork Stew

Filed under: comfort food, Dinner, Healthy — Tags: , , , — peoplewhoeat @ 10:41 pm

This is one of my favorite winter comfort foods from home.  Although I consider it a comfort food, and label it Mom’s recipe, it is by no means a traditional salt, pepper and boil kind of stew.  This has all kinds of flavors dancing through, including a bit of a kick of cayennne.


500 g. Pork, cubed
200 g. black beans (soaked at least 6 hours)
1 large sweet potato, cubed
1/2 litre Orange Juice (fresh-squeezed is best)
approx. 250 ml water (or stock if you’re fancy)
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
Splash of olive oil
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
a few sprigs of cilantro

The main trick to this recipe is that the black beans and sweet potatoes must be cooked separately from the rest of the ingredients (they won’t go soft in orange juice).

In the main pot, sautee the onion and garlic in small amount of olive oil, and add the cayenne and cumin.  Add the cubed pork, orange juice, and water (don’t sautee the pork, add the liquid at the same time).  Bring to a boil and allow the mixture to simmer until the pork is soft.  It will be a funny color until the beans and sweet potato are added…don’t worry about it. Now add the black beans and sweet potatoes that have been cooked separately, and bring the whole mixture back to simmering for a bit.  Garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve with warm buttered flour tortillas.



April 13, 2008


Filed under: Appetizer, Healthy, Light lunch, Quick cook, Vegetarian — Tags: , , , , — peoplewhoeat @ 10:26 pm

I have occasionally been accused of eating nothing but this.  While that isn’t entirely true, bruschetta is my favorite quick meal, and it’s what I usually bring to shared meals.  It’s obviously best with garden-fresh tomatoes, but I even love it with the pale winter grocery store variety.

These are the rough proportions when using one medium sized tomato; it’ll taste different with every tomato, and can be adapted to more tomatoes…

One medium-sized tomato
One clove of garlic
Five or so leaves of basil
Salt to draw juice from the tomato
a Sploosh of balsamic vinegar (the juicier the tomato, the less vinegar you need)

Take the tomato and cut it into cubes.  Put the cubes in a bowl with some salt to draw out the tomato juice; let this sit while you chop the other ingredients.  Dice the basil and garlic, and add it to the tomatoes.  Add some balsamic vinegar to give the mixture some liquid, but not enough to cover the tomato.  The amount will depend on how juicy the tomato was.  Let the mixture set for as long as you can bear…the more it melds the tastier it will be, but you’ll have to wait to eat it.  If you’re just making it for yourself, serve the tomato on top of toast drizzled in olive oil.  For a fancier version, serve it on nice garlic bread, or slices of a nice bakery loaf with olive oil set under the broiler a few minutes. 

Bon appetit!



Filed under: Healthy, Light lunch, Quick cook, Vegetarian — Tags: , , — peoplewhoeat @ 1:05 am

For me, tofu and rice flour just go together. They’re inextricably linked in my culinary repertoire because of the standard way my mother has cooked me tofu all my life: breading chunks of tofu in flour and frying it. Despite it being the way I cook my tofu, I’ve never seen it done elsewhere. Even tofu at Japanese restaurants which looks the part is never that same satisfying crispy-textured, fluffy-bellied creature; they’re softer with a delicate skin, nice enough in their own way, but not the same.

My mother used to make tofu with regular plain flour and olive oil. Once I had taken over the cooking, I was making tofu but we had run out of both staples, so I used rice flour and vegetable oil. I have never looked back: the texture is so much better, crisp and dry and crunchy on the outside, with an interior like silk. The rice flour doesn’t get scorched as easily as plain flour, either.

The essential tools…

So, the recipe, or rather technique:

Cut a block of firm, drained tofu into rectangles or squares into about inch (2.5cm) sized pieces: what I do is cut the block of tofu into three horizontal pieces, then slice across the block vertically into three. Each piece is then cut across its width in half to make it thinner.

Take a plate and cover it with rice flour. You want to be liberal here! Pour it onto the plate in cups, not tablespoons. Coat (don’t just dust!) the pieces of tofu in rice flour and set aside. You can do this in batches and they can sit for a bit while you heat the oil.

Heat a frying pan (moderately high heat) and add vegetable oil. Again, you want to be liberal here. I usually have enough oil for it to come 0.5cm up the sides of the frying pan. When the oil is hot (toss a piece of tofu in; if it sizzles, it is time) place the rice flour coated tofu in the pan in one layer. After a couple of minutes, turn a few pieces. If the coating is crisp, turn the rest of the pieces and fry on the other side. When you’re done, transfer the pieces with a slotted spoon onto a plate…perhaps a plate lined with paper towels if you’re so inclined; I rarely am, but there we go.

The cooked tofu should be at most a light (very light) gold, or rather, champagne. When you cut into it, the tofu should be firm but still soft and moist. The frying might need to be done in batches.

This tofu is delicious with plain steamed or blanched vegetables and rice. You can serve it with sweet chilli sauce or garlic and chilli sauce or soy sauce. You could also toast some sesame seeds and serve them scattered on top of the tofu (or over the accompanying vegetables). Another gorgeous accompaniment is some blanched asparagus or wilted spinach tossed with extra virgin olive oil and sesame oil, with sesame seeds scattered over it. Either way, the tofu should be eaten hot and as quickly as possible.

Simple, cheap, filling and, although admittedly somewhat bland (salt is a must), a very satisfying meal component with its interplay of texture, and a good vegetarian source of protein. And kind of fun to make.

Eat well…because life’s too short not to!

April 2, 2008

Salmon for the Soul

Filed under: Dinner, Healthy, Light lunch, Quick cook — Tags: , , , , , — peoplewhoeat @ 12:15 am


A nice juicy fish fillet for dinner is one of the best things you can do for yourself because not only will you have a satisfying, delicious meal, fish and shellfish are also famously rich in protein and minerals, and oily fish especially, are rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

These fatty acids are essential to human health but cannot be manufactured by the body. For this reason, they must be obtained from food.  Besides this, its also perfect when you need to fix yourself a meal in a hurry.

While the traditional ‘fish and chips’ is one of the most popular comfort foods in this region, and certainly hits the spot when the cravings surface, a true seafood connoisseur will have none of that. Salmon is without a doubt one of the best offerings from the seafood kingdom and the only way to enjoy its gorgeous flavour is by keeping cooking to a minimum. It should be all about embracing the freshness and rustic essence of its soft, pinkish flesh.

Fool everyone with this simple recipe that not only looks gourmet, but tastes the part as well. The trick is all in its presentation, and as most of the recipes we put up, it can be prepared in no time at all!

Baked salmon on a Bed of Spinach

You will need:

2 salmon fillets

2 handfuls (one for each fillet) of baby spinach leaves/ of roughly chopped regular spinach leaves

A tablespoon of lime or lemon juice, which ever you prefer/have lying around

Half an onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

3 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Begin by preheating the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

2. In a pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil and as soon as the oil is hot, sauté the onions and garlic until slightly browned. They will continue to bake in the oven so its best to not overdo them for now.
3. On a baking tray, lay out two equal sized pieces of foil, each should be big enough to be completely sealed once the salmon fillet is placed in them.

4. With a few drops of olive oil, grease each piece of foil very lightly.  

5.  Next, grab the handful of spinach leaves and lay them on the foil. They should be spread out just enough to act as a base for the salmon fillet.

6. Once the spinach leave shave been laid out, divide the sautéed aromatics equally between the two pieces of foil, placing them on and about the spinach leaves.

7. Finally, place the salmon fillet on the bed of spinach and pour the lemon/lime juice on top of it. Season the fillets with salt and pepper.

8. Seal the foil tightly along all sides and place the baking tray in the oven for about 15 minutes.

9. The fillet should be done if the flesh looks opaque all the way through as shown below. Enjoy!


 Eat well, because life’s too short not to!





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