Billions of dollars are made every year in the dieting industry. There is a new type of diet announced everyday. Yet as a whole, society is fatter than ever. I myself try to avoid anything with the word DIE in it, so I prefer to stay away from these things. But sure common sense says that if you move more and eat less you should be good to go. However, some people need a bit more structure when it comes to their health choices. Hence the plethora of diet books and fads. And I use the word fad just as it is meant to indicate, that it will come and go and years later research will show that the fad was actually not good for you in the long run.
The new “diet” on the scene these days is all about how to eat to stay young looking and live longer. Maybe this is in defense of the seemingly cultural addiction to plastic surgery. Whether people get surgery themselves or obsess over what celebrity has had “work” done it is moving towards a tipping point. Certainly if one is eating better for their insides it must help the outside too. And likely it is cheaper than cosmetic surgery which I’ve heard the media go on and on about with regard to the astronomical costs.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting front row at Jamie Oliver’s cooking demonstration at the “Big Feastival” in the Costwalds. And while he prepared some amazing dishes, he was there more to promote his new book and ethos of eating: Superfoods! While researching the book he encountered numerous people who have lived not only long lives, but also have lived WELL! And the upshot is pretty basic. Eat clean, whole foods with little or no processing to them. And of course be mindful to get exercise, rest, drink plenty of water, and avoid an overabundance of sugar and alcohol. Which is kinda funny since Jamie arrived late to his own demo and apologized by saying he had just come from a meeting with Jack Daniels!
Everything in moderation, right?.! A glass of wine (or some Jack) isn’t the end of the world and a bar of chocolate every now and again won’t break the scales. But there are indeed certain foods known to be SUPER foods: Quinoa, avocado, kale, blueberries, almonds and sweet potatoes to name a few. These foods have benefits of vitamins and antioxidants but with a jam packed concentration. And to get people to incorporate them into their regular home cooking Jamie and other chefs are making them user friendly and most importantly making them taste great with innovative recipes.
This is nothing new folks. My dear Irish countryman St. Brendan knew this hundreds of years ago. Legend has it that he lived to be 180 by eating a diet dominated by one of the first known super foods, watercress! Below I have shared a great Watercress Soup recipe. Not from St. Brendan himself, rather it comes from Darina Allen of the Ballymaloe Cookery School. I love how creamy and satisfying it is. Super delish as a starter in a cooler damp climate such as Ireland, but equally nice as a light lunch in a warmer climate like my former home Los Angeles.
This soup has a special place in my heart as it was one of the foods I made for my final exam when I was a student at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. I still attempt to eat this on a regular basis because quite frankly it tastes great! But might it actually be the fountain of youth?! I haven’t had any plastic surgery and just this morning a lovely older man of 72 didn’t believe me when I said I was 50. In fact he said I should go to confession for not telling the truth! Either he needed new glasses or hmmm, could the super foods be working? Fingers crossed for the later!
45 g (1 3/4 oz) butter
110 g (4 oz) onion, peeled and chopped
150 g (5 oz) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes (1/2 in.)
salt and freshly ground pepper
600 ml (1 pint) vegetable or chicken stock
600 ml (1 pint) whole milk
225 g (8 oz) chopped watercress (coarse stalks removed)
crème fraiche and sprig of herb for garnish
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan. When it foams add the potatoes and onions, season with the salt and pepper. Cover with a butter wrapper or piece of wax paper (to retain steam) and a tight fitting lid. Leave to sweat on very low heat for about 10 minutes while you prepare the watercress.
2. Remove the lid, check if the onions and potatoes are almost soft but not colored, then add the stock and milk. Bring to the boil and cook until the onions and potatoes are tender.
3. Add the watercress and boil with the lid off for about 4-5 minutes until the watercress is cooked. Do not overcook or the soup will lose its fresh green color.
4. Pour the soup into a liquidizer, blender or food processor (or use a hand held). Puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.
5. Garnish with a swirl of crème fraiche and sprig of herb and serve.
To long life and good health,
Note: Watercress soup photo cred www.inherchucks.com