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www.MoreThanMeat.co.uk – Goes live!

After what seems like a whirlwind few weeks, my new Web site www.morethanmeat.co.uk is now live.

 

Please go and take a look and let me know what you think.  For the time being you cannot order directly on-line as we want to try out a number of temperature controlled packaging options as well as a number of couriers.  If you do want some products and you are in the UK – let me know and we will see what we can do to accommodate your request.

 

Also – if you are local to Tunbridge Wells then come on down to the Pantiles Farmers Market where you can try the product and buy them to consume onsite or enjoy at home.

 

We are selling our More Than Beef Burgers as well as the More Than Lamb casserole.  In addition there are a number of new products in the planning stages, including a square sausage – well we like to be different and sausage rolls – so watch this space, or look out for them on www.morethanmeat.co.uk

 

Apologies for all my followers here that I have not been able to keep up the blogs and recipes, but as you may imagine the work on getting More Than Meat to market has been all consuming in addition to still working for Nomis 3 days per week.

 

Thanks for your continued support.

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Have you visited the Plantalicious Shop? It is open all hours! Come on in and take a look…

Do you love shopping?

I do!  I’m always up for a bit of retail therapy.

One of the things when I first started eating Plantalicious was that I did not have a lot of resources.  Recipes, books that explained the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle etc., Over the weeks, and months I have discovered lots of great resources: DVD’s, books, cookery books as well as ingredients and equipment.  Very often friends and followers would ask me for advice on this and that or what book to buy as a gift, or what blender I use.

So…I created the Plantalicious Shop – It contains many of the books and resources that I have used as well as links to more unusual ingredients that you may not be able to get on your high street.  My shop only stocks and sells things that I have either used and want to share with you or things that I recommend.  In fact, I think I own all of the items listed.  I also provide some information too to help you in your choices and to explain why I use the item.  The shop sells the items via an “Amazon Affiliate” relationship so your items are sent from Amazon and I get a small percentage which goes towards running Plantalicious and you pay the same as if you had bought the items on Amazon directly. The transaction is safe and secure just as any Amazon purchase.

A few items that I would like to highlight are:

  • ReThink Food – I recently did a review of this wonderful book that empowers you to take control of your health destiny- see here
  • The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook – The Esselstyn’s are an amazing family.  Following on from the work of Dr Esselstyn his wife Ann Crile Esselstyn and daughter Jane have recently published this book.  The book answers the question of “how do i…Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease?” – the answer is simple, you cook and eat these Plantalicious recipes.
  • The Happy Pear Cookbook – The Flynn brothers cookbook from their wonderful shop and restaurant in Greystones in Ireland.  Not all the recipes are Plantalicious but their food is so good and they just make vegetables and fruit sing.  They also run a brilliant course – The Happy Heart to reduce cholesterol.  Buy the book and take the first step towards managing your health, reducing your cholesterol and enjoy delicious food at the same time.
  • If I had a £ for every time I am asked about blenders, I would be a wealthy man – This is the mother of all blenders – it is not cheap, but it is the best investment you will every make for your kitchen and your health – Its a Vitamix
  • Finally, the book that started me on this amazing journey to health – The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell – If you have not read it – now is the time.  It will change your life, as it did mine.

So next time you need some Plantalicious support or inspiration or are in the market for a blender, head over to the Plantalicious shop and bag yourself a bargain that is not only good for your wallet but also for your health.

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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – L Is for Lemon

The sour taste of lemons causes this fruit to get the reputation of being acidic. The truth is that, in the body at least, lemons are alkaline and can do a lot to help balance out an acidic body. So while the juice can work well as a cleaner in its acidic state outside of the body, inside it counter acts sugars (which actually create an acidic body state) and can even help to ward off certain types of cancer.

Whether your goal is to lose weight or to detox your system, lemons can be of assistance. They are great for everything from your brain to your bowel. Plus, lemons are versatile and work as a garnish, a dressing, a drink, a dessert, and more! What other health benefits make lemons an indispensable part of a plant based diet?

Some of the many health benefits derived from lemons include:

  • Lemons are great as part of a cleanse. They help the liver to get rid of solvents. Just a little bit of lemon water each morning can help break down uric acid and other toxins in the body.

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  • Do you have a problem with kidney stones, gall stones, or other calcium buildup issues? Lemons break down calcium and can help to keep calcium deposits from forming within the body.
  • Lemons also can destroy many bacterial diseases such as typhoid and malaria. It’s one of the reasons that lemon is used in cleaning products (not just the lovely scent). It performs the same job in the body, helping the immune system to ward off deadly intruders.
  • We all know that carrots are good for vision, but lemons have positive eye effects too. Rutin is the lemon component that can improve eye disorders like diabetic retinopathy.
  • Lemons are full of antioxidants which fight free radicals in the body. In fact, there are 22 different cancer fighting agents found within lemons.
  • The digestive system gets help from lemons as well. Lemons can help to ward off constipation, thus keeping the colon cleaned out. Also, lemons are known for being able to kill certain intestinal parasites.
  • The vitamin C in lemons is not only an antioxidant and a liver cleanser, but it also helps to speed up metabolism. High vitamin C content is what makes lemons useful for weight loss diets.
  • Another little known fact is that lemons are high in potassium. This is a vital mineral for heart health. It helps keep the blood pressure lower by reducing stress. Potassium is also important in counteracting dehydration.

Are you a lemon fan?  What is your favourite way of consuming these wonderful little yellow nutritional powerhouses?

Note of caution – unless lemons are marked as “unwaxed” always wash them in warm water to remove the wax, as you would with any citrus fruit.

Tips:

  • To get the most juice out of them, pop in a microwave for 30-60 secs and then gently roll them on a chopping board or counter top.  Then pierce in the centre and gently squeeze to get some of the juice out, before cutting in half and juicing.
  • Add a few drops of lemon juice to soups etc it helps you cut down on salt
  • Fresh Lemon and Mint with ice is a wonderful refreshing and hydrating drink when its hot
  • Start your day with a glass of warm water and lemon juice to kick-start your body

 

 

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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – K Is for Kale

If you’ve spent any amount of time on a plant based diet or juicing, then you know that kale is a staple for providing the nutritional benefits to have energy on a day to day basis. Kale has all sorts of nicknames that hail it as everything from a vegetarian or vegan’s meat to the nutritional powerhouse of greens.
Whether you are trying to detox or lose weight, kale has what you need. It’s a great immune system booster. Making kale a regular part of your diet can even improve the condition of your skin, nails, and hair. What are the secrets that kale holds which make it the perfect plant for everything from fighting off disease to improving your vision?
Just some of the many benefits of kale include:
• An aid to digestion, kale contains 5 g of dietary fiber per serving. With no fat and only 36 calories per cup, kale is gentle on the digestive tract and will help keep a person regular.
• The letter K stands for kale on our A-Z list, and kale also stands for K, vitamin K that is. Whether you are concerned about clotting properly, fighting off the effects of Alzheimer’s, or want to protect yourself from certain forms of cancer, vitamin K has to be in your nutritional alphabet. Kale is a great source.
• Vitamin A also abounds in kale, giving a huge boost to your eyes, and helping to prevent optical disorders.
• Kale also contains both vitamin D and calcium. It’s a 1-2 punch for healthy teeth and bones, since the vitamin D improves calcium absorption. Plus, vitamin C provides additional benefits for the cartilage and joints.
• Kale gets the nickname beef, but that’s really not fair to the kale. Kale actually has more iron than red meat. Iron helps to fend off anemia, and it also plays a vital role in helping oxygen to get to all parts of the body.
• Omega-3 fatty acids make kale a great food for fighting inflammation. Omega-3 and omega-6 are also vital for the skin, making it appear vibrant by healing from the inside out. Hair and nails also need these fatty acids to thrive.
• Any sort of detox should include kale in some form. It contains both fiber and sulfur. It’s great for the liver and for the colon, detoxing the whole body instead of just one system.

Quick recipe tips, if you have some Kale in the fridge and happen to have made some hummus in your blender, scrape it out, but leave some residue. add some water, lemon juice or vinegar, (apple cider is my preference) and some garlic, salt and pepper, and whizz and you have a delicious creamy dressing for your kale salad).
Pop a few Kale leaves in your smoothie to “beef” it up a bit.

Love it or hate it? Share your thoughts and favourite Kale recipes in the community pages.

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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – J Is for Jerusalem Artichoke

Have you seen them?  These nobbly little bundles of delicious nutyness?  Jerusalem Artichokes are only around for a short season in the UK, but if you can get them, buy them.  They are so delicious and worth the effort needed to prepare them.

You may know Jerusalem artichokes by their alternate or US name, Sunchokes. Don’t confuse these with the artichokes that are prevalent in Italian cuisine. Jerusalem artichokes are a root vegetable and look like a cross between a potato and ginger root.

Also, don’t let the misnomer fool you. Jerusalem artichokes aren’t imported from Israel. In fact, they aren’t imported at all. This starchy vegetable is native to the UK as well as North America. Sunchokes have a delicious earthy and nutty flavor similar to jicama (a European root veggie).

So why should Jerusalem artichokes be in your a-z plant vocabulary? It’s a great way to get the carbs that you need without the fat and cholesterol. And the starch isn’t the only carb in Jerusalem artichokes. There is plenty of dietary fiber too.

Here are some more nutritional benefits of Jerusalem artichokes:

  • This root veggie fights constipation by helping the gut to hang onto moisture. Staying regular cleans toxins from the gut area and may help to prevent certain types of cancer.
  • Anti-oxidant vitamins abound in Jerusalem artichokes. Vitamins A, C, and E are all antioxidants making this a cancer fighting vegetable. Antioxidants also help reduce inflammation and can reduce the length of time that the common cold lasts.
  • Potassium is a vital mineral for helping the body not to dehydrate as well as for maintaining good heart health. Jerusalem artichokes get you 9% of the potassium that you need in a day with every 100 gram serving.
  • Iron is a mineral that is vital to the circulatory system. It helps in the production of red blood cells and guards against anemia which can cause fatigue and muscle weakness. A serving of sunchokes gets more than 2/5 of what you need in a day. No other tuber or root can match up to that.
  • Other vitamins and minerals in this vegetable include vitamin B, electrolytes, and copper.
  • They can also help you to boost the protein in your diet with 3 grams of protein per serving.
  • Prebiotics help to feed your body’s natural probiotics and keep them healthy. Sunchokes are filled with inulin, a prebiotic which may help your body’s probiotics to thrive, thus benefiting digestion. Don’t confuse inulin for insulin. Jerusalem artichokes do not reduce blood sugar. They may not raise it as much as other carbs, however, because inulin doesn’t metabolize like other carbohydrates. It’s actually an effective sweetener (saccharin) for diabetics.

So now you know how good they are for you, what do you want to do with them?

The first thing is to wash them, just ensure that you get rid of all the dirt.  There is no need to peel them – Life is too short!

Always cook them in acidulated water (just add a few drops of lemon juice) as otherwise they will discolour.

You can use them to make a really silky and delicious nutty soup – it’s the sort of thing that is so good, you could serve it to guests.

You can also just steam them, mash/purée them or roast them.

Let me know if you find them and how you cook them.

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Get the Plantalicious 3 Day Challenge e-Book for free (save £6.99)

If you have not heard already, I have produced an e-book that is a handy guide as a starter for those new to, or curious about a plant-based diet.  Maybe you just want to reduce your meat intake by one or two meals a week, or you just do not know what to buy to get started.  Well now you do.  Download a copy of my e-book!

 

You can also refer friends to the download site if they are interested to know more about a plant-based diet.  The book contains recipes for 3 days including breakfasts, lunches and dinners as well as snacks and some basics.  It also has a shopping list so you know what to stock up with to make the recipes.

 

To download the e-book just visit this page of my site – http://www.plantalicious.com/buy-the-plantalicious-ebook/   to save yourself the cost of £6.99, simply sign up for the Plantalicious Newsletter and “hey presto” you will then be able to download the e-book for free.  How about that for plant-based magic?

 

If you are already a news letter subscriber, please just email me – Barry@Plantalicious.com and I will send you the e-book by email.

 

Please let me have any comments and feedback on the book.  What you liked, what could be improved and what you’d like to see more of.  You can comment here on www.plantalicious.com of ping me an email.  I’d also love to hear how people get on with the 3 day Plantalicious Challenge – how did you feel?  How did you find the recipes?  Did you miss anything?

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“That is not what I ordered” – Getting Plant-Based food in restaurants

I’ve been meaning to write this article for quite some time.
The longer I leave it, the more information and more disappointment, I have to share. It is not difficult, I do not eat meat, fish, or dairy.  in other words anything that has a face or mother. When I eat out, which I do quite often, I make this perfectly clear and ask very politely for either something on the menu that suits my dietary choices or for a small modification to a dish in order that it works me.

Increasingly, I found that this seems to be too much to ask in many situations. I don’t know why, but certain organisations seem to make very heavy weather of providing me with the food that I’m looking for. Here’s some recent examples:

ITSU (http://www.itsu.com/) -the well-known food chain in the UK. It promotes itself using the tagline “eat beautiful” with pictures of lithe half naked bodies and also through their sponsorship of England Beach volleyball tour 2014-2017. Despite this, they seem unable to provide clear training to their staff and clear labelling on a number of their products. Mr G and I have bought this to their attention and to be fair they are doing something about it. However, be really careful as the miso soup that is used in some of the noodle pots has fish in it, so be sure to ask a vegetable miso.  There is even fish seasoning in their rice sidedish. This is a bit disappointing for a company with the tagline eat beautiful!
Some time ago, I suggested that they change the rice used in the hip and healthy salad to brown rice rather than using white rice. I was told, at the time, that they would use the existing supply of rice and then look to replace it with brown rice. I think that was about 2 years ago.  When I bought one of the salads last week, it still contained white rice. It does seem as if my suggestion had fallen on deaf ears.
The next company that seems to ignore my requests is EAT http://www.eat.co.uk/index.php). Again it’s a chain, and provides some really appealing products to its customers. Eat’s tagline is “the real food company”. So it may be, but what I want is the food as promised on the pot. I was at Paddington station some weeks ago, when I ordered one of their vegetarian dumpling and noodle pots. Imagine my surprise and disgust,  when eating the 1st dumpling, I discovered that rather than the tofu that I’ve been expecting, that it was actually chicken. I went back to the counter and reported this and was greeted with a mixture of derision and incredulity. It was implied that I must be wrong and that the contents must be vegetarian. I explained that I have very good taste buds and I can tell the difference between tofu and chicken. After some remonstrations, I was eventually assured that the offending pot would be sent back to head office for analysis, and the other pots would be removed from sale and that I would be hearing from them.
I did hear from them, however in the letter to me, I was basically called a liar. The company outlined its totally infallible processes to ensure that it was quite impossible for me to have eaten a chicken dumpling when I purchased a tofu/vegetarian one. I obviously must be an idiot and have no sense of taste whatsoever. I persisted in following this up, only to be told that the offending item had been destroyed, (rather conveniently), rather than being sent back to head office for analysis, as I had been promised. This dialogue took place over the last 3 to 4 months. All I wanted, was an apology, and an admission that they are fallible and the mistakes can happen. This seemed all too difficult for the “real food company” who are obviously infallible and frankly think their customers are idiots, liars, or both, as in my case. After several exchanges of emails, I did get a rather tepid apology although it came in a letter that was headed “without prejudice” as they were obviously concerned that I was planning to sue for some kind of compensation.
I can understand chain organisations such as itsu and Eat, who produce food in vast quantities for their outlets potentially making mistakes.  What astounded me was to visit one of my favourite Indian restaurants in London and to order a vegetable masala only to discover that what been cooked and served was (you’ve guessed it…) a chicken dish. I find this really irritating that people don’t bother to check thoroughly what has been ordered. Fortunately, I don’t have some kind of terrible allergy to meat that would result in anaphylactic shock.  Regardless, the same care should be taken when taking an order from somebody who is vegetarian or vegan, as it would if they were allergic to nuts or gluten, which can have very serious implications indeed.
It’s not just getting the order wrong or making mistake with the food sometimes, as I found out a week ago, you can order something that you think is going to be healthy and suitable only to be disappointed by what is put in front of you.  I was at a restaurant with some colleagues in Swindon – The Weighbridge Brewhouse, (http://www.weighbridgebrewhouse.co.uk/). It’s place I’ve been too many times before and have always really enjoyed the ambience and the food. I ordered a vegetarian dish from the menu and asked that the goats cheese that was an ingredient listed should be removed. I was really looking forward to a beautiful medley of sauteed mushrooms and slices of Jerusalem artichoke with a plum tomato sauce. Imagine my disappointment to be faced with a plate that was swimming in approximately a quarter of an inch of fat, mushrooms that had absolutely no flavour and a sauce that had split so badly and resembled a masala sauce rather than anything to do with the tomato and again, very high in fat. Whilst I appreciate that I hadn’t asked for “no fat” the ingredients didn’t list “half a pound of butter and a cup of olive oil” as two of the ingredients, it simply said that the vegetables would be sauteed. I ate some of the dish, as I was hungry and rather than make a fuss at the time, as I was with some colleagues and rather pressed for time, I called and gave my feedback in the evening.  It was cordially received, but no one bothered to take my email or phone number to follow up which seemed to indicate to me that they did not really give a damn. That was a shame and bad staff training as I am loathed to go back to somewhere that doesn’t really care about it’s customers.
It massively disappoints me that organisations such as those listed above cannot simply provide food for all of their diners as requested.
What’s been your experience? Please feel free to sharing comments on the community.
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A-Z of Plantalicious ingredients  D is for Dates

I can recall my parents always having dates in the house around Christmas.  As a child I could never see the appeal of these sticky blobs, and would avoid them.  As I got older, I have realised that the dried dates of my childhood were not really the best incarnation of this most ancient and nobel of fruits.  In fact, Dates are one of the oldest cultivated fruits – it’s thought that they were a staple part of the Babylonian diet 8,000 years ago. Grown in North Africa and Israel, there are several varieties, but only a handful are exported to Britain.

Colours range from honey yellow, red to brown, the last of which is the most common.

Available fresh or dried, they’re very sweet, with a rich, deep flavour and a lush, slightly chewy texture. My favourite is the  mahogany brown Medjool variety which is the sweetest, and tastes a little like toffee.

Given that they are sweet and sticky, the key question is are they good or bad for your health?  Dates are high in sugar, with 60-80% of their calories from sugars.  In addition to all that sugar, dates are high in fibre and in a particular kind of soluble fibre that helps keep you regular – known as beta-D-glucan. In addition to its usual function as a soluble fiber, beta-D-glucan can also absorb and hold water, giving it the ability to add bulk and softness to stools — a quality predominantly associated with insoluble fiber.

Dates are one of the best sources of Potassium which helps regulate blood pH, is required to maintain intracellular fluid balance and is used to convert glucose into usable energy. Potassium also maintains intracellular fluid balance and is involved in hormone secretion, muscle contraction and nerve transmission. Low potassium levels are linked to high blood pressure. Medjool dates are higher in potassium than oranges, bananas and spinach, providing 20 percent of the nutrient’s daily value per 3.5-ounce serving.

Dates help your body to absorb iron as they are high in copper which is an essential trace mineral that helps your body both absorb and use iron to form red blood cells. It’s needed to maintain healthy nerves and is also an important component of several of the enzymes that facilitate the production of energy. Copper is used to form collagen, a fundamental component of skin, bone, cartilage and connective tissue. It’s also a critical element of an important antioxidant known as superoxide dismutase, which is manufactured by the body to prevent damage to cells caused by free radicals.

Additionally dates contain significant amounts of several other essential nutrients, including: manganese, magnesium and vitamin B-6 as well as: niacin. pantothenic acid, calcium and phosphorus and some iron. Dates also provide lesser amounts of folate, zinc, thiamine, riboflavin and vitamin K. A 2009 study published in the “Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry” found Medjool dates to be high in antioxidant phenols. According to the study, these compounds may help reduce high blood triglyceride levels.

Here is Dr Michael Greger’s take on Dates – http://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-dates-good-for-you/

A quick tip/recipe – I make a date syrup by blending dates with warm water in my vitamix and blitzing until smooth.  I let it down with more water and store in a jar.  It is great to use in desserts, to top lattes/mochas and to use over fruit and iced desserts.

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Should I apologise for my “Special Diet” when eating out? Is this Culinary Racism? What do you do?

Once again, I am travelling and today I am taking clients out to lunch.

The clients chose the restaurant and suggested that I check in advance what veggie options they have as they know that I eat a WFPB (whole food, plant-based) diet.   I checked online and whilst the menu had some choices on the starters that work for me, the main courses were all meat and fish with only a few salads and side dishes that looked ok for me.  So, I called the restaurant and realised during the call, that I was actually apologising for my diet and food choices and any inconvenience that it may cause them.

Why did I do that?

  • Is it my natural British politeness (not always evident, especially when tired from travelling)?
  • What was I apologising for?
  • As a paying customer, why should I apologise for what I choose to eat?
  • What is the worst that they can do – Make me a salad?  Serve me vegetables?

If I am a meat eater and I do not like red meat or I do not like lamb, I do not call up ahead and apologise, or grovel to the waiter.  I just make another choice that suits me.  My issue is that due to not eating fish, meat or diary there are occasions when there is nothing suited to me, listed on the menu.  I guess that I may be seen as an oddity by the staff and so I typically apologise that I have a “specific diet” and explain that I do not eat meat, fish or diary.

I actually think that by asking for something specific you are driving a change in what is provided.  I am happy to apologise if I am being an inconvenience but maybe I am being an “inspiration”?  Maybe, I am leading the way in what the eating out public will be wanting in the future – I believe so.  Just look at vegetarian options.  For many years there were few options for vegetarians on menus, now almost everywhere in the UK offers numerous vegetarian options on their menus.  I have noticed a trend with some younger chefs particularly to offer some interesting whole-food, plant-based options too.  (To much applause from me).

I also hate the idea that seems to be more prevalent in the US than the UK, that if you are vegan or vegetarian, then you should go to a specifically vegan or vegetarian restaurant.  Isn’t that “culinary racism”??? Should Lebanese food only be eaten by the Lebanese or Indian by those from the sub-continent?  Of course not, then why should vegans and vegetarians not eat with their friends at any restaurant of their choosing?

My tip….

What I have found is that if I say what I do or don’t eat ahead of time, the kitchen team and chefs are usually happy to provide me with something that works for me.  Calling ahead certainly avoids any embarrassment especially when I am entertaining clients.  A lot of chefs are happy to make something special as long as it is not asked for with a minutes notice during a busy service.  Calling ahead is polite and respectful and with most places having either their full menu or sample menus online you can easily check if you need to call ahead.

As Audrey, my darling Mother used to say, “You can’t get if you don’t ask” and “What’s the worst thing that can happen?  They might say No!”

 

Just don’t upset the Chef!

So what do you do and have you experienced culinary racism?

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A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients. A is for…Aubergine

Mr G and I always play some sort of silly made up holiday word game when we are away. Whilst in Istanbul this past weekend, he came up with the idea of an A-Z list of Plantalicious Ingredients.  We did a quick list and agreed that it was such a good idea that I should do a regular little spot on my website.  So here we go….
So – today – A is for Aubergine
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I love Aubergines (Eggplant in the US) as they are such a good versatile veggie.  You can stuff them, cook them in a ratatouille, a moussaka, puree them for a dip, roast them, smoke them.  From a mouth-feel perspective they are quite meaty and satisfying.
Let me share a culinary secret – Aubergines usually take a lot of cooking to soften them and that usually involves oil that they soak up like a sponge.  Often times cooks suggest salting them too. Life is too short for all this nonsense and both can be avoided if you have a microwave. Pierce the skin of the aubergines with the point of a sharp knife here and there and place in a microwave.  Cook on High for about 10-15 mins, depending on the wattage of your machine,  Check them after about 10 mins.  Allow them to cool or plunge in cold water.  They will shrivel up and their smooth outer skin will become wrinkled.  This means that they are pretty much cooked inside.  You can now use them in your favourite recipes or slice and stuff or scrape out the flesh etc.
A simple recipe – grill or griddle thick slices of the wilted Aubergine along with some bell pepper and fill a tortilla wrap for a filling snack.
What’s your favourite Aubergine recipe?
Do you have an Aubergine recipe you’d like given a Plantalicious make over?
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