Category Archives: Food & Drink

How To Boil Eggs – Simple Instructions on Boiling Eggs

Although to some people boiling an egg might seem like a simple task, it is like everything in life you only learn how to do something by either reading about it, watching someone else or learning from family etc. If you haven’t had anyone in the past who has taught you how to boil an egg and for how long you need to boil an egg for then it’s probably about as simple as changing the oil on a car would be for me!

So below are my instructions for how to make soft boiled eggs and how to make hard boiled eggs.

Basic Procedure For Boiling An Egg

Firstly it is best to use eggs that are not straight out of the fridge and that are at room temperature but if you want to boil an egg now and the eggs are in the fridge then just take it from there!

Fill a small pan with water so that there is enough water in the pan to cover the egg(s) by about half an inch or so. Put the eggs into the pan of cold water. The reason for using cold water rather than putting the eggs straight into boiling water is that this helps to stop them cracking.

Put the pan on the heat and heat it until the water starts boiling. Once the water is boiling then take note of the time – it helps to have a second hand on your watch but it is not essential. The time it takes to boil the eggs depends on if you like soft boiled eggs or hard boiled eggs.

Soft Boiled Eggs – How Long?

Now everyone likes their boiled eggs slightly differently but I like mine with the yolk (yellow) soft and the white cooked all the way through – I can’t stand any uncooked white in my eggs! So, to get soft boiled eggs like that you need to cook them for about 3 minutes 45 seconds as far as I am concerned. 4 minutes is fine if you don’t have a second hand on your watch! Try this out and see if this is how you like you eggs boiled and if you want them a bit more soft boiled or slightly more hard boiled then adjust the time accordingly.

You do need to be reasonably accurate on your timing otherwise, if you do leave them even a little bit longer then you will end up with hard-boiled eggs

Hard Boiled Eggs – How Long?

The same applies to hard boiling eggs in terms of how you like them – how hard you want the centres of the eggs to be. For me, if I want to have hard boiled eggs that I might want to chop up and add mayonnaise to and then put in a sandwich, I will boil the eggs for 5 minutes.

If you want to hard boil eggs for a picnic so that you open them when you are out and you are guaranteed of no runny bits then I would boil eggs for around 7 minutes to make sure they are totally hard boiled. Don’t boil them for too much longer than this otherwise they will likely taste a bit rubbery.

When the eggs are boiled, run them under a cold tap straight away and this should stop that green colour from appearing between the yolk and the white.

 

How to See Better in the Dark

eyeIf you were watching a recent episode of ‘Trust Me I’m a Doctor’ then you will have seen an experiment where the broadcaster Michael Mosley took a supplement for 90 days to see how it would affect his eyesight.

The results were very interesting and one particular thing that he noticed (and that was tested scientifically) was that his night time vision improved significantly as he could see much finer detail.

The supplement that he took contained the chemicals lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin and these are the important ingredients that affect the eyes.

Although you can get these substances in everyday food, with these it is really difficult to actually eat enough of the relevant vegetables that contain them so this could be one case where a supplement could be better.

The theory behind the research is that the macula is protected by certain pigments that are found in leafy green vegetables. If we eat a lot of those vegetables then the 3 chemicals above make their way to the macula and give it more protection.

There is a particular supplement that has these three chemicals in and it is freely available online. It is called Macushield and you can buy it on Amazon among other places. It is sold by opticians which gives it validity in terms of genuineness and being able to trust its claims.

So if you want to see better in the dark then it might be better to drop the carrots (or continue to eat them anyway!) and pick up this increasingly popular supplement which could help to not only help you see in the dark but also give you improved vision in other areas such as increased contrast.

You can get more information about the test results and the experiment about being able to see better by watching Series 5 Episode 2 of Trust me I’m a Doctor on iPlayer (starts at about 9 minutes in), or on the BBC website.

Where Can I Get Alginate?

Recent studies have found that a substance that is found in seaweed, called alginate, can have inhibiting effects on the absorption of fat into the body. Here we look into where you can get alginate.

In 2014 research at Newcastle University found that alginate can stop the body absorbing fat. Alginate is found naturally in seaweed and this has also been used in Japan as a weight loss supplement for a few years now.

If the body does not absorb the fat, then the person does not put on the extra weight that would be caused by the fat. Instead the fat is passed straight through the body.

Research is still going on to see if this can be made into a bonafide weight loss supplement but in the meantime people like Jamie Oliver have put down their weight loss to eating seaweed.

So the best way to get hold of alginate is by eating seaweed itself. But obviously this may not be an option for many people so they may be looking for an alginate supplement that can be taken with food.

There are a couple of options at present that contain alginate but are not sold as specifically weight loss supplements. Care should be taken with any kind of supplement and you may wish to consult your doctor before taking them.

In particular seaweed supplements are used to support thyroid function so if you have any issues with your thyroid you should certainly seek advice.

So you can get hold of seaweed (or kelp) supplements online and below are a couple of options (in either tablet or powder form)  which purport to contain alginate so could be options to consider:
 

Another possibility is food grade sodium alginate powder. This is actually used in molecular gastronomy to form things like pseudo caviar.

Obviously this kind of product has not been tested in terms of its possible weight loss properties so there is no guarantee that this will have any kind of effect and it would be interesting to test how you could use it in an every day context!

So as discussed there is a long way to go with more testing and research required to see if alginate can be used as a weight loss supplement. In any case a balanced and varied diet, together with regular exercise is generally the best way to lose weight.

Where Can You Get Inulin?

If you were watching the BBC TV program ‘How to Stay Young’ recently you may have seen a segment whereby Angela Rippon, who is 71 but in very good shape for her age, underwent an MRI scan to check her insides.

Although she had come out well in other tests, there was an obvious excess of visceral fat showing in the scan pictures both around her heart and in her abdomen, the levels she had were much higher than they should have been for her age group.

The results of having too much visceral fat can be very detrimental to your health – for example you have an increased risk of health problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease as well as strokes and dementia, and if you can it is worth trying to reduce the amount of visceral fat in your body.

As a result of this she was recommended by doctors to take inulin for 6 months to try and reduce the levels of visceral fat in her body. You can take inulin in powdered form and just add it to your food. So if you saw the program maybe you are wondering where can you get inulin?

Well you can get it at local specialist health food shops and you can also get it online. There is quite a wide selection of Inulin available from Amazon mostly in powdered form and in different quantities. Check out some of the links below for different options:

 

What is Inulin?

Inulin is a natural product that is found in plants. You can get the same effect as taking inulin by eating certain foods, however, if you wanted to have the same effect by eating things like chick peas and lentils, you would have to eat a very large quantity of them so perhaps the inulin supplement is the way to go.

It seems likely that a lot of us are carrying extra visceral fat that could be damaging our health but unfortunately we are unlikely to be able to have an MRI just to check the levels. But if you have a protruding abdomen and you are carrying extra weight around your belly then it is quite possible that you have too much visceral fat.

If this is the case then it is worth thinking about taking an inulin supplement to try and decrease those levels. You can add the powder to your food so that you don’t even notice that you are taking it.

Angela Rippon is now taking the supplement and it will be interesting to see if they do a follow up to see what kind of effect it has had on her visceral fat levels.

 

How to Cook Parsnips

How To Cook Parsnips

Parsnips are one of those vegetables that, in the UK, only get eaten once a year in some households, and that is at Christmas! However, there is no reason why they can’t be eaten year round and give a bit more variety to your vegetable selection.

As far as I am concerned, the most tasty way that you can cook parsnips is by roasting them. Ideally you can do this as part of a roast dinner so that you can combine their cooking with that of the roast potatoes and other roast vegetables that you might have.

However, you can also just boil or steam parsnips along with other vegetables or mash them on their own or with another vegetable.

Add parsnips to your usual vegetables to get some variety.
Add parsnips to your usual vegetables to get some variety.

Boiling or Steaming Parsnips

Firstly, you will need to clean and peel the parsnips. Put on a large pan of water to boil so that the vegetables will all be covered by the water. Add salt if you wish.

Cut the parsnips into similar shapes as you might with carrots for example into rounds or else you can cut into quarters lengthwise or into strips. The smaller that you cut the parsnips the shorter amount of time they will take to cook. Parsnips take a similar amount of time to cook as carrots.

Now how long you cook your vegetables for does depend to a certain extent to how crispy or not you like your vegetables to be. If you like them to be reasonably hard (al dente) then only simmer them for 8-10 minutes. If you prefer them to be softer then cook for 12-15 minutes. Check with a sharp knife to see if the parsnips are cooked to your liking.

Mashed Parsnips

Another option is to have mashed parsnips. You can have them on their own or also mash them up with swede or something similar.

Once you have chopped the parsnips up into similar sized chunks, bring the water to the boil and simmer the parsnips for around 15-20 minutes. once they are well cooked, drain them and mash the parsnips with a potato masher whilst adding some butter (and possibly a little cream if you are feeling indulgent). You could also add a small amount of a spice like nutmeg to give it a twist.

Roast Parsnips

Roast parsnips may take longer than you think to cook, so make sure you plan in advance. Firstly peel the parsnips, then chop them in half and then cut them into quarters lengthways. If they are quite small they may just need chopping in half.

Parboil your parsnips for a short period of time. Basically this means simmering them in boiling water for only around 3-5 minutes. Drain the parsnips and dry them on some kitchen towel. put the parsnips onto a plate or into a bowl and add salt. Toss the parsnips around in the salt so that they have a light coating. If you want an extra flavour you can also add honey to the parsnips.

Heat up some vegetable oil in a roasting tin or pyrex dish. The oil should just cover the bottom of the tin although the more oil you add the more of a ‘deep-fried’ effect you will give the parsnips. The oven should be at around 220 degrees C but if you are cooking other things in the oven at the same time then you can use a lower heat but just extend the cooking time.

Once the oil has heated up, add the parsnips to the pan and turn them over so that they are completely coated in the oil then put the dish back in the oven. Cook the parsnips for around 30 minutes ensuring that you turn them over during cooking so all sides are evenly browned.