Tag Archives: cooking

The wondrous health benefits of Black Pepper

9 Feb

The wondrous health benefits of Black Pepper 

What’s recently caught my attention recently, is the sheer quantity of black pepper that just I, soley as an individual seem to consume.

Egg? I mount it on per forkful. Chicken? A sprinkling will never do. In fact, egg mayo is usually the secondary ingredient in an egg mayo sandwich at my place when black peppers around for garnish…

I mean, it’s arguably the most handy and convenient spice there is. If you completely cock up a dish but inevitably have a dinner party waiting, hastily add a sprinkle of black pepper to make it more pleasantly edible, and allow the spice to visually appeal as if you have spent hours, stirring in spice concoctions over the stove. Simples 😉

Black pepper is that magic ingredient which spice haters love. It’s spicy but it’s not, it passes by you’re lips without a second thought, as you’re just so adapted to experiencing it in the base of all foods.

Does anyone actually observe how reliant we are on black pepper? We use it in everything, and we are consuming it by the masses little by little. It’s so cheap yet useful, one of those things I think i’ going to add to my list of which ‘Humans take for granted’

So anyway, I was pretty intrigued to find out if this miraculous, powdery, blackish substance held any significant health benefits…?

Here’s a Viva Las Peanuts style briefing about qualities of black pepper you did not know before + a mini historical insight.

Enjoy. 

Black peppercorns health benefits

Black peppercorns & health benefits

Black pepper, as one of the most ancient commodities of the spice trade has the longest history of export from South Asia dating back at least 4000 years (As does ginger!)
Originating in Kerala, black pepper spread to the rest of South and Southeast Asia where it became an important spice plant; and Peppercorns have since been eagerly sought by Europeans and westerners. 

….And the health list?

  • Okay so firstly, you may notice that, black pepper stimulates the taste buds in such a way that an alert is sent to the stomach to increase hydrochloric acid secretion, thereby improving digestion. – *How cool is it that… in this way… black Pepper has been linked to improved progress among Anorexia sufferers via stimulation of tastebuds?! (Over a prolonged period, but nevertheless!)
This hydrochloric acid is necessary for the digestion of proteins and other food components in the stomach. When the body’s production of hydrochloric acid is insufficient, food may sit in the stomach for an extended period of time, leading to heartburn or indigestion, or it may pass into the intestines, where it can be used as a food source for unfriendly gut bacteria, whose activities produce gas, irritation, and/or diarrhea or constipation. 

This can be traced back to Peppers mineral composition…

The basic peppercorn is of health benefiting & essential oils such as piperine, (an amine alkaloid, which gives strong spicy pungent character to the pepper) as well as numerous monoterpenes hydrocarbons such as sabinene, pinene, terpenene, limonene, mercene which gives aromatic property to the pepper

  • It is these active principles in the pepper which can increase gut motility as well as the digestion power by increasing gastro-intestinal enzyme secretions. Piperine has also been shown to increase absorption of selenium, B-complex vitamins, beta-carotene, as well as other nutrients from food eaten alongside it.
  • Peppercorns also contain tonnes of plant derived chemical compounds that are crucially known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties (and  have actually been used since ancient times for anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-flatulent purposes) As well as minerals like potassium, calcium, zinc, manganese, iron, and magnesium. (Potassium is actually an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure) & Iron is essential for cellular respiration and blood cell production.
  • Plus, peppercorns are an excellent source of many vital B-complex groups of vitamins; and of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C and vitamin-A. Rich in flavonoid polyphenolic anti-oxidants like carotenes, cryptoxanthin, zea-xanthin and lycopene, black pepper helps the body remove harmful free radicals and help protect from cancers and diseases.

And some icing on the icing?

  •  Black Pepper just barricades Congestion. It literally just eats through it all and implodes through your sinuses. (Especially if you use ¼ of a pot for a couple of eggs) Trust me. But don’t do it without a wall of pre-built spice tolerance.
  • OH, and did you know…?  The next time you have a minor cut, sprinkle black pepper on it. It will help stop the bleeding. Even more? – It’s antibacterial properties will promote healing and kill germs.

Lets say no more.

Honey mushroom & onion egg noodles with spinach – Recipe

8 Feb

Honey mushroom & onion egg noodles with spinach

I saw a post recently for ‘Honey soba noodles with mushroom and onion’

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Chinese egg noodles cooked in soy sauce and ginger. With mushrooms, spinach and spring onion.

Well, if you use ‘recently’ loosely, seeing as it’s made it’s way to the bottom of my favorites bar, and thus has probably been stewing around there for a good few months now. But anyhow, there’s a perfect time for everything…

So yeah, they looked mouth watering, and today, I rationally decided it was time to make use of the 7 packs of mushrooms we bought on reduction last week – making a twist on the original recipe I had in mind,..and actually changing it totally. I actually didn’t use any honey (we were out of the squeezy kind and the jar was just effort overload) . I went overboard on the chili and pepper (like really really overboard)so the meal ended with a few desperate slabs of butter to reduce inflammation of le tongue. But otherwise? This totally hit the spot, and smelled pretty impressive too, it looks like a fresh chinese takeaway! (£10 to any one who spots that in London!)

The spinach isn’t usually a regular part of such a dish, but once again, we have this large bag which is just never ending. Like it’s literally bottomless. Spinach anyone?!

You can add chicken, tofu, pork etc into this to. I just didn’t have any on hand, but it would have gone rather nicely!

Here’s the recipe, I hope you like it!

Serves 1

  • 125g/1 serving of dry egg noodles, cooked to packet instructions (I used Sharwoods – cook in 4 minutes!)
  • 1/2 a large white onion, sliced (I used a whole!)
  • 2 spring onions chopped, with green part.
  • Sliced button mushrooms (Quantity to preference)
  • 1/4 tsp dried ginger
  • 1.5 tsp dark soy sauce + extra if you desire
  • Dried chili, to taste
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • Sprinkle of dried parsley
  • Garlic for frying (1 -3 cloves depending on preference!)
  • Sesame oil for frying
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • Lots of black pepper
  • Sprinkle of white pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • Handful of fresh spinach
  • Optional: Beansprouts
  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan/a wok
  2. Add garlic, parsley and ginger, stir. Do not allow to burn
  3. Add all the onions, spring onions, mushrooms, spinach and chili. Cook until the onions and mushrooms are slightly browned/caramelized
  4. Add the cooked noodles bit by bit and mix thoroughly after each addition.
  5. Generously add soy sauce, pinch of salt and white pepper.
  6. Drizzle the honey over the stir fry
  7. Once the noodles are properly warmed and coated. Remove from heat and serve!
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Chinese egg noodles cooked in soy sauce and ginger. With mushrooms, spinach and spring onion.

A fresh, healthy quick and delicious meal thrown together in no time. Looks pretty good huh? Try it and leave your feedback, I’d love to hear! 🙂 Good day all!

Prezzo, Mayfair

6 Feb

Prezzo – MAYFAIRprezzo_meals

Pronounced Pretzo? Or prezzzzzz-oh?

I’m guilty of using the former, but everyone else seems to know Pretzo by the latter. Which of them is correct? I haven’t the slightest clue, but for the sake of VLP’s…We’ll call this my first Prezzo review.

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Prezzo Mayfair, London – Doesn’t it look classic?

In April 2012 some very nice people gifted our family (Namely my dad) with a Tastecard. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tastecard, it’s basically a card that gives you 50% off or 2 FOR 1 in selected UK chain restaurants. I.E Prezzo, Pizza Express, ASK etc. (www.tastecard.co.uk)

So, since around October 2012 my best friend and I have totally exploited this card and have been all around London tasting Pizzas and cheesecake and fudge cakes. *Drool*

I like to say that this card was an excuse to eat dessert, and it’s practically free…until it was pointed out to me that…I’d get dessert anyway. Dessert first, always. Does anyone else read up on menu’s before they visit a restaurant?

I’m pretty guilty of reading the dessert menu first and ruling out the restaurant before I’ve even glimpsed the main. Is that the norm? No? Yes? Oh well, it’s a fool proof way to secure a good post meal cheesecake anyway 😉

We’re in love with Prezzo. We can’t put our finger on whether it’s the food or the lovely contemporary restaurants, but either way, we always leave on a double course filled tummy, having saved half the cost of the bill. Sweet. Oh, I also always leave with about 9232 new pictures on my phone of cheesecakes and pizza taken at 1-360 degree angles. Then I come home and show my parents how amazing it was. But they still haven’t visited! And they remain firm lovers of Pizza express. Hm.

This is a review of Prezzo, Mayfair. Usually we go to Haymarket (Lovely staff, and BONUS – one of the young blokes is always extra generous with the chocolate fudge cake sauce, but he’s not always there…!) But Mayfair was good, real good. Take a look and see?

My pizza picture was taken on a different date to the picture of my friend’s pasta, but it was the same branch 🙂

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Vegetarian cheeseless pizza (I hate cheese!) Mayfair, London

Here’s a beautiful cheese less vegetarian fluffy Prezzo pizza! (I’m sorry, a pet peeve – I hate cheese! Pizzas all about tomatoey bread ;)!) Doused with extra virgin chilli oil of course – to my friends absolute horror. (Don’t get me started on why I think olive oil is a super food!;)) The base in Mayfair was way fluffier and tasted fresher than that in Haymarket. It also seems bigger and less dry? The veggie portion was much bigger in Mayfair too

Whilst my friend ordered some pasta thingy…she always tries something new, I can never keep up.

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Whatever it is always gets the thumbs up though! I think I see chicken and bacon.

And for dessert (essentially free with Tastecard) was a honeycomb cheesecake. It was my first time tasting this…I can’t describe it..smooth? Soft? SILKY. Yes, silky. Delicious, sweet, creamy and heavenly. The portions could have been a tad larger though…they were nowhere near as big as the fudge cake we’ve previously got (post for another day), despite costing the same price, the fudge cake is also served with ice cream.

Prezzo honeycomb cheesecake, Mayfair

Prezzo honeycomb cheesecake, Mayfair

I wasn’t actually full after leaving though. Perhaps this was due to the lack of cheese/meat in my meal? Or the fact that my friend drank 5 glasses of water, 2 of which were mine and so I didn’t fill up with any water at all haha! I didn’t mind though, it meant there was room for something sweet when I got home – (Fig rolls and milk por supuesto! ;))

We followed this up with a visit to her dad’s office a couple of yards away and then a girls shopping trip in Oxford Street! We didn’t buy anything though (Mainly because the Primark changing room queue ran the length of the store?! We were just overly happy that our January A2 exams were over!

  1. So, where’s your favourite place to eat out?
  2. Anyone else read up on the menu before visiting?
  3. Quality or quantity for the price?
  4. And last but not least…What dessert do you have the reputation of compulsively ordering?!

Have a happy Wednesday friends! ❤

 

Fudgy Brownie Divinity – Recipe

5 Feb

These Brownies were just THE FUDGIEST, DIVINEST CHOCOLATIEST AND DELICIOUSEST brownies EVER! (Yes I understand these words aren’t the social norm…yet! Try them for yourself and see what you can say?!)

I ate 4 in one go…(Trust me it was a lot) I swore I wouldn’t never eat brownies again…and made them again the next week. Absolutely yummy… a favorite with friends and family! And extra benefit of these brownies is they contain ZERO butter! All vegetable/canola oil, which helps retain moisture so they actually never expire! (But consider the egg ingredient when you save them under your bed for later;))

I prefer to up the cocoa and cut the sugar for a more dense and deep chocolate taste 🙂 The white chocolate chips were just the icing on the icing. These brownies MUST be tried! They can also be vegan friendly if egg and milk substitutes are used. I bought these into school, and once word was spread I had managed to give away an entire 3 batches. Man, I should have been charging. They were popular. Consider your own verdict…

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I hope you enjoy this recipe and leave some feedback!!

Makes 1 9×9 in pan

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • As many chocolate chips/walnuts as you desire!
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan (I use greaseproof paper)
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; gradually stir into the egg mixture until well blended. Stir in walnuts, if desired. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the brownie begins to pull away from edges of pan. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

I found that the brownies were worryingly fudgey and runny for about an hour after being removed. But they solidified afterwards! They taste AMAZING though, when fresh out of the oven and served with vanilla ice cream!! *Drool*

Depending on the power of your oven, check on the brownies every 2 minutes after the 20 min mark, you don’t want them to burn, but do not under cook else they will not cut!

I can swear by this recipe as being THE BEST EVER! How do you like your brownies?

Good day all!

All happy Mondays start with pancakes!

5 Feb

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Maple syrup whole wheat pancakes

Happy Monday everyone! This was the delicious plate presented to me at breakfast by Mr Monday Morning! It was a long weekend, so much work to do it was crazy!

The weathers warming up, its been a whole 7 degrees! Perfect for long strolls in a breezy wind! I picked up some goodies from Aldi – needless to say I have since been addicted to fig rolls and brioches! Also, anyone know how to get rid of biscuit cravings without buying more cheap & delicious European goodies?!

Milk brioches! 87p for this whole bag! Love Aldi

Milk brioches! 87p for this whole bag! Love Aldi

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The Aldi caramel tastes 100% better than good old galaxy! Will DEFINITELY be buying more of this! So creamy and smooth! The spirals are basically Kinder buenos…Bought more my brother but got I certainly good feedback on those! 🙂

I have also got a new found addiction to FIG ROLLS. 2 days later, minus 2 cartons and milk and an entire packet of fig rolls. I think it’s time to admit….I need to buy a new fix!! They’re so yummy! The crazy thing is that I actually don’t like figs…Having been presented to a plate of fruit resembling raw mince meat I hadn;t touched the stuff ever since. But the words ‘Sweet golden pastry encrusting a sweet fig filling..’ were too hard to resist.

Lunch was chickpeas. Having spent half of the morning arguing with my mom (who hates chickpeas) arguing that chickpeas are amazing, I decided to conquer the kitchen and make chickpeas. How can anyone hate chickpeas?! I intended to make Espinacas con Garbanzos – basically spanish for, well…Spinach and chickpeas. But decided instead to use up the rest of the turmeric we had and made chana masala. Yummo, served with squidgy microwave taters. And a mountain of unpictured black pepper (For aesthetic purposes 😉 I will post the recipe for this! 🙂

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Chickpea chana masala! Extra spicyyyy!

Later on in the day, I jumped on a tube train and rode to Kensington High street to check out their library – Beautiful! I totally walked round the area and spent a good hour in Waterstones trying to get rid of my book voucher! But came out empty handed…Then took an hours walk through London, past Hyde park, Mayfair, Picadilly Circus and up to Euston Square  London is so beautiful. Then I studied so hard and so much that my brain was sizzling and geared up to study until nigh was high, then went straight home and studied more.  😉

Having clocked up a good 15 miles over the whole day I was ravenous when I got home at about 5ish and cooked up a massive pasta dinner for myself and my bro’s! Spaghetti arrabiatta…faturing PARSLEY. And heaps of it.

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This really, really hit the spot. Did you know that a 100g serving of pasta (dry) actually has a whole 11g of protein? A baked potato only has about 4g, WITH skin!

I told my friend that this plate was from a restaurant…she said she would have totally bought that…if there wasn’t the parsley mass. I’m a herbaholic with a reputation!!

Dessert was lots of warmed skimmed milk (Sweeter than whole) And some biscuits. Oh so delicious biscuits, why can’t you be on my tongue forever…?

WP_20121230_028 And that was Monday gone!! Did you guys have a good start to the week too?

I can’t wait till the weather warms more, I’m really missing those long sunshine walks!!

Have an amazing week! Thanks for visiting 🙂