Real Oil vs Spray on Oil

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I was given a SCANPAN for Christmas (see picture above), but the booklet that came with it was only recipes nothing about oil or butter and maintenance. One of the many tips was: Using an aerosol spray is not recommended on non-stick cookware as oil from aerosol cans burns at lower temperatures, and thereby increases the risk of damage to your non-stick product.
This prompted me to search whether I ought to stop using 1 Kcal sprays and/or oil aerosol sprays. And the result was astonishing.
When cooking sprays came on the food scene, I was thrilled. Since they claimed to add no additional calories and to make cooking surfaces non-stick, it seemed like a perfectly reasonable way to “have my cake and eat it, too.”
Sometimes I read the food label. This is what I found in my harmless little 1 kcal sunflower cooking spray, that is using a pump action push button.
53% Sunflower Oil, Water, Emulsifier. Lecithin (rapeseed); Acidity Regulator. Citric acid; thickener: Xanthan Gum. Preservative: Potassium Sorbate. Contains 35% less calories and 45% less fat than standard sunflower oil.

Potassium Sorbate (banned USA): A preservative used to suppress formation of moulds and yeasts in foods, wines and personal care products. In-vitro studies suggest that it is toxic to DNA and has a negative effect on immunity.
Is cooking spray bad for you? Most conventional cooking sprays do not just contain oil; many are loaded with questionable additives. Let’s take a look at the additives most commonly found in these sprays.

Additives, GM

  • Dimethyl silicone is an anti-foaming agent. It is also used as a textile finishing agent, paint additive, and an ingredient in cosmetics. The health implications of ingesting dimethyl silicone have not been extensively researched and therefore are not well understood. Our best advice for this ingredient…eat at your own risk.
  • Soy lecithin is a waste product produced by the refining of soybean oil. In conventional cooking sprays, it serves as an emulsifying agent. In other words, it prevents ingredients from separating. Critics claim that consumption of soy lecithin is harmful to our health and likely contains varying amounts of pesticides and solvents leftover from the growing and refining of soybeans.
  • Glyphosate, an ingredient found in the herbicide extensively used in GM crops, is speculated to be linked to digestive disorders, obesity, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, liver diseases, and cancer, to name a few.
  • To avoid the potentially harmful effects of cooking oils derived from GM crops, look for the non-GMO Project verified seal on your next purchase.

That’s enough negativity. I can only emphasize that you check the labels of your spray oils. don’t believe that it’s healthy just because it only contains one kcal.

I have binned my “1 kcal” spray and switched back to my Oil Bottle Brush (from Amazon).

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“What’s the healthiest cooking oil to use?” You’ve probably asked this question at least once in your life. With many varieties of cooking oils dominating the grocery store shelves, it can get overwhelming when selecting the right oil for everyday cooking. The truth is, all cooking oils are not created equal and understanding the basics will put you ahead of the game. From its specific uses to distinct characteristics, nutrient composition and flavour, the oil you choose can be used to either enhance your cooking and dishes in a multitude of ways or do the total opposite.

Oils play an important role, both in our day-to-day cooking and as part of a healthy, balanced diet, but when it comes to heating, not all oils are created equal. For more info check out what BBC Food has to say about cooking oils and oils in general.

 

How to Cook a Lovely Fluffy Rice

Serves: 4                 Prep Time: 5 minutes                     Cooking Time: 16 minutes

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The above picture shows 2 different rice’s – the first one is an Azafrán rice and the second is a mild green curry spiced one. It isnt that difficult to produce a lovely fluffy rice. I normally use Basmati Rice because it’s healthier than ordinary white rice. If you think rice is just rice, here are just a few of the reasons why Basmati is best and why to choose Basmati over ordinary rice. Basmati is gluten-free and low in fat. It contains all eight essential amino acids, folic acid, and is very low in sodium and has no cholesterol. And to top this: Basmati rice has fewer calories in a serving than its grainy cousins. You can reduce the amount of calorie intake by 20 calories with just one serving. Eating three portions of Basmati rice a week, you are already saving 60 calories per week.

  • 1 Onion, medium sized, finely chopped
  • 1 Garlic Clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Cooking Oil
  • Pinch Salt and Pepper
  • Spice depending on what flavour you want: –
    Azafrán, Curry, Sweet Paprika, Tomato Puree …
  • 150g Basmati Rice
  • 300ml Water
  1. Sautee the onion and garlic in the oil in a hot saucepan.
  2. When blanched add the spices, salt and pepper, and stir for approx.. 1 minute to increases the flavour.
  3. Then stir-in the rice and make sure it looks like each rice corn is coated in oil and spices.
  4. Then add the water, bring to boil and lover the heat to 1/3 cover the pan and leave for 16 minutes. Do NOT feel tempted to stir, its not needed and you’ll lose some liquid.
  5. Remove from heat after 16 minutes, check if the rice is cooked to your preference, if you want the rice softer, add 2 tbsp water to the pan and return it to the heat, simmer for max 2 minutes.

That’s it, you now have a perfect rice, and it only took 5 minutes handling.
When cooked you’ll have approx. 600g rice, at a stretch it could feed 6 persons when you serve a lot of vegetables as well as the meat, fish, chicken or turkey.

PER SERVING: 179 Kcals

Total Fat 3.7g (Saturated 0.6g) Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 44mg Total Carbohydrate 32.8g (Sugars 1.2g)
(Fibre 1.1g) Protein 3g Potassium 87mg

You can freeze the leftover rice and when I cook rice I ALWAYS cook for 4, that means that I have 3 portions in the freezer for when I don’t want to cook.

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  1. Wait until the rice is cold. Place approx. 150g (this is regarded as one portion) per bag. Take a little time and roll the rice like the front package and not like the rear, this will ensure ease of storage, and as you can see it takes up less space.
  2. It is also a good idea to write on a sticky label or directly onto the bag (with a marker pen) what flavour rice and the date of freezing as it is impossible to see which flavour rice it is once it is frozen.

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Prolong The Life of Fresh Vegetables

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I saw something about this on the TV and of course I had to experiment.
First, I tried with Romaine Lettuce and prolonged the usability and crunchiness to a little over a week.

My second try was with carrots. I was fed-up with carrots going limp and buying just 2-3 carrots was too expensive – bearing in mind the cost of driving to a shop every 2nd day and missing out on multi buy that ‘s cheaper. This time I managed to extend the usability to nearly 2 weeks, then I ran out of carrots.

While starting experiment one and two I also started the third one, this time using tomatoes. Because tomatoes are sold in punnets and if you like me only eat one or two every 2nd day, they go limp and over ripens before one has a chance to even eat half the punnet. I managed to keep eatable tomatoes for four weeks (see picture. Yes, they are 4 weeks after purchase old).

What’s the secret, you may ask.
Simple, you must, when you get home from shopping instead of loading your fridge with your purchase repack everything as follows:

  • Remove the plastic bags and wrappings.
  • Check that everything is usable,
    don’t bin unusable vegetables because some of it is still usable.
  • Dampen (soak it in water, and wring it as much as you can) a tea towel and use this to wrap the vegetables – each kind in a separate towel.
  • Store/keep either in the Veg box or on the lower shelf.

I have also used this method on Oranges and Lemons, it works great, but here instead of the tea towel I used damped kitchen towel. PS. You must keep an eye on these.

And that’s the whole secret.

Massaman Chicken Curry (Very Easy)

Serves: 4                Prep Time: 10 minutes                                    Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Masaman Chicken Curry (Very Easy)

This Massaman recipe came from the writing on the Massaman paste tub but I did make some subtle changes. For instance: I didn’t have the tamarind paste and I couldn’t be bothered squeezing a lemon, but it still tasted as good as when I have it at my local Chinese restaurant.

  • 50g Massaman curry paste (for a milder curry use 25g)
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable/Canola Oil
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 200g meat/chicken diced
  • 150g cubed potatoes
  • 50g chopped onions
  • 15g peanuts chopped & roasted
  • Maybe a little extra water to cook the potatoes
  • 3 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp tamarind extract
  • Taste and season as required
  • 150g white rice
  1. Stir-fry the Massaman paste with the oil and 2 tbsp water; keep stirring until the paste is dissolved.
  2. Then add 240ml coconut milk and bring to boil, simmer for 1 minute.
  3. Then add the diced chicken and the rest of the coconut milk, and bring back to boil.
  4. Add the potatoes, onions and peanuts and cook until potatoes are softened (ca. 20 mins)
  5. Stir in the sugar and tamarind*, cook for 1 minutes, then taste and season as required.
  6. I also added a handful of chopped Chinese Leaf just before point 4.
  7. Served with cooked white rice

Masaman Chicken Curry (Very Easy) (2)

Air Fried Chicken Thighs

Serves: 2 – – – – – – Prep Time: 3 minutes – – – – – – Air-Fry Time: 2x 10 minutes

Chicken-Thighs
This is such an easy dinner for two. The skin gets really crispy, and the amount of fat (oil) used is minimal. It can be served with nearly anything. If you are making air fried chips from frozen you can share the basket with the chips.

  • 2x (300-320g) skin-on, chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¾ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 squirt of 1cal oil spray (for second half fry)
  1. Preheat Air Fryer to 200°C and set timer to 20 minutes.
  2. Massage the oil, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper onto the thighs.
  3. Place thighs in the air fryer basket and fry for 10 minutes open the Fryer (when prompted to turn), spray thighs with 1 kcal oil. Continue frying until thighs are cooked (74°C in the thickest part), for the remaining 10 minutes.
  4. Remove and serve. Enjoy.

PER SERVING: 213.4 Kcals
Nutrition

Hasselback Potatoes – Air Fried

Serves: 3 – – – – – – – – Prep Time: 10 minutes – – – – – – – – Baking Time: 2x 15 minutes

Hasselback is a cooking method in which potatoes or other items are sliced not-quite-all-the-way through in thin, even layers, which can be stuffed or topped with additional flavourings. It’s a way of creating more surface area for flavours and creating additional texture. As a technique, it’s nothing new.
They look good and makes a nice accompaniment or a lovely starter.
You don’t have to use 3 different potatoes, you can just use one type.
Hasselback-Potatoes

  • 1x (150-200g) White Potato
  • 1x (150-200g) Red Potato
  • 1x (150-200g) Sweet Potato
  • 3 tbsp melted Butter
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp ground Paprika
  • Salt and ground Black Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp chopped Fresh Parsley
  1. Preheat Air Fryer to 180°C and set timer to 30 minutes.
  2. Slice each potato evenly across entire length making roughly ¾cm to ½cm slices, but make sure the knife only cuts through to the bottom ½cm, keeping the bottom of the potato intact. (Trick: use 2 chopsticks, one either side of the potato, to cut down on, thus making sure to cut evenly low).
  3. Combine butter, olive oil, garlic, and paprika in a small bowl. Brush some of the mixture over each potato and into the slits. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place potatoes in the air fryer basket and bake for 15 minutes open the Fryer (when prompted to turn), brush potatoes again with butter mixture, making sure to get it down into the fanned out slices. Continue baking until potatoes are cooked, another 15 minutes.
  5. Remove potatoes from the basket and brush with any remaining butter mixture. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

PER SERVING: 317 Kcals

Total Fat 16.6g (Saturated 8g) Cholesterol 31mg
Sodium 165mg Total Carbohydrate 39.7g (Sugars 6g)
(Fibre 5g) Protein 4.4g Potassium 1007mg

Cheerful heart-warming Winter Salad

Serves: 2 Prep         Time: 5 minutes         Cooking Time: 0 minutes

Salad w Orange, Plum (3)

I love this salad it gives me a happy feeling both to look at and to eat. It is just delicious.

  • 90g Romaine salad, washed and chopped
  • 70g Orange or 2 small easy peelers, peeled and chopped
  • 50g Plums, washed, destoned and chopped
  • ½ tbsp Cherry Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 pinch Salt and Pepper

Salad w Orange, Plum (4)

  1. Wash and dry the salad and plum. Peal the orange.
  2. Cut each onto roughly 1cm pieces and place in a salad bowl.
  3. Sprinkle with oil and vinegar.
  4. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, as required.
  5. Toss, serve and enjoy.

PER SERVING: 92 Kcals

Total Fat 7.1g (Saturated 1g) Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 12mg Total Carbohydrate 7.6g (Sugars 5g)
(Fibre 1.1g) Protein 1g Potassium 170mg
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Cooking with a Digital Air Fryer

I purchased one of these at the Bedford auction a week or so ago. It only cost me £26 and I’m quite happy. I pulled myself together and decided that I would try it.

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Last Saturday, I was invited by Gesine to her birthday lunch in a very nice pub and I had roast belly pork; the most gorgeous belly pork I have had for a long, long time the meat was tender and not over cooked but the crackling was absolute perfect nearly as good as in Denmark and I definitely could not fault it.

I bought a piece of pork that looked as if it had some nice crackling and I also bought a large sweet potato, as there was a recipe in the downloaded recipe book for “Sweet Potato Fries”.

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Here are the two pictures of the pork joint. Apart from getting the timing slightly wrong by 5-10 minutes the Pork was great and the crackling even better. I was though surprised of how much liquid there was in the basket, as I had not added any.

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The sweet potatoes only took 15 minutes and again a great success. Crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.

Now comes the cleaning of the basket/drawer, I have poured 1 pint hot water and detergent into the basked soaking both the raised platform and the lower plate. I am hoping that this will enable me to clean the basket correctly.

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Chicken Brest on Skewers

Serves: 4-6 Prep: 15 minutes (plus 1h rest) Cooking Time: 15 minutes

This will make a lovely summer evening meal.
Served with a side salad and not too difficult to make.
I think this is a winner, especially as every thing can be made
in advance and the actual frying can be done just before needed.

  • 2-4 fresh chicken breasts
    150ml Lemon Juice
    75ml Olive Oil
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp pepper
    2 tsp brown sugar
    2 eggs

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  • Cut 4 Chicken breast into thin stripes
  • In a medium to large bow Add and Mix:
    · 150ml Lemon Juice
    · 75ml Olive Oil
    · 1 tsp salt
    · 1 tsp pepper
    · 2 tsp brown sugar
  • Soak all the chicken strips in this liquid.
    Cover with cling film and place in fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.
  • Remove from fridge and skewer 2 stripes onto one skewer,
    and place the skewer in a deep oven dish (1st and 2nd picture),
    making sure all the skewers are tightly packed but not stacked.
  • Whip 2 eggs, with a little salt and pepper, and pour this over the skewers,
    making sure each skewer is covered.
  • Take each skewer and turn them in breadcrumbs
  • Use a high edged frying pan, or a deep fryer, and fry the skewers (in badges) until brown,
    you must keep turning the skewers.
  • Drain on kitchen paper and serve.
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