Ratatouille Recipe Money Saver Using Leftover Bread Crumble Mix

The usual way to make a crumble mix is with flour and margarine (or some other shortening ingredient such as butter or lard) crumbled together by hand or using a food processor. The crumble mix is then sprinkled as a topping over various kinds of fruit or vegetable dishes and baked until the crumble is golden brown.

This version of crumble mix is a money saver because it uses leftover bread instead of flour, and is a good way of using up any remaining ends of medium to hard cheese. While it isn’t essential to have a simple food processor to crumble the bread, margarine and cheese together, it does speed things up, but it can also be made by hand with a knife and a grater.

The savoury crumble topping is a winner because it saves waste and adds a crunchy texture. The cheese (any sort except soft cheese) is a perfect complement to the flavour of the vegetables and provides extra calcium for a growing family, while not being too heavy for an evening meal.

How the Mediterranean Cuisine Ratatouille Recipe Became Popular in Britain

Ratatouille is a traditional French recipe using fresh vegetables and olive oil from the South of France Mediterranean area, known as the Midi. It was hardly known in Britain before the 1950s because the main ingredients were not grown in Northern Europe. The ideal ingredients would be sweet red onions, sweet peppers, young courgettes (zucchini), wild mushrooms and tomatoes, all fresh, with extra virgin olive oil and mountain herbs.

It was the famous cookery writer Elizabeth David who created a demand for exotic vegetables and other ingredients native to Southern Europe in the 1950s. By the 1960’s, thanks to better transport and growing methods, many more food items from the Mediterranean area became available in Britain and the rest of Northern Europe, and ratatouille became popular with home cooks. This is just one of many variations of it.

Ratatouille Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium onions (use red onions for a milder taste)
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic or more if liked
  • 3 sweet peppers (use 1 red, one green and one yellow for eye appeal)
  • 4 large mushrooms or equivalent in small mushrooms
  • 3 medium zucchini (courgettes)
  • Chopped herbs to taste (basil, sage and rosemary are best)
  • 3 or 4 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • One 400gms/10 oz can of tomatoes
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Chop all ingredients, or slice/chop different vegetables ie fine-chop the onions, slice the courgettes, or whatever looks attractive.
  2. Add a few tablespoonfuls of good olive oil to a pan warming on medium heat.
  3. Put in the onions first for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the rest of the sliced vegetables, chopped or shredded herbs and seasoning to taste.
  5. Stir in the can of tomatoes (or fresh if available) last.
  6. Lower heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the Savoury Cheese Crumble Mix, as below.
  8. Transfer to large ovenproof dish, and switch on oven to warm at medium heat.

Savoury Cheese Crumble Mix Recipe Using Leftover Food:

Ingredients:

  • 3 or 4 slices or crusts of any kind of leftover bread (using different kinds together is fine)
  • 2 oz-3oz (or a couple of tbs) of margarine, butter or any other cooking fat
  • 2-3 oz of any kind(s) of medium to hard cheese (mature cheese and mixing types works well)

Directions for the Leftover Bread Crumble Mix and to Assemble Dish:

  1. Crumble together as for making pastry, using a food processor or knife and hand grater.
  2. Sprinkle and smooth over the ratatouille in the oven proof dish
  3. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes in a moderate oven until the crumble topping is golden brown.

Hints:

  • Greasing the top of the dish can make cleaning easier afterwards.
  • Don’t overfill the dish.
  • The ratatouille and leftover bread crumble mix can be prepared at different times, and each can be frozen separately.
  • If frozen when assembled in the oven dish for later cooking, make sure defrosting is complete before putting in a heated oven.

This dish is good for complete cheap family meals, or as a side dish with meat. It is particularly useful if there are is a vegetarian or two at the table, because they can eat this with more cheese and some leafy green vegetables.


How to Lower Cholesterol Naturally: Lowering Cholesterol Through Exercise, Diet and Stress Reduction

Over the past two decades, high cholesterol levels have become a major source of concern with regards to heart disease. According to current medical recommendations, overall blood cholesterol should be no greater than 200. Fifteen years ago, the recommendation was to keep it under 300, but doctors now believe the lower, the better. However, in the prevention of heart attacks, keeping serum cholesterol in check may only be part of the solution, since there are an equal number of heart attacks in those with low cholesterol as those with high cholesterol.

The ratio of HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) is also important because HDL attaches to LDL and shuttles it out of the blood stream before it can attach to artery walls. HDL levels above 50 are desirable.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is made in the liver and is necessary in the production of every cell in the body. Our brains are made up almost entirely from cholesterol. In fact, without cholesterol, the human body couldn’t survive. So, why is it a problem then? Well, the current science tells us that too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing. When the LDL is too high, the excess can stick to artery walls and eventually cause a blockage, resulting in loss of blood flow to the heart. The exact mechanism for why this takes place is not completely understood, or at least there is some debate. One of the more accepted views is that damage to the artery wall will attract cholesterol to help in the healing process. What we do know is that damage to arteries can be caused by high blood pressure, stress, poor diet, and smoking.

So, the question becomes: Without those risk factors, would cholesterol be problematic? Remember, statistics show that an equal number of people who die from heart disease have low cholesterol as those with high cholesterol.

Cholesterol lowering medications (statins) work to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the gut, and others aid in stopping production in the liver. What none of them do is to address why an excess is produced in the first place.


 

Causes of High Cholesterol

Genetics most likely has a lot to do with cholesterol levels, but genetics may simply mean that one displays the same family habits and lifestyle choices that lead to any number of conditions, including high cholesterol. The most likely catalyst for producing high cholesterol is insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas and is released in response to high blood sugar and stress (fight or flight). A chronically high level of insulin in the blood stream causes fat storage and can lead to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.

Inside each of the body’s cells are receptors that signal the pancreas to send out more cholesterol when the level is low. Remember, cholesterol is necessary for the production of every cell in the body, including fat cells. The trouble here is that once the cell is full, any excess cholesterol has nowhere to go, so it simply stays in the blood stream.

Another very important hormone to consider is glucagon. Unlike insulin, which causes sugar to be converted to fat and stored, glucagon stimulates fat for energy use. Keeping the insulin/glucagon system in balance is critical.

Stress will also increase insulin levels and can lead to elevated cholesterol and damage to the arteries.

Stress is an important survival mechanism that prepares the body (and the mind) for situations that warrant complete focus and awareness. In response to fight or flight, the adrenals release cortisol, which in turn signals the pancreas to release insulin. The energy from glucose can now be used to fight or flee. In this way, the system is very important. The problem is we are only designed to live with stress for short bouts. When we are stressed for extended periods of time, the system becomes overworked and can lead to a number of health complications, including elevated levels of cholesterol, high blood pressure, and damage to the artery walls, which may be the reason that cholesterol “sticks” in the first place.

Why stress leads to elevated cholesterol levels isn’t exactly understood, but one reason may be that energy molecules produced from stress stimulates fatty acids to be released by the liver.

Natural Solutions for High Cholesterol

A natural approach to lowering the risk for coronary artery disease (CAD) is to find what your body’s normal cholesterol levels are, and to address issues that damage arteries. Exercise, lowering stress, proper rest, and diet are all important things to consider in reducing the risk of CAD.

Exercise, in particular weight training, can lower blood pressure, reduce body fat, increase metabolism, reduce stress and balance the insulin/glucagon system. It has also been shown to significantly increase HDL cholesterol levels. In addition, heavy weight training, that stimulates the lactic system, causes a surge in growth hormone, which has been shown to regulate cholesterol production.

Eat small meals throughout the day. This will also help to control blood sugar and keep your cholesterol levels in check. Lean proteins should be combined with non processed carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans, and of course, green leafy vegetables. Consuming high fiber foods such as oats and almonds can lower total cholesterol by as much as 12%. However, adding sugar toppings such as honey, sugar and milk can increase blood sugar and insulin response, so they should be limited.

Get at least seven hours of sleep per night to help control blood pressure and increase growth hormone levels.

While medications may help to lower cholesterol in the blood, they do not address the causes, which may in fact be more relevant to heart disease. On the other hand, exercise, diet and managing stress does both.


How to Reduce/ Lower Cholesterol Levels in Blood & Improve Health

Cholesterol, the artery clogger. Doctors now say that anybody over the age of 20 years old should get their cholesterol levels checked every 5 years. There are however, many, many simple everyday things to do that will lower levels and consistently maintain a good healthy level. Such practices inevitably also increase vitality and general health and well-being.

Tips to Reduce Cholesterol Levels in the Blood: Don´t Smoke

Or at the least, cut down or use weaker cigarettes. Doctors report that smoking is the number one cause for high cholesterol levels. In countries such as Ireland, heart-related problems are the cause of 40 percent of deaths, not to mention all the heart problems that people experience in their daily lives, due to smoking, not least, high cholesterol levels. To put it simple, quit smoking and cholesterol levels in the blood will fall. Sharply.

 

Eat Healthier to Lower Cholesterol

Something that everybody knows but most people don´t realize how easy it can be. Instead of cooking with fat or vegetable oil try using olive oil, particularly the extra virgin brand (the light green coloured one). Olive oil is an especially good food for the heart, with many benefits, as it is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (good fats!) and antioxidative substances. It is the staple of the mediterranean diet, such as in Spain, where Spanish people are the longest living people in Europe, with a higher life expectancy than the rest of the continent. And it tastes good too.

Another thing that everyone can learn from Spain is to eat fresh fruit. Slice a banana or some strawberries onto a bol of cron flakes and Bob´s your uncle. One more thing worth mentioning is that people from the UK and the US do not, generally, eat enough fish, an important part of a healthy diet at least once or twice a week. So, next time at the supermarket, try buying a fillet of fish instead of chicken or steak.

Exercise and Lowering Cholesterol Levels

Even if just for a walk around the block, daily, it will work wonders for the body as opposed to driving everywhere. Cardiovascular exercise is also scientifically proven to increase well-being levels and enhances the mood. This is due, in part, to the fact that exercise aids the body in controlling blood sugar levels more effectively, it increases serotonin distribution in the body and release chemical endorphins, all leading to what basically amounts to feeling good, as well as reducing cholesterol!

Light to moderate exercise regularly does the trick. Go for a walk three times a week or jump on a bike and go for a spin.


Natural Remedy for High Cholesterol: How to Lower Blood Cholesterol Levels Naturally

Although cholesterol is often portrayed as a dietary villain, in truth cholesterol is essential to human life. The body needs cholesterol to produce sex hormones, cell membranes, vitamin D, bile, and nerve sheaths. The liver manufactures about a gram of this essential cholesterol, called serum cholesterol, every day, which is all the body really needs. The other type of cholesterol is dietary cholesterol. Found in foods, especially animal products, this type of cholesterol can be harmful.

LDL and HDL

To travel through the bloodstream, cholesterol molecules have to attach themselves to special proteins called lipoproteins. Low density lipoproteins (or LDLs) carry about two thirds of cholesterol molecules and high density lipoproteins (or HDLs) carry the remainder. LDLs tend to deposit cholesterol in the artery walls, which leads to an increased risk of heart disease, but HDLs collect cholesterol and take it to the liver to be metabolized and flushed out of the body. For more information about cholesterol levels see the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.

 

Although a doctor may need to prescribe medication to treat high cholesterol, almost anyone can use diet, exercise and relaxation to further reduce blood cholesterol levels.

How to Reduce Bad Cholesterol (LDL) through Diet

  1. Cut the Fat: Reducing animal fat has the greatest overall effect on lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Cutting down on or eliminating fatty meats, whole-milk dairy products, and baked goods made with saturated fats (fats and oils which solidify at room temperature) will reduce bad cholesterol levels. Use moderate amounts of olive oil for cooking and avoid fats which are solid at room temperature. Replace red meat with fish; fish oil has been shown to reduce cholesterol.
  2. White’s Not Right: Increase consumption of whole grains while phasing out foods made with white flour. Oat bran and legumes are full of soluble fiber which binds to cholesterol and ushers it out of the body, reducing blood cholesterol levels. Just ½ cup daily of oat bran and rice bran have been shown to reduce cholesterol by up to 10%.
  3. Eat a Rainbow: Eating a range of colorful fruits and vegetables is beneficial to overall health, not just cholesterol balance. Red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants which rid the body of free radicals. Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables have beta carotene to protect the body against pollutants and sun damage. Greens have lutein for healthy eyes. Eat at least 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables of at least three different colors every day. And cook with garlic, which has been shown to reduce harmful blood fats.

Reduce LDL and Boost HDL with Exercise

Studies show that any activity which raises pulse and respiration for more than 20 minutes effectively helps reduce cholesterol levels in the blood; brisk walking is ideal.

Reduce LDL with Relaxation

Meditation, prayer, yoga, and guided imagery are a few popular ways to induce beneficial relaxation, which some studies say reduces LDL in the bloodstream, but anyone can reap the benefits of relaxation by doing this quick and easy exercise:

Find a quiet place and close your eyes. Breathe slowly, and become aware of how your body feels. Starting at your toes, clench and then relax each part of body: toes, then calves, then thighs, hips and buttocks, abdominals, back and shoulders, arms, hands, fingers. Imagine the tension in your body leaving with every exhaled breath.

Lowering blood cholesterol is an important step towards increasing health and well-being. Remember the three basic steps to healthy lifestyle changes:

  1. Begin with small dietary changes
  2. Add daily exercise a few minutes at a time, and
  3. Make relaxation a priority.

Lower Cholesterol and Regulate High Blood Pressure Naturally

Although it is part of the onion family, garlic or Allium sativum has it own distinct personality in aroma, flavor and healing capabilities such as lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure, which makes it an essential herb to keep on hand. Growing in grass-like clumps, garlic produces small green-white or rose-white bulbs underground. Inside these large bulbs are individual sections called cloves.

Cutting one unleashes what is inside these pungent cloves, an essential oil (alliin that converts to diallydisulphide, the antibacterial sulfur compound), an enzyme (alliinase), vitamins (A, B1, B2, C, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin), and minerals (magnesium, phosphorus, potassium). Many find it hard to believe that something called “the stinking rose” can be so healthful. The stronger the smell is the more potent and better quality the garlic.

The Amazing Appeal of Garlic

Garlic has vast health restoration powers. For instance, high cholesterol is a major factor in impotence and mental fog or sluggishness. Recent studies prove that using small doses of one or two cloves daily do lower cholesterol. It also aids in preventing heart disease by thinning the blood and reducing triglycerides.

It is also been used as an antibiotic, antioxidant, diuretic and to improve digestion. Used as an oil or vinegar, it is used to treat ear and mouth infections. Researchers note success in treating fungal infections, whooping cough, lead poisoning and some carcinomas. Case studies show it is effective in treating hepatitis, retina conditions, and almost every lung condition.

Cultivation and Growing Tips

This annual herb germinates in one to three weeks. Plant the seed in the fall. The bulbs need to be separated into individual cloves and planted with the pointed side up in the early spring or mid fall in rich well-drained soil. Planting cloves in March will yield fresh produce in July or August. The outer cloves seem to develop the best quality.

Garlic loves full sun. Heat seems to develop the best flavor. Garlic should be kept well watered during dry periods until it ripens. Then, water should be withheld. The bulbs are ready to be harvested when the leaves have turned yellow. The bulbs should be dried in the sun for a day to prepare them storage and use.

The Origins of Garlic

Originating in central Asia and Mediterranean areas, garlic has been used for medical and culinary purposes for centuries. According to Herodotus, the Greek historian, it was eaten for endurance by the slaves who built the Cheops pyramid and was found in King Tut’s tomb. Roman soldiers on long marches were fed a daily ration of garlic for strength and to prevent illnesses.

In the 18th century, French priests used garlic to protect themselves from the highly contagious fever in the poor section of London. In World War I and World War II, European doctors used garlic with sphagnum moss to dress wounds and prevent gangrene. It was also the main ingredient in the “Four Thieves Vinegar” used by 4 thieves in Marseilles who confessed that it protected them as they robbed the bodies of plague victims.

In the culinary arena of the past and present, garlic is one of the most popular flavors in the world. It is included in vinegars, butters, salts, dried seasonings, salad dressings, soups, and many food recipes. Garlic dishes were often served with fresh parsley embellishments to reduce the aftertaste or lingering aroma of garlic after a meal.

Worth Its Weight in Gold

In the first century, the East Indian herbalist Charaka said garlic would be worth its weight in gold, if it wasn’t for its smell. The fame, power and mystic of garlic is so great that it runs the gambit, encompassing everything from general health usage to lower cholesterol and regulate high blood pressure to protection from evil forces to delicious culinary adventures. The stamina and versatility of garlic through the years should earn it a place in every pantry and medicine cabinet.