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Archive for the ‘Diabetes’ Category

“Doctors are able to identify silent attacks via an electrocardiogram (ECG) scan which reads any damage in the heart.

Heart disease is the world’s biggest killer, with the latest WHO figures showing it was responsible for 7.4 million deaths in 2012.

Experts believe many of the deaths happen in patients who have previously suffered a heart attack without knowing it.”

A month ago I was at the Clinique Pasteur in Toulouse for a follow-up stress test after my local cardiologist–Dr Lefevre (Dr Fever!)–decided that he was not a 100% happy with the annual test.

So my heart is on my mind–so to speak and this report caught my eye.

heart-attack-silent

The heart attack you don’t know you’ve had.

I haven’t had one of these little earthquakes–yet!

But my mother died suddenly, aged 67, of a heart attack related to her Type One Diabetes and my middle brother–a Hollywood TV drama director–died suddenly of a heart attack at 58.

So two fatal attacks in the family are enough to give me pause.

A heart examination is one of the regular annual checks I have .

This involves ten minutes on an exercise bike with wires attached to your torso, monitoring how your heart is coping with the increasing level of effort you are having to exert on the bike.

[Kidneys, liver, feet, eyes, cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure—you name it, I am monitored.]

The heart is one of the organs put at risk by Diabetes.

And the problem for people with the condition is that it’s often not obvious there is a problem.

Our affected nervous systems can mask the symptoms–Monsieur Lefevre says it’s not clear why this happens–but being cautious and the least feverish man I know–he wanted to be sure the blip he saw was just  a blip.

I’d been to the clinic in Toulouse a couple of times before–in fact I’d had three stents fitted there successfully three years ago–a procedure that may have saved my life.

This time the sweet doctor who showed me the X-ray results, pronounced it nothing to worry about (a blip) and me–fit for purpose.

Je vous remercie, Dr Lefevre–Give me Fever !

 

 

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Tomorrow (April 7) is World Health Day –and one of the major themes this year is

TACKLING DIABETES!

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Exercise is a key element in the battle.

Walking as part of an exercise campaign has been important to me–doubly so since my three precious stents were fitted four years ago.

I asked my cardiologist, Monsieur Lefevre (the least feverish man you could meet), why the blockage I had in my main artery showed no symptoms–no shortage of breath when out on my walks. “It dulls the nervous system,” he said, thus turning off the alarm mechanism.

“Keep on walking!” he advised, after the procedure.

And I do–every day, for about 25 minutes.

I’ve written three or four blogs about walking, but this is my favorite:

On WALKING:

The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise, and of all the exercises walking is the best.
– 
Thomas Jefferson

 

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All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.
– Friedrich Nietzsche

I was walking six times a week, usually for about 40 minutes. I tried to do a circular route, which suited me better.

[Now I usually limited myself to 25 minutes or so, every day]

 

I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards.
–   Abraham Lincoln

I liked the freedom of it, and starting from home–no time spent travelling to exercise. And there was no equipment needed—just a good pair of shoes and warm clothing. I usually took the same route–which never felt the same two days running–so to speak!– varying with the weather and changing  seasons.

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To find new things, take the path you took yesterday.
–   John Burroughs

Then one day I overdid it–and my left knee felt bad.

I had to stop for a while and missed it. I used an exercise bike–but it wasn’t the same.

Gradually my knee healed and I started walking again–but less. Now it’s three or four times a week– preserving old knees.

If one keeps on walking everything will be alright.
–   Soren Kierkegaard

 

Thoughts come clearly while one walks.
– 
Thomas Mann

 

It is not talking but walking that will bring us to heaven.
–  Matthew Henry

 

Straw men stretching after a walk…

 

 Type 2 Diabetes is a devil.

It’s a sneaky beast, a lurker and a patient one.

Diabetes UK estimates that there are about 549,000 people in Britain who have diabetes but have NOT yet been diagnosed.

Since 1996, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has more than doubled–from 1.4 million to almost 3.5 million.

It’s diagnosed with a simple blood test. (I had NO symptoms!)

Wise to GET TESTED.

 

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Described as a Catalan omelette by Patience Gray in her beautiful cookbook Honey from a Weed, I am making this for lunch:

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It’s the morning after we return from the launch fortnight in the UK for my new cookbook, Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics.

A predictably slow morning–I’m heavy-lidded and creaky.

It will thus be the lazy version–made with artichoke hearts from an Italian jar (bounty from a trip to Tuscany)–surprisingly good!

Patience Gray’s version uses fresh artichokes (a lot more work!).

It reminds me of lunches eaten over 40 years at la Sostanza in Florence–discovered by chance on a trip in 1978.

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I always order artichoke omelette–served flat–and a plate of white beans with olive oil.

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In a beauty contest, Sostanza’s omelette (tortino) wins…

Patience says the Catalan version is served folded.

Chose where you are having lunch–in Florence at Sostanza or a little restaurant on the Spanish Costa Brava (Wild Coast)–folded or flat–it is delicious.

I’m choosing Sostanza and making it as a single omelette to be divided in two.

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For the Look, I might try Patience’s version next time–i.e. folded!

Tasted good like this, though.

 

Serves 2

1 tin/jar cooked artichokes–drained and sliced on the vertical

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbs parmesan cheese–grated

4 eggs

salt and pepper

Gently fry the artichoke slices in the oil.

Season the egg mixture.

When the artichokes are nicely browned, turn up the heat and add the egg mixture.

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Push back the liquid from the rim of the pan, letting the liquid mixture run into the spaces.

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Sprinkle over the parmesan and slip the omelette out of the pan and onto a plate.

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MEDITERRANEAN COOKING for DIABETICS–Delicious dishes to control or avoid diabetes.

Published today in the UK–available from bookstores and on-line and as an ebook.

Here’s a visual tour of some of the recipes you’ll find to cook in the book.

All photos by Meredith Wheeler–(bar one, which she’s in—only fair!)

To know how to eat is to know enough….

~ Old Basque saying

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Robin Ellis Med Cooking 01

 

StuffedRedPeppers

 

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VeganPlate

 

SeafoodStew

SpinachTort

Spinach&RiceTorte

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Chicken

 

Gazpacho

 

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Bon appétit!

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“Big Ears” with Molly and Trike on the Heath Extension

It’s the summer of 1946, approaching 4pm one afternoon, in the kitchen of a house in Hampstead Garden Suburb, north London.

Molly Ellis (age 31) is coming to terms with life as a full-time housewife in post-war Britain, looking after her young son in a bigger house than she’s ever known.

She’s coping– but this afternoon her friend Rita, “Auntie Rita,” is coming to tea–and Molly is not happy about it.

“Just one more thing–the day isn’t long enough; wish Rita wasn’t coming today!”

The front door bell rang and four-year-old Big Ears, goes to open it while Molly takes the scones from the oven.

“Mummy doesn’t want YOU to come to tea today….”

We never saw Auntie Rita again!

*                     *                     *                     *                    *

It’s stressful cooking for a family–however much you enjoy it–and my mother enjoyed it.

She did this for a lifetime–for a family that grew to five.

With younger brother Peter and Jack (a babe in arms).

With younger brother Peter and Jack (a babe in arms).

No sign of pressure, no complaining–regular as clockwork.

(The Auntie Rita episode is the only time I can remember the pressure getting to her.  Maybe she really didn’t like Rita!)

Ma had staying power–the stamina of a professional.

Her duty is how she might have characterized it. Christmas cakes started in September, a little brandy added every month. Home-made marmalade with the bitter oranges from Seville bottled every February. The weekly roast on Sunday stretched ’til Wednesday–cold on Monday, minced on Tuesday. Good home husbandry! I was the admiring sous-chef, specializing in licking out the bowl.

I’m not cooking for a family–but I do cook twice a day.

Of course, I have the time–well usually–and the inclination (usually).

Many people have neither–or maybe one, but not the other.

Shame–they are missing out!

(Not how they might see it, perhaps–“better things to do….”)

As a Type 2 diabetic (my mother was Type 1 and had to inject insulin), cooking puts me in control of what I eat which is a huge advantage.

I like the “day-to-dayness” of it–the regularity.

Perhaps I thrive under the pressure.

Early days as an actor, usually on my way to the unemployment office known as the Labour Exchange, I often thought how much happier I’d be sitting behind a desk, answering the odd phone call–a rosy view of a 9-to-5 job! Or maybe gardening in the fresh air–honest toil.

Then the phone would ring–a job!

Now, I cook twice a day–lunch and dinner.

There’s my pressure.

Enough of this idle musing…

From my about-to-be-published third cookbook, Mediterranean Cooking for DiabeticsDelicious dishes to control or avoid diabetes. (Launching TOMORROW, March 3rd)

Smoky cauliflower soup

Cauliflower is not everyone’s first choice as a vegetable–let alone as a soup.

But this soup usual wins over even the most doubtful….

We love it– and marvel that something SO delicious comes from such simple ingredients:

The key ingredient is smoky bacon.

1 large cauliflower--broken into florets

2 cloves of garlic–chopped

1 medium onion–chopped

2 oz smoked bacon–chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

bay leaves

1 litre/2 pints stock

salt and pepper

  • Gently heat the oil in a pan and sauté the bacon bits until they colour a bit.
  • Add the garlic and onion.
  • Cook the mix on for five minutes until the onion has softened.
  • While this happens break up the cauliflower into florets and add to a large saucepan.
  • When ready add the onion and bacon mix to the cauliflower pan with the bay leaves and the stock.
  • Cover and bring this mix up to the simmer and cook until the cauliflower is tender.
  • Lift a couple of tablespoons of the mix out of the pan and into a bowl with a slotted spoon letting the liquid fall back in the pan
  • Liquidise the contents of the pan and test the seasoning.
  • Use the set-aside florets to garnish the soup and serve hot.

 

Meredith asked, What is this? It’s so creamy? Does it have potatoes in it?”

Cauliflower soup,  I replied, somewhat sheepishly.

(Somehow cauliflower is not a vegetable that’s easy to own….)

It’s delicious!

 

 

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Adapted from a Martha Rose Shulman recipe, this went down a treat with a distracted Meredith, a moving target the other day with her mind  on the Bells of St. Martin and their imminent relocation.

I like both the convenience and look of Gratins.

They often involve pre-cooked ingredients so the final stage is a simple matter of heating through which means you can do an assembly job beforehand, heat the oven and hey presto!

There’s a section on them in my new cookbook, Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics, out March 3rd in the UK, August 3rd in the USA. 

Robin Ellis Med Cooking 01

(Photos by Meredith, Available for pre-order)

The juicy black olives lend depth and mystery to this simple dish.

“You are kidding me–cauliflowers bring mystery?!”

OK then–“lend an exotic twist.…”

1 medium cauliflower–broken up into bite size florets

3 tbs olive oil

1 medium onion–chopped

2 cloves garlic–pulped with a pinch of salt

a dozen or so, juicy black olives preserved in oil–stoned and halved

2 tbs parsley–chopped fine

4 tbs grated parmesan OR 2tbs each of parmesan and pecorino (if you  use pecorino, keep in mind that it is quite salty.)

2 tbs wholewheat breadcrumbs

 

Preheat oven to 190c

Steam the cauliflower florets to your taste in tenderness–I like them a bit firm.

Set aside.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion until soft and browned a little–about five minutes

Add the pulped garlic and the parsley and cook for another couple of minutes.

Turn off the heat and mix in the olives.

Add the cauliflower to the pan and turn it over in the mix–seasoning as you go with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle over half the cheese and turn it over.

Taste for seasoning.

Turn this into a shallow gratin dish.

Mix the remaining cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over a tablespoon of olive oil

Uncooked

Uncooked

Place in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes.

It should come out sizzling quietly and nicely browned on top.

We had it with sautéed brussel sprouts.

Not the most photogenic dish, but scores high on taste and suitable for vegetarians.

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Frittata with celery & red onions

Needs must, when the cupboard is almost bare….

No option but to improvise when supplies are depleted.

I thought there would be leftover spicy cauliflower in the fridge from dinner a couple of nights ago–enough for an interesting new spin on a frittata–the slow-cooked Italian omelette.

I went through the very male thing of looking in the fridge and not finding it and assuming it must be there because of the very male thing of looking in the fridge for something, not finding it and then Meredith looking and finding it.

This time Meredith looked– and didn’t find it.

Conclusion: It isn’t there!

So–what is?

A still use-able bunch of celery.

Never thought of celery in a frittata before–but why not?

Helped by a couple of red onions–all sliced thin.

We’ll see, I thought…..

6 eggs

1 bunch celery– remove any damaged outer leaves and flowery tops and slice thinly

2 red onions–outer casing removed and sliced thinly

2 tbs olive oil

100gm/2 oz parmesan–grated

salt and pepper

1 tbs olive oil to heat in cooking pan

 

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide-ish pan and add the celery and onion.

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Cook on a medium heat–about 20 minutes–until the chopped vegetables soften.

Leave to cool.

Beat the eggs in a bowl.

When the onion and celery have cooled, empty them into a mixing bowl and season well.

Fold in the grated cheese and then the eggs and mix well.

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Heat a 10″ frying pan to HOT and add a tablespoon of oil.

Carefully pour in the egg mix and smooth it flat.

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Turn the heat down to the lowest temperature and cook on until there is just a hint of a pool left on top.

Heat the oven grill to HOT and slip the pan under for about a minute–possibly less! You don’t want it to burn the frittata or dry it out.

 

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My invention today registered a distinct DING for Meredith.

That still leaves the opportunity to try frittata with spicy cauliflower–when I can find it!

 

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