…and so it came to pass that in Sardinia, carrots are woody and bendy. They are not crunchy, sweet and juicy as in Ireland, where my kids can eat some of their vegetable intake through a raw carrot or five. As a result, here in Sardinia, one bunch of carrots has already ended up in the bin and the second bunch, bought by me in the disbelief that anything orange could taste that bad, are headed the same way. I hate to see a great vegetable go unused, so this time I was determined to get creative and eat those carrots. The naturally sweet flavour and the orange colour are perfect for the stomach and spleen which after my last post you will remember definitely needed some love. They are full of vitamin A which in western medicine helps lung function. In Chinese medicine the spleen/stomach sends some of its energy gained through food up to the lung to strengthen them and to help anchor the breath coming into the body. My son has developed a dry cough here on the island so the recipe was created with his chest, my stomach and non wastage of carrots in mind.
Chop the carrots into julienne/matchstick strips and heat some olive oil in a non stick pan. Fry the carrots until they gain some colour and then turn the temperature right down for about 7 minutes so they begin to soften and sweeten. To finish them, fry on high and add a splash of balsamic vinegar, allow them to sizzle for a minute or two before turning off the heat and drizzling a teaspoon of honey over the glistening, appetizing delight.
They are super sweet cooked like this so if you are looking for an alternative to chocolate or to break an addictive cycle this could be it. Although it did not stop me having a chocolate ice cream after dinner but this is Italy and I am on holiday
Let’s see if I can remember the courses. First there were tapas plates of fried fish in sweet leeks, monkifish in a rich caper and tomato sauce, octopus in balsamic vinaigrette and a delicious pickled fish with peaches. Then artichoke and courgette ravioli in a cream sauce followed by prawns over thick spaghetti a light chilli and tomato sauce. Close on the tail came traditional Sardinian pasta with a squid ink sauce, peas and parmasean. Then a whole plate of huge, coral pink, garlic prawns in their shells. Finally a whole Dorado fish, perfectly steamed with waxy lemon /parsley potatoes with a side of lightly fried calamari.
All of this was a surprise. We had booked the table* solely on the recommendation of Yotam Ottolenghi, the food writer for the Guardian. There was no menu and no price. All we knew was that there were no chips. On that basis and it took little persuasion we decided it was best the kids didn’t go. So it was just me and my friend Paula who sat being served plate after plate of exquisite food. The dishes just kept coming, each one unique and delightful. I was in heaven and savouring every mouthful. At the end of the meal, sipping limonchello’s we took guesses at how much this gastronomic feast would cost, between €60 and €100 per person perhaps? The bill? €40 each. I hadn’t had a dessert and we had ordered a second earthenware jug of wine but it didn’t matter what we had or didn’t have, there was a set price. I like this, it’s clear, straightforward yet absolutely abundant but without the gluttony, greed and waste I’ve witnessed at all you can eat buffets.
Boy oh boy, were we full though, even thinking of it makes my stomach hurt. The stomach/ spleen are responsible for the thinking mind. The mind that replays the past or imagines future scenarios, over and over again. It can worry and whir, stirring things up so our body becomes stressed and sleep becomes difficult. That night my stomach had to work double time to digest all the food and flavour combinations. So to match this I had frantic and fraught dreams of loosing the kids, stealing cherry covered velvet cushions, not finding my hotel room and always an underlying tension of being on the run. I’m sure they all have different psychological explanations but by the morning my stomach and I were exhausted. I needed a day of simple and small dishes to rest my stomach and my exhausted mind, beaten senseless by the neurotic thoughts.
So I recommend, if like me your sleep is broken or restless, change up your diet to simple grains like brown rice and millet. Eat sweet root vegetables and drink plenty of hot water or fennel tea to calm the stomach. Don’t eat before you go to bed and of course try to eat less. For me, here in the sun it will be a morning of hot water, figs and fruit, freshly picked from the trees I’m sitting under. Would I eat it all again …… absolutely, but just not tonight.
*Mabrouk, Alghero, Sardinia
Introduction to Shiatsu & Conscious Cooking in 8 Night Classes
€105 (€13 per class) – cost includes all ingredients @ St Fintans Community College, Swords.
To book a place or avail of Senior Citizens or Social Welfare discounts please contact Samantha Forbes 01 840 2623 directly or visit the website
https://vecweb.vecnet.ie/web_aeccodublin/webbook/webbookcourse.html?loccode=AU&lang=gb and select St Fintans cc & Tuesday classes
Class 1 – 30 September – Starting out
In Shiatsu and Traditional Chinese Medicine the body is classified into yin/yang organ pairs and meridian pathways which correspond to emotions, flavours, seasons and colours. This class covers the basics of health through food in Chinese Medicine.
- Three Colour Noodles – perfect energy food for those on the go
- Pea, Mint and Roast Garlic Soup – fantastic for the immune system
- Stomach calming tea – great for calming acid indigestion or bloating after meals
Class 2 – 7th October – Yin & Yang
The foundation of Chinese Medicine is to achieve balance in the body – these recipes work on many organs in the body to bring harmony and health
- Apple, celery and carrot salad – great at stimulating the liver and gentle detox
- Beetroot relish – great for the heart
- Baked Porridge – great for strong bones
- Orange Chai tea – great for warmth and movement for the body
Class 3 – 14th October – Kidney & Bladder
These organs regulate hormones, strong bones, hair, teeth and the very marrow of our body
- Leek, Barley and Seaweed (Wakame) Salad – clears any unwanted bacteria from the urinary tract
- Corn Bread with feta and walnuts – builds strong bones and brain function
- Cucumber and Seaweed (Dulse) Salad – great for cooling the body and balancing hormones
Class 4 – 21st October – Liver & Gall bladder
These organs control the flexibility and joints in our body. Overheated by rich food they can cause pain and frustration. Learn how to detox effortlessly with healthy food.
- Spaghetti with Black Olives and Lemon – stimulates the liver and the taste buds into flow
- Traditional Japanese New Year Salad – used for moving the energy
- Carrot and Celeriac salad – packed full of digestive enzymes
Class 5 – 4th November – Heart & Small Intestine
Our soul is said to reside in the heart so out of balance we can feel panic and suffer from insomnia. Learn how to calm the and have a healthy heart with food.
- White Bean Salad – great for reducing cholesterol
- Fresh Pesto – keeps the blood flowing and blood pressure low
- Tabouleh Salad – cracked bulghar wheat and flat leaf parsley help reduce stress in the body
Class 6 – 11th November – Spleen & Stomach
The flavour for these meridians is sweet and comforting so if you crave sugars and other comfort food we will look at other healthy alternatives that can nourish the system
- Turkish carrot salad – a new way to cook this everyday vegetable
- Herby Millet – so tasty and perfect for calming acid indigestion
- Selection of Oven Roasted Vegetables – comforting for body and mind
Class 7 – 18th November – Lung & Large Intestine
These organs are responsible for a healthy immune system. Support healthy boundaries and warm the body from the inside out.
- Hunky Chunky Lentil Stew – essential recipe to protect in our ever changing environment
- Hummus – reduces damp in the body
- Homemade cough syrup – reduces phleghm in the chest
Class 8 – 25th November – Favourites
Do you strive to eat healthily but get lost in cravings or habitual eating patterns? In this final session we will address the sugar balance within our diet so that we are nourished, satisfied and healthy.
- Carrot Cake – a super amount of carrots in this cake make it a healthy alternative for a special occasion
- Lemon & Date Buttercream – no butter buttercream
- Healthy Heart Tea – repairing artery walls and reducing blood pressure