Thursday, July 28, 2011

Disrupting Alzheimer's - Ingredients for the brain

Now that's a mess! Notice the carpet of brownie crumbs...
Tuesday was the end of a massive work week. All of that hard work culminated in an extensive cleanup of cupcake cottage. I'm talking a major dish washing, floor mopping, laundry doing and car cleaning effort. I was even wearing a sweat band. On my head. It was necessary. So there I was, listening to the Joy the Baker podcast, scrubbing tiles in my industrial black rubber gloves, thinking about the week gone by and how lucky I am that this is my life.

On Monday I was in Kiltegan, County Wicklow at a respite center called Sli an Chroi. This was where the latest residential programme of the Disrupting Alzheimer's project was taking place. 

Disrupting Alzheimer's is a project developed by Christy Fleming; a loving and talented man whose brother Paddy was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2008. Paddy is only 57 years old. Paddy was a strong believer in holistic therapies and Christy and his family have been challenging Paddy's Alzeimer's by a holistic approach. Everyone was invited to participate in activities like Falun Gong and Circle Dancing, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique - this is a very interesting tapping technique that stimulates meridian points), singing and dancing and meditation. To be honest, the energy about the place was just electric. And the more responsive Paddy was to the activities, the more motivated everybody became to give that much more. 

Paddy, Christy and Lorraine on their morning walk
I was hired to cater for the group. The food was to be nutritious vegetarian with an emphasis on brain healthy ingredients such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, coconut and raw produce. There is a very interesting study being undertaken by Dr. Mary T. Newport, whose husband suffers from Alzheimer's. She has been tracking his progress on a high keytone diet, rich in raw coconut oil and the results seem to show promise. The menu was developed by the previous chef and adjusted by me in order to put less of an emphasis on specialist Greek recipes (of which the previous chef is an expert). 

Here are some facts about the week. I made up most of what I cooked. I had the courage to do this thanks to my new iPhone which allowed me to quickly access helpful websites like when the need arose.I also took photos and texted them to my father at regular intervals for approval. I love to cook to music and I got through a lot of Beatles material that week. Whenever Paddy passed by the kitchen he stopped in to join my in singing along for a little while. I was channeling Irish mammy and Jewish mommy, who are very similar, and found joy in building my day around preparing 3 square meals for the troops. And washing dishes with a view overlooking a field of cows. That's about the only good thing I can ever say about washing dishes. Washing dishes is otherwise the bane of my very existence.

My workspace

The menu:

Monday Dinner
Tagliatelle with mushrooms and Bechamel
Bruschette with tomato and rocket
Green salad

Tuesday Lunch
Baked potatoes with lemon, olive oil and toasted hazelnuts
Green veggie burgers with quinoa

Green veggie burgers with quinoa
Greek salad

Tuesday Dinner

Bean & Roast veg pie with basil mash
Bean & Roast veg pie with basil mash, tzatziki and black eye bean salad

Tzatziki sauce
Black eye bean salad with ginger dressing

Wednesday Lunch

Spaghetti al pesto
Caprese Salad
Caprese salad
Garlic bread
Super healthy apple, berry and hazelnut crumble with sesame seeds

Wednesday Dinner 
Roast vegetables
cabbage, celery and carrot salad
hummus and pita chips
High fibre breakfast muffins, baked sans muffin tins

Thursday Lunch

Spanish chickpea casserole
Basmati Rice
The gorgeous scenery at Sli An Chroi

Thursday Dinner

Italian Fresh vegetable fritata
Lentil soup
Apple and carrot salad

Friday Lunch 

Squash and coconut soup
Vegetable and potato salad

Read more about this wonderful project at



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Sunday, July 10, 2011

South East Asian culinary adventures

I was recently away in Vietnam with 2 lifelong friends. Recent lifelong friends. I've known Ann for 8 years and Jessica for 2, and we are friends for life. I suspect we get along so well because we share similar outlook on life and travel and friendship and food. We all love food equally and makeup a sort of culinary supertrio. We are all adventurous eaters and can all pack away more than your average fat man. It's not unusual for waitstaff to be confused when we order at restaurants.

After 2 weeks of gallivanting around Vietnam, here are my top 10 delicious Vietnamese culinary delights that you must absolutely eat if you are going to Vietnam.

1. Jackfruit chips

I don't know how I lived a happy life before discovering jackfruit chips. I have only ever eaten jackfruit in its deep fried form. I believe it's jackfruit with its best foot forward.

2. Pho

Soup for breakfast. Great idea. Soup for lunch. Great idea. Soup for dinner. Great idea. It's cheap, it's delicious and it's hot. Which is a good thing in a hot country because while you are eating it your insides are warmed while your exterior feels cooler in contrast. Try it. It's a real phenomenon.

Here is some beef pho, or Pho Bo. For breakfast. Why not?

Pho is a clear broth with vermacelli noodles, some veg and beef or chicken. I did eat a crab pho in Ho Chi Minh City that was nothing less than life changing.
The most amazing crab pho of life

3. Wontons

Need I say more? Ok one more thing. Deep fried wontons.

These are traditional won tons made in Hoi An, the culinary capital of Vietnam

4. Street Sandwhich / Bánh mì

Vietnamese street sandiwch apparently includes a type of pate on a fluffy white roll. It's that French influence brought down to street level. I watched my sandwich being made and still had no idea what I was eating. All I know is it was delicious.

5. Ginger and Lemongrass tea

Man oh man, us girls drank so much of this delicious stuff all accross the country. Served hot or cold, fresh ginger and lemongrass are pummeled and infused into a tea. A clarified local honey syrup is served on the side. This a) allows for they honey to dissolve easily into either cold or hot drinks and b) you can adjust the sweetness to your own taste.

6. Fresh Fruit

I am a cankle sufferer while travelling. Lucky for me pineapples have anti-inflamatory properties and really helped my difficult relationship with my fikle ankles. They have a fancy way of preparing the tiny pineapples that involves diagonal cuts to remove those stalky dimples while retaining as much fruit as possible. The pineapple is then quartered and can be eating by holding the leafy crown. The best place to buy fresh exotic fruit including pineapples, mangoes, watermelon, etc. is on the street where the vendor will prepare if for you.

Fancy pineapple cutting

7. Non profit restaurants

We ate at a number of really good restaurants that were training environments for street kids. Baguette & Chocolat is Sapa and KOTO (Know One Teach One) in Hanoi were so good we went to them twice. Actually Baguette & Chocolat became our local for our 3 days trekking in Sapa. Doing street kids a service only encouraged us to maintain our schedule of eating a meal every 3 hours. For research purposes of course.
A photo of a photo at KOTO, Hanoi

8. Vietnamese coffee

Milk is extremely expensive and scarce in Vietnam. So this iced coffee is seved with condensed milk. It's soooooo gooood. Pioneer Woman has a great recipe for Vetnamese coffee on her blog:

9. Watermelon juice

Some restarants actually juiced the watermelon, leaving a clear pink drink. Others just shtuck the watermelon in a blender and I was given a glass of thick, bitty watermelon liquid. Extremely refreshing and healthy.

10. Coconut water

Coconut water is extremely high in potassium and electrolytes, making it perfect for keeping hydrated in a hot place. This also helps prevent the cankles. I usually buy the stuff in a carton in Dublin. I loved that in Vietnam I could just stick a straw in a coconut.

Since I've been back I have had ginger and lemongrass tea every day. I'm to blame for a friend's new addiction to jackfruit chips. I've had watermelon juice twice and dreamed of won tons every night. 


Caryna Camerino

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Naturally Good

I had a brilliant post all done and written but then it gone and disappeared. Gosh darn modern technology and it's shortcomings. It was about cakes, about health, about good taste and love. But now it's gone so here's something similar but different.

I've been neglectful. I haven't written due to a myriad of life events coordinating themselves to all happen within a very compressed space in time. I finished my "thesis" and went traveling for a couple of weeks then made and sold hundreds of brownies for the Body & Soul festival. I say "thesis" because it was 10,000 words on muffins. Yup. If you can write 10,000 words on muffins you get a degree in Bakery and Pastry Arts Management. I for one am offended. But you can't let these things get you down. There's a life lesson here. I used my 10,000 words on muffins to develop a range of healthy treats that I'm pretty frikin proud of. I called it the Naturally Good range. They contain only natural ingredients, they are good for your mouth, good for your muscles, good for your health and therefore good for your skin, hair and arse.

I've Weight Watchers Pro Pointed them here but they are by no means endorsed by WW. WWWWD (what would Weight Watchers do)? I would imagine they'd recommend you snack on these, that's what.

A great thing about these i they are huge. I can make them in more normal snack size which would lower the points value further.

Feast your eyes on these

Caryna's Cakes Low Fat Muffins
A low fat, high protein spelt muffin containg ½ daily portion of fruit

Ingredients: White spelt flour, raspberries, banana, apple, orange juice, fat-free yogourt, Xylitol, egg white, almonds, whole spelt flour, water, baking powder, honey, salt

Weight Watcher Pro Points per 105g serving: 5

Caryna's Cakes Flapjacks
A hearty and heart-healthy flapjack that is wheat free and contains no processed sugar.

Ingredients: Peanut, oats, dates, raisins, peanut butter, honey, egg, almond, Brazil nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cinnamon

Weight Watcher Pro Points per 60g serving: 8

Caryna's Cakes High Protein Muffin

A chunky chocolate chip spelt muffin that is high in protein and ideal for athletes. It contains no added sugar, whey protein and only healthy monounsaturated fat.

Ingredients: Apple, soya milk, egg, white spelt flour, soy flour, Xylitol, 70% chocolate chips, whey protein, olive oil, oats, almonds, ground flaxseed, vanilla, agave nectar, baking powder, salt.

Weight Watchers Pro Points per 105g serving: 8


Caryna Camerino

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