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    Garlic has been shown to have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, as well as relieving the common cold, bronchitis, sinusitis, blood coagulation and hypertension. It is a powerful antioxidant and adds to the flavours of any dish you are cooking - so why not add it to your food on a regular basis?

    Garlic was one of the  earliest documented plants used by humans for treatment of disease and maintenance of health. It has been found in Egyptian pyramids and Greek temples. The key ingredient responsible for its health properties is allicin, which is activated when the garlic is chopped or crushed. 

    Garlic is much more powerful when you grow your own and now is the perfect time to plant it.Get some bulbs from a garden centre and split them into cloves. Plant each clove 2.5cm deep, 10cm apart in well drained soil. They should look after themselves until they are ready to be harvested when their leaves turn a yellow/brown late next spring. Garlic likes a period of cold below 10 degrees centigrade for at least 6 weeks for the bulb to develop, which makes Ireland the perfect place to grow it. You could also just pop some cloves in a pot but remember to keep them watered. These seedlings were planted only 3 weeks ago and have been left to their own devices since.

    Add a clove or two to every casserole, bolognese or roasted vegetable dish for fantastic flavour and added nutrition.

    The only warning is garlic does not go well with blood thinning medication so if you are taking Warfarin or something similar, speak to your GP before increasing your garlic intake.

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    A study has shown that two kiwis eaten 1 hour before bed improve may improve sleep onset, duration and efficiency. Eat them with some cottage cheese or mozarella - foods high in the amino acid tryptophan which helps induce sleep. 

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    All moves by food companies to highlight the problems with their processed food are to be welcomed. Mars this week announced it is labelling some of its products, such as Dolmio sauces, to be "eaten occasionally". 

    It would, however, be a much better step  if Mars removed all added sugar from its pasta sauce range. Currently, a 320g jar of Dolmio Sauce for Bolognese contains approximately 3 teaspoons of sugar!

    Home made pasta sauce takes very little time and effort and requires no sugar.

    Pasta Sauce

    Sweat an onion and some garlic in a knob of butter, in a thick bottomed pan. You can add in any other vegetables you like, such as celery or leeks, depending on what is in the fridge. When the vegetables are soft, add some tomato passata and some herbs - I like oregano or thyme but whatever you have - and whizz it all up in the blender. 

    Much tastier, cheaper and good for you. 

     

     

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    Spring is here and with it wonderful free wild organic nutrition. My favourite wild plant is the nettle - add it to soups, stews or smoothies. Nettle has been used for generations for improving health and detoxifying. Chop off the new growth from the top of the plant - about 3 or 4 leaves - and wash very well as nettle is the home of many insects. If you are adding it to a smoothie make sure you blanch it first in boiling water. To save time I harvest lots of nettle tips at once, blanch, liquidize  and freeze  in ice cube trays. You then have a nice little cube of nutrition to add to what you are making whenever you need it. Be careful where you pick your nettles from - make sure they cannot have been sprayed. To be safe I pot one up in my herb garden so I know no one has touched it. 

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