Sid on childhood diet






It’s both common sense and scientifically proven, that if our bodies receive optimal nutrition, they function at their best. However, it’s the connection between diet and brain function that we need to be more aware of. In particular with our children as their behaviour can be very much determined by what they eat and drink.

Childhood should be happy, fun and carefree, however something far more sinister is happening with many young children. Learning difficulties, behavioural issues and social inadequacies are all rapidly on the rise. Recent studies have shown that a quarter of all children between the ages of eight and fourteen ‘often’ or ‘always’ feel stressed. Childhood depression and even suicide are also rapidly increasing.

Surely this can’t be right, can it?

From mild Dyspraxia at one end of the spectrum, to ADHD and severe Autism at the other, all of us can relate in some way to how a family can be impacted by such a disorder.

Let’s look at some of the symptoms that many kids exhibit daily:

Poor coordination, inability to concentrate, mood swings or tantrums, inappropriate emotional reactions, fatigue, digestive problems, poor eye-to-hand coordination, reading and writing difficulties.

In the past, children with such symptoms were labelled as slow learners, weepy & fragile, spoilt rotten or just out of control, but then again that generation of parents and teachers had never heard of ADHD or Dyspraxia or any other behaviour disorders for that matter.

So what do they all have in common with the brain?

Our brain relies entirely on the nutrients with which we feed it. Foetal and early childhood development, are profoundly impacted by the nutrients we supply to the brain. Modern day diet and lifestyle leave us susceptible to nutrient deficiencies. Particularly the junk food diet of high trans fats, high-refined sugars, processed foods laced with artificial colours, flavour enhancers and preservatives. These foods have little in the way of nutritional benefit and are virtually absent of vital nutrients for the brain.

E.F.A. (Essential Fatty Acid) deficiency is common with ADHD. Symptoms include excessive thirst, dry skin, eczema and asthma. Males have a higher E.F.A requirement than females so it’s interesting that ADHD affects four times more boys than girls.

Zinc deficiency is also common leading to a lack of digestive enzymes being produced, which can cause gut permeability or ‘leaky gut’. This is partly the reason for gluten and casein (proteins found in wheat & dairy) aggravating the already fragile biochemistry of a child with ADHD.

This is just a snapshot at how diet and nutrient deficiency can alter brain chemistry and unfortunately lead to a whole host of disorders. If you are a parent of a child with such a disorder and sometimes the attached stigma, then surely dietary intervention and nutritional supplementation are worth looking at.


Pauls review

Live and interviews 

In the past week I have went live on Facebook for the first time and also conducted my first interview. Live from almost the forest floor was  intended to be done in the forest in a spot that I am usually able to make a call or text but for some reason I couldn’t connect to Facebook whatsoever or even make a phonecall, so a quick scramble back to the cat and off down the road a number of messages come through “are you going live?? When you started?? Will I delete the post??” Meanwhile I’m shaking waiting for the phone to connect and load so I can go. I start and draw a blank what to say (argh). Go live with a group of people erecting a map of the area showing the pathways through the forest. Afterwards looking back at the video I did not expect the amount of views so quickly I have videos on YouTube with 80 views and less and this reaches 300 within a few hours I was shocked to tell the truth. 

Next up was the interview with a good family friend, and a former coach of my time in juvenile athletics, safe to say without him I wouldn’t have started at all. Willie Reidy and the Castlisland community garden, kindly agreed to meet with me, to answer a few questions about the project and how it got started and what services they provide to the area, in the form of gardening courses, growing on ridges and seasonal produce. I saw some the plans for the future and the variety of plants, herbs, fruits and vegetables being grown in this patch of land. I intend to return in spring and see a more vibrant area with more growing and more peopke to interact with. 

I’m looking forward to my next outing to Roscarbery recipes with Avril Allshire-Hawe, and a live coastal forage early in the new year.

Tips on marshmallows


Making marshmallows is a quick and easy process, but it involves specific timing and extremely hot sugar, so it helps to get all the equipment ready

Start by using a pastry brush to lightly brush your pan with vegetable oil then use a fine-mesh sieve to dust the pan with confectioners’ sugar

make sure the  mixture is thick and forms a thick ribbon when the whisk is lifted

using wet fingers to spread and smooth it into the pan

our mixture should stand for at least four hours or overnight

The next step requires patience: Let the marshmallows stand at room temperature until they are no longer sticky and you can gently pull them away from the sides of the pan

While it’s not required, you can cover the pan of marshmallows loosely with tin foil.but never cling film

When cutting marshmallows, a long thin knife, such as a 6-inch utility knife, makes the process effortless, but a chef’s knife also works

Once the squares are cut, coat them in additional icing’ sugar, shaking off any excess.

Store homemade marshmallows, layered between sheets of wax or parchment paper, in an airtight container





  • 18 sheets ready-made filo pastry(unwrap and keep under a damp tea-towel until you are ready to use)
  • 150g/5oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g/7oz mixed pistachio and walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cardmon

For the syrup

  • 300g/10½fl oz granulated sugar
  • 250ml/9fl oz water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp orange blossom water
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

  2. Grease a 17cm x 28cm (11in x 7in) baking tray with butter.

  3. Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan over low heat or in a microwave.

  4. Lay 10 sheets of filo pastry, one at a time, into the tray, brushing each sheet with butter before adding the next.

  5. In a clean bowl, mix together the nuts, sugar and cardamom and spread the mixture over the pastry in the tray.

  6. Layer up the remaining sheets on top of the nut mixture, brushing each sheet with butter, as before.

  7. Using a sharp knife, cut a criss-cross pattern into the top layers of the pastry.

  8. Place baklava in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 150C/300F/Gas 2 and cook for an additional half hour to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is slightly puffed and golden on top. Do not allow the top to burn. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

  9. For the syrup, heat the sugar, water, lemon juice and orange blossom water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the sugar has melted and a syrup is formed. (This will take about 20 minutes or so.)

  10. Pour the syrup into the slits in the baklava and leave to cool. Cut into small diamond-shaped pieces and serve.

    follow chef noel on twitter @chefnoelk & instagram @chefnoelkeane




4 tbsp olive oil

3 medium or 2 large aubergines, sliced

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1.5 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp dried oregano

500g minced lamb

2 tbsp tomato purée, mixed with 150ml water

150ml red wine

Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

For the bechamel:

500ml milk

60g butter

60g plain flour

50g kefalotyri or pecorino cheese, grated

2 eggs, beaten

Nutmeg, to grate

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Cut the aubergines lengthways into 0.5cm slices, and put them on to oiled baking sheets. Brush with olive oil and season. Bake for about 25 minutes until soft, golden and floppy.


2. Meanwhile, put 2 tbsp olive oil into a large frying pan over a medium high heat and cook the onion until soft. Add the garlic, cinnamon and oregano and cook for a further couple of minutes, then stir in the lamb. Turn up the heat slightly, and brown the lamb well, cooking until the mixture is quite dry. Stir in the tomato and wine, bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down low and cook for 30–40 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season and stir in the parsley.


3. Meanwhile, make the bechamel. Bring the milk to just below boiling point, and melt the butter in another saucepan. Stir the flour into the butter and cook for a couple of minutes, then gradually whisk in the hot milk. Cook until you have a thick sauce, then stir in the cheese until melted. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly, then beat in the eggs,


4. Arrange a third of the aubergines in the base of an oven dish, and top with half the meat. Repeat these layers, then finish off with a layer of aubergine, and top with the sauce. Bake for about 45 minutes until well browned

Greek meatballs


Greek meat balls (keftedes)

500g beef mince
200g pork mince
1 large red onion grated
2 finely diced garlic cloves
1 egg
1 bunch fresh parsley chopped
10 mint leaves finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch oregano (dried is ok)
Salt and pepper to taste

Flour to coat

1) mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl and leave to marinade for 1 hour in the fridge

2) make into small balls

3) roll in flour

4) batch fry in a pan and place on a tray and bake in an oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 15 mins

5) serve with pita breads

Alternatively serve with a Greek salad of cucumber, tomato, red onion, olives and mint leaves.

Kevin on Greece


Having spent a few months as a young teenager in Greece on an island called Naxos. My brother and I fell in love with what we were told was a souvlaki but the one I fell in love with was a gyros. Marinated beef steak that was barbecued medium well in big chunks, then sliced and served in a pita or a type of naan bread that was wrapped. It was so nice. The street vendors had the best. The sauce was made from yogurt garlic lemon juice and some local herbs (fresh coriander or oregano). The ones we used to get were served in a sort of savoury wrap but thicker like a naan bread. Delicious.

These were also cooked with a lovely local island olive oil.

The island itself at the time was like stepping into the stone ages

Follow kevin on twitter @parsnip78

Forest floor by paul


Winter in the forest floor

Now that the season is well underway the remnants of the summer herbs and vegetables are still to be see fading into the background.
Now the chick weeds mosses and thicker ferns cone into season, and mushrooms still holding strong although I suspect not much longer left in them ( please identify mushrooms correctly as they can be toxic)

Seeds and nuts are now in depending on where you are oak and pine check the floor for acorns and pine cones if the pine cones is fully opened with a white milky ring it’s empty no point trying to get the tasty nuts inside. If they are closed and still attached pick them leave them by the fire for a few days to open them then tap them to release the beautiful nuts inside, can be eaten raw and most often roasted or toasted and used in pesto’s.

If neither of these apply to you try the beech nuts which have a fuzzy casing that can be easily burst, again eat raw or roast or toast them as a healthy snack. Should you be lucky enough to find sweet chestnuts still hanging around these are the ones with the prickly casing on the outside these can be used to make a puree or as part of your stuffing for your Christmas dinner.

Spruce trees produce cones they are edible but are overpowering, so instead clip the tips off the branches and steep in hot water but not boiling water to make a tea which native Americans still enjoy.

Fir trees take the needles and dry them out by the fire or the hot-press, blend once dried and add to hot water to make tea or to fish, chicken dishes or soups to add a lemony taste.


Now that’s one way to get rid if your Christmas tree as it’s works with pine and spruce also. Use the wood in the fire and the needles in the dinner.

While there are many different types of each of these trees here’s a general how to tell the difference between pine spruce and fir. While they all grow here, are coniferous and needle bearing. The difference lays in the needles
Pine has long needles, by comparison with the other 2.
Fir and spruce are the 2 most similar, both needles are short difference is the needles themselves fir needles are flat while spruce needles are rounded

See James piece for more info on the pine
Follow on Twitter James @boilingjames and myself @chefpaulc

James on pine trees


All pines contain edible seeds in the late season cones. The only issue is the quality and size of those seeds are highly dependent upon the species of pine.

. The best time to gather pine nuts is in September and October. Look for the round open cones. Simply gather the cones, remove the seeds and shell before eating raw or can also make tea from the pine needles which is load with vitamin make the tea, simply gather a good handful of fresh green pine needles., dice the needles with a knife as fine as possible. Next, take these needles and put them directly into a cup of boiling water, letting it boil for a minute or two. The water should turn a light yellow color. Add some honey, and drink. what you can also yous of the pine tree is you can eat the bark this comes as the biggest surprise to most people.The first thing you’ll want to do is to choose a large, mature pine tree since it provides the most inner bark without harming the tree.With a heavy drive the tip of the knife through the outer bark with a strong stick with this you well carve out a rectangle  .once done carve out another layer .what you are left with is a tender and sweetest part of the inner bark. cut the bark into thin strips and simply fry them in some butter or oil until medium brown and crispy. Add a little bit of salt and it tastes like potato chips.

Follow james on twitter @boilingjames

Side note you can make pune salt by simply blending pine needles and salt together for a wonderful flavoured salt

This time of year place a few pine cones in the oven for the smell of christmas