Project Food Blog

A taste of Nu Beginnings

So, I'm back from Nu Beginnings, the UK's only boutique boot camp. And it was a fantastic week. Yes, I've emerged lighter, and 10 cm smaller – but more importantly, having spent a week with a fantastic chef and nutritionist, I've learnt some great new GL recipes, and approaches to healthy eating, that I'll certainly be putting to good use (at least most of the time).

One of the things that has really benefited me this week is cutting out wheat, I have noticed a real difference in terms of digestion and bloating. But at Nu Beginnings, they also follow a low GL (Glycemic Load) diet, and so replace foods with a high Glycemic index (such as white pasta and arborio rice) with those that are lower (such as spelt pasta and pearl barley).

The purpose of this is to avoid refined, high sugar foods that cause a spike in your blood sugar – fast-releasing foods are bad, slower ones far better.

Anyway, enough of the science – anyone wanting to read further, check out any of Patrick Holford's excellent books. And I can't recommend Nu Beginnings highly enough for anyone wanting a healthy, holistic holiday with great food.

Chef Gary was kind enough to share some of his recipes, including this risotto made with pearl barley which was a huge hit with the group. It couldn't be easier, and I'm making it again for Sunday lunch for veggie guests tomorrow. Because, lovely as it was to have our own chef last week, I couldn't wait to get home and start cooking again.

Barley Asparagus Risotto
Serves 8

2 red onions, 4 stalks celery, 2 clove garlic, finely chopped
240g pearl barley
1 1/2-2 pints stock, made with Marigold Organic Bouillon Reduced Salt
Large bunch asparagus, chopped
Dash white wine vinegar
Handful Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

1. Simmer the onions, celery and garlic in a small amount of the stock until softened
2. Add the barley and stir for 2 mins
3. Add stock so that it just covers the barley and cook for 20 mins, stirring occasionally and adding more hot stock when needed
4. Stir in the chopped asparagus, apart from the tips, and cook for 10 mins
5. Add the vinegar, cheese and thyme, then stir in the tips, and cook for a further 5 minutes.
6. Serve with extra spears of steamed asparagus on top and plenty of black pepper.

Note: Nu Beginnings cook without alcohol or salt, but feel free to add either or both if desired!

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