Monday 26 September 2016

Buck the Wheat... and fight cold sores with blinis

If you get cold sores, says Susan Jane White, fight the pesky virus with a fork and some buckwheat blini

Susan Jane White

Published 08/06/2015 | 02:30

Susan Jane White
Susan Jane White

Two things I learned this week. One. I can grow humans (I'm a bit slow on this front, having had two chiselers already, but a clever friend pointed out that it is, in fact, a superhero power.) Two? I also grow cold sores. This is not within the superhero jurisdiction.

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The herpes simplex virus is a nasty little number. It pops up when you are most vulnerable, like after sleepless nights. Just when you should be celebrating your strength and heroism, this ugly mutant bunion decides to tell the world that you have not quite overcome the travails of sleep deprivation. It starves you of your dignity when you need it most.

Want to know how to hammer a cold sore? Play Celine Dion to it. Or confuse the Mother Virus. Yep. Herpes has been shown to thrive on arginine, an amino acid commonly found in daily food choices like peanuts, dark chocolate and red meat. We can trick the virus by feeding it a different amino acid called lysine, a cousin of arginine. Both amino acids are often sourced together, but the ratio of lysine to arginine seems to be key.

Lysine will not kill the virus, but it can help prevent the manifestation of the most ghastly crusty lips. Most pharmacies now stock lysine supplements, which are especially useful for that tingling sensation. Anecdotal evidence suggests that stocking up on lysine can successfully confuse the virus, and compromise its main source of fuel.

Which foods have lysine, you shout? Buckwheat! This gluten-free grain is cheap and dead tasty. I bet you'll dig its rustic tones. Buckwheat flour behaves impeccably in bread recipes, and makes even better pancakes than white flour. The Russians and Japanese regularly eat buckwheat. Let me show you why.

Banana & Buckwheat Blini

Makes 16.

Here are some megawatt blini for toddlers and their fussy little pals. Tips? Grated beetroot is perfect for girls and their Peppa Pig obsession, while boys tend to prefer grated carrot. Try stirring through some flaked fish. Blini don't store very well, so pack them into lunch boxes for later, or eat them within 12 hours. I serve these warm with some smashed avocado.

You will need:

1 ripe banana, mashed

140g (5oz) buckwheat flour

250ml (8½fl oz) water

Generous pinch of sea salt flakes

Handful grated vegetable (I use beetroot or carrot)

½ teaspoon baking powder

Dot of butter, to fry

2 avocados, to serve

To make the blini batter, put the mashed banana into a blender with the buckwheat flour, the water, the sea salt flakes, the grated vegetable and the baking powder. Whizz until there are no lumps left. You can use muscle and a fork if you prefer, of course.

Meanwhile, fire up your largest frying pan with the dot of butter. Drop one tablespoon of blini batter onto the pan, and let it spread to the size of a biscuit, but no bigger. If it does not sizzle straight away, remove the batter and wait until the pan gets hotter.

Each blini will require about 1-2 tablespoons of batter, and 60 seconds of cooking both sides. Once the blini become naturally caramelised on the outside, transfer them to a wire rack. Let them cool before the children plunder the entire batch.

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