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Sweet and sour pork (or fish)

Serves 6

Cooking of tomatoes aids in the bioavailability of lycopene, an antioxidant found abundant in tomatoes. Lycopene is thought to be present in the form of crystals associated with the membrane structures in tomato cells and studies have demonstrated that lycopene bioavailability from tomato paste that was both homogenized and heat-treated was higher than from fresh tomatoes and this bioavailability was due to the cooking effect. Red peppers and carrots are a good source of vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin B6, beta carotene, and folic acid. Green peppers have less carbohydrate content than red peppers per weight. Peppers (Capsicum) also contain a large amount of phytochemicals that have exceptional antioxidant activity and lycopene.

The asparagus is a member of the lily family, which also includes onions, leeks and garlic. The green type is most common but you can also find white asparagus. Asparagus hardly have any calories and loaded with vitamins and minerals and folic acid. They are also a fair source of calcium and fiber. Asparagus also contains the phytochemical glutathione, which has antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties. There are old beliefs that asparagus could increase feelings of compassion and love, promote fertility, reduce menstrual cramping, and increase milk production in nursing mothers. In some countries they are also used as an aphrodisiac. Shiitake mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium, required for repair of DNA mutations and a very good source of iron. Recent studies have traced shiitakes mushrooms legendary benefits to an active compound contained in these mushrooms called lentinan. Among lentinan's healing benefits is its ability to power up the immune system, strengthening its ability to fight infection and disease. Mushrooms also contain extremely high concentrations L-ergothioneine (up to 13 mg in a 3-ounce serving), a powerful antioxidant, higher than either of the two dietary sources previously believed to contain the most: chicken liver and wheat germ. Mushrooms are very porous, so if they are exposed to too much water they will quickly absorb it and become soggy. Therefore, the best way to clean mushrooms without sacrificing their texture and taste is to clean them using minimal, if any, water. To do this, simply wipe them with a slightly damp paper towel or kitchen cloth.

Pineapples are rich in manganese, a trace mineral that is needed for your body to build bone and connective tissues. Just one cup of pineapple provides 73% of the daily recommended amount of manganese. The benefits of pineapple can affect the growth of bones in young people and the strengthening of bones in older people. Garlic contains two main medicinal compounds: allicin and diallyl sulphides, which can help boost the immune system and fight off cancer. One of the active compounds in ginger, gingerol, may help to suppress tumour growth and tumour blood supply and can kill cancer cells. Current studies show that dark soy sauce, a naturally brewed fermented produce with wheat, has a protective role against the action of acrylamide, a byproduct formed during cooking. More about soy beans and soy sauce are discussed in "Is your food killing you"

1 large piece pork loin, thinly sliced (or 6 pieces of fish steaks, salmon or halibut are best)
2 pips garlic, thinly shredded
1 inch fresh root ginger, washed and peeled then thinly shredded
1 tsp. sesame oil
3 large plum tomatoes, chopped and blended, then pass thru a sieve to remove any seeds
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium sized red pepper, sliced
1 medium sized green/yellow pepper, sliced
175 g shitake mushroom, washed just before cooking and pat dry. Cut into halves.
1 bunch young asparagus, soak and wash well to remove grit, then cut into lengthwise into bite sized pieces
1 small can pineapple pieces, in natural juice
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 -6 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2-3 tbsp. unrefined sugar
1 tbsp. Japanese light and dark soy sauce
2 tsp. corn flour, dissolved in a little cold water to make a runny paste
1 tbsp. olive oil for cooking
Unrefined salt and freshly ground white pepper

Marinate the ginger in white wine vinegar. Prepare the sauce by mixing together the pureed tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and soy sauce. Leave aside.
Steam the carrots and peppers over a steamer of hot boiling water until just tender but still crisp. This should only take about 5 minutes, although the carrots may take a few minutes longer to become tender. If you do not have a steamer, add a very small amount of hot boiling water in a large pan, add carrots and peppers, cover and cook over a low to medium heat for 5 minutes and until the carrots are tender. Do not throw away the water used for boiling if using this method (this should only be a tablespoon or so).
Meanwhile, in a frying pan add olive oil, garlic and meat (do not add fish if using this instead) and cook this lightly over medium heat for a minute. Add the sauce and let it bubble over a low heat. Add the steamed vegetables (and water from the boiled vegetables) and asparagus. Mix well and cook for 3- 5 minutes. The asparagus should still be crunchy. Add the marinated ginger and mushrooms. If using fish, add at this stage. Add the corn flour mixture to obtain the desired thickness to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook a further 2 minutes. If cooking with fish, do not remove the cover until ready to serve.
Serve hot with plain rice. A simple dish but delicious wholesome dish.