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If you haven’t heard of courgetti and you live in the western world, I’m pretty sure you’ve had your head buried under the sand. The concept of turning root vegetables into fake carbohydrates has been pretty popular over the last couple of years with people deeming carbohydrates as ‘bad foods’ and trying to find a healthier alternative. But why can’t we seem to just enjoy foods as they were meant to be enjoyed? If you can’t already tell, I’m a big advocate of carbohydrates and my heart cries every time someone tries to shun them.
Every decade the media choose a specific food group to target and demonise. You remember when everyone was scared of fat and would only buy fat free (but very high sugar) foods right? Well now people have clocked on that our body actually needs some fat, they’ve turned to a new food group to hate, carbohydrates. There were always certain groups that would shun carbs, such as Atkins and Keto, but now it’s hit the mainstream market. You can basically buy low carb versions of everything, and if they can’t process it they’ll just make a vegetable look like it instead, hence courgetti.
So, in case you’re on the fence about whether or not to replace your spaghetti with courgette, I’m going to explain why you should continue to eat carbohydrates, and some better ways to cook courgette.
Why You Need Carbohydrates
I really don’t want to bore you with the details, but in a brief overview of nutritional science, carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients that our body needs. Macronutrients are the nutrients our body needs in large amounts, so along with carbs, you have fat and protein.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel. The body breaks it down into glucose and it is used for energy. When you exercise, or when you generally move, it’s carbohydrates that are used primarily before fat and protein.
Another fantastic reason for eating a suitable amount of carbohydrates is that many of them, especially fruit, vegetables and wholegrains are packed out with fibre. What does fibre do? It helps you poop better. Without a sufficient amount of fibre your digestive system will no longer be friends with you, and you’ll know about it.
Better Ways to Cook Courgette
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that you need to eat your carbohydrates, so now onto courgette, because I really don’t want to put you off eating courgette. There are plenty of ways to use it that don’t include a spiralizer.
Ready to make soup?
This method isn’t for the faint-hearted because you need plenty of olive oil. When frying courgettes, cut into thick slices and cook in a frying pan on a medium/high heat for 3-4 minutes each side. You want at least 2 tbsp of olive oil for 2 courgettes and season well with salt and pepper.
You need a little less olive oil, around 1 tbsp or so, but when baking, season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes to give it that extra kick. Cut into large quarter wedges and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Leave it natural:
You don’t even need to cook courgette to make it tasty. Throw away the spiralizer and whip out your ribbon peeler. In a salad, courgette works well with lemon, feta cheese and mint, so get creative.
So, let’s stop pretending courgette is something it isn’t. It’s a beautiful summer squash that should be embraced and not disguised as something it isn’t.
When you picture fine dining, you often imagine sleek white architecture, minimalist interiors and almost microscopic plates of food. But have you ever dreamt that your kitchen could be the next best place in town to dine?
Why not bring fine dining to your home? You don’t have to break the bank to eat delicious food and enjoy good company. The key to successful fine dining is in the detail, so get your pen and paper out because you’re about to host the best dinner party of your life.
Choose the best ingredients
Creating the perfect dining experience doesn’t start at dinner, it starts hours before. First things first you need to prepare the menu. You can’t just throw a load of ingredients together and expect to make the perfect meal (unless you’re an experienced chef then I take that back). Think about possibly creating a theme to your menu, Italian and French menus are always a favourite, or get really creative and think outside the box.
Once you’ve decided what you’re cooking, it’s time to source the BEST ingredients around. Now this may take time and patience, but cooking with high quality ingredients is really what takes a dish from home cooking to restaurant quality. Consider an early rise and getting to the local market, or visit smaller stores such as butchers and greengrocers to get the freshest ingredients. Don’t forget, if you’re choosing specialist meals you may need to visit specialist stores or order ingredients online so you need to be prepared for this.
Restaurant cooking kits
Maybe like me you love to eat delicious food, but you aren’t the most creative cook. That’s okay because restaurants have created meal kits for people like us. As a result of the covid-19 lockdown restrictions, restaurants and other catering services were forced to get creative with their business and from this cooking kits have blossomed.
Despite the fact that lockdown restrictions are easing in many countries, several restaurants are still offering the option of bringing our favourite dishes home. Or, if you want to give it a go yourself from scratch, search for restaurant cookbooks.
Break out the fancy china
If you really want to be extra with your dining experience then you need to bring a bit of bravado to the table, and not just when it comes to the food. Still got that old china up in the attic somewhere that has been passed down for generations? Now’s the time to use it.
Even if you don’t have any fancy china, and you don’t really want to break the bank to purchase any, there are plenty of other things you can do to dress the table:
Drink pairing possibly?
Now you can’t prepare the perfect fine dining experience without some lavish drinks that complement the menu. The first point of call would be to pair your dishes with wine, but why stop there? You could create a far more innovative menu by pairing your food with particular cocktails instead. Or add an aperitif or two to the menu, espresso and amaretti biscuits after dessert? You can be just as creative with the drinks as you can with the dishes.
Fine dining doesn’t have to be for the rich and famous. All of us deserve to have a taste of the finer things and this shouldn’t mean emptying your pockets of every last penny. So give the Michelin star restaurants a run for their money!
Every Sunday morning when I enter the supermarket, list in one hand, trolley in the other, I am in my element. I’m one of those people that likes to take their time and pick the best fruit and veg the shop has to offer. But I will hold my hands up, I am not the most adventurous when it comes to vegetables.
However, as a way to try and encourage myself to eat a variety of vegetables, every week as part of the shopping list I write “one other vegetable”. This is like I’m trying to trick myself into thinking I am wild and living life on the edge going for more exotic varieties of vegetable, when in reality I almost always choose the same ones.
So, it’s a Sunday which means I’m also shopping for my Sunday roast. For those of you that aren’t from England, this is a typical lunch/dinner meal we eat most Sundays that consists of some form of roasted meat, roast potatoes, vegetables, yorkshire pudding and enough gravy that you can’t taste anything else. It’s a staple of British culture. Anyway, I would typically choose carrots, broccoli and green beans for a roast, a combination of colours and flavours that fill the plate well. That’s until I discovered runner beans.
When I was in Primary school and we would be educated on fruit and vegetables, we’d often learn about runner beans because they are commonly grown in the UK. However, somewhere along the way to adulthood I completely forgot about them, so have most people it seems and they are usually the last ones left in the vegetable aisle. I do understand why they have taken a step back from the limelight, there are so many other variations of bean that it can be hard to remember them all, plus, when in their full form they can look a little overwhelming.
But let me tell you they are definitely worth that extra bit of preparation. Or, if you are a self-accepting lazy cook, buy the stringless variations that come in supermarkets pre-prepared. The thing is, I prefer them over varieties of beans because of their texture. This could divide a few people, but crunchy vegetables aren’t my thing. Other vegetables such as green beans, edamame beans and even mangetout always have this hard, brittle texture that just doesn’t settle well with me. However, with runner beans, they’re soft and the beans inside are almost creamy.
Back to that Sunday roast. I’ve been shopping, everything is in the oven close to finishing, the roast chicken has been left to rest, now what do I do? Cook the runners. If you have the full runner bean, you’ll want to chop the ends, then use a vegetable peeler to remove the strings at the sides before chopping. A quick 5-10 minutes boiling and they’re good to go. But if I were you, once drained and plated, add a dollop of salted butter to the beans and allow to soak. Then each bite will be oozing with salty goodness and you won’t even realise you’re still getting one of your five a day.
Head into any top restaurant and you can almost guarantee that samphire will be served with the seafood dish on the menu. This delicate, earthy green has acquired an almost God-like status in the world of vegetables, but what makes it so special?
Looking at a samphire, you’d probably say nothing. It’s small, dainty and kind of looks like an asparagus and a cactus had a baby (don’t ask me how that would work). But once you’ve taken a bite into a fresh piece of samphire, well that’s when the magic happens.
A little bit about it
There are two types of samphire, marsh and rock. That being said, rock samphire is rarely available and therefore it’s most likely that you’ll find marsh samphire in your local supermarket. Unlike most green vegetables that often have very little taste, samphire offers a particularly distinct crisp and salty flavour. That’s why when it comes to cooking you want to keep things simple, boil for a few minutes and soak in butter.
However, you don’t even need to cook samphire to enjoy it. Simply wash under cold water and it compliments most salads, meat and fish dishes by adding that salty zing. One thing you must always remember about samphire is to eat it as soon as possible. Samphire is absolutely brilliant when eaten fresh and in season (June-August) so try to only keep it refrigerated for a few days, or if you can help it, eat it the same day.
But why the price?
If you started reading this article then noticed samphire in the local supermarket, you may have realised that it’s a pretty pricey vegetable to eat compared to other greens such as spinach and kale. Why is it so expensive? I don’t have the foggiest.
Samphire is known as a sea vegetable and is pretty abundant along the English coastline, especially in places such as Norfolk where it is seen as a local delicacy. However, even though it is a delicacy, anyone can find it and anyone can pick it. So, if you want to add a touch of fine dining to your next cod dish, don’t forget to add samphire to your shopping list.
Samphire cooking tips
These are just a few little hints and tips to be aware of when it comes to cooking samphire:
Samphire isn’t like most other vegetables because these tiny greens come with a punch of flavour that won’t be to everyone’s taste. But even if vegetables aren’t your thing, surely you’ve got to be a little bit curious how something so small can be full of so many powerful flavours?
Can you smell that? The charcoal burning and food grilling. There is no greater scent than a BBQ lighting up in the middle of summer. Especially after the winter we’ve all been through, we need nothing more than a big family get-together with plenty of food, drink and sunshine.
When you picture a BBQ, what’s the first thing you think of? Probably a big juicy burger, or grilled chicken kebabs, am I right? BBQs and meat go together better than any other combination I know, that’s because it tastes so goddamn good. But you’re forgetting about another very important food group, vegetables. Although they aren’t the first thing that pop to mind when you picture a BBQ, there are plenty of vegetables that can be cooked to perfection when grilled.
Some of the best include:
So, you’ve been to the supermarket, you’ve got your vegetables and you’re lighting up the BBQ, what’s next? Do you just throw the vegetables straight onto it? Absolutely not. You wouldn’t cook a piece of meat without careful consideration and marination, and the same goes for your vegetables.
The first thing you need to consider is the thickness of your vegetables. You don’t want them slipping between the grill as they’re cooking or you’ll end up with an extremely charred, and not very tasty dish. This means you need to make sure you’re cutting your vegetables nice and thick. For the corn, mushroom and asparagus, you don’t need to cut them, however, keep the pepper in halves or quarters. Half your tomatoes and either cut your courgette into large horizontal chunks, or thick vertical strips.
Another thing to be aware of is the consistency of your cutting. You want the vegetables to cook at the same time, so make sure you evenly slice.
Again, you want to think of your vegetable as a piece of meat (unless you’re plant-based in which case you probably don’t). Therefore, it is wise to oil the vegetables and not the BBQ grill. Ensuring the vegetables are evenly coated with oil means that you won’t find the remnants of leftover courgette stuck to your grill when you try ripping it away.
If the product is good enough, then it doesn’t need much seasoning. That’s why it’s always best to buy vegetables that are in season, so you get the best flavour out of them. What’s the best way to season a vegetable? Good old salt and pepper. You can’t go wrong. The trick is to buy good quality ingredients. Don’t you dare pour table salt over the food. Instead opt for a chunkier variety such as sea salt. Not only will it bring out an incredible flavour in your vegetables, the coarse texture balances well with the softness of the grilled vegetable.
Keeping the lid closed on a BBQ is essential when you’re cooking thicker cuts. The head gets trapped, creating a similar environment to that of an oven, when this happens it means the food cooks evenly. Let’s say you’ve opted for chunky cuts of courgette, you don’t want the outside to be charred whilst the inside is still cold, so get that lid closed and cook your vegetables properly.
I’m not telling you to stop cooking meat on the BBQ, it’s delicious. But, what I am saying is why not be a little more adventurous with your grilling. Next time you light the BBQ up, make sure you’ve got some vegetable kebabs on the go too.
Looking for chilled soups to accompany your veggie grill? Try one of these Roasted Vegetable soup recipes.
Elderflower is the symbol of British middle class summertime. Even the word elderflower sounds fancy doesn’t it? Usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the flower is a quintessential British garden party, floral dresses, extremely oversized hats and elderflower gin in the hands of every guest. Can you see what I’m seeing? When researching elderflower, I discovered it was the flavour of Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s wedding cake, so you can see it’s held to a pretty high standard.
Regardless of how we view elderflowers, it is in-fact an incredible flavour that is suitable for various occasions. I promise, you don’t need a top hat to use it in a dish.
Although elderflower flavoured products are often much more expensive than their counterparts, they are actually relatively easy to forage. The flower blooms on the elder tree, these are often shrubs or small trees that can be found along country roadsides and throughout woodlands.
From late May onwards, you’ll see masses of white blossom looking flowers covering shrubbery, and that’s when you know that you’ve found an elder tree, so get picking. But, as with any foraging, you need to make sure you know what you’re doing first. The flowers and berries are the only edible part, so don’t start picking the leaves or trying to chew the bark. And REMEMBER, the berries and flowers are mildly toxic, you ensure you cook them before using them as an ingredient as it removes any of the toxic chemicals.
If you want to get elderflowers at their best, head out late May to mid June and try and find areas where there is minimal traffic so they haven’t been in contact with car fumes.
The most popular way of using elderflowers is my creating a cordial. You can purchase cordial in most supermarkets, however it’s never quite the same as making your own. You simply need sugar, water, lemons and citric acid to make your cordial, it can be done in as little as 10 minutes and frozen to last the whole year.
Now I know what you’re thinking, isn’t cordial a little boring? I can only drink it. Well not quite. Once you’ve got your cordial mixture, you can use it to infuse several other dishes, like you would with vanilla essence. Some great ways to use the cordial include:
And the list goes on. The point is, it’s all about experimentation. Elderflower has a floral and light taste that suits summer flavours such as strawberries, raspberries and even lemon. You could create both sweet and savoury dishes that offer a light and refreshing taste, perfect for BBQs and summer parties. Let your imagination run wild.
Let’s just face facts. Lettuce is possibly one of the most boring vegetables. Yeah that’s right, I said it. It’s made up of 96% water, so the closest thing to eating lettuce (especially iceberg) is drinking a glass of water. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love it.
Picture this. It’s summer, the sun is beaming and the BBQ is blazing. The scent of burgers is swirling across the garden and making its way up your nasal passage and suddenly your mouth begins to water. Is that drool I see? Regardless of whether it’s beef, chicken or vegan, a burger is possibly one of the most satisfying dishes you could eat. It hits all five senses, so you’re getting a taste sensation on all fronts. What could possibly make it better? Lettuce.
It’s all about contrast. So, back to our image. You’ve got your burger on a rubbish but necessary paper plate and you’re adding your toppings. Personally I’d go for a brioche bun (it holds better) followed by the burger, slice of gouda and shredded iceberg lettuce, before you top with the bun and forge together the perfect burger. When you take that first bite, yes the burger tastes incredible, but it’s the fresh, crisp lettuce against the soft patty that finishes it off for me. Burgers are pretty stodgy and often rich, it’s the lightness of the lettuce that really balances it out and brings yin to the yang.
Even after reading this, you probably still think lettuce is one of the least superior vegetables, and I get that. The thing about lettuce is, it’s never going to be the star of the show, but it will always be a fantastic supporting actor. Lettuce has got your back in every dish you choose to use it in. It’s not bothered about standing in the limelight, lettuce is happy to complement whatever other food it’s being served with, and for that, I truly respect lettuce.
Now we know the role lettuce plays in our meal, it’s time to learn about what the leafy green has to offer. There are several different varieties, as there are with most vegetables, however the most common include Leaf, Romaine and Iceberg. Each offers different flavours, with Romaine offering a slightly bitter taste compared to its counterparts. All varieties of lettuce are rich in vitamins K and A and also offer a source of iron and folate. It’s pretty shocking the leaf has so much to offer considering how little flavour it has to offer.
I’m sure those jaw dropping nutritional facts have more than likely convinced you that lettuce should be respected a little more if my vivid depiction of eating a burger didn’t already sell it to you. Next time you go to prepare a delicious meal, take a step back and think about lettuce. Would this brilliant plant take your dish to the next level?
Don’t worry, this is not another post on how to make pesto out of fresh basil. I won’t do it to you. It’s the beginning of the basil and wild garlic season and I know there will be plenty of blog posts lurking about on the subject, so I’ll do you the honor of not being one of those posts.
Guess what? It’s not even going to be a post about the best Italian basil dishes. Although it is a pinnacle ingredient in most, if not all Italian dishes, we are going to go off course and look at other ways basil can be used. It doesn’t have to be restricted to just Italian dishes and you deserve to have your eyes opened to the world of basil. It’s one of my favourite herbs (in close competition with rosemary) for its delightful scent and the wonderful flavour it brings when it garnishes a pizza.
Mint and basil come from the same family, so they are destined to work together as a flavour combination. They are both refreshing tastes that help to cleanse the pallet and energise your tastebuds. Because of this, they work in peculiar ways to generate questionable, but also delicious recipes. Some ideas include:
Note… all NON-Italian recipes.
Try this Creamy, Red Lentil, Tomato and Lentil soup recipe.
Let’s be honest, this is no surprise really when lemon seems to go with everything. Recipes with these two flavour sensations are often light and invigorating. I can personally vouch for this as one of my favourite bakes is a lemon, basil and yoghurt loaf. You would probably turn your nose up at the thought of basil in a sweet dish, but when combined with lemon, it could be as iconic as strawberries and cream. Here are some sweet lemon and basil recipes you should consider as your next dessert:
Now, I might be about to blow your mind, but there are in-fact several types of basil. One type that isn’t as commonly used is Thai basil, which as you can imagine works really well in many Asian dishes. Thai basil is often darker in colour and has more prominent spikes than the basil we are used to seeing in the UK. It has a sweet, liquorice type taste which makes it very different from the basil often associated with Italian dishes. It’s also that sweet flavour that makes it an incredible ingredient to use in Thai and Chinese dishes where sweet flavours are often prominent in savoury dishes. Why not try your hand at these:
Have you been inspired to be a little more adventurous with your basil? Let us know your favourite basil dishes.
If you’re eating chocolate for breakfast any other day of the year apart from Easter Sunday then that’s just wrong. But on Easter Sunday, rules about chocolate go straight out the window in our household and it’s basically a competition of who can eat the most without bringing it back up.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to spend 500 words trying to convince you why it’s acceptable to eat chocolate on a Sunday morning, but I am going to talk about that meal that is usually sandwiched between all of the chocolate, Easter dinner. If you’re from England (the south specifically) your knuckles may have turned white with fury because I’ve called it dinner and not lunch. But, that’s another story for another time. Let’s focus on the substance of that meal and not what it’s called.
Sunday 4th of April marks Easter Sunday this year, and like every year since being a child, I begin the day with a cup of tea and a selection of pastries and sweet treats. On special occasions such as these, our family likes to bring a little culture to the table with supermarket croissants and Pain au raisin. They are an insult to traditional French pastries, but what do our bland English pallets know? This is when the chocolate picking begins, from about 9am-12pm there will be an ongoing stream of hot drinks, complimented by a piece of chocolate egg, until it’s finally time to start cracking on with dinner.
As I’ve gotten older, the family has come to appreciate that I’m a better cook than my mum, which leaves me in charge of the roast. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I believe you don’t have to be a great, or even a good cook to make a decent Sunday dinner, you just need to be organised. In-order to perfect Easter dinner, I always do the following:
Over complicate things and that’s where it can all go wrong. Another thing to mention is to make sure that you have enough oven space. I know more than enough people that have planned a feast for the family, but had nowhere to cook it. And no, I will not be eating any microwave food for Easter dinner. Like Christmas, Easter dinner is a glorified Sunday roast, things just get a little difficult at the end when you’re trying to serve everything at once without letting anything get cold. This means the alarm bells go off and it’s a danger zone in the kitchen. Each family member is yelled at one by one to grab an almost too hot to handle plate of food to serve on the dining table.
And, you thought you couldn’t have chocolate soup for dessert. Try this recipe this Easter.
But, despite the elevated stress levels from cooking, and slight sick feeling in your stomach from consuming way too much chocolate, you sit, you eat and you enjoy. Something about a hearty meal full of meat, vegetables and a high pile of carbs manages to restore the sweet-salty balance going on inside and you no longer feel ill, but you will most certainly feel full by the end. But, never too full to leave space for dessert.
If you grew up in England then chances are carrots were a staple part of your diet. Root vegetables are about the only thing we can successfully grow in the UK year on year, so we have to rely on them in meals.
That being said, carrots never take centre stage in a meal. They are always an afterthought, or just one of several vegetables you feel obliged to add to a roast dinner. Quite frankly, I don’t think we are giving carrots enough justice for how delicious and versatile they really are. So, this is just a short article to tickle your tastebuds and enlighten you on the various ways you can help carrots stand in the spotlight from now on.
How many of you won’t even try carrot cake because the thought of carrot in a dessert is totally not right? I understand and I was exactly the same. The same goes for avocado in chocolate and chickpea brownies. But I promise if you give it a go then you will be surprised and overwhelmed. The secret to a good carrot cake is a healthy dose of cinnamon and nutmeg. Against all odds, the flavour combination is incredible and sweet. If you are really put off by the thought of carrots, ensure you grate them as finely as possible so that you don’t get too much of the texture.
Carrot and coriander soup you’ve probably heard of, but this isn’t the only variety of carrot soup out there. Carrots are so versatile, the subtle sweet and earthy flavours mean that they go with several flavours. Even creamy carrot soup on its own is good enough for me, but if you fancy some other flavours then check out this list of ideas:
Check out these Carrot soup recipes
The classic way to season carrots would be salt, pepper and butter, but where’s the fun in that? No, glazed carrots should definitely be on your list of meals this week because they bring a whole new flavour sensation to the game. Remember how I said that carrots have a sweet/earthy tone? Well glazing carrots with sweet stuff will accentuate this and bring out the best in the vegetable. You can then add the carrots to a salad, serve them as a side with a tender piece of meat or push into puff pastry and serve as a tart. The best things to glaze your carrots in include:
Are you convinced yet? Carrots can be an incredible little vegetable and if you usually take them for granted them you sure won’t anymore. Found your own favourite ways of cooking carrots? Then let us know and bless the world with your orange recipes.
Let me tell you. One of my favourite things about writing these articles is doing the research. You might think that writing about fruit and vegetables can’t be that interesting, but how wrong you’d be. And writing about rhubarb has been no exception. People often wonder why I’m full of unusual and quirky facts, and when you read this post and see the types of things I discover, you’ll know exactly I know such random content.
Don’t worry, I’m going to fill you in straight away, because you’re clearly sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to hear what I have to say about rhubarb.
If you didn’t already know, rhubarb is especially popular in Britain and has been used for hundreds of years. However, did you know that it was Queen Victoria that brought the rhubarb to fame? After her coronation in 1837, they created a new variety of rhubarb, the Victoria rhubarb, and it blew people’s minds. This new variety of rhubarb was sweeter, easier to grow and much more reliable than the other varieties that people knew. No longer would you be left with a bitter and astringent taste if you didn’t put enough sugar in your pie.
The Victorians went mad for it. They started putting rhubarb in jams, jellies and custards (not sure of the difference between the three). These days, rhubarb seems a little old fashioned, but it’s rhubarb season and so it’s time to get creative.
I’d like to say it’s an acquired taste, and unless paired with something very sweet, isn’t usually to most people’s liking. You cannot eat the leaves, so you’re left with the ruby red stalks. The best way to describe the flavour of rhubarb is tart. Imagine the tartness of a granny smith apple, minus the sweetness.
To put it plainly, people don’t tend to like the taste of raw rhubarb because it’s hardly pleasant, but there are plenty of other flavours and foods that compliment it very well.
Really, most sweet flavours combine well with rhubarb as they take the sharp edge away from the food. That being said, there are some specific flavours that blend very well:
Ginger: You think rhubarb has an overpowering flavour? Just wait until ginger steps in and steals the limelight. This extremely strong flavour combination works well in sweet dishes such as pies or with ice cream because the rhubarb becomes less overpowering. Likewise, this combination also works well in savoury asian dishes where a tangy flavour is required.
Berries: If you want to create a rhubarb recipe without adding too much refined sugar, then add some form of berry to the ingredients list to add sweetness without excess sugar. This can be raspberries, blueberries or strawberries.
Lavender: No, this isn’t a recipe to make soap, lavender can actually be delicious served in small doses of a dish. Although you don’t want to feel like you’re eating a plant, adding subtle amounts of lavender to rhubarb can create a delicate dish, perfect for spring.
Try this Beetroot, Rhubarb and Ginger soup recipe here!
Here comes the good stuff, if you’re chomping at the bit for rhubarb recipes, you can take some inspiration from these ideas:
Got your own rhubarb recipes? Comment below and let us know!
This post is my ode to spinach. It’s my favourite vegetable and I have absolutely no justification for it. I don’t know whether it’s the sheer amount of nutrients that are packed into one leaf, or just the simplicity of it. But I love spinach.
As a child, I did not love spinach. Even watching Popeye crack open a tin and glug it down, giving him immense strength couldn’t convince me to even try it. Like most children, I was fussy, especially when it came to vegetables. Unless they were soaked in butter to take away the earthy tastes. But again, like most people my tastebuds adapted and my palette matured, and now I can’t stop eating spinach. It is a staple part of my diet and without fail a bag of baby spinach will enter my shopping trolley every Sunday. But all of my talk about spinach probably isn’t going to convince you, you need the hard facts.
Before you go in on me, I know that spinach doesn’t have a lot of protein compared to most foods, however in comparison to other vegetables, spinach is the chicken breast of the salad leaf world. With a whopping 2.2g of protein per 80g raw, you would have to eat A LOT to get a decent amount of protein, but every little helps.
This means that if you’re a vegetarian/vegan/plant-based spinach can play a vital role in building up the amount of protein you eat daily. The best way to pack as much spinach into a meal is to cook it. We’ve all cooked spinach in the pan and seen it shrivel up to nothing. Throw the bag in there and up your protein intake.
1.68mg per 80g to be precise. In the UK it is recommended that adults eat anywhere between 8-15mg per day, so 80g of spinach can really contribute to your daily intake. You often hear adverts about iron deficiencies, but what does iron actually do? Well, it plays an important role in producing red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. Without a sufficient amount of iron we feel tired, low in energy and can potentially lead to iron deficient anemia.
Looking for spinach recipe?
Again, this is another great one for the plant-based readers, as most other sources of iron come from red meat and other animal based products. If you don’t fancy wilting your spinach in the pan today, try adding it to your smoothie to get as many nutrients on the go as possible.
Yes, you guessed it. Spinach is also a good source of calcium, despite the fact that the media have been telling us for over 50 years that we must get calcium from cow’s milk. 700mg is around the sweet spot for the amount of calcium an adult should consume, so the 136mg in 80g of spinach is not bad at all.
Have I managed to convince you yet? I dare you to even try and think of another salad leaf that can compare to spinach. If you do, let’s fight it out.
Every year do you try growing herbs such as basil and rosemary in your garden? Only to realise a couple of months in that you do not have green fingers and that there’s a reason supermarkets sell them ready to pick. I clutch onto my basil plant frowning in my windowsill, hoping that with a little bit of water and sunlight it will provide me with mighty leaves that can be used over all of my italian dishes. Unfortunately, I’m lucky if I get a leaf.
Thankfully, there are some herbs that are a little more robust, but for some reason they are not as well known. That’s where the sorrel steps in. Ever heard of it? Even if you haven’t heard of it, you’ve probably seen one without realising. They’re leafy greens that grow from early Spring to late Autumn, meaning that you can really reap a lot out of them. Turns out they’re pretty easy to grow too as they thrive in various circumstances. This makes them a great little grower if you’re not so consistent like me.
Sorrel is a perennial herb, this means that the plant lasts more than two years, unlike many that only just make it through a season. Really I don’t think I need to say much more, you should already be convinced just by the sheer ease of growing the plant. But in case you need a little push, sorrel also has a magnificent lemon zing to it. What does this mean for you? Well it means you can add a whole new level to your salad, or upgrade your next fish dish. You didn’t realise how much you need sorrel in your life until just now.
Types of Sorrel
Now let’s break things down and go into more detail. There are two main categories of sorrel, British and French…
British sorrel – Also known as garden sorrel, this is the most common type that you would usually find growing in your garden. They often begin to grow early in spring and have long, arrow-shaped leaves. If you’ve ever had sorrel soup, it probably came from this type.
French sorrel – There isn’t much difference in the two, except French sorrel has lance-shaped leaves. Like British sorrel, it has a lemon zing to it and is highly acidic. So, it’s usually best to serve in small doses.
One of the most common ways of using sorrel, especially in England is by making sorrel soup. It is also a well-known French dish, but I don’t want to start any rivalry there. It’s a very basic recipe and packs quite a punch. Make sure when hunting for a recipe there are ingredients that balance out the flavour of the sorrel. As I mentioned earlier, sorrel has a unique, zingy flavour, therefore ingredients such as cream, milk and eggs tend to balance this out well.
Another great way to utilise the indestructible plant is by mixing it with a salmon dish. Sorrel sauce is a popular accompaniment with Salmon and other fish dishes. Often, it is combined with double cream or creme fresh and spinach. It’s the lemon flavour that makes it a perfect addition to any fish dish.
Last but not least, why not try adding sorrel to your next salad dish. We are edging closer and closer to spring which means it’s time to start adding a side salad to your plate. Sorrel can be a great addition to your salad because it adds zest where the rest of the leaves don’t. Just be wary of how much you use in case it gives you too much of a kick.
Meet Sorrel’s Close Neighbor: Stinging Nettle
Meet Sorrel’s Close Neighbor: Stinging Nettles. Try them in a soup.
You expect that once you have children, you’ll be undertaking the constant battle of encouraging them to eat their vegetables. But, how many of you thought you’d have to do it with your partner too? It’s an ongoing struggle in our house trying to find new ways to sneak vegetables into dishes so that my partner doesn’t end up with a vitamin deficiency.
I do have to hold my hands up and say i’m not the best with vegetables either. There are very few that I love and it is a mammoth task trying to make me eat a new one, but I eat them. My partner on the other hand acts like the world is going to end when you try to feed him a grape or a carrot. Obviously force feeding is not the way forward, but I have had to find some ways to encourage him to pursue a more balanced diet. Let me tell you, it hasn’t been easy.
This is less for vegetables and more for fruit. However, there are plenty of vegetables that you can blend into smoothies, such as;
The secret is to balance out the savoury and possibly bitter flavours of the vegetables with sweeter fruits. Some great fruits to balance out with these vegetables include:
Looking for a sweet and savory soup recipe?
Another great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet is by basically covering everything in gravy. Hot pots and stews are the best way to go about this because you can jam pack the dish with meat and vegetables, all the nutrients are still there, but the vegetables are now soft and taste like delicious stock and gravy. The best vegetables to include in a stew are:
Try this Roasted Pomodoro Tomato and Avocado soup recipe here!
Everyone likes eggs right? The excellence in this idea is that this is a fantastic way to get vegetables in at breakfast, already putting you one step ahead of everyone else. You can pretty much put anything in an omelette, and if you want to hide the taste of the vegetables, then why not add cheese, chilli flakes or plenty of pepper to the dish? If you can get at least two vegetables in your morning omelette then it’s a weight off your mind trying to cram vegetables into the last meal of the day. My personal favourites are:
Have you got a fussy partner at home? Share your tips on filling them up with vegetables.
It’s been a hard year for most of us and it’s only February. Aside from the fact that 2020 seemed to be somewhat a write off, it doesn’t look like 2021 is going to be much better if the first month of the year is anything to go by.
But, it’s February, the month to spread a little love and tell those we care about the most that they mean a lot. I’m sure there’s no better way to do that than with food. Food brings us together, at the best and the worst times.
Some of my greatest experiences with my family have been round a dinner table and I probably guess it’s the same for you. Let’s take Christmas for example. Once you pass childhood, opening presents isn’t the most exciting part of the day, eating dinner is. That’s not just because Christmas dinner is one of the single most delicious meals ever, it’s because you’re surrounded by family.
Whenever there is a special occasion in my family the day revolves around food. Well at least it does for me. There’s nothing better than sitting with your family, laughing, chatting and enjoying delicious food, and you know it.
Now I’ll stop making you sad by talking about all of these incredible food memories we’re all missing out on. Let’s talk about some ways food can bring us together, despite circumstances.
It might not be quite the same as having everyone round at the same dinner table, but we have to compromise. Picture the scene, it’s Saturday night and you’re at home in your pyjamas about to crack a film on, when suddenly you hear shouting and laughing behind you. That’s your friends on the Zoom call, all prepped with their takeaway pizza and you’re about to have a film night.
You’ve each ordered your favourite takeaway, got the snacks in and you’re ready to hit play at the exact same time. Just hope you don’t have slow internet or you’ll be 10 seconds behind everyone else laughing. Now let food bring you together, virtually.
Could you think of anything better than opening your front door to a hamper full of food? Neither could I. So why not do that for someone you care about? It’s a lonely time for many and I can almost guarantee sending someone their favourite food is bound to put at least a small smile on their face.
You could make it even better by giving produce from local shops and sellers. Of course, no one’s going to complain if you Prime a package of food, but you’ll be helping even more businesses if you opt for hampers and foods from local bakeries/butchers/corner shops. Then you’ll be putting a smile on well more than one face.
Moral of the story? February is the month of love, but also food. If you want to show someone you care about them, cook their favourite meal, buy them a gift voucher to their favourite restaurant or leave them a parcel of goodies. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does show that you care.
I’ve been on a mission recently to try and eat as many seasonal fruit and vegetables as possible. Partly because it’s better for the environment, and partly because I’ve found an amazing farm shop close by and I want to take full advantage of their produce. So, each month I’m scrolling through the Veg Society website to find out what’s in season, and with it being January in the UK, I wasn’t expecting much.
However, to my delight, the UK actually has some delicious seasonal crops in January. Two of my particular favourites being leek and potato, and you know what that means…it’s soup time.
Leek and potato soup is a close contender with tomato as my favourite. It’s so heart-warming I’d say it’s the closest thing you can get to a hug in a mug (or bowl). Top it off with a few slices of homemade sourdough, watching the rainfall outside and you’ve got yourself the recipe for a perfect winter’s afternoon indoors.
If you aren’t quite as excited by the prospect of leek and potato soup as I am then you’re doing something wrong. So, I’m going to let you in on a few of my secrets to perfect your recipe…
You know like you don’t need to season a good quality piece of meat much to make it taste good? Well the same applies with vegetables. If you want a really good soup you need really good ingredients to start with.
What does this mean? Choose vegetables from your local farm shop or even straight from your garden. Sourcing your ingredients as locally as possible means that they will be fresh. On top of this, if buying from a local farm shop, you can ask when the vegetables were picked, if they use chemicals etc. You can get real down and dirty about the source of your veggies.
Find this Creamy Celery, Leek and Potato soup recipe here!
It doesn’t stop there, the rest of your ingredients should also be top quality if you want the best soup results. Make sure your dried herbs are in date. Most people don’t realise that dried herbs and spices even have an expiry date. Although they don’t ‘go off’ like fresh food they do lose their flavour.
As a general rule of thumb, dried herbs are best consumed within two years. Anything after this and they begin to lose their flavour and it won’t be as pungent as it once was. I hope now you’ve read this you’re rummaging through your cupboards and doing a cleanout.
Don’t worry there’s no rush, take it slow. Let the ingredients infuse and do their thing. If you rush the process then you won’t allow the flavours to bond and you really will be missing out on how amazing the soup could be.
Now that doesn’t mean let the vegetables burn to a crisp. Keep the heat low and really let the flavours of the vegetables come into their own. The beauty of eating (or drinking) homemade soup is just as much about the process as it is the final product. So enjoy it, put your music on and let your soul fall into the soup.
I want to say one thing to finish. These tricks don’t just apply to making soup, they pretty much apply to cooking any dish. Fresh ingredients, good herbs and taking your time. Keep these three things in mind whenever you’re cooking and you’ve got a recipe for success.
No matter where you are in the world right now, you’re probably stuck there. Given the global pandemic, we’ve all got a bit of cabin fever being stuck in the same country, city and sofa for quite some time. Although there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it might be some time before we’re out venturing the European streets sipping wine and enjoying fine foods.
I don’t mean to get you down, but that’s the truth. For those of us that love to travel, and especially travel and eat, we’ve got to cling on a little bit longer. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our favourite things. Fortunately for us, there’s a little thing called Netflix. Jam packed with food and travel programmes to keep up busy and get us prepared for when the time finally comes. So, here’s a rundown of some of my favourite food travel programmes on Netflix, that will inspire you to get cooking, or maybe even plan your next trip.
This comes first because it’s a favourite of mine. Anthony Bourdain takes food and travel to a whole new level. Not only because you discover local culinary delights, but in each episode you learn about the culture and the everyday lives of people living in the different cities.
The thing that stands out the most about this series? Bourdain wasn’t afraid to visit places where others wouldn’t dare. You’ll know exactly what I mean if you watch the episode in Libya. You’ll discover so much more than country famous dishes, you get to see what people eat in their homes. Plus you’ve got 13 series and plenty of content to get through.
Dave Chang is another favourite chef of mine. His restaurant Momofuku in Las Vegas is definitely on my list of places to visit. This is a fantastic programme if you are interested in learning more about the history of food and how it has evolved over time, whilst also drooling over delicious dishes.
Each episode focuses on a particular food, then Chang and his team explore how that dish has been adapted to suit different cultures and changed over time. All I need to say is this…immediately after watching the fried chicken episode, I got straight in my car and drove to KFC. Yes, it’s that influential.
If you’re a foodie then chances are you’ve heard of this. In-fact, no you won’t have just heard of it, you’ll have binged watched it, then compiled a list of all the places you need to visit from the programme. And if you haven’t done that, that’s exactly what you’re about to do.
Chef’s table is the best of the best when it comes to Chefs all around the world. Each season surrounds a specific topic, from Chef’s table France to a whole series dedicated to pastry (I know). They follow the lives of influential chefs, delving into their philosophies and techniques. The series is so aesthetically pleasing you’ll be just as blown away with the cinematography as you will the food.
Here’s the bottom line. We can’t do these things ourselves, so instead we’ll have to be satisfied with watching everyone else do them. Although it might seem like a kick in the teeth, and you’ll be itching to go yourself, use this as planning time. Watch the programmes and make the most detailed food trip of your life. Next time you’re away you won’t be wandering the streets starving, finding the closest tourist hotspot. Instead, you’ll have pre-book and pre-planned all of Bourdain’s favourite places.
Everyone loves apples, they’re crisp, fresh and taste goddamn good. But what about pears? I’ll be honest I’m really not the biggest fan, but I also very rarely see people eating them. Why is it that we give apples so much praise, yet we shun pears and leave them at the bottom of the fruit pile?
You might be reading this and thinking “you’re talking nonsense, I always eat pears” and that’s cool, at least someone is. But when I’m food shopping, in the UK the aisles are brimming with several varieties of apple, whereas there are very few pears. Those that have been put on display are often bruised and battered. In-order to prove this menial point, I asked several friends which they preferred, to which at least 80% responded that apples were their favourite.
But I think it’s time we give pears some love. Especially as they are seasonal for January and February, and definitely tasting their best. Like apples, the variety of the pears depends on how it tastes and feels. Some, such as Bosc or Asian pears are crisp and often crunchy, Bartlett pears on the other hand are soft and juicy. The main factor for most pears is that they’re sweet, and complement so many other foods. So let’s be nice to them, they were considered a symbol of immortality after all.
Poach them – If you want your pears to last longer then I’d definitely recommend poaching them. This is a super easy method and you can keep the pears for up to 5 days refrigerated after being poached. Usually the firmer varieties such as Bosc pears are the best as they retain their shape.
To poach them, slice the pears into halves or quarters and remove the core. Place them in a pan and cover with water. Then it’s up to you to choose your flavours. Some of the best flavours to compliment poached pear include:
Bring to the boil and cook for 10-20 minutes. To check they are cooked, poke a knife into the pear, if it meets no resistance then you know they’re done.
Grill them – If you’re looking for a way to add pears to a savoury dish then grilling them is the way to go. Start by halving and de-coring them, then glaze the pears in honey or sugar and lemon. Grill for around 10 minutes until soft and there are griddle marks on the insides.
Grilled pears complement pork and sausages extremely well, or you can even add them to a salad to add sweeter notes. That being said, they also taste great with vanilla ice-cream or yoghurt.fruit confesion
Just eat them – You don’t have to do anything fancy with a pear to make it taste good, just ensure it’s ripe and in season. Feel free to peel it, de-core it or go full-blown cave man and just eat it as it is. Currently Comice and Concorde pears are in season and will therefore be the best options for flavour. To ripen, keep them at room temperature and out of the fridge.
Next time you’re heading for a piece of fruit, why not consider a pear? If you’re going to do it, now is the best time, and worst thing that will happen? You’ll be left with sweet flavours running down your chin as you take a juicy bite.
If you’ve not heard all of the latest news and trends on gut health, where have you been for the last 2 years? Gut health has been all the rage because scientists are slowly beginning to discover more about our gut and how it plays a massive role in various aspects of our health.
One area that is being looked into more is foods that can have both a positive and negative impact on our gut. It is coming to light that high sugar and fried foods aren’t great for gut health. Whereas, one type of food that may have a positive impact on our gut health is fermented foods.
It’s about to get a little bit sciency, so buckle up. Fermentation is the process of converting carbohydrates to alcohol or acids using microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria. It sounds pretty yucky, and it is, but there are a lot of common foods that use this process.
Fermented foods last much longer because alcohol acts as a preservative. This also means that foods that have been fermented often have a sharp taste that can be like marmite (you love it or you hate it). Some common fermented foods include:
So, you may not be convinced by that list of peculiar sounding foods, but trust me you will be when you hear the benefits. Eating fermented foods may take some getting used to, but frequently eating them can really improve your gut health.
Your gut is made up of all different kinds of bacteria, both good and bad. Some foods increase the good ones, and others such as high sugar and fatty foods increase the bad. When foods are fermented, the probiotics produced can restore the balance of good bacteria in your gut. This is especially important if you suffer from any gut-related problems such as IBS.
In a 6 week study, participants ate 125g of yoghurt-like fermented milk and found that it improved their symptoms of IBS by reducing bloating and increasing stool frequency.
Check out this Vegetarian Spinach and Black Lentil soup recipe
More important now than ever, fermented foods can also have a positive effect on your immune system and in digestion. Your gut is pretty much linked to everything else in the body, therefore, if your gut is doing well, chances are so are the other systems. The high probiotic content in fermented foods can boost the immune system and helps you to recover quicker. On top of this, often fermented foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, so you know they’re doing good.
Now, I’m not suggesting you add fermented foods to every single meal, but a little bit here and there is definitely a great place to start. If like me, you’ve got a bit of a plain palette, stick to the simpler foods such as cheese and yoghurt, try to avoid over processed supermarket brands and choose to purchase them from your local farm shop or grocers.
Then, when you want to start opening up, why not try some of these meals at a restaurant? That way you’ll get an idea of how they should taste and the best flavours to compliment them. How often have you tried to make something at home, and it tasted x10 better in a restaurant? Exactly, so try the best first before you dismiss it because maybe you haven’t cooked it properly or chosen the best flavours.
Get ready to give your gut a big friendly hug.
What’s the one thing I dread about Christmas day? Eating dry, tasteless turkey. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas dinner as much as the next person. In-fact, I spend most of my day building up to the food, because it’s the best part of the day. But, it has forever been tainted in England with the idea of a poorly cooked piece of meat.
I’m here to tell you that you can take a stand against dry turkey. You don’t need to eat it anymore, because there are things you can do to make turkey taste good. Be prepared to see turkey in a whole new light.
With big pieces of meat it is absolutely essential that you let the meat rest before eating it. Although it might seem odd, there is a method to the madness.
When meat cooks, the muscle fibres tighten and the water inside the meat is pushed towards the surface. Now if you cut the meat straight after taking it out of the oven, all of this juicy liquid will pour out and you’ll be left with a very dry piece of meat. However, by letting it rest, we are allowing the water to redistribute back into the meat, leaving you with a juicy, tender turkey.
Because turkey is often large, you should be leaving it to rest for at least an hour. Be prepared to include this time in your cooking prep.
Usually you’ll always wrap your meat in tin foil when cooking to keep the juices in. That being said, if you want a crispy skin then you need to take the foil off before the turkey has finished cooking.
Loosely cover your turkey in tin foil for the majority of the cooking time, but remove the foil for the last 30-40 minutes. Not only will your skin dry up, but it will also allow the juices to flow into the tin, the foundations for a delicious Christmas gravy.
Stuff it – It’s not just about what you put on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Make sure to stuff the inside of your turkey with all of the classic aromatic flavours, these include:
Flavoured butter – I mean, who doesn’t love garlic butter? You can purchase flavoured butters or mix your favourite herbs yourself. Then spread the butter mix under the skin of the turkey for a super intense flavour. You can also use other seasonings under the skin to get as much flavour as possible.
Don’t be boring – Yes I said it! It’s time to mix up your flavours this festive season. Of course we love tradition, but it doesn’t harm anyone to mix things up every once in a while. Check online for some unusual turkey flavours, some of the tastiest options are:
After all of this, if you still aren’t convinced that turkey can’t be tasty, I suggest picking another meat. But, why not get creative this Christmas and zhuzh up your turkey?
It was the famous Nobel laureate Dr. Linus Pauling who taught the world that taking large amounts of vitamin C can keep the common cold away. But he was wrong. I’m sorry to break it to you, but there is no solid evidence that glugging orange juice will prevent you from a nasty cold each winter. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t important though.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning we do not produce it ourselves, but our body needs it to function properly. The vitamin helps promote good immune function, the absorption or iron and also keeps your bones healthy. Without a sufficient amount of vitamin C, your immune system will be impaired and you will be more susceptible to infections, something no one wants at this time. But, before you pop open the vitamin supplements and start chugging down the pills, please read this first.
Unless you have specifically been told by a medical professional to supplement your diet with vitamin C, the majority of the population can acquire enough through a healthy, balanced diet. We honestly take for granted how important and nutritious food is. There are so many foods out there packed with vitamin C, and it’s the tasty ones too. And I’m going to blow your mind, I am not including any citrus fruits in this list.
Sweet yellow peppers age like a fine wine, the more they mature the higher the vitamin C content. So, don’t be afraid to let them get a little wrinkly. 75g of pepper provides 137mg of vitamin C, way over the daily recommended amount, you definitely don’t need supplements.
Here are some different dishes to use sweet yellow pepper in:
Check out this Roasted Pepper and Tomato soup recipe
This is one of the more popular vegetables in the cruciferous family (the ones that give you wind) and there’s a good reason for it. Broccoli is jam packed with nutrients. Along with around 57mg of vitamin C, it is also a great source of vitamins A, E, K and folic acid. The key to making good broccoli is seasoning well. Next time you parboil your broccoli, try finishing by sautéing with the following seasoning:
Say goodbye to soggy green vegetables and hello to crisp, flavourful dishes, crammed with a whole load of nutrients.
Check out this Romanesco Broccoli soup recipe
Who’d have thought that herbs also provided us with vitamins and minerals? In-fact, gram for gram thyme has three times more vitamin C than an orange. Obviously you probably don’t consume quite that much thyme in a day. But this means that even with a teaspoon of fresh thyme sprinkled over your dish, you can still increase your daily intake of vitamin C. Foods that work well with thyme include:
Check out this Chicken Soup with Turmeric, Chickpea and Thyme
Now, hopefully I’ve convinced you to check your fridge for vitamins instead of the supplement cupboard. The thing is, vegetables are often filled with various vitamins and minerals that work together to provide a healthy environment for your body. And, unless you’ve been told by a doctor to take supplements, you will find the majority of the nutrients you need in the food you eat.
If you aren’t from the UK and aren’t familiar with Bonfire night then let me explain, because it all might sound pretty weird.
Back in 1605 a chap called Guy Fawkes planned to kill the King by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. It all came down to religion, Catholics vs Protestants. Guy Fawkes placed gunpowder under the houses of parliament, and he was unfortunately rumbled. In celebration, we plant a dummy of Fawkes on top of a bonfire and set it alight, along with fireworks. It’s all incredibly unusual, but also very British.
So now back to the point of this story. One of the other traditions that comes with bonfire night is toffee apples. Fruit mixed with other sugary items has always been popular. Who doesn’t love strawberries dipped in chocolate? I can even cope with banoffee. But I draw the line with toffee apples. This concoction was created in the early 1900s and has been eaten ever since on the 5th of November by children across the country. What is it exactly? An apple on a stick dipped in candied sugar and dried, brittle enough to break your teeth, and if that doesn’t do it then the inhumane amounts of sugar will surely rot them away. Kids don’t even enjoy the best part of it, the apple. They usually lick/pick off the sugar and throw the fruit away, it’s abominable.
It doesn’t just stop there though, now companies and supermarkets have taken it to another level and caked apples in all sorts of products, chocolate, marshmallows, popping candy and basically anything that will stick to sugar. But what’s the problem with this? Well there isn’t any problem if you love toffee apples and you don’t mind a few extra fillings. But why can’t we just appreciate the apple without having to drench it in processed products? My issue is that this method of cooking (if you can call it that) completely takes away everything an apple has to offer and that’s just such a shame.
Need a soup containing apple?
Find it in this Apple, Fennel and Beetroot soup recipe here!
At this time of year in the UK, we’ve just been through a plentiful harvest of various types of apple. There are so many things you can do to accentuate the flavour, taste and texture of apples. Add them to a crumble, squeeze fresh apple juice or simply just eat an apple a day to keep the doctor away. Is there anything better than getting your teeth into a crisp, cold apple? I don’t think so. The beauty of them is that they come in so many different varieties, they don’t need to be tarnished in such a way that there is simply nothing left of the original flavour.
So here is my plea to you this November. Instead of reaching to the supermarket shelves for that sugar coated, low quality apple. Choose a fresh apple instead. Enjoy it on its own, or in a dish and enjoy the brilliant flavours and texture it has to offer. Just don’t dip it in sugar.
For this article I tried to find out exactly how many different types of squash there are and it seems to be infinite. Most websites showed around 15 different types of squash. But one threw out 25 variations, so i’m still none the wiser. Anyway, the reason I wanted to make a point about the various types of squash is because I don’t dislike all of them, just a few.
When you think of a squash, there is probably one particular type of vegetable that comes to mind. Whether that’s a butternut, spaghetti squash or even a pumpkin, these all come from the same family. That being said, they all have varying flavours, textures and tastes. You could like one squash and hate the other (like me). Today we are here to deconstruct some of the most popular forms of squash and see what you can do with them.
I couldn’t not talk about pumpkins as they are very vogue at this time of year with Halloween just passing. If you’ve been celebrating Halloween with the kids then you probably have a whole lot of pumpkin seeds/puree leftover that you don’t know what to do with. I am not envious of you. This squash in-particular smells really bad. Every year that putrid scent shoots up my nose when I’m helping my little brother and sister carve their pumpkins.
That being said, you’ve got to love them. Even if it’s just because you like making scary faces out of them. But what you shouldn’t do is waste them. Here are some things you can do with the leftovers:
Try this spiced, vegan Pumpkin and Sweet Potato soup recipe!
Sorry, this is one squash that I really have no love for. I’ve tried it on many occasions, in a variety of forms, but I still can’t seem to swallow it. Butternut squash just doesn’t float my boat, regardless of the taste, it’s the texture. It’s just too soft and that doesn’t bode well with my palette, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy it.
If you can get past the texture then I highly recommend trying out butternut squash as an alternative to meat in many recipes. Some of the most popular dishes include:
Try this Vegan Butternut Squash soup recipe!
This is probably one of the lesser known vegetables in the squash family but it sure isn’t one to miss. But I can see why you’d stride straight past it in a supermarket. It’s big and yellow and pretty intimidating if you don’t know what to do with it. The only reason I’ve ventured out is because it’s a great alternative to pasta.
But I promise, it isn’t as scary as you think, in-fact it’s a super versatile squash just like the rest of them. The easiest way to cook spaghetti squash is by oven cooking for 30-45 minutes until soft. From here, you can pull away the inside to get that spaghetti style texture. I know this may not sound like a good point, but spaghetti squash is pretty bland, and this is what makes it so brilliant. It means it will soak up the flavour or whatever sauce, dressing you choose to cover it with.
Now you see, squash aren’t my favourite vegetables but they are so versatile it’s hard not to be impressed by them. Next time you’re in the supermarket don’t be afraid to pick up a new variety and see what adventure it can take you on pumpkin seeds.
It’s potato season, and who doesn’t love a potato in at least one of its various forms. The potato is a mighty vegetable that can be roasted, fried, baked, boiled and cooked in many other forms that we probably don’t even know about. But none are quite as humble as fries ( or chips as we call them in England).
Potato fries are the nation’s favourite food. In-fact, if you visit a British supermarket, you’ll see a whole frozen aisle dedicated to them. But today we aren’t here to talk about the potato itself, and instead how we season potatoes. Obviously salt is a must when it comes to topping your fries, but I want to give you an insight into other herbs and spices that will bring a whole new flavour to your fries.
This is a favourite in Greece and if you’ve ever had gyros then you’ll know exactly what i’m talking about. Oregano is often used on pizza, pasta and various meat dishes, but works just as well, if not better, on fries.
There are several variations of oregano, with Greek and Italian being the most popular. If you want to make true, authentic Greek fries then source your Greek oregano from the supermarket or specialist herbal shops. It doesn’t matter whether you choose fresh or dried, as long as you put plenty on.
Find this Creamy Garlic and Potato soup recipe here!
If you are British you will probably be more than familiar with rosemary on your roast potatoes. So, why not mix things up a bit and throw it on your fries, too?
Rosemary is a woody, fragrant herb that can be found dried on the shelves of most supermarkets. Try sprinkling on your fries once cooked, or for a more potent flavour, add a spring or two of rosemary when part boiling your fries before oven cooking. Rosemary fries are the perfect complement to any lamb dish.
Seaweed salt and I became acquainted back in 2017 on a weekend trip to Brussels. Doing what most of us do, scouring the streets for the best local food, we came across a fish and chip shop selling daily caught fish with, you guessed it, seaweed salt fries.
This changed the whole salt game for me within the first bite. Seaweed is naturally very salty, but at this point I’d never considered seaweed salt to be a thing. But I’m so glad it is. Seaweed salt is full of minerals and therefore has a much stronger taste than most table salts. Sprinkling this on your fries may offer a subtle umami taste that goes extremely well with Asian dishes.
Cheesy chips? Yes, please! Cheese on fries comes in various forms in different countries, Poutine in Canada and chips cheese and gravy in the North of England. Parmesan on fries is probably one of the most refined versions though.
In Italy, it is common to pour parmesan on most things, so why not include fries on that list? As potatoes have a subtle taste, parmesan can really hit you with a burst of flavour to bring new life to the dish.
Garlic should be used on pretty much everything, and fries are no exception.
You can chop fresh garlic and cook it with the fries or sprinkle garlic granules once cooked, but you should definitely add garlic. And just to give it that extra hit of flavour, add mixed herbs to your fries for a truly Mediterranean taste.
Fries don’t have to be boring. Sure you can use table salt and pepper, but why stop there? There is a whole world of herbs and spices that are waiting to be sprinkled on your potatoes. Now you’ve got some insight into things that work, it’s time to experiment.
With corn season finally here, we can imagine picturesque rows of the sweet golden vegetable towering high in fields. It really is the definition of Autumn and can be used in a variety of ways, from smokey whole corn on the BBQ, to canned and frozen corn being thrown into hearty soups.
One of my favourite flavour combinations is tuna and sweetcorn. There’s a reason this famous duo can be found in various assortments, because it just works. With that being said, today’s recipe is all about taking tuna and sweetcorn to a new level.
Tuna and sweetcorn filo pizza is a fantastic quick dish that is light enough to be served as lunch, but can also be mixed with various other items to create a great pick and mix dinner. It’s cheap, easy and requires minimal effort. Whether you choose fresh, tinned or frozen corn is your choice, each will bring its own flavour to the dish.
In-fact, this really is the perfect store cupboard recipe. These are all inexpensive ingredients that if aren’t already in the back of one of your cupboards, can be found in most, if not all supermarkets. You just need some imagination, and some salt and pepper to bring the whole thing together…
● 5 sheets filo pastry
● 1 tin tuna, drained and flaked
● 1 tin sweetcorn, drained
● 4 tbsp creme fraiche
● 60g mozzarella, grated
● 2 tbsp olive oil
● Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and place a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray.
2. Place a sheet of filo on the tray, they lightly brush with olive oil. Layer the filo sheets and continue this process on each.
3. Mix the tuna and sweetcorn in a bowl, adding salt and pepper to taste.
4. Spread the creme fraiche over the top layer of filo, leaving approx 1 ½ inch from the border the whole way round.
5. Spread the tuna and sweetcorn mixture evenly over the creme fraiche.
6. Sprinkle the mozzarella over as a topping until evenly coated.
7. Place in the oven for 12-14 minutes until cooked and the filo pastry is golden brown.
8. Slice and serve.
Need a perfect companion for your Tuna and Corn pizza?
Find it in this Black Lentil, Spinach and Chickpea soup recipe here!
Cooking celeriac isn’t easy. In fact, just looking directly at celeriac can be quite intimidating. Where do you cut it? Does it need peeling? Parboil before baking?
My first experience with celeriac was a few years back, trying to cook a healthy dinner with a friend. It was the first time I’d ever seen one and like most of us, I had no idea. Where do you even start? Long story short, we never really worked out how to cook the celeriac because my friend cut her finger open trying to peel it. So, I’ve been put off ever since.
However, a few years down the line I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t escape celeriac any longer. It’s in season and it is such a versatile root vegetable that can be used in so many ways. It’s time to face up to my fears.
Don’t: Just start peeling
Before you jump straight into it, you need to prepare the celeriac, and do it safely. As you can see from above, there may be consequences if not.
Begin by cutting the top and the base of the celeriac off using a sharp knife. Then you have a stable base to cut the rest of the skin off. Just be sure not to take too much flesh. It’s best to use a sharp knife rather than a peeler for this process as there are many bumpy excess parts of a celeriac. This means it could be a bumpy ride.
Now you’ve removed the skin, you can begin to chop the celeriac to your desired shape.
Do: Mash it
If it makes things easier, pretend it’s a potato. Celeriac can be cooked in many of the same ways that a potato can, including mashing. If you are looking for a way to add more variety to your diet, swapping your mashed potato for mashed celeriac is a pretty easy way to go about it.
Chop your celeriac into small cubes and place in a pan. Cover the celeriac with water and add a sprinkle of salt. Boil for 10-15 minutes until the celeriac becomes soft and easy to mash. From here you can go to town with your ingredients, use butter and cream for a truly creamy celeriac mash. The possibilities are endless! Cheese, chives, spring onion, bacon, tailor the celeriac to suit your taste buds.
Find this Creamy Potato and Celeriac soup recipe here!
Don’t: Cook it
If on the other hand, you are looking for a lighter dish, then definitely don’t cook celeriac. Although with many root vegetables it’s best to cook them, this isn’t always the case with celeriac.
Raw, celeriac has a fantastic crunch with a nutty flavour, therefore it is perfect for a salad or slaw. This nutty taste is lost when cooking. So, if you’re looking for something more refreshing, and to add texture, use celeriac in a salad, it pairs well with apple and carrots.
You’ve got the tools and the knowledge you need to finally take the steps towards buying celeriac and actually using it. Go forth and cook, or don’t cook a fantastic celeriac recipe.
Eating a primarily plant based diet has an infinite list of benefits. We’ve all been told from a young age to ‘eat our greens’ and vegetables are top of the list when it comes to food groups that parents try to make their children eat.
That being said, if you follow a primarily plant based diet, although you may feel like a pinnacle of health, there’s definitely one thing you’ll have struggled with at some point, protein. It’s the bane of a vegetarian/vegan’s life, especially one that leads an active lifestyle. Most high protein sources come from animal based products and therefore trying to muster up a high protein diet from plants is, let’s face it, a tough one.
But, it’s not impossible. In-fact, many athletes have opted to switch to a plant based diet and have proven that it is possible to lead a balanced, high protein diet.
Let’s clear things up first, you probably need to know exactly what protein is before we go on talking about the different sources of it.
Protein is one of three macronutrients, along with fats and carbohydrates. These are the nutrients the body needs in large amounts in-order to function properly and keep all of the systems intact. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are mainly used to build muscle mass, help hair and nails grow, and help to regulate some hormones.
As you can see, protein is pretty important. But let’s get down to what exactly it does.
Now you can see that protein is essential, but let’s dig a little deeper into its benefits. First thing first, one of the main things that protein does is help to repair and build muscle. Therefore, if you are doing a lot of exercise and looking to build muscle, you’ve got to get your protein in. Otherwise those muscles of yours will not grow as much as they could.
On top of this, protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, so if you’re looking for a way to feel full, make sure you’ve got protein packed meals. This can also come in handy if you’re opting for a healthier lifestyle and trying to lose weight.
In terms of what’s going on on the inside, protein helps to produce hormones and makes up enzymes that aid chemical reactions in the body. Regardless of whether you are active or not, you need a sufficient amount of protein for your body to work well.
Hungry for inspiration?
So, you’ve probably gathered that the majority of the protein you often eat comes from animal products such as meat and dairy, which can be a problem for those that choose a more plant based diet. That being said, there are certainly still ways that you can get a healthy amount of protein through plant based meals. It may take a little more planning and consideration, but it can be done.
Lentils are often found cooped up in a jar somewhere in the kitchen and left because many people don’t really know what to do with them, but they are an essential if you are looking to get more plant based protein in your diet.
Not only do they provide a good source of protein, they are also rich with iron and potassium. Lentils are best served in stews, soups and curries.
As well as being a good source of plant based protein, broccoli also contains calcium, folic acid and vitamins A,C,E,K,. No wonder it was a staple on my plate as a child. This means 4 stalks of broccoli will fill you with 16g of fibrous protein.
These are a source of soy protein, vitamin K and antioxidants. Not sure how to cook them? Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a pan and throw the beans in, dash the salt and pepper on top and fry for a few minutes. Now you’ve got the perfect high protein afternoon snack.
Often the main protein powder on the shelves is whey protein, but finally plant based protein powders are having their time to shine. There are several options out there for you to trial and test until you find one that tickles your fancy. The main protein sources are:
See it isn’t so bad when you really look into it. Vegetables are quite literally jam packed full of so many nutrients, including protein which is why it’s so important to get as many into your diet as possible. Choosing a primarily plant based diet does leave you lacking in some areas, but with prior planning and the information above, you can get cracking with the high protein vegetable dishes of your choice.
I am going to straight out admit that I’ve never liked cabbage. In northern England, the most excessive and exciting way to eat it is by creating a sloppy mess slumped on your Sunday roast dinner plate. Not appealing. With many cruciferous vegetables, I think a lot of us have a shared lack of knowledge of various ways to cook them, or maybe that’s just me. But the standard seems to be, roast, boil or fry, add a dash of salt and that’s about as adventurous as I get.
This is probably why cabbage has never really taken my fancy. Not knowing how to flavour or season it, the best way to cook it for different textures. And in all honesty, I have ever really given it much thought…until last month. This was a time when my perspective of cabbage (and most vegetables) completely changed. It was like an epiphany. The grand awakening of the cabbage, or something like that.
Recalling back to July, an old friend of mine, now a chef, invited my partner and I round for dinner. It was a chance to have a well deserved catch up, especially as lock down measures had been lifted in the UK and we enjoyed some good, home cooked food together. Plus, you always know it’s going to be good when your host is a professional chef.
But, being a slightly picky eater, I was skeptical about what was about to be served, but my God was I wrong. We were presented with several small dishes ranging from fried chicken to a cream based fish, but what was the standout? The cabbage.
This was living proof that vegetables can be amazing if you know how to cook them. The white inside of the cabbage contrasted with the charred golden edges after being blasted at a high oven temperature for 20 minutes.I bet you’re itching to know what made it taste so good, well luckily I am going to tell you, it’s a secret that needs to be shared.
Now I don’t know about you, but toasting cumin seeds and throwing them on a vegetable was never an idea I have had before, I didn’t even know it was a thing. I would like to think that I’m quite up to date with the latest food trends, but not when it comes to vegetables. This was possibly one of the first times I truly enjoyed eating a vegetable more than meat.
Looking for another way to try out your new-found love of cabbage?
The cabbage acted like a sponge, soaking up the marinated flavours, but somehow managed to stay crispy enough that it didn’t feel soggy in your mouth. These were such obvious flavour combinations, chili and lemon, but I’d never have thought to put them on a cabbage.
And what’s the take home lesson from this? Learn more about cooking vegetables. Experiment with flavours and cooking methods. because something that might be growing in your back garden could produce the best meal you’ve ever had.
Unfortunately for us in the UK, fresh produce is not as easy to come by as more exotic and warmer countries. However, in late summer/early Autumn something magical happens. The sides of pavements are brimming with thorns, if you pass by a canal you’ll be cautious of spikes catching your legs, but if you look a little closer you’ll see something beautiful growing…blackberries.
It isn’t often that a fruit is so easy to forage in this part of the world, unless you have knowledge on the subject. But blackberries thrive at this time of year and it gives us all the chance to connect with nature and pretend that we are true foragers. It is an especially important time for children to have their eyes opened up to the delights that nature has to offer and take it home for a tasty treat later on. This is something every child should have the chance to experience.
That’s because it’s something that will never be forgotten. Food brings us closer together, that’s just a fact. But it makes a moment even more important when you are picking the food yourself then going home to enjoy it with loved ones.
Growing up, I was never particularly surrounded by nature. I’ve lived in a city my whole life and my parents weren’t great fans of the outdoors. So, it was pretty standard to be playing on the streets, avoiding cars passing by. Visiting my nana was always memorable, as I’d be having my hair pulled into tight plaits, spending time with family and fussing over food (I was a picky eater unfortunately). But, there was one time that I will never forget, the time we went picking blackberries.
One day, staying at my nana’s she decided to take me out to pick some blackberries. It wasn’t much effort as they were 10 steps away across the road. As a child, there is something exhilarating about picking food, like you’re an explorer deep in the amazon rainforests, except I was by the side of a road, but that doesn’t matter when you have a child’s imagination. We collected the succulent berries, leaving pinkish stains on our fingertips and took them straight inside to be washed and enjoyed. Even now as an adult, I can’t help think of the little bursts of flavour jam packed into the blackberry bubbles.
Find this Blackberry and Raspberry Fruit soup recipe here!
But what’s the point of me telling you all of this? Well I think the most important thing to take is that it’s blackberry season, so if you’re in the UK or any other country where blackberries grow you should be taking full advantage of this. Pick them, eat them, freeze them. Frozen berries can be stored for months and used for smoothies, desserts and everything else in-between.
As well as this, it’s a small reminder of the importance of food in our lives and the memories it brings. Yes, it is just a humble blackberry, but going to pick fruit with the kids, then teaching them a recipe will be something they’ll never forget. So, this story is about seasonal fruit, but it is also about how food brings us together.