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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.
Originally published March 24, 2021
Before doing my research for this post, cabbage and I weren’t best friends. My only reference to cabbage is a sloppy green pile of borderline inedible food served on the side of a questionable roast dinner. It’s something I’d associate with an older family member, the kind of food that they force you to eat because it’s ‘good for you’, when in fact they’ve soaked it in so much butter that it basically makes you at higher risk of heart disease.
But this was all before writing this. After looking into the many uses and ways to cook savoy cabbage my eyes have been opened to much more flavoursome ways of using cabbage. It’s adapted from being a sloppy side to something I want to immediately start frying up with pancetta and cream.
I know it sounds like a posh version of cabbage, but it’s not that much different when you dig a bit deeper. It gets its name from the region of France that it supposedly originated from. This lies close to the borders of Switzerland and France. Although it originates here, savoy cabbage is grown worldwide, generally between October and February, making it the perfect vegetable to add to a winter dish.
How to spot the perfect savoy cabbage
Like with any fresh food, you want to make sure you get the best quality product possible, so here are some pointers so you can quality control the savoy cabbages on your next supermarket trip. A savoy cabbage should:
A savoy cabbage shouldn’t:
So you’ve found the perfect savoy cabbage in the supermarket, what next? It’s time to cook yourself some good grub. Like normal cabbage, you could just steam your savoy and plate it up on the side of your main dish, but why let such a delectable ingredient go to waste?
It’s probably no surprise to you that I’ve written pancetta because it basically goes with everything. If you want to add a salty kick to a meal then include pancetta. If you’re looking for an indulgent meal, try topping pasta with fried cabbage, creme fraiche and pancetta. You probably won’t need to eat again for a few weeks.
Cabbage is also an excellent ingredient to use in some of your favourite Asian dishes. You can add savoy cabbage to your stir fry to add a different variation of texture from the other crunchier vegetables. Even consider using this variation of cabbage in a ramen dish. Pairing cabbage with pork ramen is another way to pack out the bowl with nutritional goodness.
To mix up the texture in your cabbage dish, seeds and nuts can be a fantastic way to add flavour. Chestnuts with bacon is a more traditional dish with cabbage, however you could also cook cabbage with almonds or caraway seeds to add a flavour combination to a dish you never knew you needed.
I hope next time I visit the supermarket all of the savoy cabbages are sold out because you’ve taken them all.
Originally published on January 30, 2022
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.
Originally published on February 1, 2022
I know that generations before me are going to despise what I’m about to say, but being a millennial is hard. Aside from the fact that we can’t afford anything, and no not because we enjoy brunch, but because of the overwhelming increase in the cost of living; we are guilt-ridden with trying to make life decisions that will better the planet.
One of the biggest factors that contribute to climate change and greenhouse gases is farming, specifically farming for the production of meat. Sixty-three percent of arable land in the EU is used to produce animal feed instead of food for human consumption. As well as this, there is methane that cows emit, and the transportation that goes into farming animals. Then, once they have been killed, you need large factories for meat production and the van, boats, and even cargo planes that are then used to distribute the products. I’m really not trying to make you feel bad, I myself eat meat. But, you have to admit that the overproduction of meat really is a contributing factor to our world falling apart every second.
Because I’ll be honest, I really don’t want to give up chicken, or the occasional roast ham on a Sunday. I’m very aware that it’s not the best for the environment, but I’m also human and a little bit selfish, and I’m sure there are plenty of you out there like me. You want to help, but you also want a juicy piece of meat sometimes. I hear you.
The truth is unless you grow, pick and eat all of your own food then your diet is always going to affect the environment. Unfortunately, for most of us, this is impossible. So don’t get too hung up on it, you’ve probably got other more important issues to deal with. But, if you want to take a few steps to reduce you meat intake and do a lil’ bit for the environment, here are some easy steps to take:
For a lot of people (well at least in England), we tend to make meat the star of the dish and build everything else around it. They don’t call English food meat and two veg for nothing. But what about if we stop giving meat all of the attention and place a bit more emphasis on vegetables? There are literally thousands out there, so you can get creative with your cooking.
Building a meal out of vegetables will take a bit more thought, but it’s worth it. Using herbs, spices and seasoning to flavour your veggies and take advantage of what mother nature grows. The internet is filled with vegetarian-centred dishes, spend some time taste testing and start making your favourite dishes out of veg.
In a cost of living crisis, this isn’t possible for everyone, especially as farm and butcher’s meat often comes at a higher price than the supermarket alternatives. But would it be possible to reduce the amount of meat you buy? And get the best quality possible?
If you can get to farm shops, great. If not, local meat delivery services are also an option. But, if all else fails, read the packaging on the meat in the supermarket and try to opt for meats and cuts that come from the country you live in. These will come with reduced transportation and have less of an impact on the environment.
If you’re like me and you don’t want to get rid of meat entirely, why not just try scrapping it a couple of days a week? You’ll have to be prepared, making sure you plan your meals in advance, but there are plenty of alternatives such as meat-substitute foods, beans and pulses and the humble vegetable.
Sometimes it is not about all or nothing, it’s those small changes on a regular basis that count. But most importantly, don’t feel guilty, you’ve probably got enough going on. If you want a burger, eat it.
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.
Originally published January 7, 2021
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.
Originally published March 6, 2021
As a Personal Trainer, one of the main topics of conversation I have with clients is food. I know what you’re probably thinking, sure I am a Personal Trainer so I’m probably checking that they’re eating a nutritious and well-balanced diet. Well, you’re wrong.
In fact, usually, we’re discussing our favourite meals and what we’d rather be eating that evening as opposed to the healthier options we are definitely going to choose.
But there was one conversation with a particular client that has always stuck with me, and it was about one of our shared favourite foods, potatoes. Now, I could easily write a whole article dedicated to potatoes and why they are so brilliant, but I’ll spare you today (maybe next month). No, now I’m going to share one of the best cooking tips I’ve ever received.
We began discussing our mutual love for roast dinners. This client in particular will make a roast dinner every Sunday without fail. If you’re not from the UK and you don’t know what a roast dinner is, it’s basically everything you expect from a British meal; Roast meat, root vegetables, potatoes in various formats and a lot of gravy. It was then that she shared a tip that has changed my potato-making experience ever since. Peeling the potato skins and baking them as a Moorish snack to nibble on whilst you’re making the rest of your roast.
I know it’s not rocket science, but it is pure genius. Not only is it a way to keep hunger at bay whilst you smell the delights of your meat roasting, but it also reduces food waste. The best thing about this is that it doesn’t stop with potatoes, you can do it with any root vegetables and set them aside to use as a snack at a later date.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Place the peeled skins in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Next sprinkle over the salt, pepper and rosemary and toss the skins.
Put parchment paper over a baking tray and tip the skins onto the tray, make sure they are spread out.
Cook for 15-20 minutes until golden, then set aside and serve.
Some other herbs and spices you can use to add flavour to your veggies:
You can use whatever you want to season your vegetable crisps, you can even mix and match. For example, 1 tsp of chilli flake and squeeze of lime juice will make your crisps basically irresistible, trust me on this.
Watch this space for more semi-predictable ways to make your vegetables taste great.
Anthony Bourdain was truly one of the greats. You will struggle to find someone that wasn’t inspired by him over the last decade, whether that was through his cooking, writing or documentary making.
Unfortunately, in 2018 Bourdain took his own life whilst filming his popular series ‘Parts Unknown’ and it struck the culinary community severely.
Since then, his friends and chefs Eric Ripert and José Andrés decided to make his birthday, ‘Bourdain Day’ on the 25th of June every year. Since then, each year the community raises a glass and does something to celebrate the culinary icon.
Born in New York, Bourdain loved his hometown of New Jersey but also had the travel bug and inspired people far and wide to get out, meet new people and explore new avenues of the world through food. Still to this day people are mourning, with fans commenting on his last Instagram post expressing their sadness.
If you want to mark the occasion in true Bourdain style, here are some things you can do on June 25th to celebrate the life of Anthony Bourdain.
Can you think of a better way to spend an evening than sitting around a dinner table with loved ones tucking into good grub? Because I couldn’t. Food has traditionally been a way to bring people together. Think about it, most national holidays involve food, Christmas day, Thanksgiving, Easter. That’s because good food does something special, it unites people.
“You learn alot about someone when you share a meal together”
Bourdain was right, when you’re sitting eating good food with loved ones and strangers alike, you learn something new about them. This is because you’re free from the distractions of life. No phones, no TV, just social interaction, and sometimes we all need that.
When we think of growth, it’s all about getting out of your comfort zone, and the same goes for food. Why eat the same meals day in day out when there is so much out there to explore? No two meals were the same in Bourdain’s travels and he was keen to drive the idea that everyone should get out and explore.
“Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.”
You might not be able to travel as far and wide as Bourdain, but that doesn’t mean you can’t venture out in your local community. Try out a new restaurant or even a different dish at a restaurant you usually frequent. Find new recipes to cook at home or have a friend/family member treat you to one of their favourite meals.
Each year over 700,000 people take their own life, and there are many more that attempt suicide. Mental illness is a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away in the modern world, instead the problem is growing with the increasing pressure many feel to live up to certain standards and expectations.
Unfortunately Bourdain was a victim of suicide himself. One possible way of honouring his death is doing something to aid those in a similar situation that can still be helped. Whether that’s giving to a suicide prevention charity, volunteering or simply checking in on someone who needs it.
Whatever you decide to do on Bourdain day, remember to enjoy good food, embrace life and be kind to those around you.
“Your body is not a temple. It’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” – Anthony Bourdain
But seriously. What else do people use to soak up their soup if it isn’t a crusty loaf? Carbohydrates have had a tough time in the last decade, but it’s been a long time coming. The media are always quick to demonise food groups and it was the turn of the carbohydrate.
Should you really be concerned about eating carbs, or is it a load of nonsense? The short answer is no you shouldn’t, but you’ve got to know why.
First of all, let’s have a little background knowledge of nutrition 101 basics. There are three macronutrients, these are nutrients that our bodies need in large quantities, they are:
The amount that we need depends on a number of factors and everyone is different. But, the fact that they are essential nutrients means that we should be consuming all three. Someone who chooses a keto diet might disagree, but that’s an argument for another day.
Try this Ribollita soup recipe here!
Fibre is something that most of us in the western world don’t get enough of. Studies have shown that a high fibre diet can decrease your risk of bowel disease, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Fibre cannot be fully broken down by the body and helps to pack out your poop, so it helps with digestion and prevents constipation.
Complex carbohydrates are packed full of fibre, specifically, fruit and vegetables, grains and oats. The other macronutrients don’t have much fibre, therefore you need a healthy amount of carbohydrates to get a sufficient amount of fibre in your diet.
Carbohydrates are your primary source of fuel, followed next by fat. Whether you do a 10km run one day, or you’re just milling around doing your day to day activities, you will be using carbohydrates to fuel it.
But, if you are taking part in fitness activities, especially endurance sports then you need to have more carbohydrates. You’ve heard runners swear by a big bowl of pasta before a race and there’s a method to their madness. Carb loading is a method of filling your body with the macronutrient so that you have enough energy for long-distance exercise.
When people think of carbohydrates they usually jump straight to food such as bread, pasta and rice, but I think they might be forgetting something. Fruit and vegetables are also carbohydrates. We all know the importance of a sufficient amount of fruit and veg in your diet, not just as carbohydrates, but also the vitamins and minerals they provide.
Still convinced carbs are the enemy? I hope not because they’re delicious. If you take one thing from this, remember that it’s all about balance. Sure too much of something usually isn’t bad for you, but you can keep dipping your bread in your soup.
Capers, I’m going to admit something straight away and some of you may laugh, some of you may even stop reading because you’re judging my stupidity so much. But, until this year (2022) I thought capers were a type of seafood. I have no idea what led me to believe this, all I knew about them was that they were small and black and salty, and I assumed they originated from the sea. That’s until I said yes to eating capers in a pasta dish a couple of weeks back and then had to do a bit of research. Oh how wrong I was.
In case you don’t know, like I didn’t three weeks ago, capers unripened flower buds from a caper bush. The bushes are commonly found in the Mediterranean which is why you find them in a lot of Spanish and Italian dishes. But, that doesn’t mean you can go picking capers and eating them, in fact they are almost inedible fresh because of how sharp the taste is. This is why they need to be pickled or dried, so they are actually edible.
One of the most important things to note when buying capers is that you choose capers and not caperberries. These both come from the same plant, however capers are the flowerbuds whereas caperberries are the fruit that grow later on the trees. Caperberries are much larger in size and don’t carry the pungent taste that capers do. That being said, if you’ve accidentally picked up caperberries don’t let them go to waste, stick them in your martini and you’ll look like an expert cocktail maker.
One of the reasons capers are so expensive is because they are small and delicate, this means they have to be hand picked and therefore it is a much longer process than larger fruits that can be picked using machines or vehicles. From here, there are a couple of routes you can take: First you can dry the capers out, but this is a longer process and usually more costly. Otherwise you can salt them in brine using salty water, or pickle them in vinegar, salt and water.
If you’re big into your food and you know your then you probably think I’ve committed blasphemy by giving the option of pickling capers. Many people don’t like buying pickled capers because the vinegar removes many of the original flavours of the caper, however pickled capers are usually a more cost effective option and still add a certain je ne sai quoi to many dishes.
Apart from being expensive because of the process they undertake to go from field to shelf, capers are also more expensive depending on their size, with the smaller ones being more desirable. If you’re looking for the really good stuff then a nonpareil caper, these are the smallest ones sitting at 7mm in size. On the other hand the gruses grow up to 14mm in size and are the cheapest. In total there are six categories of capers to choose from, all divided by size.
Honestly though, unless you’re a complete foodie, you don’t need to break the bank to go for the most expensive option. Capes are generally used as a garnish to a dish and therefore you probably want to spend a bit more on the main event such as a good quality piece of fish or fresh pasta. No matter which you choose, it will add a salty, zesty flavour to your meal that’s sure to add the kick you’re missing.
Everyone has been hit by the increasing cost of living. In the UK alone inflation reached the highest in January 2022 since 1992. So, it’s no surprise that so many of us are trying to find ways to tighten the purse strings and save money where we can.
Unfortunately, the price increase includes food. But, there are definitely things you can do to reduce the cost of your food shop and hopefully even make some savings.
It can be easy to hit the supermarket and forget what foods you’ve already got in to make meals out of. Not all of us have a fridge that can refill itself. So, it’s essential that you make a note of what you already have before you go shopping.
This is where you can get creative, look online to see what recipes you can create out of the foods you already have.
There has been a lot of news recently about the benefits of a plant-based diet. As well as having an impact on the plant and your health, it can also help your pockets too. Meat is one of the most expensive components of a food shop You don’t have to eliminate it completely, just try to reduce the amount you eat by swapping it with other plant-based proteins, such as:
Looking for a soup containing these meat alternative ingredients? Check out this Yellow Lentil soup recipe
It’s a common myth that fresh fruit and vegetables are better for you than frozen and tinned versions. The fruit and vegetables are picked and then frozen or tinned straight away, the nutrients are locked in and last for longer than their fresh counterparts.
More often than not, people end up buying way more food than they need. If you don’t go shopping with a plan then it ends up being a free for all. You won’t know exactly what you need for certain recipes and might end up having to make a second trip to get the things you forgot.
If you plan out your meals, it makes it much easier to make an accurate shopping list and not buy more than you need.
Don’t get distracted by 2-4-1 and buy one get one free deals. When that big yellow sign is flashing in front of you, it can be more than tempting to throw an item in your basket that you know you don’t need. But remember, it isn’t a deal if you didn’t need it in the first place.
All of us can be a bit snobby when it comes to certain brands. I for one have a particular need to buy branded cereals, even though they all taste the same. But when needs must, you have to make cuts somewhere and one of the first things to go should be named brands.
You don’t have to replace all your luxuries, just one or two that can easily be replaced by similar versions.
If you could take one point away from this post then it’s to cook more. Microwave and oven meals might seem like cheap options, but I can guarantee that it’s almost always cheaper to cook from scratch. Plus, there’s nothing like sitting down and eating a meal that you’ve cooked yourself.
Have you got some more tips and tricks to help save money in the supermarket? Let us know and spread your money saving knowledge.
Sugar and I have a ropey relationship. As someone that works in the health and fitness industry teaching people to maintain a healthier lifestyle and build good relationships with food, I am a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to sugary snacks.
Don’t get me wrong, my desire to eat chocolate at most waking hours of the day is controllable. I don’t eat many sweet things, but that’s mainly because I know I have to avoid building sugary habits. Out of site out of mind is my principle when it comes to chocolate and other sugary products.
I know I love chocolate, but the true realisation of my obsession came back in December when I was ill and lost my sense of taste and smell. I still wanted to eat chocolate even though I couldn’t taste the damn thing. What was wrong with me? Did I have so little self control that I still needed to inhale Christmas share boxes when I couldn’t differentiate one variety from another?
It turns out not. Maybe I didn’t need to give myself such a hard time because there might be some science behind why we still crave sugary foods even when we can’t taste them.
I don’t want to make excuses regarding my excessive desire to eat chocolate, but it’s probably a part of who I am.
Obviously I can change this (not sure I want to), but the habits that we build over time tend to stick, and it’s incredibly hard to get out of them. How often do you notice yourself reaching for something sweet after a meal? It’s not because you’re still hungry, it’s more likely that you’re just used to doing so. As children we tend to eat dessert after a meal and this habit has become ingrained in us as adults.
The thing about sweets is they make us feel good, which is why it’s so hard to break the habit. When you eat something sweet, it releases dopamine, the hormone that makes you feel good. It might be a short term surge, but my God does it feel great.
Sleep is one part of our health that we deprive ourselves of the most, when in fact it’s the most important, and the easiest thing to get right.
A lack of sleep can have a detrimental impact on several parts of our life, one of them being diet. When you are sleep deprived ghrelin, the hormone that controls your hunger increases and therefore so does your appetite. Have you noticed you tend to want to eat more when you’re hungry?
On top of this, leptin, the hormone that suppresses your appetite decreases. Your hormones are all out of sync and your body is telling you to eat because you’re lacking energy. This is usually emphasised with sweet food because it’s the ultimate burst of energy when you’re feeling sleepy.
This point links back to both of the previous points in many ways. First of all psychologically, sweet food usually makes us feel good. As a result, when you’re stressed, if you’re prone to emotional eating it is likely that you will turn to sweet foods to comfort you. Foods such as ice cream and chocolate are generally perceived as ‘comfort’ foods.
Furthermore, stress and sleep are very closely linked. If you are over-stressed then there’s a very big chance that you aren’t sleeping well. This lack of sleep can then lead to all of the above points.
So, it turns out that there were a lot of psychological and physical elements that were contributing to my craving for chocolate despite the fact that I couldn’t taste it. A lack of sleep from being ill, and the habit of eating sweet food after a meal. Maybe a little more self control would have helped too.
I challenge you to think of a more comforting sweet dish than stewed apples. It’s the epitome of wholesome eating. Tucking into a hot apple crumble after Sunday dinner is the only way I make it through England’s gloomy winter’s each year.
Apples are one of the few fruits in season during the winter months in the UK, often best picked between January and February. As well as being an incredibly abundant fruit, you are also spoilt for choice when it comes to variety. There are over 2,500 varieties grown in the UK alone. So, although cooking apples are the usual option for stewing, you’re not limited to one variety.
Stewing apples, although super comforting, is also incredibly convenient. It’s quick, easy and low cost. Stewed apple can be used for a variety of recipes, or placed as an addition to a savoury meal to give it a sweet/tangy edge.
How to stew apples
The flavours you find compliment apples well will depend on your palette. If you want to add spice to your dish then flavours such as cinnamon, ginger and mixed spice work well with stewed apples.
On the other hand, if you’ve got a sweet tooth and the bitterness of the apples is too tart for you then you can include more sugar to the mix, or combine with condiments such as honey and maple syrup for a shot of sweetness.
All of this will also depend on what you’re pairing the stewed apples with. If you are making a sweet dish then sweeter flavours may be more suitable. Whereas keeping the tart flavour will compliment pork dishes.
This is where things get fun. Stewed apples are so simple that they can be added to just about anything and everything.
This is a non exhaustive list and I could have gone on a lot longer, but why give you all the answers when you could go out there and explore yourself. As well as finding a million and one recipes online for stewed apples, why not test out some of your own. Take the flavours I mentioned about and see what comforting concoctions you can come up with.
Take a look in one of your kitchen cupboards. Go on, sift through all of the out of date spices, three different variations of flour and the questionable dried item that might once have been an apple. I bet there’s a jar of cranberry sauce in the back somewhere. Or perhaps you left it in the fridge, and the jar hasn’t been opened since Christmas last year, possibly the year previous. That’s because cranberries have no other use than for sauce, right? Wrong.
I can only think of one other commonly known use for cranberries and that’s cranberry juice. I’m not sure if this is an old wives tale, but I’ve grown up being told that cranberry juice is the way to stop a UTI infection. Aside from that, it’s one of the lesser known berries that hides under the shadows or strawberries and its other popular counterparts.
The thing is, cranberries are actually a fantastic accompaniment to so many dishes and not just Christmas dinner. Although they do have a bit of a kick when you eat them on their own, I wouldn’t recommend (but you can try it for a laugh), you can pair them with both sweet and savoury foods to add the finishing touch to a meal.
So this year, when you stock up on cranberries to make your sauce, here are some things you can do with the ones you’ve got leftover:
I thought the best way to start was by keeping it pretty simple. Christmas is the time for excessive and overly indulgent desserts, and it helps if they look pretty too. If you’re baking a festive treat this December, or you’ve bought a cake and you simply want to make it stand out (and look homemade) use cranberries to decorate. Even add a bit of edible gold paint if you really want to juge things up.
One of the best foods to pair cranberries with is pork. Chances are, you’ve probably dipped your pork and sage stuffing in cranberry sauce at some point because cranberries cut through the pork with perfection.
Bake your cranberries with pork chops for the perfect winter comfort dish, you can even pair them with mashed potatoes for an IKEA style meal.
Cranberries aren’t something that you’d usually throw in your porridge as the flavour is quite sharp, but they’re great if added with other ingredients. If you’re looking for a festive breakfast, top your oats with cranberries, apple, cinnamon and a squeeze of maple syrup to add a sweet touch. You couldn’t find a more Christmassey flavour combination.
Something about fruit toast reminds me of my student days. Probably because we would buy a 12p reduced loaf from the local corner shop and eat the whole loaf between two in a whole sitting. I know that’s not very Christmassesy, however the smell of fruit toast cooking is.
It’s a fragrance like no other, and finished off with a little sea salt butter, or maybe even seville orange marmalade if you want a kick, it’s another Christmas breakfast to add to your list.
You can’t go wrong with turning something into a boozy delight, especially at this time of year. If you are up for taking part in some crafts, why not try making your own cranberry vodka. Or if you’re looking for a way to impress friends and family at Christmas a Cosmopolitan with cranberry juice is a sure way to do so.
Not got your creative hat on today? That’s no problem, dip your cranberries in water and sugar and use as a garnish for your drinks instead.
Now there’s no excuse to throw away the cranberries you’ve got left over after you’ve rustled up a cranberry sauce. Have you got a cranberry recipe you love? Why not share it under the comments below.
There are some people in this world that don’t like Christmas. I can safely say I’m not one of them, but they do exist. Perhaps it isn’t even Christmas that they don’t like, people often find the meal overrated, I suppose it is a glorified roast dinner. Again I’m not one of those people. But if this is you, there are other ways to keep a little festive spirit without the overly dry roast turkey.
Christmas is often seen as a time for traditions, but maybe it’s time we start making our own. I’m pretty sure Mary and Joseph didn’t whip up a full roast turkey and ham on the day of Jesus’ birth, so there’s no reason why you can’t do your own thing too. With that in mind, I’ve been thinking of a few dishes you could swap your Christmas dinner for and still feel festive. But you won’t have to pour gravy over everything to add a bit of flavour.
Christmas isn’t Christmas without turkey, but who said it had to be a whole turkey? I believe turkey mince is one of the most underrated foods out there. It’s such a versatile meat and if you choose turkey, it’s much lower in fat and higher in protein than beef or pork mince.
If you want to bring a Mexican theme to the table this year then turkey tacos are the way to go. You can make a homemade salsa, or even add some cranberry sauce to the taco if you want to go for a more traditional twist.
Yes I’m talking about sausage rolls and chicken wings. I know it doesn’t sound very classy, but think of it this way, cooking a Christmas dinner is a lot of hassle for the assigned cook. Every year we put a lot of pressure on one person to deliver a delicious but very large meal, usually for 4+ people and although we have a great time, have you ever considered how exhausting it is for them?
Maybe it would be more fun for everyone if we eased off and went for something simple like finger food. This could also be beneficial in terms of costs. One person usually pays for the whole dinner, with finger food everyone could bring a dish or two to share. It also makes things a lot more relaxed and informal. Plus there should be plenty to pick at later on when you get the drunken nibbles.
This is one for the vegetarians and vegans out there, or just people that want to reduce their meat intake and eat a few more vegetables this Christmas.
Nothing says comfort like pie. Watching the sauce pour out of a crisp shortcrust pastry is possibly one of the most fulfilling things you can watch happen on a dinner plate. It’s a great alternative to a piece of meat because all of the Christmas dinner trimmings still go with pie, so if you want to keep a touch of Christmas tradition without the meat then a pie is the way to go. If in doubt, choose pie. Need some pie inspiration? Why not try these combinations:
Sometimes, it’s all about making your own traditions. Christmas is a time for spreading joy and being around loved ones, and there’s no better place to do that than at the dinner table.
Do you even know what quince is? I didn’t know much about it before I wrote this blog post. It sounds very British and definitely something that would be served at an English tea party whilst playing a game of croquet during a subtle day in April. Sorry I’m dreaming of warmer temperatures and lighter evenings as I write this on a hazy December morning.
If you have heard of quince, you probably know it as a jam or jelly, as quince preservatives are very popular, especially paired with certain foods. But there is more to quince than first meets the eye, and it doesn’t need to be boiled down to a spread to be used well.
Quince is part of the apple and pear family, and it is noticeable as it resembles the shape of both. They have a golden yellow skin and are filled with pectin, which is why they are an excellent fruit for jellies and jams. Quince is one of the few fruits that is grown between October and December in the UK, so it’s a great one to grow in the winter months when the rest of your harvest is waiting for warmer days.
What separates quince from apples and pears is the taste and texture. Unlike its brothers and sisters, quince has a harsh and bitter flesh which can be quite unappealing when eaten raw, therefore it is often cooked. However, when ripe and cooked, this fruit provides an exquisite fragrant smell and flavour that pairs perfectly with rose. You’ve probably seen quince in the supermarket before and mistook it for a pear, or possibly a yellow coloured plum, but if you haven’t used one as part of a recipe yet, now’s the time.
That rich pectin content makes quince excellent for preservatives, but it would be a shame to limit this fruit to being spread on toast and scones. There are plenty of other options available that you may not have thought of.
Think of it like baked pear. Because quince is harsh raw, the flesh softens when cooked and develops into a beautiful golden rose colour. Slice the fruit in two and bake at 180 degrees celsius on a baking tray lined with parchment paper for 40-50 minutes until soft inside and slightly charred on the outside. Serve with a sprinkle of brown sugar and vanilla ice cream.
Yeah, I had to Google this one too. You’ve probably since this before on a charcuterie board and looked at it in a very questionable way, I know I have. Membrillo is a paste, usually in the shape of a small square made from quince pulp. Sometimes it is covered in sugar and resembles a sweet. You usually find it served with cheeses and meats, it pairs particularly well with manchego cheese.
Fruit and meat isn’t uncommon, especially lamb that pairs exceptionally well with so many of them. One you might not have considered though is quince. In a tagine, the couple work to perfection as the fragrant flavour of quince balances out the meat. It is best served with couscous.
I’ve given you the perfect tip for creating a more sophisticated Christmas dinner this year. Serving your cheese with homemade membrillo will more than impress your guests. And if you want to change things up, possibly a lamb tagine for dinner? Or have I gone too far?
It started a few years back. I can’t remember the exact year, possibly 2017/18 when the term ‘superfood’ also started milling about. It wasn’t just kale that became an oracle to the general population, other foods such as avocado, manuka honey and spirulina also stepped into the limelight.
No longer were 30p vegetables good enough for regular health. Instead people felt that it was necessary to spend £5+ on a concoction of powders, obscure fruit and nuts that they thought would give them superpowers. One of the main ingredients that was being added to smoothies and ‘acai bowls’ during this time was kale. Since then kale has been somewhat of an icon in the vegetable world. But I don’t think it’s all that it’s cracked up to be, it’s no better than some of the more underrated greens anyway.
First things first, there’s nothing new about kale. In fact, we’ve been growing it for more than 2000 years and it was a popular food in the 17th Century. And it doesn’t have to be used in a blended form for it to provide nutrients. One cup of kale can provide enough vitamin K and A for your full daily recommended intake. You can do several things with it such as fry it with olive oil, salt and pepper, bake it to make kale chips or even add it to your salad. The reason why people add it to their smoothie is because it doesn’t taste great and they have to disguise the flavour.
If you’re like me and you don’t like kale then there are options. Kale is part of the cabbage family and therefore vegetables that are similar that will provide similar nutritional benefits. Some of the most common ones include:
Although they might be the more unglamorous cousins of kale, that doesn’t make them any less worthy of your time. Kale doesn’t hit the spot on a Christmas dinner quite like brussel sprouts do. And have you ever sauteed tenderstem broccoli in butter, salt pepper and garlic? The outcome wouldn’t be quite the same with kale.
But I’m being a little unkind, it’s really not all that bad. Any vegetable (kale included) provides an overwhelming amount of benefits that I really can’t argue with. It’s just that I don’t get the hype. Especially for a vegetable that has such an unpleasant taste, because admit it. Have you ever heard anyone say they like the taste of kale?
I don’t want to scare you all by saying the “C” word, but I’m going to be saying it a lot in this article so let’s just get it over and done with. Christmas. It might not be December yet, but you’ve got to admit that you’ve already been thinking about it. Christmas decorations and chocolates are already hitting the supermarket aisles, relatives asking about your plans, and even possibly the odd song in some stores. It’s creeping up on us and you can’t hide from it.
Whether you like Christmas or not, one thing I think that we should all agree on is that one of the best parts of the day is the food. This can be a traditional Christmas dinner, all of the morning chocolates or even a Christmas curry if that’s what you’re into. But, there’s one dish in particular that holds a special place in my heart. It’s rich, creamy and pure filth. Cauliflower cheese.
Let me take you back around 4-5 years when this story first began. To start I will have to make a small confession, vegetables aren’t my favourite thing. Especially not on a Christmas dinner. They are there to balance out the better foods like the meat and potatoes, so they serve a purpose. But something changed that year at Christmas dinner. It was the last Christmas dinner that I spent at my grandma’s house, so I’m not sure whether that’s what makes it so memorable, or this specific moment that I’m about to describe.
It was business as usual, my Grandma had prepared a feast for dinner, three different variations of meat, two variations of potato, a whole lot of vegetables and the juice of the Northern Gods, gravy. I did what I do every year, cram my plate with turkey, ham and potatoes and leave a little room for carrots, broccoli and maybe one more vegetable. But the veg is usually drowned in gravy so I don’t really have to taste it. At one of the tables a special dish has always been reserved for certain guests. Because it was always off limits, or taken way before I had the chance, I never considered adding cauliflower cheese to my meal. However this year it was different, there were two dishes of cauliflower cheese, it was my chance.
At this point I still wasn’t convinced, cauliflower is like broccoli’s poor cousin, but everything tastes better covered in cheese right? So I started with a small spoon, of course I had to position it as far away from the gravy as possible because something does not sit right with me the thought of gravy and bechamel combined. And then it happened. 21 years of my life I’d been missing out on what was possibly one of the best parts of a Christmas dinner. There is nothing not to like about cauliflower cheese. The cauliflower is so plain that you’re left not with the taste of a cruciferous vegetable, but instead the rich delight that comes from the sauce.
What’s the take home from this apart from a detailed account of my experience eating cauliflower cheese? Always try things out. Let me tell you I could have been having a far better Christmas each year if I’d have done this earlier. Don’t let your Christmas go to waste because you aren’t willing to try a new dish. Also, don’t let people hog food.
Of course by the title of this article you know I’m a millennial. Who else loves an overpriced in-between meal more than someone born between the 80s and 90s? Lots of baby boomers and generation X like to blame our lack of money on the fact that we like to spend it on chai lattes and avocado. Let’s just say I think it’s the two market crashes, ever increasing house prices and a pandemic that might have caused it, not a £10 meal.
But let’s not be bitter. Brunch has been growing in popularity and now people of all ages are enjoying what is known by the Lord of the Rings crowd as ‘elevenses’. Because, who wouldn’t want a late breakfast or an early lunch if the option was there?
I based my whole trip in Barcelona on the best places to eat, everyone does that right? Let me tell you, I found some crackers, in fact they were so good that I feel obliged to share them. Not doing so would be a sin.
I don’t usually like to choose favourites, but I can’t help it with this one. I might even push to say that this was my favourite brunch ever. La Papa, like the best places to eat, isn’t close to the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowds.
I chose whole wheat pancakes, gloriously topped with yoghurt, dates, cream and berries. There was also a chai latte on the side (I can’t help it, I’m a millennial). The best thing I can say about the dish is how balanced it was. Most bruncheries opt for overly sweet pancakes, overloading with toppings that leave you just on the cusp of sickness, but that wasn’t the case here. The whole wheat pancakes were savoury enough to save the day and I could just keep going.
I can’t mention food in Barcelona without talking about La Boqueria. It’s the mothership of food markets and where I spent 70% of my trip. The market is so overwhelming that it will actually leave you feeling a little disappointed that you can’t try everything in there, but you can damn well give it a go.
This isn’t necessarily a place for brunch, you could go for any meal of the day, but can you think of anything better than nipping into the market for a tapas board and fresh fruit mid-shopping trip? Because I can’t.
Brunch & Cake
Extra doesn’t even begin to describe the food and drink at Brunch & Cake. Two words might begin to explain the level of fantasm that this place brings to their meals: rainbow yoghurt. Yes. My breakfast wrap was served with baby pink and pastel blue yogurt. How did I know it was yoghurt? I’ll be honest I’m not even sure that’s what it was, but my best guess is that it was a natural yoghurt.
This place is all about Heston Blumental does brunch. I had a sausage, chicken and egg breakfast wrap with sweet potato, whilst my friend had charcoal waffles served on a shovel. Very artsy but I just hope they cleaned it after using it for its actual purpose. You will not be disappointed if you go here looking for something a little different.
One evening last week, when I was incredibly hungover and already feeling more than slightly delicate I was brutally attacked. Not physically. It wasn’t even a personal attack with words. But someone who had travelled from America moaned about how hard it was to get vegetables in your diet in the UK. and for some reason that cut me deep.
Then, when thinking about the next article to write for this blog, this thought entered my mind. From there, I went on a whole downward spiral of all the times my friends from across the world have made remarks about how terrible British food is. Doing my research for the article I then discovered that this was common knowledge, and I wasn’t the only Brit with a bee in their bonnet about this notion.
Now, England as a country gets a lot of things wrong, I can’t argue with that. But this stereotype of the English diet being poor and lacking culture should be buried in the ground.
There seems to be a universal idea that England has no culture when it comes to food. Yes, we do like food from all over the world (and I’ll come to that point later), but we have plenty of our own food traditions that are firmly rooted in the land.
I’m not going to make this an exhaustive list, but take for example a Sunday roast, this is a classic instilled in British culture. And if you have something bad to say about it, please feel free to send a handwritten letter my way. On a Sunday, there is nothing better than a tenderly cooked piece of meat, surrounded by a wall of mashed potato, various roasted and boiled vegetables swimming in a sea of thick gravy. Don’t tell me that it doesn’t tick all of the boxes.
Of course there are plenty of other dishes such as fish and chips, afternoon tea, Cornish pasties and shepherd’s pie that fit the bill of a traditional English meal. Many of which take advantage of British meats and root vegetables that are so well grown across the UK.
One common thing about English food is that we have a tendency to take foods from other cultures and ‘Westernize’ them. And that is true. But the beauty of having such a diverse population is that with that diversity comes a variety of dishes from various cultures. I’m not saying that the British haven’t had the tendency to butcher certain dishes, I will hold my hands up and admit it. But I think it’s a beautiful thing that we have so much variety on such a small island.
The beauty of food is that it brings people together. However, in England we don’t seem to have much pride in the food that we produce which is a real shame. We need to build a more positive culture around exactly what English food is and how incredible it can be. Only then, can we show the world what we have to offer, and it isn’t just fish and chips.
The UK isn’t known for it’s excellent farming and exotic crops. But, that doesn’t stop the British schooling system from trying to educate children about food and farming at a young age. And I’ll be honest, ‘educate’ is a bit of a push, but they tried their best.
I’m not sure whether this happens in other countries across the world, but Primary schools in the UK have an obsession with watercress. Every school child hits the age of 5-6 years old and has to undertake a right of passage that involves growing their own cress. This isn’t a new thing. Ask generations of adults and they will be able to recollect a faint memory of growing watercress as a child in school.
Let’s lay down the foundations before we get into the nitty-gritty about watercress and it’s an infinite number of benefits. Watercress is a vegetable, and it’s part of the cruciferous family along with broccoli and kale (the ones that make you a little gassy). It’s a dark leafy green and more often than not, the darker the leaf the more nutrient-dense it is.
For the last few decades, watercress has served very little purpose in a dish except to be used as a garnish. So you can imagine that most of it went to waste when you grew it as a child. However, watercress is making a comeback on the food scene because we’re starting to realise just how many nutrients are packed into those tiny leaves.
Although watercress is now being branded as a ‘superfood’ my grandma must have known it all along. Mum tells me about the cheese and watercress sandwiches her mum used to make her, so it looks like we’re pretty far behind on this one.
Watercress is full of nutrients that include:
I could keep going, but I don’t think you’re here to read a list of the vitamins and minerals found in vegetables. But it’s important to know that adding watercress to your dishes could increase the nutritional value of any meal.
Don’t worry, growing watercress isn’t child’s play, adults can join in the fun too. The reason it’s grown in schools is because it’s borderline impossible to go wrong. Although by the look of my droopy plants, I’m sure I could give it a good go at killing it. If you want to grow your own watercress at home, here are a few points to remember:
If my grandma was putting watercress on sandwiches in the 70s and 80s, then you definitely should be too.
Being a poor student living on the scraps of a student loan and a part time job was definitely not one of the highlights of my life. Although I wasn’t big into partying, the general consensus was that whatever money you did have went on vintage clothing and questionably cheap vodka. It was then that the leftover pennies would go to the weekly food shop and my creativity would flourish at the 101 ways to use a can of chickpeas.
There seems to be a negative outlook on canned foods in the UK. I’d love to give you a brief but accurate history on why that is, but my only guess is that after the war ended and rationing stopped, Brits didn’t want to look at a single canned good ever again. It’s a shame that they have such a bad reputation, canned vegetables are often cheaper than their fresh counterparts and are in no way less nutritionally valuable. But there is one canned good in particular that saw me through four years of university, and continues to this day to be my favourite cooking tool, canned tomatoes.
By now we are all fairly aware of the fact that tomatoes are a fruit and not a vegetable, so I’m not going to bore you with the nutritional value of a tomato. Fruit and veg are good for you, and that’s all we need to say on the topic. What blows my mind is the versatility of canned tomatoes and the endless amount of dishes they can be used in. Nearly every cuisine in the world uses tomatoes as a staple part of many of their dishes, which can be easily replicated in your own kitchen, with a 33p can.
In fact, I love using them so much that every time I go to a supermarket, I pick up a can. What usually tends to happen then is I end up stockpiling canned tomatoes and look like a woman getting ready for war or possibly another lockdown (but let’s not think about that).
Add canned tomatoes to this Creamy Tomato, Lentil and Fennel soup recipe!
You’d think with all of my raving about the versatility of tinned tomatoes that I’d be letting you in on a secret exotic recipe. I hate to disappoint, but the dishes I use them in are pretty plain, Bolognese, Spanish stews and curries. The magic isn’t in the dishes themselves, but how easy canned tomatoes make it to create them. You don’t need to chop anything, get tomato juice all over the surfaces and have seeds scattered on the floor. Simply turn that can opener, remove the lid and pour.
Add canned tomatoes to this Creamy Tomato, Microgreens and Potato soup recipe!
Don’t scurry past the canned aisle next time you’re in the supermarket. Stop, take a moment and consider the endless possibilities with just a single can of tomatoes.
You’ve heard of a liger right? A weird crossover between a lion and a tiger. Well that’s basically what a loganberry is in the fruit world, but a little less peculiar.
Any idea what I’m talking about? A loganberry is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry (although they look a lot more like raspberries). They form a similar shape and colour to a raspberry, except they are longer resembling a cone. Like blackberries, they are incredibly tart, with a beautifully rich flavour that makes them perfect for jams and compotes.
Side note. There are actually several other cross breeds of raspberries and blackberries, however this is one of the lesser known ones.
So, was there a crazy scientist back in the 1950s that grew a loganberry in his lab? I’m afraid it isn’t quite that exciting. They were discovered by James Logan, an amateur breeder and raspberries and blackberries, but they were found to be growing naturally as opposed to in a test tube.
You’ve probably never seen a loganberry in the supermarket before (if you have let me know!) But that doesn’t mean you can’t grow them at home or in your allotment. In fact they are a great summer vegetable to grow around July/August, they bridge the gap between spring/summer strawberries and autumn blackberries, so you’ll have berries nearly all year long.
The first thing you need to know is that if you want to grow loganberries you’re going to need a lot of space. They grow in a similar manner to blackberries that you’ll often see climbing along canals and rivers.
You’ll need a wall or fence for the berries to grow against and some sturdy wire. If you’re going to plant from the root then you’ll want to plant them outdoors in November. When planting, create a hole around twice the size of the root ball and add plenty of compost to the base. Cover to the point that they were planted before (there should be a visible soil line on the stem) and water well.
it’s spring, hopefully you’ve been watering your loganberry plant appropriately and things are looking good. Now it’s time to mulch the plant with rotted manure or compost. However, it usually takes a year or two for loganberries to really come into their own, so you’ll have to be patient, if you’re an avid gardener then patience is probably your middle name.
Hopefully I’ve given you a little bit of inspiration to grow your own berries, but you need to make sure you’ve got some recipes lined up when they’re ready to be picked. Like I said earlier, loganberries can be pretty tarty, so they are excellent in classic dessert dishes but need plenty of sugar to balance them out. If you need a little bit of inspiration, check out the list below:
Got a loganberry recipe to shape? Comment below with some of your favourites!
You know the best way to look after yourself? Make a god damn delicious meal and over indulge a little. You could take a hot bath? Maybe light some candles? But I guarantee it will be no way near as satisfying as pouring a glass of red, playing some good music and taking your time to perfect your favourite dish. That my friends, is a date night for one.
Whether you’re single, or you’ve managed to get rid of your partner for an evening, you definitely deserve to treat yourself every once in a while (or even more). But when it comes to food, most of us feel too awkward to go for a meal on our own, there seems to be a social stigma surrounding it. And then if we do want something tasty, the only other option seems to be a takeaway which is almost always disappointing.
So it looks like you’re cooking for one, but I’ll give you a few tips on how to make it a really special experience…
First things first, you need to make sure that what you’re putting in your body is the good stuff. If it’s only a meal for one then why not splash out on the slightly more expensive but better quality ingredients? Is there a wine that you’ve been dying to buy but thought was a little pricey? Now it’s time to go for it. Get the best cut of meat, choose fresh vegetables and yes, it’s time to use the sea salt instead of ordinary table salt. Always remember when choosing your ingredients, it may seem expensive, but it would be a lot more if you were buying it in a restaurant. Let me tell you, that bottle of wine would not be £7.99
You might be a lazy cook, and so this could seem like a pretty undesirable point to you, but hear me out. I can guarantee that if you take your time cooking, it is going to make the experience of sitting down and eating a lot better knowing you’ve put a good amount of hard work into it. Instead of buying a pasta sauce, make your own, why not even just make your own pasta and really put some graft in. Whatever it is you’ve decided to make, break it down into components and see which bits can be done by hand and you can pay that little extra bit of detail too.
Creating a date meal for one isn’t just about the food, you’ve got to take the whole experience into consideration. This means making sure the house is clean, lighting a few candles here and an incense there, and choosing a great film to watch whilst you’re slurping on your bolognese. If you were planning a date with another person, what would you do? Write down a list of how you’d prepare and I want you to do the exact same things for yourself (except maybe you don’t need the lace underwear). Also, there will be no judgement for me if you choose pyjamas over a slinky dress or suit, we want to feel great, but comfort ALWAYS comes first.
And remember, you deserve the best.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.