Category Archives: Food and Drink

Snack Time…Googly Fruit

This month we’ve been loving the quirky (slightly geeky) googly eyed pouches from Googly Fruit.

With at least one of your five-a-day squished into on-the-go snack pouches, the fruit and veg are all organic and the taste combinations are a bit more unusual than many of their similar looking competitors (using veg like purple carrot, pumpkin and sweet potato, for example) – but totally delicious (even to the most faddy toddler).

Either suck ’em, serve on spoons (we love the Doddle Spoons, for out and about convenience), squirt into yoghurt or spread the fruity compote onto toast…

Word of warning: the blueberry flavour is especially purple! Best consumed naked to avoid staining 😉

Available from Ocado.

Irayne Paikin from Todenham Manor Farm’s tips for a Stellar Bank Holiday Roast

With the May bank holidays just around the corner, it’s the perfect opportunity to get together with your loved ones and enjoy a traditional roast dinner. Irayne Paikin, Founder of Todenham Manor Farm, a high-welfare producer of award-winning, rare-breed pork and beef, gives her top tips on which meat cuts to choose to serve the perfect roast dinner:

  • Taste you can trust: The rearing of the animal will have a huge impact on flavour. Animals that have been well looked after and cared for will result in a much higher quality meat – for example, cattle that have enjoyed pasture, once its dry enough for them to go out again. Food labels, such as Great Taste, offer a trusted stamp of approval. Great Taste is the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink and a sign you can trust when buying in your local, quality retailer. Or you can buy directly from a farm – don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions about how the animals are reared and cared for, to give you total traceability.
  • Don’t break the bank: Buying a joint of meat doesn’t need to be expensive. For example, topside beef, a large lean cut of beef, offers good value. Check for how long the meat has been hung (or aged) – the longer the better, in terms of tenderness and flavour. All our beef is dry-aged for 28 days in our humidity controlled ageing chiller.
  • Go for gammon: It’s easy to cook and tastes delicious with a simple glaze – my favourite is marmalade! Pork that has been hung before butchering will be much more flavoursome – all our pork is hung for seven days, is rare-breed and outdoor reared. Simmer the joint with bay leaves and peppercorns, and then stud with cloves, glaze and roast for a short time. If you have any left over after the roast, it’s amazing in a cheese toastie!
  • Pull out the stops: If you want to impress, ribeye or sirloin beef is delicious. Don’t be put off by the fat, it’s natural and we’d recommend you keep it on when cooking as it really adds to the flavour and helps to keep the meat moist. For those who prefer a leaner meal, trimming the fat off is easy once cooked.
  • Don’t forget the old favourites: Although not the star of the roast dinner, sausages and bacon are one of the little delights which perfectly complement the plate. Why not try pork sausages for a traditional taste or, for something a little different, try a chorizo sausage for a little extra kick.

Situated in 800 acres of lush farm land in Moreton-in-Marsh, Todenham Manor Farm is home to Middle White, Saddleback and Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, South Devon and Aberdeen Angus cattle. The Farm boasts an onsite butchery, complete with its very own team of master butchers.

Weekend meat box (roast dinner meat plus breakfast as well):

  • 1.5Kg Traditional Rare Breed Sausages
  • 250g Home Cured Rare Breed Streaky Bacon
  • 2Kg Rare Breed Gammon Joint (Boned & Rolled)
  • 2Kg 28 Day Aged Topside Joint of Beef
  • 12 Sage and Onion Stuffing Balls
  • 12 Pigs in Blankets

Todenham Manor Farm ‘Weekend’ meat box – prices start from £84.99 for a box which feeds 6 people. Delivery is direct to your door. Click here to order.

(guest post)

Dr Sally Norton’s guide to Nut Butters…

Comment by Dr Sally Norton, NHS weight loss consultant surgeon.  UK health expert.  Founder of www.vavistalife.com 

Not that long ago, the only choice when it came to nut butters was smooth or crunchy peanut butter. Now the preserves shelves in health food shops are offering a choice of almond, cashew and brazil alternatives – but what are the health benefits?

While nuts may contain a seemingly high amount of calories and fat – they can play a role (in the right portions!)  in a well-balanced, healthy diet. Most of the fat in nuts is the healthy unsaturated type, plus they are a fabulously well-rounded source of protein, vitamins  E and B group, minerals including copper, zinc and magnesium and fibre. They are a great on-the-go snack with a low glycaemic index to help you feel fuller for longer and help suppress appetite. You can easily make your own, just by blitzing nuts (pre-roast for a few minutes if you like) in a food processor until the natural oils are released to form a buttery texture. But if you go for shop-bought, check the label to find one that has no hidden nasties like sugar or palm oil.

Here’s our breakdown of the pros and cons of the nut butter aisle:

Peanut (not a true nut, but a legume, we have included it here as it is conventionally grouped with other tree nuts to consumers):

Pros: A good source of protein; highest folic acid content (useful during pregnancy) as well as being high in healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E.

Cons: Some brands have a little added sugar but these days many have none added.

Cashew:

Pros: Highest in zinc, copper and iron – naturally sweeter than many other nut butters.

Cons: Less protein than other nuts.

Almonds:
Pros: One of the lowest in calories and the highest in protein, fibre and calcium.

Cons: Relatively few, although some brands can have a bitter aftertaste.

Brazil:

Pros: Good for men, as 1-2 nuts nut delivers your recommended daily intake of the mineral selenium, which may help protect against prostate cancer and heart disease.

Cons: The most expensive option when it comes to nut butters.

 Walnut:

Pros: One of the few vegetarian sources of the omega-3 fatty acid, ALA  some of which can be converted to long chain omega 3 known to be involved in heart health.

Cons: Bitter aftertaste, slightly lower protein and slightly higher in fat than some other nut butters.

Hazelnut:

Pros: One of the lowest percentages of saturated fat (along with pine nuts and almonds); highest proanthocyanidins (PACs) content of all nut butters. The antioxidant capabilities of PACs are likely to be 20 times more potent than vitamin C and 50 times more potent than Vitamin E.

Cons: Often found to be coupled with chocolate spreads so read the label carefully!

TIP: Most nut butters characteristically separate when stored, this doesn’t affect their nutritional value, simply stir to combine before eating.

Super Yummies add to their breadstick range…

Super Yummies, the toddler range from Cow & Gate have added a new flavour to their mini-bite-sized breadsticks. Pumpkin and Rosemary now joins the existing Spinach and Tomato and Herb varieties.

Our office little ones couldn’t keep their mitts of them – they scoffed a whole packet in one go – but as they are high in fibre and were created by nutritionists, we could hardly tell them off…

Available now from Asda, Superdrug, Boots, Tescos and Sainsbury’s. More info online. 

Dr Sally Norton’s Recommended Healthy Lunch Box Treats for Kids

Research shows how the overall energy intake of children increases while the diet quality decreases, as they move from toddlers to teens. Specifically under scrutiny were their snacking habits, which showed the greatest area of decline when it came to ‘healthy choices’. Now this may very well be the fact that the younger children have their snacks chosen for them, whereas older kids may be left to make their own (unhealthy) choices, but the advice was clear: by instilling good eating habits in younger children will set them up for a lifetime of healthy food choices and for parents to encourage snacks that are ‘nutrient rich, rather than calorie dense’ in children of any age.

Dr Sally Norton, looks at choices for lunch box treats which represent a healthier snacking choice:

1. Nakd bars

A regular favourite with the adults, they’re equally popular with the next generation. Why not pop one in their lunchbox instead of a sugary cake for break-time?

2. Bear Nibbles Yo-Yos

These rolls are simply dried fruit and a little veg, gently baked. No added sugar and another one of their 7 a day. While we still need to be careful of sugar intake, even from fruit, these fun treats are infinitely better than a packet of sweets and the collectable cards in each pack will test their brains too.

3. Nut butters

Pip and Nut peanut butter

As long as your tots are not allergic, nut butters are a great savoury snack as the high protein hit will keep them full. Cashew is the sweetest, child-friendly variety we’ve tried – but let your brood find their own favourite. Then simply try a variety of ‘vehicles’ for your butter of choice – a teaspoon of butter between two apple wedges, or spread on some oatcakes.

4. Root veg crisps

One for the weekend when you’ve got more time, and an easy one for youngsters to get involved with making, these veggie crisps are a great alternative to additive and salt-laden bagged snacks. Simply thinly slice a selection of root veg – carrots, parsnips, beetroots, sweet potatoes are all great – toss in a little olive oil (you want them just coated, not greasy!) and cook in a preheated 200 degree C oven for 15-25mins until golden.

And it’s not just about health, children’s behaviour can be influenced by what they eat. You only have to see a group of five-year-olds going ‘hyper’ after cakes, sweets and biscuits to know that sugar sets them spinning. On the other hand, children who eat fruit, veg, oily fish and wholegrain all high in nutrients and low in salt, sugar and processed foods tend to have better behaviour, less risk of obesity and other illnesses and so have a rosier future ahead. What we feed our children can either boost or damage their health – it’s our choice.

Grown Up snack time

WP_20160810_10_00_28_Pro In need of a mid-afternoon something or other and the kids’ Peppa Pig jelly just not doing it for you…?

We’re loving Pip and Nut’s limited edition maple peanut butter, which is palm oil free, great on toast (or off the spoon out of the jar).

Crave something even sweeter? Try the Ombar Centres range of 100% cacao creamy treats – packed with good things and the perfect size not to share!

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Love sausage and beer? The guys at Leffe have created their own special sausage to accompany their ale, as part of the promotion of ‘Leffe Slow Time’ (a series of films  showcasing artists and artisans, their dedication to their craft and their relationship with time.) Charcuterie maker Adrienne E Treeby has created dried meat delights using Leffe Brune… Watch the Slow Time film here.

Date Night: Dinner at the Twits’ courtesy of @bompasandparr

If your other half has started sporting unkempt (maybe it started as hipster) facial hair or wiping his mouth on his sleeve then give him a date night of the truly disgusting variety, courtesy of gastro-wizards Bompas and Parr, immersive theatre peeps Les Enfants Terribles and creatives Creature of London.

Dinner at the Twits - Mr and Mrs Twit. Design by Samuel WyerBased on the best-selling and much-loved title from the world’s number one storyteller. For the very first time join two of Roald Dahl’s most exquisitely appalling characters, Mr and Mrs Twit, inside their windowless house and ghastly garden for a grown-up journey down memory lane. But be warned: Dinner at the Twits is not for the faint of heart or soft of stomach!

Your evening will include a banquet of deliciously disgusting dishes, to be enjoyed with homemade cocktails, Mr Twit’s special brew and Mrs Twit’s potent punch.

Fish the glass eye from your cocktail, take a slice of bird pie, and enjoy all manner of fabulously foul food while being entertained by your horrid hosts.

Celebrating a hundred years of Roald Dahl, in a year filled with gloriumptious treats, Dinner at the Twits is designed specifically for grown-ups – no chiddlers allowed! Roald Dahl’s unique blend of macabre humour and quirky warmth has endeared him to generations of children and adults. Dinner at the Twits is the first adaptation of one of his children’s titles specifically created for adults.

Produced by Emma Brünjes, James Seager and Oliver Lansley with Creature of London, directed by Emma Earle, written by Oliver Lansley and Anthony Spargo, and designed by Sam Wyer, Dinner at the Twits will run at The Vaults in Waterloo from 4 September to 30 October.

Oliver Lansley, of Les Enfants Terribles, said: “We are delighted to be presenting the first adaptation specifically created for adults of one of Roald Dahl’s hugely adored children’s books. We never really lose our sense of play, our relish in the bizarre and revolting. Dinner at the Twits will give adults the opportunity to explore those boundaries between disgust and delight, to come up close and personal with the hideous hairy Twits and to be taken on a multisensory journey through Dahl’s beguilingly bizarre world.”

Harry Parr, of Bompas & Parr, said: “We have always been fascinated by food taboos, and the gleefully grotesque universe of the Twits seems to us the perfect place to probe the limits of gastronomic experimentation. We want guests at Dinner at the Twits to be titillated, intrigued and surprised, and we promise that squeamishness will give way to scrumptiousness as you open your minds and your mouths…”

Find out more and book tickets at www.twitsdinner.com

Read our interview with Sam Bompas in Slick Mummy Magazine 

Date night idea: The Hoegaarden Floating Gaardens

With horticulture and Hoegaarden being two of my husband’s favourite things, this one would definitely (ahem) float his boat. 

‘The Floating Gaardens’ by Hoegaarden is a one-of-a kind barge packed with unexpected delights, designed to open minds to new ideas, sounds, sights and tastes in the midst of busy urban life.

Moored outside Number 90, Hackney Wick, ‘The Floating Gaardens’ will be open to the public from this weekend for the next four weeks (30 July until 21 August. ) It will set sail every weekend along East London’s waterways up to six times daily.

Budding with over 500 different plants and shrubs and a unique Soundscape Gaarden, where your ears change the taste of Hoegaarden beer, as a twist of a dial heightens sweet flavours at one extreme and boosts sour notes at the other. The scientifically proven soundscape is designed by local Hackney-based artist Nathaniel Williams in collaboration with Oxford University.

Passengers onboard will not only be able to discover the Soundscape Gaarden for themselves, but will also be treated to complementary Hoegaarden served in a special-edition pint glass by Visual Artistic Director, Emma Charlton, whilst dining on paired canapés including smoked chicken and salmon and sweet treats, including white peaches and fudge.

Tickets to sail on the barge are now available to be booked through a draw-style system on the website: www.floatinggaardens.co.uk. Or just pop down as when it isn’t sailing it will be the hippest beer garden in town.

For more information and to book tickets, visit www.floatinggaardens.co.uk.