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Homemade Yoghurt in your Slow Cooker!

Are you a homemade yoghurt maker? Have you tried making it in your slow cooker?  It’s so easy – if you have a slow cooker and a thermometer, then there is no reason not to give it a go.

2018-03-06 12.39.28I can’t take the credit for this recipe/method – I came across it in Sarah Flower’s ‘Low Carb Slow Cooker’ cookery book.  But, even though I cook from scratch, yoghurt is something I just hadn’t tried.  All the recipes & methods I’d come across just didn’t appeal.  Many of the recipes used dried skimmed milk powder for one thing – no thanks!  So, I simply bought organic, natural yoghurt.

I saw this and not only did the method appeal the ingredients were simply milk and cream with yoghurt.  What’s not to like?  It also means cutting down on plastic (my other obsession at the moment) by not having to buy yoghurt again.

You do need a slow cooker, of course, and a thermometer suitable for food use (digital or not).  I’ve experimented with using Sarah’s recipe of combined milk and cream, but have also used just milk with the same great results.  And, if you just use milk, it works out a lot cheaper.  In fact, this works out a lot cheaper than buying yoghurt.

I’ve also gone wrong, which you will see further down in the blog, but managed to salvage it and still produce a thick and creamy yoghurt. 

2018-02-28 15.56.24How Long Does It Take?

The overall time is around 18-20 hours, but the actual hands on time, just 10-15 minutes!

What Equipment Do You Need?

  1. Slow cooker
  2. Thermometer suitable for food use
  3. Measuring jug or scales
  4. Small bowl
  5. Ladle
  6. Tablespoon
  7. Large, clean towel
  8. Large bowl
  9. Colander
  10. Piece of muslin bigger than the colander

What Ingredients Do You Need?

  • EITHER 1 litre milk (whole preferably) + 250ml cream
  • OR 1.25 litres milk 
  • 5 tablespoons live, natural yoghurt (Yeo Valley is a good one)

What Do I Need To Do?

  • Pour the milk or milk and cream into the slow cooker.  Pop on the lid, set to high and leave for a couple of hours.
  • Check the temperature – once it reaches between 80-85C, switch off the slow cooker.
  • Leave the lid on and leave for another couple of hours for the temperature to reduce to 40-45C.
  • Take out a ladle of the milk or milk/cream mixture and put into a small bowl – mix in the 5 tablespoons of live yoghurt.
  • Drizzle the yoghurt mixture into the slow cooker – don’t mix, just drizzle.
  • Now, what you do next depends on the time of year and/or temperature in your kitchen –2018-02-28 15.56.30
  1. If it’s summer or if the room is warm, simply pop the lid back on the slow cooker, wrap the slow cooker in the towel and leave overnight or for 10-12 hours.
  2. If it’s winter and the room is cold (or you switch the heating off at night), pop the lid back on, wrap the slow cooker in the towel and put it into your oven with just the pilot light on.  Again, leave overnight or for 10-12 hours.
  • When ready, get your large bowl and place the colander over it – it has to balance on the bowl.
  • Place the muslin in the colander, making sure it overlaps the edges comfortably.
  • Pour the yoghurt into the muslin covered colander and leave for a couple of hours for the whey to drip into the bowl – you now have lovely, homemade, thick yoghurt.  No nasty additives – just lovely, creamy yoghurt.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Now, whatever you do – don’t throw away the whey!  A simple Google search will show loads of ways to use it – you can store in an airtight container in the fridge for a few weeks and it will also freeze.  I’ve been using mine instead of water when making our bread – it gives a lovely sourdough tang.

I mentioned earlier that, believe it or not, I’ve gone wrong with this recipe!  How, with something so simple?  Well, I simply got distracted while doing multiple things, wrapped the slow cooker in the towel and popped it in the oven overnight without putting in the yoghurt (doh!).   But, all was not lost – I simply switched the slow cooker back on and took the temperature back up to 40-45C, added the yoghurt and left it overnight again.  It was perfectly fine albeit thicker than normal.

Now, don’t forget to keep some of that lovely homemade yoghurt to make your next batch!

Since coming across this method, I’ve found another fantastic book called ‘The Creamery Kitchen’ by Jenny Linford – easy, simple methods for making all things dairy (although have been making my own buttermilk for years).  So, watch this space – I feel another obsession coming on!2018-03-06 12.39.54

 

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The best food books – in my opinion!

What food books influence Cooked From Scratch?  Where DO I get my ideas from?

Those who follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter, will know I am always posting articles and advice on cooking and eating ‘real food’.  Many of those articles refer to things that can happen if you eat too much ultra processed food.  But, over and above the articles themselves, where do I get my ideas from – why do I bang on about cooking from scratch and eating real food?  cook from scratch

Without boring you with the details, the first pieces of a massive jigsaw started being put into place for me in the very early noughties.  Those first pieces of the jigsaw convinced me that industrially produced food wasn’t good for us and were basically the reason for many of the problems we have today.  There began my journey into finding my love for cooking again, obsessively wanting to cook absolutely everything from scratch and even sowing the seeds for starting my own business.

I became a sump for knowledge – researching, reading, cooking, experimenting and basically reinforcing what I already suspected.

During that time I’ve read quite a few books on the subject, so thought I would recommend some of those books to anyone else who may be interested in the topic – or even the topic of food in general.  So here goes!

First on the list has to be the wonderful Joanna Blythman and her many books.  Basically, anything she’s written is worth a read, but these 2 in particular.  JoannaJoanna is a staunch advocate for real food and works tirelessly to raise awareness of all that is wrong with ultra processed foods.  She calls herself ‘the thorn in the side of the food industry’.  She first came to my attention via her very informative articles on food issues written for the numerous food magazines I avidly read on a monthly basis.  She just talks complete sense to me.

‘What To Eat’ – Joanna Blythman

This is a wonderful book – it simply gives you information on just about every foodstuff you can think of.  How it’s produced, manufactured etc.  She’s not trying to sell anything, just giving you the facts and allowing you to make up your own mind.  Be warned – I was already cooking everything from scratch when I read this book, but it still scared me.  As a result, we’ve gone 100% organic.

‘Swallow This’ – Joanna Blythman

Swallow ThisIt’s a fascinating investigation into what goes into the food we eat e.g. how natural are ‘natural flavourings’, why do some breads have a 6-month shelf-life?  If ‘What To Eat’ doesn’t get you changing your food habits, this definitely will.

We then move to an American food writer, Michael Pollan.  Again, any of his books are worth reading, but this one in particular is fascinating.  He is famous for saying ‘don’t eat anything your granny wouldn’t recognise as food’.  Great advice in my book.

‘Cooked’ – Michael Pollan

This books looks at the history and principles of cooking via earth, water, air and fire.  The earth section talks primarily about fermentation, which I found particularly interesting (the raw milk cheese made in a nunnery in France & the nun who is a trained microbiologist – just throwing it out there).  Again, he gives a very balanced viewpoint on the topics, allowing you to make up your own mind.  

‘The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat’ – Tim Spector

This is a fascinating book.  Professor Tim has conducted research over many decades into the microbes and bacteria that live inside us & populate our microbiome.  It’s quite fascinating to see how what we eat, what happens to us, illness and many other factors affect the health of our microbiome and in turn our own health.  He looks at all the fad diets (including those popular at the moment) to see if they have a positive or negative affect on our microbiome health – definitely worth a read.

Felicity Lawrence is another food writer who advocates real food and is keen to raise awareness of what goes into industrially produced food e.g why does beef waste end up in chicken?  I would highly recommend the following 2 books:

‘Not on the Label: What Really Goes Into the Food on Your Plate’ – Felicity Lawrence

I think the title says it all.not on the label

‘Eat Your Heart Out: Why the food business is bad for the planet & your health’ – Felicity Lawrence

After reading this book, my viewpoint on the United States and it’s food policies went rapidly downhill.  Again, it reinforced, wholeheartedly, what I already knew.

‘What To Eat: 10 Chewy Questions About Food?’ – Hattie Ellis

This book looks at questions such as ‘does any diet work?’, ‘what is ‘kind’ meat?’.  It basically enables you to make more informed, ethical decisions about the food you buy and eat.

‘The Pioppi Diet’ – Dr Aseem Malhotra & Donal O’Neill

Pioppi is one of those places in the world where the population lives to be a ripe old age.  And guess what?  They are active and don’t eat processed foods.  Dr Aseem is a cardiologist who started to doubt the nutritional advice he was giving his patients as guided by the NHS.  So, he did his own investigations with startling results.  I read this more for the science side as opposed to the 21 day diet plan.  Fascinating for anyone who is suffering or knows someone who is suffering from a diet related illness such as diabetes, heart disease.  Highly recommended.

‘First Bite: How We Learn To Eat’ – Bee Wilson

Again, anything from this lady is worth reading.  This one looks at how our food habits are shaped from the time we start consuming solid food.  Why are some people more responsive to some tastes than others?  Do outside influences affect us?  What about food phobias?  And many other issues.  Highly recommend, especially for those with very young children – better to be armed before you start.first bite

There are many more books and more that will be added to the list in the future, but if you really want to know why I bang on about things like I do, perhaps one of these is a good start.

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The Best Place to Eat in Tenby?

tenbyWe visit Tenby on a regular basis.  We usually manage to get down there & spend a couple of nights at least 2 or 3 times a year.  

As you know, I’m very particular of what I eat and where.  I have to know the food I am eating is cooked from scratch at the very least.  I also won’t eat pork or chicken unless I know it’s at least free range or outdoor bred.  I won’t eat eggs unless they are at least free range.  In a perfect world everything would be organic, but I know I’m not going to get that when eating out. fussy eater

Over the years, going to Tenby, we have found various restaurants that meet those needs – some better than others.  Unfortunately, every time we find somewhere we are happy with, you can almost guarantee the next time we go it’s been taken over by someone else and is no longer offering the same kind of food.  There are a couple of places that seem to be standing the test of time (thankfully) – The Moorings (more about that later) and The Blue Ball (although that is up for sale at the moment).

On our last visit to Tenby, however, we found an absolute gem.  Fingers crossed it will stay!

Underneath the Atlantic Hotel on the Esplanade is a restaurant called the Salt Cellar.  It opened in February 2016 and is run by 4 good friends – 3 of them chefs and one running front of house.  We heard about it just before our visit to Tenby in September of 2017, so checked it out when we got there and booked ourselves in for dinner.1692138_cd25c3b4

You can call in for lunch, coffee or a snack during the day and dinner and/or drinks in the evening.  The bar area is welcoming with cook books piled up on shelves.  The other half wanted to tidy the books in alphabetical order (odd bod), but I quite liked their randomness.  I own thousands of cook books, but there were plenty there I don’t own, so was happy to browse away over coffee (in the day & evening).

The restaurant itself is a mix of modern & old style – pleasant, clean and airy.  It’s a lovely size so feels intimate, yet you are not sitting on top of the other diners.restaurant 2

The food was fantastic – everything made from scratch (of course), including the breads and to my mind, just the right side of ‘cheffy’.  Enough to make you say ‘wow’ when you see it, but not overly fussy.  The emphasis is on the quality of the food – not style over substance.

I opted for the pea crème brulee as a starter, while he had the scotch egg.  Neither were a disappointment – he was more than happy with his scotch egg and accompaniments and was impressed with the slightly runny yolk (‘how do they get it as perfect as that when they can’t see it when it’s cooking’?, he said).  And just how you can do so much with peas is an achievement in itself (check out James Sommerin’s ‘Great British Menu’ pea dish too).

2017-09-13 19.20.36

2017-09-13 19.21.11

 

 

 

 

 

I’m afraid I was rather predictable with the main, choosing lamb.  But, there is a reason for that.  Lamb is my absolute favourite meat, while ‘he’ doesn’t like it.  So, we never have it at home – if we haven’t eaten out for a while I can feel myself literally craving some – so, when the opportunity arises there is no choice for me.  It was flavoursome, juicy, succulent, perfectly cooked and worked well with the rest of the dish.2017-09-13 19.40.06

The ‘other half’ chose the cod dish – a surprise in itself as even though we eat fish at least twice a week at home, it’s not usually his choice when eating out.  It looked superb and I could see how beautifully it was cooked.  He was well impressed and thoroughly enjoyed it.2017-09-13 19.40.38

The desserts were pretty as a picture and tasted superb.  We finished the meal with coffee in the bar, with gorgeous homemade petit fours – bliss!2017-09-13 20.17.072017-09-13 20.17.28

But, that’s not all – a beautiful meal like that can be made or broken by the quality and level of service you receive.  I have to say, we were blown away!  Both the restaurant and bar were run by just 2 young girls (well, young in my world).  They were hugely efficient, friendly and perfectly on top of everything.  What really impressed me was how they found time to talk to every customer – they found time for everyone.  I can’t speak highly enough of them.

restaurantBeing the tweeter I am, I of course, took pics of the dishes and tweeted them during the meal.  By the time we got to dessert, the 3 chefs in the kitchen had seen my tweets & tweeted back their appreciation.  That said it all for me – a small business run by friends with a passion for what they do.  First class!  We will definitely be visiting every time we visit Tenby.

 

 

If you are looking for somewhere else to eat in Tenby, I can also highly recommend The Moorings.  We usually go there for breakfast – free range eggs, their own bread (made by their sister bakery company) and local produce.  Lunch is also good with everything homemade – especially popular is their homemade fish finger sandwiches.  At night, it turns into a restaurant with great food and good service.  Again, all their bakery and pastry products are provided by their sister bakery – Loafley Bakery.

 

 

 

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Foodie Heaven in Ludlow

It’s been very busy recently in the Cooked From Scratch kitchen – but we managed to grab a couple of nights away in Ludlow recently.  What a revelation for a food lover!  I thought I’d been transferred to foodie heaven.

When booking the trip, we realised it was the same time as the Ludlow Food Festival, which was a bonus.  I had also read about the Ludlow Food Centre so was keen to visit.

The food festival is very similar to Abergavenny, just on a slightly smaller scale, so well worth a trip.  Unfortunately, the day we went it absolutely tipped down with rain, which meant everyone was congregating around the stalls, sheltering from the rain – I would definitely go back though in the hope the weather is a bit better, allowing us to enjoy the festival properly.

Ludlow town itself is gorgeous.  Lots of lovely architecture and quirky buildings and it is oozing with independent shops, restaurants, coffee shops & pubs.  In fact, the only chain shop in the centre is a Costa coffee (they get everywhere!).  The chains are ever present in the outskirts but not in the town itself.  It’s a very pretty place and highly recommended for a weekend away.

We stayed at The Clive Restaurant and Rooms, which is attached to Ludlow Food Centre.  It was a last minute booking and you are never quite sure what you are going to get, even after perusing the website.

However, we were more than pleased when we saw our room – it was spacious and airy and contained a seating area in addition to the bedroom area and bathroom.  Tick!

Bedroom 1

Bedroom 2

Bedroom 3

 

We then took a look at the tea and coffee tray – and it wasn’t your usual instant coffee sachets with a few tea bags that’s for sure.  Tea Tray
No – how about a cafetiere with Ludlow Food Centre’s own roasted coffee, along with a selection of organic teas and homemade biscuits?  Tick, tick!

 

But, it didn’t stop there – oh, what a mini bar!  Not your usual mass produced, branded products – oh no!  How about local craft ales, local organic ciders, Fevertree tonic, local organic juices, carefully selected wines and Chase gin and vodka?  Like I said – foodie heaven.  And prices were on average with a mini bar.  Tick, tick tick!

Mini Bar 1

Mini Bar 2

 

 

 

As the hotel is attached to Ludlow Food Centre, breakfast in the morning was in the food centre café.  Their own breads, yoghurt, bacon, eggs (free range), pastries and just about anything else you could think of. Not only made there, but high quality products too.  I must admit, I usually struggle to have breakfast in hotels (especially chains) due to the low quality of goods on offer – free range eggs are usually nowhere to be seen and the origin of everything else is usually quite suspect (and don’t get me started on the bread).  But, this was so different – my only problem was what to choose! Tick again!

We ate in the restaurant in the evening, and again, were not disappointed.  The majority of the produce was either produced on the estate or sourced locally. Tick, tick!  The service was friendly and the food nicely presented, tasty and enjoyable.  And the cheeseboard!  It was supposed to be for one person, but contained whole wedges of cheese (most of which were produced on the estate).  The crackers were also homemade, as well as the chutney.  It was gorgeous, but so big, we (and the couple on the next table) had to ask for a doggie bag to take back with us.

Starter 1

Starter 2

Main 1

Main 2

Cheeseboard

 

 

 

So, if you are looking for a weekend away, I can highly recommend Ludlow and The Clive Restaurant & Rooms, along with Ludlow Food Centre.  If you like good food, you are onto a winner.

 

 

 

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June Is Busting Out All Over – With Great British Produce That Is!

British produce starts to get exciting in May, but really comes into its own in June.  The veg patch grows by the day and needs to be thinned out before things become too tangled.

British strawberries are synonymous with June and Wimbledon of course.  They, along with raspberries, rhubarb (garden, not forced) and gooseberries herald the start of the great British fruit season.  It will soon be time to take advantage of the abundance of fruit around & get jam making!

We do, of course, see British fruit in the supermarkets much sooner these days.  That’s due to them being grown in industrial polytunnels and under glass.  Personally, I much prefer to wait until their ‘true’ season.  The more things are available, the less special they become.

Gooseberries are only around for a short time (you don’t see them in supermarkets very often), but if you can get hold of them in farm shops & markets, they are wonderful in jams and tart tasting desserts.  Gooseberry fool anyone?

British vegetables are now in abundance.  Lots of British asparagus still around, but we are now spoilt for choice with salad vegetables like radish, lettuce, watercress & spring onions making their appearance in the garden, along with things like broad beans, new potatoes, peas, French beans and many others.pots

I love all the lovely veggies we can get hold of now & look forward to opening my organic veg box each week  with so much choice.

Don’t forget – check those labels, and make sure you buy British!

 

  • Asparagus
  • Aubergines
  • Beetroot
  • Broad beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Cherries
  • Courgettes
  • French beans
  • Globe artichokes
  • Gooseberries
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Nettles
  • New potatoes
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb (outdoor)
  • Samphire
  • Spring onions
  • Strawberries
  • Sugar snaps
  • Watercress

 


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New ‘Menu of the Month’ Subscription Service!

ItalianPorkStuffedCrepes1

We are pleased to announce our new subscription service for our ‘Menu of the Month’. 

Subscribe for at least 3 months and receive free bread with each meal!

You will receive the ‘Menu of the Month’ at the same price every time, even though they may sometimes be more expensive if ordered individually.

The menu will be delivered to you every month without having to reorder.

Click here to see details, how you can subscribe and our terms and conditions.

What have you got to lose?

 

 
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Cooked From Scratch Healthy Eating Tips

As you will see on my blog about switching to ‘real food’, I’m not a fan of diets, especially those that require you to eat meal replacements or highly processed ‘diet’ foods.  So, as promised, here are the Cooked From Scratch tips for healthy eating.

1. Eat Real Food

Real Food – go back to basics and base your eating (call it a diet if you wish) around what I would define as real food – meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, beans/pulses, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, herbs, spices, grains.  

runner beans

  • Not meat or fish in a coating/ sauce or pre-marinated.  High quality sausages, bacon, ham are fine, but not every day – the quality of them is paramount.
  • The same goes for vegetables, fruit, beans/pulses. 
  • Eggs eaten as an egg or used as in ingredient in something you’ve made yourself. 
  • Dairy in it’s simplest form – natural yoghurt (no additives), milk, cheeses, butter (not spreads marketed as butter). 

This does involve cooking of course, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming – there are loads of quick and simple dishes for midweek meals, which only involve a bit of chopping before putting in the oven or pan to cook. 

Avoid Processed/Convenience Foods – this doesn’t just mean ‘ready meals’ as discussed in my blog ‘Why Do I Hate Supermarket Ready Meals?’

The supermarket aisles are full of processed foods, but we’ve become so accustomed to them we don’t think of them that way anymore.  Soups, sauces, cereals, drinks, desserts, cakes, yoghurts, breads, wraps, bakery products, pre-prepped fruit and vegetables, cooked and processed meats, pizzas, pastries, preserves, condiment sauces, ready made home baking products, potato products…. The list goes on!  In fact, there are very few (if any) supermarket aisles that don’t contain these foods.food-like-products

These are all items you can make yourself, or buy from an artisan food producer who will tell you exactly what’s in the food.  The ingredients should reflect real food – simply put together to create a dish or product such as bread (not mass produced).

Avoid Diet/Low Fat Foods

These are often highly processed and contain replacement ‘ingredients’ to compensate for them containing little or no fat.  This often takes the form of sugar, which is becoming highly recognised as the biggest contributor to obesity and many diet related diseases – http://www.actiononsugar.org/.

Full fat dairy is also now recognised as being more beneficial to us than low-fat products, with more and more research leading to low-fat being nothing but a big con.  There are loads of articles available on the subject, including this one from the website healthambition.com.  Full fat dairy is also more satisfying – you feel fuller and not deprived, so it can actually aid in weight loss.  I eat full fat, natural yoghurt, cheese and butter and drink full fat milk.

Cut Down on the Carbs

If you want to lose a bit of weight, then cutting down on the carbohydrates certainly helps.  I don’t believe in completely cutting out food types or food groups as we need carbs, fats, protein, fruit & vegetables in order for our bodies to function properly.  If you cut out a food group, you need to make sure you are eating alternative foods to compensate, which can be difficult. 

But, if you are eating toast for breakfast (good bread of course), sandwiches for lunch and then having a pasta based meal for dinner, you are probably consuming more carbohydrates than your body needs (unless you are running a marathon or something). too-many-carbs

Instead of sandwiches for lunch, have a big bowl of soup or a great big mixed salad.  Or, instead of filling your dinner plate with pasta or rice, then topping with a sauce or curry, put the rice or pasta on the side of the plate (as you would potatoes).  Why do you need more than a couple of serving spoons – especially if you’ve been sitting at a desk all day?  Similarly, put a few less potatoes on the plate and fill it up with lots of veggies instead. 

Cut down on the carbs and you will be surprised how much better you feel and it will certainly help you lose weight.

Eat More Soup

Homemade soup of course!  It’s a great way of getting beneficial vegetables into your body and is surprisingly filling.  Eat with a spoon – this takes time, therefore allowing your body to recognise that you’re eating something and by the time you’ve finished your body will know you’ve eaten.  If you shovel down a burger quickly, you’re not giving your body enough time to recognise you’re eating, so you will still be hungry, encouraging you to overeat. 

Eat Healthy Snacks

If you are hungry between meals, snack on fruit or nuts – don’t reach for the biscuit tin.  A handful of nuts though – not the whole bag!

Major Benefit of Eating Real Food Instead of Dietingfamily-cooking

Many diets mean you are cooking a separate meal for yourself to the rest of the family – especially if it is based around meal replacements.  One huge advantage of eating real food is the rest of the family can eat it too.  You will be getting them on the right road to a healthy lifestyle, which they will hopefully keep to when they leave home.

2. Move

It goes without saying, that sitting on your bottom all day just isn’t good for you – http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/sitting-and-sedentary-behaviour-are-bad-for-your-health.aspx

Food is energy – our lifestyles are becoming more sedentary, yet we are eating more (Global and regional food consumption patterns and trends).  Our grandparents didn’t need to go to the gym, yet obesity wasn’t a problem.  Why?  They simply moved more. 

Exercise

If you enjoy going to the gym for your exercise, great – go ahead.  Me, no way!  The thought of going into an artificially lit room and standing on a machine, walking or running to nowhere, with lycra-clad, sweaty people around me just doesn’t appeal.sweaty-gym

If you are the same, then find something that does appeal – find a hobby that incorporates exercise.  Latin & ballroom dancing, line dancing (any dancing in fact), hill walking, gardening.  If it’s something you enjoy you won’t class it as exercise, so it won’t be a chore.

Walk

Going for a brisk walk everyday has huge benefits – you are out in the fresh air exercising and it clears your mind.  I find time (however busy I am) to go for a walk everyday.  Yes, even in the rain – we all have coats, boots and umbrellas and it’s only water after all.  The only weather that stops me is if it’s blowing a gale and absolutely chucking it down – you know the type, where you just step outside and you’re soaked!  But, hand on heart, this probably only happens a few times throughout the course of a year.

Rather than sitting at your desk to eat your lunch, go out for a walk.  You will feel so much better for it. 

It’s also a great way of clearing the mind – if you have something to work out or a problem, chances are you will come back with a plan.

Move As Much As Possible

  • Avoid lifts, escalators, travellators and take the stairs (unless you physically can’t).
  • Park the car as far away from the supermarket entrance as you can, instead of struggling to find a space as close as possible.  Your car will thank you too – not being banged and scratched by others (yes, we are anal car owners in this household).
  • Going to a retail park?  Again, don’t struggle to park as close as possible, park in a side street up the road!
  • Take regular breaks from your desk, take phone calls standing up.

Do Stuff

You know that ‘to do’ list you have – the one you never seem to get around to doing?  Instead of flopping down in front of the tele, do something from it – clean out that cupboard, sort your clothes.  Any activity is better than none at all – and you get to do those things you’ve been putting off.cleaning

Every year, since I left home at 19, I’ve lost weight in the run up to Christmas.  Why?  In addition to all the jobs that need doing for Christmas, my house gets ‘nook and cranny’ cleaned.  Under beds, on top of cupboards, inside cupboards, curtains get washed, carpets get cleaned.  As a result, I lose weight just from doing stuff.

Make flopping down in front of the tele at the end of the day something your body wants to do.

 

3.  Avoid ‘Diet’ Drinks

They may contain ‘no added sugar’, but they are still not good.  Artificial sweeteners are not good news and they do not aid weight loss.  Avoid them (Sugar Free Drinks Don’t Aid Weight Loss).

4.  Be Hungry

This is a strange one.  Why do we think it’s a bad thing to be hungry?  Personally, I wait until I’m actually hungry before I eat – you know, that knawing feeling you get?  That tells you, you’ve used up the surplus energy in your body and you need to top up. 

We go on cruises for our holidays, where food is provided on tap, all day, every day.  I eat a full 3 course dinner each evening, but during the day, I wait until I’m hungry before eating.  hungry

Think about it, if you have a day when you’re really hungry for some reason, have you eaten your lunch at 10 o’clock in the morning?  You’ve done that because your body is telling you you’re hungry.  Yet, if you’re not hungry, you will still eat your lunch at 12.30pm.  Listen to your body.

5.  Balance

Eating healthily, is all about balance, not denial.  You will have 3 course meals (nothing wrong with that), but if you have them every day, then you’re going to put on weight.  But, don’t beat yourself up because you’ve had a blow out in a gourmet restaurant.  Just go back to normal eating.  If you feel like you’ve overindulged, just have a ‘good day’ the following day – perhaps fruit for breakfast, soup for lunch and a healthy dinner. 

Enjoy good, real food.

Read about why I believe diets don’t work here.

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Healthy Eating? Just Eat ‘Real Food’

Real food – how many of you are embarking on diets for the new year? 

How many times do you diet, lose weight, put it back on and diet again? 

yoyo

The diet companies and brands bank on that happening – think about it, it’s a great business model.  It works in the short term, but is never a sustainable way of eating, which ensures you will always be a returning customer.

Many of the diet products are also highly processed – meal replacements, special ‘diet’ products, which gives the impression you could never lose weight without consuming them instead of ‘normal’ food.

Well, I don’t believe that!  We consume far more highly processed and mass manufactured foods than ever.  As a result, nations across the world are putting on weight, becoming obese and suffering from weight and diet related problems such as diabetes.  Take a look at this – How The World Got Fat – funny how consumption of convenience foods has risen in conjunction.

But, who am I to say that switching to real food instead actually works?  Well, I’m not a nutritionist, but I’m a human being who has struggled with my weight over the years and learnt from my mistakes.  As a result, I haven’t ‘dieted’ in over 10 years, but I eat well and my weight has remained stable.  I’ve always loved food, and as a child would eat, more or less, anything that was put in front of me (with the exception of broad beans – which I now love).   But, my relationship with food hasn’t always been a good one.

I’m old enough to be able to say, when growing up, the majority of food in our house was homemade – or real food.  Although those convenience foods definitely started to creep in during the 70’s (Angel Delight anyone?angel-delight).  But, the majority of the time, we ate well.  I wasn’t fat or chubby, but neither was I skinny.  In fact, looking back I didn’t have anything to worry about with my weight  (but thought I did – as do most girls, unfortunately) and then one day, when in my early 20’s, I went on a diet.  Why? I really can’t remember, but I know, looking back, I certainly didn’t need to.

And that was the start of around 20 years of yoyo dieting.  It seems that once you start – that’s it.  A bit like shaving your legs!  illustration-of-a-man-seated-and-shaving-his-legs-by-dennis-cox-15Once you lose weight (using whatever method), when you go back to ‘normal’ eating you put the weight back on, with a little bit more.   In fact, I will go so far as to say that for around 10 years I was on a permanent ‘diet’ – everything low fat, wouldn’t eat this, wouldn’t eat that, no frying, nothing made with oil, skimmed milk, low fat marge (yuck!), low fat cheese (yuck again!), only ‘treating’ us to real butter at Christmas.  And nuts – I absolutely love nuts, but would only eat them at Christmas (now I eat handfuls of them every day).  I dread to think what damage I did to my body on such a low fat diet – we need fat to function and feed our brains.  I basically deprived myself – someone that loved food not allowing myself to enjoy it and feeling guilty if I ate something I shouldn’t.  Anyone relate to that?

Then I got divorced, met the love of my life and became content – put on a bit of weight but basically still dieting or overeating – no middle ground.  We sold our caravan and I realised I was going to have to get my body out on the beach abroad – something had to be done!  I found a diet that was based around the Mediterranean way of eating – it was all real food, lots of cooking and absolutely no diet or low fat products.  Every recipe started with olive oil (something I had avoided like the plague) and I lost the excess weight without feeling I was on a diet or deprived in any way.

This was one of the many triggers that started me on the road to Cooked From Scratch – my little brain started piecing the bits together – processed/convenience foods, containing strange ingredients, additives and chemicals had to be linked to weight gain and making the wrong food choices.

Since then, I eat nothing but ‘real’ food – I eat good food, full fat everything (butter all the way thanks – and lots of it)butter, loads of nuts – I eat well, I eat 3 course meals regularly, desserts (not everyday), eat in gourmet restaurants – and all without a smidgen of guilt.  But, I am also now a food snob, as I absolutely refuse to eat anything processed or ready made.  It has to be homemade, high welfare, good quality (organic preferably, although this isn’t possible when on holiday).  The other stuff doesn’t even tempt me.  And guess what!  I never diet – in fact, I’m slimmer now than I’ve ever been.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m ‘good’ in the week – but certainly not deprived.  I love my food again and enjoy every mouthful.  I also keep as active as possible, but you won’t catch me anywhere near a gym!  Let’s face it, sitting down all day is just not good for you.

So, do yourself (and your body) a favour.  Rather than going on that diet this new year, switch to real food.  food_snob_mugBecome a food snob – question where your food comes from and what’s in it.  What have you got to lose?

Not convinced – take a look at my tips for a healthy lifestyle here.

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New Meal Box Subscription Service – Receive the 4th Box Free!

Jpeg

We are pleased to announce our new subscription service for our meal boxes.  You can subscribe to receive a regular meal box on a weekly, 2-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly basis.

Subscribe and receive your 4th box absolutely free!

Click here to see details, how you can subscribe and our terms and conditions.

What have you got to lose?

 

 
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Why Do I Hate Supermarket Ready Meals?

As the name suggests, I cook everything from scratch.  In fact, I am (some would say) quite fanatical about what I will & won’t eat.  If I’m not 100% sure whether or not something has been cooked from scratch (using good ingredients), I simply won’t touch it.  In fact, it’s well known that I take my own breakfast to networking events!

Laugh you may (I laugh at myself sometimes), but why do I do this?person laughing

When young, I always cooked from scratch – in those days convenience foods were expensive and money was scarce in my household.  Besides which, I enjoyed cooking.

As time moved on, supermarket ready meals (and many other mass manufactured, processed foods) came into being.  They became more and more accessible as supermarkets grew in size.  As my life changed, I did what most other people did and started taking shortcuts to save time, make my life easier and all those other ‘reasons’ people use.  Little did I know then, what I know now – but, oh how I wish I had known!

It was around 2002 when certain triggers started me on the road to thinking more about the food we eat.  triggerThere were many triggers – but that’s another blog in itself.  As I thought more, I read more, investigated and eventually came to the conclusion that mass manufactured, processed foods are a bad thing – a very bad thing.  I’m well known for calling them ‘the devil’ – and I truly believe that.

I went right back to basics and began cooking everything from scratch again (as I had when I was young).  I researched and read more and more and became increasingly concerned about the food the majority of people eat on a daily basis.  Hence, me starting on the road to Cooked From Scratch, which for me is about education and helping people as much as it is a business.  It’s what I passionately believe in – I live and breathe it, it’s not just a job.

When I talk about processed foods, I know a lot of people immediately think of ‘ready meals’.  Indeed, for many this is all they think of – as supermarkets have become more and more encroached into our daily lives, we forget the many foods that and I (and many others) class as processed.

Soups, sauces, cereals, drinks, desserts, cakes, yoghurts, breads, wraps, bakery products, pre-prepped fruit and vegetables, cooked and processed meats, pizzas, pastries, preserves, condiment sauces, ready made home baking products, potato products…. The list goes on!  In fact, there are very few (if any) supermarket aisles that don’t contain these foods.food like products

The result of there being so many, can become the obstacle to cooking from scratch  – it can almost make your head explode.  And, if you do decide to avoid these foods, there are still issues to consider when buying meat, dairy, fish, fruit and vegetables, flour, sugar…. (but that’s another story).

As food manufacturers and supermarkets keep telling us how busy we are, and how difficult it is to cook, we believe them.  They try so hard to ‘help’ us by chopping our melon and carrots and charging us a premium for doing so.

I recently carried out some teaching for a community based project, for children and their guardians.  On one session we made homemade chicken nuggets and fish fingers, so made potato and sweet potato wedges to go with them.  Literally washing and cutting up potatoes, drizzling with oil and baking.  One mother couldn’t believe how good they tasted compared to the frozen ready made potato wedges she usually paid £1.60 for.  Little effort, much cheaper and so much better for you.

As written in a previous blog (‘Help, I Want To Change My Food Habits’), if making the decision to not buy processed foods is overwhelming, it’s best to take things in stages.  If you do eat ready meals, this is a good place to start – if just a handful of people stop buying them after reading the article below, then it’s a job well done in my book.

ready mealSo, back to the start – why do I hate supermarket ready meals?

Please, please read this article by Joanna Blythman from the Daily Mail.  Joanna is a fantastic investigative journalist, who, like me, cares about the food we eat and has made it her mission to inform us of exactly what’s in our food.  Read, digest and then please make that decision:

‘Read this and you’ll never eat a ready meal again’.

If this has inspired you to investigate further, then I highly recommend Joanna’s books –

Swallow This

What To Eat

 

 

 

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FODMap (IBS) Diet Accommodated!

As you know, Cooked From Scratch means just that.  As a result, recipes and ingredients can be tailored to the needs and requirements of the customer, if needed.  We have adjusted meals and recipes for customers in the past who have allergies or intolerances to certain foods.

We have recently begun working with a customer who has been advised by her doctor, to follow the FODMap diet.  This is specific for IBS sufferers and is a quite complicated diet to follow, especially if you are also cooking for a family, or perhaps don’t have much experience in the kitchen.  Trying to find products in the supermarket that meet the requirements is nigh on impossible.  FODMap Diet.

So, Cooked From Scratch to the rescue – our recipes can be adjusted to meet the FODMap requirements.

If you need to follow this diet, just get in touch & we will work with you to make sure we supply you with what you need.

 

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July’s Bounty – Great British Produce!

July really is a fantastic month for British produce.  Fruits & vegetables abound & if you are lucky enough to have a veg patch or allotment, it’s about all you can do to keep up with harvesting.

strawberriesPersonally, I think waiting for the gorgeous fruit & veg we have now is worth it.  Eating in season just makes it all the more special – and tasty too!  Strawberries warmed by the summer sun (if we get any) taste so much better than those grown in polytunnels & kept in cold storage out of season.

I have a go at growing my own, but unfortunately, don’t really have the time it warrants to keep on top of everything.  Already this year, the birds have beaten me to the blackcurrants, cherries & gooseberries (although they seem to leave the white currants alone for some reason).  I shall have to keep my eye on them with my blueberries.

Blueberries are a great fruit to grow as they crop over a staggered period of time – you can pick a bowlful around every other day, rather than having a glut.

Due to a holiday in June, being very busy & the rainy weather, things have run away with themselves – literally.  I’ve just spent a very frustrating hour and a half trying to untangle my beans & peas, as I failed to get sticks in place in time.  I also have a lot of veg thinning to do – bit late really, but better late than never!runner beans

There’s so much in season at the moment, we really are spoilt for choice.  The cherry season is quite short, but they are definitely my favourite fruit & I wait in eagerness for the British cherries to arrive.cherries

Whether you’re growing your own, visiting farmer’s markets & farm shops, or just picking some up from the shops, make the most of the gorgeous British produce while you can – I feel some jam making coming on :).

 

  • Apricots
  • Aubergines
  • Beetroot
  • Blackcurrants
  • Blueberries
  • Broad beans
  • Carrots
  • Cherries
  • Courgettes
  • Cucumbers
  • Currants (red & white)
  • Fennel
  • French beans
  • Globe artichokes
  • Gooseberries
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • New potatoes
  • Onions
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb (outdoor)
  • Runner beans
  • Samphire
  • Strawberries
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomatoes

 


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British Produce Gets Exciting in May!

Well I totally missed blogging about April produce, but here we are already in May and things start to get exciting on the British produce scene.

elderflowerThings are still pretty lean with regards British fruit in season, although you could be fooled into that isn’t the case due to the British fruits such as strawberries, already on sale in the supermarkets.  It’s amazing what can be achieved in polytunnels – but these early crops aren’t really in the true season.  The only British fruits truly in season are elderflowers & rhubarb (although rhubarb is technically a vegetable).

So, time to make that elderflower cordial and make the most of that lovely tart rhubarb.

But, when it comes to veggies it’s a different story as spring produce really comes into its own – asparagus, broad beans, peas, new potatoes, radish, watercress, wild garlic to name but a few.

I love asparagus – asparagusthe other half isn’t so keen, but I sneak it in whenever I can.  Be careful in the supermarkets though, as much of it is still the imported stuff from Peru – make sure it’s British.

I didn’t get around to sowing broad beans & peas in the garden last autumn, so no home grown for me this year (it was a spring sowing instead), but they should now be appearing in the shops, fresh in their pods.  Podding peas & broad beans certainly heralds spring and the approaching summer for me.  broad beansDon’t forget to use the pods to make stock!

Wild garlic is abundant on grass verges, but be careful where you pick from – not in common dog walking areas that’s for sure :).

May is definitely a time to embrace gorgeous British produce.

 

  • Asparagus
  • Broad beans
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Elderflower
  • Jersey Royals & new potatoes
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Rocket
  • Salad onions
  • Samphire
  • Sorrel
  • Watercress
  • Wild garlic

 


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What seasonal produce does March bring?

March is an odd month – it brings the promise of longer, warmer days ahead and we may be lucky to experience some lovely Spring days.  But, it can also be extremely cold and miserable.  Due to the moveable nature of Easter, we can experience both Easter & Mother’s Day in March – but sometimes not.  But, what we always get are lighter, longer evenings – naturally the evenings get steadily lighter, but March brings the Spring solstice with the clocks going forward on the last Sunday of the month – deep joy :).  lamb

Personally, I like March – not only does it bring my birthday (and my youngest son’s), but we have lambs, daffodils and numerous other Spring bulbs to cheer us up.

Food wise, it’s a bit of a mixed bag – I’ve heard chefs call it the lean month – somewhere between the earthy veg of Winter and the new Spring produce about to burst on the scene next month.  Some people start to get fed up of the root veg we’ve been eating all Winter – I don’t.

There are some new kids on the block – caulicauliflower, endive, spinach, spring greens, spring onions and young carrots make an appearance.  spring greensNot everyone gets excited about these (many are waiting for the sexy asparagus), but nothing wrong with them in my book.

We can still enjoy purple sprouting and Jerusalem artichokes, so certainly no need to complain there (I still haven’t got around to making that Jerusalem artichoke soup you know).

Fruit in season for March is still quite thin on the ground with citrus still ruling the roost – lemons, oranges and blood oranges.  But, British produce makes an appearance in the form of gorgeous pink forced rhubarb (from the Yorkshire rhubarb triangle of course).  I just love the gorgeous, vibrant pink colour.rhubarb

So, make the most of that gorgeous British pink rhubarb and get making those crumbles, pies and fools before the disappear until the summer rhubarb comes along.

 

 

  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbages
  • Celeriac
  • Endive
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Leeks
  • Lemons
  • Oranges & blood oranges
  • Parsnips
  • Passion fruit
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Spring greens
  • Swede
  • Young carrots

 


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It’s January – what produce is in season?

Are you someone that likes or dislikes January?  Some people see it as a new beginning, making resolutions and changes for the year ahead.

I’m afraid I’m not a January person – in my eyes it doesn’t have a lot going for it.  Dark, damp, dank and cold – Christmas has gone, the decorations and lights are down.  I also don’t understand why people deprive themselves, going on diets, giving up the things they love in the worst month of the year.  osso buccoFor me it’s all about comfort, warming food – food that gives you a cuddle and warms you up on those damp, cold days.

So, what produce is in season to cheer up on these dark, cold days?

I think the seasonal produce also screams comfort food – those root vegetables used for lovely stews, casseroles and soups – carrots, swede, parsnips, leeks.  parsnipsAlthough they can all be used for that January detox too, if that’s what takes your fancy.

We still  have some leafy vegetables to ring the changes too – cabbages, sprouts and kale.  cabbage

Purple sprouting broccoli (or ‘posh broccoli’ as some people call it) makes an appearance.  It’s almost like a teaser for asparagus coming in the Spring with it’s delicate stalks and purple heads.purple sprouting

Those knobbly Jerusalem artichokes are also still around – I must remember to make some soup.

So, lots of vegetables still around, but not much in the way of fruit this time of year, with citrus fruit reigning supreme.  We see those gorgeous blood oranges coming along and Seville oranges.  Every year, I tell myself I’m not going to make Seville orange marmalade as I have loads of it here – but then I see them and just can’t resist buying some. seville orange It’s probably got something to do with their short season – if I don’t buy them when I see them, they will be gone.

So, it may be gloomy January, but the lovely produce certainly lights up the month for me

 

  • Beetroot
  • Blood oranges
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbages
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac
  • Chicory
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lemons
  • Parsnips
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli
  • Seville oranges
  • Swede
  • Turnips