Save £700 A Year Say Birds Eye – Stop Wasting Food & Freeze!

Did you know that the average family household throws away £700 of food and drink every year (850,000 tonnes) – that’s the cost of a new TV or a designer handbag. Much of this waste could have been avoided if this food had been frozen instead of thrown out. Do you know how to use your freezer to save money?

Use your freezer to save money - dish of raspberries and blueberries

Birds Eye has been working in partnership with iFreeze, Hotpoint and Love Food Hate Waste to encourage the nation to use their freezers to save money and combat the issue of food waste.

To illustrate the issue, a 20-foot frozen billboard made entirely of ice and cash has been unveiled at Southbank, London to urge Brits to stop this costly waste.

The billboard contains £700 in notes and coins and was commissioned by iFreeze, iSave.

Made with more than four tonnes of ice, the billboard took a team over a month to freeze and a further eight days to build.

Showing Brits how their freezer can help put money back in their pocket, passers-by were able to collect the currency as the billboard melted throughout the day.

Watch the video here:-

The billboard follows new research conducted by iFreeze, iSave looking at how consumers use their freezer and the impact this has on Britain’s food waste.

The initiative to help encourage a change in habits is being spearheaded by Birds Eye and supported by Love Food Hate Waste, Hotpoint and the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF).

Do you know how to use your freezer?

According to the findings, Britain’s freezers are often not being used the way they should! Almost two million (three per cent) put money in the freezer while a whopping 2.5 million (four per cent) use the freezer to store clothes.

Other items that have found their way into freezers include remote controls (one per cent) and household keys (one per cent).

The study found that 92 per cent of people in the UK are unaware that items such as eggs can be frozen (out of their shells) and over half (56 per cent) did not know that herbs could be kept in the freezer.

Despite one in five (21 per cent) shopping baskets in Britain containing at least 50 per cent frozen food, almost two million people throw away items in their freezer after two weeks believing they have gone off by this point.

Freezing habits around the UK

The study also found that:-

Brits aged 55 and over are the most freezer savvy when it comes to knowing what food can be frozen. Awareness was lowest amongst those under the age of 25

Nearly one in five women (19 per cent) believe that food can only be frozen for less than one month before being thrown away

Wales claims to be the least freezer savvy region, with three quarters (75 per cent) of those saying they are unaware that herbs can be frozen, and almost half (45 per cent) not realising that cooked meat can be kept in the freezer.

Almost a fifth of Welsh people (18 per cent) admitted to keeping clothes in their freezer

People in Northern Ireland claim to be the most freezer-friendly, with 100 per cent owning a freezer.

Seven per cent of people in the South East don’t own a freezer at all

Londoners claim to be easily the most wasteful, admitting that the main reason they throw food out of the freezer is that they can’t remember how long it has been there.

More than one in ten (12 per cent) bin food in their freezer after just two weeks (12 per cent)

So how can you use your freezer to save money?

Here are some top tips from food blogger Katie Bryson who is supporting the iFreeze, iSave initiative.

She also stars in Birds Eye’s ‘Mix Up Your Menu’ campaign launched earlier this year.

  • To reduce costs, batch cook a large meal and freeze your leftovers to enjoy at a later date
  • When buying more unusual ingredients, it’s likely that’ll you’ll have to buy larger portions than you need – don’t bin the leftovers, freeze them instead! Fresh herbs are a great example of this
  • When freezing food, do so in realistic portions so as not to waste food once defrosted – for example, when buying a pack of frozen chicken breasts, freeze the chicken breasts in individual freezer bags so you can just cook just the one if you need to
  • Frozen vegetables are your best friend! They offer so much versatility and can be used to accompany a range of meals – keep your freezer stocked up with frozen veg instead of fresh; it lasts longer and it’s more nutritious, too
  • Save over-ripe bananas from the compost heap, just peel and chop and pop in a bag in the freezer. Perfect for smoothies straight from the freezer or once defrosted bake into a batch of banana bread
  • Stock up on berries when they’re on offer or close to their sell-by date, freeze in small portions then use them to make smoothies or to sprinkle on yoghurt or ice-cream
  • Bread keeps brilliantly in the freezer, so always have a supply of rolls, muffins, crumpets and sliced loaves in the freezer as it tends to go mouldy really quickly in a warm kitchen
  • Freezing small cartons of fruit juice are brilliant little cool packs to put in your picnics at the beginning of the day. By lunchtime, they’ll have defrosted and be ready to drink, but will have kept your picnic nice and chilly

What would your top tips be?  Do you know how to use your freezer to save money? And do you keep your clothes in your freezer?!

For more tips on how to stop wasting food, click here.

Review & Q&A With Tamzin Outhwaite: Cherry Good Juice Drink

Cherry Good is a refreshing and fruity drink made from Montmorency cherry Juice.  

There is also Cherry Good Light which has only 32 calories per serving and Cherry Good Select which has a higher percentage of Montmorency Cherry juice than the original.

Montmorency Cherry Juice Drink Cherry Good, Original and Light

Their cherries are grown along the shores of Lake Michigan in North America, where the lake plays a crucial role in preventing temperatures from getting too cold in the autumn and too hot in the summer. 

Just like vineyards, Montmorency cherry orchards require the right combination of weather and rich soil, to provide ideal fruit-growing conditions, and many people think that the best fruit in the world is grown there.

Cherry Good recently interviewed Tamzin Outhwaite to ask for her advice to busy working mums.

Celebrity Mom Tamzin Outhwaite

Here’s what she had to say:-

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m about to begin filming a new series of New Tricks as well as rehearsing for a new play called Di and Viv and Rose, which opens in the West End in January. 

It will be the busiest I have ever been, so I’m about to start a fitness regime to ensure I’m on top form! 

It must be difficult when filming to juggle work and family life. 

What advice do you have for busy working mums?

My advice would be to not feel guilty; we all know we’re working hard for our kids as well as for ourselves.

It’s important to enjoy the time you have with them as it’s very precious. 

For instance, when I have time off I will hang out with the kids and make sure we do lots of different things.

I also really treasure our time together in the mornings before they head off to school.

How has your diet and exercise regime changed since becoming a mum?

I don’t worry about what everybody says as much. 

I just do what’s right for my body, so I don’t run as much as I did as I find it can affect my knees.

I do much more yoga now (particularly hot yoga) and it feels like it works better for my body. 

My body has changed a lot over the years and I have been all different shapes and sizes. 

I was probably in the best shape ever on my 40th birthday!

How do you try and promote a healthy lifestyle to your children?

I try extremely hard to make sure we have good, healthy food in the house and marry up what they both like without having too much sugar. 

My fridge is quite healthy so I do allow a Friday treat because if it’s once a week it doesn’t feel so bad. 

When I grew up we didn’t have sweets, crisps or chocolate as they simply weren’t in the house- my lunch box was the one with the peeled carrots and cucumbers!

What three tips would you give to a new mum who wants to make healthier choices?

Don’t give yourself a hard time; we can all get very stressed as a new mum and I think when we stress ourselves out, our kids can pick up on it. 

Try and let it happen naturally, but if you have good food in the fridge and not too much rubbish around the house then it helps a lot.

How do you start your day?

My kids wake at 6am and that’s always a really lovely time with them. 

Often, I will put on some music and the three of us will dance around the kitchen as they really love music and dancing. 

Then we will have some porridge and Cherry Good juice for breakfast. I like Cherry Good Light but the kids will have Cherry Good Original as it’s a little sweeter.

What advice did your mum give you when it comes to looking after yourself that you will pass on to your own children?

My mum is very good at eating non-processed, fresh food. 

She also juices her vegetables, which I think is a lovely thing to do and she eats a lot of pulses. 

My mum also avoids eating white bread, white pasta or white rice. 

She’s extremely healthy and almost completely organic so I try and follow her example and adapt it to fit in with my lifestyle.

Very sensible advice, as I’m sure you’ll agree.  So what did we think of Cherry Good drink?

It’s a really refreshing, if slightly tangy juice drink which makes a great change from some of the overly sweet fruit juices out there. And definitely a more exciting non-alcoholic option for an after hours drink.

You can follow Cherry Good on Twitter @CherryGoodJuice or visit their website at www.cherrygood.com.

*Samples were sent for the purposes of this review.

Raise A Glass On Mother’s Day

I love a glass of chilled rosé and this one from Gallo Family Vineyards is sweet and light-bodied with the taste of ripe nectarine and juicy pomegranate.

It would complement a variety of dishes like smoked salmon, salad, strawberries and cream or, my favourite, a slice of Victoria sponge.

Gallo Family Vineyards Pink Moscato – £6.99 

Or how about a glass of Gallo Family Vineyards Moscato, which is a light to medium-bodied white, with notes of peach, citrus, pineapple and orange blossom? 

Gallo say this wine will complement light Thai food, creamy chicken dishes and vanilla desserts.

Gallo Family Vineyards Moscato – £6.99

For further information go to www.gallofamily.co.uk

If your mum prefers not to drink alcohol or is a mum-to-be, a great alternative is Shloer Celebration, an alcohol-free bubbly.

#SayItWithShloer Celebration at just £2.99 a bottle 

The Celebration range comes in two delicious flavours; White Bubbly and Pink Fizz. The White Bubbly has a crisp and full bodied flavour from the very best in white grape juices. 

The Pink Fizz combines the vibrant flavours of red and white grape juice. 

Both are best served chilled.

Shloer contains no preservatives, artificial colours, sweeteners or flavourings and comes in eleven flavours, including White Grape, Red Grape, Rosé, Apple & White Grape, White Grape Raspberry & Cranberry, White Grape & Elderflower, Berry Punch, Celebration Pink Fizz, Celebration White Bubbly and new Shloer Light Red Grape and Light White Grape.

And this Mother’s Day, Shloer are running a competition. 

For the chance to win a bespoke gift bag, complete with a bottle of Celebration, tell them why your mum deserves a sparkling treat using #SayItWithShloer. 

Their Twitter ID is @shloerofficial and you can find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/shloer.

Shloer is available at supermarkets nationwide at £2.99 / 75 cl.

For further information go to www.shloer.com

Making Welsh Cakes For St. David’s Day

Having munched our way through many a pack of Tan y Castell’s finest Welsh treats,  we decided to have a go at making our own Welsh cakes.  There are lots of variations, some made with a traditional griddle and some without but here’s a great Welsh cakes recipe that’s ideal to make with your little ones.

Welsh cakes recipe - Caitlin holding a plate of freshly made Welsh cakes
Easy to follow Welsh cakes recipe

We found our recipe on the trusty BBC Good Food website here.

You’ll need the following ingredients:-

*  225 g plain flour
*  85 g caster sugar
*  1/2 tsp mixed spice
*  1/2 tsp baking powder
*  50 g butter cut into small pieces
*  50 g lard cut into small pieces plus extra for frying
*  50 g currants
*  1 egg beaten
*  splash of milk

Since I didn’t have baking powder, we used self-raising flour and we substituted the lard for butter, but this didn’t affect the recipe in the slightest.

Welsh cakes recipe - Caitlin tipping flour into a mixing bowl

Welsh cakes recipe - Caitlin holding a bowl of sugar

Welsh cakes recipe - adding the spice to the flour and sugar

Add the flour, sugar, mixed spice, baking powder and a pinch of salt into the bowl.

Welsh cakes recipe - Caitlin mixing the Welsh cakes ingredients

Rub in the butter and lard with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly.  Then add in the currants and work the egg in until you have a soft dough with the consistency of shortcrust pastry.  If the mixture is too dry, add a splash of milk.  We had to add quite a bit of milk to our mixture.

Welsh cakes recipe - adding the sultanas to the dough

Welsh cakes recipe - adding the beaten egg to the dough

Once you have your dough, roll it on on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of your little finger. Use a 6 cm cutter to cut out the cakes.

Welsh cakes recipe - Caitlin rolling out the dough

Welsh cakes recipe - Caitlin using a cutter to cut out the Welsh cakes from the dough

Grease a flat griddle pan or frying pan with lard (we used butter) and put on a medium heat.

Welsh cakes recipe - Welsh cakes cooking on the hob

Cook the Welsh cakes in batches for about 3 minutes each side until golden brown.

Welsh cakes recipe - Linda Hobbis cooking Welsh cakes on the hob

Welsh cakes recipe - the finished cakes

The Welsh cakes will stay fresh in a tin for a week.  If you don’t eat them all in one go, that is!  And while you’re munching check out Caitlin’s award-winning poem for St. David’s Day “Colours of Wales”.

Welsh cakes recipe - Caitlin in Welsh Lady costume holding a plate of Welsh cakes

 

Pasta Masterclass with Gennaro Contaldo

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to learn the art of pasta making and Italian cookery skills from the legendary Gennaro Contaldo, one of the BBC Two’s “Two Greedy Italians”, the other being Antonio Carluccio.

A restauranteur, chef and author of long standing, Amalfi born Gennaro has lost none of his passion and enthusiasm for cooking. “I am a cook”, he says,  “but I am a chef when I need to be”.

He is accredited with teaching Jamie Oliver all he knows about Italian cookery and regularly appears on Saturday Kitchen,  BBC One’s weekend food show.

Gennaro Contaldo with his blogger students
Gennaro Contaldo & Pasta Protegees!

At his masterclass in Jamie’s, Cardiff, Gennaro told us how his philosophy is to make good food affordable and available to everyone.

Gennaro has a particular fondness for Wales because he says ‘all the ingredients are here’, excellent fish, flavoursome vegetables (particularly leeks) and a wide range of fungi (which are a particular passion of his).

Each of his dishes is carefully constructed with health and flavour in mind, for example, gluten-free pasta is now available as a matter of course.

Jamie Oliver’s restaurants have a family friendly ethos (as you would expect from an authentic Italian background) and the children’s menu offers organically sustainable fish fillets organic chicken and sausages.

Fresh fruit or ice cream is available as a dessert for them.

Exterior of Jamie's Italian, Cardiff
Jamie Oliver’s Restaurant, Cardiff

The restaurant is light and airy with an atmosphere which encourages good conversation and lingering over a cappuccino.

In fact, the Husband and I had only eaten there a week or so ago, greatly enjoying the daily special of Slow Cooked Belly Pork.

Funnily enough, I had not had the pasta there, until today when it quickly became clear that I have been over-cooking tasteless shop bought pasta for years!

Gennaro (who incidentally as of 2014 holds the Guinness World Record for the most ravioli made in two minutes, assembling 24 parcels to beat Gino D’Acampo’s previous record of 22), made a batch of fresh pasta with breathtaking speed.

He assured us we could do the same using the simple ingredients of 150 g 00 flour, 50 g semolina and 2 medium sized eggs.  (You can watch Gennaro make pasta here).

Gennaro Contaldo making pasta
Mix eggs, flour and semolina for pasta dough
Gennaro Contaldo mixing pasta dough by hand
Mix by hand

Of course, given the number of covers Jamie’s copes with each day, a pasta machine is used for speed but the dough mix is the same.

The Pasta Machine

Then it was our turn and I was quite proud of my tagliatelle nest. Much better than my attempt at being a barista at Wyndham Tea Room.

A proud culinary moment!

Before we were whisked off into the kitchen, we had an opportunity to ask Gennaro some questions and, of course, mine was a subject dear to my heart, how to encourage children to eat healthily.

Having children of a wide range of ages, from grown up to eleven, and seeing how Jamie encourages his children to eat, Gennaro suggested blending vegetables into the passata for a pizza topping but, in general, recommends creating an atmosphere where children learn to love and appreciate food.

His philosophy is that cooking is a form of love;  we show our children love when we invest in the time to cook fresh, healthy ingredients; to make our own pasta; to sit down around a table and share a family mealtime.

He believes that when we take the time to educate ourselves about cooking, we create a legacy for our children to pass on.

“Imagine”,  he said, “taking your children to a restaurant and them saying, mama, you make better pasta at home”. [Believe me, I was imagining this with all my might!]

Then it was into the kitchen to show his students how delicious, healthy, family meals could be assembled in minutes.  Yes, minutes.

Take a selection of fresh vegetables & herbs

Gennaro created three dishes for us, a tagliatelle with tomatoes, chillis and basil, spaghetti with a trio of mushrooms (button, oyster and porcini) and cod with white wine, pancetta, anchovies, capers and tomato accompanied by crusty bread.

Of course, the pasta was the fresh pasta we had just made.

Incidentally, the recommended portion sizes for adults are 74 g of uncooked pasta and around 46 g of uncooked pasta for children.

The restaurant portions served are bigger though, to satisfy the appetite of the hungriest pasta lover.

Each dish was full of flavour, whilst tasting fresh and light.

The pasta was served al dente, literally cooked in a couple of minutes (note to self: not boiled to death in a saucepan).

The garlic was chopped into quite generous slices rather than finely chopped or minced – again for its health-giving properties.

The tomatoes were roughly chopped.

The cod was simply seasoned and fried in olive oil for a couple of minutes.

Tagliatelle with Tomato & Basil

We learned that olive oil should be extra virgin and not to worry about using it because it is much better for us than butter.

Also, tomatoes should not be kept in the fridge.

No idea why I do this but Gennaro says it makes them taste like cucumber.

The deliciously earthy tasting Spaghetti with a Trio of Mushrooms

 

Three amazing dishes in a matter of minutes

Then it was time for lunch and it was difficult to know which dish to choose first.

The tomatoes with the tagliatelle were sweet but added a welcome bite,  the mushroom spaghetti was deliciously earthy and the cod melted in the mouth.

Far away from the standard tea time fare of fish fingers and baked beans prone to appear in the Hobbis household and cheaper and quicker to assemble too.

“Have you tried pasta with truffles?”  Gennaro asked, brimming over with a passion for his dishes.

We admitted we hadn’t and within about four minutes flat, he reappeared with yet another tasty dish.

Tagliatelle with Truffles

In a way, this dish captures Jamie’s and Gennaro Contaldo’s ethos about good food being made available to everyone at a reasonable cost. Gennaro told us that a comparable dish in London would cost around £45 but here it was around £12 for a main sized portion and £6 for a starter sized portion.

Our time with Gennaro was at an end but as we parted, he reminded me of his philosophy for cooking for children. “When you cook for your children, it’s about love, education, passion”.

Love.  Education.  Passion.  And pasta.  Lots of pasta.

For further information about Gennaro Contaldo, please visit www.gennarocontaldo.com. Gennaro’s latest book, Slow Cook Italian was released on 5th February 2015.

*post contains affiliate link

My Son Is A Hamster And Other Suspicions

Right.  I’ve blummin’ well had enough of my two fussy eaters now. The husband has legged it to his annual jolly (or ‘sales conference’ as he refers to it) and, whilst he is building camaraderie by walking up snowy mountains in Canada, I am going quietly mad trying to feed his offspring.

fussy eaters - retro housewife with a baked sponge
I had hoped that, by now, both Caitlin and Ieuan would be vacuuming up food to nourish their ever increasing frames. To be fair, Caitlin will try most foods and is pretty good at eating – as long as you have about 90 minutes to spare for each meal.

Ieuan is STILL vegetable averse, although he claims to eat carrots and broccoli in school and has developed the trick of hiding pieces of food in his cheeks to make it look like he is eating.

Last week, I presented him with a plate which had a salad consisting of a microdot of cucumber and a slither of greenery and he promptly burst into tears. Hamster-boy will eat fruit till it comes out of his ears but we have got into the bad habit of designing meals around what he may, or may not consume. This makes meal planning for our fussy eaters nigh on impossible unless we eat pizza or curly pasta on rotation.

Caitlin and Ieuan at tea time
A temporary lull in tea time hostilities

Caitlin has a fear of peas but will eat olives. Ieuan’s food of choice would be Quavers. Now I know you are all probably tsk-tsk-ing at this point, but short of sitting on them and feeding them intravenously, I am a woman short of a strategy.

Some would make them sit there until they eat and reserve the hated dish for each subsequent meal. Some would just remove the uneaten food but offer nothing else. I find myself worrying that they may starve or wake up hungry, ignoring the fact that they are both already so tall they reach my chest.

I watched the BBC’s Eat Well For Less programme recently which featured various families and looks at how they can reduce their shopping bills whilst not compromising on the taste and quality of their food. I was transfixed not by the advice being handed out (although I recognise I have a weakness for a BOGOF and yellow stickers call to me from miles away), but by how the children ATE ALL THEIR FOOD. They were not fussy eaters.

Not only did the kids eat but they managed to do so in about 30 minutes – not the hourly endurance test the Husband and I have to sit through.

The Husband finds it equally hard to deal with and after half an hour of cajoling, threatening and pleading, resorts to shouting “eat, eat” like a malfunctioning robot.  I caught the kids shouting “eat, eat” at one another behind our backs the other day which adds fuel to the Husband’s suspicion that, as usual, we are being “royally played”.

Still, I’m not giving in. I have just bought Nadia Sawalha’s “Fabulous Family Food” and will be trying out old-fashioned cottage pie (Ieuan hates mashed potato – go figure) and other family favourites because our current family menu plan is duller than a rainy bank holiday Monday.

I’m not expecting them to turn into foodies overnight but, since Ieuan is given a pot of strawberry jam for his chicken nuggets when we go to Cafe Rouge (as bribery so he’ll eat them), something needs to be done.

How do you deal with your fussy eaters?

Review: A Star Is Quorn

Being a regular reader of the Daily Mail online, I have the opportunity to enjoy a positive cornucopia of health related scare stories which demonise a food group (or, more usually alcohol) one week and then sing its praises the next.  

Like most of us, I have what can best be described as a rather ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ approach to health and nutrition. 

That said though, there are some simple common-sense ideas which even the Daily Mail would struggle to turn into five paragraphs of hysteria and a picture of a journalist writing from a Boden-covered semi in Primrose Hill.  

One of these rules is to eat less meat on the basis that it is better for us, better for our animal friends and ultimately better for the planet.

Whilst, here at Downton Shabby, we have not quite managed to adopt “meat free Monday”, I have flirted with vegetarian cookbooks and when we were given the opportunity to try out some Quorn, it seemed like the ideal time to test Mo Farah’s rocket fuel.

 Quorn Mince

Quorn is meat free and made with mycoprotein.  

It is also low in fat and a source of fibre.  

We need protein to maintain normal bones and muscle mass and consuming less saturated fat helps to maintain normal blood cholesterol levels.  

Quorn is now the leading meat free substitute in the UK and Ireland and, since its launch in 1985, is now sold in over 16 countries.  

We tried the mince which is cooked from frozen in either 12 minutes on the hob or 9 minutes in a microwave – extremely quick and easy.

There is a range of products made from Quorn and the website contains a number of easy to follow recipes.  

Whether you fancy burgers, sausages, chicken pieces, a hearty chilli, shepherd’s pie or spaghetti bolognese, there is a recipe for every taste – these being also available on a free ios app for your mobile.

Just some of the products in the Quorn meat-free range 

We tried Quorn spaghetti bolognese using the recipe on the website and despite my rather limited lack of cooking skills, I found the recipe simplicity itself.  

The true test, of course, would be to serve my meat free dish to the rest of the family to see if they would notice.

Quorn, straight from the freezer

The Quorn itself does not have a strong taste but is easy to cook with and so it is easy to add flavour using herbs and even a dash of red wine.

A tasty meat-free spaghetti bolognese


So easy, even I can make it

Both the kids and the husband cleared their plates expressing surprise at how tasty it was.  I have to say that I noticed very little difference between a meat and a non meat bolognese.

No complaints here!


We are now looking forward to trying the sausages and burgers and plan to make Meat Free Monday a regular event in the Hobbis Household.    

I will certainly be keeping a bag or two of Quorn mince available for those days when a speedy nutritious tea is needed.  

A 350g bag of frozen Quorn mince retails at around the £3 mark making it a comparable price to minced beef.

Further information is available at www.quorn.co.uk.

*Vouchers were received for the purchase of the products featured in this review.

Halal – No News Is Not Good News

The kids love to go to Pizza Express as a treat so it was with not inconsiderable disappointment to learn that all their chicken is Halal. Readers of the great tome of outrage (The Daily Mail) have been regaled all week by various infographics showing who sells Halal meat (not forgetting of course similarities with Kosher food requirements), together with helpful information about whether the animals are stunned first.

For those unfamiliar with the traditional Halal method of food preparation, the slaughter of the animal should be performed by a Muslim who must invoke the name of Allah. The animal should then be slaughtered by cutting the throat without severing the spinal cord and the blood from the veins must be drained [source: Wikipedia].

Leaving aside any religious issues, this method of slaughter is pretty revolting although, as Janet Street Porter remarked today on ITV’s uncomfortably lightweight lunchtime current issues show “Loose Women”, if you eat meat it is your responsibility to understand where it comes from and how it is slaughtered. I have heard many stories about the equally terrible treatment of cattle in abatoirs.

What is really galling, though, is the fact that our Food Industry considers it quite alright to keep its consumers in the dark or, on the part of some of our restaurant chains, to court the business of a particular segment of the UK on the basis of its religious preference. You can bet that Christians would not be shown the same consideration.

Actually, I think, for all the puffery and outraged quacking of the Daily Mail commentators, this is not a religious issue.  It’s about trust. We trust our Food and Catering Industries to treat its customers with respect and honesty. Poor old Jamie Oliver is regularly pilloried for pointing out the disgusting content of chicken nuggets but he really had a point.  

As parents, some of us (and I am guilty of this) just coast along trying to avoid those products we know are bad for our kids (e.g. any trans-fat / sugar combo, fizzy drinks, high sugar juices), but we fail to ask the really important questions – where does our food come from and, in the case of meat, what conditions and slaughter methods are used. 

I really hope this does not become an issue which results in a lack of respect being shown to any religious faith but rather acts as an enormous wake-up call for parents to start asking difficult questions and, in the case of some fast food establishments, voting with their feet.

Giveaway: A Selection of Goodies From Good Hemp

I always thought that Hemp was something rather New Age and used for knitting sandals but actually it seems that hemp oil and seeds are good for us, containing half the saturated fat of olive oil and with 25 times more Omega 3 – particularly important for kids.

The lovely people at GOOD Hemp grow their hemp on their Devon farm from which they produce Good Oil, a 100% cold-pressed hemp seed oil, GOOD SEED shelled hemp seeds and GOOD HEMP Milk alternative. 

They tell me that GOOD Oil is great for festive cooking as it has a delicious nutty flavour and makes excellent roast potatoes – and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall is a fan. 

GOOD products are also approved by the Vegetarian Society

So, if you would like to try this healthy alternative to cooking oil, GOOD Hemp Food have kindly given me a selection of their delicious hemp products to give away. 

The prize includes a 250ml bottle of original GOOD Oil, a selection of 4 flavours of GOOD SEED shelled hemp seeds, rich in protein and Omega 3,which you can eat as a snack or sprinkle on cereals, soups and salads, and a carton of GOOD HEMP Milk, a dairy free alternative to milk and soya containing 50% of the recommended daily intake of Omega 3 per glass and with no cholesterol.

Entry is via the rafflecopter below and the usual terms and conditions apply. 

The giveaway ends at midnight on December 31st 2013 so you can embrace a healthier you in the New Year (well, that’s always my intention!).

Further information at www.goodwebsite.co.uk.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

We Made A Hash Of The Princes Corned Beef 20 Minute Challenge

Somethings are indisputably British. Afternoon tea, bad weather, being rude about all the other entrants to the Eurovision Song Contest and dancing around castles and stately homes (the latter may just apply to my relatives).

We are very fond of anything involving pastry or custard and cope with all national emergencies by putting the kettle on.

A firm family favourite is corned beef hash. Easy and quick to make, nicely warming and filling and popular with young and old alike.

Princes Corned Beef

A British Classic – Princes Corned Beef In Three New Varieties

Princes, the Nation’s favourite corned beef brand has done something jolly daring and launched a new range of corned beef with three new flavour combinations – with chilli, with mustard and with onion and dared us to create something inspirational with the new flavours in just twenty minutes.

So it was over to The Husband to do his best Jamie Oliver impersonation in the kitchen and he chose to prepare corned beef hash with onion.

Unfortunately I have been banned from the kitchen due to the last baked potato farago where the hedgehog I lovingly created for the kids looked like it had already been run over.

But I digress.

Hi tech mulching and hashing bloke style

After much faffing with a potato ricer (no idea why such a gadget was invented) and hiding various mulched vegetables in the vain hope of getting a modicum of nutrition into Ieuan, The Husband proudly presented his corned beef with onion hash.

Is it hash or is it the surface of planet Oki Doki?

No Sunday afternoon being complete without a marital tiff-ette or two, this was the point at which I was designated sous chef and tasked with the onerous challenge of putting the baked beans in the microwave.

Just 7 minutes. I ask you. I’m an artiste for heavens sake.

We then assembled the crack tasting panel who had already half-inched the patriotic box the corned beef came in to fill it with random doll body parts and broken jewellery as per usual.

The Tasting Panel

I’m afraid we didn’t quite make the 20 minute challenge – we made it in 25 and the hash was extremely tasty. The addition of the onion definitely perked up the flavour and the kids cleared their plates in record time.

Happy kids.  Note, this is not what Ieuan looks like when given anything green

We really liked the combination of corned beef with onion and are looking forward to trying the other versions in sandwiches this week. For a quick, easy, substantial meal, you can’t beat it.

Princes new Corned Beef varieties are available at Sainsburys priced at £1.99, and are currently on offer for £1.50.

Further information at www.princes.co.uk

*PR samples were sent for the purpose of this review.

Review: Nakd Snack Bars

The arrival of a box of lovely Nakd snack bars for us to try was extremely timely. Having just lapsed in the ways of confectionery over the weekend, viz one Twix and one Kinder Bueno whilst stranded at Hereford Railway Station (don’t ask) and having left The Husband in charge of the snack cupboard (or as the Domestic Goddess Nigella Lawson herself, would refer to it  “The Gillian McKeith“, far too much fat and sugar was consumed by us all.

Box of Nakd snack bars

A Box of Nakd Gorgeousness

The Nakd range of snack bars (made by Natural Balance Foods) includes Cocoa Mint, Banana Crunch, Cocoa Crunch, Strawberry Crunch, Caffe Mocha, Ginger Bread and Cocoa Orange.

Their ingredients are fruit, such as dates, nuts, such as cashews, fruit juice to bind and the odd touch of natural flavouring, e.g. natural mint and chocolate in the Cocoa Mint bar.

The bars are 100% natural, gluten, wheat and dairy free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. They are also an excellent source of protein, as much as 18% in the case of some of the bars, such as the Banana Crunch bar.

In terms of calories, for example, the Banana Crunch bar is 108 calories and the Cocoa Orange bar is 145 calories. Much better than, say a four finger KitKat which weighs in at around 233 calories. This makes a Nakd bar a much healthier choice.

Caitlin and Ieuan testing Nakd snack bars

Caitlin & Ieuan tuck into the Banana Crunch bar and the Cocoa Orange bar

The acid test was to employ the kids as taste testers. As I’m sure you know, kids are brutally honest about what they do and don’t like and both of them made short work of their bars. The Husband and I tested Cocoa Mint which was rich with dates and cashews and had a lovely fresh mint flavour.

As Natural Balance Foods say “a typical cereal bar can contain as many as 30 ingredients, many of which are completely unrecognisable and several of which are actually just various types of sugar. Despite what it says on the pack we all know that these heavily processed, syrup-laden and additive-filled cereal bars are not really ‘healthy’ at all!”

Nakd snack bars are ideal for lunchboxes and keeping at the bottom of your handbag for bribery purposes when your children decide to have a monumental melt-down in the middle of John Lewis, or from keeping you away from the overpriced confectionery stand in your local train station!

Further information about Nakd snack bars and other healthy products can be found at www.naturalbalancefoods.co.uk.

*PR samples were sent for the purposes of this post.

Review: The Great Fragata Olive Caper

The lovely people at Fragata sent us some of their succulent olives, caperberries and capers to try, including Fragata olives stuffed with anchovy and Spanish caperberries.

Fragata Olives

Now, hands up, the intention was that I would get all creative in the kitchen and I did think very seriously about knocking up something with a Mediterranean flavour.

This plan was scuppered in the first instance by the fact that, in this house, we love to snack on olives. Caitlin loves them too – possibly slightly odd for a 5-year-old but then, that’s the Hobbis household for you.

Fragata olives stuffed with anchovy

These were extra large olives stuffed with anchovies and very moreish they were too. Plus, I think olives should be classed as a superfood, being a key component of the Mediterranean Diet.

According to Patient.co.uk, if you follow a Mediterranean diet for a number of years, you can reduce your risks of developing heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Mediterranean Diet is rich in vegetables, fruit, peas, beans, grains and small amounts of chicken and fish. There is little red meat and most fat is unsaturated and comes from olive oil and nuts.  A small amount of red wine has also been shown to increase the health benefits.

Spanish Caperberries

We then progressed to the new experience for us that is …. the Caperberry.

Fragata olives - Spanish Caperberries

A Caperberry is, and I’m sure this will not come as a surprise, a berry from the Caper plant. They are oblong, semi-green fruits about the size of a grape.  They have a slight lemony taste but are much milder than capers, which are actually the immature buds of the same Caper plant.

You can use sliced caperberries in recipes which use capers for a milder taste. They taste tangy and have a surprising crunch.

I have seen recipes which suggest they could be cut in half and filled with cream cheese which I will bear in mind for canapes at my next candlelight supper (ahem).  To be frank, I suspect their natural home is at the bottom of a Martini glass.

Now, I did promise the folks at Fragata that I’d include a recipe so, since we’ve eaten the olives and I’m keeping the capers to task the Husband with knocking up something Mediterranean if he can be lured away from curry, here is a recipe which uses caperberries.

Linda’s Martini Recipe

1.  Fill shaker with ice
2.  Add 50 ml Dry Gin
3.  Add 5 ml Dry Vermouth
4.  Shake or stir depending on whether you’re a James Bond fan
5.  You may want to strain it at this point.  No.  I thought not.
6.  Stick Caperberry in the bottom of the glass
7.  Swig elegantly.

Cheers m’dears!

Further information at Fragata.co.uk

*PR samples were sent for the writing of this post.