Category Archives: recipes

My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 7

It has been a while since I last gave you an update on how things are going with trying to reduce waste, in particular plastic. I felt I suffered a setback whilst we were on holiday recently. It seems much more difficult when you out of your own zone. Things started going wrong from when we stopped at the services for a meal en-route. We all opted for different fast food outlets and my other half was the only one who got his meal on a china plate with proper cutlery. So thumbs up to Harry Ramsdens for that. The rest of us ended up being served with disposable tableware. I don’t see why they couldn’t all follow Harry Ramsdens lead.

We were doing a house swap to the Wirral and our host had written a note regarding what could go in the recycling bin. Basically cans, glass, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard. So much more limited than what we can recycle at home. No plastic trays, yoghurt pots, etc. I had heard previously that recycling varied from council to council, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this restricted. And no food waste bins either. Although we had a lovely holiday, sadly I sent significantly more to landfill that week than usual. And of course, I didn’t know where to shop locally for least plastic waste, especially when we had to dash straight to the supermarket on arrival to buy a cabbage to feed their tortoise. We opted for Morrisons, but no plastic free cabbages in sight. I later found out that sadly the local greengrocer had closed down permanently, so no options for fruit and vegetables other than the supermarkets.

water bottle

Also I was very saddened when taking part in a race in beautiful countryside to see single use plastic water bottles discarded littering the route. Several issues come to mind here. Firstly bring your own reusable bottle to carry with you. The run was only 10k and it was a cool day. I didn’t need to hydrate whilst running at all, although admittedly my time was almost twice that of the leaders. Secondly if you do take a bottle from the water station en-route, hold onto it until the end of the race and then recycle it. Obviously not viable for a marathon when you will need to hydrate multiple times, but fine for this kind of distance. And thirdly, perhaps the race organisers could consider other options to plastic bottles, such as compostable paper cups. The goody bag was another area that could be reconsidered, as it was one of those plastic drawstring bags. How about a cloth bag instead.

And here’s a recipe I promised to share for grapefruit cake, made when I was thinking of ideas of what to do with grapefruit and orange peel. The recipe also requires grapefruit juice as well as the zest. Since I had eaten the whole grapefruit, I used bottled grapefruit juice, which I have been buying from the milkman anyhow. But you could squeeze the juice from the grapefruit for this recipe.

Grapefruit Cake

Grapefruit Cake

Ingredients

100g date sugar
Zest of 1 large grapefruit
100g greek yoghurt
200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
50ml olive oil
3 eggs
50ml milk

And for glaze
20g date sugar
50ml grapefruit juice

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a loaf tin.
Grate the zest from the grapefruit.
Mix together yoghurt, date sugar and grapefruit zest in a large bowl.
Whisk in the eggs.
Sieve in the flour and baking powder
Mix in the olive oil and milk.
Spoon mixture into lined tin.
Bake on middle shelf of oven for about 30 minutes, testing that a skewer will come out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile mix together date sugar and grapefruit juice for glaze.
Make holes in top of cake with a skewer.
Pour glaze over cake slowly, allowing to soak into holes.
Serve and enjoy.

Grapefruit Cake

Grapefruit Cake
I’ve got bagfuls of citrus and vegetable peelings in the freezer. I tend to pop a handful of vegetable peelings in for crisps whenever I have the oven on. But more recipe suggestions for these would be very welcome. I’ve also been saving seeds out of melons, peppers and butternut squash. Wondering which of these can be eaten or would they grow, if I try to plant them?

And finally I’ve just helped crowdfund for Plastic Free, Tree less, Natural, Toilet Paper from Ty Mor. See details here. I’ll let you know what it is like once it arrives.

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Super Nutrition by Terry McIlroy plus giveaway

I have received a free e-copy of the cookery book Super Nutrition by Terry McIlroy to review.

Super Nutrition by Terry McIlroy

Here is the book blurb.

We have all uttered these phrases at one time or another:

“Your health is your wealth.”

“You are what you eat.”

Deep down, we all know, that what we choose to eat and drink has a massive impact on our health.

Confused about your nutritional needs? Not anymore! With a clear focus on sourcing the right ingredients, including condiments, herbs, spices & organic produce, we can all take advantage of, and unlock thepowerful nutrients within them, to try and ensure that we are not insufficient or deficient in any given vitamin, mineral, macro or micro-nutrient, whilst tryingto reduce our toxic load, thus easing the burden on our body’s natural ability to detoxify itself and restore homeostasis/balance. This book gives you the tools and knowledge to structure your diet and help you strive towards optimal health, with totally unique, delicious, health giving recipes, so you can enjoy the ride.

Start your new journey to health and happiness here NOW! Grab a copy of Super Nutrition today and take control of your health once and for all, shed those unwanted pounds, balance your blood sugars and heal your gut with nutritional therapy

Terry McIlroy has taken well-known, popular dishes and transformed them into nutrient dense powerhouse meals, just by making a few ingredient swaps with modern twists, such as his New Dehli Fritatta, Carrot Cake Smoothie, Mixed Mushroom, Almond & Tarragon Soup, Curried Quinoa Taboulleh Salad, Proper Spelt Bread, Southern Fried Chicken, Millionaires Shortbread and of course Fish ‘n’ Chips.

I’ve always loved recipe books, but I found that this book is much more than just recipes. In the introduction, we find out how some simple dietary changes cleared up life-long mouth ulcers and acne for the author, who was already a qualified chef, inspiring him to next enrol on a nutrition diploma. He has created nutritionally balanced recipes which can benefit everyone.

The author shares his top 10 health tips. Some great advice here. I’m certainly going to focus on choosing organic where possible.

There are sections on Epsom salts, pink Himalayan salt, apple cider vinegar and raw honey plus we are reminded of the importance of planning and preparation, before we reach the recipes. However I have to say although raw honey sounded excellent, I am none the wiser as to what is raw honey and what is not raw honey. I’m guessing that the honey I usually buy from the supermarket falls into the latter category. It does say that raw honey is not suitable for children, but again doesn’t say why.

The book also includes an extensive list of cooking equipment, although I have to say even with a large kitchen, I think I would struggle to find room for 6 different types of juicers / mixers!

A great selection of recipes for juices, breakfast, smoothies, salads, soups, breads, lunches, snacks and dinners along with a rainbow of photographs that certainly got my taste buds watering.

However I was a bit mystified by the weekly meal planner proformas at the back of the book as to why there were two as they were both blank. One entitled example weekly meal planner and one entitled my weekly meal planner. Was the example planner supposed to have been filled out. Would be good if it was, as that would be extra helpful.

Super Nutrition is newly published on Amazon today, currently priced at £17.99 in paperback or £5.99 in Kindle format. A great cookery book which is so much more than just recipes.



Of course I had to test out one of the recipes. I decided that I would try my hand at making some tortilla wraps, a staple in our household but something I’ve never made myself before. Here is a copy of the page from the book. Click on the image to enlarge.

Tortilla Wrap

I had been meaning to buy some spelt flour for ages to try out, so I added that to my shopping list. And pink Himalayan salt is another new ingredient for me. The book lists plenty of health benefits of pink Himalayan salt, recommending that you switch plus I learnt that regular table salt is heavily processed.

ingredients for tortilla wraps

Wow I never realised that wraps could be quite so simple to make. Okay mine don’t look very professional as they are not pristine circles. But I frequently buy wraps and lately I have been feeling guilty as I haven’t been able to find wraps without plastic packaging. Although unfortunately the recipe does say to wrap the dough in cling film. A single-use product that I’m trying to avoid. Shame to see single-use products mentioned in a new book.

tortilla wraps

tortilla wraps

tortilla wraps


About the author

Terry McIlroy is a Professional Chef with over 27 years experience within the culinary industry. He is also a Nutritionist/Nutritional Therapist, specializing in the field of Naturopathic Nutrition. He has inspired many with his passion, knowledge, creativity and flair in the kitchen, As an Executive Head Chef, whilst running several businesses. During his clinical experience he transformed the lives of all of his clients, giving them Nutritional, Supplemental and Lifestyle protocols to follow, all of whom reported dramatic improvements in their health and wellbeing, after implementing his bespoke diet plans, and lifestyle changes.

Terry has combined his Culinary and Nutritional Expertise to produce his inaugural Book ‘Super Nutrition’ which is set to inspire and transform the lives of millions. He offers, (never before seen in one piece of work) unique Health & Wellbeing Advice, Tips and Recipes, Arming the reader with the tools to take control of their health, and live a vibrant, happy life.


Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a paperback copy of the book to one lucky winner. Think of the tempting dishes you’ll be able to try making.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’m participating in the blogtour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts to see what they thought of this book too.

Super Nutrition by Terry McIlroy

I’d love to hear what healthy recipes you enjoy?

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 6

Since becoming more conscious about plastic, I’ve found that I’m making much more frequent small shopping trips to our local high street to visit the butcher, greengrocer and baker, plus going further afield to a zero-waste store. However my purchases do still need to be topped up by a visit to the supermarket from time to time. So I thought I’d share with you what I’ve managed to find plastic-free at the supermarket. I’ve tried Sainsburys and Tesco superstores and a much smaller Co-op.

So starting with the obvious – fruit and vegetables. Although a lot is bagged in plastic, they all have some loose, which I take my own produce bags along for. However I have heard rumours that the sticky labels on loose produce like mangos and avocados may be plastic. Anyone know if that is true? Also it then depends on the supermarket, as to whether you have to weigh the produce yourself and get a barcode price label or if it can be weighed at the till, needing no label. These labels are paper but again you shouldn’t put them in your recycling bin, as the stickiness could jam the recycling mechanism. I didn’t know this until recently. Previously I assumed any paper could go in the recycling bin. I’ve now learnt that quite a few shouldn’t. I may feature this in a future post.

#plasticfree shopping

Another obvious one is the likes of eggs, flour and sugar in their paper packaging. And up until now, I had thought tins, drink cans and jars were a safe bet, apart from those jars with an annoying plastic lid or the superfluous plastic seal around the lid. Totally unnecessary in my opinion. So I had been pleased to find items like passata and coconut oil in jars. But sadly today I read here that the tins, drink cans and metal jar lids are mostly coated on the inside with plastic to avoid corrosion, and not just any plastic but BPA. I’m now getting alarm bells ringing, with regards to potential health risks. Sounds like I will need to rethink my shopping.

#plasticfree shopping

Moving on to the deli counter at the superstores. Sainsburys were not obliging at all, but Tesco will wrap the deli produce in paper for you if you ask them. More sticky labels again. However they wouldn’t go one step further and let me put it loose into my cooler bag. I’m not sure whether this type of paper is either recyclable once washed or compostable. It feels very smooth as if it may contain some type of coating. Anyone know?

#plasticfree shopping

And another partial win is the bakery counter. Larger items seem to be already packed in cellophane window bags, but the smaller items like rolls and croissants I put in my own produce bags.

#plasticfree shopping

Now for some of the items that you may not know about. In the freezer section, items like these veggie burgers and kievs in the picture, along with fishfingers and potato waffles are just in cardboard with no hidden plastic. And i’ve found that Boursin cheese is packed in foil inside cardboard. And Gü desserts are in glass ramekins inside cardboard. I’ve been taking the ramekins to the charity shop.

But then there are items I’ve bought, which look like cardboard, but I have a feeling that they may be mixed materials. Unfortunately the packaging gives no indication. This applies to quite a few brands of ice cream tubs. I’m still searching, so does anyone know of an ice cream that is definitely in just cardboard?

What plastic free foods and drinks have you found at the supermarket?

And here’s a recipe I promised to share for crackers, an item I haven’t managed to find plastic free in the shops. The same story with biscuits, so if anyone has located either of these, please do let me know.


Crackers

Crackers

Ingredients

200g wholemeal plain flour
Salt and pepper
50ml olive oil
100ml cold water

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease baking trays.
Weigh flour into a mixing bowl.
Season with salt and pepper.
Mix in the olive oil.
Mix in the water to form a ball of dough.
Cut small pieces of dough and press each piece onto greased baking tray as thin as possible.
It will probably make more than you can fit on your baking trays, so cook in batches.
Cook for 10-15 minutes in preheated oven until crackers are crisp.
Cool on cooling rack.
Serve cold with cheese or your choice of accompaniment.
Enjoy.
Store in an air-tight container.

Crackers

Crackers

As always, I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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Beef Koftas with a Yoghurt Dip ad

Britmums have challenged bloggers to take the #MeatMatters Challenge to cook a quick and easy (under 30 minutes) beef or lamb dish. And as one of the first 100 to sign upto the challenge, I received a free £10 Tesco giftcard to purchase ingredients.

Recently I’ve been buying my meat from the local butcher instead of the supermarket in an attempt to reduce my plastic waste. The butcher wraps the meat in paper rather than plastic. However on my previous supermarket visit, I did find that Tesco offered to wrap deli items in paper rather than plastic, when I asked if they could put them straight in my cool-bag. This was much better than Sainsburys who had previously refused under “health and safety” grounds.

So I was hoping that paper would also be an option on the fresh meat counter in Tesco too. However I was unable to put this theory to the test, as unfortunately the counter was empty due to a “technical” issue at the store. So I had to resort to the meat aisle with all its plastic.

Meatballs

I had been mulling over a few recipe ideas involving different cuts of meat, but in the end, bearing in mind that the remit was to cook a meal in under 30 minutes, I opted to buy beef meatballs. Yes I could have bought mince and made my own meatballs, but that would have taken longer to prepare. Also the meatballs were already seasoned, saving a bit more time.

And rather than just cooking son2’s favourite spaghetti and meatballs, I decided it was time to try making something I’ve never made before, namely koftas.

Beef Koftas with a Yoghurt Dip

Beef Koftas with a Yoghurt Dip

Ingredients (serves 4)

Pack of 24 meatballs
150g natural yoghurt
2 tsp chopped mint
10g cucumber

Method

Assemble 3 or 4 meatballs onto a metal skewer, tightly together.
Repeat with all the other meatballs.
Place all the skewers onto a George Foreman grill and cook for 10-12 minutes, rotating the skewers by 90 degrees halfway through, so that all sides are cooked evenly.
Alternatively cook under a standard grill, but you will need to rotate them 3 times.
Meanwhile chop mint and dice cucumber finely.
Spoon the yoghurt into a large ramekin.
Stir the mint and cucumber into the yoghurt.
Serve, with your choice of accompaniments.
Enjoy.

Beef Koftas with a Yoghurt Dip

I chose to serve this with couscous and a simple lettuce and carrot salad. The couscous was made with stock and seasoned with turmeric, ground coriander, salt and pepper.

A very healthy meal as any fat from the meat drains out from the grill. Very tasty and so quick and simple to make. Thumbs up from all the family.

This dish could easily be made using lamb meatballs instead.

And did you know the following:

  • Beef / lamb are naturally rich in protein
  • Lamb provides four essential vitamins* that help reduce tiredness and fatigue
  • Beef is a source of iron which helps reduce tiredness and fatigue
  • Lamb provides seven vitamins and minerals** that support good health and well-being
  • Beef provides eight essential vitamins and minerals*** that support good health and well-being

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This post is an entry for the #MeatMatters Challenge, sponsored by Simply Beef and Lamb. Learn more about the benefits of cooking and eating beef and lamb along with recipe ideas and inspiration here!

Disclosure. This post mentions products I purchased using a giftcard that I was sent for free. All opinions are my own. This post is classed as an advert because of the requirement to include the #MeatMatters hashtag.

My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 5

It has been a little while since I last gave you an update on my progress with reducing plastic and overall waste reduction generally, so here’s my latest news.

No more junk mail

The “no junk mail” sticker on the front door seems to be working very well. The only things we now seem to be getting in addition to our post are the local monthly village magazines. That is if you don’t count items for the previous resident and I’ve been labelling those “moved away, return to sender” for years now! I’ve started considering each piece of post, as to whether we actually do need it or whether we can ask the sender to cancel. I was impressed that National Trust have started using compostable wrappers for their magazines, but even so I decided this fell into the category of unnecessary post. I’ve therefore mostly unsubscribed, although apparently we will still receive the Autumn edition due to it including AGM voting papers. Can’t say I’ve ever looked at the details of their AGM or plan to in the future either, but never mind, I’ve made a step in the right direction. Also it took two attempts to unsubscribe as apparently the request had to come from member 1 and I was member 2 in our household.

National Trust compostable packaging

However I did fail on trying to unsubscribe from the mail shots our local garden centre send out. I have a loyalty card with them and when I asked on my last visit, apparently you can’t have one without the other. She said “it’s only 8 times a year”, but that is 8 unwanted pieces of post. I did try to suggest they move their mail shots to email, and she did say that they would think about that. So I’ll just have to wait and see.

And on the food shopping front, I’m still guilty of bringing more plastic into the home than I wish. Some things we have been going without in the hope that I will soon find a plastic free alternative. But others are key to our regular weekly shop, particularly biscuits, crackers and fruit bread. I’ve been trying to bake these more often, but as I work full-time, sometimes there just isn’t the opportunity. And when I think I’ve baked a large enough box of crackers to last all week, I then find son1 has managed to polish them off in a couple of days. He’s like a bottomless pit when it comes to food. Today I made a large bowl of popcorn and he alone ate almost the entire lot in less than 5 minutes.

I’m gradually finding plastic free alternatives, so I now get yoghurt in glass jars from the milkman, along with my other deliveries. But unfortunately the milkman seems to have reverted to putting things inside plastic bags. It was all paper bags in January so I don’t know why. I keep asking the dairy to tell him that I don’t want the plastic bags, but the message doesn’t seem to have got through. I haven’t actually met him yet, as he usually delivers well before we wake up.

However some of my successes like plastic free butter and houmous have been discovered in other towns rather than my local high street. So this brings into debate, the question of my carbon footprint. I don’t feel I can justify driving over 5 miles just to buy some butter.

Plastic free butter

One trip I do plan to make further afield is to the new zero waste store which has just opened. I need to get all my containers lined up and ready. I’ve heard it even has freezers, which is excellent news as we have run out of some of our staples like frozen peas and sweetcorn. We much prefer the frozen variety to tinned.

I’ve also continued to keep a careful eye on what goes into my food waste bin. We have two of these, a small kerbside bin and an even smaller windowsill one. Previously I would always chuck everything into the windowsill one initially and then transfer it outside every couple of days. But now I’ve started putting anything like chicken bones straight into the outside bin. This way I can choose to tip the windowsill bin into our garden compost bin, along with some of the compostable paper waste I’ve been saving for this purpose. A mixture of green and brown each time, although I’m not sure how long it will take to decompose for use in the garden. But hopefully this will reduce the number of bags of compost we purchase in future.

Also I’ve made my own equivalent of marmalade, out of orange pulp saved from our juicer along with orange peel.

Zero Waste Marmalade

Marmalade

Ingredients

250g orange pulp
40g chopped orange peel
200ml cold water
50g fruit sugar

Method

Chop the orange peel into small strips.
Place orange pulp and peel in a large saucepan.
Cover with water and add sugar.
Bring to the boil.
Reduce to a simmer.
Cook for a further 10-15 minutes until it has thickened, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile bring another saucepan of water to the boil.
Carefully place jars in the boiling water for about 5 minutes to sterilise.
Remove with tongs.
Spoon marmalade into hot sterilised jars.
Allow to cool.
Serve on buttered toast or bread.
Enjoy.

Zero Waste Marmalade

This made about a jar and a half. Naturally I used jars that I had saved. This marmalade looks a different colour to regular marmalade and I believe that to be due to the pith also being present in the pulp. It also had a much more bitter flavour as I had used less sugar, plus the cooking time is shorter so the peel is a more dominant taste still.

So overall gradually moving in the right direction. And I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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A duo of vegetarian TVP recipes plus giveaway

Regular readers may remember that I made some delicious healthy chocolate puddings earlier this year using ingredients I received free to review from Buy Whole Foods Online. I have now received some more products free to review from their online shop. This time I received two types of TVP (textured vegetable protein) in the formats of mince and chunks.

TVP (textured Vegetable Protein) or soya

This year I’ve been thinking a lot more about sustainability and one thing I’ve been focussing on, is can our family eat less meat and dairy? As an ex-vegetarian, I’ve easily implemented returning to a vegetarian diet at lunchtimes, either at home alone or in our excellent work canteen. However it isn’t so easy when catering for the whole family. My other half is very resistant to the idea plus we’re also restricted by my youngest son being very fussy about what he will and won’t eat.

I therefore decided to take two of son2’s favourite meals, namely spaghetti bolognaise and chicken nuggets and use the TVP to cook vegetarian equivalents. Last year we successfully swapped using shop-bought jars of bolognaise sauce for passata in an attempt to reduce sugar. What would he think this time?

So firstly here is my recipe for the Bolognaise.

Vegetarian Bolognaise

Vegetarian Bolognaise

Ingredients (serves 4)

100g dried TVP mince
boiling water
1 vegetable stock cube
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
500g passata
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
250g wholewheat spaghetti

Method

Place the dried TVP in a large bowl.
Crumble the stock cube into a jug.
Pour on the boiling water and stir until dissolved.
Pour sufficient stock over the TVP to cover it.
(Any spare stock can be stored in the fridge once cool for a few days for use in another recipe).
Leave to stand for about 20 minutes for the TVP to absorb liquid.
Once the TVP is ready to use, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil.
Meanwhile peel garlic and squeeze through garlic press.
Add spaghetti to the saucepan and cook for about 11-13 minutes.
Gently heat oil in a wok.
Add garlic to wok and cook for about 1 minute.
Stir in the TVP.
Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
Stir in the passata and cook for about 8-10 minutes.
Drain the spaghetti and serve topped with the bolognaise.
Enjoy.

Vegetarian Bolognaise


And secondly the nuggets.

Vegetarian Nuggets

Vegetarian Nuggets

Ingredients (serves 3)

40g dried TVP chunks
250ml boiling water
1 vegetable stock cube
1 clove of garlic
1 slice of stale bread
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Method

Crumble the stock cube into a jug.
Pour on the boiling water and stir until dissolved.
Squeeze garlic through garlic press and stir into the stock.
Add the TVP chunks to the jug.
Leave to stand for about 20 minutes for the TVP to absorb liquid and double in size.
Meanwhile tear the bread into pieces and put in blender.
Whizz the bread into crumbs.
Tip the breadcrumbs into a flat dish.
Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
After about 20 minutes once the TVP has doubled in size, drain off any liquid which remains.
(This liquid can be stored in the fridge for a few days for use in another recipe).
Dip the chunks in the breadcrumbs, ensuring they are fully coated.
Gently heat oil in a frying pan.
Cook the nuggets for approx 4 minutes on each side, turning once.
Serve with your choice of vegetables or salad.
Enjoy.

Vegetarian Nuggets

So verdict on the recipes. Son2 was happy with the Vegetarian Bolognaise but the Nuggets did not hit the spot for him. Son1 liked both though as did I. In fact I found the nuggets delicious with my salad. The boys have agreed going forward that we will alternate between a traditional meat bolognaise and a vegetarian version.

In fact, both these recipes are not only vegetarian, they are actually vegan, so long as you don’t serve grated cheese with the bolognaise.

Here are the links to the two products I received. They come in a range of sizes from 500g to the bulk 15kg.

Textured Vegetable Protein – Plain Chunks (TVP) 500g – made from 100% soya beans.

Textured Vegetable Protein – Plain Mince (TVP) 500g – made from 100% soya beans.

I was pleased with both these products and am now thinking up my next recipe. I did ask the boys for recipe suggestions. I wasn’t too convinced when son2 said how about in a banana milkshake but son1’s idea was to put some of the mince on a pizza. I’ll certainly give that a try as I usually make him a pepperoni pizza, whilst son2’s pizzas are already vegetarian as he won’t try anything except Margarita.

I can’t comment on cost comparison, as I haven’t seen these products elsewhere previously. It is great how versatile these can be. It is like having a blank canvas as the TVP absorbs the flavour of whatever you choose to cook it in.

And one other point to note. Don’t misread the chunks pack like I did initially. I thought it was implying that one cup of chunks would need 7 to 8 cups of water. It actually meant seven eighths of a cup, so in the end I decided it was simplest to do a 1 to 1 ratio. However that was after deciding to only rehydrate a small quantity of chunks, as I assumed they were going to massively increase in size. In fact they hardly increase at all.

Finally a mention about the packaging. As it hasn’t been that long since my earlier post, I wasn’t expecting any change yet. And true enough both of these products were again in plastic, even if it is BPA free plastic. I’m still hoping Buy Whole Foods Online will review their product packaging and switch to a paper-based solution.

I do recommend that you take a look at the Buy Whole Foods Online store. There is a huge amount to choose from.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a pack of both TVP products from Buy Whole Foods Online to one lucky winner. You’ll certainly be able to get creative in the kitchen with these.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your recipe suggestions using either of these products.

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Family Fever

Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Meatballs with Mozzarella

Regular readers may remember that I hosted a ketogenic guest post from Sarah Peterson last year. I didn’t really know much myself about this style of eating previously, so did some reading up around the topic. Basically in a nutshell, it seems to be following a low carbohydrate, high fat, adequate protein diet. This inspired me to come up with the following recipe for Meatballs with Mozzarella, although I may have overdone the protein element, so not strictly keto. The recipe was mainly targeted at my other half who has been trying to avoid eating pasta. And since I regularly cook either Spaghetti and Meatballs or Spaghetti Bolognaise because the boys both love these, the no pasta request can prove quite tricky.


Meatballs with Mozzarella

Meatballs with Mozzarella

Ingredients (serves 4)

800g pork mince
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 egg
50g breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic
500g passata
1 400g tin of plum tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
150g mozzarella

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 degree C.
Beat the egg in a large bowl.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add mince, breadcrumbs and half of the oregano.
Stir together.
Form into 12 large meatballs.
Squeeze garlic through garlic press.
Cut the mozzarella into 12 slices.
Gently heat oil in wok.
Brown the meatballs in batches in the wok, removing them to a plate.
Add garlic to wok.
After 1 minute, add passata and plum tomatoes to the wok.
Roughly chop the plum tomatoes in the wok.
Add balsamic vinegar and rest of the oregano.
Season with salt and pepper.
Return the meatballs to the wok.
Cook until the sauce reduces and thickens.
Spoon into a baking dish.
Top each meatball with a slice of mozzarella.
Bake on middle shelf of preheated oven for about 30 minutes.
Serve and enjoy.

Meatballs with Mozzarella

So verdict on these. They hit the spot for my other half, but the tomato was too dominant really for the boys. Looks like we will need to cook some spaghetti too in order to soak up some of the sauce for the children, in which case I would probably reduce the meat content.

Meatballs with Mozzarella

I’d love to hear your ideas for meals where pasta can be added at the end to some portions only. And how you then bulk out those portions without pasta?

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My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 4

Another update on my progress with waste reduction. This week I’ve been focussing on reducing  what goes into my food waste bin. So I’ve been saving the likes of orange and grapefruit peel and zest, potato peelings and the pulp from my juicer. Some of these are waiting in the freezer still, but so far i’ve enjoyed a nice refreshing cup of grapefruit tea and used orange pulp in my soup. And we’ve had potato peel crisps, apple pulp pancakes and a grapefruit cake. All including stuff that i would have previously just binned.

Zerowaste cooking

Here’s how to make the grapefruit tea and the potato crisps. I won’t be blogging the soup recipe, as most of my soups are just whatever is to hand in the fridge at the time. So this one besides orange pulp, also had some outer leaves from a cauliflower, a carrot, some savoy cabbage, leek, garlic, quinoa, stock and turmeric. But I will try and share the cake and pancake recipes at a later date.


grapefruit tea

Grapefruit Tea

Ingredients

Peel from 1 grapefruit
1 litre water
1 tsp agave nectar

Method

Tear the grapefruit peel into small pieces.
Place in a large saucepan with the water.
Bring to the boil.
Turn off the heat and cover saucepan with lid.
Steep for 1 hour.
Pour into a jug through a sieve.
Stir in the agave nectar to sweeten.
Reheat if desired.
Pour tea into mugs.
Serve and enjoy.

Grapefruit Tea

I did have quite a bad cough at the time I made this tea and found it quite soothing for that too.


potato crisps

Potato Crisps

Ingredients

Peel from potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt

Method

Preheat fan oven to 200 degree centigrade.
Tip the potato peels onto a baking tray.
Drizzle oil over the potato peels.
Sprinkle the salt over the potato peels.
Turn the potato peels several times until they are well coated in the oil, making sure they are spread well out over the tray.
Cook in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, until crispy and starting to brown.
Serve and enjoy.

Potato Crisps

I’ve also been cooking more things from scratch, that I would previously have just bought at the supermarket, which I haven’t managed to find not in plastic. So I’ve baked crackers for the first time and made my own humous, as these are items that we eat a lot of in our household. Recipes to follow in due course.

houmous

#plasticfree crackers

And a few more wins on the packaging side. I’ve discovered Two Farmers crisps which come in compostable packets. I had to order 24 packets online, so they are taking up rather a lot of space in the cupboard, but I’ve since heard that my local zero waste store is going to start stocking them. Result, as I’ll be able to buy in smaller numbers, once we finish munching our way through this lot. The only other product I know in compostable packaging is Wallaroo fruit snacks, so I would love it if you could point me in the direction of any other brands who do this please.

Two Farmers crisps

Also you may have heard me complaining recently about the pointless plastic wrappers on cucumbers. I’ve now found a local greengrocer who stocks baby cucumbers with no plastic. Unfortunately they do work out significantly more expensive, but I had to bite the bullet, as cucumber is son2’s favourite vegetable. I plan to try my hand at growing my own later in the year. Wish me luck with that, as I’m not very green fingered. Overall, I’ve noticed that my grocery bill is definitely higher by me trying to avoid plastic. Luckily I can afford this, but it will be very hard for those on a tight budget.

baby cucumbers

And it is frustrating when things don’t go to plan like the other day when I ordered a cardboard box of wonky potatoes from the milkman. Apparently it was out of stock, so he substituted it with not one but two plastic bags of potatoes. And disappointingly it is not the first time that I’ve experienced a plastic issue as regards fruit and vegetables from the milkman. I ask myself should I buy all my vegetables at the greengrocer instead, but then would they be too heavy to carry, as I walk there. Trying to minimise use of car unnecessarily, so it is a difficult balance to choose between.

There are still quite a lot of products that I haven’t come up with a plastic free answer yet. A few of the key ones for us are cheese, creme fraiche and frozen peas. A friend told me that one of our local butchers stocked large blocks of cheese that you can get a piece cut off. So I duly went along, only to find the cheddar block had already been cut up and the pieces packaged into plastic.

So it is still a bit one step forward, two steps back, but overall I’m happy with the change. And I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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Cheesy Courgette Chips

Do you struggle like me to find ways that your children will eat vegetables? As they both love my chicken nuggets and turkey dippers, I thought that I would try something similar with courgette, a vegetable that is on their black-list, to see what they thought. It is also a great way of using up leftover bread. I’ve always made my own breadcrumbs, but now I’ve started to save all the leftover bits of bread in a bag in the freezer for this purpose, in an effort to reduce food waste. We do end up with quite a few crusts, as son2 won’t eat them, always insisting they are cut off the edges of his sandwiches.

Cheesy Courgette Chips

Cheesy Courgette Chips

Ingredients (serves 4 as a side)

1 large courgette or 2 small courgettes
1 or 2 slices of stale bread
40g cheddar cheese
1 egg
25g plain flour
salt and pepper
30ml sunflower oil

Method

Chop courgette into batons.
Tear the bread into pieces and put in blender.
Whizz the bread into crumbs.
Tip the breadcrumbs into a flat dish.
Season with salt and pepper.
Grate the cheese.
Mix grated cheese into the breadcrumbs.
Crack the egg into another flat dish.
Beat egg with a fork.
Shake flour onto a chopping board.
Coat the courgette in flour.
Then dip in the egg, coating thoroughly.
Finally coat in the breadcrumbs.
Gently heat oil in a frying pan.
Cook the courgette for approx 4-5 minutes on each side, turning once.
Serve and enjoy.

Although I enjoyed these, unfortunately the boys didn’t, so back to the drawing board.

Cheesy Courgette Chips

I’d love to hear your ideas for ways to introduce vegetables to your kids. And do they enjoy them?

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Braised Red Cabbage

Until a few months ago, I had never tried making this, but it really is a tempting dish for winter and such a vibrant splash of colour on the plate too. Previously I always used to buy it from Cook, but so pleased that I can make it myself now, as I’m aiming to buy less ready-made products. I’ve now made it several times, including as one of the side dishes for our Christmas dinner.

Braised Red Cabbage

Braised Red Cabbage (serves 4-6 as a side dish)

Ingredients

half a red cabbage
2 rashers of bacon
1 medium onion
1 eating apple
2 tbsp olive oil
75ml balsamic vinegar

Method

Chop the red cabbage into small chunks.
Cut the bacon into small pieces.
Peel and chop the onion into small pieces.
Gently heat olive oil in a large saucepan.
Add bacon and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add onion and cover saucepan with lid.
Cook for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile peel and core the apple, then cut into small pieces.
Add red cabbage, apple and vinegar.
Cover saucepan with lid again.
Simmer gently for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
Serve hot as a side dish.

Braised Red Cabbage

This tastes delicious. Real comfort food for winter.

Also this can be made ahead of schedule if desired, and will keep for a few days in the fridge. It can then be reheated.

I’d love to hear about your favourite comfort foods?

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