The Dairy-Free & Egg-Free Challenge!

You grew up drinking milk, eating eggs and cheese – but could these products in your diet actually be causing health problems like weight gain, lack of energy, high cholesterol, and lactose intolerance? If these symptoms sound familiar, going dairy and egg-free could be the best solution to feeling and looking better! Try this 6-day challenge!

Day 1 – NO MILK!

The first step of the plan is quite easy – replace milk with a non-diary alternative! According to a recent article on ‘BBC’ you can try almond, hemp, soy or rice milks – which are virtually free of saturated fat and cholesterol. They are available for around £2 pounds in major grocery shops. Also, don’t forget to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D and calcium; eat a daily serving of green vegetables like kale or broccoli. Additionally, spend 15 minutes in the sun every day!

Day 2 – NO YOGURT!

In the second day of your challenge, replace yogurt with non-dairy yogurt made from soy, rice coconut or other non-dairy milks. According to a recent study by ‘Medical Daily’ you should look for options containing Probiotics. (Probiotics are organisms such as friendly bacteria or yeast that are proven to improve health). After a few days on this plan, way will notice clearer brighter skin, and improved energy!

Day 3 – NO ICE CREAM!

This may be really tough! However, the good Doctor Oz says, that there are lots of non-dairy frozen desserts available which we can consume to satisfy our cravings! One good example is – ‘Almond Dream’ dessert!

Day 4 – NO CHEESE!

For some individuals, scalloped potatoes just aren’t the same without a topping of cheese!  Admittedly, creating a good dairy-free cheese is not an easy task.  Some soy cheeses (particularly the most popular ones) do in fact contain dairy.  Nonetheless, there are a few good quality brands on the market, and even one that is soy-free and receives high ratings, ‘Daiya’. If cheese flavour is really all you are looking for, try some nutritional yeast.  It tastes much better than it sounds, and offers a Parmesan-like flavour to most meals!

Day 5 – NO BUTTER!

Butter is one dairy product that is quite possibly the most frequently used in many classic cooking and baking recipes, so finding a substitute that works well is important! Here is a list of some dairy-free butter alternatives:

  • Soy margarine
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil

Day 6 – PIES! (NO EGGS!)

Kool Cakes’ offer egg-free cakes suitable for a whole range of celebrations and events, so you can still enjoy great taste without the need for eggs in your cake! According to Dr. Thomas Behrenbeck, chicken eggs are high in cholesterol, and a diet high in cholesterol can contribute to high blood cholesterol levels!

In summary, health benefits of milk and other dairy products are widely touted, but it is certainly possible to obtain all of the body’s essential vitamins and minerals without drinking cow’s milk or including any dairy (and eggs) in the diet. Dairy avoidance, whether required because of food allergies or as part of a chosen vegan diet, provides its own dietary benefits as well!

The Great Value of Shopping Around

Food and FamilyFood shopping is becoming increasingly expensive and it is making it more difficult to go to one store and buy everything at once, like the good old days. Some people do not have time in their busy schedules to go to five/six different shops, to shop for groceries but it is certainly worth it. Shopping around can save you hundreds of pounds every year, and it does not have to be a painful process.

 

  • Make a list – make a list of what you need and stick to it! Do not get carried away or sucked in by the offers. Offers are cleverly designed to make you spend and buy more of something that you would not usually need. On the other hand, if you know that you will use it, then it may benefit you to go with the offer. If you are particularly bad at lists check out Grocery IQ, a fantastic app that even allows you to scan barcodes for price comparison.

 

  • Choose a butcher – the meat is of better quality and there usually will be meal days for a certain price. This will give you the variety of meat you are looking, and if you do not think you will use it all before it goes off, freeze it. Alternatively, online butchers are becoming increasingly popular and have a fantastic price range. Check out Newboulds Butchers who will deliver your meat to your door. Always enquire at your local first and then compare prices with the online options.

 

  • Specialist shops – if you are a fan of world cuisines, go to the smaller shops that sell specific produce from their home country. Shop Spicy have a fantastic range of spices and Indian food that they import directly, therefore you are getting a true taste of the culture. Most towns or local markets will have shops or stalls, selling food from the world and it will be considerably cheaper than the larger supermarkets. Polish, Indian, and Middle-Eastern cuisines are extremely popular here in the UK, therefore you are sure to either find shops online or close by.

 

  • Market Stalls – your town market is fantastic for picking up cheap groceries. The fruit and vegetable stalls will be the most beneficial as they are reasonably priced, cheaper than the supermarkets and will more than likely have come from a short distance away. If you do not have a local market, take the time to visit one near to see if it is worth your time and effort to make the trip once every week. Check out the National Market Traders Federation, a simple website that will find a market near you.

Most of your grocery shopping can be done online now and this is a fantastic option. It will allow you to shop at different places without having to move off your comfortable sofa. My Supermarket will get you the best deal from the larger supermarkets by price comparing as you choose your order.  It’s seven shops in one, doing the hard work for you. When you shop around, you will have little groceries to get in the larger supermarkets by this point, and have already saved lots on your weekly shop.

Top Tips For Feeding A Family

Trying to decide what to feed your family on can sometimes be really frustrating. It’s easy to just grab the nearest thing from the freezer and pop it in the oven, but that’s not always going to be the healthy and cheapest option. Most parents want to feed their children a balanced and nutritious diet, but not go over the top on the spending, so to achieve this you are going to have to give it a bit of thought.

Lots of ideas can be found by searching the internet and some sites will enable you to download a family meal planner to help you out. I’d say one of the first considerations to make is the type of food your family like best, as it’s no good spending hours producing wonderful dishes that they turn their noses up at. It’s also a good idea to consider food which is in season which will be cheaper to buy than something that is imported from across the other side of the world. Pasta, rice or potatoes are cheap and filling options and can form the basis of many family meals, and if your children won’t eat vegetables then why not disguise them by adding them to a pasta dish blended into a sauce. They won’t even realise they are eating them.

I find a great way of keeping costs down when food shopping is to sit down at the beginning of each week and make a list of meal ideas. You can then write a shopping list for the whole week’s meals, just buying a few fresh ingredients when necessary. You’ll probably have lots of store cupboard ingredients anyway to keep the cost down. You may think that it’s going to take to much time to do, but over the course of the week then it’s going to be far more convenient than asking “what do you want for your tea?” each day.

Finding the Right Wine

I’m quite happy to admit that my knowledge of wines is extremely limited. I’m not a regular wine drinker and whilst I’ve certainly enjoyed a quite a few types of wine whilst with meals in restaurants, I’ve never really understood what makes certain wines complement certain types of food.

This hasn’t really been much of an issue for me up until now. I have a forthcoming family wedding where I have been asked to provide the catering. It will be quite a low key affair, with only 25 guests invited to the wedding breakfast, I know that I am capable of catering for that number of people; and I know I can put together a good menu that would equal that of any professional caterer. Where I come unstuck is with the choice of Wines.

Researching my topic provided varying results. I found and article that seemed pitched directly at me on the askmen.com website. Its title is 5 wines you should know and it provided me with some handy information as a starting point. I found a great info-graphic at winefolly.com which really is worth taking a look at it’s also accompanied by a list of 5 guidelines for pairing the right wine with your food.

Ultimately my experience and knowledge of the wines listed is just too limited and getting it right on the day of paramount importance. I’ve decided that I need to bring in specialist help. I spoke to a company that not only has the great knowledge of wines but also specialises in wine delivery.

I was able to discuss the menu with them in detail and they were able to suggest the right wines that would complement the food perfectly. Choosing to hand this over to a specialist supplier was the right decision on this occasion. I can now concentrate on my speciality; the food. The research that I undertook has proven useful and I’ll be trying out a few of these wines to compliment my cooking when there’s not quite so much at stake.

Compare The Market

 

Although the allure of a supermarket can be easily related to its convenience, when it comes to shopping for fresh, seasonal produce, your local chain supermarket shouldn’t always be the port of call.

There has been somewhat of a revival when it comes to market shopping and local markets up and down the country have sprung up due to more people opting to see what they have on offer.

People don’t always realize that buying from a supermarket can be a lot more expensive than buying food from your local market, especially when shopping for food in season. A study found that shopping at a supermarket can be up to 35% more expensive than shopping at your local market

Supermarket shopping can also be contributing a lot more to your carbon footprints than shopping at a local farmers market or greengrocers as many supermarket goods are imported to drive down costs and maximize profits.  Consumer behaviors has significantly changed in recent years. This is largely due to financial stresses the economy with many people opting for supermarket own brands over branded products and supermarkets expanding their own brand range.  Though this is a positive move, the one place  supermarkets continue to fail in is through their fresh produce.

Market shopping can also help you improve your cooking skills by building a relationship with the market stall owners and asking their advice on cooking particular foods in season which you wouldn’t usually be drawn to in a supermarket.

Eating seasonal foods have also been shown to improve health and many seasonal products contain a higher level of nutrients than force grown foods.

So, why not save money, improve your cooking skills, support your local farmers and explore what your markets have to offer instead of dashing to the supermarket when you’re low on fresh produce? To find out where your local markets are why not visit www.localmarkets.org 

 

Nuts: the new superfood

 

Nuts have a bad reputation as an indulgent, calorific snack.  Often strewn across pub bars and covered in an adulterated amount of salt this can be the case; however choosing the right sort of nuts for you can be the first steps to healthy snacking, reduced appetite and other health benefits associated with this age old health food which now has super-food status.

Many nuts are cholesterol free, vitamin packed and energy filled making them the perfect snack food.  With the Government’s focus on healthy eating made clear this year by them backing a new campaign Change 4 Life and a higher focus on sugars and fats in popular foods, finding healthier versions of snack foods and breaking existing myths about foods have never been more important.

Here’s a quick run down on the attributes of the best nuts for different purposes.

Pistachios 

This exotic nut, often food in Indian cuisine- especially in deserts, has a mild aromatic flavor.  the nut is high in mono saturated fats, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.  Potassium is particularly important to regulate bodily fluids while the protein thymine helps regulate appetite. This is great if you’re trying to diet for weight loss.

The average serving size is 18 grams which equates to about 30 nuts. Do not exceed more than 3 servings a week.  Pistachios make a great addition to homemade bread and muffins, sprinkled into natural yogurt or stirred into a homemade vegetable curry.

Cashews

Cashews are often seen as the worst offender when it comes to nuts, but eaten raw and not oil or honey roasted and in moderation, these nuts can help red blood cell production and absorption of essential minerals.

The average serving size is 18 nuts and unless you’re aiming to gain weight. You shouldn’t exceed more than 2 servings a week.

Raw cashews taste great stir fried with bean sprouts and given an East Asian flavor- however avoid creamy takeaway kormas and pasandas which use cashews and almonds as it’s base but are often laden with saturated fats and high in cholesterol due to their cream content.

Almonds

Almonds have been recognized as a health food for many hundreds of years.  Used a lot in Persian cuisine and Indian food, these high calorie nuts have been pressed for oil for cosmetic as well a gourmet use and is associated with brain building an intelligence in many cultures.

Almond milk is a big health food trend at the moment with some versions containing less calories than skimmed milk and these nuts have been proven to reduce the impulse to snack.

Almonds are a great food for 11-25 year olds the average serving is about 25 grams for an adult. Blanched almonds are tasty added to porridge to provide a different texture or added to a granola mix for some extra nuttiness.

Avoid:

Walnuts – although eaten in moderation they can be tasty and good for you only five of these nuts equate to one serving due to their very high fat content.  They can lead to wait gain if eaten too much and should only be eaten to replace other high fat foods in your diet.

Brazil nuts- although a complete protein (like those found in animal meat) these nuts are also quite fatty so should be eaten in moderation

With all nuts, avoid if they’ve been roasted with oil, high sugar contents like honey roasted nuts or covered in salts.  This will reverse any health benefits the nuts naturally have!

 

 

 

fish

Health Benefits of Eating Fish and Seafood:

In today’s world, more and more people are actively concerned about their health, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and ensuring that they are pursuing the healthiest lifestyle they can.

An important aspect of living a healthy life is to have a healthy diet. Your diet and what you eat everyday can have a massive impact, not only on your weight but your overall health and wellbeing.

This is why the popularity of cooking and eating seafood at home, and on a weekly and in some cases daily basis has risen over recent years. More people are aware of the research which has taken place over the past few decades which has shown that the amazing nutrients and minerals, which seafood is full of can make improvements in brain development and reproduction, along with many other amazing body enhancing properties. This has highlighted for many, especially those with children, the importance of regularly having fish and seafood in their diets.

The health benefits of including fish in your diet are amazing, and highlight why it is important to introduce children to eating fish from a young age to ensure that they will eat it as part of their diet in the future. Some studies, into the health benefits of eating fish and seafood have shown that including fish as part of your regular healthy balanced diet, can even help with the symptoms of arthritis, and other studies have shown that the older members of our society who eat fish and seafood at least once a week could have a reduced chance of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The benefits of eating fish and seafood are undeniable, fish is high in minerals such as zinc and iodine which are essential for keeping the body running smoothly. All of these health benefits, and it tastes great, what is not to love about eating fish and seafood!

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It Doesn’t Have To Cost A Fortune To Eat Healthily

When it comes to eating healthily and eating meals which taste fantastic as well, many people have the common misconception that it’s going to cost them more! For some reason, many people have the idea in their heads that it’s cheaper to eat processed pre-packaged meals than cook up their own healthy grub, however, in many instances, this isn’t the case at all! In fact, we often recommend cooking healthy meals yourself as a method of how to save money for families alongside getting some decent food inside you! It’s amazing how great home cooked food tastes and, thanks to the wealth of food based TV shows, more and more people are realising that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to eat healthy, home cooked meals and that it can also be an awful lot of fun cooking and baking!

Next time you’re tempted to order a takeaway, stop yourself! Instead of ordering a pizza or a kebab, nip to the local shops and buy the ingredients to make yourself a home-made soup or even a spaghetti bolognese. Trust us; you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to cook some of your favourite meals from scratch and how great they actually taste! You don’t need to be the next Heston Blumenthal in order to cook up a brilliant tasting meal and there’s literally thousands of recipes which you can find online at places like the BBC Good Food website to ensure you never run out of ideas of what to cook!

In fact; why not set yourself a challenge. Put together a meal planner for you and your family and see if you can cook all your meals for the next 7 days from scratch…yep, we mean breakfast, lunch and tea! It’s a challenge to switch from purchasing ready cooked food to doing everything yourself, however after completing the challenge, you’ll realise how it’s not only cheaper to make your own meals but that in many cases, it tastes better too!

What are you waiting for? Put together your meal planner for the next week, get yourself to the supermarket to buy all the ingredients you’re going to need and get your chefs hat on!

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Electrical Appliances

Most modern kitchens will contain a number of electrical labour saving devices making life easier and food preparation less time consuming. In the days before electrical appliances were widely available activities in the kitchen tended to take much longer and often required a great deal of
effort. However, with such a range of labour saving devices available today food preparation is no longer the immensely time consuming task it once was.
Kitchen appliances can be purchased from a number of different retailers and many electrical items are available very cheaply. However, the popularity of high quality premium kitchen appliances has increased somewhat in recent years and people are now prepared to spend extra cash on higher quality goods. For example, you could easily purchase a cheap kettle from a supermarket for around five pounds, but many would rather spend their money on high quality goods such as a Dualit Kettle.
There are a number of high street stores that specialise in the sale of premium kitchen appliances, and this is where many people will buy goods such as a Dualit Kettle. These goods are also frequently available from large department stores with a focus on high quality goods.
In some cases people will opt to purchases the more expensive higher quality kitchen appliances simply to improve the appearance of their kitchen as items such as a Dualit Kettle often have an aesthetically appealing design. However, the high quality of these goods is undeniable and they will last you for many years unlike a great deal of the cheaper appliances that are available.

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Kitchen Equipment

When preparing some seafood dishes you may find that the recipe you’re following will require you to use a specific piece of equipment that you don’t have. The perceived complexity of preparing seafood and the assumption that many people
have that they do not have appropriately stocked kitchens will often put many people off even attempting to cook seafood dishes. However, just because you think preparing seafood might be difficult doesn’t mean it actually is. Although its certainly true that specific pieces of equipment might be useful in the preparation of certain seafood dishes in many cases you can get away without using this equipment, or improvising with something else.

Getting through the shells of certain types of seafood might present a problem for some people who don’t have the appropriate gear in their kitchens. However, some ingenuity and a sharp knife should probably suffice. Just be very careful not to slip and cut yourself.

It’s important when preparing seafood dishes to try and use the freshest ingredients available to you. Fresh seafood generally tastes a lot better and choosing high quality ingredients is certainly a much more important factor when cooking seafood dishes than ensuring you may a very specific piece of kitchen equipment.

If you’d like to try your hand at preparing some seafood recipes then you’ll find that there is a great deal of information freely available online. Start off with something simple though before you attempt anything too ambitious.