Spanish Floods

ALL CHANGE: catastrophic floods in Spain over the winter months are likely to result in a shortage on some of our much loved vegetables.

With almost 80% of our winter veg coming from Spain, and with almost two thirds of some crops being destroyed, it looks like we may have to be a bit more creative with what culinary delights we rustle up in the kitchen.

Expect to see a shortage in salad leaves, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli and courgettes to name but a few. Similarly, expect to see a reduction in fresh herb availability.

The helpful chaps at Total Produce have given some pointers on what veg alternatives you can trial;

  • Brassicas: All kales, including cavolo nero and purple sprouting broccoli, romanesco
  • Roots: celeriac, beetroots, artichokes
  • Cabbage: hispi, sweetheart

The Total Produce January Market Report 2017

With alternatives available, perhaps we should see the shortage as a challenge to try new things?

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Welcome to 2017

  1. Reducing sugar

This had a large focus in 2016, and it looks set to continue in 2017 with the Government emphasising the importance of its reduction too. As a result, expect to see products such as vegetable yoghurts becoming more popular – oh yes, put that sweet breakfast yoghurt away and pick up a savoury yoghurt. Here’s hoping they taste better than they sound!

  1. Low & no alcohol drinks.

Although it may not have felt like it on Sunday morning, we are a generation that drink less than the last, and put an emphasis on the quality of the type of alcohol as opposed to the quantity.

With an increase in people wanting to catch up over a late night coffee or maybe even a mocktail – maybe this year will see more late night cafes and maybe even a non-alcoholic bar?!

Chances are we’ll see an increase in non-alcoholic spirits such as Seedlip, the world’s very first – https://www.seedlipdrinks.com/

  1. Sea Vegetables

 

  1. Zero Waste –

We’re on a mission of reducing food waste that is set to continue into 2017. Expect to see an increase in restaurants using perfectly health and edible ‘waste food’ to create more culinary masterpieces.

  1. Healthy Snacks

I’ve always been one for grazing ALL day as opposed to focusing on three set meals. Gone are the days of three meals and no snacking – so wait to see more sharing small plates and healthier high-protein bites or snacks to keep us grazing all day long!

  1. Poke Bowls
  2. Health Fast Foods

Eat Seasonal: Autumn 

The trees are changing colour with beautiful hues if auburn and orange taking over, and as the leaves start to fall off the trees, there’s no denying it – Autumn is finally here. 

This part of the year always brings along mixed emotions for me, partly of sadness that the summer is now over, and partly of excitement for the cold, dark nights sat infront of an open fire or the evenings spent catching up with friends over a hearty stew or casserole. Cliche they both may be, but for me they represent Autumn at its best. 

For food lovers everywhere this time of the year has plenty to offer, with the selection of seasonal produce being vast and enticing. At a time when hibernation seems like the only way to go, why not spend some of those chilly evenings experimenting with the seasonal produce that our country has to offer?

Seasonal produce

A few of my favourites for Autumn are; 

Vegetables: Beetroot, Broccoli, Butternut Squash, Celeriac, Chicory, Kale, Khlorabi, Leeks, Runner Beans, Salisfy, Shallots and Sweetcorn 

Fruit: Apples, Elderberries, Figs, Pears, Quince

Meat: Game such as Goose, Guinea Fowl, Hare, Partridge, Pheasant  and Pigeon

Not only does seasonal produce tend to be cheaper as it is in abundance, but also contains mainerals and nutrients that your body needs for the specific season – need I say any more! 

CLEAN EATING: PART 2

So, you’ve heard why ‘clean eating’ deserves at least a second thought, but how to hop on the bandwagon without falling straight back off? As we’ve eluded to in the last post, we’re now busier and busier, meaning that the time set aside for cooking and preparing food has dramatically fallen. Thankfully ‘clean eating’ doesn’t have to be as time consuming as you may think – and now many cafes, supermarkets and restaurants have realised the benefits and offer a wide range of delicious and satisfying foods that will nicely fall into the bracket of ‘clean’.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be looking at how you can eat clean without resorting to a diet of celery and carrot sticks, we’ll have a look at a few simple recipes, what chefs and other bloggers are saying, and what to look for when buying food.

Probably the most important thing I’ve learnt over the past 8 months is to be realistic, and if you really want something – just have it! Or, to try and find a substitute that satisfies your craving. Granted this won’t always work, so if you really can’t live without that packet of crisps, then don’t punish yourself. Just try to avoid doing it every day.

Other easy tips to help you are;

1. Choose food in it’s pure state

This is probably the easiest way to know exactly what you’re putting into your body – the fewer ingredients in the food you buy, the more confident that you can be that it’s ‘clean’

2. Eat seasonal as much as you can

I’ve raved about eating seasonal here before. Eating seasonal means that you’ll be likely to reduce the amount of chemicals pumped into your produce and you’ll also be reducing the amount of air miles – thus saving the planet one carrot at a time (heroic some would say!)

3. Try to shop local

The link between this and eating ‘clean’ isn’t always that obvious, so let me explain what I mean by local. If you can try to support your local fruit & veg shop, your local butcher and your local baker, you’re less likely to mindlessly throw some naughty snacks or processed food into your trolly– simply because there aren’t really any sold at these shops. The dreaded ‘middle-aisles’ of your large supermarket which are full of far too much temptation will be a thing of the past (at least until you walk past the local sweet shop!). If this isn’t possible, then just try to avoid the middle aisles of your chosen supermarket…just….don’t…even look at them – not even a sideways glance…you can do it!

4. Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

Wherever possible, try to prepare as much of your food at home – specifically your breakfasts and lunches. Lunchtime particularly is such an easy time to fall off the wagon with that ready prepared sandwich from the shop next door. If you have a ready prepared fresh lunch in the fridge – I promise you’ll be less likely to nip out for a quick bite to eat.

5. The Eating Out Rule

Ok, so this may be a bit naughty, but life’s for living – right?! The last thing you want is to be dictating exactly where you eat out with your friends every time you see them. So, ease off the rules slightly when you’re going out for food – that’s not to say that a little bit of restraint shouldn’t be exercised, so just try to eat as close to ‘clean’ as you can. Oh, and this isn’t to say that you should be eating out every night too!

EATING CLEAN

Over the past century, the type and variety of food in our diet has changed with many chemicals and unknown ingredients being snuck in. In a world of busy people requiring quick meals and instant snacks, we’ve seen an increase in salts, sugar, refined carbohydrates and trans fats. Way back when, we evolved on a diet of unprocessed, natural foods, and as a result, our bodies are incapable of dealing with many of the products that we idly throw into them today.

The Main Culprits in ‘processed food’

Salt

The amount of salt in many processed foods can actually be shocking if you take the time to look at the nutritional information on the packaging – with many unsuspecting meals being jam-packed with over half of your daily recommended allowance.

Sugar

It’s no coincidence that people like Sarah Wilson have risen to fame advising about sugar and the affects that it can have on our health. I think it’s safe to say that this needs to be a topic on its own, and so there will be more to follow on this shortly.

Preservatives, Emulsifiers and Stabilisers

Removing these from my diet was the first step that I took to eating unprocessed. If you look at the packaging on many foods, you’ll see ingredients that I doubt you’ll be able to recreate easily in your kitchen – and some that you may never have even heard off! These are potentially harmful chemicals that are used to increase the longevity of various foods available on our shelves – but at what cost to our bodies?

The above shouldn’t come as much surprise to many of us, the information is clearly out there already, and we have enough people telling us what we should and should not eat.

But, what are the benefits to clean eating?

There are hundreds of claims about the advantages of clean eating, but I think its safe to say that the results are specific to each person, and the only way to find out is to just give it a go! The main things that I’ve noticed are; weight control, having more energy, improved digestion and a general sense of wellbeing (it may be me getting on my high horse!).

Immunity

Many clean foods can improve your immune system – for example blueberries are known to have excellent qualities. The quality that we are generally looking for is a high level of phytochemicals. Foods to look out for; apples, grapes, cocoa powder, cherries, tea, wine (yep, you heard that right!), walnuts and many more.

Weight control

I’m not going to harp on about this one, as I don’t think that it’s a good reason to eat clean. However, it deserves some recognition. It is agreed that nutrient-rich foods can keep your metabolism on its feet. Eating foods full of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants as opposed to processed chemicals can avoid spikes and falls in blood sugar as well as improved digestion.

Allergens

In a world where allergens and intolerances are becoming more recognised and understood – what easier way to ensure that you know exactly what’s going into our bodies by eating clean?

Up Next: How to Eat Clean….

Now Open: Pi Shop


Thursday marked the opening of Pi Shop, the latest venture by the Sanchez Brothers.

The new pizzeria has set up shop next door to its older sibling, Casamia at The General, a beautiful and relaxed setting overlooking the boats at Bathurst Basin.

The interior of Pi Shop creates a relaxed Italian feel with Pi Shop describing it as ‘Napoli meets Bristol’. Featuring a large wood fired oven and an open-plan kitchen; you could be forgiven for spending more time watching the specialist pizzaioli at work (yes, apparently that is the term for pizza chefs!) than actually sitting at your table.

Pi Shop’s menu offers an array of simple, classic pizzas as well as some mouthwatering specialty pizzas, all at very reasonable prices. The cocktail menu brings back some classics such as the Negroni, Tom Collins and Old Fashioned.

Opting to try some of the specialty pizzas, we ordered the purple sprouting broccoli, goats cheese & pugliese onions and the Lamb, courgette, blue cheese and rosemary. After about 20 minutes of eager waiting, our food arrived at the table. The fusion of flavours on these two pizzas was fantastic, and a welcome change from the standard pizza toppings that we’re all too familiar with.

Unfortunately we didn’t have space for dessert (there’s a first for everything!) but turning down the Strawberry and Tarragon Ice Cream certainly wasn’t done easily!

Verdict: fresh, creative pizzas served in a lovely setting – with classic cocktails, what is there not to love?!


We’re Eating Seasonal..

 

Gone are the days of supermarket produce being limited to what was seasonal, and getting excited that Strawberries were finally on their way. Nowadays, our shelves are stacked full with everything you can think of, regardless of whether it is Autumn or Summer.

Our bodies are geared up to seasonal eating, with our nutritional needs varying with the change of season. This explains the craving for a slow-cooked stew in winter and a fresh leafy salad in the summer.

This convenience has become an expectation rather than a luxury, but is it really that good for us?

In short, no. Tests undertaken in the USA and published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition compared the vitamin C content in seasonally, conventionally and organically grown broccoli at the same stage of ripeness  and found that those collected out of season contained almost half as much vitamin C as those grown in season. Similar experiments have been done with other fruit and vegetables and have reported the same.

So, how easy is it to eat seasonal?

There is an abundance of beautiful seasonal produce available, and at this time of the year – the selection is plentiful. The main hurdle to overcome doesn’t appear to be availability, but actually our own desires. So, stop insisting on eating Strawberries in November and pick up those English Pears instead!

A few simples tips on eating seasonal;

  1. Grow and pick your own – probably the easiest way to know exactly what you’re eating, although it’ll depend on your green finger ability!
  2. Use local farmers markets and vegbox schemes – there are some fantastic ones in and around Bristol, that you’ll be spoilt for choice. Find reviews on some of them here
  3. Buy in bulk and freeze – this could give you the best of both worlds, as you can preserve most of those nutrients and eat them later on in the year – so you don’t have to be quite as refrained as you once feared!