Collagen – will this make me look longer? It possibly will! There does seem to be a trend for all things collagen. I was given some lovely gin, with added collagen, from Collagin for Christmas. I met the makers at a show and sadly they weren’t guaranteeing any health or youth enhancing benefits, but it is a lovely smooth gin. There are also a selection of collagen powders out there which do promise benefits for your skin.
What is it? Collagen is the protein in our bodies, found in our tendons, muscles, bones, blood vessels, digestive system and skin. It gives skin it’s elasticity and strength. We naturally produce less collagen as we get older and then start to see wrinkles appear. The suggestion is, and there are a few studies to back it up, that if we take a collagen supplement it will help with our skin’s elasticity as well as helping with our joints. There are different types of collagen which target specific areas, so you would need to research which one is best for you.
Any recipe suggestions? Add it to your smoothies in the morning or a muffin mix to make it palatable. A bone broth is the most direct way of eating it. This is not a vegan friendly product.
Conclusion: There are a lot of powders out there at the moment offering various solutions to our ailing bodies, I am still of the school of eating and drinking a balanced diet as the best remedy for now.
Valencia – the food capital of the world according to the Food & Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations. What a delight! We (my husband and I, the trip was part of ongoing birthday celebrations) had sunshine, blue skies and enchanting food, in the middle of January, what is not to love!
The wonder of Valenica is that it doesn’t seem to have caught up with the commercialism of the other big Spanish cities. Just 3 Euros for 2 coffees and a pastry. Our favourite was the Pasteleria Ciudadela. for ensaimada, a coiled sweet bread dusted with icing sugar.
We stayed at the Westin. A 15 minute walk to the old town and a 30 minute walk to the Port via the Arts & Science Complex. The Campo de Mestalla football ground is a 2 minute walk. The service throughout the hotel is some of the best we have had. On the bar list was Zeta Beer, a local craft beer, 100% natural, unpasteurised and unfiltered. The Zeta Hell was refreshing with a citrus flavour. We only ate in the El Jardi bar, the food was okay, I suggest you go out. Close by is the Bocadobar , we had the best Iberian ham croquettes of the holiday here (we did a lot of croquette tasting!). The sauteed prawns with wok vegetables are good and the wine list has a good local selection.
The best tapas of the holiday came from Casa Montana, a Valancian institution and well written about. Our favourite tapas were the smoked eel and the cuttlefish and onions, top class. The smell of Vermouth from the casks as you enter is intoxicating and made for a refreshing apertif with ice and lemon.
The City of Arts and Sciences is an architectural sight to behold as well as a great place to visit. With Europe’s biggest aquarium, and a science museum where not touching the exhibits is prohibited!
On food and drink must tries, look out for the Tiger Nut milk or Horchata, a creamy, luxurious, nutty flavoured drink. So named, because of it’s stripey shell, as it isn’t actually a nut, its a legume. Available at most local cafes and in the Central Market. If you want to try it now Rude Health have just bought out a product available in Waitrose. The other must try, is the tomato bread, if it makes me look as good as the glamorous ladies that we saw breakfasting on it each day, I’m in! Take some rustic bread and grill, rub with garlic and tomato, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Enjoy!
For any food lover the Central Market is a must do, it has an extensive display of top quality local produce. The saffron price and quality is excellent as it is produced locally, go and see Domingo Lopez at his stall La Panada de las Especias, for a good selection. There are a lot of food tours on offer, we went as part of a paella cooking lesson from Escuelade de Arroces y Paellas, where we learnt the art of Valencia paella. They have a recipe on their website if you’d like to try at home first.
We loved Valencia, its weather, architecture, food and drink, go and visit!
Healthy snacks – Public Health England has started the year with a focus to reduce children’s sugar consumption, with the instruction to only give two healthy snacks of no more than 100 calories per day.
In April, obesity in the UK is still a major news story and further highlighted in the BBC’s ‘Britain’s Fat Fight with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’.
The British are the largest snackers in Europe but help is on hand with the expanding healthier snack market. See some of the new options below –
New processing techniques have really enhanced the flavours in snacks, particularly with LioBites, which have taken ripe fruit and then have been quickly frozen and dried. This enables them to maximise the nutrition and retain the vitamins in the fruit. The strawberry and banana smoothie bites are my favourite.
Kernel Cobs make roasted corn snacks in ranch smoked barbecue flavour or firecracker chilli which have a great spicy kick. They are gluten free, high in fibre and low in sugar. Based in Hampshire they are on the start of their journey to market, but you can buy online.
Ape Snacks have bites made from coconut, and puffs made from rice and coconut. I’d eaten all the chocolate bites before I got to photograph them, they are delicious! The bites are part of your 5 a day, are high in fibre and under 150 calories. Be aware of the fat content, as they are naturally high with the addition of coconut. They come in chia seed, sesame seed and a natural option, as well as the moreish chocolate.
The puffs come in Thai chilli and lightly salted flavours. They are suitable for vegans, not fried and have no added sugar. They are like a crunchier cheese puff with more taste. Ape’s philosophy is to “provide delicious coconut snacks to get you eating better for yourself”.
Fruut , 100% fruit red apple snack, (other flavours are available) contains only 36 calories per portion, they have no added sugars or preservatives, are gluten free and look like crisps. A great snack on the go.
Just Peas and Beans are roasted British fava beans in sweet chilli and lightly salted options or British green split peas in wasabi flavour. The snacks are roasted in cold pressed rapeseed oil which is half the saturated fat of olive oil and 35% lower in saturated fat than sunflower oil. They are high in protein and fibre and suitable for those with a gluten and nut intolerance.
Eat Real have a variety of of products, such as lentil chips, veggie straws (like chiplets) quinoa chips and hummus chips made from chickpea flour, in lots of different flavours. Eat Real’s concept is around ‘real taste, real nutrition, real ingredients’. They are available in your local supermarket. The lentil chips get my vote for a great crunch!
It has been a pleasure to taste all these new snacks, some fabulous tasty choices which are a great addition to a balanced diet.
Are you kidding me? It’s true! Kids are on the menu. I had kid at Lyles last Easter and its back on the menu again – Suckling Kid Shoulder with Yoghurt and Ramson for two to share. I’ve held off writing about it as you can’t easily buy it, but Iceland now stock it and there is a limited fresh supply into Sainsburys, so it will be available for everyone soon.
As a nation we have embraced goats cheese and milk but that means the poor male goats are getting slaughtered at birth in favour of the nursing nanny goats. Thankfully not all suppliers work that way, instead they are developing their goat herd and producing delicious and tender meat, and stopping the waste. London restaurants have embraced this, my favourites are detailed below.
Where can I buy it? Cockerham Herd have been established since 2000, you can buy meat from their British herd online. Iceland do packs of diced goat meat and Sainsburys have some fresh product in store. Cabrito are Temper’s supplier, you can order a selection of cuts online for home delivery. Try roasting a joint to maximise the taste and texture, or the diced meat in a curry.
Where can I eat it?Temper Soho, from Chef Neil Rankin, is my favourite, they have succulent smoked goat on flat bread. I visited the Coal Shed on Friday, where I had Moroccan spiced smoked goat, zatar flat breads, aubergine, tahini, chickpeas and harissa yogurt, delicious! Smoking Goat have barbecued goat Thai style.
Nutritional facts – Roasted goat, per 100g – Total Fat 3g; Saturated Fat 0.9g, which is less fat than chicken. Low in cholesterol and high in iron.
Well done to Toff for being crowned Queen of the jungle! Now you can get a bit of the action with your own bush tucker trial at home with this latest trend.
Grubs, worms and insects come in a variety of delectable ways to eat – snack packs or bars, pasta, flour, crackers or buffalo worms with a sprinkling of spicy chilli.
Insects can be good for you, they contain more protein than chicken, two times more iron than spinach and are good for the environment. I tasted them first in Mexico 7 years ago, where I had deep fried crickets with guacamole, which had a moreish crunchy texture.
This trend will be coming to your table at home soon, with its strong environmental credentials and nutritional source, we need to join the other two billion people world wide who eat insects regularly.
What does it taste like? Cricke do a range of products using crickets, I like the crackers, they have an oat cake type taste and texture. Eat Grubs flavour their crickets with Peri-Peri or Smoky BBQ for a crunchy snack and they’ve also made them into bars with blueberry & almond flavour and orange & red berries and taste quite like a cereal bar. Jimini’s have flavoured crickets, buffalo worms, mealworms and grasshoppers in snack packs, they also have bars and pasta. The spicy chilli buffalo worms I had last night would be a great addition to a salad.
Where can I buy it? Cricke crackers are available from their online shop, hopefully their bread, flour and pasta will be on sale soon. Eat Grub products can be brought at their on line store or Yumbles for the snack bars. Jimini’s pasta and snacks can we picked up via their online store and also at Amazon.
Any recipe suggestions? Insect pasta is full of protein so I have used a classic vegetable pasta sauce from Nigella Lawson. Try Nigella’s pasta with courgettes from Nigellissima with Jimini’s ground buffalo worm basil fusilli. It has the texture of wholemeal pasta and is hard to distinguish in taste from regular pasta.
Where can I eat it? For a taste of the exotic try Archipelago restaurant in Fitzrovia, they have pan-fried chermoula crickets with quinoa, spinach and dried fruit and for dessert, caramel mealworms with bilinis, coconut cream and vodka jelly.
Environmental –insects release 99% fewer greenhouse gases compared to cows. They also require less space, water and food than cows, pigs or chickens to grow and will become more important as a protein source as the world’s population expands.
Nutritional facts – insects contain vitamins B1, B2, B12 and Omegas 3 & 6 and 63g of protein per 100g. They contain more iron and calcium than chicken, beef or pork.
When pairing wines you need to take into account the seasoning, for a better together combination.
Salt makes wine taste less dry and bitter, less acidic, and will leave you with a smoother and richer mouth feel, making a tannic wine more palatable. Tannin’s are mainly found in red wines, it is extracted from the grape skins, stems and seeds. They bind to the proteins in your saliva so your mouth will feel dry after drinking them, they can be bitter, but add to the richness of texture.
Combine the red wine with fatty seasoned steaks, (the fat on the steak will also make the wine taste less acidic) go for the chefs choice of rib eye.
To drink? Argentinian Malbec from Mendoza is a good place to start. They have been producing wine since 1557, Mendoza being the largest wine area in Latin America and 5th largest in the world. Malbec is the single most planted grape variety in Argentina and is mainly used as a single varietal. You are expecting a full bodied, ripe, black fruit tasting wine with some spice.
Where can I buy it? I went cheap, this is only £5 from Tesco at the moment. Give it some time to breathe and do not drink it on its own! This really needs the seasoned steak to make for a smooth, rich mouth feel.
Any recipe suggestions? Try my beef rib tried and tested recipe, it will make any tannic red wine taste good.
West Africa has been around for a few thousand years but its cuisine is coming to the forefront with the support of a restaurant called Ikoyi which opened earlier this year. A four star review from Fay Maschler helped, with the headline “West African dynamism not to be missed”. I was there a month again and the food is a revelation, flavours you know, mixed to a different intensity, with some chilli heat. New suppliers are coming to the market with marinades, oils and sauces, as seen at the recent trade fairs I’ve attended. It will be coming to your table soon!
What does it taste like? Hot! Scotch bonnet is the traditional chilli of choice, (though you will find mellower versions available at all the restaurants and suppliers mentioned) but it is the mix of spices and pepper that gives a distinct taste of the region, peanuts often feature in stews.
Where can I buy it? You can buy Zims Tribe marinade, sauces and oils at their online shop. Penja pepper, is available from Amazon as used in Ikoyi’s starter. It is a white pepper from the volcanic soil of eastern Cameroon, which has a musky perfume with lingering heat but not the fierceness of black pepper. Use with pork and fish dishes to season the dish before serving.
Where can I eat it?Zoe’s Ghana kitchen in Brixton has been around since 2010, Zoe believes “we are on the cusp of an African food revolution”, I agree! Zoe has a cookbook out this year, available from Amazon full of contemporary African dishes. And Ikoyi as mentioned earlier.
Highlighting food and drink that are literally better together….
Taramasalata and salt and vinegar crisps are a fabulous dipping combination. A few too many Saturday nights in with friends and a couple of beers brought me to this revelation. The vinegar enhances the fish roe flavour and makes it a whole different dip. Do a test with salted crisps to compare.
Why? The acidity of the vinegar coagulates the protein in the roe, making it more tender.
To drink? My beer of choice was a Desperados at the time, with its lemony notes working with the vinegar in the crisps it wasn’t the worst choice I could have made!
Where to buy it? I found the tinned soft cod roes in Waitrose, Sainsburys, Morrisons, Asda and Ocado. Ocado also offer fresh smoked roes.
Environmental -I have used John West Specialites Soft Cod Roes, certified sustainable seafood.
Top facts – taramasalata is not fluorescent pink. This is food colouring, if you want yours pink use a little beetroot juice to keep it natural. Fish roe is red and when blended can take on a very light pink tinge which got exaggerated over time.
Nutrional facts per 100g – Cod Roe has 4g of fat of which 0.8g are saturates and 12g of protein