Money Free, Meat Free, Masala Mushroom Meatballs

I swear these meatballs were intended to be eaten in a simple tomato sauce, with noodles. So much so that you’ll notice the ingredients include mixed herbs.

It’s a longstanding joke amongst friends that all I cook are curries. Indian food is a favourite of mine; it’s tasty, versatile, cheap, but on this occassion I had planned Italian style meatballs, until fellow blogger, Ginni’s Kitchen, offered me some of surplus Missi Roti’s, flatbreads, via the food sharing app Olio. Well, what else could I do but spice up the meatballs?

The Roti’s were not the only free food that I had; all ingredients were free, and mainly collected using Olio, with the exception of the red chilli’s and sage; these were from herb pots in my garden, birthday presents from a friend.

This recipe is based solely on the ingredients that I had at home, and I would urge you to simply use this as a guide and alternate, substitute, ingredients as and how you need to. Swap kidney beans for a different type of pulse; lentils, chickpeas. The meat free meatballs can be eaten in whatever way you fancy – keep it clean! In all seriousness, if Indian is a fave of yours too, knock yourself out, if you are passionate about pasta go with my original plan and just alter the spices in the masala sauce so no curry blends but try oregano, sage, mixed herbs. The meatballs could be eaten with mashed potato, as a sandwich, in a sub; eat however you want, using what you have! 

Mushroom & Kidney Bean Balls:

  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 150g closed cup mushrooms, diced
  • 400g tin kidney beans, drained
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
  • A sprig of sage
  • 1tsp mixed herbs
  • 2 slices of bread, or use breadcrumbs
  • 1tbsp vegetable oil

 

  • Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4
  • Fry the onion on a low heat for a few minutes, until soft, then add the garlic, chilli, sage and mushrooms, and continue to cook for a few more minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and no liquid left.
  • In a bowl, add the drained kidney beans, mixed herbs and mushroom mix. I toasted the bread until it was dry enough to crumble; allowing it to cool first. You could make breadcrumbs using a food processor – I don’t have one. Even putting in a sandwich bag, sealing, then rolling over with a rolling pin. Add the breadcrumbs to the mix, this will bind the balls, and any other seasoning you want. I only added black pepper as have no salt at the moment. Mash with a potato masher until the beans lose shape.
  • Using your hands, form the mixture into balls – I made 13; lucky for some!
  • Place the balls on a greased baking tray, and cook for around 30 minutes, until they are firm and crispy. Check about halfway through as they may need to be turned onto their other side. If you don’t want to cook immediately, you can keep in the fridge until later; I left mine until the following day. They could be frozen too; it would be worth wrapping in parchment paper but if not pack into a food container; they should still retain their shape.

 

Masala Meatball Sauce:

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp masala curry blend
  • A 25ml sachet of coriander & cumin paste – I appreciate that it is unlikely you’ll have these too, I got a load free, so use whatever paste, blend of spices, that you do have
  • 50g shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 100g sliced greens, I added these straight from the freezer.

 

  • Fry the onion on a low heat for a few minutes, until soft, then add the garlic, chilli, spices, paste. Stir in the mushrooms, greens, covering both with the paste. Add a little of the chopped tomatoes so you have a tomato paste, continue to cook for a few more minutes. Add in the rest of the tomatoes, bay leaves, and water – I filled the empty tomato can with water and added this to get what was left of the tomatoes.
  • Place desired number of meatballs gently into the pan, I added 8, putting aside the remainder for another day.
  • Cover the meatballs with some of the sauce, and continue simmering for a few more minutes.
  • You just want the meatballs to be warmed through, and the greens cooked.
  • I served mine in a roti for lunch, and ate with pilau rice, and poppadoms, yep also free, for dinner.
  • Oh, and not forgetting leftovers’ the next day; a wrap with mushy peas, rocket, sriracha, red chilli… not sure if this falls into any cuisine but proofs that there is such a thing as a free lunch!

     

    Let me know how you have yours!

     

    You can find Ginni, and her recipes, at

    https://ginniskitchen.com

    Download the Olio app at https://olioex.com

     

    She’s got that Vybe365

    Eating well for less has become second nature to me these days. Exercise, movement, on the other hand; sure running is free but I do pay for remote coaching, would struggle without my running watch, usually have one eye on my trainers with the other on a new pair that I’m after. Then there are the races; yep, you pay for a banana and a shiny medal! It doesn’t end with running, I’m been in a long term relationship with my gym, and they were not my first! Oh, and I almost forgot hot yoga; well the classes at my gym are just room temperature.

    Lockdown meant a freeze to my gym membership, no paying for other classes on top of that, a realisation of how much I can spend on my ‘well-being’, the savings to be had, the joy of jumping rope in my garden, that contrary to my own beliefs I do enjoy working out at home, it gave me the nudge to run at a free local track, social runs with friends, and made me appreciate just how privileged I am that I can invest so much into moving my body.

    Unfortunately, it’s not as accessible to all. A lack of disposable income is just one barrier, prices of gyms, sports centres, can vary depending on areas. There can be a disparity between the availability of sports centres, recreational facilities geographically. There is travel to be considered; driving, and available parking plays a huge part in my choice of gym. Then there is confidence, self-esteem; it can be nerve wracking taking part in something new, walking into spaces filled with strangers, those we see as meeting an ideal, the hashtag fitspo perpetuated by social media.

    On-line classes, activities, have certainly made working out more accessible to many during lockdown, with free content being available, reduced prices, convenience of being at home, avoiding large groups.

    Vybe365, a dance wellbeing company, is seeking to breakdance, sorry I meant break barriers; well break barriers through dance, by offering accessible classes. They began in community spaces, pre-COVID, offering the first 50 classes for free. This offer continued into the virtual world, with plans to return to physical spaces in the future, but keep prices affordable; classes average at £5.

    Not only do they want classes to be affordable, and encourage people from a range of socio-economic backgrounds, but they are designed to welcome ‘introverted personalities’, those with little dance experience, all abilities, ages – including children, and background. Their website highlights that they “work to close the gap between physical and mental health, by building safe, judgement-free spaces where we can celebrate our successes, share our challenges, give practical solutions, and learn from one another”. Basically good vybes, 365 days of the year!

    I ventured out to my garden to give Body Vybe, with founder Bev, a go on a sunny Wednesday evening. I’m used to instructors asking whether I have any injuries, this was the first time that I had been asked to share the favourite part of my body. My arms came to mind; I love upper body workouts, seeing muscle definition, and being able to reach into those reduced food crates! It dawned on me however, that I can be as equally critical of my arms, and just how conflicting our relationships with our bodies can be.

    I let go of this as Bev encouraged us to use that body part during the warm-up, be it flick your hair or shake your booty. I channelled my inner Madonna, think Material Girl, Vogue, yes I’m an 80s baby, as I strutted around. We then moved into the choreography, with Bev routinely, excuse the pun, checking in with us. It was straight forward, pretty easy to follow, although I don’t think I’m going to be on Strictly any time soon, the move that didn’t falter was my smile; I grinned throughout.

    It was refreshing to be amongst women of all ages, just trying something out and having fun. Also, Bev’s playfulness and body confidence was contagious. There was no “one more rep”, “push harder”, “no pain no gain”. We ended with a mindfulness practice where we were encouraged to think about how our bodies serve us, had carried us throughout the day. My legs came to mind, and I thought about how grateful I was to be able to put one foot in of the other, be it when running, or this endurance race we call life.

    Classes, workshops and events are all free until 31st July 2020.

    Check them out at

    www.vybe365.co.uk

    https://www.facebook.com/vybe365/

    https://www.instagram.com/vybe365/

     

     

     

    Tilda’s Tastebuds: talking food and sustainability, with Fly Girl Collective founder Matilda

    Running has brought about so many changes in my life over the past 10 years; my relationship with food being one of them. Running encourages a focus on food as fuel; there is only so far you can get on an empty tank! Another gain has been the sense of community, belonging, kinship. These are just some of the reasons that I wanted to chat to Matilda (Tilly) of Fly Girl Collective; another is that I’m struggling to accept that their virtual, 21 day, jump rope challenge has ended!

    Whether it’s women coming together online, or in person – social distancing permitting, Fly Girl Collective was set up to have a running club which was representative of women of colour and to encourage them into sports. ‘Fitness, as brilliant as it can be, becomes less aspirational when women don’t see themselves represented’ https://medium.com/@tillytilda/why-i-want-to-see-all-types-of-women-run-the-world-the-launch-of-fly-girl-collective-70e44dd77734

    The fitness industry and wellness scene are not the only areas which can lack diversity, the same can be said of the sustainability movement. A 2014, US report, The State of Diversity in Environmental Organisations, by Dr Taylor found that ‘environmental groups do a worse job than the business and sports sectors in welcoming and promoting minorities and women.’ https://www.diversegreen.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/FullReport_Green2.0_FINAL.pdf Yet, social injustices and climate change can disproportionately affect ethnic minorities.

    Tilly notes on her blog that she doesn’t want Fly Girl to be a political statement, but a space for women, to live their best lives through fitness. So I want to know how she’s fuelling her best life, and will she push her best before date!

    After reading plant based, ultrarunner, Scott Jurek’s, Eat & Run book, feeling increasingly concerned by the manufacturing of meat and it’s effects on her health, Tilly became a devoted pescatarian at the start of the year. Tilly has found that not only is she still able to get all the energy she needs for running but that it’s made her more aware of sustainability, food waste and she’s saving money; put it toward your next race Tilly!

    Before she stopped eating meat, Tilly found herself eating out regularly, meaning that her home shop would often spoil, go to waste. Following more of a plant based diet, encouraged her to experiment with cooking, challenge her mindset of meat being the main to a meal, and she became more conscious of sustainability. “I don’t waste as much food as I used to, as I cook a lot more. And I try to make the most of the foods I have”. Put you in good stead for a national lockdown eh Tilly!

    With fitness regimes, many of us can find ourselves under the misconception that we need a fancy, expensive diet, to support this and let’s not even open up the conversation ‘where do you get your protein’! Tilly has found the opposite to be true; her endurance has improved, she has a more rounded approach to wellness, she’s eating nutritious, filling food for less, and made changes that she can sustain in the long term.

    How will food, sustainability, influence Fly Girl Collective I want to know. “It’s hard to say. Food is a complicated journey so the priority is movement and exercise for now.”

    She’s right, food is a journey, but so is running, and the two are intrinsically linked. Fly Girl Collective symbolises community, sisterhood, diversity, accountability, and the same can be said for food, sustainability. And, wittingly, or otherwise, all are political. ‘Watch this space’ was how I closed our chat, and I for sure will be. I’m excited to see how Tilly, and the Fly Girl Collective, journeys because as us runners know only too well, it’s the journey that matters!

    Find Fly Girl Collective at:-

    https://flygirlcollective.co

     

    Emotional Eating

    We tend to view emotional eating negatively, a problem which needs fixing. Pathologising the act of eating to relieve feelings instead of hunger. And whilst I’m not encouraging compulsive behaviours, or suggesting that any problems, feelings, we are seeking to avoid should not be addressed, are we not all emotional eaters to varying degrees?

    Food is symbolic and very rarely, if at all, without meaning. It invokes memories, marks occasions, can be used as a political stance, to diffuse conflict, being us together; the breaking of bread. Comfort food is used to describe those foods, meals, that bring about a sense of nostalgia, have sentimental value. The cups of teas offered at times of stress; often when it may be the only practical thing that we can do to help, show we care. Tubs of ice cream eaten to ease heartbreak. Celebratory foods, meals. Happy foods; yep we recognise certain foods as being able to boost our mood. Even hangry, the term used to describe our irritability and anger when hungry, is now recognised as a real word.

    The stockpiling publicised in the media as we approached lockdown amongst COVID19. It made the news as it was out of the ordinary, extreme, the emptying store shelves of dried pasta was about far more than food being fuel. It’s our response to crisis, the panic we feel with unknown threat approaching, the need to for security, to be protected, safe. Whilst the panic buying seems to have settled now we are well into the second month of lockdown, this time of uncertainty and being confined to our homes remains, and food will continue to be a central focus.

    So how can we tend to our emotional well-being with food during this time? I asked you to get in touch on Instagram with some of your tips and here were the most common:-

    • Use up ingredients. Most of us will find so many ingredients bought over the years that we haven’t gotten around to using. Making use of these to try out new recipes, can bring about a sense of satisfaction, achievement, cooking can be calming, therapeutic, and we gain a sense of food security on realising how much many of us already have.
    • Don’t beat yourself up for not eating ‘healthy’ foods. We are in a worldwide pandemic, do we need the added stress of feeling guilty over cake? It can be wasted energy being hung up on what is classified as good/bad, healthy/unhealthy, as when all said and done food is food. If there is something bothering you about your eating at the moment, use it as a way to be curious, gather information about your internal state. For me, the planning of meals during this time has highlighted feelings of anxiety, the need for structure, routine, to be purposeful. When I have been craving sweet foods, I usually want to feel held, carefree, joyful. When no amount of food satiates I’m premenstrual, tired, bored, a feeling of emptiness, or it can also be when I am restless in a state of high energy.
    • Be inspired. We are inundated with online information at the moment. Videos, recipes, challenges, foods treading, courses, and we have more time to turn our hands to something new. I felt so proud of myself when I finally decided to sprout the alfalfa seeds which have been hanging around for I don’t know how long. Watching them grow is a reminder that even at a standstill, we don’t stop moving. Picking dandelions to make honey brought back fond memories of my childhood.
    • Connect with others. I may have rolled my eyes, to myself I don’t have a death wish, when my mum told me that she’d turned down the help of a volunteer as she had me to do her food shopping, I’m now secretly grateful. It has kept us connected, probably more so, I’ve shown her more patience, time and be it at a distance probably more affection, care than I would ordinarily. Food collections using the food sharing app, Olio https://olioex.com are non contact but checking to see what is being listed has been getting me excited, even reporting back to distributors how I used the surplus foods.
    • Wasteless. At a time when it is natural to feel powerless, helpless, and lacking autonomy taking steps to waste less food can be a way of feeling that we are contributing to improving the world we live in, and affecting change. It means that by virtue we have more to eat, surplus to share, it closes the gap between ourselves and those who are starving, it reduces the effect on the global food market, developing countries, and greenhouse gases. Whether it’s finding a new recipe for those tinned beans, passing them onto a neighbour, donating to a food bank, sharing on an app, using as compost, putting them somewhere other than landfill, will leave you feeling pretty good about yourself, and knowing that you are making a difference.

    Thank you for all your contributions, I loved being able to put them into this blog, and hope you enjoyed reading!

    I have listed some sites which may be helpful if you are struggling with food at this time.

    https://www.trusselltrust.org support food banks nationally and provide emergency food.

    https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk A UK eating disorder charity.

    https://www.mind.org.uk UK mental health charity

    https://www.nhs.uk/apps-library/ The NHS has a library of apps, many free, to help manage your health and well-being.

    Mum’s The Word!

    With my mum isolating because of coronavirus, I’ve been doing her food shopping. I say shopping but get a lot of her groceries using food sharing app Olio. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that there are certain non negotiable items on her list that I’ll usually have to go to the shops for; mainly ice cream and croissants! I have actually been able to combine my love of yellow stickers, and her love of pastries, and reach a compromise. On occasion, I’ve even been able to buy her croissants, yellow sticker, in the reduced section. It didn’t work out so well when I, unwittingly, bought her vanilla croissants because they were cheaper. “I don’t like those, buy me the English ones next time”…. “croissants are French mum”. She’s not the only one having an education on food, catering for her, has given me some food for thought when it comes to waste:-

    We tend to be far more open when our options are limited. In the past, imparting my enthusiasm to lessen food waste, and eat well for less, on my mum has been met with “I don’t like reduced food”. Now having to rely on another to essentially feed her, seeng images of empty aisles, stockpiling on the news, and her boyfriend, not boyfriend, Vic telling her that toilet paper is sold out across stores, has changed her attitude to “buy whatever you see reduced” when I tell her I’m heading to the shops.

    It’s never too late to teach an old dog, or queen bee, new tricks. My mum refuses to wear her dentures, that’s a whole other conversation, so found the apples that I collected for free using Olio difficult to eat. I suggested she poach them and eat with yoghurt, porridge. How do I do that she asked? I didn’t expect to be explaining, what I consider, a straightforward recipe to my mum but I guess it’s only simple when you know how eh. I’m pleased that I did, as she is now regularly poaching apples; she’s even adding strawberries to the mix.

    There are no rules as to what goes with what. One day my mum asked what I’d eaten for breakfast “pesto on toast” I replied. “You put pesto on toast”? She asked sounded pretty astonished, yet curious. Well why not, if it is good enough for bruschetta, its good enough for my breakfast. My mum, like many of us, had in mind that pesto is for pasta so didn’t give much thought as to what other foods you could use it with. Pesto is simply a sauce and there are 101 ways you can use sauces in food; experiment, not just with pesto but whatever else you have.

    Put on your reading glasses. My mum is now great at reading whether food I give her can be frozen, the best before or use by date so she can prioritise foods, and how it should be properly stored. This means that it lasts her a lot longer, reduces food waste, and enables her to feel in control of her kitchen, particularly at a time when she has lost independence, and freedom, in other areas of her life.

    Use what you have and get creative. Even I had doubts as I passed her a couple of tubs of cream which I’d collected using Olio. They were on their use by date, and I was wondering whether she’d be able to make use of them. “Don’t worry, I’ll make porridge with the cream, eat with fruit; if there is surplus food, you should collect it all”. Oh my, it was like talking to a new woman! She looked so pleased with herself as she educated me on using up available food; just like the cat that got the cream!

     

    Whatever our age, we have a relationship with food. We have food histories, experiences, memories. Some good, others less so. We also have food futures, more to learn, develop, nurture, and we have each other. Food offers us an opportunity to connect, build communities, fuel, and empower ourselves. So like my mum say’s “embrace it all”… ok, she said take, take it all. Not only does she need me to do her shopping, but her editing too 😉

     

     

    What I Eat in a Lockdown Day

    Saturday 28th March 2020:

    I start the day how I do most Saturday’s, with a run along the canal. I run for 90 minutes, I’m training for a 50K summer race; all willing! I run fasted, other than a couple of black coffees and water.

    Post run breakfast is a large wholemeal bap, warmed in the oven, topped with onion houmous, organic plum tomatoes, black olives, spring onion, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. All ingredients were yellow sticker, food reduced by stores when nearing their use by date, apart from the olives and seeds which were free. I’d collected a jar of olives a while ago using food sharing app Olio, the seeds my work bestie had left in our office kitchen about 3 years ago so I claimed them. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of good food that we can forget about! With coronavirus, and the country on lockdown, I’m doing what I can, to use what I have.

    Lunch is a Tesco Wicked Kitchen, Macaroni Cheese, served with homemade sauerkraut. I treated myself to the reduced ready meal, I don’t buy the range, or much else, full price! I’d picked up a head of cabbage left out for the taking, by a store several weeks ago, I made the sauerkraut and stored in the fridge, after leaving it to ferment. All you need is cabbage and salt.

    Dinner is a homemade cottage pie using a green sticker, the same as a yellow sticker but from a different store, soya mince, green lentils, potatoes and plenty of vegetables (mushrooms, carrots, onion, yellow and red pepper, peas), vegetable stock, vegemite, bay leaves, reduced and from Olio. I use a dairy free spread for the mash; my niece left this at mine at Christmas and it’s been going strong ever since. I have a portion of the pie served with yellow sticker runner beans and Brussel sprouts. The cottage pie serves four; I like to bulk cook so I have leftovers, it lessens any stressing about meals which is imperative during a pandemic. The Olio app are running a #cook4kids campaign where food can be listed on the app for school children; with so many children off school, there is additional pressure on parents to provide meals. I advertise a portion of cottage pie on Olio; no contact collections can be arranged.

    Snacks are fruit; banana, green grapes, nectarine, pineapple, reduced in price or free. Oh, and a chocolate lime sweet which present me is grateful that past me bought when she spotted the bag reduced, as I fancied something sweet, and am avoiding going to the shops unnecessarily.

    Vitamins: I take a B12 supplement daily.

    Whilst there have been pictures in the news of the nation clearing aisles in supermarkets, shoppers panicked that they may not have enough food at home, I rather enjoy having less food at home. It means that I waste less, and make more use of what I do have, becoming creative with meals and recipes. However, there are some that question whether I can maintain a healthy diet eating surplus food. I turn to Clinical Nutritionist, Amaeze Madukah, aka @lifes_recipe, for her view on my average day of eating.

     

    This really goes to show that eating healthy does not have to be expensive at all. After a run, it is a good idea to have a meal that includes good quality carbohydrates (the wholemeal bread) to replenish your glycogen (energy) stores and protein to provide the amino acids needed for muscle tissue repair and remodelling (The hummus, pumpkin and sunflower seeds).

    Sauerkraut is a source of immune and gut-supporting probiotics and nutrients. Also, shop bought sauerkraut is sometimes pasteurised. While pasteurisation can increase shelf life, it may also slightly reduce the probiotic activity so homemade is great, simple and affordable!

    Dinner is a balanced meal full of lean proteins, gut healthy fibre, vegetables, with carbohydrates and some fats. Just what you need to keep you full, satisfied and nourished.

    In terms of protein, we only need around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. So for a 70kg person that will be around 56g of protein. But you do not need a calculator every time you eat as you will be happy to know that we really don’t have a protein deficiency issue in the UK as there is protein in so many things. Laura did not travel around with a calculator but was able to get her protein in.

    On a plant-based diet, it is key to ensure you are getting all of the right nutrients. B12 is one of them – this helps to form the fatty layer that protects nerves for our neurological function.

    Other nutrients to note on a plant based diet with food source examples:

    Calcium –   Fortified cereals, fortified dairy alternatives, dried fruit, nuts, leafy greens.

    Vitamin D – While we can get vitamin D from some foods including fortified foods, it is recommended to take a supplement (10mg).

    Iodine – Though seaweed is thought of as a good source, the iodine content can vary considerably and sometimes even too high so it is recommended to supplement (150mg).

    Iron – Chickpeas, lentils, tofu, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, kale, quinoa, fortified cereals, linseeds.

    Omega 3 – Walnuts, soya beans, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds.

    Zinc – wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fortified cereal

    Selenium – Brazil nuts, shiitake mushroom, chia seeds, sesame seeds, brown rice, broccoli, pinto beans, cabbage, spinach.

     

    It is reassuring to know that I am in the right aisle, I mean on the right track! Ah well both seem to be true, I can save money on food and from it being wasted, whilst not compromising my health! Amaeze has also given me some food for thought, ok I’ll stop already, on other foods that I can include in my diet, and buy when I spot them reduced, or going spare. I really like her non-judgemental and intuitive approach when it comes to food. It not only helps in establishing a greater connection with food and our bodies but encourages us to be open to different foods, meals and feel more inclined to experiment in the kitchen, and be likely to waste less as we are not feeling restricted by prescribed lists.

     

    If you would like to check her out for yourself then look her up on the following handles: –

    Instagram @lifes_recipe

    Twitter @Lifes_recipe

    Website https://lifesrecipe.co/

    Facebook @lifesrecipe1

     

    And for food sharing app Olio it’s

    https://olioex.com

     

    The Big C

    Are any of us not talking about Coronavirus? Given the news coverage, social media posts, memes, conversations with loved ones, I’ll spare you a blog post on the big C and focus on the other C word… Cauliflower.

    Ironically, there is still ample food being reduced, and wasted in supermarkets, despite the crazed stockpiling. I picked up a couple of yellow sticker cauliflowers down to 14p each. Now more than ever, we need waste less and use more. Cauliflower, and their leaves, are a powerhouse of nutrients, yet all too often we bin the greens.

    With ingredients that I already had at home, I made a batch of Cauliflower & Tahini Soup; leaves included! I added dried spices, which can last years; suma, paprika, cayenne pepper. The spices I’d collected using food sharing app Olio.

    The surplus food on Olio has been a staple in my diet long before the dreaded C; coronavirus that is, not cauliflower rice! I’m so grateful to be in a relatively secure position financially, and still due to receive a regular wage during this time; others are not so fortunate. The closures of schools, job losses, loss of earnings means that so many are facing insecurity and hardship.

    Olio are campaigning to help local families with their hashtag, #Cook4Kids. All you have to do is add a spare school lunch to Olio with the hashtag, #Cook4Kids in the listing for a local family to collect. Meals can be left in a safe space for a non-contact pickup.

    This was just the encouragement that I needed to give back to the app, and those who have shared with me, by listing a container of soup. I’d made a big batch, using ingredients which were heading for the bin; plenty of soup for myself, a container dropped off to my mum who is within the at risk category, and hopefully a portion or two will go to a good home, after all sharing is caring!

    If you’d like to check out how to share food within your local community, clink on the Olio link below

    https://olioex.com

    Continue reading “The Big C”

    3 is the magic number

    I was gutted that Vegan Life Live, where I was due to be one of the presenters, was cancelled. I’d been looking forward to talking about reducing food waste, a vegan diet and eating well for less at the show since last year.

    “Let’s still do something nice, afternoon tea?” Suggested Tash, a friend who’d had a ticket for Vegan Life Live. I love an afternoon tea so didn’t need any persuading, and have been wanting to visit Cafe Forty One, the plant based restaurant in West London hotel, La Suite West, since learning that they offer 241 with a tastecard!

    Amy said that she’d join, we just needed a fourth person for the 241 offer; simple right? Unfortunately not, trying to get friends together can feel like herding cats sometimes, add coronavirus and self isolation into the mix then it’s all the more difficult!

    What to do? I didn’t want anyone to miss out but also wanted the discount! “We could always get 4 afternoon teas and split between the 3 of us” I suggested, and that’s exactly what we did!

    Afternoon tea at Cafe Forty One is £35, using the 241 offer with tastecard £17.50 each, ordering 4 afternoon teas and splitting the bill between 3 – £23.34. We still got a decent discount, and spent a lush afternoon together.

    I’d find it hard to fault the afternoon tea; loved the cupcake with red velvet icing, the homemade raspberry jam. The tofu sarnie was really close to an egg cress, and the jackfruit was a personal fave. I thought the elderflower fizz was a nice touch and feels refreshing having an alcohol free dining experience. My one critique, and pet hate, is when afternoon tea does not include refills on the food. At £35 upwards I think it’s a must; heck at £35 don’t cut my crusts off! I was actually grateful that we had the 4 between the 3 of us, that way we got our refills, and the staff avoided having to listen to me whine!

    With Cafe Forty One being on tastecard, and selling surplus food on the food waste app, Too Good to Go, I’ll definitely be back. I’m so pleased that we found a way of coming together and making the meal work for us; of course I’m also glad I got extra scones!

    As we spread the coconut cream and then the jam, never the other way around, onto our scones, we chatted about the symbolism of food, the meanings attached, food being fuel and the care it provides. We discussed how we all have relationships with food, good and bad, we all have food histories. Scoffing afternoon tea, talking about our hopes and fears, amid public panic, will one day be part of the 3 of our food histories. For everything else there’s tastecard!

    http://www.tastecard.co.uk

    http://www.lasuitewest.com

    http://www.toogoodtogo.co.uk

    Soup Kitchen

    What other vegetables can I add to Leek and Potato Soup, I pondered. I get that adding extra veg, might rather undermine it being leek and potato but after collecting a bag of veg using the food sharing app Olio, I wanted to make use of it.

    I’ve undertaken several cookery classes at Richmond Adult Community College and the tutor fondly, I think, questions why I attend when I just do what I want anyway. She’s right, I do tend to do what I want, use what I have. I love the classes, having a structure, learning new recipes, culinary skills but I hate food waste and believe that we should be creative with food, have fun with it, make use of the abundance of surplus food available to us. So what other veg can I add to leek and potato soup? The veg that I already have!

    The following recipe makes use of what I had, I’d be interested to know how you vary it based on what you have; let me know!

    Oh, and I should probably add that the recipe for class was never leek and potato soup, it was vegetable, I just became fixed on it as had leeks and potatoes, but guess what they are all vegetables so I guess my deviance is round about compliance!

    Ingredients:-

    • Tsp – tbsp oil
    • 2 Red Onions
    • 3 Garlic Cloves
    • 1 Leek
    • 1 Red Pepper
    • 4 Small/Medium Potatoes
    • 100g Mushrooms
    • 2 tsp Bouillon
    • 2-3 Sprigs of Thyme
    • Salt & Pepper

    Serves 4

    Heat a deep pan, add the oil and fry chopped onions, and crushed garlic, until the onions are soft. Add sliced leeks whilst that’s cooking, chop the pepper then add to the mix. Slice the mushrooms then add those and then cubed potatoes; I left the skin on mine. Stir in the bouillon, cover the veg with boiled water and add in the thyme. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked. Season well, using a hand held blender, blend part of it, leaving some chunky veg.

    Keep in mind that all the ingredients I either picked up for free, or bought reduced, so don’t feel obliged to use the same ingredients, experiment with what you have. There’s so much veg that can be used instead; tomatoes, courgettes, sweetcorn, broccoli. Vegetable stock instead of bouillon, stock from vegetable peeling, or no stock at all but up the herbs, seasoning. There are so many herbs that you can experiment with chillies, coriander, rosemary, basil, curry powder, paprika.

    Get raiding your fridge, cupboards for your very own soup kitchen!

    More Bread, Less Dough!

    I don’t often bake my own bread, I constantly have bread in the freezer from buying on its best before date. Months ago the work bestie persuaded me to buy a huge bag of wheat bran, when we spotted it reduced to 19p on one of our lunchtime jaunts. I’ve had pangs of guilt ever since, as other than some failed wheat bran chapatis, I’ve not made much use of it. Determined not to let it go to waste I decided to do a spot of weekend baking and bake bread.

    The yellow sticker universe must have read my mind as I spotted some reduced price yeast; discounted because the packaging was damaged. In the same vein as the wheat bran, I opened my cupboards to see what else I could use up. I used a mix of flour; plain and rye, finishing the latter off. I also had a flaxseed and goji berry blend in my cupboard so thought I’d go for Wheat & Flax Bread! I added dairy free margarine, left behind by my niece.

    That’s the beauty of baking my own bread, I can add what I want and leave out what I don’t; on this occasion sugar. It was cheaper than an average loaf, and so tasty. Plus, the house now smells like Lidl’s bakery aisle; ok not quite but it does smell homely and comforting. I’m so excited to have home baked bread for breakfast in the morning and there is a sense of pride and achievement at seeing my bread rise, the end result and it tasting good! Plus, it went some way to clearing my cupboards and has motivated me to bake more!

    What variations of bread have you made when needing to use up ingredients that you already have?