Friday, 26 October 2012

Food Haul: Ingredients Shop

Went shopping today with the main purpose being to buy ingredients to make cakes to sell on Monday. My idea was orange flavoured (and coloured) cupcakes decorated as pumpkins, soon as though it's Halloween this week. But I assume most people have simlilar ideas for Halloween themed bakes this week as the orange food colouring was sold out. So instead I found some orange coloured and flavoured chocolate to cover the cupcakes with.

Stork, Orange Flavour Buttons, 2 Oranges,
Green Food Colouring and Dark Chocolate Chips.

Also just used up all my bread, and loved snacking on oatcakes this week so got some more of those. I saw the Oat So Simple going cheap, normally £2.29 a box but was only £1 so I got a couple of those.

Oat So Simple in Golden Syrup and Sweet Cinnamon Flavours,
Granary Bread and Mini Oatcakes.
Finally, I got some more coffee, dinner for Monday night (as my food delivery's coming on Tuesday) and some olives...just because I felt like trying some.

Instant Pasta Meal, Spiced Cappuccino and Green Olives with Herbs and Garlic.
Will try to do a food haul for my next big food delivery on Tuesday, and post the recipe and photos of the cupcakes I make so keep a look out for that.

Choosing Wholegrain

One of the changes that I would like to make to my diet is to start choosing wholegrain products over those made using refined grains. I think most of us know that wholemeal is healthier, but do we all know why. I would like to explain my reasons for opting for wholegrain, and the benefits I believe it to have.

Grains can come in two forms, either refined or unrefined. Wholegrain is the term commonly used to describe grains which are unrefined. When grains are refined, during the milling process the outer bran coating and the inner germ are removed leaving only the endosperm behind. The endosperm mostly contains carbohydrates, whereas the bran is high in fibre and the germ contains many vitamins and minerals. The image below illustrates this well:

Having a diet that includes a lot of wholegrains has been shown to reduce the risk of some health problems and improve the health of the digestive system. Consuming the whole of the grain provides a lot more nutrients and benefits then the endosperm alone.

Some examples of wholegrains are: corn, oats, wheat, quinoa, bulgar, brown rice, barely and rye. When shopping look at the ingredients to check the wholegrain content. If a wholegrain is a main ingredient it will be listed at the top of the ingredients list.

The main reason I would like to include wholegrains in my diet is to benefit from the increased fibre and B vitamins. In future I will try to choose wholegrain options when it comes to choosing products such as bread, pasta and cereals.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Weekly Meal Plan

Every week I plan out the meals I am going to have on each day. This helps when it comes to making a shopping list, budgeting and simply being prepared. I thought I would share them on my blog, and hopefully over time (if my plan goes to plan) they will get healthier!

Food Haul: Random Shop

A couple of days ago I went to Asda with the intention of buying a clothes airer (much needed as most of my clothes can't be tumble dried), but decided I wasn't going to carry it back on the bus and was going to buy it online instead so ended up doing some pointless shopping. It was pointless as I already had all the food I needed for the week. Although I did want to get some food to snack on as I keep eating my granola cereal for that purpose (why does granola taste so good?!). So this is what I brought...

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Caramel Cappaccino, Crunchy Peanut Butter, Korma Sauce, Wholemeal Pitta Bread, Low-Fat Fruity Yogurts, Chilli Crispy Coated Peanuts, Dried Cranberries, Mackerel Fillets in Tomato Sauce, Wholewheat Spaghetti, Mango, Strawberries, Dark Chocolate and Houmous. 

About half half the foods here were brought purely for snacking on. Some were attempts at healthy snack options. Strawberries and mango can't be argued to be anything other than healthy in my opinion. Houmous while being healthier than some other options is still reasonably high in fat. I'm not sure how healthy the dried cranberries are as after reading the ingredients on the packet it's only 60% cranberries, the rest is sugar and sunflower oil. Also I know nuts are supposed to be good for you (although I never usually eat nuts) but I'm sure this is the most unhealthy choice I could have made. Peanuts, being the nuts with the highest fat content and chilli coated...honestly that can't be good! And well, I wanted chocolate and dark chocolate's better than milk chocolate and I couldn't find the 70% cocoa version. Carmel cappuccinos taste so good, but I'm sure there's not any goodness in there!

One change I am trying to make is to buy wholemeal/wholewheat wherever possible. Wholewheat spaghetti is something I've not tried before, but wholemeal pitta bread I think tastes better than the plain version.

The next food haul should be my next online grocery delivery in a week or so. In between big food shops I do regularly buy milk, eggs and bread so these won't be included.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

A Few Ideas

Previously I have only ever posted recipes on this blog, but recently I've been thinking of a few ideas to add a bit of variety to the posts while keeping it all food related.

First thing is an improvement to the recipe posts. I realise I don't think I've included the number of servings on all recipes so this will be updated. Also it was suggested to me that I include the costs involved in a recipe, for example, by providing the cost per serving.

Also now I'm living independently at University I have complete control over what food I buy, the meals I make and lifestyle/diet choices. So basically my goal is to start living a more healthy lifestyle. I know this isn't going to happen instantly but I plan on changing small things at a time to get to the eventual goal. I thought it might be a good idea to share aspects of this on my blog, for example: the changes I'm making, reasons for choosing healthier options, food hauls, weekly meal plans etc.

Hopefully you'll see some more variety, and more frequent posts! If you have any more ideas or suggestions please leave them as a comment below.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Doughnut Muffins

I wanted something sweet and I've not baked anything for ages so I decided to make these, doughnut muffins. They're delicious, although not quite as yummy as real fresh doughnuts!

175g margarine
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
375g plain flour 
3/4 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
250ml milk

topping: 50g caster sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tbsp butter


1. Grease a deep 12-cup muffin pan. In a large bowl, beat together the margarine and sugar.

 2. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.

3. Add the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, nutmeg along with half the flour and half the milk. Fold this into the mixture until combined.

 4. Add the remaining flour and milk, mixing until fully combined.

5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin, filling each hole to about two-thirds full. Bake in preheated oven at 180°C for 15-20 minutes or until they are light brown in colour.

6. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. While the muffins are still warm, brush lightly with melted butter and sprinkle over the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Cinnamon Apples on Fruit Toast

 I decided to put a little more effort into breakfast this morning and tried making these cinnamon apples on fruit toast. It is delicious and tastes more like having a dessert for breakfast. The apples taste so sweet when they've been cooked and having it all warm when eaten makes it even more appetising.

To Serve 1 You will need:

 1 tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Apple (peeled, cored and sliced)
1 Slice of Fruit Bread
Golden Syrup (to serve)


1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.

 2. When the butter has melted, stir in the cinnamon.

 3. Add in the apples to the saucepan and stir until the apples are well coated in the butter and cinnamon.

 4. Cover a baking tray or grill pan with foil and evenly spread the apples out on it. Cook under a medium grill until the apples are starting to brown.

 5. Toast the slice of fruit bread and place on a plate.

6. Cover with the cooked apples and drizzle with golden syrup to serve.

Thursday, 26 July 2012


Sorry for the lack of recipes! I've been trying out a few new ones and so haven't posted them until they're tried and tested. (Plus it actually takes more effort to make a meal when I'm thinking about taking photos throughout.) Also going on holiday for the next couple of weeks so hopefully should resume regular recipe posting after that!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Chinese-Style Spareribs

I couldn't count the number of time I've had this over the years. It's been a regular family meal and one for occasions. I remember having these at a bonfire night party and a family barbeque, and someone always asks for the recipe after they've tried it. You can use this same sauce with different meats (chicken breast works well) or stick to the pork spareribs. As it's cooked for a long time in the sauce the meat becomes very tender rather than how tough the meat can be when simply fried. When cooked with the spareribs it's great to eat with you hands and eat the meat off the bone but that can be a little messy so keep some kitchen roll to hand.

You will need:

900g (2lb) Lean Pork Ribs

150 ml Unsweetened Orange Juice
4 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
2 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
 1 Garlic Clove (crushed)
2.5 cm Piece of Ginger (finely chopped)
2 Good Pinches Chinese 5 Spice

note: I've replaced the piece of ginger with ground ginger for convenience.

Equipment: Large Frying Pan/Wok, Jug, Spoon, Utensil to turn the meat (tongs are easiest for spareribs).


1. I'm using pork chops instead of the spareribs, but no matter what meat you're using start by frying it in a large frying pan to cook the meat through.

 2. Make the sauce by mixing all of the sauce ingredients in a jug.

 3. Pour the sauce over the meat in the frying pan and simmer for an hour turning the meat occasionally.

 4. After this time the sauce should have reduced to a sticky dark brown sauce.

 5. Serve with rice for a great meal.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Banana Cake

This recipe is one from my Mum. She used to make it sometimes when I was younger and it's still just as delicious. It's a great way to use up bananas that have gone past the stage of being nice to eat.

You will need:

85g Butter
85g Caster Sugar
1 Large Banana
Squeeze of Lemon Juice
1 Large Egg
115g Self-raising Flour 

Icing: Icing sugar and water/lemon juice.

Equipment: Mixing bowl, wooden spoon, small bowl, fork, cake tin.


1.Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.

2. Mash the banana in a small bowl using a fork.

3.Add the mashed banana to the butter and sugar with the lemon juice and mix well.

4.Beat the egg into the mixture.

5.Fold the flour into the mixture until just mixed.

6.Pour the mixture into a cake tin (I'm using a 2lb Loaf Tin).

7. Cook in a preheated oven at 190°C for 35 minutes.

7.Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack. When cooled completely top the cake with icing. (To make the icing mix 6tbsp of icing sugar with a very small amount of water, lemon juice or a mixture of both. Add the liquid to the icing suagr a few drops at a time until it just reaches a consistency which can be poured.)

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese is a classic Italian meal which is surprisingly simple to make. Most Spaghetti Bolognese recipes will include celery and red wine but I have left these out to adapt the recipe to my personal taste/requirements. (Sorry about the photo being taken after I'd drowned mine in cheese!)

You will need:

1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion
2 Carrots
A Handful of Mushrooms
1 Clove of Garlic
500g Mince Beef
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tbsp Tomato PureƩ
1 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes (400g)
400ml Beef Stock
Splash of Milk
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

Equipment: Knife, saucepan, wooden spoon, can opener, 


1. Slice the mushrooms, dice the onion and carrots and crush the garlic.

 2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the carrots, onion, mushrooms and crushed garlic. Cook for 5 mins.

 3. Add the minced beef and continue cooking until the beef has browned.

5. Add the oregano and tomato pureƩ and stir through.

6. Add the can of chopped tomatoes, followed by the beef stock, milk and Worcestershire sauce.

7. Stir through, bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour. (While this is cooking the spaghetti can be cooked according to the instructions)

 8. Serve the bolognese sauce on a plate of spaghetti.