Bun in the Oven

foodie adventure though conception and beyond

Breakfast Burrito:

I find it difficult to get excited about breakfast which is dry and comes in a box. I do have a wonderful Super fruit granola that I have on a regular basis, but sometime you just need a hot breakfast to kick start your day.

What you need;

Wholewheat tortilla wrap

3 eggs

splash of skimmed milk

1/4 red onion

5 cherry tomatoes

1/4 red or yellow pepper

1 tsp sweet paprika

Salt and pepper

Slice the onion and peeper, and quarter the tomatoes. Add to a hot dry pan, and “fry” until tomatoes and onions a start to soften.

Add the paprika, and “fry” until it seems ready, (It should be gooey and soft).

Meanwhile make your scrambled eggs, I do this with a splash of milk in with the whisked eggs. Into a warm pan, and keep it moving until it is a loose consistency. Take off heat, and season. Put tortilla in the microwave for 20 seconds to warm.

Place the tomato and onion mix on the tortilla, and then the eggs, fold into a pocket and serve!

This is such a satisfying breakfast and takes about 5 minutes to prepare!

Bliss

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Cheesy Aubergine Bake

My Cheesy Aubergine bake, is great as an easy lunch, or as a side dish to your evening meal. It is tasty and very very easy.

All you need is an aubergine, an onion, some garlic (I’m using smoked as I love the taste), some cheddar and a bit of margarine to sweat the onions in.

First, slice your onions and place them in a preheated pan to sweat for about 5 minutes. Then add in two cloves of crushed garlic and friy for about a minute.

While the onion is sweating, slice the aubergine into disks (about 1/2cm thick) and layer into a dish.

This is also a good time to grate your cheddar ready for the bake. I used 50g.

Season, and scatter 1/2 of the onions and garlic over the first layer you have made. Now scatter some of the cheddar over this layer.

Repeat this for the next layer. MAke sure the top layer is neat, as once the cheese melts it will be visable.

Place in a preheated oven at 180c for about 25 minutes.

This could be spiced up to go with a nice lamb chop by adding apricots and a pinch of  each ground coriander, cumin, paprika, cinnamon and brown sugar.

Or it could be on the side of one of your two fish portions for the week.

I personally like it with an egg on top (not runny of course) as an easy lunch 🙂

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Blog of the Week; Local kitchen

bruschetta risotto

http://localkitchenblog.com/2012/08/11/bruschetta-risotto/

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Folic Acid

When talking to my doctor about pregnancy and discussing the things I had to do to make myself ready to conceive, folic acid was the key supplement that I was advised to take. Folic Acid is a B vitamin that has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of your baby having a spine malformation (such as spina-bifida). It also plays a pivotal role in cell division. On top of this, studies show that women who take folic acid before becoming pregnant are less likely to go into premature labour. Vitamin D and Omega -3 can also help with preventing pre-term labour. Some experts recommend that all women of childbearing age should be taking vitamin supplements that include folic acid, but this can be seen as expensive and unnecessary. As with many vitamins and minerals, if you can simply eat the correct things then there is no need to take vitamin supplements. I try to do both. I have bought a complete vitamin and mineral supplement made by Vitabiotics especially for couples trying to conceive. Among other things this tablet contains folic acid, Inositol (helps support ovarian function), L-arginine (for healthy follicular blood flow) and Vitamin B-12 (which maintains healthy ovarian function and reproductive health.) There are many of these supplements on the market but I chose this one due to good reviews, and the fact they sell a combined pack including a daily tablet for your partner. It is recommend that these are taken for between 4-6 months before you begin trying to make a baby. The same brand can be continued into pregnancy, which was useful for me as we conceived so much faster then we expected! They also do a comprehensive range of vitamins for pregnancy, breastfeeding and new mums combinations to aide recovery. There are plenty of other brands and supermarket own-brands out there, which cover the same areas, but these were highly recommended by midwives and have won various awards including a Boots 2012 product award.

When I started looking into this it was for conception purposes, so I researched into the preparation my husband could do for conception, and it turns out there is little he needed to do. The two things that seemed important were limiting alcohol consumption to the recommended daily allowance (so no more then 3-4 units a day). Also not taking scolding hot baths – as it affects the production and mobility of sperm. It is a good idea for men to be eating healthily (especially if you are, as it helps to motivate you.) and the vitamins and minerals that will boost their sexual health and make the sperm stronger and more mobile. Personally I think the men get off lightly, but my husband eats the same things that I am to an extent, so is also kind of on a diet. He has also automatically cut down his alcohol consumption, as I no longer join him in a drink in the evening.

Folic acid is of course found naturally in many green leafy vegetables such as brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli and spring greens. It is also found in bananas, asparagus, peas, citrus juices and pulses. You must remember that most of these must be eaten raw or lightly cooked to get the folic acid out and into your system rather then cooked away. So try things like using raw broccoli and lightly steamed asparagus as crudités with hummus, or baby leaf spinach as salad leaves, a banana or orange as a snack or even buying bread or cereals with added folic acid (see packets for details). Also brown rice, pumpkin and baked potatoes are a good source.

It is recommended that on a daily basis that you should be taking 400mcg. If you have a family history of neural tube defects or chronic health problems then this should be increase to 5000mcg. It is an important issue, so much so, some countries add folic acid to a staple food source, such as Chile where it is in bread and spina bifida has almost totally been eradicated. It is worth talking to you GP if you are aware of any issues that have occurred within your family.

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Are organic vegetable boxes value for money?

Now we all know Organic vegetables can be amazing and full of flavour but they can be expensive. I have been using Down to Earth, a local company based in Earlsdon, Coventry. They do a weekly Organic box scheme with boxes starting at £10 including delivery. Down to Earth are wonderfully helpful and friendly, but are their vegetable boxes value for money?

 

What I’m going to do today is look at the box that gets delivered to my door, and compare the cost and quality of the items delivered to those sold at my local supermarket (Sainsbury’s). This should reveal if it is good value for money, or simply worth the extra because of the convenience and/or quality.

As there are only two of us, we get a £10 box and pay for 6 organic eggs in addition. Down to Earth offer vegetables and/or salad in their boxes, which are as locally sourced as possible.  When I chatted to the girl in the shop about the issue of food miles, she said that you could request UK only produce, but it would mean some things would never be available, and there is a “hungry gap” of April and May in this country.  They will do one, but wouldn’t recommend it.

Down to Earth also do meat and fish boxes, but I haven’t tried those yet. They start at £25 a week, and contain produce sourced from Elmhurst farm at Withybrook and Graig Farm in Wales (only produce that can’t be sourced locally such as salmon and wild meats). Elmhurst Farm has been established for over 10 years and produces its own organic lamb, chicken, beef, and pork as well as turkeys, geese, cockerels and ducks at Christmas. They also produce their own sausages and bacon.  It is a truly local and high quality supplier.

The shop also can order organic salmon, sustainably fished cod, hoki (a white fish and very cheap), prawns, trout, tuna, mackerel, sardines and smoked fish. These can be combined with a vegetable box on request.

If you don’t live in Coventry, there are companies online, such as www.abelandcole.co.uk and www.riverford.co.uk, who do a similar service on a national level. The advantage to this is that you know in advance what you are getting. Both let you set up a “dislike list” of items you never want to get, so you don’t end up wasting your money or food. I do find not knowing what vegetables I’m getting until Friday difficult sometimes, especially when I’m trying to plan the menu for the week ahead. But it isn’t a major problem.

The other little thing I have had a few times is not knowing what an item is. However, the staff at the shop are always happy to educate. Quite often it is a case of having a different variety of a common vegetable.

One reason I love the box scheme is that it has been challenging me. I have new vegetables I have to cook with, so I have to research, find new recipes, which in turn educates me.

12 items = Down to Earth =£10

(broad beans, strawberries, broccoli, baby gem lettuce, red and white onions, potatoes, coriander, cucumber, vine tomatoes, courgettes )

Down to Earth Organic Strawberries; (275g)

Sainsbury’s British Strawberries(not organic): 227g  Special offer; £1.50 (usually £3)

Down to Earth Organic Broad beans; 325g

Sainsbury’s Dwarf Beans, So Organic 250g; £1.50

Non-Organic alternative; Sainsbury’s Dwarf Beans 300g; £1.50 (but 50g more

Down to Earth Organic Broccoli; 475 g

Sainsbury’s Broccoli, So Organic 400g; £1.60

Non-Organic alternative; Sainsbury’s Broccoli (loose): £0.91

Down to Earth Organic Courgettes; 405g

Sainsbury’s Courgettes, So Organic; £2.00

Down to Earth Organic Vine cherry tomatoes; 175g

Sainsbury’s Vittoria Vine Tomatoes, So Organic 200g; £1.50 (usually £1.99)

Non-Organic alternative; Sainsbury’s Cherry Tomatoes On The Vine 225g; £1.30

Down to Earth OrganicWhite potatoes; 1.9kg

Sainsbury’s White Potatoes, So Organic 1.5kg; £1.75

Non-Organic alternative; Sainsbury’s White Potatoes 2.5kg; £1.37

Down to Earth Organic Coriander;30g

Sainsbury’s Fresh Coriander 28g; £0.80
(not organic)

Down to Earth Organic ½ Cucumber;

Sainsbury’s Cucumber, Portions; £0.40 (not organic)

Down to Earth Organic Baby Gem Hearts x2

Sainsbury’s Little Gem Lettuce, So Organic; £1.00 (usually £1.38)

Non-organic alternative; £0.85

Down to Earth Organic Red onions; 120g

Sainsbury’s Red Onions (loose)- not organic; £0.12

Down to Earth Organic White onions; 215g

Sainsbury’s Onions (Loose), not organic; £0.19

Down to Earth Organic Carrots (dirty); 350g

Sainsbury’s Carrots (loose) not organic; £0.25

CONCLUSION

 Down to Earth Price; £10 (all organic)

Sainsbury’s; £12.61 (mostly organic)                                                                                                                                                                 

(All organic apart from cucumber, strawberries, coriander, beans, carrots and onions)                           


Non-organic alternative; £9.91           

And Finally;

6 Organic Eggs; £1.95

Down to Earth Organic eggs

Sainsbury’s Woodland Free Range Large Eggs, Organic x6; £1.98

Sainsbury’s Free Range Woodland Medium Eggs x6; £1.57

So quality wise, the organic box wins on pretty much every case. The freshness is unbeatable, and there is no plastic to be seen. The boxes are reused (just leave them out to be collected on delivery day.) The only other packaging is all-recyclable, which is kept to a minimal.

It is possible to get cheaper vegetables if you buy from the Sainsbury’s Basics range, or in bulk. Which for a lot of people is fine, however I only do this for onions and potatoes as I find these are a staple and use in pretty much every meal.

I’m sure some weeks the supermarket would win. But I’m convinced that supporting local farmers is the way forward. I will continue to buy the box as it gives me variety, quality and value for money. So please, research fresh, local veg box schemes! In the end, the choice is yours!

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