Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Leeks by Torchlight!

The vegetable garden is now virtually empty, so the pantry or store cupboard is regularly raided, and baking cakes and breads have become the norm at The Pumpkin Patch.  Before Christmas, gingerbread cookies and shortbread were a hit, easy to make, easily made into all sorts of seasonal shapes & virtually impossible to get wrong yet really tasty. 

I mentioned the garden being empty, it is empty-ish, but not quite. We made 'Cawl' last week, and totally forgot to buy leeks, I was so disappointed. Cawl just isn't cawl without leeks. Anyway, somehow it suddenly dawned on me that I had a whole patch of the garden dedicated to leeks and I'd hardly harvested any of them. With all the recent rain, wind and drizzle, i'd totally forgotten about them. So torch in hand, wellies on, coat over apron, I ventured out into the black night to pick a few leeks! The cawl was great, just what the doctor ordered during the coldest week of the year to date, and made all the more special for the effort made to get the ingredients.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

New Year's 'Lunch' resolution

Just a week into 2015 and no doubt that despite our best efforts and intentions, some of our new year's resolutions have already been forgotten about. Making serious changes to our lives can be difficult, it really does take effort.  Many of us will have decided to make food related changes. Some will wish to loose weight, others may wish to simply cut down on fat, fizzy drinks, sweets, crisps or to reduce alcohol consumption, or even to increase their water intake. 

One easy way to improve our health without really trying, is to change our lunch habits! Sounds a bit obvious but most of us don't give a lot of thought to what they have for lunch. By the time lunch time comes around we are usually starving, and consequently either opt for the same, safe repetition of yesterday's lunch menu, whatever that may be, or we grab the first thing available. Obviously, we have special days when we meet friends, have to attend pre organised lunches/ lunch meetings, but on normal, run of the mill days we rarely divert from the comfort of our regular lunch routine. 

Children at primary school have very little choice, assuming they take advantage of Carmarthenshire's school meals which are conscientiously planned to offer children a tasty nutritionally balanced meal, offering meals containing carbs, protein, dairy etc and also giving our youngsters adequate energy (calories) needed to see them 'till tea time.

At secondary school, children have a little more choice made available to them, and of course, by the time our children get to twelve years and older, they really do have their own particular preferences and favourite foods. Trying to get a teenager to make the healthy option and to opt for a tuna salad over a pizza, is never going to be easy! The situation is made even more complex when you consider the differing nutritional needs of the thousand or so children at the school. The needs of the rugby firsts team, the sprinter, the ballet dancer, the actor, musician, the child with a high metabolic rate or the under active thyroid....the list goes on, and it's quite a challenge. Even within large family it can be quite a task to meet the nutritional needs of the energetic, the not so sporty, the weight lifter, rugby player, and those with a large appetite and those that rarely feel hungry, and yet each of them fall within the realms of 'normal'.

For me, the day passes quickly, lunch time often passes and it's school pick up time before I get my lunch, this is not ideal. For others, lunchtime is the highlight of the day. Escaping from the workplace to indulge in a cuppa and a panini, a baguette, a sandwich, a bowl of soup or even a sit down, two or three course meal at the office canteen with friend and colleagues is a treat, not to be missed, in the middle of the day.  

Whether you buy or prepare your own lunch box, it's important for our health (and our waistline!) that we take care to consider what we eat for our lunch. It goes without saying that a variation is key! It keeps us interested in our food as well as providing us a variety of different vitamins and minerals from the range of foods. Choosing different lunches also gives us the opportunity to balance high energy (the high calorie) luxury lunches with lower energy, high fibre foods such as a simple soup or salad. If you opt for the same sandwich on a regular basis,  and it happens to be the deluxe, highly calorific, mayonnaise laden, fatty option, then you'll soon see those pounds go on. The unfortunate thing is, you still go home thinking and exclaiming that 'I just had a quick sandwich for lunch'. 

Even if you haven't made any New Years resolutions this year,  make a decision to take lunch seriously.  If you've never considered it before, try making your own lunch and taking it with you a few times each week. Treat a bought lunch as a luxury, whatever the price. Make soups and bean or pasta salads, healthy sandwiches, add plenty of fruit and enjoy a lighter 2015.