Monday, 30 January 2012

Cleaner eating - Cambridge Superfoods

In between all the cake baking and eating out I do fit in some healthy meals. I get a veg box delivered every fortnight so our meals are very vegetable focused and despite being a bit of a fruit phobic I am trying to eat more fresh fruit during the day. I do still have to have some chocolate at least once a day. Moving on to topic, I've seen a lot of diet food delivery services popping up lately although most of them seem to be ready meals which don't look all that healthy to me.

Recently Jenny from Cambridge Superfoods very kindly offered me one day trial of their healthy meal delivery service. They are quite different from the usual, all the food is made fresh the day before (the smoothies that morning) and ingredients are local where possible.

Your parcel of food is delivered to you each morning, every weekday for as long as you sign up to the plan. Jenny delivered to my work, I can tell you it is a very nice feeling having someone come and deliver all your meals for the day, one less thing to worry about doing!

I started off with a peanut butter, blueberry and banana smoothie, sweetened with agave syrup, the peanut butter made it very filling. Around 11am I got a bit peckish, and I had some lovely sweet pineapple slices to eat.

Lunch was a broccoli, pea, potato and goats cheese frittata with beetroot salad and mustard dressing (sorry about the awful photo taken in the office seating area). I warmed the frittata slightly and popped it back on the salad - a very filling lunch. I was feeling very virtuous at this point - and I hadn't eaten anything other than what was in the parcel.

For the inevitable afternoon snack attack I was provided with strawberries dipped in dark chocolate. I was feeling the lack of carbs a little by now, which I think is a sign that I need to eat less of them!

When I got home from work I had an extra treat which isn't normally included in the parcel - some gorgeous little raw chocolate hearts, sweetened with agave and flavoured with vanilla. They were really nice, they weren't bitter like normal dark chocolate. Lovely with a cup of redbush tea.

Dinner was definitely the highlight, and something I'll be trying to make for myself when I have some time. Prawns marinated in olive oil served with a vegetable packed tomato and paprika sauce with quinoa and lots of crumbly feta. I fried the prawns for probably slightly longer than I should have done but they caramelised and were soft on the inside and crispy on the outside as a result. It was very filling and felt all the better for being good for you.

I really enjoyed trying this out but I think I'm an experienced enough cook to take on healthy cooking myself. It is however ideal if you are stuck in an unhealthy eating rut because of lack of time or cooking experience. Everything is so fresh and each day and week there is a different menu.

For more information about Cambridge Superfoods visit the site, Jenny delivers to most areas in and around Cambridge.

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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Easy Paprika Chickpeas

A little lunch idea for you which is ridiculously easy, healthy and cheap to make! It is in a similar vein to my recipe for Spiced Chickpeas and Peppers but I've altered it so all you need to do is chuck in some flavourings with some freshly boiled chickpeas.

I used dried chickpeas which I soaked and boiled with stock for 40 minutes before draining and adding the dressing. But because these are meant to be easy I'd recommend using tinned. All you need to do for tinned chickpeas is boil them for about 5 minutes. Having the chickpeas warm when you add the dressing really helps them to soak it up a bit more.

For the dressing - dresses 1 400g tin of chickpeas

1 tablespoons of good quality olive oil
1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
1 heaped teaspoon of smoked paprika
pinch of cumin seeds
salt and pepper to taste
handful of parsley, chopped.
half a chilli, finely chopped.

Add all this to your bowl/pan of freshly cooked chickpeas, stir, cool, store in the fridge and then put into your tub for lunch. I put some fresh spinach on top of mine, the whole thing gets a quick 1 minute zap in the microwave to wilt the spinach and lunch is done! I have mine with a dollop of houmous.

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Friday, 20 January 2012

The Boy Who Bakes

I love a good food programme, I will watch most of them and feel very hungry afterwards. I really enjoyed watching the Great British Bake Off, mainly because they covered so many areas and it has given me loads of ideas.

I got  Ed Kimber's, the winner of the first series, book for Christmas. Looking for something simple to make one day with a large craving for cake that I wanted to quickly satisfy, I made the 'Peaches and Cream Cake,' but with some cooking apples I had in my fruit bowl.

It is a lovely cake, quite creamy (is it says) and the caramel and fruit is just lovely. I have lots of other recipes queued up to try, I think the PB & J bars are next.

It is a lovely book, beautifully shot (unlike my photographs) but not too arty and there are loads and loads of recipes inside. I'm going to try his macaron recipe too, see if I can improve on previous attempts.

You can buy the book from most bookshops, and do look at his blog too:

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Friday, 6 January 2012

2011 Round Up

I'm a little late to this but it is still early January so it is ok!
2011 was the year that Mr. Giraffe went Veggie. It seemed daunting at first but we've learnt lots along the way and we have so many more meals in our repetoire. We also started getting a veg box from Walden Local Food which made us try lots of different kinds of veg!

Here are some of my favourite things I've made this year...

Mushroom Ragu
Rich, warming and nearly meaty. Takes much much less time to make than a normal ragu and it is very satisfying. And if you are wondering about the 'parmesan' - Sainsburys basics italian hard cheese is veggie and tastes the same as parmesan!

Rhubarb Custard Cake with Lemon Glaze.
This was something of a cake revolution for me, the sponge tastes just like custard, it really does.
And the rhubarb goes together very naturally. mmm. I can't wait for forced rhubarb to come into season next month.

I made macarons! And took some awful pictures of them! I still haven't got them perfect yet, they aren't as pretty as the ones you'll find made professionally, but they have always tasted good which is important.

I learnt to like cucumbers. These cucumber pickles are so easy to make and go with everything.

Possibly the longest title for something I've made before. A delicious dip / sauce which is so summery it makes me depressed writing about it in January. We dipped bread into it, smeared on toasted ciabatta, tossed it with pasta and ate it from the bowl with a spoon. 

Wow. Heart attack inducing baking, so many people have blogged about these and no wonder, they are the King of brownies. 

Along with all the cooking we've also done some pretty good eating out this year. Our best meal is a toss up between the Hinds Head at Bray and The British Larder in Suffolk. I do think about going back to the British Larder more often, and lots of other food bloggers have gone because of me - so I think they win.

All that has made me very hungry now, off to dive in to the remainder of the Christmas chocolate.

Happy 2012 everyone!

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Monday, 2 January 2012

Lime Tree Court Restaurant, Saffron Walden

Just a quick blog post to let you know about a lovely Italian restaurant that has just opened up in Saffron Walden. I'm really pleased because it is hard to find Italian food not dominated by chain restaurants.
They serve pizza, pasta, mains and salads, and importantly puddings.
We stopped by for the very good value lunch menu, £6.95 for a large range of dishes. I had a grilled aubergine & ricotta (the ricotta tasted house made too) pizza and Mr. a panini which was basically a cross between a wrap and a calzone. Both cooked in a pizza oven.

We will be going back again very soon!

Update, January 2013: I walked past recently and it turns out this restaurant is now closed, it is now an Indian restaurant. Such a shame as those pizzas were brilliant.

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Sunday, 1 January 2012

Vegetarian Pho

First of all, Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all had a lovely Christmas.

 I've never had Pho before, but I've read lots about it and it seems to be one of those dishes which is amazing and also comes with strict rules about what should be in it. I'd never come across Vegetarian Pho before until I saw it on Miss Igs' blog recently.

Whilst I don't believe detox works, after all the indulgences of Christmas and New Year this is perfect to cut through all the roast dinners, cheese boards and tins of chocolate consumed in such a small amount of time.

This recipe appeals to my organised / neat freak nature as you assemble all the ingredients in to little bowls ready to put together when the broth is done. Some chopped coriander, sliced spring onions, diced chillies, steamed pak choi and thin strips of fried smoked tofu. You can make all this up before serving or lay them out on the table and let everyone garnish as they eat.

Click here for the full recipe on Miss Igs' blog (and lots of other lovely recipes from a fellow Cambridge food blogger).
As mentioned I had shallow fried smoked sesame tofu (lovely, full of flavour) and some steamed pak choi with my Pho. I've got lots of broth leftover too, which I am going to stash in the freezer for a day when I am struck down with a rotten cold.

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