The cooking Journal
Be Summer Skin Ready
Usually I can’t wait for hot weather, just the thought of basking in the warmth, spending time in the outdoors catching the sun, meeting friends for pub garden lunches, and evening drinks making the most of the warm summer evenings.

It’s also a time for the skin to get the much needed Vitamin D from sunlight which benefits us in many ways, such as taming the reproduction of cancer cells, allowing us to absorb calcium, and boosts our immune system.  Vitamin D also helps prevent inflammation which reduces acne, and when exposed to the sun safely, it gives our skin a healthy bronzed glow.

However, the hot weather isn’t always the welcome ray of sunshine for everyone.  Increased heat can cause skin to gradually lose moisture, resulting in it becoming very dry and chapped.  Dry skin can lead to more serious problems such as Dermatitis, Psoriasis, and Eczema.  Whilst continuously apply a soothing moisturizer can help, you should also increase your intake of foods that help hydrate our bodies internally.

Foods high in Vitamin E are essential, and are known for its incredible benefits to skin.  It not only moisturises, but contains powerful anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties.  As much as we love the sun our skin’s natural vitamin E levels are reduced when exposed to sunlight, resulting in unsightly, dry complexion.


Foods that help benefit skin

  • Almonds are a strong contender as they are enriched with vitamin E. Just 30 almonds contain 7.3mg which is 27% of our daily value. Raw almonds are best, yet almond milk and almond oil still supply our needs.

  • Spinach shouldn’t just be known for its iron content, as it contains 6.9mg of vitamin E, 26% of our daily value. It’s one of the best leafy vegetables to add to your diet as it also supplies our bodies with calcium and potassium.

  • Avocadoes are important for healthy skin as they are filled with vitamin E and antioxidants. Yet they also contain monounsaturated fats, good fats, which keeps skin moist.

  • Sweet potatoes contain the pigment beta-carotene and vitamin A, both are brilliant to prevent dry skin. Beta carotene is also an antioxidant that fights against premature aging and helps repair tissue damage.

  • Tropical fruits such as papaya and mango are an excellent way of nourishing skin while on the move. They contain an abundance of Vitamins A and C, and antioxidants that help replenish nutrients in skin and help produce collagen production. Collagen keeps your skin’s elastin and repairs dead skin cells.

  • Broccoli is another source containing three skin protecting properties; vitamin C,E and antioxidants, plus it’s a brilliant versatile vegetable suitable for stir-fry’s, fish or any meat dinner.

  • Fish such as salmon and sardines are both high in Omega 3 which helps strengthen skin cells and protect skin from sun damage. Symptoms of omega 3 deficiency involve dry skin. Certain fish also contain selenium, which is important as it helps preserve the elastin in the skin.

  • Oysters are one of best sources for zinc, which helps in cell reproduction and wound healing. Yet zinc also helps with the absorption of fatty substances to nourish the skin.

  • Water rich foods such as celery and cucumber contain Silica, an ingredient that boosts moisture and elasticity. fruits and vegetables that are high in water  are surrounded by molecules that help deliver the water they contain into cells more easily

  • Water! It may seem obvious but the best way to keep your skin hydrated is to supply it with lots of water.

By incorporating these foods into your diet, you’ll have summer ready skin in no time! All you’ll need to worry about is the weather forecast!


#healthyskin #summerskin #hydratedskin #healthyliving #healthytips #healthtipsforskin
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Honey - 'Bee' In The Know
Honey’s existence dates back to as far as we record, samples have even been found in Egyptian tombs from over 3,000 years ago and still edible! Yet this deliciously sweet preserve has more benefits to us than most realise.

I recall when I was younger and had caught the common cold, my mum would make me a hot lemon and honey drink. I never understood how something so sweet would soothe my coarse throat. Yet Honey is a brilliant antiseptic, antioxidant and has healing properties which aids tissue healing, reduce inflammation and scarring. As always, my mother was right, and soon my throat was soothed.

However, now honey is being used to treat the ‘hospital superbug’, MRSA, which has developed a resistance to penicillin and other antibiotics. Honey has four attributes that make it effective at battling infection:

  • H2O2 which may be more familiar as hydrogen peroxide or bleach. Consuming or applying large quantities of H2O2 is not a good idea because it’s highly corrosive, but scientists have found that honey contains low levels of the chemical and it can kill MRSA bacteria.

  • Dextrose and fructose (C6H12O6 in chemistry-speak, or sugars in chef speak). This makes up 75% to 85% of honey, which means that it doesn’t contain much water – and bacteria can’t thrive without water.

  • Bee Defensin-1 This protein, also found in the bee secretion royal jelly, is a natural antibiotic.

  • Methylglyoxal (C3H4O2, or sometimes simply ‘MGO’). This chemical compound inhibits bacteria’s ability to produce the proteins needed to survive, and makes honey a powerful remedy to infection and illness.

The list of Honey varieties can be confusing. The most renowned is Manuka honey, which is known for strengthening our immune system. Yet we shouldn’t forget Buckwheat which is healthier alternative to cough syrup, or Lavender Honey which is brilliant for pregnant women for suffer from calcium deficiencies as it encourages the body to use any calcium consumed. Darker honeys tend to have higher levels of antioxidants, and by opting for raw honey as these contain vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that are not found in refined honey.

So that’s plenty of food for thought the next time you have a slice of toast and honey.

#honey #ishoneygoodforus #ishoneyhealthy #benefitsofhoney #lovehoney
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Preparing Fish
Did you know we should incorporate two portions of fish a week, including one oily fish, as this is particularly high in omega 3 for a healthy heart?  More and more people want to include fish into their weekly diets after learning about the health benefits. Our fish cookery classes are a brilliant way of learning an array of recipes that you can easily cook at home for nutritious and delicious meals.

If you’ve found a tempting recipe and are eager to try it out then here’s some useful tips to consider and buying and storing fish to ensure a super tasty result.

Tips for buying fish

  • Smell it! Fresh fish should smell sweet: you should feel that you're standing at the ocean's edge.  A fresh fish should not smell ‘fishy’.

  • Look at it! Whole fish should look as they were just pulled from the water. Eyes should be bright and no signs of cloudiness. Flesh should be firm and bounce back when touched.  There should be no discoloration or brown or yellow edges. The flesh in fillets shouldn’t separate.

  • Check the gills! Gills should be red in colour and wet, rather than dry or slimy.

Tips for storing fish

Fish deteriorates as soon as they leave the water.

  • Refrigerate it immediately! Fish is highly perishable and will only keep in the fridge for 1-2 days.

  • Freeze it! If you know you are not able to cook the fish instantly, freeze it.  By placing it in an airtight container, it removes all the air and retains the flavours.  For best taste and nutrition, use up the frozen fish within 2 weeks of freezing.  Always thaw fish in the refrigerator or in cold water.

Cooking fish

The biggest temptation is to overcook it.

When fish is cooked, the proteins relax and loosen, then reattach to each other and combine.  This process squeezes out the water and the molecules shrink, pressing closer together.  You can see this process happening as the changes colour from translucent to opaque. Light isn't able to pass through the combined protein, therefore we know fish is cooked when it is opaque.

You can also test when fish is cooked as it should ‘flake’. As fish have very little connective tissue and fat, they are quite delicate when cooked. By inserting a fork or knife gently into the thickest part of the fish and twisting, the flesh should begin to separate along the natural lines.

Fish is very delicate so it’s easy to overcook, which will toughen the texture and spoil the taste. Remember that a heated pan holds heat, so when the fish just begins to become translucent, remove from the heat so that it continues cooking by the latent heat in the pan and therefore beautifully done when immediately served.

Whether you’re marinating with lemon and dill, adding ginger, garlic or chopped onions, or planning to use it in a warming fish pie, these useful tips will ensure your fish tastes like perfection!

#cookingfish #fishrecipes #cookingwithfish #easyfishdinner # easyfishrecipes #nutritiouseating #howtocookfish #preparingfish #storingfish #healthyeating #healthyfishrecipes
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Why Should We Eat More Fish?
We all know that fish is an incredibly nutritious ingredient and important for our health and well-being for numerous reasons. Did you know that Salmon is featured in the top 10 foods we should include in our diet?

Yet, remarkably we don’t seem to cook enough of it.  I think the biggest reason why is that we perceive the preparation and cooking of fish is very complicated.  The number one mishap is the risk of over cooking fish but treating it like chicken.  Then there’s the fear of under-cooking fish and getting food poisoning.  For the most part we lack confidence as it’s considered to be a delicate ingredient that can go wrong easily.  In trying to keep it simply but safe we tend to add a bit of lemon juice and salt and pepper, then cook it for 20 minutes, by which time it’s dried out and overcooked, thereby spoiling the texture and taste.  Yet it is not as complicated as you think!

Fish is really quick to cook, even quicker than cooking poultry and meat and really simple to season.  If you are looking for an easy mid-week dish that is full of flavour and rewarding then look no further. If you would like to learn how to prepare quick recipes for an array of fish, and cook nutritious and delicious food such as pan fried sea bass or sesame and soy seared tuna then book onto one of our fish cookery courses.

Here are our top 10 reasons of why we should cook more fish:

  • Fish is a great source of protein; it is easier to digest than chicken or meat. Fresh fish contains complete protein sources with all the amino acids your body needs to maintain a healthy metabolism, yet less fatty than meats such as pork or beef.

  • Many types of fish contain omega-3 fatty acids. Perhaps one of the main benefits of omega-3 is that it plays a large role in keeping your arteries free of blockage, blood clots and lowers your blood pressure. In turn, your risk of heart disease dramatically decreases.

  • It is incredibly important during pregnancy, as the omega 3 is also essential for fetal brain development and can potential strengthen a baby’s brain connections as early as in the womb.

  • When you choose fish over beef, lamb or pork you’re cutting out the artery clogging saturated fat – that can also cause cholesterol. The omega-3 found in some fish is a type of polyunsaturated fat, a good fat.

  • It’s high in vitamins A, B & D as well as other minerals. Many varieties also provide the required RDA, for example one serving of salmon gives you 100% of the required vitamin D and 50% B12.

  • Omega 3 is also very good for the immune system and helps reduce inflammation in your body. As a result, you stand less of a chance of developing arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.

  • Eating at least 2 portions of fish per week is very good for the management of diabetics as it controls blood sugar levels.

  • Eating fish is also known to reduce your chances of a stroke and heart attacks. The omega 3 fatty acid helps to strengthen the cellular membranes against attack.

  • Canned fish such as sardines and salmon are a brilliant source of calcium as they contain tiny bones that are so small they are unnoticeable, yet are abundant in calcium.

  • Eating fish which is high in omega 3 could help to prevent Alzheimer’s diseases. Omega-3 is very good for brain development and new studies are showing their positive effects on slowing down brain degenerative disease and positively impacting on cognitive functions, depression and concentration.


#Fishcookingclasses #learntocookfish #fishcookerycourse  #howtocookfish #isfishhealthy #fishrecipes #simplefishrecipes #healthbenefitsoffish #cookingfish #healthyfood


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Cooking with Chickpeas - A Channa Masala Recipe
Although they’re not much at their first appearance, it’s surprising how incredibly tasty Chickpeas can be to cook with. They are not in fact a bean nor a pea, but rather a legume, which is classified as both a vegetable and a protein food. Isn’t it remarkable how something so small can target two food groups?

Chickpeas are perfect for vegans, vegetarians or anyone on a meat –free diet, as their protein count is astonishing.  They contain 19g per 100g, only 8g less than the ‘go-to source’ chicken.  On their own, Chickpeas are quite bland, so when combined with other ingredients, the protein content will equalise that of meat.  Yet this isn’t the only reason why we should start consuming more of these legumes.

Health Benefits of Chickpeas

  • They are also recognised for their high fibre content. Fibre rich foods do not only aid in digestion, they balance pH levels in the gut, increasing healthy bacteria and eliminating unhealthy bacteria.

  • They are ‘good-carbs’. The carbohydrates in Chickpeas are complex carbs, which means they are digested slowly and stored as energy to be used later. This helps control blood sugar, as it allows for sugar to move more slowly into your bloodstream; therefore this will not suddenly spike blood sugar levels.

  • Typically, Vitamin C is known for its immune boosting qualities, yet zinc and copper are too equally as effective for the development of immune boosting cells. Chickpeas contain 17% of our daily intake of zinc and 30% of copper per 165g.

Although more widely known to be used in Indian, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean cuisine, they are so versatile that they can be used in most dishes. Why not try them sautéed with garlic mushrooms and served on toast? Or fry them with garlic and combine with a paprika and cumin yoghurt mix and add them to a baked sweet potato?  They’re texture  allows them to be blended and work well as dips, such as Hummus or, my favourite, chickpea and red pepper.

However, I cannot ignore a dish that I believe chickpeas work best with. Channa Masala is favourite in Indian cuisine. The spices and chillies, combined with the smoothness of the chickpeas, create an amazing combination of flavours and textures.


Channa Masala  




3 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 large cinnamon stick

1 tsp whole cumin seeds

½ tsp asafoetida

2 tbsp gram flour

200g tinned chopped tomatoes or passata

2 tsp tomato puree

2 tsp finely chopped garlic
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