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The cooking Journal
The Alchemy of Food
Food is medicine and medicine is food – Hipprocates 320 BC

Do you eat to live or live to eat?  Is food just about filling a hole?  If it is then think again – this presentation is a game-changer!

Kumud Gandhi, a Food Scientist, Author, and Founder of The Cooking Academy will take you behind the scenes at the food we eat, the choices we make, and what factors have influenced our eating habits today. How we have evolved to become the humans we are today and what role has food played in our evolution.  How does food impact our brains and our bodies?

We are we taught to do most thing in life and yet never taught why we use certain ingredients and how they benefit us!

We are what we eat and this presentation will help you make more informed choices based on science and non-jargon nutrition.  It will make you think about the way in which we use ingredients to cook, why we pair certain ingredients together, how to use herbs and spices in cooking, and to what end.

This is an interactive presentation, using a number of herbs, spices, and ingredients to illustrate the point.  Be ready to be inspired and change your outlook, because Food is Functionality, not just flavour! 

 

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Cauliflower, paneer & pea curry
We absolutely love to cook with seasonal ingredients, not least because it’s usually local produce but also because eating seasonally means we get the right nutrition for what our body needs now.  Cauliflower will be in season up until the end of autumn and we should really take advantage of all its nutritional properties. Cauliflower is high in fibre and is an amazing source of antioxidants and you'd be surprised how easy it is to integrate into your diet!

We’ve also managed to pack another seasonal superpower, the common garden peas!  Peas are an excellent source of plant-based protein, lots of vitamin C and zinc to strengthen your immune system and support our digestive health.

Try this delicious recipe and you'll never have enough!

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Food waste: from part of the problem, to part of the solution
composting, food waste, solution

We are currently in the middle of Compost Week 2021. Celebrating the benefits of composting is extremely important to our society, and we should all consider becoming "rotters". Let's find out why.

A common mistake is to think of composting as the exclusive dominion of farmers and gardeners, I assure you that's not the case, we can all play our part. While a small proportion of people have an allotment or a veg patch in the garden, we are not really inclined to grow our own greeneries yet. But how important is composting?

WRAP estimated annual food waste from UK households, hospitality & food service (HaFS), food manufacture, retail and wholesale sectors in 2018 at around 9.5 million tonnes, 70% of which was intended to be consumed by us  (30% being the ‘inedible parts such as the outer layers of cauliflower, animals waste etc) 

This had a value of over £19 billion a year and equates to more than 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Over 85% (by weight) of this wasted food arises in households and food manufacture, although waste arising in one part of the supply chain is certainly influenced by other parts of the chain.

19% of the food scraps and lawn clippings, ideal compost fodder, end up in landfills and decompose without access to oxygen. This causes the release of methane gas, which is many times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The good news is that we can all do our part to avoid food waste as much as possible while learning how to make composting happen at home.

What is composting?


We can describe composting as the process of giving life back to your soil using organic materials. In the wild, composting takes place naturally: trees shed their leaves, shrubs wither away, seeds deteriorate, and all these materials will decompose spontaneously, becoming part of the soil they came from and delivering nutrients back into the ground. Recreating this process in an urban setting is possible, by using food and garden waste such as leaves and lawn cuttings. With the right ingredients and the right environment, your compost system will evolve into a finished product that is extremely valuable.

Here are a few reasons why compost is way more valuable than average soil:

  1. Drought: acting as a natural sponge, compost is perfect for retaining moisture that plants will use when needed. This is extremely helpful to reduce the need to water and use commercial fertilizer.

  2. Climate change: good compost removes carbon from the air to store it in the ground. This carbon will eventually become part of the plants thriving on that soil. Depleted soil, containing less organic material, can't claim this property vital to fight global warming.

  3. Landfills: as previously mentioned, we need to be more self-conscious of the food waste amount that ends up in landfills. Composting would eliminate the presence of organic materials in landfills, decreasing the overall methane gas emissions.

  4. Healthy food: Needless to say, good homemade compost without synthetic fertilizers will produce amazing vegetables. Healthy soil = healthy food. Healthy food = healthy people.  you know my motto dont you!


How to do it yourself


The two main ingredients of compost are "green" materials and "brown" materials. Combined with water and oxygen, the elements will break down and generate compost.



Whatever method you'll decide to use, is important to maintain a good balance for the beneficial microbes to thrive. Luckily, any compost pile can be recovered if something doesn't go as planned, so it can be treated like a fun experiment.There are plenty of compost receptacles that will make it easier than ever to compost right at home. If you're feeling more adventurous, you could also try methods suitable for back garden use such as the 3 bin method or vermicomposting. If you have trouble with space, you can opt for Bokashi composting or other indoor composting methods.

What is the best way to start? First, you'll need to evaluate how much space you have and how much brown and green material you produce. Then all you'll have to do is pick your method and purchase a compost bin (you could also make your own or check if your council provides them). Establish the right environment and appetite for your system and begin to add your inputs throughout the week. All organic material will eventually break down with or without you, but giving a little attention to your compost system can go a long way to keep things from getting smelly and to ensure that you have a product you can use in your (or your neighbor’s, or your community’s) garden at the end.

No more excuses! Let's get our hands dirty and reduce emissions.

 

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Mushroom Sauce
A good mushroom sauce can work with anything and the trick is to be able to knock it up in minutes on the back of already cooking something like a steak, piece of lamb or even for a simple pasta. Mushrooms are hugely nutritious and provide a lot of flavour and texture to food.  The addition of a drop of wine and mustard to the sauce really elevates the flavours to more than just a creamy mushroom sauce. 
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Kung Pao Prawns
Getting closer to to Chinese New Year, we thought we'd share a Chinese recipe.. Kung Pao Prawns.  Kung Pao Sauce is firstly used in the famous Kung Pao Chicken and then further developed into a type of flavor in China which can be used in many other recipes.  It goes well with different types of protein, chicken, shrimp and fish. It goes even better with vegetables and  mushrooms like  lotus root, cauliflower and king oyster mushrooms.
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From The Top Down - Brain Health
The brain is a very important organ and looking after brain health starts from the day you are born, either to develop it to make it smarter, bigger and stronger and then to maintain that position.  As they say, if you don’t use it you lose it and this is definitely the case for good brain health.
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Mush-Shrooms
Mushrooms have been eaten and used medicinally for thousands of years, all around the world. Ancient Egyptians considered mushrooms to be plants of immortality and recognized them as a gift from the god Osiris. They valued mushrooms so highly, only the royals were allowed to consume them; commoners were forbidden to touch, much less eat them. Today, mushrooms are growing in popularity worldwide due to their nutritional properties and versatile uses in the kitchen.But what makes mushrooms so special? Are they good for the environment too?
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Duck spring Rolls with a plum sauce
This crispy duck spring roll makes a perfect canape for Christmas Day! A sweet and tangy plum sauce is the perfect complement on the side or as a dip.
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Sweet & Sticky Ribs  
Slow cook these pork ribs so they're really tender then coat in an irresistibly sweet, sticky sauce! The combination of the bourbon and the gorgeous blend of spices is guaranteed to melt in your mouth.
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Chocolate dipped Festive flapjacks
This is a take on my very own granolas recipe now made festive with a decadent dipping of delicious and luxurious chocolate.  It is a wonderful Christmas treat using all of the festive ingredients we love. I also prepare some extra to give to friends and family as they make a wonderful and thoughtful Christmas gifts!
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Chicken Dhansak Curry
Don't let the spices in this curry put you off, it's much simpler than you think! The lentils are a great source of protein, and they provide a wonderful sauce when combined with the sweet and sour notes of the tamraind and jaggery! Garnish with some coriander, a dollop of yogurt and serve with pillowy rice, you will not be disappointed!
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Chicken, Bacon & Oregano Traybake With Garlic Roasties
This recipe  is so simple, but it is packed with flavour. We all know that when it comes to dinner time a fuss-free tray bake dish is the way to go.  When you are out to save some time and energy, nothing else beats an all-in-one-supper like this Chicken, Bacon and Potato Tray Bake.
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Hearty Quinoa and White Bean Chili
The weather has been cold of late so that means it's the perfect time for making a nice big pot of piping hot vegetable chili! And we have a super yummy recipe for you!It’s so simple to make but the result is a really flavourful and hearty meal. You can make it ahead of time and it’s great for meal prep and freezes well. It’s low in fat and high in protein for a deliciously well balanced meal.
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Winter Slaw with stilton
If your looking for something a little fresher this festive period why not try our festive winter slaw with Stilton! Crunchy red cabbage, fennel, apple and toasted walnuts are finished off with a sprinkling of blue cheese. 
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My Favourite Herbs for Christmas
I do a lot of cooking over Christmas, usually for family and friends, cooking from scratch and feeding the 5000….  I love it of course and I like the fact that I have time to add my favourite ingredients even if it means nipping out to the garden to find my herbs, often buried in leaves from the autumn fall and sometimes frost or snow, even if it is somewhat chilli!  At this time of year, I feel that whilst I want to achieve great flavours, I also want to ensure I’m using ingredients that have nutritional value to protect us over the cold winter months. Here are some of my favourite herbs for cooking over Christmas.
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Cranberry and Oat Busicuits
These cookies are a fantastic alternative to the classic raisin and oat cookie. They are soft, chewy and oh-so-good. The spices and cranberries brings a Christmassy feel to them.
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Clementine Carrots
We've made the humble carrot a lot tastier this festive season! Cooked in clementine juice, honey and butter, these Chantenay carrots definitely deserve a space on your dinner table this Christmas Day. 
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Cranberry Orange & Port Mince Tarts with Brandy Butter
A Christmas classic with a boozy twist! If you want to get stuck into some Christmas baking this festive period, what better baked good to make then mince pies! Made super simple with ready rolled pastry and mincemeat filling, we've added a few more special ingredients to give it that unctuous taste! Pair it with the brandy butter and you'll be everyone's friend at Christmas!
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Spiced Marinated Lamb with a Winter Salad
This slow-cooked lamb recipe benefits from being marinated with a spicy rub overnight to give real depth of flavour.  The dressing is a classic that will pair with any number of meats or even great as a pasta sauce.  Of course the salad is always a crowd pleaser and is hugely versatile.   
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Classic Mediterranean Ratatouille
Ratatouille hails from France where it is a culinary speciality of Nice. It was initially a dish made by peasants or poor farmers prepared during the summer months when there was an abundance of vegetables. Ratatouille can be found in many European countries under different names. It is essentially a stew of various vegetables. In Italy this dish might be called caponata. Ratatouille is a variation of similar dishes from the Mediterranean, you can have it as a main or side dish, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can be served hot or cold with rice, bread or potatoes or in France it is served with Fish such as Tuna. At The Cooking Academy, we like this dish not only for its rich taste but also because it uses lots of vegetables, garlic, herbs and spices making it highly nutritious.
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