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Frightened by fearful looking fruit? Think again…

Are you put off by protruding parsnips? Or frightened by fearful looking fruit? Think again…

Did you know that more than a third of farmed fruit and vegetables never reach supermarket shelves because they are misshapen, unsymmetrical and discoloured? In support of Zero Waste Week, (3rd September-7th September) we want to share with you why this happens and what we can do to make a difference.

A recent study from the University of Edinburgh has shown that more than 50 million tons of fruit and vegetables are discarded each year. This monumental waste is principally due to strict regulations set out by supermarkets and the government. Produce may be rejected if it fails to comply with EU laws, as well as the supermarkets’ own strict standards of what is visually appealing to customers.

Is your squash too small? After harvest, produce is sorted according to size. Tons of fruit and veg are rejected for being too big, small or misshapen. Supermarkets want symmetrical produce to fit neatly and evenly into display cabinets, any shape otherwise is deemed unacceptable. They also want produce that looks beautiful, meaning scarred or discoloured fruit and veg go to waste. Despite having the same taste and nutrients as ‘perfect’ produce, those considered misshapen will have to wait for a juicer to show interest, or risk being binned. Stephen Porter of University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, said,  “Encouraging people to be less picky about how their fruit and vegetables look could go a long way to cutting waste, reducing the impact of food production on the climate, and easing the food supply chain.”

As well as unsightly produce being disregarded, the problem also lies within the overproduction of food.  Farmers contracted to supermarkets typically grow more food than obliged, to allow for a proportion that would be deemed unfit to sell. In order to tackle food waste, supermarkets must change their relationships with suppliers. A number of supermarkets are working with WRAP, ‘Waste and Resource Action Programme’ to do just that. WRAP have started a campaign ‘The Courtauld Commitment of 2025’, that gives the opportunity for all industry partners across the supply chain to come together and make a real step change in tackling food waste. Their aim is to cut the waste and greenhouse gas emissions associated with food and drink by at least one-fifth per person in ten years.

Whilst supermarkets are doing their fair share; you at home can do the same. Support the companies fighting for the rights of ugly produce!  Companies include Oddbox, Riverford, Able & Cole, Waitrose, Morrisons, and many more!

So ‘lettuce’ stand up and take ‘chard’ of our future! Join the fight against food waste and make your mark for zero waste week!






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How good is your sleep hygiene
ONE third of our lives are spent in bed. We all know a good night’s sleep is a great way to recover and rest after a full day. Getting a full night’s sleep is not a luxury, it is a health necessity and for those of us in the world or work or studying it is essential to productivity and wellbeing.  It is recommended that adults have between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and more for teenagers and children. Yet it is estimated that a staggering 40% of adults are not getting enough sleep, Public Health England state that the annual cost to the UK employers is a resounding £30 billion pounds and 200,000 working days are lost to sickness and mental health every year.

Sleep is crucial in the maintenance of our cognitive skills.  Being adequately rested enables us to communicate well, remember key information, be creative and flexible with our thoughts, and improves our decision making ability. Furthermore, sleep is essential to building a healthy immune system, making you less likely to catch a cold and thus less likely to need time off work.

In addition although this may seem obvious, sleep is free, there are no side effects of having a great sleep, unlike taking caffeine tablets or drinking caffeinated drinks to try and stay awake.  Good sleep also makes you less likely to over-eat - so it’s good for your waistline.

There are many reasons we can struggle to fall asleep, work related stress, long hours at work, illness or injury and money worries are just a few issues that keep us awake at night. This is where sleep hygiene comes in effect, (nothing to do with your bed sheets!) but all to do with how you create the ideal settings for a good night’s sleep.

Here are a few points to think about:

  • Try sticking to regular bed times, set an alarm on your phone.

  • Making an effort to relax before your bed time approaches.

  • Avoid caffeinated drinks and heavy meals late at night; they’ll prevent you from falling asleep.

  • If you’re finding it hard to slow down, breathe in for a count of four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds and breathe out for four seconds. Repeat as many times as needed.

  • Also think about how your technology usage too - Checking emails late in the evening or before bed is often a cause of unhealthy anxiety and distraction.

  • Computer screens, tablets and phones all emit a blue light which keep us awake by suppressing melatonin, the hormone which sends us to sleep.

Public Health England and Business in the Community have partnered to put together a free downloadable sleep toolkit for employers.   Click here for more information:


Consider how effective your workplace well-being strategy is working.  If lack of sleep is a growing problem within your organization then it’s time to re-evaluate the strategy and its effectiveness.  You could be contributing more towards the £30 billion then you think. 


If you would like to know more about our corporate wellness strategies then please follow this link:
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Ice cream Vs Gelato
We all deserve a treat from time to time, and I plan to take advantage of this when visiting the Gelato festival this weekend at Spitalfields Market, London.

Since I was little ice cream has always been my weakness. Every holiday a tub of strawberry ice cream would do the trick to keep me quiet.  Since having visited Italy on numerous times, renowned for their gelato (the Italian word for ice-cream) I have been transformed into a gelato addict! And let me tell you - there is a big difference!

Before even placing a spoon into my mouth, the beautiful silken, smooth, and flawless appearance of gelato makes me salivate with anticipation. It has a beautiful elasticity that can be easily moldable to create beautiful swirls and gloopy gelato peaks that simply cascade like cold lava in the mouth.

In texture ice cream is much fluffier and lighter.  When making ice cream, milk, cream and egg yolks are cooked together to form a custard base.  This is then churned at a high speed to add air and volume. The fat content from the cream binds with the water molecules, eliminating large frozen crystals forming and creating a light density which allows air to be present.  The lower the fat content or cream content, then icier the ice cream will taste, ergo cheaper brands.

Compared to ice cream, gelato is very dense as it is churned at a slower rate, meaning less air is whipped into the mixture. Gelato uses more milk than cream, so shouldn’t contain as much fat and therefore doesn’t bind as easily with the water, hence the denser consistency.

The serving temperature also differs from one another. Although both are ice cold, gelato is served at a warmer temperature, keeping its silky soft texture. The air content in ice cream means it can be frozen solid, yet still scoop able, especially if the cream content is higher.

Whether you have a preference for ice cream or gelato, they are brilliant as a delicious dessert or a naughty daytime treat.  If this summer weather is set to continue, I’m afraid I wouldn’t say no to either!


#icecream #gelato #gelatofestival #spitalfields #icecreamorgelato? #summer #makingicecream #makinggelato

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Cooking To Beat Cancer
This weekend The Cooking Academy team are supporting an Open Garden in Moor Park in aid of Cancer Research.
Cancer is a horrendous disease, which in some form or another is now believed to affect 1 in 2 people in the UK alone.  The cause of cancer is very complex and cannot be entirely avoided, yet through nutritional eating, we can help lower the risk and even profoundly aid the recovery of cancer patients.

Cancer develops through abnormal behaviour of cells, which can lead to cancer cell growth, tumor growth and metastasis.   These abnormal behaviours can be caused for many reasons, one being toxins, often referred to as free radicals, which enter the body through numerous ways such as sun exposure, diet and tobacco smoke. Not only do they create abnormal cells, but they damage our existing cells through a process called oxidation, hence why we need an abundance of antioxidants from our food to fight these free radicals.

Inflammation is another chronic condition that can be diet or environment induced.  Chronic inflammation over time can lead to cell damage and therefore cancer. Inflammation and the control of free radicals can be decreased dramatically through our diet. Shockingly, 30 - 40% of cancer types can be prevented through nutritional cookery.

What is nutritional cookery you may ask? Actively seeking out ingredients that are highly nutritious and contain specific antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory will improve certain types of condition and protect the body from exposure to harmful toxins.


What are the cancer fighting foods?

  • Turmeric contains the ingredient curcumin which has been linked with the prevention of precancerous cells turning cancerous. Not only this, studies have shown it seems to be able to kill existing cancer cells. The health benefits of turmeric are increasingly becoming more common, and now you can purchase turmeric tablets from health stores. However, we have incorporated this powerful antioxidant into a much more appetizing turmeric latte, you’ll find the recipe on one of our previous blogs.

  • Berries such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are rich in vitamins, such as vitamin A and C, which we know work wonders for our immune system. They also contain the antioxidant proanthocyanidin which lowers free radical damage. Berries are easily incorporated into our diet as they are perfect snack on the move, or can be blended to make a highly nutritious breakfast smoothie.

  • Leafy green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables. Vegetables are highly nutritious, yet they are also a top food to fight cancer. Leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and greens are natural glucosinolates, and these reprogram cancer cells so that they die off.Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli and cauliflower are rich in glutathione, which is a ‘master-antioxidant’.

  • Tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, which is responsible for clearing any potentially damaging and cancer-causing oxidants from the body and stops them from being reabsorbed again. Good news - you can even gain your Lycopene intake from tomato ketchup and tomato juice.

  • Brightly coloured orange foods, such as citrus fruits and sweet potatoes, are abundant in vitamins and antioxidants, particularly carotenoids which are a product of vitamin A. Beta-cartonene is a brilliant antioxidant to detox your body, help protect your liver and protect against cancer of the eyes, skin and organs.

  • Omega 3 rich foods, such as salmon and sardines contain anti –inflammatory effects, linking them to the prevention of cancer. Fish is incredibly beneficial to our diets, as omega 3 also helps brain development and decreases chances of blood clots, heart disease and strokes. It’s a deliciously quick midweek meal, making it easy to incorporate into our diet.

  • Brilliant news for chocolate lovers as dark chocolate contains the antioxidants Flavanols. To be considered dark, chocolate needs to contain at least 70% cocoa (which subsequently reduces sugar content too!)Flavanols also benefits our heart by helping lowering our blood pressure and improving blood flow. It stops blood cells from sticking and clotting, reducing clots and strokes.

By simply limiting your intake of processed meats, sugar, and refined carbohydrates and replacing them with cancer fighting foods all help in keeping your body fighting fit and the prevention of certain types of cancer. Now that’s advice I would definitely take!

#beatingcancer #cancerrightnow #cancerfree #nevergiveup #cancersurvivor #fightingcancer #cancersucks #cancerprevention #cancerfood

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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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