unusual frozen foods

Frozen foods get a bit of a bad name. If you’re my age – the Findus Crispy Pancake generation – you’d be forgiven for associating frozen foods with that cheap and cheerful kind of tea – fish fingers, chicken nuggets, that sort of thing.

Frozen foods have come a long way though since the ‘minced beef’ pancake of the 1980s and there are a lot of benefits to choosing frozen foods. Keeping a well stocked freezer saves you money, time and waste, and there are actually nutritional benefits too. You might not have thought about it, but the fact that food is frozen means they don’t need added preservatives, and so there are often fewer extra ingredients.

Take frozen mashed potato for instance. (Who knew that was a thing?) I picked a variety and looked at the ingredients – potato, butter, milk, salt and pepper. That’s it. Just like you would make at home.

Cool Cookery is on a mission to get people more excited about using frozen foods, so to inspire you, here are nine foods that a lot of people don’t even realise you can buy frozen and some tips on how to use them: View Post

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Kingsmill toast

Ahh!!! Toast.

Who doesn’t like a good piece of toast?

Toast is there for you through good times and bad. It’s cheap, it’s warm, it’s tasty – it’s everything you ever wanted in a snack. (And possibly a boyfriend, although probably not the cheap bit.)

I especially love toast because it makes me think of my Gran and Grandad. When I was little I used to spend quite a lot of time at their house, playing Monopoly with my Grandad and practising trigonometry with my Gran in the school holidays. (I was such a geek). Our meal of choice was tinned baked beans and sausages on toast.

I say ‘on toast’ but it was more ‘in between toast’. My Grandad and I would have two pieces of toast each, cut in half and arranged around the outside of the plate, making four walls for the baked beans and sausages in a steamy square in the middle of the plate. The toast was always just slightly overdone, which gave it a very particular smell. Thirty years on the smell of singed toast always takes me back to my Gran and Grandad’s dining table.

Kingsmill toast View Post

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food waste hacks

How do you feel when you throw away food? Is it a gut-wrenching, guilt-inducing event or do you not even notice? I tend to feel awful about waste in general, especially food waste. I’m forever going through the fridge, eating old bits of ham, just so as to make sure nothing goes in the bin.

Take last night for instance…

We are due a food shop, but I was loathe to buy new things when we had so many odd bits and pieces that needed using. I found a bagel which only had a tiny bit of mould on it, so I cut that off. There were four random, loose fish fingers in the freezer too – job done! Fish finger sandwich for Belle for tea.

Yum!

(Don’t tell her about the mould.)

The fact is though that a shocking SEVEN MILLION TONNES of food waste is generated by UK households every year and we need to do whatever we can to reduce this, even if it does mean scraping off the odd bit of mould.

It’s interesting to think about the difference between my attitude to food waste and Belle’s. A new report from Sainsbury’s actually showed that a lot of the increase in food waste has to do with the change in attitudes between generations. Think about your parents or grandparents, living in the post war era. They wouldn’t have stocked the fridge with dozens of yogurts and raspberries, ‘just in case’, only to throw them away when they got to their use by dates would they? No way.

I haven’t lived in that era, but I have lived through times when money has been tight as a family, and I do attach value to food. Does Belle have that same awareness of the cost involved in producing, transporting, storing and consuming food? Probably not.

According to the Sainsbury’s report, which surveyed 5,000 people, the younger generations are much more likely to have a ‘live to eat’ attitude to food – with food as a pleasurable activity in itself. With this comes higher shopping bills and more food waste. Older generations however are more likely to ‘eat to live’ and have correspondingly lower grocery bills and less waste.

To try to tackle the food waste mountain in the UK, Sainsbury’s has invested £10million into its Waste less, Save more initiative, helping shoppers reduce the amount of food they waste at home. The Waste less, Save more initiative also aims to encourage families to pass down skills and knowledge from generation to generation, so that younger people are better equipped to keep food waste to a minimum.

In a bid then to help get your kids involved in reducing food waste, I’ve come up with 17 super cool food waste hacks designed not just to educate younger family members, but to show them that reducing food waste can actually be fun: View Post

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This dairy free pineapple and coconut smoothie recipe is inspired by my recent trip to Vietnam.

They have a lot of coconuts in Vietnam. We visited the Mekong Delta on day two, and went by boat to a tiny island where they make sweets out of coconut, grinding up the coconut and boiling it with sugar cane. We saw a lot of coconut based souvenirs too and, best of all, I got to drink a lot of coconut water. Pretty much everywhere you go you can order coconut water to drink, just like you might order a Coke – they just cut the top off a coconut and stick in a straw.

Not only does it taste amazing but it looks pretty cool too.

When Dole asked me if I wanted to try out their new frozen fruit packs then, I thought it might be fun to try and create a coconut smoothie recipe that you could actually drink out of a coconut, should you felt so inclined. 

Pineapple and coconut smoothie recipe

Of course you can just make it and have it in a glass like a normal person, but where would be the Instagrammable fun it that?! I realised too, when I came home and found myself ordering a massive cheese platter when out for lunch with a friend, that I pretty much ate no dairy in Vietnam, so I figured a dairy free smoothie recipe would fit well.

But first things first…

How to break a coconut in half

This was the challenge. 

I’ve won coconuts at fairs before, but I’ve only ever eaten them by smashing them up with a hammer. You can’t display a smoothie just by pouring it over a smashed up coconut can you?

No.

I needed something a little more professional looking. 

I watched a few YouTube videos and the best approach, should you not happen to have a circular saw lying around at home, (which I don’t), seemed to be to tap around the circumference of the coconut with a hammer. (Drain the coconut water out first, or you will make a mess.)

I did this for about three or four minutes and started to get worried as nothing was happening. I had bought three coconuts, just in case anything went wrong with the first one, but I didn’t especially want to fail at the first hurdle. I kept on tapping and lo and behold, just at the point when I was ready to throw it on the floor and stamp on it, a crack started to appear! I kept tapping, following the crack, and look what happened!

I felt pretty pleased with myself.

dairy free pineapple and coconut smoothie recipe

Then the recipe – this is a piece of cake in comparison.

How to make a pineapple and coconut smoothie

It’s pretty straightforward to make a dairy free pineapple and coconut smoothie, and the beauty of smoothie recipes is that you can be really flexible with them and adapt them according to personal taste or whatever you have in the fridge. For this recipe I used the following:

dairy free pineapple and coconut smoothie recipe

I was making my smoothie just for me, so if you want to make it for more than one person you’ll need to scale up the quantities.

Start with a big dollop of coconut yogurt in the bottom of a regular sized Nutribullet cup. Add a good handful of Dole frozen pineapple chunks. The benefit of using frozen fruit, other than that you don’t end up with mouldy fruit in the fridge because you forget to use it, is that you don’t need to add ice – the frozen fruit thickens the smoothie up a little and makes it lovely and cold.

dairy free pineapple and coconut smoothie recipe

Top up your cup to around the ‘max’ line with coconut drink. I used Koko dairy free but you could use whatever you like. You could even try using the liquid you drained out of your coconut earlier if you are going for the full tropical experience.

dairy free pineapple and coconut smoothie recipe

Then just whizz it up!

Now is the fun bit. If you’re just going to drink it, like a regular person, then go ahead! It’s yummy isn’t it? I was worried about the balance between the pineapple and coconut flavours but I think this is just about perfect. The Dole frozen pineapple gives it a lovely fresh, clean flavour and chills it too. This would be lovely with a cheeky splash of rum.

If, like me, you prepare all your food and drink with the sole purpose of taking nice Instagram pictures, then now’s the time to pour your pineapple and coconut smoothie into your coconut. (If you’re using the half with the three holes then don’t forget to plug them with something. I used blutac. Please don’t take that as a recommendation.)

I decorated my pineapple and coconut smoothie with tropical straws and toasted a little bit of flaked coconut to garnish. I did this just by tossing the coconut in a dry frying pan for about five minutes.

Tada!

dairy free pineapple and coconut smoothie recipe

dairy free pineapple and coconut smoothie recipe

 

How to win your own Nutribullet

If you’d like to win your own Nutribullet, so that you can easily whizz up a dairy free pineapple and coconut smoothie whenever you fancy it, all you need to do is come up with your own easy smoothie recipe, inspired by your own travels. Take a picture of your smoothie and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #MYDOLESMOOTHIE.

I’ve posted about the competition here on my own Instagram, to inspire you:

It doesn’t have to be a super fancy recipe, just something that you love, and that makes you think of a favourite holiday or adventure. The winner will be chosen based on a combination of creativity, quality of photography and the story behind the recipe. The competition will close at midnight on 31st December, so you have the holidays to get creative. (Full T&Cs at the bottom of this post.)

Good luck!

Like the look of my dairy free pineapple and coconut smoothie recipe? Why not pin the image below for later?

dairy free pineapple and coconut smoothie recipe

Produced in association with Dole. 

The winner will be notified via private message on Instagram within seven days of the closing date and must respond within 30 days with their name and a mainland UK address for the prize to be delivered to. If any Prize Winner fails to claim the Prize within 30 days they will forfeit the Prize and another valid Entry may be drawn. We will arrange for the Prize to be delivered to you at the address provided, at our cost. Please allow up to 28 days for delivery. Only one Entry can be made per Eligible Participant; additional Entries made by the same Eligible Participant will not be accepted. Entrants must be in the UK and 18+. Judge’s decision final.

 

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I’m a bit loathe to call this a recipe, as the whole point of bubble and squeak is to use up leftovers. I don’t want you to look in the fridge and think ‘Oh, I’ve only got two leftover sweet potatoes, so I definitely can’t make this…’

That’s really not the point. 

I’ll just tell you what I did, and then you can copy it, or have a look in the fridge and switch in other ingredients. I’m cool with that.

So, food waste. I’m actually pretty good at this, mainly because I’m so slack at doing the shopping in the first place that I never have enough in the fridge for dinner, let alone for leftovers. Since I upgraded my phone though, and no longer have to delete Twitter just to take a photo, food waste has become a bit more of an issue. I’ve rediscovered the joy on online food shopping you see, which means I get all over excited and order loads of things for actual recipes. Then I remember that I’m only home one night in the next four, and wonder what I’m going to do with it all.

This afternoon for example I’m leaving work early to make four steak and ale pies for the freezer (never done that before) because I have all the ingredients but we are going to my mum’s for tea.

Sainsbury’s is on a bit of a mission to reduce food waste too, with their #WasteLessSaveMore initiative

Households in the UK waste a mind blowing 15 million tonnes of food and drink every year. To bring this to life, that includes 5.8 million potatoes, almost 6 million glasses of milk and an astonishing 24 million slices of bread everyday!

Not only is this a huge problem for our environment, but families are throwing away money along with food. In fact, the average British family wastes £700 per year on food that could have been eaten, but is thrown away instead, that’s around £60 a month.

Sainsbury’s is passionate about helping families waste less, and save more, which is why they’ve invested £10 million in helping shoppers reduce food waste at home. A big part of that is helping families make better use of their leftovers – which is where you come in!

The website is definitely worth a look as it has some great recipes for using up leftovers, tips on freezing food properly – loads of useful stuff. I love the look of their eight winter salads, especially the beetroot one. I love a bit of beetroot.

You can make a start on reducing food waste and saving money by using your leftovers to make me twist on classic bubble and squeak…

How to make spicy sweet potato and spinach bubble and squeak

I started off with one large sweet potato, which had been cooked the day before. Sweet potato is less starchy than regular potatoes, so it works particular well when they are genuine leftovers and have had chance to dry out a bit. If you’re cooking them fresh, make sure to drain them really well. Mash the sweet potatoes up with a little bit of butter, salt and pepper. You won’t need to add any liquids.

I used ground cumin and garam masala to spice my sweet potatoes as these are my favourites. I went with a liberal sprinkle – maybe around half a teaspoon of each? 

spicy sweet potato and spinach bubble and squeak recipe View Post

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