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Eight Best Food Substitutions to Eat Healthier

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It’s actually much easier than you might imagine to add more healthy foods into your diet. There are lots of things that you probably eat and drink on a regular basis than can be easily substituted for brilliant alternatives with far less fat, sugar and calories.

Here are eight foods that you can easily replace, provided by fitness expert Lloyd Wells – working together with kitchen specialists Halcyon Interiors.

  1. Substitute peanut butter with almond butter

Peanut butter is one of life’s great pleasures and trying to give it up in the name of healthy eating is a step too far for money people. The sad truth is that the peanuts aren’t actually the problem. Sure, peanut butter contains quite a lot of fat (16g for two tablespoons) but it’s actually a very good source of omega-6 fatty acids which are important in maintaining strong bones as well as improving metabolism. But peanut butter is mass produced product and you will struggle to find a brand that doesn’t add large quantities of sugar and salt as well as unhealthy oils.

This is why almond butter can be a great way to get the delicious flavour of peanut butter without the added rubbish. Almond butter also has plenty of omega-6 fatty acids but it also has higher level of additional nutrients as well better levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Because of almond butter’s reputation for being a healthier nut, you can easily find brands without anything added which will be much better for you. Always check the ingredients to be sure, of course, and ideally opt for a jar with just the single ingredient: almonds.

  1. Substitute potato with sweet potato

Did you know that potatoes don’t even count as one of your five-a-day? With barely any nutrients, vitamins or minerals, potato is simply a starchy source of carbohydrates, so it’s not adding anything healthy to your body. On the other hand, sweet potatoes are nutrient dense, and while they contain slightly more sugar than potatoes they are also lower in calories and carbohydrates and higher in fibre.

Equally, potatoes are relatively flavourless which often means you’ll be tempted to add other unhealthy ingredients to improve them (think about the butter in your mash potato and the oil and salt on your chips). Sweet potato tastes great on its own and can be improved with spices which are much better for you than salt.

Sweet potato can be swapped for potato in almost any meal you can think of. Perfect as mash, wedges, fries or to put in dishes like curries, it’s really easy to add sweet potato to your diet.

  1. Substitute sugary drinks with coconut water

Drink a standard 330ml can of Coca Cola and you’ll be treating your body to 35g of sugar. That’s the equivalent to eating a bit more than two tablespoons of sugar. You could switch to diet or low sugar alternatives but the problem with these is that they are full of chemical sweeteners which might well be worse for you in the long term.

So if you’re looking for a delicious alternative – how about coconut water? A can of coconut water still has around 9g of sugar, but those are naturally occurring. Even better, coconut water is full of nutrients like potassium and magnesium which is great for your body. Of course, almost any drink is better for you than a sugary fizzy drink but coconut water adds minerals to your diet.

  1. Substitute sour cream with Greek yoghurt

You’d be surprised how often you can switch sour cream with Greek yoghurt without any noticeable difference to the flavour. This is great news because yoghurt has much less fat and far fewer calories than sour cream. Yoghurt also features more protein than sour cream, so you’ll actually get more out of eating it.

You can make the substitute whether you’re adding using it within recipes, adding it to your fajitas or creating sauces. Try it out and you’ll be very pleased with the results.

  1. Substitute croutons with nuts

When many people want to change their diet, one of the things that they will inevitably try is to incorporate more salads. Salads are a great way to increase your vegetable intake, which is always going to be great for you, however, where people tend to fall down is they will add loads of croutons and salad dressing, both of which are high in fat and don’t offer much in the way of nutrients – they are just empty calories.

So how do you ensure that your salad stays healthy? You can swap out the dressing for a vinaigrette and it will still taste fantastic. For the groups you can simply add a few nuts instead. They’ll give you the same crunch that you’re looking for, with the added bonus of having more protein and plenty more vitamins and minerals than croutons.

  1. Substitute spaghetti for courgetti

Vegetable substitutions for pasta and noodles are becoming increasingly popular. Instead of high-carb white pasta like spaghetti you can use ‘courgetti’. All you need is a spiralizer and it’s easy to turn veggies like courgettes into a brilliant substitute for traditional pasta. Not only are you getting rid of the nutrient-free calories of white pasta, you’re gaining all the benefits of courgette.

If you’re not a big fan of courgettes you could also use aubergine, carrots or squash as a brilliant pasta alternative. Try them out with different meals and sauces to see which combination works best for you.

  1. Substitute rice with cauliflower rice

Much like the vegetable alternatives to pasta, you can also find healthier veggie substitutes for rice. Cauliflower rice is one of the most popular. Rice, while filling and starchy, doesn’t really contain any valuable nutrients and is also high in calories. Cauliflower rice, which is actually quicker to cook, is far lower in calories and contains the goodness of the cauliflower.

A word of warning: for best results with cauliflower rice you’ll need to fry it rather than boil it. For this it’s best to use a healthier oil like coconut oil and to use it sparingly, otherwise the benefits will be outweighed by the negative aspects.

  1. Substitute cereals with oats

Most mass produced cereals have an extremely high sugar content – even apparently healthy options like cornflakes and bran flakes surprisingly still have sugar added. Try having oats instead either as a homemade muesli or heat them up for a delicious porridge. Again, you’ll have to resist the temptation to add a big spoonful of sugar though – try naturally occurring sweetness like dried fruit or jam instead.

Use an Old Paper Bag to Ripen Your Avocados in a Flash

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Avocados are a real superfood – you’ll find them packed with feel-good carbohydrates and a plethora of healthy fats. Of course, the avocado stands out for more than its satisfying taste and nutritional benefits; it’s also one of those fruits that is a nightmare to get right when you’re trying to choose between ripe and green.

It’s hard to walk through the supermarket and find an avocado that doesn’t either feel like it’s tougher than concrete or like it’s made of slush. Luckily enough, you can make your avocados ripen faster than ever when you get home, and all you need is a paper shopping bag.

What you need to do is take a normal brown paper bag and put your unripe avocado inside with another piece of fruit. It usually works best to use either a banana or an apple, and these will ripen up a little too into the bargain.

When you combine these fruits within the confines of a paper bag, something wonderful starts to happen. It might sound odd, but the two fruits will start naturally exchanging ethylene gases inside the bag. This is ripening teamwork, and it makes both items nice and ready for use sooner than you’d imagine. If you need to whip up a smoothie or prepare some guacamole, you don’t have to worry about unripened avocados.

Just make sure you use a paper bag instead of a plastic one. The paper bag does more than help your two pieces of fruit exchange gases – the trick is that it lets just enough of that gas out through its slightly porous surface. Using a plastic bag instead will not have the desired results, so remember to keep it paper.

We love finding out new ways people can put our popular paper bag products to good use after they’ve been employed during a good few shopping trips. As ardent foodies without the patience to sit around and watch fruit ripen, you can bet that this is one of our favourite paper bag hacks yet!

Pie mash and liquor recipes ideas

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Pie and mash – it sounds as though nothing could be easier to knock up for your next meal. A look in the fridge might find you all the ingredients you need and making the pastry casing surely isn’t that too difficult a job. Making the all-important liquor to go with it might be more of a challenge, but so long as it’s green it will probably pass muster – you hope.

The easiest and probably far more successful way of making sure that you have that glorious pie, mash and liquor combination, though, is to order the whole meal online or by mail order for delivery to your home, where it is ready to eat straight away, can be kept fresh in the fridge for a few days or put in the freezer for longer-term storage.

Pie, mash and liquor delivery – of quality, hand crafted pies – leaves nothing to chance and nothing to tax your potentially zero culinary skills.

Despite the obvious attraction of ordering such a delivery, though, there are still those kitchen wizards who may insist that pie, mash and liquor is not beyond them and a number of recipes are not so difficult to find online:

BBC

  • the pie casing is made from a suet pastry, with a shortcrust pastry for the lid;
  • the filling is based on minced beef, with the addition of onion and garlic, tomato puree, ground black pepper, English mustard, and brown ale;
  • the mashed potatoes are, well, just mashed potatoes – but the option of a little chilli oil to taste; but
  • the disappointment probably comes in the shape of the otherwise mysterious liquor, which in this recipe is a fairly simple and straight forward parsley sauce (yes, we know liquor is parsley sauce, but that isn’t the point!);

The Hub-UK

  • this also describes a straight forward parsley sauce, made by melting butter in a pan and adding a little flour, to which water or chicken stock is added whilst stirring continuously;

Keef the Chef

  • where Keef branches out, however, is the suggestion for making the liquor from boiled eels or fish stock, into which generous handfuls of parsley are added;
  • for serving, the eels are removed, the liquor is thickened with a little flour, and chilli vinegar is added to taste;

Food.com

  • the filling in this example is also made from minced beef and onion, seasoned with salt, pepper and Worcester sauce, thickened with a little cornflour;
  • the liquor too is based on a fish and vegetable stock, thickened with cornflour, and mixed with a handful of parsley

If you have noticed one area where the recipes seem to fall short of the mystique of east London, it is the liquor and, of course, that indefinable touch of the master baker. The answer is at your fingertips if you order the whole dish for pie, mash and liquor to be delivered to you at home.

Love Cooking? Why not Start Your Own Catering Business from Home

If you love to host dinner parties for your friends/family, and feel a little like Monica Geller when they come over, you might make an amazing food caterer. Why not make a career out of a hobby that you love? You’ll need an entrepreneurial attitude, but your overheads will be low compared with other businesses, and you have the opportunity to turn this into a lucrative business.

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Photo taken from Flickr

Find Your Niche

To find your niche, think about food that you love to make. You need to have a passion for the food you’re cooking, otherwise you won’t stick it out. You could specialise in lunch food, wedding receptions, desserts, or even starters. Decide whether you’d prefer to make quiches or cakes and you could find the perfect catering niche for you.

Make a Menu

If you make a menu first, you can figure out how much kitchen space you need, what appliances you need, and how much money you’ll expect to bring in finance wise. Try to have food to suit everyone, e.g. vegetarian options and spicy options. Make sure you’re menu is a manageable size for you so you don’t take on more than you can handle. You can even test your dishes on friends and family and tweak them until they’re perfect.

Set Up Your Kitchen

If you want to set up from home, you need to get your kitchen ready for your new catering business. You could consider renting out some premises, but this will be way more expensive and it’s not convenient. You’ll need the right equipment to start, so take a look at your menu and work out what you need.

Apply for Permits and Licenses

Apply for any permits, licenses and certificates you need. You may need different certificates and permits depending on where you set up, so make sure you do your research. You may even need kosher certification by Earth Kosher.

Buy Equipment to Transport Food

Once you’ve done everything listed above, as well as set your prices, you’ll need to buy a vehicle and other equipment suitable for transporting your food to the event you’re catering. It’ll need plenty of space, so a van is best.

Do You Need Staff?

If you need extra staff, you can always use a temp agency to start with until you’ve built your reputation. You’ll need to consider what type of uniforms you want your staff to wear, and train your employees up so they provide the right kind of service. However, when it’s time to hire more staff it may also be time to rent out bigger premises – are you and your staff going to fit in your kitchen?

Now all that’s left to do is market your business! Make sure you use both online and offline marketing techniques to target people in your area, and be consistent as you won’t experience overnight success. Let us know how your home catering business is doing in the comments!

 

Why Do Your Children Need To Eat Meat As They Grow?

Some children refuse to eat meat from a very young age, and this generally has nothing to do with vegetarianism. You see; while you can’t force someone with a moral stand against meat to eat it, your children need to consume flesh and muscle for some very good reasons. This is explained in almost every guide to bringing up kids ever written, so even if you are a non-meat eater yourself, passing the view onto your children isn’t going to help them out. You need to wait until they’re old enough to look at the situation rationally and make up their own mind. Don’t worry about them making the wrong decision, as they’ll spend a lot of time learning about the food industry at school, so they should have a pretty accurate understanding of the situation by their early teens.

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Flickr credit

Considering all this, today I’m going to highlight a number of reasons why beef wellington, chicken casserole, and just about every other kind of meat dish is incredibly important for the little ones in your household. You have to remember that humans have been consuming animal products for thousands of years, so our bodies have evolved to require this sustenance. While they can live a long and happy life without meat products, it’s best to play it safe and encourage them, at least until their teenage years. I used to be a bit of a vegetarian myself, but then I started drinking at the age of eighteen, and I found it almost impossible to resist greasy bacon sandwiches on Saturday mornings. Still, you know what that’s like, right?

Meat Is Incredibly Nutritious

Vegetables may well contain a lot of nutrients kids need, but so does meat, beef in particular. When you’re young, your body needs all this extra nutrition to ensure your bones grow properly, and there have been a number of cases throughout the years where children who don’t eat meat have suffered from diseases and terrible health problems that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. You want your children to be as healthy as possible, as problems like this can seriously hinder their progression through life. If they spend a lot of time in hospital or at the doctors, they won’t get to socialise so much, and this is a key element to their growth into adulthood. So, ensuring they eat meat at least once or twice each week can have a huge impact on their whole existence.

Meat Doesn’t Increase The Chances Of Heart Disease Or Diabetes

There are a lot of lies and misconceptions surrounding meat products, but contrary to popular belief, medical professionals have proven time and time again that meat doesn’t negatively affect either the heart, or your blood-sugar rate when consumed in moderation. This is the same for children, so don’t listen to the scaremongering and cook them something substantial for dinner this weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the arguments vegetarians have, and I also feel a little queasy when thinking about how the meat ended up on my plate, but sometimes you just have to overlook certain things to ensure your children stay fit and healthy. While there are a number of studies that show eating vegetables all the time can improve your health, there isn’t a single shred of evidence to suggest meat can cause any of the conditions people claim.

Meat Contains High Levels Of Protein

Children need lots of protein to ensure they grow up to be healthy young adults, and meat is one of the best sources for this in the world. The proteins in meat are naturally occurring, and so they’re much better for the human body than artificial alternatives. Also, meat contains essential amino acids that aren’t found in too many other foodstuffs. Protein provides a source of energy, but it’s also important for strong bones. The last thing anyone wants is for their children to suffer from is weak or brittle bones. Although there are a number of different medications that can deal with the issue a little, having a condition like this will seriously affect them for their entire life, and could result in constant injuries or even an untimely death.

There Are No Proven Health Benefits To Avoiding Meat

Again, try not to listen too much to the campaigners, as your doctor will happily tell you the truth about meat. After years of testing and numerous studies, there has not been one single recorded health benefit of avoiding flesh and muscle. None of us like the way in which these animals are kept, but that doesn’t mean we should throw lies around to scare people. Everyone needs to look at the facts, not the hearsay. As I said a moment ago, there is some evidence that suggests vegetarians tend to live longer, but not if they avoid meat from an early age. If your children really feel passionately about this subject, just try to explain that to them. They might not like it, but chicken, beef and pork are essential for their wellbeing. This is partly why many muslim families suffer from similar issues. However, they don’t eat pork for religious reasons, and so you should never try to alter their view.

Well ladies, now you know why your kids need to eat meat as they grow, I hope you’ll be more inclined to pick up a few steaks next time you’re at the supermarket. Opting to become vegetarian is certainly a noble move, but it’s not something children should be involved with until they’re at least make it into high school. Just take some time to educate them about the true facts concerning meat, and they should come round to your way of thinking. At the end of the day, most children are pretty rational thinkers from around the age of ten, which is why you should always try to be open and honest with them.

Thanks for reading guys, and I’ll catch you back here for more interesting and informative articles very soon!

 

How to become a Sugarcraft Expert

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Since shows like The Great British Bake Off first appeared on our screens, the UK has seen a huge rise in the number of people picking up an apron and wooden spoon and taking to the kitchen to whip up a sweet treat. Mastering the art of cake design is just important as a good sponge if you want professional looking cakes, so we bring you a guide to sugarcraft, and how to master it.

So what is Sugarcraft?

In simple terms, sugarcraft is a type of cake decorating, used to make your cakes stand out and al
low you to create three-dimensional designs. Similar to the techniques used by clay sculptors, it’s the art of modelling 3D figures in a cake using rolled fondant. Rolled into sheets, sugarcraft can be draped over cakes and also used to make intricate designs including ribbons, bows and flowers.

So Where Do I Begin?

One of the best ways to master the art of sugarcraft is to purchase a DVD or watch some videos online, to watch some experts in action. If you can, a class in sugarcraft is an even better option as you’ll have an instructor on-hand to personally show you some techniques and show you where you might be going wrong. Before you start, just remember that learning sugarcraft takes some time to master, and it can be very fiddly and irritating to get right. There’s really no right or wrong way, you’ll just need to use your artistic eye and try some different methods to find one that’s right for you.

What Do I Need?

There are a number of different utensils used in sugarcraft, and you can find them all on sites such as MakeBake. Here are just a few of the instruments you might want to pick up:

  • Stainless Steel Metal Cutters – for creating delicate blossoms, leaves and flowers.
  • Sugarpaste- prepared to use, sugarpaste gives you a smooth and sleek finish every time, allowing you to decorate cakes without the fear of cracking. Icecraft is a good brand to sue for this, being significantly less gritty and oil than other sugarpastes and offering a vibrant white, unflavoured colour.
  • Spray Can Colours – spray cans are a great way of colouring a variety of icings including sugarpaste, marzipan, buttercream, modelling paste and much more. You’ll also find a great selection of colours available.
  • Rosebuds and roses – perfect for decorating delicate cakes, sugarcraft roses and rosebuds give you cake a beautiful finish and are available in a variety of quantities and colours including lemon, peach, violet, pink and red.
  • Piped roses – if you’re making cupcakes, piped roses are a great option and are usually available in pink and white.

How It’s Done

Before you start, make sure you’ve prepared the fondant in advanced and stored in an airtight container in the fridge until you need to use it. Then let your imagination run wild! Be aware that liquid food colourings shouldn’t be used when rolled fondant is ready for cake decorating. Colouring paste is a much better option, preventing the fondant from turning runny.

And remember, sugarcraft is a difficult art to master. If you don’t get it right the first time, practice is sure to make perfect. And just think of all those delicious cakes you’ll get to eat along the way!

Was Christmas Dinner a Hash? Try these Tips to Make Sure its a Memorable One Next Christmas

Christmas is definitely one of the most stressful time of the year for those generous (or silly?) people who agree to make dinner for the family. Although it’s also without question one of the best times of the year – who doesn’t love being surrounded by family, good food, and booze? However, with everything to remember and a lot of people to impress, the stress can all get too much and Christmas dinner can end up going awry. Sound familiar? Well fear not, because we’re going to give you plenty of helpful tips to make sure you have a memorable, stress free dinner next Christmas!

Photo Credit

Make Sure You’ve Got The Appropriate Utensils

By appropriate, we don’t mean the cheapest sets you could find off eBay. Try to buy a good set of saucepans, a decent set of knives, and a good roasting tray. Although this will cost you extra, in the long run you’ll be much less stressed! It won’t hurt to purchase a few quality napkins either, to protect your guests from spills and other food and drink related accidents.

Cheat a Little Bit

Don’t feel bad if you want to make your life easier by cheating a little bit. Use store bought sauces, and maybe even buy ready-made pigs in blankets. You’ll save time, energy, and your guests won’t know the difference!

Prepare The Day Before

Prepare as much as you can the day before, so you don’t get yourself in a tizzy when the guests arrive. You can peel your vegetables, boil your potatoes, and more!

Cook Surprising Sprouts

Does anybody really like sprouts? You will when cooking them like this!

  • Stir Fry chopped sprouts in a pan.
  • Add chopped garlic, bacon bits, and black pepper.
  • Serve when the sprouts are still a little firm.

Sprouts and bacon make perfect partners, so don’t hesitate to try it next time!

Tips to a Terrific Turkey

The turkey is one of the most important parts of the meal, so you need to get it right.

  • Get the turkey to room temperature before putting it in a pre-heated oven.
  • Use tips from your favorite chef; Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Gordon Ramsay, etc.
  • Always, ALWAYS, leave the meat to rest for a short while before carving and serving. It’ll become deliciously juicy!

Make Sure You’ve Got Enough to Drink

You can never have enough booze come Christmas, as your relatives will surely prove to you as they drink themselves into a drunken stupor. Make sure you’re stocked up on wine, cider, non alcoholic drinks like juice, and even water! You could even try creating your own mulled cider:

  • Heat through a quality cider, then add some cinnamon sticks, the zest and juice of an orange and lemon, a vanilla pod, a few cloves, and a sprinkle of sugar.
  • Once it’s all hot, allow it to cool down and infuse the flavours for 30 minutes.
  • You can then reheat, strain the liquid through a sieve, and serve to your guests!

Little touches like stir fried sprouts with bacon, and homemade mulled cider will give you brownie points with your guests and make your dinner the most memorable one yet!