A storm in a teacup

Storm in a teacup1I can measure how good a bank holiday weekend has been by the number of pots of tea, which I have drunk. Eight over the Easter Weekend. A good number! I also think it’s been a good bank holiday when I learn something new about tea and this weekend I learn’t how to stop making a storm of noise in a teacup. 

It’s all too tempting when presented with a nice cup of tea and an accompanying spoon, to give the tea a good old stir. It’s good to distribute the milk, it allows you to judge if you have added enough, and well frankly it’s quiet therapeutic. However the sound of a circling teaspoon catching against china can be quiet a din, especially if you are in a tearoom full of clankers.

How do you avoid the noise? Simple, rather than circling the spoon, clipping the sides as you go, gently swish it backwards and forwards in the centre of the cup, thereby avoiding it’s sides.

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Wishing you a Happy Easter

Simnel 2Christmas seems like such a long time ago. It has been a busy few months for me without a break, so I am really looking forward to Easter. As Lent draws to a close I am also looking forward to a little chocolate and a slice of Simnel cake too.

Whatever your reason for enjoying Easter ; winter drawing to a close and the start of spring, the school holidays, the bank holiday, CHOCOLATE eggs! Happy Easter to you and I hope you have a lovely weekend.

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5 top tips for the London Marathon from Elite runners

Porridge a Recipe for Marathon ChampsOver the last few years I have worked with runners to develop nutrition strategies to support their training and race day performance. Whilst these athletes are ‘Elite’ runners (with time, resources and a race to win!) what I have found to work for them, is just as important to you. Whether it’s your first marathon or an attempt at a personal best time, these are my 5 simple top tips from the Elite runners to you;

Nothing new on race day: Race day is too late to try something new. From massive caffeine hits gone wrong to trying a fry up before a race! I’ve heard it all before. Don’t do it if you have not tired it several times before race day.  This includes new energy drinks or gels during the race.

Hydration: You already know the importance of taking on water during the marathon but did you know that it’s as important to drink in the days preceding the event? Get drinking NOW!

Eating well the night before the night before: Runners often talk about ‘carb loading’ the night before a marathon. However over eating pre-race can lead to that all embarrassing ‘Paula Radcliffe moment’. Focus on getting a good dinner two nights before the race to allow your body to gain the required energy whilst also… erm disposing of waste.

Breakfast like a champion: What am I going to recommend? Porridge of course! Not just because it is always the best breakfast but because it is THE best breakfast for runners. As Oats are a low G.I. food, they will release their energy slowly throughout the race.

Replenish & reward: You’ve done the training and raced hard, that deserves a reward. Advice often tells you to eat well after a marathon, and I don’t disagree. However what is often forgotten is the psychological need of and benefit from a reward, be that chocolate or beer, chips or curry, you deserve it! 

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Towards 7-a-day, the fruity Porridge way

Chia & Cherry Porridge

The news has been full of the story that we should be eating at least 7 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. But do you struggle to even eat 5? 

It can be a difficult to make sure that every meal comes with vegetables, and that you get the opportunity to snack on fruit throughout the day. So why not start your day with a fruit Porridge to get you on the right track!

Here are 7 of my favourite fruity Porridge recipes to get you towards that goal of 7-a-day and to good health!

  1. Cherry & Chia Porridge
  2. Cinnamon, Saffron & Blueberry Porridge
  3. Papaya Porridge
  4. Forced Rhubarb and Orange Juice Porridge
  5. Pomegranate Porridge
  6. Hobbit-y Porridge
  7. PB&A Porridge

Pom Porridge 2

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Marketing the future: How independent retailers are growing the organic sector

OrganicMarketReport2014

My new post for the Soil Association blog has just gone on-line. This month I have been writing about the Organic Market Report and the good news that 2014 has seen growth across the board in the organic sector. However I have been writing about more then just sales figures! I have examined just how and what role the independent food sector has played in this growth.

As an advisor to the independent sector, an an advocate of communities taking control of their own local food solutions, I am truly heartened by the reports findings. I also give a bit of advice to the supermarkets; if you want to increase sales of sustainable organic food, then you need to do more than just bolt it on to your current business model!

You can read my full post here; Marketing The Future.

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Get ready, get baking, for Mothering Sunday with my new recipe for Mornflake

Mothers Day choc sqauresFor Mothering Sunday I have written the new baking recipe ‘Chocolate Oaty Squares‘ for Mornflake.

This recipe keeps baking nice and simple so that kids (with a bit of adult supervision) can make a lovely tea time treat for mum.

So plump up the cushions, put the kettle on and give you mum a break this Mothering Sunday.

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A recipe a day with Porridge Lady on Twitter

Porridge Lady Twitter

Did you know that I am also on Twitter? Everyday I tweet a photo of my Porridge breakfast or a recipe.

Some of my favourite Porridge breakfasts recently have been…

Grape & Cinnamon PorridgeCooked Grape & Cinnamon Porridge

And a seasonal favourite….

Rhubarb PorridgeRhubarb & Orange Porridge

If you would like a little daily Porridge inspiration follow me @porridgelady and tweet me your breakfast pics too! :-)

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Organic Market Report 2014; The good news is published, organic sales are up!

Organic Market Report 2014 IMG1Today the Soil Association released it’s Organic Market Report 2014 with the outstanding news that across the board UK organic sales are up by 2.8%.

Against the backdrop of a difficult economy, this is really good news for organic farmers and businesses across the country. For me what is most heartening is that independent retailers have seen growth of 6.9%. As someone locked firmly in the world of local organic food this is fantastic news.

However it isn’t all good news. Whilst there is an increase in the sale of organic dairy, meat and vegetables the amount of land in organic agriculture has actually fallen (Defra report to year end 2012).

Have faith in the future though as young people are key to the growth of the organic sector. The age group 28-34 are now spending the most on organic food.

And finally whether you buy organic food because it contains fewer pesticides/chemicals (37%) or because it’s more natural/unprocessed (34%) it takes all of us to keep organic food on the shelves. From; Farmers and growers, to producers and manufacturers, to the retailer, the policy maker and us the consumer we all have our role to play in supporting, increasing and supplying sustainable, healthy food.

Organic Market Report 2014 IMG2

 

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My Little Food Finds; ‘Drink, Shop & Do’

Do Eat Shop2Ever thought of ‘taking tea’ in Kings Cross, London? Neither had I until I came across ‘Drink, Shop & Do’.

I had always viewed Kings Cross as, at best as a transit point, someone to escape London from. At worst… well lets not dwell on it’s 80′s reputation. Well all that changed last week when I visited the “design shop and café bar” ‘Drink, Shop & Do’ on a tip off from a Twitter friend.

On arrival I was immediately smitten by it’s ‘Mid Century’ styling (so now sweetie ;-) ) and the bright and airy feel to the cafe. 

Do Eat Shop4

Do Eat Shop5

Best of all was the discovery that ‘Drink, Shop & Do’ serve loose leaf tea, the holy grail of tea for me. I hadn’t had my usual cup of morning tea and I was on my way to an all day meeting, so I nearly (only nearly), hugged the waitress when she appeared with the biggest pot of tea I have ever seen! 

Do Eat Shop1

From the extensive loose leaf tea menu I opted for ‘Windsor Castle’ enough of a morning Assam kick with the dignity of Darjeeling too. The tea was lovely, refreshing, and like I say in plentiful supply!

My visit was more of a morning pit stop than a full-on afternoon tea but from what I experienced and the cakes that I spied! ‘Drink, Shop & Do’ would be a lovely location for a full Sunday afternoon tea. 

‘Drink, Shop & Do’ is definitely a recommendation from me and I hope you get the opportunity to visit my latest ‘Little Food Find’. 

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Barley & Oat Porridge; The ‘Scandimania’ effect

Norway Porridge 1 (1 of 1)

My Porridge recipes seem to have taken a Scandinavian turn of late. First came the  Danish inspired ‘Rødgrød med fløde‘ Porridge. Then after watching Channel 4′s ‘Scandimania’ series I’ve been inspired to write a Norwegian styled Porridge recipe.

The recipe follows the Norwegian trend for Barely Porridge but of course still keeping my beloved oats! Using two grains provides different textures to the Porridge and Barley flakes add a lovely golden colour to the cooked Porridge.

This Porridge reminds me of my travels in the mountains of Norway. Of cold morning’s in a Norwegian log cabin, eating a hearty breakfast before cross country skiing. Snow or not I hope you enjoy my new recipe…

Norway Porridge 2 (1 of 1)

Two Grain Almond Barley Porridge

Ingredients

1/2 cup Barley flakes

1 cup Jumbo oats

1 cup Full cream milk

2 cups water

1 tablespoon of ground almonds

2 tablespoons of bluberry puree

2 dessert spoons of double cream.

Serves: Two

Cooking Time: 6 mins

Method

Place the barley and oat flakes into a deep saucepan.

Add the water & milk and stir thoroughly.

Place the saucepan over a high heat and stirring constantly cook for 2 mins.

Then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Add the ground almonds and stir into the barley and oat flakes.

Continue to cook for a further 2-3 mins or until you have a nice thick Porridge consistency.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the Porridge into two bowls.

Swirl a spoonful of the blueberry puree into each of the bowls of Porridge.

Finally garnish with cream, serve the Porridge hot and enjoy on a cold morning.

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