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We spoke to Viva! – the vegan campaigning charity about their new about their new Vegan magazine highlighting some of the benefits of veganism. Readers can order their FREE copy of Everyone’s Going Vegan vivashop.org.uk/vegan-super-pack using the code VEGANFOOD

It’s usually priced at £5 !

We worked with them to bring you this great White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake which we think is just perfect for this summer.

Serves 8-10 | 2 hours (plus overnight setting time)

Base

400g vegan digestive biscuits (eg McVitie’s Light, some of the supermarket ‘free-from’ and own brands are vegan, check the ingredients first)
170g/¾ cup vegan margarine/spread
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Cake

100g/1 cup ground almonds
500g/4¼ cups vegan cream cheese (eg Bute Island, Tofutti, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Violife)
1 x 400ml tin/1½ cups plus 1 tbsp of coconut milk
150g/¾ cup caster sugar
6 tbsp plain flour, sieved
4 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
150g/1 cup vegan white chocolate (eg IChoc, Organica, Sainsbury’s free-from)
Pinch of salt
1-2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1-2 tsp lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
100g/¾ cup raspberries (optional)

Topping

170g/1⅓ cups raspberries
2 tbsp raspberry jam
300g/2 cups icing sugar, sieved
Selection of mixed berries and fresh mint for decoration (optional)

Method

Base

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150˚C/300˚F/Gas Mark 2.
  2. Grease a loose bottom cake tin (20cm diameter and 7cm deep) with vegan spread.
  3. Blend the digestives until fine.
  4. Gently melt the margarine and coconut oil in a small saucepan on a low heat until fully dissolved. Combine thoroughly with the blended digestives in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Empty the mixture into the greased cake tin and evenly distribute along the bottom
    and up the sides of the tin. Place in the fridge until you need it.
    Cake
  6. Thoroughly blend the ground almonds, cream cheese, coconut milk, sugar, flour,
    cornflour, lemon juice, vanilla paste, melted coconut oil and salt.
  7. Melt the white chocolate using a double boiler (a glass or ceramic bowl that fits on a
    saucepan of simmering water but doesn’t touch the bottom) and then pour immediately into the cake mix and blend.
  8. Take the base out of the fridge and pour the cake mix straight onto the base. Give it a bit of a shake to make sure the mixture is evenly distributed.
  9. If you would like to add raspberries to the cake mix, push them evenly into the mixture until they are fully submerged.
  10. Fill a deep baking tray with water (around 1 inch). If you are using a cake tin with a loose bottom, make sure it is really securely covered with foil before placing it into the water.
  11. Cover the top of the cake with foil (to avoid burning) then place the tray into the pre-heated oven and bake for 1 hour and 15-30 minutes (check after 1 hour 15)
  12. When the cake is ready, take it out of the oven and leave it to cool for an hour before putting it into the fridge to set overnight.
  1. Topping
  2. Heat the raspberries and the jam on a low heat for 5 minutes until blended and
    smooth. Squish the raspberries against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon if
    they still remain whole.
  3. Stir the sieved icing sugar into the pan and heat until fully dissolved.
  4. Pass the sauce through a sieve and then pour it on the top of the cake until fully
    covered, top with berries (optional) and set for another hour.
  5. Serve as it is or with vegan ice cream. Enjoy!
  6. Freeze any leftovers.
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Let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy a cupcake? These lovely little things are perfect for any occasion – whether it’s someone’s birthday, a new baby is coming into the world, or simply just because you’re hungry!

We all know how to devour a cupcake or two, but the process of actually baking them can prove challenging, even for the most avid of bakers.

We spoke with Beverly Hills Bakery, which offers bespoke cupcake delivery in London and elsewhere across the UK, to understand four common problems which can occur when baking cupcakes and what we can do to prevent them.

Fail #1: Sinking in the middle

A problem that is all too familiar – you take your cupcakes out of the oven, only to find that they have deflated rather than risen. It’s a crushing outcome, but luckily, one which can be easily avoided.

Whilst throwing all your ingredients into the mixing bowl at the same time may be tempting, it is not advised, since it can overmix the batter, causing those dreaded sunken middles. Your core ingredients; flour, butter, sugar and eggs, all have different consistencies, which means the formation lumps when mixed together at once.

Instead, first combine the sugar and butter, then add the flour afterwards and mix well. Next, add the eggs to your mixture until all ingredients are combined. It’s really as simple as that!

Fail #2: Dry cupcakes

Nobody wants to eat a dry cupcake, particularly since the ideal texture should be fluffy and moist. As such, to prevent this classic cupcake fail, you must make sure you measure all your ingredients out precisely, never straying from the recipe you are following. When cooking, it’s normally okay to add a dash of this and sprinkle of that, but baking, on the other hand, is an exact science, which means that adding in too much of one particular ingredient, such as flour, can create a dry batch.

Moreover, over-baking can cause the cupcakes to lose their moisture, so be sure to use your phone or a kitchen timer to know exactly when to remove them from the oven.

When you have finished baking and decorating your cupcakes, do NOT put them in the fridge, even if you don’t intend on eating them until tomorrow. The coldness will also cause the sponge to quickly dry out, resulting in flavour loss.

Fail #3: Mismatched cupcakes

There aren’t many things more dissatisfying than taking your cupcake tray out of the oven, only to quickly discover that half your batch are perfectly risen, whereas the other half are semi-raw.

This problem occurs when ingredients aren’t measured precisely, with a different amount of batter filling each cupcake liner. Whilst you might not be able to save your current batch, you can certainly prevent it from happening next time simply by making use of an ice cream scoop, allowing you to accurately fill each liner equally – the outcome of which is a uniform set of cupcakes!

Fail #4 Peeling liners

If your cupcake liners frequently peel away from the sponge, then your problem lies with moisture or steam.

Once you remove a batch of cupcakes from the oven, their hot temperate immediately begins to produce steam. Many people make the mistake of removing them from the tray right away, but this sudden temperature fluctuation can quickly cause condensation, making your liners peel off. Similarly, leaving them in the tray for too long has the same effect.

As such, leave the cupcakes to sit in the tray for about 1-2 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack where they can be left alone until cooled completely. Never place them directly into an airtight container, which again creates condensation and causes peeling.

Poor-quality, cheap cases can also lead to peeling, which is why we recommend only investing in the best ingredients and accessories when baking a batch of lovely cupcakes!

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We’re certainly beginning to get some good weather with temperatures set to rise even further. Barbecues and patio sets are being dusted off all over the country as I write this. Summer barbecues and get-togethers don’t always have to be outside though and thanks to Marks and Spencer all their summer range can be cooked in the oven, pan or barbecue. So no ones going to feel left out.

We were kindly given some of the Marks and Spencer Summer 2019 range of food, drink and snacks to try so we’ll share with you some of our thoughts on these so you can get a sneak peek! Everything is in store now so you can nip in and grab whatever you fancy this weekend.

The Best Ever Burger?

Could this be ‘The Best Ever Burger’ ? It could be! Marks and Spencer have released a few new burgers this year just in time for summer. Their usual burger is of course great, however this year there is also a caramelised onion burger AND this burger topped with cheese, gherkin, tomato and mustard. By the time this all melts into the burger you’re left with what we think might actually be THE best ever burger. But we’ll leave that up to you to decide!

Posh Puppies

Posh Puppies are Marks and Spencer’s take on posh cocktail sausages. they are about 1/3 of the length of their standard posh hot dogs making them the perfect bite size nibbles for barbecue time of year. These are thick and absolutly packed with flavour. Some of our favourite sausages. Well worth a try.

Plant Kitchen Sweetcorn and Chickpea Burgers

Earlier this year Marks and Spencer launched their Plant Kitchen range which is full of vegetarian and vegan meals and ingredients. One of these are these Sweetcorn and Chickpea Burgers. These are surprisingly ‘meaty’ burgers. Combined with the Plant Kitchen Coleslaw and the The Grill House Smokey Tomato Sauce and some salad these make a good contender for ‘The Greatest Burger’. How will you dress yours?

While we are on the topic of salads and dressings. If you haven’t tried Marks and Spencer’s Creamy Caesar dressing give it a whirl on your next salad! Absolutly delicious.

Something for the BBQ

Our two highlights for the BBQ this summer are the park of 4 BBQ Beef Sizzle Steaks and King Prawn Skewers in Tandoori marinade. The sizzle steaks are so quick to make and with four in a pack they are incredible value.

It’s all about the sides

I am one of those people who say they could make a meal out of starters or side dishes. And it’s true! I love some of the options this year. Dirty Fries! These are fries with rich tomato sauce, silky bechamel sauce and finished with a cheese alternative. Part of the Plant Kitchen range! Also part of the Plant Food range is the Cashew Mac. Obviously a take on mac n cheese. This is really really hard to distinguish between standard mac n cheese. It may actually be better!! To finish up some Chilli Halloumi kebabs. These are great little snacks in between things cooking.

The Desserts

For dessert we looked at two options. One from the Plant Kitchen range is the mango, passionfruit and coconut pot which I found the texture a little unusual but the flavour was great and the Rhubarb and Strawberry mini cheesecakes which I have had before and find absolutly divine!

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We teamed up with Graig Farm to bring you two incredibly delicious summer recipes. With a heatwave promised we’re hoping we get plenty of opportunity to make these several times!

When it comes to cooking during the summer months, only one thing springs to mind, and that’s barbeques! We all love a good old British barbeque. What could be better than sitting the garden with family, friends, or both, sipping on a cold refreshing drink and eating tasty meats? Nothing much can beat it when the sun is shining.

But what’s your meat of choice when it comes to a barbecue? Are you a lover of a burger in a bun or would you rather grill some sausages for a summertime feast? If you love a barbecued chicken and looking for tasty new recipes to try this year, why not give these two Asian inspired recipes by Graig Farm a try? They are a Welsh farm specialising in organic produce, that delivers to homes and the wholesale market throughout the UK. They have won numerous awards for the quality of their products and offer their meats to be delivered in butcher’s wrap, which is plastic free!

So for a more sustainable BBQ this summer, why not opt for Tandoori Chicken or Sweet Chilli BBQ Chicken made with organic chicken drumsticks?

Tandoori Chicken

This spicy recipe will make the neighbours very jealous! 

Ingredients

  • 4 Graig Farm Organic Chicken Drumsticks
  • 2 tbsp of Lemon Juice
  • 125g of Plain Yoghurt
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 thumb of Ginger
  • Half a tsp of Red Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp of Cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp of Garam Masala
  • 1 tbsp of Cooking Oil

Method

  1. Blend together the lemon juice, yoghurt, garlic, ginger, chilli powder, cumin powder, garam masala and cooking oil until smooth.
  2. Slash the chicken drumsticks with a sharp knife and pour the mixture over the meat. Cover and leave to marinade for around three hours.
  3. Turn the barbeque on to a medium to high heat and place the chicken on the barbeque for around twenty minutes, turning continuously.
  4. Serve with a know of butter and a side of couscous and enjoy!
Sweet Chilli BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

Give your chicken a delicious sticky glaze with this tasty marinade!

Ingredients

  • 12 organic chicken drumsticks
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 5 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce

Method

  1. Mix together the honey, sweet chilli sauce and soy sauce in a large bowl. Set aside a small dish of the marinade for basting. Place chicken drumsticks into the bowl and cover in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, longer if possible.
  2. Preheat barbecue for medium high heat.
  3. Lay the drumsticks on the grill (brush grill with oil first) and cook for 10-15 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Baste with the spare marinade during last few minutes of cooking.
  4. Serve with a rice and a colourful summer salad!
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Heading out for a meal is meant to be an enjoyable experience, but it can quickly turn into a nightmare if a commercial kitchen has failed in its duty to manage cross-contamination and cross-contact risks. In this article, one shot drain cleaner supplier Fulcare explores the difference between these two risks and how they can be successfully managed.

Defining cross-contamination

Cross-contamination can lead to illness in consumers. It occurs when bacteria or other potentially harmful microorganisms are unintentionally transferred from one place to another, in this case, from one food item to another. There are three main ways cross-contamination can occur:

  1. Equipment to food — for example, using a knife to cut raw meat, then the same knife to cut vegetables.
  2. Food to food — for example, if raw meat touches cooked meat in storage.
  3. People to food — for example, handling raw meat then proceeding to handle cooked meat without washing hands.
Defining cross-contact

Cross-contact is a little difference from cross-contamination. This is when foods mix proteins after coming into contact with each other. Instead of bacteria being the problems as with cross-contamination, the problem here is the trace element of another food item being present. Usually, the amount is so small that it cannot be seen. But for people who are highly allergic to certain food items, even a trace element of that food can be enough to trigger a reaction.

Cross-contamination makes people sick. Cross-contact causes allergic reactions.

Commercial kitchen responsibilities

Any firm that deals with food for consumption has a duty of care for its customers. According to the government website, complying with food safety laws requires businesses to follow food hygiene practises. It outlines that it is the business’ responsibility to prevent any items that come into contact with food from transferring anything to the food substance, as well as having traceability of any such food contact materials.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point principles (HAACP) are in place for companies to create processes around. HAACP requires businesses to identify and avoid, remove, or reduce any hazard to food, as well as monitoring any critical control points along the supply chain. Employers are also expected to train staff on hygiene practises, though this can be a formal programme or informal training.

In order to reduce cross-contact, customers must alert their waiter. The business should be able to inform the customer of any allergen risks in this instance.

Avoiding cross-contamination

There are methods to reducing cross-contamination risks. Key areas include:

  • Tie hair back — or wear a hairnet.
  • Avoid eating or drinking — when preparing food, staff should not be allowed to eat or drink.
  • Hand washing — before working with food, staff should wash their hands. Hands should also be washed prior to handling any food, and after handling or touching any raw meat, fish, eggs, or unwashed vegetables. Hands should be washed after going to the toilet, using phones or touching light switches, door handles, cash registers, or money. Also, hands should be washed after carrying out other tasks such as emptying or touching bins or tending to a cut or wound.
    • Proper hand-washing technique has been outlined by the Food Standards Agency as:
      • Wet hands thoroughly under warm water
      • Squirt liquid soap onto palm
      • Rub to a lather
      • Rub the palm of one hand over the back of the other hand and fingers. Repeat with other hand.
      • Put palms together and interlock fingers. Rub in-between fingers.
      • Rub around thumbs, then rub fingertips against palms.
      • Rinse off soap with clean water and dry on a disposable towel. Turn tap off with the towel and dispose of towel.
  • Wear clean clothes — aprons should also be worn, especially when handling unwrapped food.
  • Remove jewellery and watches — bacteria can be caught in the nooks of watches or jewellery.
  • Clean preparation — avoid coughing, sneezing, or touching your face over food.
  • Tend to any cuts — cuts should be covered by a brightly coloured waterproof plaster.

Tell your staff not to wash raw meat. Some people believe washing raw meat rinses off bacteria, but it actually increases the risk of food poisoning. The splashing water from the meat being rinsed under the tap can travel more than 50cm away from the source, which in turn, carries bacteria all around the room. Washing raw meat effectively spreads the germs around.

By using separate equipment and utensils, you can also lower the risk of cross-contamination. Have separate equipment for each type of food; raw red meat should have its own set of cutting boards, containers, knives, etc. Vegetables would have their own set, and raw poultry its own set, and so on. A common method of implementation is to have a colour coded system in the kitchen, for example, red utensils, boards, and containers are used for raw meat, green for vegetables, and so on.

Be sure to inspect equipment and replace when necessary. Bacteria can hide away in the crevices and cracks of cutting boards, and these should be replaced. Also, consider ‘hidden’ contact too — can opener blades touch food when they enter a can, so don’t forget to clean these too! Of course, correct cleaning of utensils is a given. All work surfaces and equipment should be thoroughly cleaned after use. This means warm water, soap, the works — rinsing is not enough. Invest in good-quality wholesale cleaning products and make sure the kitchen is more than rinsed down!

The storage of equipment is important too. Clean dishes and utensils, once cool, should be stored on clean shelves away from floor level. Avoid towel drying dishes as this can cause contamination from towels.

Avoiding cross-contact

It is a little more difficult to avoid cross-contact. Many of the same practises used for avoiding cross-contamination work for reducing the risk of cross-contact too. Washing hands in the method stated above, cleaning surfaces and equipment between each task, separate utensils for different food types, all of these methods work to help reduce cross-contact too. So, when staff wash their hands after handling fish, for example, as recommended to do so to avoid cross-contamination, they will also reduce the risk of cross-contact of the fish proteins to the next food item they prepare. The top eight allergens as listed by FARE are milk, wheat, eggs, soy, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and fish. But they also stress that more than 170 foods have been known to cause an allergic reaction.

It’s a matter of proteins and bacteria and the difference in dealing with them. Where proper cooking will usually remove all bacteria on contaminated food, cooking will not remove trace elements of food proteins that have been cross-contacted. This must be dealt with accordingly: where possible, use different counters and cooking equipment for different food types, such a separate grill for fish and another for meat. If this is not possible, you must make customers aware of this. Consider the case of McDonald’s — recently, the fast food chain has launched a wrap that is, ingredient-wise, vegan friendly. Though the food item itself contains no animal products, it is toasted in the same toaster that their other buns do, which contain milk. As such, there is a risk of cross-contact of milk proteins from the buns to the toaster and to the vegan wraps. The chain has marked the wraps as vegetarian rather than vegan in order to accommodate for this.

Understanding the difference between cross-contact and cross-contamination is crucial in handling the issues effectively. Ensuring your kitchen maintains a high level of attention to potential risks will keep your customers feeling safe and comfortable!

Sources:

https://www.restaurant.org/Manage-My-Restaurant/Food-Nutrition/Food-Safety/Five-tips-to-keep-cross-contamination-from-causing

https://www.foodallergy.org/sites/default/files/migrated-files/file/cross-contact-poster-set2016.pdf

https://www.foodallergy.org/sites/default/files/migrated-files/file/avoid-cross-contact.pdf

https://www.foodallergy.org/life-with-food-allergies/living-well-everyday/avoiding-cross-contact

https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/media/document/sfbb-introduction_0.pdf

https://www.plantbasednews.org/post/mcdonalds-vegan-wrap-vegan-happy-meals-uk

https://www.gov.uk/food-safety-your-responsibilities

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/never-wash-raw-chicken/

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Steenbergs, the artisan spice experts were kind enough to send us a goody bag filled with delicious, nutritious organic drinks from their new SWELL wellness range. SWELL is a brand new collection of plant-based Steenbergs wellness products chosen for their health benefits and designed to be enjoyed as part of a balanced healthy lifestyle. The turmeric based blends are unique combinations of organic spices and powders and are all organic, vegan and gluten-free, developed to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. Their versatility allows them to be made with the addition of soy, nut or dairy milks and they are delicious hot or cold.

One thing I personally love about this range is that you can buy it either with or without added sugar. I think this is great as it doesn’t force you down either a sugar or non-sugar avenue. Some of us love a sweet drink as a bit of a treat. Nothing wrong with that in moderation.

Turmeric, which most of this range is based on is quite a magical ingredient. You’ll probably have heard of the hype of turmeric drinks in the past few years, there is however reason for this and it’s nothing new! Tumeric has been drunk for centuries in some cultures and has been well known for its potent anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, gastrointestinal health properties. Studies are ongoing on what diseases and conditions it may help prevent or reduce the impact of. I’ll leave you to google that for yourself but it is actually very fascinating.

The Drinks

So we were kindly sent three of the varieties to try and they’re all quite different!

Swell Organic Turmeric Latte Mix

So this is the straight forward latte mix. Sometimes simple is the best. We love this one. It is vegan too! This is great made into a drink using soy, nut or dairy milks. Or you can simply add it to smoothies or milkshakes. Drink it hot or cold. It is really versatile! A great earthy flavour

Swell Organic Turmeric and Cacao Latte Mix

This is similar in some ways to the Turmeric Latte mix with the obvious addition of the cacao which adds a sweet note. I think a good comparison is if you like a chocolate note in a drink, similar to a mocha then with the under tones obviously of turmeric then this is the option for you. Again this mix is great made with soy, nut or dairy milks or simply added to smoothies of milkshakes. I like this one best warm in the evenings.

Swell Organic Cacao Chocolate Drink

This drink has the absence of turmeric so is essentially just a organic hot chocolate drink which is sweet with warming notes of cacao and chocolate. As with the other drinks this can be mixed with soy, nut or dairy milks to make a beautiful warming chocolate drink. Be naughty and add some cream or marshmallows and you’re in for a treat. Or be healthy and have it plain, its still delicious!

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Steenbergs, the artisan spice experts, are delighted to give away a jute goody bag filled with delicious, nutritious organic drinks from their new SWELL wellness range. SWELL is a brand new collection of plant-based Steenbergs wellness products chosen for their health benefits and designed to be enjoyed as part of a balanced healthy lifestyle. The turmeric based blends are unique combinations of organic spices and powders and are all organic, vegan and gluten-free, developed to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. Their versatility allows them to be made with the addition of soy, nut or dairy milks and they are delicious hot or cold. The prize includes Turmeric Latte, Cacao & Turmeric Latte, Chocolate Drink and Cacao, together with two of your very own Steenbergs mugs.

The Prize : Turmeric Latte, Cacao & Turmeric Latte, Chocolate Drink and Cacao, together with two of your very own Steenbergs mugs and a jute bag! Competition open from 7th June 2019 – 21st June 2019 How to enter? Step 1 – Either Simply Follow both Steenbergs and BakingBar’s Twitter accounts or like Steenbergs and BakingBar’s Facebook accounts Step 2 – Confirm your entry in the below form to complete your entry and acknowledge you have completed step 1. The selected winner’s entry will be validated by checking they have completed step 1. Once you enter don’t forget to tell your friends on Twitter by sharing the this message – Click Here a Rafflecopter giveaway

The boring bit (T and C’s):
One winner will be selected at random from all correct entries received. Anonymous entries will be exempt from the competition. The winner will be announced within 7 days of the closing date. The Prize : Turmeric Latte, Cacao & Turmeric Latte, Chocolate Drink and Cacao, together with two of your very own Steenbergs mugs and a jute bag! as detailed above, supplied directly from Steenbergs. There is no cash alternative. This competition is open to UK and Ireland residents only. The winner has 2 weeks from when they receive the acknowledgement email to supply their contact details or the prize will be forfeited and an alternate winner will be chosen. Delivery will be within 28 days of BakingBar receiving the winner’s address. Any details collected by competition entry are kept private and not shared with any third parties except where entrant have consented to subscribing to both BakingBar and Steenbergs newsletters, where name and email information is shared only with Steenbergs and BakingBar. 
GDPR CONSENT – Entrants consent to the storage of their personal data for ascertaining the identity of the respective winner. Entrants consent to be added to the mailing lists of both BakingBar and Steenbergs if they select the consent box option in the competition entry. The latter is not mandatory to enter the competition.

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The UK’s food habits are changing — but how? We spoke to Compost Direct about research they have done into how the UK’s relationship with food is changing and it’s actually quite fascinating! In this article, top soil retailer Compost Direct discusses Britain’s blossoming love affair with good food.

Organic is on the up

Organic food sales have been growing steadily over the past few years. Now worth a huge £2.09 billion, the market witnessed 7.1% growth in 2016 alone. In fact, organic food and drink now represents a 1.5% share of the total UK market, according to the 2017 Organic Market Report. On a global scale, the UK’s organic market makes up 4% of the $81 billion worldwide organic sales.

The increase in organic food and drink sales can be attributed to a growing awareness of the benefits of fresh, organic produce. Overall, 80% of consumers said they had knowledge of organic food, with 39% buying it on a weekly basis.

It could be argued that this is fuelled by the growth of Britain’s fitness culture, driven by our increasing dependence on social media. As images of toned, healthy bodies litter our news feeds, we’re inspired by self-improvement. Given that organic food is often fresher, containing fewer pesticides and no genetic modifications, it’s the route many people choose as part of living and eating better.

While supermarket and independent retailers have witnessed similar growth rates (6.1% and 6.3% respectively), it’s the foodservice market that has achieved some of the strongest growth. Sales of organic food within the UK’s foodservice market rose by 19.1% in 2016 to be worth a staggering £76.6 million.

Clearly, restaurants, pubs, cafes and food outlets are recognising a change in consumer behaviour. In order to continue to capture sales from increasingly health-conscious customers, outlets must change their menus accordingly, driving the growth of organic food. Many well-known restaurants have made the switch to organic, including Jamie’s Italian, McDonalds and Nando’s.

As outlets change what’s on the menus, wholesalers too must change. Between 2015 and 2016, there were almost 25% more licensed organic wholesalers, responding to the growing demand for wholesome food.

With schools, universities, hospitals and workplaces serving more organic food under the Food For Life Catering Mark, it’s clear that organic is on the rise — and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

The growth of growing your own

Ever since 2007’s recession, we’ve witnessed an increase in the number of Brit’s growing their own produce, in an effort to battle rising food costs. In 2012, for example, the BBC reported that almost a third of British adults grow their own food. A further 51% said in a survey that they would take to the vegetable patch if food prices were to rise further.

More recently, one YouGov report found that 77% of gardeners listed eating produce that they have grown in their own gardens as the main benefit of gardening. What’s more, 44% grow enough fruit and vegetable to share with their friends and family, while over 25% said that growing their own food was now their hobby.

An appetite for recipe boxes

As the growth of e-commerce has proven, we’re always looking for time-saving tips. Our busy lives and dependence on technology has given rise to the recipe box. Pioneered by the likes of Hello Fresh and Gousto, these boxes contain all of the ingredients you need to cook tasty meals, along with instructions on how to do it.

Given the convenience the boxes offer, it’s no surprise that they’ve experienced exceptional success. In 2015, the recipe box industry has achieved some £702 million in worldwide sales. By 2025, predictions estimate that this will grow to £3.8 billion as the market goes from strength-to-strength and more companies emerge.

When you consider that UK households threw away £13 billion of edible food in 2017, recipe boxes — which only provide the ingredients you need for each recipe — seem like a good idea. According to analytics by Cardlytics, spending on recipe boxes grew by 64.6% in the first half of 2016, with the volume of orders increasing by 47.6%.

Naturally, the growth of these boxes spells out trouble for UK supermarkets. Tesco and Waitrose have both launched a recipe kit range within their stores. With Waitrose vowing to make them a permanent part of their range, Tesco is still in the trial stages.

Whether it’s organic food, vegetable patches or recipe boxes, it’s clear that Britain’s attitudes to food are shifting as we strive to eat better as part of our increasingly health-conscious lifestyles.

Sources:

https://www.soilassociation.org/certification/trade-news/2017/uk-organic-market-tops-2-billion/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18094945

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36057783

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/10/uk-throwing-away-13bn-of-food-each-year-latest-figures-show

http://uk.businessinsider.com/hellofresh-and-gousto-are-nibbling-away-at-supermarket-revenues-2016-11

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We’ve collaborated with Nisbets to bring you a guide on how you can develop your professional culinary skills whether you intend to use them in your own kitchen or in your career.

There’s nothing quite like turning a passion into a rewarding and well-paid career, particularly if you have some natural talent and a keen willingness to learn.

We also live in the age of the sole trader, where it has never been easier to learn, gain industry skills and market your chosen service in the gig economy. So, if you have a passion for cooking and want to become a chef or professional events caterer, there are ample ways in which you can achieve this dream.

Still, being successful in this field will require your ability to learn and develop professional skills, both through courses and your own unique experiences. Here are some tips to help you develop a more professional culinary skillset.

  1. Learn the Basics

They say that a workman is only ever as good as his tools, and this logic can easily be applied to the world of professional catering.

However, a skilled chef must also develop the skills to use their tools safely and effectively, especially when we’re dealing with professional kitchenware and knives.

So, you may want to consider embarking on specialist courses to develop new knife techniques, whilst also viewing online tutorials to learn more about how to handle, wield and store knives.

This will also alert you to the importance of a good and diverse knife set, which allows you access to different and specially designed tools for set purposes.

  • Develop Different Cooking Techniques and Knowledge of New Cuisines

Regardless of whether you’re going to work as an independent caterer or launch a career in some of the UK’s best restaurants, it’s imperative that have a broad base of culinary knowledge.

At the heart of this is an appreciation for popular international cuisines, so you should at least have a basic understanding of the key staples and cooking techniques used to create Indian, Chinese and Caribbean dishes.

The good news is that most of these skills can be learned by books or through experience, as you look to travel to different regions and sample local cuisines at first hand.

You should also have an ability to cook both savoury and sweet dishes, as this will enable you to create different courses when catering to the needs of specific clients.

  •  Learn how to Scale your Efforts and Become More Efficient

Whilst you may be a dab hand in the kitchen and capable of whipping up some delicious meals, attempting to this professionally is far easier said than done.

After all, chefs and caterers are required to work in an extremely fast-paced environment, and often have to create multiple dishes simultaneously or produce fresh food in high quantities without compromising on quality.

So, you’ll need to keep a business hat on and find ways of scaling your efforts, primarily by creating more efficient cooking processes and introducing quality standards to ensure consistency.

This way, you’ll be able to successfully monetise your passion and lay the foundation for a successful career doing something that you love.

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Beech’s Chocolates were very kind to send us a little gift of their best selling chocolate fondant creams, a real British favourite! Beech’s Chocolates is a family run business dating back to 1920 in Preston, Lancashire. To this day it still operates on the very same site. How amazing is that!

A lot of staff have been there a long time, between the top 20 longest serving members of staff they can account for over 600 years of experience. That’s a lot of chocolate knowledge!

Beech’s has been a well known British brand since the 1920’s mostly specialising in those firm favourites like fondant creams. Recently they have branched into truffles and other chocolate products to meet customers desires.

So lets take a look what was in this lovely gift box for us!!

Classic Mint Creams

This is THE classic fondant cream in our opinion. Taking many forms over the years our favourites are in this shape. Made using Mitcham mint oil and smothered in a generous coating of dark chocolate. Beautiful!

Summer Strawberry Creams

With Summer just around the corner these Summer Strawberry Creams are right for the moment, however it can be any time of year and I will always fish out the strawberry creams first from any box of chocolates. Or fight anyone for the last one…. We all do it!! Made using only natural flavours of summer strawberries cloaked in rich dark chocolate.

Rose Creams

Rose Creams are a bit of an acquired taste apparently. I think rose is a very traditional British flavour of sweet. A sweet but natural flavouring which has been used for centuries to flavour treats. These wonderful fondant creams are made using a traditional recipe with only natural flavourings and coated in dark chocolate.

As a few little additional treats they also sent us some extras

Milk Chocolate Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight is one of my all time favourite sweets. It always has been. I think it comes down to the rose flavour again. It is so distinctive. The firm centre of the Turkish delight is encased in a thick layer of milk chocolate. Beech’s tell us that these have been a firm customer favourite for as long as they remember. So if you like your Turkish Delight like we do, these are the ones you must try!

Bars!!

Beech’s also sell chocolate bars, as every good chocolatier should. But these are almost gourmet bars, small bars to be savoured and enjoyed. I insist on only opening these when there are at least two of us around, as I would certainly eat the whole bar on my own. I adore the packaging of these bars! They are as distinctive as the flavours. Beech’s sent us to try Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate, Milk Chocolate and Anglesey Sea Salt Milk Chocolate. All are very different to each other and you can really taste the flavour combinations working as the chocolate melts in your mouth.

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