When Junk Food Sprung Up

Junk food is practically everywhere.  Such is our appetite for fast food to go with our fast living, that it is rare now to find a location, that does not have a takeaway or fast food joint in it.

What is interesting was that growing up as a child in the 70’s, we would have the local chip shop and the odd Chinese takeaway business, but ready meals to buy in shops were so extortionate, that only the “well off” people could afford it.  Fast forward to today, and you now find the opposite.  Ready meals are geared towards those with a limited income, plus there are so many takeaway options which can be ordered from your sofa, without having to move a muscle.

There is no doubt in my mind, that this junk food explosion is going to have a damaging effect especially on this young generation.  Food laden with fats, sugars, salt and additives are like a killer cocktail, because people cannot seem to stop their constant desire for it.

person holding doughnut with sprinkles
Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

So how do you stop this junk food epidemic?  The simple answer is,  with great difficulty.  The people I have helped have had one thing in common, and that is that they are addicted.  I have noticed with many of them, that their taste buds seem unable to pick up delicate flavours, and they seem only excited by bad ingredients.

The answer is a complicated one, which has had many a person scratching their heads for many years.  Is better education in schools the answer?  To some degree it is.  Although the lure of teenagers going with their mates to the burger bars is always going to be there.  Is taxing such establishments the answer?  I have found that if someone wants to eat it, then they will find the money to buy it no matter what.  What about the traffic light and calorie info on foods?  Yes it is useful to the people who understand it, but to many it still appears confusing.  Plus some just don’t care.  They could have a set of red traffic lights and warnings, and still eat it no matter what.

For me and why I am not a fast food fan, has been all about having the knowledge of what some of the ingredients used can do to your body.  This information has to some degree helped people get on a healthier eating regime.  However, they have got to want to know.  Like the old saying says, you can lead a horse to water but you cannot force it to drink.  I like to use simple ABC language too.  Nothing over medical which is not easy to understand.  For example with diabetics, many do not know the problems they could face, so I just lay it bare to them, that they could go blind and have limbs removed.  It is less about dancing around the bush and more laying it down straight.  I am never sure as to why in the UK we faff about with getting to the facts.  Maybe more hard-hitting campaigns is one of the answers.  I think there will be  proportion of people who want to be helped, but sadly a massive section of society that don’t.  Cheap, convenient and quick will always be the way for them.  That is a real problem.  However, the more people engage with healthy eating the more I find jump on the band wagon.  Surely that can only be a good thing?

 

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What is the “Health is your Wealth” group?

For a long time, I have been concerned with the health of the nation, which may surprise some of you when you look at my catalogue of recipes.   I occasionally enjoy food and drink which leans towards the dark and naughty side, however, I consider such foods as “treats” and they are exactly that.  My daily diet consists of wholesome food, and only now and again will I indulge in things like cake and the more calorific meals.  It seems like we have a major problem in the UK with rising obesity levels and illnesses such as diabetes and heart conditions.  Something has to change as people are constantly eating treats and not fuelling their bodies correctly, this is then leading to many issues.  We need to distinguish between healthy food and bad food and learn more about what is going on nutrition wise.

bright cardiac cardiology care
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have therefore decided to share some of the knowledge that I have already accumulated in the grey matter, as well as help motivate people as much as possible to get a healthy lifestyle on track.  Although I am not a physician, I have mentored a few people now with some success, hence why I have been so tardy with writing recipes for the website!  It is my aim to get more people feeling better, losing excess weight and avoiding unnecessary illness.  It is only too apparent that our NHS is struggling, but we can all play our part to lower the burden somewhat. Plus, what is there not to like about feeling healthy?  Who doesn’t want to feel the best version of themselves that they can be?  Why live feeling like rubbish?  It is time we started treating our bodies like a Ferrari instead of a local council dumpster truck.

I hope you enjoy reading in this section, and will join in with the discussion and more importantly a new healthy regime.  Your health truly is your wealth and many need to all value it far greater than what they do at present.

 

Pasta, Tomato & Sardines

I used to make this for myself as one of my healthy eating low-calorie foods, but it has fast become a favourite with others in my family.  You could swap sardines for tuna or mackerel if you want, although the tinned sardines in tomato sauce just make this dish taste even better.  The quality of ingredients should be top-notch, as they do all the hard work.  I love Parmentier sardines in tomato, they are just delicious!

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Ingredients (Serves 2)

2  Tins of sardines in tomato sauce
150g of Bucatini or Spaghetti
2 Cloves of garlic sliced
10 Cherry tomatoes in quarters
1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
Pinch of chilli flakes
1 Red pepper sliced
Salt
Bag of rocket leaves
1 Lemon

Boil your bucatini/spaghetti as per the instructions in salted water.

In a large wok or non stick pan, place the olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, chilli flakes and red peppers.  Cook and stir for around five minutes.

Once the bucatini/spaghetti has cooked, remove two ladle full of the water and place into the pan/wok.  Drain the bucatini/spaghetti and add it to the wok.  Add in the sardines and break into chunks, gently mixing it around.  Squeeze in half the lemon, take a handful of rocket and add it to the frying pan, season with salt and mix around again.

Cook for a further couple of minutes, so that the rocket begins to wilt slightly.  Place the spaghetti in bowls.  You will notice some of the ingredients are at the base of the pan, so pour equally onto the spaghetti.

Take the rest of the rocket, squeeze some lemon over, grind a little salt and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Mix to combine and coat the rocket, then add to the spaghetti bowls.

Delicious!

 

 

 

Vegetable Chilli

Whilst on my health and fitness regime, I am enjoying making dishes that are not just filling and satisfying but super tasty too.  This vegetable chilli is great for any guests that you may have, that are vegan or vegetarian, plus it is a lighter style of chilli for the summer months.

Please note that honey is optional.  I use a brand of tinned cherry tomatoes that are quite sharp and acidic.  I use a small amount of honey to balance the flavours out.  If your tinned tomatoes are more mellow, then you will not need to use honey.  I also added in a few mushrooms that I had left over.  Those who know me, know that I hate food waste, so if you have any other veggies such as courgette etc, do not be afraid to mix and match.

Calories were approx 420 cals – this was with 60g of Brown rice with Quinoa, which I find more filling than white rice.

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Ingredients – SERVES 2

Small spray of fry light in a wok or non stick pan.
1 Onion
1 Clove of garlic
1 tsp Garam Masala
Pinch of Chilli Flakes – if you like hot food add more
1/2 Red pepper slices
1/2 Green pepper slices
1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
1 Vegetable stock cube in 150 mls of water
1 400g Tin of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Optional: Mushrooms/Courgettes – 1 tbsp of runny honey (see note above)

Heat your wok/pan and spray with a little fry light.  Then add your onions and garlic and heat through until the onion begins to soften, making sure that you keep moving the mixture so the onions don’t go brown. Is using any mushrooms add them at this stage.

Add the garam masala and chilli flakes and mix in for a minute or so.  Then add the tomatoes, vegetable stock, peppers and kidney beans.  If using soft veggies like courgette etc. add them at this stage too.

Allow the mixture to bubble, making sure that you stir occasionally.  The mixture will eventually reduce down so you have a nice sauce.  It might take 15 minutes or longer.  I will often make this up in advance, and it freezes pretty good too.  Check for acidity of the sauce at this point, and add in the runny honey if needed.  Stir through well.

Serve with rice, preferably a brown variety.

 

 

 

Scones

Scones are not just simply delicious but can be whipped up in next to no time. They can either be plain or include raisins and can be smothered in butter or my personal favourite whipped cream and jam. Scones are great for just eating at home but are the star attraction of a tea party. Without them, a tea party seems incomplete. I have made so many versions of scones over the years in my pursuit of perfection. Finally, I think I have managed to achieve a scone which has good height and great taste. There are a couple of tricks though. Firstly when you push the cookie cutter into the dough, do NOT twist the cookie cutter to get the scone shape out. Lift it from the rest of the dough and gently tease the dough from the cookie cutter. Secondly, when rolling out the dough ensure that it is just over 2cms thick. If you roll it too thin, the scones will not get the height. I also find using a finer flour “OO” Italian grade flour makes the scone lighter. Do not worry if you cannot find any (although most supermarkets now stock it), its just that I use it quite a lot for light fluffy cakes and delicacies, so always have it to hand. Plain flour thats been well sieved will give a good result.

scones

 

Ingredients

500g of “OO” Italian Flour or plain flour
2 heaped tsp cream of tartar
1 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda
130g chilled salted butter
50g caster sugar
1 egg beaten
275ml of milk
3 tbsp of Demerera sugar
Optional: 40g sultanas

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees centigrade and lightly grease a baking tray.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar into a large mixing bowl.  Rub the butter into the flour mix until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Light airy motions are best for this.  Stir in the caster sugar.

Mix the beaten egg and milk together.

With the beaten egg/milk, you want to retain a couple of tablespoons for brushing onto the tops of the scones later.  The remaining egg mixture along with the milk can be added and mixed until a dough forms and the mixture comes together.  If adding the optional sultanas do so at this stage.  On a lightly floured surface roll or even better gently press the mixture to just over 2cms in thickness.

Using a 6cm cookie cutter press down into the dough (please see narrative notes above).  The dough will give you between 10-12 scones.  Just keep rolling the dough until its all gone and you cannot make any more scones.  Transfer the scones onto your baking tray.

With the remaining egg/milk that you set aside brush the tops of each scone.  Sprinkle the demerera sugar on top.

Bake in the oven for around 10-15 minutes.  Check after 10 minutes.

Eat warm with butter or cool with cream and jam!