Pumpkin soup

It’s that time of year, got two pumpkins from TESCO (£1 each), carved, fed seeds to birds and made cream of pumpkin soup. Base of leeks,garlic,celery and basil, seasoned, added two veg stock cubes, boiled, blitzed and finished with cream….. Tastes delicious!!!

Healthy food leaflet

This leaflet produced by the Public Health Agency is the best leaflet I have seen regarding kids food ever!!!! Well done and thank you for printing in black and white what I have been advocating for ages. Please everyone take on board,although primarily aimed at pre school kids, the principles can be applied to us all!!!    

The biggest food wake up call

Dear friends
I’ve been blogging about healthy eating for a while. We get bombarded by contradicting stories, over hyped advertising, far too much choice and mind boggling info on packaging.
I’ve been saying we need more education from family, school, peers, supermarkets, manufacturers and governments. There needs to be a back to basics drive when it comes to food preparation and cooking and this starts at home. The bigger retailers have a duty of care to their customers in not selling harmful foods, marketed inappropriately. We as a society need to take more responsibility with our food and drink intake. 
Please read below:

My healthy family are eating the same as 215 Krispy Kremes every WEEK


via http://dailym.ai/ios

Sausage bacon red meat

This is worrying: Bacon, burgers and sausages are a cancer risk, say world health chiefshttps://t.co/KPh2i2GBG8

via https://t.co/tChTnAKEvB
I wanted to talk about this as first we are told red meat is bad, then good, then bad and the same for processed meat…. see where this is going!!
I feel in moderation it’s ok ie once a week and not every single meal of every single day!!! 
With this in mind I decided to cook some sausages from my freezer. I defrosted them and dry fried them in a frying pan. They cooked quickly and had very little fat coming out. The Pork meat content was 80%. They tasted fantastic and I feel are a treat. Remember good quality sausages with high meat content eg 400g cost £3. 
The total amounts of fat,sugar and salt are quite interesting. Check the photos. My advice is everything in moderation!!! 


Acton & Sons

I attended the official opening of Acton & Sons this evening. It was a grand affair which gave me the opportunity to meet The Godfather of the restaurant industry in Belfast, Mr Tom Davis, and his family. There was entertainment, a selection of small plated snacks and drinks….more later. 
 I was kindly Invited by Chris of Love PR. Acton & Sons is the new incarnation of Olios. It’s an all day restaurant and bar. It’s the brainchild of the team that founded Skandia, Neill’s Hill and Papa Joes. Mr Davis Snr opened Skandia in 1969 and I remembered the Skandia on Howard Street from 1989 and recalled eating there. His son Johnathan runs Neill’s Hill in Ballyhackamore (in 1998 was Aldens) and other son Andrew runs Papa Joes in Bangor. Both were present tonight along with Mrs Davis whom Tom met in Acton Hotel and Catering School.
 The kitchen is run by Executive chef Cath Gradwell and Head chef Brian Caldwell, who launched the new menu and let us sample some of the dishes this evening.

Clockwise from the bottle was hake served with potatoes, chick peas in an Indonesian sauce, then creamy chorizo chicken topped with sweet potato strings (my favourite), then there was seared tuna and next was Cajun beef (I didn’t try as I don’t eat beef, but I heard it was good) lastly was battered squid topped with sweet and sour sauce.

Mr Tom Davis was such a pleasure to talk to, very learned and down to earth and has a real depth of knowledge and understanding for the restaurant business in Belfast. His two sons are true “chips of the old block” and have a superb handle on the restaurant industry in Northern Ireland. I am truly confident that the pedigree behind Acton & Sons will propel it well. I would thoroughly recommend this as s goto destination for good quality food in impeccable surroundings served by competent and attentive staff.

Day 6 main event

I prepared the sauce earlier using olive oil to sautee a finely chopped red onion, two cloves of garlic, broccoli and carrot (all from my fridge/dry store), before adding tomato purée, a tablespoon of pesto and the remains of the Dolmio sauce. This is simmered with chopped olives and water for 20 minutes before adding soft cheese with herb and garlic. I then semi blitzed with hand blender.

The filled pasta (spinach and ricotta tortellini) I cooked in a wok in boiling water for 2 minutes before draining and adding to the heated sauce. The pitta bread I toasted in the toaster and spread fresh garlic butter before serving. The chopped/grated salad of leek,radish,carrot,celery,cheese  and cucumber was served beside the pasta.

Tasting time proved decisive as all four of our plates were scraped clean!!

This was a superb way to:

  • Get kids and us to eat a wide variety of veggie food
  • Reuse leftovers in lots of different ways
  • Come up with different recipes and ideas
  • Plan our weekly menu
  • Plan our shopping
  • Have fun with food!!!

Thank you for the opportunity and you can all do it. Ps from tomorrow we can eat meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Did we miss it, no, but kids did!!!

Daal chaval

Daal TurkaBoil lentils with 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and teaspoon salt

Whilst this is boiling fry a finely diced onion in tablespoon of ghee, with 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic and 1/2 inch ginger 

Once browned add two teaspoons of Garam masala and stir till you get a thick paste

Then add this to the lentils and simmer. You can add coriander, chilly and tomatoes at this stage.
For the rice or chaval

Boil white Basmati rice or brown rice and add finely chopped veg

Day 6

Tweeted a picture of my fridge and one of what I’m going to cook. I’m going to make filled pasta in a creamy sauce with garlic pittas. I’m using a packet of spinach and ricotta tortellini as my kids just love this. For the sauce I’m using olive oil to sautee a finely chopped red onion, two cloves of garlic, broccoli and carrot (all from my fridge/dry store), before adding tomato purée, a tablespoon of pesto and the remains of the Dolmio sauce. This is simmered with chopped olives and water for 20 minutes before adding soft cheese with herb and garlic. I then semi blitzed with hand blender. Will cook pasta and bread before serving this evening.   

Pizzado a novel new product 

Hi all, I’m sharing below info regarding Pizzado. I’m looking forward to trying it…. Will you beat me to it????
“Local mum’s DIY pizza kit wins listing with Tesco Northern Ireland


Pizzado is set to revolutionise family meal times around the province, says product founder Karen Boyd.


A local mum of one has secured a listing in Northern Ireland Tesco stores for her innovative pizza product, Pizzado.


The do-it-yourself frozen pizza kit will now be available in 24 Tesco Northern Ireland stores in what is a £250k deal for Karen Boyd and her son Josh, who are at the helm of the enterprise.


The product, which retails at £5, is set to transform the dinner table for families around the province, believes Karen who has a background in the pizza takeaway sector. 


Speaking about the conception of Pizzado, she said: “Pizza was what I knew and like most small businesses, Pizzado was created in 2011 around a coffee table with friends. The idea was sparked from experience; my son was always making pizzas at home with his friends. Now he’s 18, we have been able to pair up and bring this idea to fruition and to consumers through in-store sampling opportunities with Tesco before securing the deal.”


Pizzado consists of two dough balls big enough to make two 9” pizzas, two sachets of tomato sauce and two sachets of 100 per cent mozzarella all of which use only natural ingredients. The kit comes in mozzarella and pepperoni varieties.

The dough is frozen at an early stage to prevent yeast from forming, thus allowing families to do the rest themselves at home. To defrost, the dough can be placed in a fridge overnight after which it boasts a shelf life of three days.


Using local produce, the content of the kit includes Neills Flour, creamy mozzarella from a local dairy producer, all of which are brought together and packaged at a firm in Derrylin.


Speaking about the Tesco deal, Karen continued: “We are delighted to now stock our product in Tesco stores. From a very early stage we knew that Pizzado was going to be a popular product after carrying out taste tests. We knew from the positive feedback and high demand then that a multiple was the best retailing vehicle for us, so to have finally secured a deal with Tesco is a major accomplishment.”


This year has marked not one but two major coups for Karen and her son Josh’s business. Not only has Pizzado won the contract with Tesco, it also won its second Irish Quality Food and Drink Award, taking the title in the pizza category. 


As a result of the latter successes, Karen has invested in social media marketing and appointed a local company to take control of Pizzado’s Facebook page and Twitter accounts while she is working on new products to add to the Pizzado portfolio, including gluten-free options. 


Confident that her product will be a winner at the dinner table and with all generations, Karen added: “Pizza is universally loved. It is one of those meals that always goes down well and from research, we know that the elder demographic is the fastest growing end of the market in the pizza category, implying that the Pizzado product is an all-inclusive kit for everyone, from the toddlers to the grandparents. It will make dinnertime a real family affair and one that is fun and allows for creativity. It’s not just about what’s in the kit but what else you have at home to make your pizza individual.”


Steven Murphy, Buyer at Tesco Northern Ireland, said: “This is a fantastic example of a local artisan producer who was able to introduce their products to consumers through Tesco’s sampling option. This was specifically introduced to help those not-yet-listed small producers bring their product to market by offering them free space in-store. The fact that Karen and Josh now supply to 24 Tesco stores across Northern Ireland is testament to the success of this approach, and the quality of Pizzado. 



“Sure to be a firm favourite of families across the region, Pizzado is created for parents, by a parent who knows only too well the importance of striking the balance between making meal times fun and providing children with quality, nutritional ingredients.”


Welcoming the news, Invest NI’s Chief Executive, Alastair Hamilton, said: “Tesco NI’s ‘pop-up’ sampling scheme offers a valuable test marketing opportunity for smaller food and drink producers from across Northern Ireland. I would like to congratulate Pizzado on converting in-store sampling to a listing in 24 stores and wish Karen every success in developing her business. Northern Ireland consumers are strong supporters of local brands. As we approach 2016 Year of Food, showcasing products like this in established retail outlets is a great way to encourage product trial and build brand awareness.”
Pizzado became a Limited Company in 2011 and is the brainchild of Karen Boyd who spent two decades working in the pizza takeaway business.


Karen’s 18 year old son, Josh, is also a founder in the business.


Pizzado is now stocked across 24 Tesco Northern Ireland stores; Bangor, Ballymoney, Carrickfergus Extra, Crumlin, Castlereagh, Banbridge Extra, Newry Extra, Enniskillen, Ballygomartin, Antrim Massereene Extra, Coleraine, Dungannon, Lisnagelvin, Springhill, Northcott Extra, Newtownabbey, Portadown, Newtownbreda Extra, Lurgan, Craigavon Extra, Knocknagonney Extra, Ballymena, Newtownards Extra and Bentrim Road. ”
Ciao for now!!!

Day 5

Just sat down with a cup of tea after another fine day, the penultimate day of the challenge. The big finale is tomorrow!!
For breakfast it was apples and bananas with weetabix for the girls and fresh porridge with honey and seeds with s cuppa. My 7 year old had pancakes for lunch with cheese and tomato. We had mixed vegetable and brown rice wraps cooked in a panini press with salad. The mix veg consisted of spinach, red peppers, baby sweet corn, broccoli, onion, garlic, cheese with some left over tomato sauce. The brown rice was mixed with the veg, placed in the wraps, folded and cooked in the panini. This was served with the leftover soup. The salad was rocket lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrots and peppers.
Dinner was a light one of daal turka, brown rice with mixed veg and some tomato, cucumber and olives. Followed by a cup of tea!!