Daily Breads Blog

Articles written by Daily Bread workers and friends.

Italian Roll upsJune seems to a month of celebratory and social “get togethers” when it comes to National Food Days. We have The Big Lunch (3rd June), National Picnic Week (15-24th June), The Great Get Together (22-24th June) and even a National Cream Tea Day (29th June) and World Gin Day (9th June), if you’re feeling very social!

So, what is it about the month of June that brings all of these wonderful celebrations together around the same time? I reckon it’s a lot to do with the weather. The sun comes out, the picnic blankets are given a good shake and the outdoor furniture and soft furnishings are given a thorough dusting, all ready for us to bask in the emerging summer sun with good food and high spirits.

It’s great that there are these wonderful initiatives to bring families and communities together and its really worth considering all the positives for sitting down and eating together. There are many studies that show that those who sit down together regularly for meal times, have better communication skills, they are less likely to have weight issues, their diets and nutrition are more diverse, and they have stronger relationships.

There are many associations that work towards socialising individuals who for whatever reason find themselves quite isolated. Contact The Elderly are a charity who work hard at getting tea parties organised for care, conversation and a cuppa, giving older adults on their own a chance to get together with others. This is such a great initiative that provides support for the elderly and enriches lives.

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national veggie weekWith Veggie Week looming it’s worth taking a moment and thinking about all the positive aspects of being a Vegetarian and celebrating the meat-free life that many of us follow.

Provided you are following a well-planned and well-balanced diet, Vegetarians are known to have a higher consumption of fibre, folic acid, Vitamins C and E and many phytochemicals (which are the wonderful, highly beneficial nutrients found in plants). They are also found to have lower cholesterol as they consume lower levels of saturated fat, also resulting in lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease. All sounds pretty good, right?
Life is so precious, animal and human, and there are many who decide that their own life shouldn’t depend on the demise of another; this decision is one that more and more people make nowadays and this is leading to so many other benefits too.

How about education? Vegetarians (and Vegans) are likely to be much more aware of their bodily requirements when it comes to nutrition.

They understand the need to choose good proteins required for growth, repair and energy. They choose a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables to get as many different vitamins and minerals from their diets as possible. They understand the importance of gut health and have diets rich in fibre. They are interested in eating well and embrace all the foods they choose to eat. How about animal welfare? Even though there are huge numbers of meat eaters and producers worldwide, vegetarians and vegans highlight the issue with how animals are kept and treated. Are they slaughtered humanely and are they respected? With a growing population of Vegetarians, meat producing companies are forced to consider their actions more and more.

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sandwichWith British Sandwich Week looming (from 14-20th May), it’s time to take a moment to think about how this humble food item began and how it has become such an important part of our fast food lives. It’s quite probable that everyone of us has eaten a sandwich of some form in their time; whether it was a brown sugar sandwich as a child, a bedtime “toastie” of some kind or a regular cheese affair for lunch; and so many times, it has been the answer to that familiar question “What can I make to eat - fast?”.

It is believed that the sandwich began life in the 1700’s when the 4th Earl of Sandwich, John Montague requested for some slices of beef to be served to him between two slices of toast, so he could carry on playing a 24 hour card game! Not wanting to stop play, he thought this quickly prepared and easy to eat snack would see him through the game. And so, the sandwich was born.

The sandwich can come in many different forms using different breaded items: sliced breads, two halves of baguettes, pitta pockets, toasted ones, “open” ones, wraps and even steamed bread buns that are pulled apart. Whichever breaded item, it’s used to encase a number of different fillings, both hot and cold and usually eaten with the hands.

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So, what’s the scoop on seitan?

This wonderful vegetarian or vegan “meat” is becoming more and more popular with those choosing plant based diets – but where do you get it and what on earth is it?Seitan

Seitan, (pronounced – SAY-TAN), is already used in Asian cooking as vegetarian mock meat and forms the base of many commercial vegetarian foods, such as Tofurky. It is made from a whole wheat flour base (which can be lovingly prepared by hand, but is extremely labour intensive!) or you can use Vital Wheat Gluten, which is available in many good wholefood shops. This gluten is what is left after the starch has been washed away from the wheat, leaving a high protein powder ready to make in to Seitan.

A bit like Tofu and Tempeh, Seitan won’t win any awards for flavour, but it does a produce a more “meaty” texture than these other alternatives. Stringy, chewy and dense enough to give a good bite, it is certainly gaining a lot of interest.

High in protein but not from a soybean base, this is a great alternative for Vegans and Vegetarians who are avoiding soy. It’s also high in iron and low in fat, so Seitan has many positives.

The best way to get Seitan, is to make it yourself. It’s easy to do and can be cooked in a number of different ways to suit. The only thing you need to do is to pack some flavour in to it! You can buy it already prepared in some shops but it isn’t widely available at the moment. It is known to be prepared with plenty of soy sauce, so beware if you are watching your salt levels. Making your own allows you to control sodium and the other flavours – so grab a bowl and give it a go!

Basic Seitan Recipe

BBQ Dippers

Chinese Seitan with Hoisin

Buy Suma Vita Wheat Gluten

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Orange Cinnamon PancakesMany of us could confess to owning a store cupboard containing a few hidden, out of date dried herbs and spices, where a particular recipe required one measly teaspoon of something you haven’t used again. There maybe a few vinegars, sauce jars or other condiment found lurking in the back too, but there appears to be a new contender in the Top Ten of “Brought and Used Once” list of food ingredients joining the battle for cupboard space – welcome Coconut Flour!

With a recent influx of information promoting this wonderful flour; it’s association with healthy eating, low carbs, gluten free diets and of the course the fact it has come from a coconut (which we are all learning is a wonderful ingredient to use, however it comes), there has been quite a few of us that have invested in a bag. When the word “invested” is used, this is no exaggeration – coconut flour is expensive!

A lot of us may have initially been quite keen to try a recipe using the flour and one saved article was pulled out of the magazine or website article you had been holding on to. The flour made its way to the oven, the bake was ok/great/a bit disappointing, but then all is forgotten...sound familiar? What do you do with the rest?

If you have tried using coconut flour in direct replacement of white or brown plain wheat flours, you may have found yourself both rather alarmed and rather insulted by the result! You may have thought you weren’t too bad at baking and have created some rather glorious cakes, breads and biscuits in the past, but whoa! WHAT HAPPENED?

When coconut flour was initially promoted around the UK food scene, it may have been helpful to educate customers, that this flour is NOT to be used as a direct replacement for wheat flours. It creates a heavy, flat and utterly dry experience on its own. It needs company! It’s also a thirsty beast and will absorb all of the liquid you would usually use, plus more and it will still produce a rather dry, crumbly and uninspiring result.

So, what exactly is coconut flour?
Coconut flour is dried, defatted coconut meat, that has a mild taste of coconut. It’s high in fibre and low in carbohydrate, plus, it’s gluten free. It’s also lower in fat content than the similar textured, almond flour so it’s got a lot going of it! However, to succeed with using it, you need to help it a long a bit.

If you are a novice baker, or someone new to coconut flour, it is worth initially following recipes that have been designed to use coconut flour specifically. When you get to know how these flours behave you could then start to replace the usual wheat flours with “blends”. This means 2 things –
1) Add extra liquid to the recipe
2) Add a friend or two to the coconut flour, so combine coconut flour with oat flour, or tapioca, buckwheat flour and other plain gluten free flours.

That bag of expensive coconut flour can be used up in easier ways too. You don’t need to be a top baker! How about using it to coat items? Soak some tofu or chicken pieces in buttermilk/soya yoghurt and then mix with coconut flour and oats. Bake as required. How about mixing the coconut flour with nuts, oil and sea salt and bake – use this as a topping for gratins, soups or salads. In other words, use it in ways where you want some texture or crunch.

Coconut flour doesn’t need to be lurking in the back of the cupboard and need not be an expensive mistake. Just understand that it’s thirsty and it produces a rather crumbly, heavy texture on its own. However, this means it still has a variety of uses and it can produce some wonderfully tasty and healthy results, so enjoy it...for what it is!

Try these recipes

Coconut orange and maple syrup pancakes

Pear and Ginger crumbles

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Chocolate Christmas puddingIt’s coming up to that time of year again. The first step of Christmas, the beginning of the festivities, looking forward to enjoying the end of a year and making plans for the next. Stir up Sunday.

Historically, this is the name given to the Sunday, five weeks before Christmas, where families gather around a large mixing bowl and make the Christmas Pudding. This warming tradition will be taking place on Sunday the 26th of November this year and it’s a great way to kick start the festivities.

Said to be taken from the opening words of the Book of Common Prayer, read on the Sunday before Advent, there is expected to be a whole lot of stirring taking place on this day. “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord” has been proclaimed and excitement and comfort is created by this special annual job.

Thirteen ingredients, representing thirteen disciples, is the customary number of items placed in the Christmas Pudding Bowl. Traditionally stirred from East to West, representing the Wise Men who visited Jesus in the Nativity Story, a wish is made by each member of the family, as they take it in turns to stir.

To finish the job, lucky charms are added to the mix. Silver coins, representing wealth, a wishbone for luck, a thimble for thrift, a ring for marriage and an anchor for safe harbour. Not sure how lucky these charms would be if you bit in to one and broke your tooth on Christmas Day though! If you do follow the tradition to this level, it is suggested you warn your fellow diners on the day and ensure these items are thoroughly clean! Don’t forget your holly sprig for the top, as this represents the crown of thorns; take note that a fake version is much less toxic.

So, why the Christmas Pudding? It is thought that this particular recipe is derived from the Middle Ages and a Christmas Porridge, called Frumenty. Initially this had been a savoury affair, consisting of boiled wheat grains, eggs and milk, served up with meats, such as venison. Over the years, this recipe evolved into a plum pudding where sugar, dried fruits and alcohol were added, to try and increase the shelf life. It was the 19th Century and Prince Albert’s declaration of his love for this “plum pudding” that elevated it to great demand and the Christmas Pud was born.

It’s a great tradition for the family to gather around a mixing bowl in the kitchen once a year, excited by the up and coming Christmas and chattering about news, life and fun events. Delicious aromas and warmth filling the kitchen and a whole heap of memories being stirred up too, but what if no-one likes Christmas Pudding? Can you still take part in this family ritual?

Of course, a new recipe! Move over Christmas Pudding, we have a new kid on the block. Thirteen ingredients stirred together to form a mix. Not a pudding to be steamed and kept for the following weeks, but a dry mix that can be measured out and stirred by young and old. It can be kept in a large, pretty jar, labelled “For Xmas Pudding”, (with lucky charms as well) and admired over the coming weeks. When at last Christmas dinner is roasting, grab your jar and make the best alternative to a Christmas Pudding ever and remember those wishes you made.

So, this could be your reason to get together on that Sunday; to stir up a new modern-day pudding, one that everyone (or most) will love (it’s a vegan bake too). Make your wishes as you all stir, feel excited about the Advent looming and most of all, make this a simple pleasure, in a busy life.

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“So where do you get your protein from?” “Are you malnourished yet?”
“Are you mad?” . “Are you a student?” “Don’t you miss bacon?”

DID YOU KNOW…

One person changing to a Vegan lifestyle will -

  • Conserve fossil fuel. Conserve water. Use grain efficiently. Conserve top soil. Save rainforests

DID YOU KNOW…
One person changing to a Vegan lifestyle –

  • Will improve their auto immune function
  • Could avoid certain health conditions such as heart disease and some cancers
  • Will enhance their nutrition from eating a variety of protein sources
  • Will remove food related symptoms from consuming over processed foods
  • Will fall in love with food. Totally.


DID YOU KNOW…

  • Many Vegans would not have considered being a Vegetarian previously.
  • Many Vegans begin their journey from their concern about additives, processed foods and issues with packaging. Animal cruelty and farming conditions are the “final straw” to their decision.
  • Vegans improve their cooking skills.
  • Many top athletes are Vegans.
  • Adopting a Vegan lifestyle is much easier than you think!

Vegans are emerging bright, healthy, full of life and perfectly normal. They aren’t part of peace protests, tree hugging adventures and unemployment. They are a growing community of people who just so happen to care about the future, animal welfare, sustainability and their health.
Northamptonshire embraces Veganism. It provides fantastic shops stocking great quality plant based produce. There is a wealth of imaginative restaurants, cafes with wonderful Vegan menus, food fayres, food shows and projects all around us, inspiring us.
It’s not about “I can’t eat that”, it’s about “I won’t eat that”, it’s a choice and its certainly food for thought.

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c14 logo 2017 landscapeCo-operatives Fortnight is a chance to remind ourselves of the power of co-operation.

It’s a time to co-operate. And after a year of conflict, it's never been needed more. So this year people across the country will be sharing stories of how co-operating, working together, has made a difference.

Running from 17 June to 1 July 2017, it is organised by Co-operatives UK, sponsored generously by some of the UK’s most successful co-operatives and brought to life by co-ops across the UK.

Why? Because we know that co-operating makes a big difference and we think it’s time to remind the rest of the UK too.

Launched in 2010, Co-operatives Fortnight has gone from strength to strength. In 2015 we introduced a focused activity with co-ops across the country organising 'Big Co-op Cleans' that brought people together to tidy up local public spaces or clear out their cupboards for foodbanks. After its successful introduction, The Big Co-op Clean returned for a second year in 2016.

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guise

We all have little things that bug us. You know the things, toothpaste lid not replaced, towels screwed up on the floor and the endless array of cups and saucers randomly placed around the house. Well, one of my bugs is PACKAGING. This can be the sort that is found used for food, toys, house hold items, stationery, Easter eggs (don’t get me started!) and anything that appears to need it’s own rainforest, army of factory workers, machine operating costs and the ridiculous, unneeded space to fill up the lorries and ships that move it about at great expense to finances and our wonderful planet! Breath!

But, I need to step back a little from my irritation and hone in on some more informed, rational thinking. Surely these companies who are trying to be competitive, cost effective and in keeping with today’s growing culture of caring about our environment, can’t all be using excess packaging that would be time consuming, expensive and annoying, just because it looks “pretty”? Maybe I should look at some facts.

We could all get upset by the issue that 80% of the plastic found in the ocean comes from land based sources. That’s us! The rest of it comes from lost and discarded fishing gear and plastics released at sea (according to Ecowatch). The majority of this ends up on the ocean floor. A clean up would be a mindless, endless task at this point but this doesn’t mean there aren’t organisations out there that are putting projects together to embark on cleaning up our mess. How about we help them though? Instead of just banging our heads against a brick wall to cure this problem and all the marine life affected, why not also embark on a preventative campaign to stop this from increasing at its current rate?

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