Easy Mother’s Day Treat For Kids To Make

I’m sure you’ll agree that every mum deserves a huge thank-you! And there is a wonderful collection of beautiful, organic and luxurious gifts at GoodnessDirect for you to show your gratitude on Mother’s Day.

There’s even a select-your-own hamper service for you to bring your personal touch to that extra special Mother’s Day treat!

BUT, we have to agree that little can rival a gift that’s handmade by your own children! That’s why Christine Bailey (nutritionist, author and friend of GoodnessDirect) is sharing this easy peasy recipe for Mothering Sunday….

~ Chocolate And Cranberry Brownies ~

Healthy chocolate brownies for mum
Healthy chocolate brownies for mum

Nothing says “You’re the best, Mum” like home baking. This is a perfect recipe for Dad and the kids to make and has the added bonus of being healthy too.

Yes you can make a healthy brownie!!

These are positively brimming with nutrients making them great for the kids too. Moist and chocolately they include prunes to replace the butter typically used in most calorie laden shop bought versions and contain far less sugar than conventional recipes.

For a gluten free version simply replace the flour with a gluten free flour mix.

This delicious recipe is taken from Christine Bailey’s Top 100 recipes for Brainy Kids (Duncan Baird 2009). Visit www.advancenutrition.co.uk for more details of her books and information on Christine’s range of healthy cookery courses in 2011.

Makes 10-12

Store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight.

100g (3½oz) ½ cup ready to eat prunes
50g (2oz) ¼ cup xylitol
125g (4 ½ oz) plain chocolate (75% cocoa solids)
100g (3½oz) heaped ¾ cup dried cranberries
25g (1oz) ¼ cup pecan nuts, chopped
1tsp vanilla extract
50g (2oz) scant ½ cup wholemeal self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
2tbsp ground flaxseed
3 eggs, free range, separated

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4. Grease and base line a 15cm (6inch) square shallow cake tin with baking parchment.
2. Place the prunes and xylitol with 3tbsp water in a liquidiser and puree to form
3. Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Stir in the prune mixture, cranberries, pecan nuts, vanilla, flour, baking powder, flaxseed and egg yolks.
4. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold carefully into the chocolate mixture.
5. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until firm to touch. Leave in the tin to cool. Cut into squares to serve.

How to make your own vegetarian cheddar cheese

Once you start making your own cheese you won’t want to stop.

The big cost is the milk, so see if you can source a cheap option from a local farmer or buy in bulk when the milk is at the end of its sell-by date.

You can use this blueprint recipe to make a mild, soft cheese or a harder, more crumbly cheese. It all depends on how much time you give the cheese to set.

The initial process takes about 4 hours.

Homemade vegetarian cheese
Homemade vegetarian cheese

Before you start you will need the right equipment. A thermometer and a cheesecloth – if this is your first time and you have no cheesecloth to hand then clean nylon, a tea towel or table cloth might work. As with the knives, mixing bowls and the pan that you use they should all be sterilised shortly before you being making the cheese. You can do this by cleaning them in boiling water and drying, where necessary, in a hot oven.

* Sterilised cheesecloth or muslin
* Sterilised mixing bowl
* Sterilised palette knife
* 2 large sterilised pans
* Sterilised colander
* Cheese press (to make your own, use a large empty baked bean can with both ends removed, place on top off a chopping board and, once the cheese has been put inside, place 30lb of weights on top)

* 5 litres (1 gallon) full cream milk
* 1 litre (1.7 pints) additional cream (optional)
* 120ml (4oz) crème fraiche or plain yoghurt or buttermilk
* 3ml (half teaspoon) Vegeren (vegetarian rennet)
* 10-20g salt, preferably coarse
* pepper, sugar, margarine or other flavourings are optional

1. Place the milk and cream, and the yoghurt, buttermilk or crème fraiche into the large pan and leave for half an hour. This gives the milk a richer flavour and helps it to acidify.

2. Gently heat the milk up to 28C and maintain this temperature for 45 minutes.

Cheese Curds by Jesse Dill
Cheese Curds by Jesse Dill

3. Add the rennet by dissolving it in a small cup of pre-boiled water. Then mix it in with the milk. Once thoroughly mixed, remove the milk from the heat and leave to cool for 30-45 minutes. The top of the milk will start to congeal and set and the curds will separate.

4. When the curds have set, cut them into small, roughly centimetre size cubes.

5. Over 40 minutes, slowly bring the temperature up to 39C and continue to gently stir. Keep the curds at this temperature for 30 more minutes. Stir every few minutes to keep the curds from congealing.

6. During this time line the colander with the cheesecloth or muslin.

7. Stop stirring for the last 5 minutes so the curds can settle and you can drain the whey off.

Draining the whey by Lorelei
Draining the whey by Lorelei

8. Put the curds into the colander and drain into the second pot. You should collect enough whey to fill the pot 1/3 full.

9. Place the new pot on top of the heat to keep at 39C for 1 hour. For a moister cheese, reduce the time to 45 minutes or even 30 minutes.

10. Remove the congealed curds and cut into long pencil sized strips. Stir in the salt and other flavourings to taste.

Maturing the cheese
Many people like to eat these cheese now. But to make a wheel of cheese, leave the curd in the cheesecloth and put it into the cheese press and leave for overnight. Add a light weight for the first hour and then the full 30lbs after that. In the morning turn the cheese upside down and press for another 24 hours.

The next morning, remove the cheese from the press and allow to dry for a day or two. Rub the surface with salt if you want to encourage a rind to develop.

You can take this a step further by waxing or bandaging the cheese and leaving it to ripen. Leaving the cheese in a cool, dry place at 8–11C for up to 4 weeks will give it a mild cheddar flavour. Three months will give it a medium flavour, and you can also leave the cheese for longer for a more  mature taste.

Turn the cheese daily for the first three weeks, then on alternate days after that. Smaller cheeses will ripen faster.

Good luck!

Tis the season to start sneezing? Try Pycnogenol

So the season of sneezing approaches. It’s reckoned that 20-40% of the UK suffer from some seasonal allergy, and it’s not just in the summer.

Something like allergic rhinitis (an allergy to house mites etc.) affects people particularly in the winter.

Pycnogenol may be a new therapy for people with alergic rhinitis
Pycnogenol may be a new therapy for people with alergic rhinitis

Tests have found that pine bark extract (pycnogenol) could reduce the symptoms of sneezing and irritation if people took 50mg more than five weeks before the season started. And it is believed that pycnogenol might help for other allergies such as hay fever  and birch pollen allergy.

Powerful antioxidants an anti-inflammatory elements combine in pycnogenol to maintain a healthy immune system, but it seems to take time to build up. This is not uncommon when treating allergic rhinitis.

Yogurt or yoghurt? Recipe and competition for Tims Dairy yogurts

We’ve got a competition this week for delicious fresh yogurts made for great taste from Tims Dairy in Buckinghamshire. Their exquisite range includes Greek style bio-live, wholemilk live and low fat live yogurts all made with natural ingredients.

There are some excellent recipe ideas on their website at timsdairy.co.uk and their wholesome range is great for lots of eating occasions. Greek style yogurts are luxury and good as a dessert, low fat yogurts can be poured onto cereal or eaten as a healthy snack and Tims wholemilk small pots are excellent in packed lunches.

As an example of the versatility of their yogurt (and because my family have been getting into the wonders of rice pudding lately) here’s a recipe for Cardamom and Orange Rice Pudding – it’s the ultimate comfort food for us – warm, sweet and sticky, and the cardam om gives it an Arab/Sicilian twist…

Serves 8

Traditionally made delicious yogurt
Traditionally made delicious yogurt

* 100ml Vin Santo, dessert wine or sherry
* 50g raisins
* 1 litre milk
* 100ml double cream
* 250g risotto rice (Arborio)
* 1 vanilla pod, split
* 3 cardamom pods
* 1 cinnamon stick
* 1 strip of orange zest, about 5cm long
* 3 tablespoons honey
* 150ml Tims Dairy Greek Style Natural Yogurt

1. Put the raisins in a bowl with the Vin Santo to soak.
2. Put the milk and cream into a large saucepan with the rice, vanilla pod, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and orange zest and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Stir frequently to prevent the rice from catching and leave to simmer for 30–40 minutes or until the rice is done.
3. Remove from the heat and add the honey to taste. Stir in the soaked raisins and Vin Santo. Remove the vanilla pod, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and orange zest.
4. Stir in the Tims Dairy yogurt and serve topped with a swirl of honey.


Don’t miss this competition to win a box of Tims
The key question I always ask is: is it yogurt or yoghurt? Opinions differ. It seems that the American spelling ‘yogurt’ has crept into the marketing of products and no one has noticed!

But the yogurts (sp?) themselves are still British. Tims Dairy use fresh British milk in full support of UK Farmers. The family run dairy has been making yogurt for over 60 years and they are passionate about their products. The philosophy is quite simple – use the simplest, freshest ingredients to make traditional yogurts, and the team at the Dairy are committed to the highest standards of quality and production.

Now, to win a box of yogurts worth £10 from Tims Dairy why not email me with your opinion on whether we should spell it yogurt or yoghurt? I promise there’ll be no bias in picking the winner! All names will go into a hat and a lucky winner is picked out this Thursday 24th March 2011 (UK addresses only).

I’m just really interested to see what people think…

Don’t forget that a good yogurt is rich in calcium and a good source of potassium and vitamin B12, so you can really enjoy your yogurt or yoghurt while contributing to a balanced diet. Here’s hoping you win!

Actively protect the environment with Ecover

So How much do we really care about our environment? Is it just a ‘thing’ to be thinking of? A fashion to been ‘seen’ with, carrying the proverbial ‘use me again’ bags? Or is it simply putting out the right bins on the right days?

Nothing wrong with any of that. But if you are genuinely into making a difference pro-actively, we have news for you. Consider Ecover: the UK’s leading manufacturer of effective and ecological cleaning and washing products.

Detergents which don’t destroy
As the pioneer of ecological cleaning, Ecover brought to market the first phosphate-free washing powder back in 1980 even before phosphates were branded as a problem throughout Europe.

Today, Ecover is the brand of choice for many people for a whole host of reasons, from the fact that it delivers excellent cleaning whilst ensuring unparalleled ecological criteria, to the fact that it’s the safer choice for you and your home.  Here are a few reminders why:

  • No Petrochemicals: Unlike petrochemicals, plant based ingredients bio-degrade completely back into the environment, leaving minimal traces. Even better – they are constantly replenished by nature itself so there is no danger of depletion, which is a lot better than we can say for their chemical cousins.
  • No foam boosters: They make look pretty and give you the illusion of cleaning power but in reality they have NO such part to play in the cleaning performance and do the environment no good.
  • No artificial fragrances: Again, these are poorly degradable and they build up as negative elements in the food chain.For example, they are found in the fat tissue of fish stock. They also have a disruptive effect on the behavior of fish and the life cycles of insects even after they have been diluted.
  • No chemicals for optical brightness: Not really whiter than white.Another chemically induced gimmick which , in reality has no effect on washing performance or hygiene. these chemicals which reflect light , making your clothes look brighter than they really are and make an irreversible and harmful chemical bond with the skin.
  • No Phosphates:  Ectroplication is what happens when rivers are starved of oxygen. phosphates are no 1 culprits behind this. Ecover uses safer alternatives.

— Get active with Ecover products: Enjoy cleaner rivers, healthier fish and even loved up butterflies. And enjoy the laundry too!!

Your body may also need a spring clean

Brighter, longer days and the anticipation of summer!! As you give the garage and the garden shed their annual sorting out, have you forgotten yourself?

Here is some unpleasant news! Your body, over time becomes a breeding ground for toxins. They make their menacing entry through the air, water and food that our body consumes. And, as if you already didn’t know, the prospects are seriously grim if you smoke, drink, take drugs, alcohol or indulge in poor choices of foods.

Scary numbers
The numbers are rather impressive – over five trillion (that’s 5,000 billion) pounds of chemical pollutants are released into the environment every year; 2,800 additives are intentionally added to what we eat;  and 10,000 additives find their way into food as it is grown, processed and packaged (hormones and antibiotics fed to animals, pesticides used on crops, food enhancers and preservatives).

And the effects on you can also be staggering – headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, irritability, depression, flu-like symptoms and allergic reactions such as hives, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing and coughing.  Accumulated toxins overload the liver and impair the elimination process increasing the risk of serious health problems like cancer, auto-immune disease and Alzheimer’s.

How your body copes
Even though your body has a natural detoxification process to eliminate an excessive build up of toxins, it often falls short of keeping you in safe grounds.  Unwanted chemicals are processed by the liver and then exit the body via the bowels, kidneys, lungs and skin.  If you have a healthy immune system and efficient organs of elimination , your body can handle a lot of abuse.  Unfortunately, our bodies often cannot keep up, and as we become weaker and sicker from the toxins, our abilities to detoxify reduces greatly.

Help your body out
, the vitamin company with an organic heart, now has the august stature of manufacturing the largest ( and award wining) supplement range in the UK. Their Super Cleanse 10 day Detox Box contains:
1. 100% Organic Cleavers Tincture
2. Milk Thistle Herb & Seed and
3. A preparation of complete fibre complex.

One of the best gifts to offer yourself as you hit the nooks and crannies around your home with the dustpan and brush!!

We’re in the Good Produce Guide

Hey there,

Just wanted to let you know that GoodnessDirect has been listed in The Good Produce Guide 2011 (it’s all about a passion for goodness after all…)

Food journalist, Rose Prince, seeks out the best independent food producers and the most delicious fare on the market. Whether you’re looking for the tastiest smoked salmon, old-fashioned handmade Scotch eggs, quirky marmalades or the first asparagus of the season, Rose has it covered. From farm shops to food markets, to delis, producers, pick-your-owns and websites, this book highlights the extraordinary people who go the extra mile to make something remarkable to eat.

If you are passionate about delicious food, and love shopping for it, The Good Produce Guide 2011 will be an indispensible handbook.