Dairy free cheese you don’t have to store in the fridge

Engevita is the savoury vegan food with a cheesy nutty taste.

This manna from cheese-heaven comes in dry flakes and has no additives or preservatives, just unactived yeast.

It’s amazing what you can do with it…

Brown off as a topping for ‘cheese on toast’
Add it to a risotto
Cheesify a soup
Whisk up into a cheese sauce for a vegetable lasagna
Create a cheese spread for sandwiches
Make a cheesy salad dressing
Melt over popcorn
Sprinkle onto mashed potato
Dissolve it in fruit juice
Shake it into scrambled tofu or eggs
Some people even eat it straight from the box!

But, even better than that Engevita is one of the richest natural sources of B-vitamins and trace elements, all you need in a spoonful, and now including B12 which is essential for the vegan diet, and a lot of zinc too.

The careful preparation of the yeast also means it is free from candida albicans yeast. It is naturally low in fat and also in sodium – because of this it is a popular condiment for those wanting to limit the salt intake but wanting a little more ‘taste’ on food.

This is a great little flavour enhancer.

New ‘free from’ products from Eskal! Perfect for the party

I love Eskal’s ‘free from’ range with its simple packaging and lovely everyday products. They always seem to be creating new items too…

For those of you who love a healthy snack Eskal have now produced gluten free pretzels. They’re just the thing for your gluten free spread at a party! White coated pretzels (pretzels with yoghurt coating) or chocolate coated pretzels, take your pick!

And for those nights in with a DVD and hot chocolate there’s dairy free, gluten free and wheat free White Marshmallow!

Las, but definitely not least, there’s Lasagne Corte, Penne Rigate and Fusilli. Perfect for your dinner with a lovely homemade tasty tomato sauce. Eskal have made all three  types of Corn Pasta totally Gluten free, egg free, dairy free and GMO free. They are a great alternative to wheat pasta, and 100% natural containing only corn and water. They’re very quick to prepare and easier to digest than wheat pasta.

Advice for protecting children from toxins in your house

It’s simple really. ‘Get out the hoover and mop the floor – regularly.’

But a research group are concerned that simple house dust can affect the development of children’s brains, because of the toxic substances which it exposes infants to.

Canadian professor, Bruce Lanphear, published a dust study which shows that lead, mercury and tobacco particles in the home can affect babies and toddlers even in small amounts.

According to Professor Lanphear, ‘An infant will absorb about 50 per cent of ingested lead, whereas an adult absorbs about 10 per cent… This, combined with children’s frequent hand-to-mouth behaviour, places children at much greater risk.’

Has the toxic time-bomb finally exploded?
The effects are worrying: learning and behavioural disorders, asthma, cancer and birth defects. Lanphear actually connects exposure to lead with criminal activity, but toxins can also have an impact on a child’s education, violent tendencies and general contribution to society.

So what can a parent do?
■ Dust your house twice a week.
Use a damp cloth and wet mop as this collects dust better. Put away toys and leave shoes at the door as these can contribute to a dirty environment.

■ Use non-toxic cleaning.
Bleach isn’t needed for most cleaning and air fresheners should be avoided. In fact, fragrance-free detergents and non-toxic dry cleaning laundrettes are recommended. You can find lots of ‘green’ cleaning agents at GoodnessDirect.

■ Seal off rooms when decorating.
This is especially important in older homes where lead is more prevalent. Ventilate decorated rooms well and use heaters. Aim to buy less toxic chemical products for your DIY.

■ Pack away the plastic.
Generall avoid cooking with plastic, especially in the microwave, even if the bowl says “microwave safe”. Plastic toys and other items which are made of plastic and that children might bite are generally advised against.

■ Go for sustainably fished fish
This is because of the mercury found in certain types of fish and shellfish, particularly tuna. However, sustainably fished tuna and mackerel, herring, rainbow trout and salmon carry less mercury generally.

A quick organic review: Dove’s Fibre Flakes cereal

I’m currently munching through a bowl of Dove’s Organic Fibre Flakes cereal. Always the best way to write about food I feel.

The cereal has a lovely rounded moreish bite to it which is surprising because it is made without gluten, nuts (or milk! – as the packaging states).

A moreish cereal
A moreish cereal

The real flavour effect comes from the malty taste of the maize bran, and I have to say, it’s impressive how long the flakes stay crunchy in the milk. Reading the ingredients I’m worried about the sugar content but the calorie content seems okay, it’s only 105cals in a bowl.

Dove’s cereals are very popular among those who want that quality organic taste but need to avoid gluten, and now I can see why. I’m quite tempted to try their rebranded Cocoa Rice cereal too…

Sack it, I’m off to have my second bowl of Fibre Flakes.

Win a new Welsh cookbook

I have to admit to a bit of Welsh pride in running this competition. But, hey, if it means that someone out there wins a fabulous prize, then who am I to deny myself a moment of patriotism?

The prize? A new Welsh cuisine cookbook.

Try some warming Welsh cuisine
Try some warming Welsh cuisine

Flavours of Wales is the latest title by Cordon bleu cook and television chef Gilli Davies. It introduces some of the best-loved Welsh recipes and produce that have delighted food-lovers throughout the ages. We’re talking about family dishes which have been handed down across generations and recipes that date back as far as the Roman era!

The book shows traditional cooking techniques and explains the origins of the Welsh recipes. It makes use of some of the finest ingredients Wales has to offer like samphire and caerphilly cheese (but I have to say, a lot of these recipes are meat based).

Packed full with over 80 delicious recipes for all seasons, this treasure trove of a book is sure to fire the imagination for delicious and wholesome Welsh food. Recipes include Tarten Planc Turnover, Powis Cheese Pudding, Whinberry and Apple Pie and of course the ultimate recipe for Welsh cakes.

How do you get it?
Flavours of Wales is soon to be published by Graffeg tomorrow (15th June), priced £16.99, but you can have a chance of winning a copy (or at least receiving a big discount offer) just email me with your name and address and I’ll enter you into the prize draw (UK entrants only, competition closes 16th June).

How to live an extra 40 years

We’ve added up the figures for top tips on living a longer life and it looks as if you could live an extra 36 years!

Of course it doesn’t completely work this way, as one famous preacher put it, “you can’t add an inch to your life”. But some modifications no doubt will help.

Eat your greens – a study of 22,000 people says eating five or more fruit and veg a day prolongs life = 5 years

Are you nuts? – just a handful a day of (non-salted) nuts is recommended for improving life span = 3 years

No smoking! – everyone knows that stopping smoking will lengthen your life, but how much by? The answer = 5 years

Live a little more
Live a little more

Get by with help from your friends – a bigger study (300,000 people) showed that good friendships and close family increases longevity = 5 years

Show those pearly whites – smiling, specifically, is said to make a difference to health. Athletes who smile outlive those who don’t = 7 years

Stay on the plus side of life – a positive view of your future also has an impact, so don’t fret away those years. Yale University says positivity = 7.5 years

Keep on moving – upping your exercise level can change your life. The number of extra years, according to researchers at the Erasmus Medical Centre = 3 years

Life on a string – a piece of floss string to be exact. Gum disease is connected to heart disease, so daily flossing is reckoned to extend life = 6.5 years

The point is that those little changes can make a difference, just as choosing to be unhealthy can. So go on, live a little!

Are superbugs about to become a major threat?

News came out only last week that a new form of the infectious bug, MRSA, resists antibiotics.

As if we didn’t have enough pathogens to deal with! And there is concern that the current killer E. coli strain could also be untreatable due to its antibiotic resistance.

Advances are being made in the fight against superbugs, most recently by leading expert, Professor Chris Thomas. But even he admitted recently that, “we are all very worried… The level of resistance is increasing all the time. E. coli is one of the bacteria we are worried about in hospitals as we are seeing strains resistant to all antibiotics.

Apparently, the problem is that we’re using antibiotics too much! More antibiotic exposure means that superbugs learn how to defending themselves quicker.

The finger of judgement is pointing at the overuse of antibiotics in farming and medicine.

The Organic Association are calling for new practices in farming which don’t require the constant use of antibiotics. It’s one of the main reasons  people buy organic. Similarly, it is suggested that humans lessen their use of antibiotics so it can be used only where it is really needed.

But what’s the alternative?
Maintaining a healthy immune system and practicing basic hygiene are two obvious defences against bacterial infections; and of course, always consult your doctor.

However in the future you may have to resort to raw garlic to help you through an illness.

Crushed raw garlic – It not only works on bacterial infections but viral infections too.
Prebiotics and probiotics – Improving your ‘friendly’ gut bacteria helps you deal with the bad stuff.
Manuka honey – scientists are looking into the possible benefits of the potent honey with food poisoning.
Collodial silver – some people swear by collodial silver for everything from nappy rash to mouth ulcers. It used to be used mainly before antibiotics came along.
Goldenseal – It has an antibacterial action. It is highly rated by some herbalists.
Echinacea – It doesn’t work for everyone but is believed to stimulate your immune system.
Olive leaf extract – This is an ancient remedy and is currently being tested for its beneficial properties.
Essential Oils like tea tree oil, thyme and oregano – Scientists are interested in how potent oils like oregano might defeat MRSA.

What would happen if the ocean died?

Today is World Ocean Day

So, do you know why we need the ocean? No? Neither did I.

■ Over 50% of our oxygen comes from the ocean (but we’re killing off the plankton that helps produce it)
■ We need fresh water which the ocean supplies
■ Our climate and rainfall is regulated by the ocean
■ The ocean shapes not only our clouds but our chemistry: Life’s oxygen, carbon and nitrogen cycles are all driven by the sea
■ 1/6th of the world’s population relies on fish to survive
■ Medicine sourced from the ocean is used to create vaccines
■ 97% of life is beneath the ocean
■ We know less than 5% about the world’s oceans
■ 50% of the world’s coral reefs have disappeared
■ We have eaten 90% of the big fish in the sea in the last century

The ocean is literally our life support system. If we destroy the oceans and their balance of life, we destroy ourselves.

The seas are not an endless resource, there are many threats to its life-balance: climate change, pollution, the increase of acid levels in the sea.

Some say the biggest threat is overfishing. That’s why its important to buy sustainable fish.

This week Fish4Ever, which can be bought from GoodnessDirect, is donating 10% of its sales to the Marine Conservation Society Save Our Seas campaign, which aims to protect marine areas (at the moment we conserve less than 1% of the oceans compared to 12% of land.)

You can find out more about protecting the ocean (and try some quizzes) at the National Geographic website.

Also, watch this video on Protecting the Oceans…

‘Drinking pomegranate juice can make you love your job!’

Take 60 workers and get them to drink 1/2 a litre of pomegranate juice every day for a fortnight. Then ask them if they enjoy work more?

The answer: Yes! Nearly everyone said life felt better. They were more active, enthusiastic and pleased with their work. The responses indicated they were less stressed too.

Drinking pomegranate juice can make you more active at work
Drinking pomegranate juice can make you more active at work

No wonder pomegranate used to be hailed as the forbidden fruit of lovers if this is what it does.

But loving your job?

Okay so, physically, the workers’ pulse rates had actually reduced…

But given that lower pulse rates are seen as a sign of health, this latest report will still add to the range of benefits which a drink of antioxidant pomegranate offers: help with weight loss, lower blood pressure, less risk of heart and kidney disease or Alzheimer’s too. And scientists are still looking into the benefits of pomegranate juice with cancer.

To choose from a range of pomegranate juices take a look at GoodnessDirect.

Alternatives to milk

Possibly 75% of people around the world are lactose intolerant – which might go some way to explaining why there are so many alternatives to milk.

But there are numerous other reasons too, it might be simply be beneficial to health, or autism related, or asthma, or galactosaemia, or a sensitivity to casein or one of many other problems with drinking milk.

Whatever your reason it’s important to make sure you’re still getting the calcium, iodine and vitamins that you need.

Here are some of the alternatives…

Goat’s milk
Rich in nutrients and easier to digest (even though it still contains lactose). It has less casein but almost as much fat and calories as cow’s milk. However, it can cause a vitamin B12 deficiency in children.

Sheep’s milk
Sheep’s milk has twice as many minerals, eg. calcium, phosphorus and zinc and the vitamin B-complex, as cow’s milk. But it is also higher in calories and fat. Like goat’s milk, it is easily digested. And it’s also a good source of iodine, which helps if you suffer with thyroid problems.

Camel’s milk
Five times as much Vitamin C as cow’s milk. Helps with diabetes. Contains some lactose. Not easy to source.

Buffalo’s milk
Higher in calcium, protein and iron and contains more vitamins and minerals (including calcium and iron) and 43% less cholesterol than cow’s milk. But it also has twice as much fat and still contains lactose. Not easy to source.

Hemp milk
Half the amount of protein of cow’s milk, and calcium is often added. Rich in Omega 3, minerals and vitamins, hemp milk also has a creamy consistency. No lactose.

Quinoa milk
Quinoa is a very digestive food and nutritionally well balanced. It’s protein contains all essential amino acids and it is rich in unsaturated fatty acids. No lactose.

Spelt milk
A good source of fibre and B-complex vitamins. Cholesterol free. No lactose.

Oat milk
Rich in fibre, lowers cholesterol and low-GI. It’s actually the preferred energy drink of many athletes. A pleasant milky taste. No lactose.

Barley milk
Has a higher phosphorus and potassium content than regular milk. Helpful in repairing the body, though it doesn’t contain calcium. No lactose.

Kamut-wheat milk
Highly recommended for its milk-like taste. No lactose.

Millet milk
Lower in fat, higher in fibre and less calories than cow’s milk. Rich in protein and minerals. No lactose.

Rice milk
Compared to soya, rice milk is considered closer to cow’s milk in taste and texture. It is naturally sweet, low in fat and high in fibre. But it’s also low in calcium and protein. No lactose.

Soya milk
Soya milk is high in protein so it’s useful for cooking with. It is also comparatively cheaper than other milk alternatives due to its ubiquity. However, some avoid it because it can raise estrogen levels. No lactose.

Almond milk
Tastes great, and has some of the lowest calorie counts of all milk alternatives. No lactose.

Hazelnut milk
A thicker consistency. It also provides calcium and sulphur. No lactose.

Coconut milk
Lots of phosphorus, iron, magnesium and fibre makes coconut milk a superfood. It’s low in calories, boosts immunity and has a distinctive creamy taste.

Cashew nut milk
Delicious but not easy to find. Just as well it’s easy to make… Cashew’s are a good source of copper and magnesium.

Raw milk
The argument is that pasteurisation destroys some of the goodness in milk which would actually make it digestible for people with gut problems. It remains to be seen whether ‘green top milk’ is actually helpful for people with psoriasis and high blood pressure.

UV milk
Possibly the milk of the future: milk that is treated by UV instead of pasteurisation?

Lactose-Free milk
Or, of course, you could take the lactose out of the milk

You can also make milk from peas, peanuts, or seeds!