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Tuesday 31 October 2023

About Halloween, A Bit About Britain, Low Carb Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Did you know that "Halloween is a mish-mash of myths and legends from all over, a cocktail of beliefs and rituals which have been exported to other lands, particularly the USA, and re-imported. US servicemen stationed in Europe during World War II brought their hybrid traditions with them, ideas spread further, and gradually evolved, via films and TV. Growing up in England – oh, a very long time ago – Halloween was a night for staying under the blankets; bonfires and masks were reserved for 5th November, Guy Fawkes’ Night. Nobody went trick or treating in any big way until the 1980s (but they did in Scotland, where it is still often called guising) and, for many, the more recent celebration of the failure to blow up Parliament in 1605 is still more popular than its creepier calendar competitor – though you wouldn’t think so judging by the amount of Halloween-related material on sale.

Anyway, when the kids come knocking on the door yelling, “Trick or treat?”, you could remind them that they are taking part in the latest manifestation of rituals that go back to a time out of mind. Or you could say that they are the victims of someone’s marketing plan and greet them, wearing a ghoulish mask. Of course, it’s just a bit of harmless fun…isn’t it?"

The above words are from Mike - who some readers may know! He has a blog/site called 'A Bit About Britain'. It is a personal, independent, project of his that seeks to inspire, inform and entertain. He has many and varied articles on the site and because of the time of year this one about Halloween is a good read, just a snippet of which I copied above ... but Mike gives you much more information to read, just click on the link here

and at Halloween these are always popular
Pumpkin Spice Muffins... made the low carb way
see more details here

All the best Jan

Monday 30 October 2023

Time for some Ghoulish Goulash Stew - So good for Halloween!

Ghoulish Goulash Stew

If you are looking for a perfect Halloween recipe to tuck into after a night of trick or treating, then look no further! This ghoulishly good stew, complete with creepy eyeballs made from stuffed olives, is packed with succulent lamb and flavoured with chilli and paprika for a warming, spicy kick... Yum!

Serves Four
2 tbsp. olive oil
600g (1lb) diced lamb leg
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 - 1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (depending on taste)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
750ml (1 1/4pt) lamb or vegetable stock
2 medium beetroot, peeled
250g (8oz) butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and chopped
1 large red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
10 Pimento stuffed olives, halved
handful parsley or chives, finely chopped
soured cream, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp. of the oil in a large shallow casserole dish, season the lamb and brown well on all sides. Remove and set aside.
2. Add the remaining oil and the onion to the pan and soften for 5 minutes. Stir through the garlic, chilli and spices, fry for a couple of minutes. Now pour over the tinned tomatoes and stock, season generously with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar and stir well.
3. Wrap the raw beetroot in a foil parcel and cook in the oven for 1hr 30mins. Bring the stew up to boil then cover with a lid and simmer over a gentle heat for 45 minutes (adding a splash more water if it needs it). Add the squash and pepper, cover and return to the heat for 45 minutes more, after which time the lamb should be really tender and the sauce thickened.
4. Remove the beetroot from the oven, chop and stir it through the stew. Taste and season as necessary. Scatter over the halved olives (as eyeballs) and fresh parsley. Serve with soured cream and (optional) crusty bread.

Nutritional Information
Carbohydrate 19.3g Protein 32.6g Fibre 3.8g Fat 27.2g
From an original idea here

Dear reader - you will find a variety of articles and recipe ideas within this blog. Please note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter. If you have any concerns about your health, it is always advisable to consult your doctor or health care team.

image from here

~ Enjoy the Autumn Season ~

All the best Jan

Sunday 29 October 2023

Easy Chicken Casserole

Yes, a lovely chicken recipe today ...
Chicken's many plus points - its versatility, as well as the ease and speed with which it can be cooked - make it one of the most popular meats around. It has a high level of good quality protein, as well as B vitamins, iron, copper and selenium.

An easy chicken casserole recipe should perhaps be in every cook's little black book and this one will go down well with all of the family. Serve with mashed or boiled potatoes, or rice. Some readers may prefer a lower carb alternative such as mashed swede/rutabaga.

Serves Four
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (around 850g/1lb 14oz)
1 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 rashers smoked back bacon, cut into roughly 2cm/¾in slices
150g/5½oz small mushrooms, halved or quartered if larger
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into roughly 1.5cm/⅝in slices
20g/¾oz plain flour (around 2 tbsp)
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
500ml/18fl oz hot chicken stock (made with 1 stock cube)
1 medium leek, trimmed and cut into roughly 1cm/½in slices
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5. Season the chicken thighs all over with a little salt and lots of black pepper.
2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick casserole pan over a medium heat and fry the chicken for 7–8 minutes, skin-side down, or until the skin is nicely browned. Turn and cook on the other side for 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.
3. Return the pan to the heat and add the onion, bacon and mushrooms. Fry over a medium-high heat for 4–5 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring regularly. Add the carrots and flour and toss together well.
4. Sprinkle with the thyme, then pour in the stock, a little at a time, stirring well between each addition. Add the chicken pieces back to the pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover the pan with a lid.
5. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Take out of the oven and stir in the leeks.
6. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, or until the chicken and leeks are tender and the sauce has thickened. Serve.

Recipe Tip
You can use boneless, skinless chicken thigh fillets for this recipe if you like. Fry for 3 minutes on each side before transferring to a plate. Follow the recipe as above but cook for 35 minutes rather than 45 minutes before adding the leek.

Each serving provides 
48g protein, 13g carbohydrates (of which 7.5g sugars), 19g fat (of which 5g saturates), 5g fibre and 2.4g salt.
From an original idea here

~ enjoy your day ~

You will find a variety of recipe ideas within this blog. It is important to note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter. If you have any concerns about your health it is always advisable to consult your Doctor or health care team.

All the best Jan

Saturday 28 October 2023

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock Remember To Change Your Clock! An Extra Hour In Bed !

Why do we change the clocks in the UK? The reason behind your extra hour in bed this weekend, 28/29 October 2023.

It’s almost that time of year when the UK turns the clocks back by one hour… but why does it happen?

Every year, the clocks change twice – forwards as we enter British Summer Time (BST) and then back again as we prepare for the winter, bringing BST to an end.

The change can make a big difference, with more of us waking up in darkness for work or potentially getting an extra hour of lie-in, depending on the change.

So, why do the clocks change, and when do they go back in 2023?

Why do the clocks change in the UK?
When the change was introduced, it gave farmers an extra hour of sunlight to work – a helpful boost to the agricultural sector following the crippled British economy during the First World War.

Some have previously raised the possibility of getting rid of putting the clocks forward and back – a tradition which dates back over a century. Campaigners have argued that it is outdated in an age that sees the UK much less reliant on farming for much of its economy than it once was.

When did we start changing the clocks?
The Daylight Savings Time initiative was introduced and formalised as British Summer Time with the Summer Time Act 1916.

When do the clocks change in autumn 2023?
This autumn, the clocks will go back an hour this Sunday – October 29 2023.

At this time, 2am will go back to 1am, giving us an extra hour in bed and preparing us for the colder months when the sun sets earlier and days get significantly shorter.

In 2024, the clocks will go forward again by an hour, on Sunday, March 31.

Which countries change their clocks?
While it’s been a practice in the UK for over a century, we aren’t alone in changing the clocks for British Summer Time (known as Daylight Savings Time in other places).

All European Union countries and many European non-members continue to make the switch twice a year.

Outside of Europe, changing the clocks is also practiced in Argentina, Paraguay, Cuba, Haiti, the Levant, New Zealand and parts of Australia.

The US has changed the clocks twice a year for many decades, like the UK, but this is all set to change. The US Senate passed a bill to make Daylight Savings Time permanent. *The Sunshine Protection Act was unanimously passed in 2022 meaning clocks will no longer change back and forth twice a year. From 2023, it will establish a fixed time all year round.
Words and images from article here

* Post edit, after receiving a comment from Anne C who says, "Of interest to your US readers: The time change will continue as before for now, with clocks set back next weekend (on November 5th). While the measure did pass in the senate, the house has yet to approve it so it's not a done deal, at least not yet."
Many thanks for this information Anne ...

Sharing a tasty dish for this time of year 😋
Sausage and Bean Casserole
more details here

This blog brings a variety of articles and recipe ideas, and it is important to note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter. If you have any concerns about your health, it is always advisable to consult your doctor or health care team.

All the best Jan

Friday 27 October 2023

Goodness! The things you can do with pumpkins!

October is definitely pumpkin month, you see them everywhere, even in some of my posts here and here 😊 but I thought this news a nice one to share!

Tim Burton-inspired pumpkin mosaic sets world record

A Tim Burton-inspired mosaic made with more than 10,000 pumpkins and squashes has set a new Guinness World Record.

The display at Sunnyfields Farm was created to mark animated film The Nightmare Before Christmas's 30th anniversary and depicts Jack Skellington's famous moonlight stance

The Southampton, farm has entered the record books for the largest mosaic created from squashes.

To achieve the feat, the mosaic had to be over 100 square metres.

The farm's finished patchwork of pumpkins and squashes ended up just under 200 square metres.

It required meticulous planning and took about five hours for staff at the farm to create the giant spooky display.

The striking Halloween-inspired image mosaic took around five hours to create

The farm hosts a giant pumpkin weigh-off annually where world records are often set.

Farmer Ian Nelson, 59 said: "We always see people get world records, but we didn't think we would get one ourselves.

"We weren't intentionally doing it to get the record as each year we build a big display, but we realised it would qualify and went for it."

The official title for their new record given by Guinness is the largest Cucurbita mosaic - the genre for varieties of pumpkins and squashes.

The farm is owned by the Nelson family,
made up of husband and wife Ian, 59, and Louise, 60, and their 33-year-old son Tom

Adam Milward, managing editor of Guinness World Records, said: "This is always a busy time of year for fruit and veg records at Guinness World Records... just last week we had the privilege of recognising a new heaviest pumpkin.

"It can sometimes be easy to get wrapped up entirely in the biggest produce, but what Sunnyfields Farm has proven in their Halloween-themed gourd display is that when horticultural prowess is combined with a little creative flair, it's possible to reap some truly spook-tacular results."

Words and images from here

Related Posts
Pumpkin Time Comes Around Again, with a special tribute to Queen Elizabeth: 
This was a previous creation from Sunnyfields Farm and a special one, see here

Health Benefits of Orange Pumpkins, see here 

Which Colour Pumpkin will you choose this year, see here

Have you bought any pumpkins this year? Have you visited any 'Pumpkin Patches' near you?
The ones near to us are getting very soggy! We've had lots of rain 😞  

All the best Jan

Thursday 26 October 2023

Chicken and chorizo casserole, with onion, carrots and celery ... and more!

This one-pot stew of chicken thighs, chorizo, chickpeas and wonderful vegetables is full of flavour and quick to prepare, you could say, a real winter warmer!

Serves Six (adjust to suit)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
500g/1lb 2oz chicken thighs
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
splash red wine
275g/9½oz chorizo, chopped
100ml/3½fl oz dry sherry
1 x 400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
200ml/7fl oz chicken stock
1 x 400g/14oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper
handful chopped fresh parsley
crusty bread, (or low carb bread alternative), to serve

1. Heat half of the vegetable oil in a large pan. Add the chicken thighs and fry, turning frequently, until lightly browned all over. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
2. Add a little more oil to the pan, then add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery and chilli and cook for five minutes. Add a splash of red wine and simmer until reduced by half.
3. In another pan, heat the remaining oil and fry the chorizo for 2-3 minutes. Add the sherry and cook until the chorizo is crisp. Set aside.
4. Add the can of chopped tomatoes to the pan with the vegetables and bring to the boil. Cook for five minutes, then add the stock and bring back to the boil.
5. Add the browned chicken, the chickpeas and crisp chorizo and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
6. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread.

Recipe Tips
i) This chicken and chorizo stew freezes brilliantly for up to a month.
ii) if you don't have sherry, you can use white wine.
From original idea here

Related Posts
Some lower carb / keto Chicken Recipes you may prefer, please see here and here

... and for our vegetarian and vegan readers
why not have a look at these recipe suggestions:
Vegetarian Choices, five recipe suggestions can be seen here
Vegan Choices, lower carb recipe suggestions can be seen here

~ wishing you a happy day ~

Dear reader, this blog offers a wide variety of recipes/food ideas, and not all may be suitable for YOU. If you may have any food likes / dislikes, allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter. If you have any concerns about your health it is always advisable to consult your Doctor or health care team.

All the best Jan

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Ten Benefits Of Walking

Looking for a low impact, weight-bearing exercise that will benefit your physical and mental health? Nutritionist Kerry Torrens explains the countless benefits of walking.

Why is walking healthy?
Walking is an aerobic activity that uses the large skeletal muscles of the lower body, it has numerous benefits, with minimal adverse effects. Walking quicker than normal, regularly and over a sufficient distance may even help maintain your physical fitness.

What are the health benefits of walking?
Studies suggest walking, especially in nature, holds numerous health benefits, here are just some of them:

1. Good for your heart
Walking reduces the risk of heart disease, lowers blood pressure and when done briskly enough improves cardiorespiratory fitness. Findings suggest this is even more relevant if you suffer from anxiety or depression.

2. Supports bone health
Walking is the most common weight-bearing activity that we all do every day, and as a result, regardless of our age, it increases bone strength. This means regular walking may slow the process of osteoporosis.

3. Strengthens muscles and joints
Including walking in our day to day lives strengthens the muscles of the legs, limb girdle and lower trunk which helps us maintain our balance and stability as we grow older. Walking also helps preserve the flexibility of our joints and improves our posture and how we carry ourselves.

4. Burns calories
The good news is that any amount of walking, and at any pace, uses energy and can therefore be used as an aid to weight loss. Walking first thing in the morning may also help control appetite for the remainder of the day.

5. Improves insulin control
Studies suggest walking after a meal helps to control blood sugar levels and reduces the accumulation of abdominal fat which is associated with metabolic disease including heart disease, diabetes and liver problems. This is because moving improves how our bodies respond to insulin.

6. May slow biological aging
Researchers at the University of Leicester have reported a causal link between walking pace and telomere length (the caps that protect our DNA and suggest how well we are aging). The report suggests that a lifetime of brisk walking may add as much as 16-20 years to our lifespan. It’s not just our pace either the more walking you do – the higher step count – the lower your chance of all-cause mortality.

7. Reduces anxiety and tension
The knock-on effects of walking go beyond the physical – they include psychological benefits and better social connections.
In those with mild to moderate depression, exercise can be an effective anti-depressant, whilst having a regular walking routine may build a sense of purpose and improve mood. Keeping to a moderate intensity seems to be an effective long-term strategy for maintaining mental health.

8. Supports vitamin D levels
Getting out in the open air, ideally for a walk, is one of the best ways to support vitamin d levels. This is because vitamin d is produced by the action of sunlight on the skin. Be aware however, if you have low levels of this vitamin you may experience muscle weakness, this in turn may compromise your stability and balance.

9. Improves immunity
Scientists have discovered that walking in a forest location beside a waterfall (higher ionised air) increases levels of an antibody called IgA. This antibody plays an important role in the mucosal lining of the mouth, nose and gut and helps strengthen our immunity and lung function.

10. Supports gut health
Exercise, including brisk walking, has a beneficial impact on the number and diversity of good bacteria in our gut. This has numerous positive effects for our health including supporting digestion, improving immune function and increasing our nutritional status.

Is walking suitable for me?
Walking is the most natural of activities; it’s free, available to do all year round and can be incorporated into our everyday lives both at home and work. It’s the only sustained aerobic exercise that is common to us all, unless that is, you have a serious disability or are very frail.

Do I need special walking equipment?
All you need are a comfortable pair of shoes or boots that are suitable for the terrain you will be covering, as well as appropriate clothing. A third of older people have at least one fall a year so maintaining stability and helping support balance and posture are key considerations, what you wear on your feet can help with this. So too can trekking poles, these are particularly useful for those with lower back or joint issues, obesity or Parkinson’s. They’re also useful if you’re walking with a heavy back-pack because the poles help reduce the strain on your lower body especially at the knee and ankle. Walking with poles gets the upper body involved and although the body is working harder, you’ll feel it less.

How do I start my walking practice?
Walking is a great starter exercise, its low impact and because we tend to self-regulate ourselves, in terms of intensity, duration and frequency, it’s associated with a relatively modest number of injuries. If you’ve been sedentary, inactive or are elderly walking is a great introduction to activity - start at a slow to regular pace for short time periods and work towards achieving 30 minutes or more of brisk (6.4km/hour) walking on most days.

Joining a walking group is a great way to stay motivated, make new friends and walk in new locations.

Are there any safety issues to consider when walking?
As with all exercise, walking does have its downsides. These depend on where you walk but include road safety, personal safety and air quality. Follow these tips for a safe and enjoyable walk:

• Let someone know your planned route
• Wear clothes that allow you to be clearly seen, especially at night
• Take a mobile phone with you
• Choose a route away from busy roads, where possible
• Walk on a designated pavement or footpath – if you do need to walk on a road, walk on the right-hand side facing the approaching traffic
• For more safety tips check out

Is there an ideal time of day to walk?
The best time of day is whatever works for you, but if you do choose to walk first thing this has the added benefit of helping set your body clock for the day which means you’re likely to sleep better. Recent studies also suggest walking between 8 and 11am may further help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, especially if you’re female.

Last thoughts
Walking is one of the easiest ways to get active, it’s free and may help you lose weight and feel better. Often overlooked as a form of exercise, when done at a suitable pace and over sufficient distance, walking can help improve stamina and cardiovascular fitness and may even help you live longer.

If you are new to exercise, have an underlying medical condition or existing injuries please consult a doctor before embarking on any new exercise programme.
Words above with all relevant research links can be seen here

put your best foot forward - image from google

Articles within this blog are provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, including medication, you should contact your Doctor/local health care provider.

All the best Jan

Tuesday 24 October 2023

Roasting Red Peppers is perhaps one of the best ways to enjoy them

Roasting peppers is one of the best ways to enjoy them – the skin blisters and the flesh becomes soft and sweet. Try these simple methods for roasting at home, then perhaps try them in the recipes below. Discover the most efficient way to prepare and cook peppers and avoid reaching for that jar in the supermarket.

Why do you roast peppers?
Roasting, charring or blackening peppers brings out layers of flavours that will take your dishes to the next level. The flesh of the veg becomes super-soft and sweet, making it perfect for blitzing into sauces, soups and dips.

How do I prepare peppers?
When roasting peppers, you can either choose to halve them or keep them whole. Halving them is the preferred method, as it's best to get the fiddly prep done before cooking. Cut each pepper in half through the stalk, then remove the white membrane with a small serrated knife. Scoop the seeds out with a dessert spoon and discard.

Different ways to roast peppers
There are several different cooking methods to choose from. The key things to remember when roasting are:-
1. Use baking parchment instead of foil (as this can transfer a metallic flavour to the peppers).
2. Blackening and blistering the peppers is a good thing. The more blackened the skin becomes, the easier it will be to peel. This also gives a tasty, lightly charred flavour to the flesh of the peppers.
3. Stick with red peppers. These have the sweetest flavour and work best for roasting. Most varieties of red pepper work well, including Romano.

Basic roasted pepper cooking methods

How to roast peppers in the oven
1. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.
2. Line a large, flat baking sheet with baking parchment.
3. Halve the peppers and arrange on the baking sheet cut-side down.
4. Roast for 30-35 mins until the skin is shrivelled and lightly blistered.
5. Set aside to cool completely before peeling.

How to grill peppers
This is a speedier method for roasting peppers.
1. Heat a grill to high.
2. Halve the peppers and arrange on a non-stick, unlined baking sheet cut-side down (do not use baking parchment, as this can easily catch under the grill).
3. Grill for 15-20 mins until blistered and softened.

How to roast peppers on the hob
Traditionally, roasted peppers are cooked directly on a gas hob. This method is particularly useful if you're looking to achieve a smokier, charred flavour.
Put whole peppers directly on the flame of a gas hob and cook for 10-15 mins, turning often, until completely charred. You'll know they're done when they reach a deep, blackened colour.

How to peel roasted peppers
Once your peppers are roasted, pile them (still hot) into large food bags and seal. Set aside to cool in the bags, then peel off the skins and scrape away any lingering seeds. Alternatively, leave your peppers to cool at room temperature before peeling. The skin should slip right off if the peppers have been roasted well, so if you’re having trouble removing the skins, it may be worth cooking your peppers for slightly longer.

How do I store roasted peppers?
Once peeled and cooled, you can store your peppers in an airtight container in the fridge for five days. Alternatively, slice the peppers and put them in a jar with good-quality olive oil and crushed garlic cloves, then store in the fridge for up to one week. Do not freeze the peppers.

Roasted pepper recipe ideas
Roasted peppers work beautifully in so many dishes. They can be blitzed into a homemade hummus, tossed through a salad or eaten as part of an antipasto platter. Make a large batch of roasted peppers to use in different dishes. Homemade roasted peppers are more budget-friendly and tastier than their shop-bought counterparts.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup with Ricotta
recipe details here

Roast Peppers with Cumin and Tomatoes
recipe details here

More from original article here

Do you enjoy peppers roasted, you may prefer them raw?
Eddie and I love red peppers, they are very nutritious, see here

A variety of articles and recipe ideas are found within this blog, and not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter. If you have any concerns about your health it is always advisable to consult your Doctor or health care team.

All the best Jan

Monday 23 October 2023

Pork and Chickpea Stew : Easy One Pot Meal : And A Veggie Version

Pork can make a wonderful tender stew !

Although not eaten by all, Pork is the most widely eaten meat in the world, accounting for about 38% of meat production worldwide. Pork is the culinary name for meat from a domestic pig - Sus scrofa domesticus - , and there is evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC.

I do like to include Pork in my weekly menu plans especially now we are well into October and cooler days. There are so many ways to cook and enjoy it. Take this recipe suggestion, it's for an easy pork and chickpea stew that looks as though you slaved over it all afternoon but it only takes 30 minutes! It's full of hearty flavour and everything all in one pot! Don't you just love it when washing up is kept to a minimum!

See the tip at the bottom of the recipe for how to make a veggie version, too.

Serves Four
2 tbsp oil, ideally olive oil
250g/9oz pork fillet (tenderloin), trimmed and cut into small cubes
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 medium courgette/zucchini (roughly 185g/6½oz), ends trimmed, halved lengthways and sliced into semi circles
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½–1 tsp smoked paprika, hot or sweet
400g/14oz tin chickpeas, drained
400g/14oz tin chopped tomatoes
1 chicken or pork stock cube
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wide-based casserole.
2. Season the pork with salt and pepper and fry over a medium heat for 2 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate.
3. Add the remaining oil, the onion, pepper and courgette to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned, stirring regularly.
4. Add the garlic, paprika, chickpeas and tinned tomatoes. Half-fill the empty tomato tin with water and add to the pan (roughly 200ml/7fl oz water). Crumble in the stock cube and add the cooked pork. Bring to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the pork is tender, stirring regularly.

Recipe Tips
For a vegetarian or vegan version of this stew, cook a large cubed aubergine/eggplant instead of the pork in the first step, adding an extra tablespoon of oil once it begins to fry, and use a veggie cube!

See original recipe idea and video guide here

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers,”
(Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables).

You will find a variety of recipe ideas within this blog. It is important to note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter. If you have any concerns about your health it is always advisable to consult your Doctor or health care team.

All the best Jan

Sunday 22 October 2023

Happy Sunday !

( image from here )

Whatever your plans are,
I wish you a happy and peaceful day.

All the best Jan

Saturday 21 October 2023

Creamy Parsnip and Apple Soup : Perfect for Cooler Days

Today, I'm sharing this recipe by Dave Myers and Si King ... aka 'The Hairy Bikers'.  They are two (UK) 'northern blokes' with a passion for cooking and food. They have presented a range of television shows that combine cooking with the travelogue format, along with a range of cookery books published to accompany their various television series. You may have read that Dave Myers has been undergoing cancer treatment ... I'm sure all readers wish him well.

These two 'northern blokes' have created many lovely recipes such as this delicious parsnip and apple soup which perfectly combines tangy cooking apples and the sweetness from parsnips. The recipe featured on the BBC cookery show 'The Hairy Bikers - Best of British' 😋

Serves Six
25g/1oz butter
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 medium onions, chopped
600g/1lb 5oz parsnips, cut into 2cm/1in pieces
2 garlic cloves, crushed
600g/1lb 5oz Bramley apples, peeled, quartered and cut into chunks
1 litre/1¾ pints vegetable or chicken stock
150ml/5fl oz milk
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan. Gently fry the onions and parsnips for 15 minutes, or until the onions are softened. Add the garlic and apples and cook for a further two minutes, stirring regularly.
2. Pour over the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the parsnips are very soft. Remove from the heat and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Blend the mixture in a food processor until smooth.
3. Stir in the milk, adding a little extra if required. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Each serving provides 202kcal, 3.5g protein, 26g carbohydrate (of which 18g sugars), 8g fat (of which 3g saturates), 7.5g fibre and 1.2g salt.

Recipe Tip
Add a little curry powder to the fried onions and parsnips before stirring in the stock for a delicious twist.
Taken from original recipe here

Related Post
Parsnips : Perfect for Autumn and Winter Months : read it here

~ enjoy your day ~
... and for those readers who may not be feeling too well ...
I hope you feel better soon

We bring a variety of articles and recipe ideas to this blog, but please note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter. If you have any concerns about your health, it is always advisable to consult your doctor or health care team.

All the best Jan

Friday 20 October 2023

It's a beauty : It's the tree of the year 2023

You may recall this post here - well now the winner has been announced!

The Woodland Trust's tree of the Year 2023 is,
Wrexham's sweet chestnut tree

The tree dates back to 1539,
and has survived being pillaged for firewood in post-war 1940s Britain
photo credit Kyle Jones Mattock

A towering sweet chestnut renowned for its beauty and history has been voted the UK's tree of the year. (Sweet chestnut trees produce edible chestnuts, encased in prickly green shells)

The 484-year-old tree in Acton Park, Wrexham, has stood since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

As well as weathering many storms, it survived being pillaged for firewood in 1940s post-war Britain.

Previous winners of the award include the Sycamore Gap tree in 2016, before it was mysteriously felled last month.

With a girth of 6m (19ft), the sweet chestnut stands in an urban park surrounded by homes on the edge of the city centre.

This year's competition, run by the Woodland Trust, aimed to celebrate ancient and veteran trees in urban spaces.

Jack Taylor, a campaigner for the Woodland Trust, said the tree was an "amazing and deserved winner".

"The sweet chestnut in Wrexham's Acton Park is a symbol of resilience in the city having survived many storms and other threats.

"This almost 500-year-old giant is celebrated and loved by locals for its beauty and history and it now has the claim to fame of being a Tree of the Year winner."

Hugh Jones, from Wrexham council, said: "Wrexham Council is delighted to have been awarded UK Tree of the Year 2023.

"We would like to thank the people of Wrexham and the wider population who took the time to vote.

"It goes to show that the Wrexham Sweet Chestnut has inspired people for so many years and is now getting some well-deserved recognition."

Above words and image taken from here

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the United Kingdom and is concerned with the creation, protection, and restoration of native woodland heritage. It has planted over 50 million trees since 1972.
These words are on their website 'Woods and trees are essential, for people, for wildlife, for life."

~ xx oo xx ~

Regular readers will be aware that this blog is presented in a magazine style - we hope something for everyone. You will find a variety of articles, studies, thoughts, photographs, a little music and lots of recipes!

Please note, not all recipe suggestions may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter. If you have any concerns about your health, it is always advisable to consult your doctor or health care team.

All the best Jan

Thursday 19 October 2023

Hints and Tips when buying Avocados

Many thanks to all who read my previous post 'Not Everyone Loves Avocados', which you can see here, and special thanks to all who took time to leave a comment.  It became evident, that like me, many of you experience problems when getting a perfectly ripe avocado. Which leads me to todays post and helpful tips about:-

How to Tell if an Avocado is Ripe - and Pick the Right One
Whether you want to pick a ripe-right-now avocado or one you plan to eat in a few days, understanding the signs associated with each stage of ripeness will help you choose the right one. To do so, focus on the way the avocado feels and looks. You may want to choose Haas avocados over any other variety, as they give a better idea of what is going on beneath the skin than other varieties do.

An under-ripe Haas avocado will range from bright to mid-green in colour and have a relatively smooth peel. It will feel very firm and not give at all when gently pressed. If you don't need to use the avocado for another three to five days, then buy avocados like this, set them on your counter, and wait it out.

Just About Ripe
Avocados that are just about ripe will vary a little in colour, but are usually dark green with flecks of black here and there. The skin will have a slightly bumpier texture than under-ripe avocados, and it will feel softer in your hand than an under-ripe avocado; it still won't give to gentle pressure. Choose these if you plan to eat them within a day or two.

Perfectly Ripe
A ready-to-eat avocado will range from very dark green to dark brown to eggplant (aubergine) purple, and the skin will be the bumpiest texture yet. It will yield to gentle pressure, but shouldn't feel mushy or leave any indentations. If you find an avocado with these indicators, it's go-time, and you should plan to eat it the same day.

An over-ripe avocado will be very dark and may show signs of wear and tear, like deep indentations and black bruising. The peel will be bumpy and it will feel mushy when gentle pressure is applied. Avoid these, unless they are on super sale and you may want to use them in a smoothie.

How to Ripen an Avocado Quickly
To ripen an avocado quickly, place it in a brown paper bag along with another ethylene-producing fruit like a banana or apple. Ethylene is a naturally occurring gas that causes certain fruits to ripen. The additional fruit doubles down on gas production, and the bag traps it. With this method, you will be able to ripen a firm avocado in a day or two.

How to Slow Down Avocado Ripening
If you bought perfectly ripe avocados, but you're not ready to use them, slow down the maturation process by storing them in the refrigerator. The avocados should be fully ripe before you move them from counter to refrigerator, though; doing so will halt the ripening process.

How to Store Half an Avocado
If you end up using half of an avocado, store the other half by lightly coating the surface with cooking spray then wrapping it with plastic wrap. The oil forms an extra-protective layer over the fruit, which slows down browning caused by air exposure. You can also freeze avocados - but be warned, the texture will not be good for anything other than smoothies.
Words above taken from article here

Related Recipe Posts
Sail Away on a delicious Avocado Boat - see here
Courgette / Zucchini Pizza Boats - see here

~ wishing you a happy day ~

Dear reader, you will find a variety of articles and recipe ideas within this blog. It is important to note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter. If you have any concerns about your health it is always advisable to consult your Doctor or health care team.

All the best Jan

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Not Everyone Loves Avocados !

We love avocados in our house, but not everyone does.

We certainly consider avocados one of our top five favourite low-carb, high-fat foods. They are packed with healthy fat, fibre, and micronutrients. However, even though avocados have so many benefits, they are not for everyone! If you are a person that cannot stand them, then ideally you need to find substitutions that contain similar amounts of healthy fats without the carbs.

Today, I share seven foods that have similar nutrient profiles to avocado to help you keep your low-carb diet/menu plans on track!

The Nutrient Break Down of an Avocado
Avocados are high in fat and fibre with a small amount of protein. For example, one half of an avocado has about 160 calories and 15 grams of fat. It also contains 9 grams of carbs and seven grams of fibre. The high fibre content of avocado makes it an excellent food for hunger control and your overall health.

How to Find Avocado Substitutes
You may be wondering why I am sharing the nutrient breakdown of an avocado when this is the food we are trying to substitute. The reason is that when you are looking for a suitable substitute for a portion of food, you want to match its nutrient breakdown as closely as possible. With that said, here are seven healthy foods you can use as an avocado substitute.

Avocado Substitutes
Raw Nuts
Raw Seeds
Nut Butters
Soft Cheese

The Bottom Line
To conclude, the seven foods that you can swap with avocados are raw nuts, raw seeds, nut butter, stuffed olives, eggs, soft cheeses, and pesto.
The above taken, with much more to read, from an article by Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC here

Related Post
Reasons To Love Avocados? Well Here Are Twenty! read more here

Dear reader, please be aware that you will find a variety of articles and recipe ideas/suggestions within this blog, but not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter. If you have any concerns about your health it is always advisable to consult your Doctor or health care team.

All the best Jan

Tuesday 17 October 2023

Mushroom, Bacon and Leek Casserole

This quick, creamy mushroom casserole may well become a favourite dish. Why not serve as a midweek meal with pasta, rice or a hunk of crusty bread. Of course if you are a 'low carber' you will swap the pasta for courgetti, rice for cauliflower rice and bread - just use a lower carb alternative - see here.

Serves Four
50g/1¾oz unsalted butter, plus extra to finish
1 leek, sliced
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, diced
100ml/3½fl oz dry white wine
5 Portobello mushrooms, chopped
350–400ml/12–14fl oz beef stock
100ml/3½fl oz crème fraîche
¼ tsp paprika
salt and pepper
small handful of freshly chopped flatleaf parsley, to garnish

1. Heat a deep non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the butter and when it sizzles, add the leek and bacon and fry for 6–8 minutes, until the leek is softened and caramelised and the bacon crispy.
2. Pour in the wine and allow to bubble for a couple of minutes before adding the mushrooms. Cook for 2–3 minutes to soften, then add 350ml/12fl oz beef stock and season well with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25–30 minutes, adding a touch more stock if needed.
3. Stir in the crème fraîche, paprika and a knob of butter and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
4. Check the seasoning and serve garnished with chopped parsley.
From original idea here

For those that may like a vegetarian mushroom dish ...
Mushroom Bourguignon with Celeriac Mash, see it here

~ enjoy your day ~

Dear reader, you will find a variety of recipe ideas within this blog. It is important to note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter. If you have any concerns about your health it is always advisable to consult your Doctor or health care team.

All the best Jan

Monday 16 October 2023

'A diabetes diagnosis lowers life expectancy.'

"From The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology

Life expectancy associated with different ages at diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in high-income countries: 23 million person-years of observation

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing globally, driven mainly by behavioural and societal factors related to obesity, nutrition, and physical activity.
In 2021, 537 million adults were estimated to have diabetes worldwide, with increasing numbers diagnosed at younger ages.

Previous estimates have suggested that adults with type 2 diabetes die, on average, 6 years earlier than their counterparts without diabetes. 
However, how this average reduction in life expectancy varies according to age at diagnosis is uncertain. Valid characterisation of this association requires prospective comparison of outcomes within the same cohorts of people with diabetes diagnosed at varying ages. However, few population cohorts have had sufficient statistical power, detail, and duration of follow-up to enable reliable estimation.
Moreover, previous modelling studies—which used state-transition models and life tables that rely on inputs from aggregated data—have considered diabetes only as a binary condition (i.e. absent or present) when estimating its effect on life expectancy. Few published studies have therefore directly analysed the association of age at diagnosis of diabetes with mortality and life expectancy.

We aimed to provide reliable estimates of the associations of age at diagnosis of diabetes with all-cause mortality, cause-specific mortality, and reductions in life expectancy in high-income countries. We analysed individual records from 97 long-term, prospective cohorts, involving 1 515 718 participants followed up for a total of 23·1 million person-years.


The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing rapidly, particularly among younger age groups. Estimates suggest that people with diabetes die, on average, 6 years earlier than people without diabetes. We aimed to provide reliable estimates of the associations between age at diagnosis of diabetes and all-cause mortality, cause-specific mortality, and reductions in life expectancy.

For this observational study, we conducted a combined analysis of individual-participant data from 19 high-income countries using two large-scale data sources: the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration (96 cohorts, median baseline years 1961–2007, median latest follow-up years 1980–2013) and the UK Biobank (median baseline year 2006, median latest follow-up year 2020). We calculated age-adjusted and sex-adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for all-cause mortality according to age at diagnosis of diabetes using data from 1 515 718 participants, in whom deaths were recorded during 23·1 million person-years of follow-up. We estimated cumulative survival by applying age-specific HRs to age-specific death rates from 2015 for the USA and the EU.

For participants with diabetes, we observed a linear dose–response association between earlier age at diagnosis and higher risk of all-cause mortality compared with participants without diabetes. HRs were 2·69 (95% CI 2·43–2·97) when diagnosed at 30–39 years, 2·26 (2·08–2·45) at 40–49 years, 1·84 (1·72–1·97) at 50–59 years, 1·57 (1·47–1·67) at 60–69 years, and 1·39 (1·29–1·51) at 70 years and older. HRs per decade of earlier diagnosis were similar for men and women.

Using death rates from the USA, a 50-year-old individual with diabetes died on average 14 years earlier when diagnosed aged 30 years, 10 years earlier when diagnosed aged 40 years, or 6 years earlier when diagnosed aged 50 years than an individual without diabetes.

Using EU death rates, the corresponding estimates were 13, 9, or 5 years earlier.

Every decade of earlier diagnosis of diabetes was associated with about 3–4 years of lower life expectancy, highlighting the need to develop and implement interventions that prevent or delay the onset of diabetes and to intensify the treatment of risk factors among young adults diagnosed with diabetes."

Words above and much more to read with all research links can be seen here
h/t Marks Daily Apple Site here

A few words on diabetes
taken from post here

More than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes. That’s nearly 1 in 10 people, according to figures from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Most cases of the disease are type 2 diabetes — a condition in which the body doesn’t make enough insulin, uses insulin incorrectly, or both. This can cause high levels of sugar in the blood. People with type 2 diabetes must control this sugar, or blood glucose, with a combination of medications, like insulin, and lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. Diet is key to diabetes management.

Found in many foods such as breads, starches, fruits, and sweets, carbohydrate is the macronutrient that causes blood sugar levels to go up. Managing carbohydrate intake helps people manage their blood sugar.

Many thanks for reading the above, do please share your thoughts in the comments.

All the best Jan