Category Archives: Food and Diets

Now it’s OK to eat Butter – what else is good for us?

Full Fat Milk and Butter are now OK

And for my money, British Jersey cows produce the best!jersey cattle society‘,

After years of telling us to eat ‘spreads’, the food police now say it’s OK to eat Butter – and in fact full-fat milk is probably better for us than skimmed! Continue reading

Festive food that is Good for you

fruitDon’t worry about what you eat –

There are lots of goodies we scoff that are good for you – in

Moderation!

About.com is an American newsletter that comes out with a digest of what’s most read over there, and has some sensible, seasonal advice.

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Tomatoes – are they latest “anti-cancer ” fad ?

Beware claims of

‘eat this to conquer cancer’ 

Every day, yet another health guru comes out with a statement that eating XXXX will conquer cancer – usually there is a PR campaign behind the claim, and it’s made by a paid-for firm promoting whatever fruit or vegetable they

Small tomatoes in Korea

Wikipedia

publicise.  This is big business – no-one would have ever heard of various unknown berries, if the growers hadn’t been promoted via an expensive PR campaign;  but the end result was massively-increased sales. So whenever I read about some miracle food, I would reach for a huge pinch of salt – what it’s useful for!

Hence I have been sceptical over the latest claim – this time for tomatoes. Having eaten tons of them from childhood on, and nevertheless got cancer, they didn’t protect me. However, evidence now comes from Harvard that, whilst not

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Good news for Chocoholics!

Dark chocolate

is good for your

health

 

However – don’t all rush  to gobble up chocolate .

It’s only a small benefit, but a modeling study predicts patients with metabolic syndrome who eat a small amount of dark chocolate every day could have 85 fewer events per 10,000 population over 10 years, Chris Reid, PhD, of Monash University in Melbourne, and colleagues reported online in the British Medical Journal.

This means the benefits, according to latest information, are slight – but better than nothing.

And better news is that this is at an extremely low cost.  Although cost is probably the last thing that would worry any chocolate lover, researchers found that at a cost of only $42 per year, treatment with the suggested amount of dark chocolate falls into an acceptable category of cost-effectiveness.

Dark chocolate

Bad luck if you are a Cadbury’s Milk Tray lover;  the chocolate needs to be dark and 60% to 70% cocoa.

But for dark chocoholics, The Organic Pharmacy now has  Glamour Food chocolate bars, sweetened with Agave nectar, which has a low glycemic index.

With cocoa butter, which apparently helps reduce cholesterol, the chocolate is rich in phenylethylamine, a natuarlly occuring alkaloid that acts like a love potion!   It is said a person in love produces phenylethylamine and so taking it mimics the feel good feeling and acts as an antidepressant.
Raw cacao is considered a superfood and it is one of the richest sources of anti-ageing antioxidants, flavonoids and heart friendly polyphenols.  All in all, this chocolate has an unusual taste – more like difference between dry wine as opposed to semi-sweet.

More benefits

But good news is that several recent studies have suggested that eating dark chocolate has blood-pressure and lipid-lowering effects. To assess whether it could be an effective and cost-effective treatment option in patients potentially at risk for cardiovascular events, researchers looked at data from patients in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity, and Lifestyle study.

They used a Markov model to assess health effects and associated costs of daily consumption of plain dark chocolate compared with no chocolate, in a population with metabolic syndrome but without diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

The investigators also used risk-prediction algorithms and population life tables to determine the probability of patients developing or dying from heart disease or other noncardiovascular causes each year.

Data on the blood-pressure-lowering effects of dark chocolate were taken from a meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials, and lipid-lowering effects from a meta-analysis of eight short-term trials. Costs were taken from a review of the costs of cardiovascular complications in a healthy population, and included the direct costs of myocardial infarction and stroke.

They calculated the number of deaths prevented by determining the difference in the number of deaths between those consuming and not consuming dark chocolate. and found that daily consumption of dark chocolate — a polyphenol content equivalent to 100 grams of dark chocolate — can reduce cardiovascular events by 85 per 10,000 population over 10 years.

Elsewhere, Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, led by Susanna Larsson, found the more chocolate women indulged in, the lower their stroke risk.

But hold it.

This doesn’t mean we can scoff chocolate all day.  Read this carefully:

  • For every 50-gram (1.8-oz.) increase in chocolate consumption per week, participants’ overall stroke risk dropped 14%.
  • The protective effect appeared to kick in at 45 g (1.6 oz.) of chocolate a week
  • women in the highest consumption group — who ate a median of 66.5 g (2.4 oz.), or between one and two chocolate bars a week — enjoyed a 20% lower risk of stroke than those who ate the least.
  • The potential health benefits of chocolate, especially dark chocolate, have been widely attributed to its flavonoids:  antioxidant compounds in cocoa that may boost the cardiovascular system.

In other studies, researchers have shown that flavonoids can enhance blood flow by relaxing blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. They may also inhibit clumping of platelets and reduce inflammation, both of which contribute to cardiovascular health.

So what?

Do we start gorging on chocolate to protect ourselves from stroke?

Not exactly.

Chocolate is decadent and is meant to be eaten in moderation. “Consuming too much chocolate is probably not good, as chocolate is rich in sugar, fat and calories, and may lead to weight gain, which increases the risk of chronic diseases,” says Larsson.

But as far as I am concerned, I will be making sure I eat a little each day !

 

 

Stating the obvious re hospital food

We all hate it!

 

Sunkist oranges, bananas, pears, apples, and a...

Give us more of this

My local hospital is so fed up with complaints over food, it has raised a massive stories-high banner in its Atrium, which proudly says its food received an EXCELLENT in the PEAT Awards.  All costing £600.

Doesn’t mention that PEAT awards are researched by hospital staff – who sometimes forget to take negative comments into account.

What Hospitals should be doing is making sure stuff it feeds us is fit for purpose.

 

Good things are happening

University Hospital of Wales, in Cardiff, is about to surprise us.

NHS patients in Wales will receive meals based on mandatory nutritional standards, with limits on the amount of saturated fat and salt but plenty of protein, fruit and vegetables.

The guidelines say patients must also receive seven to eight drinks per day; water jugs must be changed three times a day and snacks must be available 24 hours a day.

All hospitals in Wales must have fully implemented the standards by April 2013.  (Why not now?)

Campaigners are calling on the UK Government to follow Wales’ lead and introduce nutrition standards for all hospital meals.

Campaign

If you visit hospital frequently, and can’t stand the food, what have you done about this?

The Good Food for Our Money campaign is now calling on Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to follow Wales’ lead and implement a system in England.  The campaign is a coalition of groups including the National Heart Forum, Patient Concern and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Alex Jackson, co-ordinator of the Good Food for Our Money campaign, said: “Introducing legally binding standards for hospital food in England is the simplest and most effective way to improve patients’ meals.

So what can you do?

  • Don’t moan to the nurses.  They have no say in the matter.
  • Neither is it any good complaining to the hospital.  Most get their food from outside caterers, sometimes over a hundred miles away.

What you can do is

  1.  Ask your MP to look in to this.
  2. Contact charities mentioned and ask if they can help you/give you advice
  3. Organise friends on a rota to supply your food.
  4. Complain to the Catering Facilitator (or whatever Jobsworth title the hospital uses) and ask them why they aren’t providing you with nutritious meals.  It will probably be the first time they have ever made contact with a patient, and sparks might fly!

“It’s unacceptable that hospital patients in Wales will be guaranteed healthy meals but patients in England will not.

Patients’ Association

Or you could phone the Patients’ Association and ask them what can you do?  Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “Patients in hospital need every support to get better and back to their families as soon as possible. A healthy and nutritional meal is one of the key steps on the road to recovery. Patients must be given nutritionally balanced and healthy meals as standard when in hospital.

“Wales is leading the way when it comes to free prescription charges and it is excellent they are guaranteeing healthy meals in their hospitals.

“Andrew Lansley needs to sit up and take notice and make these initiatives apply in England.”

What Wales is doing

The all-Wales catering and nutrition standards for hospitals outline exactly what patients should be offered daily, including the calorie content of each main meal and snack.

They require that patients are given a choice from a “varied menu”, a missed meal services is available and that main meals should be available every four to six hours throughout the day.

And the standards include the minimum provisions – such as tea, coffee, biscuits, jam and milk – that should be available on every ward.

In their introduction to the guidelines, chief medical officer for Wales Dr Tony Jewell and Professor Jean White, chief nursing officer, said: “Hospital food is an essential part of inpatient care. Good food can encourage patients to eat well, giving them the nutrients they need to recover from surgery or illness.

“The aim is to elevate the provision of food to the same importance as medication; raise awareness of nutrition in relation to patient safety; and to enable catering to be recognised as a clinical support service.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Significant work has been done in Wales to improve hospital food and support for patients to eat their food.

“On admission to hospital, the nutritional needs of all patients are assessed and standards are in place to ensure that they receive high quality food consistently in hospitals across Wales.

“This is backed by a nutrition awareness campaign for staff aimed at raising the importance of food and hydration to the same level as that given to medication.

“These are simple things that make a big difference to patients and we hope others will follow the example of the NHS in Wales on this work.”

Good luck – and Bon Appetit!

 

 

 

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Meat – friend or foe?

Bacon sarnies, hot dogs and other no-nos

Coq

 

For some time doctors have been worried about the amount of red meat we eat, particularly processed meat such as bacon, chorizo, ham, hot dogs, pancetta, sausages, salami,  etc.

Now comes an authoratative research study from Harvard School of Public Health;  the results say we should take care.

Announcing the research, senior author Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, says:

“This study provides clear evidence that regular consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to premature death,”

However, it is red meat and processed meat that are suspect, not white meat (chicken, turkey, etc), nuts, fish etc.

 What researchers found out at Harvard

Researchers found that red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality. The results also showed that substituting other healthy protein sources, such as fish, poultry, nuts, and legumes, was associated with a lower risk of mortality.

“Our study adds more evidence to the health risks of eating high amounts of red meat, which has been associated with type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers in other studies,” said lead author An Pan, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH.

Take note of the words ‘high amounts’

If you like meat, this means you should be careful how much you eat every week.  There is no guidance – yet – but it probably means if you eat an average portion of meat every day, you should cut down and replace the protein with another type.  And if you have a plate-sized steak for breakfast – you are likely to be in trouble.

Researchers studied 37,698 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study for up to 22 years and 83,644 women in the Nurses’ Health Study for up to 28 years who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at baseline. Their diets were assessed through questionnaires every four years. A combined 23,926 deaths were documented in the two studies, of which 5,910 were from cardiovascular disease and 9,464 from cancer.

Regular consumption of red meat, particularly processed red meat, was associated with increased mortality risk. One daily serving of unprocessed red meat (about the size of a deck of cards) was associated with a 13 percent increased risk of mortality, and one daily serving of processed red meat (one hot dog or two slices of bacon) was associated with a 20 percent increased risk.

Among specific causes, the corresponding increases in risk were 18 percent and 21 percent for cardiovascular mortality, and 10 percent and 16 percent for cancer mortality. These analyses took into account chronic disease risk factors such as age, body mass index, physical activity, and family history of heart disease or major cancers.

Red meat, especially processed meat, contains ingredients that have been linked to increased risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. These include heme iron, saturated fat, sodium, nitrites, and certain carcinogens that are formed during cooking.

So what do you do?

Think what you are eating.  If you can, replace red meat with another healthy protein source such as poultry or fish.

Replacing one serving of total red meat with one serving of a healthy protein source was associated with a lower mortality risk:

  • 7 percent for fish
  • 14 percent for poultry
  • 19 percent for nuts
  • 10 percent for legumes
  • 10 percent for low-fat dairy products
  • 14 percent for whole grains.

The researchers estimated that 9.3 percent of deaths in men and 7.6 percent in women could have been prevented at the end of the follow-up if all the participants had consumed less than 0.5 servings per day of red meat.

As Hu says, . “ choosing more healthful sources of protein in place of red meat can confer significant health benefits by reducing chronic disease morbidity and mortality.”

Talk to your dietician or doctor

Before cutting red meat out completely, talk to a medical professional.  Red meat isn’t all bad, and offal in particular used to be prescribed for certain illnesses.  Now, when I had had a massive heart op.,  my surgeon tentatively suggested liver, etc. and was pleased when I said I was happy to eat this – about once a week.

Poultry and Game

This ticks all the dieticians’ boxes, but be careful of the source.  If you have ever seen the dreadful conditions under which battery hens are kept, this would put you off for life.  McDonalds has just announced it is sourcing chicken for its nuggets to be served at the London Olympics from sources ‘overseas’, but so far hasn’t given any guarantees that these will be free-range.

Beware of poultry labelled as ‘Fresh’ or ‘British’.  Neither means free-range, and is just a marketing ploy to make customers think they are buying ‘free-range’.  They are not.  It is only ‘free-range’ if it states this clearly on the label.

But most game is free-range, and pheasant, partridge etc. in season (Aug/Oct – February) is not only tasty, but lower in calories than meat.

Fish

Not only is fish delicious, but it is good for us, particularly the ‘coloured’ fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, etc.    The studies didn’t take into account smoked fish, but ask dieticians about smoked salmon, trout etc.

Dieticians say we should eat one – two servings of fish a week per person.

So Bon Appetit with a healthy portion of poultry or fish!

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Has NHS scared off James Martin?

James Martin, British celebrity chef

NHS patients

throw away

food


 

 

We’ve all seen attempts before to change NHS culture, notably when Gerry Robinson came in and demanded to know why hospital operating theatres close at mid-day on a Friday.

But although Robinson’s TV programme asked many questions, and suggested excellent solutions, the NHS still carry on wasting OUR money, and nothing changed.

Same seems to have happened to the excellent work done by TV Chef James Martin.  After having produced an enjoyable and thought-provoking TV series on food at Scarborough  hospital – he’s disappeared.

Emails arrive, asking me how people can contact James as they want to see if their hospital could hire him – but no reply from him, his PR company or the production company.

NHS Waste

Now comes a report saying one in twelve hospital meals is returned uneaten.

According to NHS Trusts, this is costing over £22 million a year.

What is worse, seven Trusts admit that one in five meals is returned – so WHY haven’t they called in Martin?  What is this waste food costing the NHS, let alone the patients’ health?

And the Care Quality Commission are about to issue a report warning of poor NHS practice over nutrition for the elderly.

James Martin’s excellent series made many sensible points, from nutrition to pricing – but the NHS tends to aim for the lowest common denominator – rather than aiming for excellence  (it’s easier).

 

In the TV series, Pat Ball, Sharon and their team at Scarborough Hospital were right behind James, showing that patients can be given tasty, nutritious food – but to pay for this James had set up a restaurant aiming to make a profit which will be ploughed back into hospital food.

 

The scary thing is, when the financial administration look at the books at the end of the year, Pat is going to have to fight very, very hard to keep any profit for the catering dept.

 

We all wish her luck.  She is going to need it to fight off greedy financial gurus wanting to get their hands on any profit.

Bringing in meals

Currently statistics say that 2/3rds of patients will have a meal bought in for them; a very sorry state, but something that happens all round the country.

Even the Doctors at our local hospital (Chelsea and Westminster – supposedly NHS flagship) queue up every lunchtime at Tray Gourmet, a privately-run caterer opposite the hospital,  to buy their baguettes because they are tastier.    Even Michael Winner sent out for their baguettes when he was a patient earlier this year.

But when I approached I.S.S (the hospital caterers) to ask why they couldn’t bring in a private firm that was offering fresh fruit nicely packaged, from a stall outside the hospital’s area – a very dismissive email zinged back, saying I.S.S. supplied fruit.

Yes – they do.  French apples and other fruit from abroad.  But if patients choose a piece of fruit, they can’t have a pudding as well.  And elderly people don’t have the teeth to bite into those hard, sour French apples.

Hospitals should lead the way

Following on from James Martin’s plea to get people eating local produce, why not get NHS hospitals to host Farmers’ markets  on their forecourts, in car parks, atriums, parks, gardens or other areas?  These could not only bring in extra income, but would also show patients and visitors the way to buy healthier food and support British farming.

And echo what Martin was trying to put across in his programme, when he took Scarborough Hospital’s catering staff out to meet local producers.

Royal Brompton Hospital

Again and again this hospital is singled out for excellence in food.  Yet somehow I don’t see a queue of hospital administrators following.

Those of us who have been lucky enough to be patients at the Brompton (lauded in the TV programme) know that their policy of buying free range, local and where possible organic produce pays dividends.  I still lick my lips when I remember their signature liver dish – scrummy!  And I wouldn’t have minded eating it again, if menus are on a weekly cycle.  As one patient remarked when asked if he minded dishes being repeated;  he couldn’t even remember what he ate yesterday – let alone a week before.

Soil Association encouraging better nutrition

The Soil Association (SA) say “We think that good food should always be on the menu in hospitals – to help people get better and improve staff morale”.

“In 2010, a survey revealed that nearly two thirds of people have bought in food from outside hospitals because the meals on offer were so unappetising”.

The association’s  Catering Mark offers patients a guarantee that what’s on the menu is free from controversial e-numbers including aspartame, tartrazine and MSG. Meals are freshly prepared and do not contain artificial trans fats or GM ingredients.  James was very keen that Scarborough Hospital aspire to the SA’s  Bronze Award – and we have to wait to see if Pat and her team achieve this.

Over 10,000 meals which have received Soil Association ‘Food for Life Catering Mark’ bronze award are already being served in hospitals every day. ”

The Soil Association lay down a challenge:

“We know there are many more hospitals serving freshly prepared, locally sourced and organic food. Could your hospital be the first to receive a silver or gold award?”

So get YOUR hospital involved.

“If you are concerned that changing food is too complicated, applying for the Catering Mark can help to make it simpler. We will advise you on the most effective changes to make to your menus and help you overcome any challenges”.

Switching to healthy, sustainable food doesn’t always cost more. One hospital saved £6 million a year by cooking with fresh, local ingredients; another sources yoghurt from a local supplier for two thirds of the price of the nationally approved supplier.

The SA believe that the best hospital food

  • is good for patients
  • good for NHS staff
  • good for British farmers and food businesses
  • good for Britain.

If you agree, why not get your hospital to apply for the Catering Mark and reassure patients that you care about food?

S.A. Award holders

Bronze

* North Bristol NHS Trust
* Nottingham University Hospitals Trust

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Pixley Blackcurrants

Blackcurrants burst out

 

When I try out a blackcurrant drink, that actually tastes of blackcurrant, I almost believe in Fairy Folk.

I am sure you are as fed up as I am with all the ‘new’ flavours  one’s tongue gets assaulted with.

Manufacturers today can’t leave old-fashioned tastes alone, and everything I am sent is ‘improved’.

My tongue is still lac erated from some evil brew I was sent, guaranteed to fill me up with flavonoids, anti-oxidants and anything else the PR boys could come up with, but tasting evil.

So when I was round discussing wines with Rosamund Barton, of R & R Teamwork (she knows her vintages), and she said she was drinking a ‘new’ fruit drink, my ears pricked up.  Thrusting a bottle of Pixley Blackcurrant and Ginger in my hands, I couldn’t wait to try it out.

Sure enough – it actually did taste of Blackcurrants.

Edward the Cordial

How on earch Edward Thompson (known as Edward The Cordial) manages to get a production line going to make enough of the stuff for all fans, but still keep the taste – must be a secret known to Hereford Pixies.

Anyway, it’s good.

Edward is the messianic brains behind the whole operation. He’s passionate about the environment and about creating fruit with real flavour – blackcurrants, apples, raspberries and hops.

He’s also prepared to take risks as seen by his replanting programme, bringing in new blackcurrant varieties, which thrive in our globally warmed climate.

His forward thinking is also shown by the commissioning of his own ‘Pressoir’, the only blackcurrant grower in Britain to be entirely vertically integrated and in control of every element of his production, from the soil to the shelf.
All in all he takes as much care with his fruit cordials as a wine-maker does with his wines.

How I ‘use’ it

It comes to us all – medicine fatigue.  I keep on looking for new ways to disguise the powder Cacit-D for my osteoporosis;  last week I mixed it with tomato juice and that was the worst mistake of all time.  It fizzed up and left a gunky mass of curdling tomato in the glass – Ugh.

But this week I have mixed up a Pixley Blackberry drink, and it is delicious.  The Blackberries can more than hold their own with the powder, and the Ginger seems to give my medicine the extra oomph.

Rosamund suggests a Hot Toddy in the winter;  I would also think it could make a wonderful Kir;  Pixley uses it in fruit and spirit jellies – have fun!

Where can you buy this?

It’s £3.99 for 500 ml bottle (diluted it makes 16 servings of 44 calories each)

www.pixleyberries.co.uk

  • Waitrose stores nationally

www.waitrose.com

  • Ocado, Online Groceries

www.ocado.co.uk

  • Co-op Stores across the West Midlands
  1. Health food shops across the West Midlands
  • Farm shops across the West Midlands

 

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It's Patients' Week – and hospital food shows signs of improvement

 

Putting the ‘oooh’

back into food

Do you remember when you were young, and ill in bed – your Mum coming in with a tray with lots of tempting food?

Well, thanks to James Martin and other brave chefs, Danielle Faulkner of British Food Fortnight says,

“there has been a significant uptake of hospitals taking part in British Food Fortnight this year.

 

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital had a fruit cart outside the door;  sadly, with the cold weather this has disappeared, but whilst it was there friends could buy small packets of delicious peaches, cherries, bananas and other fruit, hygienically wrapped, and easy to carry in to patients.

Perhaps the Governors might be a bit more pro-active and give the vendor permission to operate inside the hospital?  After all, they permit flowers to be sold inside the foyer.

Some of the hospitals who have been in contact with British Food Fortnight include:

  • Roseberry Park Hospital
  • Royal Brompton Hospital
  • Countess of Chester Hospital
  • Southmead Hospital
  • Basildon Hospital

although many more take part too!

British Food Fortnight

Next year dates 27 July – 12 Aug  –   during the Olympics!

If you want to improve your hospital food, keep on at Governors.

Make them realise you are worried about the amount of hospital food that is thrown away.

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Christmas food needn't be too fattening!

English: Turkey (bird)

Image via Wikipedia

 

Autumn food

This article is not for vegetarians, but I must confess that, provided what I am eating has been allowed to roam free, I do enjoy this time of year when pheasant, grouse, partridge and other game is in season.

And, of course, the Christmas Turkey is going to be around for some time.  Don’t groan – it’s one of the healthiest foods you can eat.

British reared turkey is not only tasty, but 100g of grilled breast meat contains just 124 calories and 1.7g of fat. What’s more, there are so many different cuts to choose from, and so many ways to cook them, that you can never tire of turkey.

And if you really want to cheat away the calories, instead of slathering the bird in butter, just use a little, but copy the Belgian way of roasting a bird – cook it upside down with stock or water in the bottom of the tin, and lots of herbs scattered around.  Just turn it over about 20 mins before you take it out of the over, to brown it, and you get a very moist bird.

Check out convenient cuts like turkey mince – perfect for spicy chilli, homemade meatballs and low fat lasagne. Tender turkey strips are just right for speedy stir fries, while tasty leg meat comes ready diced for delicious hot pots and casseroles.

Look out for the familiar farm assured Red Tractor logo alongside the Quality British Turkey mark on the pack. That way you’ll know you are buying meat from producers who achieve high standards.

And look for more recipes on  www.britishturkey.co.uk  call the British Turkey hotline 0800 783 9994.

Pheasant and partridge – or quail
This is known as ‘Game’, and can only be eaten when the females have finished breeding.  They start breeding again February – so the season isn’t long.

If you eat meat, there is growing evidence that we should ensure that chicken and meat we eat is  raised outdoors, eating grass or foraging for fresh food.  This is definitely healthier for us. Anyway, who wants to eat an animal that has been kept caged up all its life?  But game generally roams freely – just be careful when buying quail.

And some of our meat, rabbit and chicken is imported from countries such as China, where food standards and animal welfare may not be up to our standards.

So I asked Alison Jee, meat expert for her advice.

“For everyone, the quality of the meat they eat is paramount.  If you have or are recovering from cancer it is even more important to choose top quality produce, and buy it from a good local butcher, or a supermarket that has high standards.

So choose British meat, and a butcher where you can be sure the meat has been reared in this country to the higest welfare standards.  Look for ‘Quality Standard’ marks from the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) and British Quality Assured Pork (BQAP), the company supplies meat under the ‘Red Tractor’ scheme managed by Assured Food Standards and ‘Free-Range’ criteria.

When eating in a restaurant, ask where they get their meat and chicken from.  Any hesitation, and it could mean that you are eating Chinese battery chicken.  Uggh!

GAME IS LOW IN CALORIES

When you are bored with beef or fancy a change from chicken, it’s time to give game a go!  Pheasant, Partridge, Grouse, Venison – or the almost unknown Snipe or Widgeon, are all products raised in the wild (or almost) that roam free.

Whether you are planning a special treat or want a simple supper that’s on the table in minutes, game will always fit the bill.

Not only is it healthy and nutritious – and almost certainly Organic, but calories are low.

Wk/cals Per 100 grams :

  • Venison  104
  • Chicken 105
  • Partridge 112
  • Pheasant
  • 119 Lamb
  • 172 Beef 191

Supermarkets such as Waitrose are stocking fresh and frozen game, and so do good butchers.  They love to sell Game, and are keen to give recipes for cooking.  Although you can roast it whilst young;  towards the end of the winter when the birds get older, put them into a casserole with veg and red wine – scrummy!

There are lots of country myths about hanging game until it is falling off the string holding it up, and crawling with maggots.  Well, that may be all very well well for some old country codgers, but I was raised in the depths of the country and game that is 3 – 5 days old is just right for me.  So you don’t need to worry too much about it being as fresh as fish, but if you like a ‘softer’, not so game-y taste, then around 5 days is ideal.

However, if you buy a bird and can’t cook it that night, it will happily stay in the fridge for 2 – 3 days.  Or in the freezer for a month or so.

Serve it with bread sauce, or the old way (which was horribly unhealthy) with fried breadcrumbs!  and Game chips.  You can make those by hand or buy good old plain crisps!  Then green and/or roast vegetables such as parsnips and potatoes are scrumptious with these, and don’t be afraid to pick up the bones and gnaw them.  I ha

ve seen the Royal family eating game in a restaurant and happily gnawing a bone.

What wine goes well with game?

I asked Rosamund Barton, of the noted wine agency R & R Teamwork, what wines would go well with game?

She said “these two should go really well with many game dishes”:·

Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages 2009/2010, 12.5% ABV,  rrp £9.49

From:  Tesco, Waitrose , Budgens, Booths, Fresh & Wild, Wholefoods, http://www.yourfavouritewines.com and many independent wine specialists

 

Or/

 

Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Noir 2010, New Zealand,  13.5% ABV, £10.99 Tesco, Co-op, Wholefoods, http://www.nahouseofwine.co.uk

Cheers!  and bon appetit!

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