Friday, 24 May 2013

Gearing up for the bank holiday weekend...

There is something very pleasing about walking into one's kitchen and seeing a full fruit bowl.

There is something even more pleasing when you see a free carton of orange juice next to it! Thank you Abel & Cole!

Our Fruit & Veg box arrived bright and early yesterday, consisting of:

Anjou Pears
Salad potatoes
Baby Spinach
Cherry Tomatoes
Brown mushrooms
Ramiro pepper (red)

Dinner consisted of Ramiro pepper stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in streaky bacon; served with left over broccoli, oven roasted cherry tomatoes and bruschetta topped with pesto and squashed cherry toms. Delicious. Although baby spat out the cherry tomatoes and some ended up on the floor, so I think we can say he is not a tomato fan!
I have a busy bank holiday weekend ahead, starting with a champagne fuelled lunch today for my good friend's 30th at the fabulous Rock & Rose. The food there is delicious and I had to have a sneaky peak at the menu to tease my tastebuds!
Secondly, it's baby boy's 1st birthday this weekend! I can't believe how quickly the year has gone - time certainly does fly. My organic fruit and veg box will be magically transforming into picnic treats on Saturday - let's hope for some sunshine!
Thirdly, I have two more birthday invites for this weekend- lazy Sunday afternoon drinks and family fun on Monday. I predict lots of eating, drinking and laughter!
Enjoy your bank holiday weekend, whatever you are doing! Bye for now.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Is organic food expensive? And is it worth it?

Almost a year ago to the day our lovely son was born. Almost six months ago, to the day, it was time to begin the dreaded weaning process. Being my second child, I was far more relaxed as a mum and I decided to go down the baby led weaning route. Now is not the time to harp on about the benefits of blw, or have a blw vs spoon feeding debate, but this method made sense to me.

Having done a bit of research and completing  a paediatric first aid course (just in case I should have to cope with the dreaded choking incident) I began to realise that this was the most natural course for me to take. I didn’t want to be spoon feeding my baby jar upon jar of processed rubbish and didn't really have time to cook something different and puree it.

 My husband, daughter and I had been a family unit for a good few years before baby no 2 arrived and so there was no changing our lives to suit him, he had to fit in around us and baby led weaning was perfect for this. He could eat when we did.

I did have one concern though. Our diet. Don’t get me wrong, we have never existed solely on take away food and frozen, processed birds eye c**p but I would say two to three meals a week consisted of the aforementioned,  ahem, foods.

I saw this as the perfect opportunity to start eating organically. I wanted to be certain that the foods I was offering to my child were natural in every way.

I took a leaf out of my mother in law's book and decided to place an order with Abel & Cole and braced myself for the extortionate cost. Organic food is expensive, right?

Wrong.  Although undoubtedly more than your supermarket shop, I discovered that my first shop was not as expensive as I had envisaged.

This was my first order:

1 Medium Fruit & Veg Box – 3 fruit and 7 seasonal veg, including potatoes                                              1 Full cream milk litre (for the baby)
1 Little Yeo’s, Yeo Valley Yoghurts 4 x90g (for the baby)
1 Strawberry Yoghurt, Yeo Valley (4x120g)
1 Eggs, Organic Free Range (6 medium)
1 Wholemeal Loaf, Sliced
1 Red Leicester, Lye Cross Farm
1 Organic Free Range Chicken, whole, with giblets 1.5kg
Beefburgers (454g, pack of 4)
Pork Sausages, Free Range (400g, pack of 6)

Organic food is fulfilling and fabulous. It is not cheap but that’s because it is natural and not sprayed in chemicals to give it a longer shelf life. Supermarkets have lulled us into a false sense of reality by making us think that a chicken costs £3 and a leg of lamb costs £8. Try to clear your mind. How much do you think a chicken or a lamb’s life is worth? I am no vegetarian and could not survive without a juicy piece of meat most days but I feel happy that the animal I am eating has had a good life and I know that it is good and natural for me to eat it. I don’t think I could feel comfortable eating a factory farmed animal now, or an animal that I didn’t know the origins of.

To get back to the point, the reason that I don’t find organic food as expensive as I had envisaged is because I have found that I don’t need to buy as much food as I previously had from supermarkets. As a result I spend about the same amount each week as I had done previously from Sainsburys. An old dinner of sausages, mash and beans used to consist of three sausages each for my husband and I; now we have two sausages each - in fact, I reckon I could manage with one. The quality is a million times better and the taste is out of this world, but actually, this is just what ‘meat’ tastes like. I had forgotten, or simply become accustomed to supermarket meat.  
Our roast chicken was succulent and juicilicious! (Yes, I had to create a word to capture it's awesomeness.) Stuffed with lemon and thyme and served with crispy roast pots and carrots, brocolli and peas the family loved it, plus my first attempt at giblet stock and gravy wasn't bad. The left over chicken was used to make a chicken/tomato pasta bake the following evening - and so in my opinion the £9 chicken was well worth every penny as we got two meals out of it, probably could have stretched to three had we not all been such greedy goats.

The weekly Fruit & Veg Box is such a surprise – and relief. You never know what you are going to get each week (although you can have a sneaky peek on the website if you want to). We are all eating so much more fruit and veg than we had done previously. Yes I’ve always known we are supposed to eat five a day, but not being a fan of many vegetables before, I always found it hard to implement into my family’s lifestyle and consequently my ten year old daughter has always been a somewhat fussy eater.

Oh how times have changed! The Fruit & Veg Box is great because when it arrives I can plan what we are having each night. At first I looked at the bag of potatoes and thought ‘that’s never going to last us all week’ but how wrong was I?! We must have been eating a mountain of potatoes before! Now I cook on average one ‘normal’ size or two small potatoes per person (whether it be homemade chips, wedges, mash or roast) and this is more than enough. I always want to use up everything in the box because I know that it is such great produce, and so will look up recipes to help me cook these strange looking green things that I have never seen or heard of before. Abel & Cole even send you a free recipe book! I feel like a child all over again, tasting new things! I love vegetables! (something those who know me will know I would never have said before!) But more importantly my children are learning to love them and are eating a healthy and well balanced diet.

I am now on my fifth order and this is what arrives each week:

1 Medium Fruit & Veg Box – last week consisting of:
Asparagus                                                                                                                                                     Carrots                                                                                                                                                       Fairtrade Bananas
Gala Apples
Green Pointed Cabbage
Nicola Potatoes
Star Ruby Grapefruit
White Mushrooms
Yellow Pepper

1 Full cream milk litre (for the baby)
1 Little Yeo’s, Yeo Valley Yoghurts 4 x90g (for the baby)
1 Eggs, Organic Free Range (6 medium)

I then pop online on Sunday or Monday night and order whatever else we fancy for the coming week. Easy. And so much less stressful than dragging yourself round a supermarket.

So, a long first post. Well done if you got this far! To answer the questions in the title and sum up, in my opinion, yes, it is slightly more expensive to buy organic food but no, it's also not as expensive because your eating habits will completely change.  As to the second question, simply yes. From my experience it is definitely worth it.
Happy eating and remember, fill your body with goodness. If you’re good to your body it’ll be good to you.