NATIONAL ASPARAGUS DAY 23RD APRIL…

National Asparagus Day is on 23rd April for all asparagus lovers to enjoy lots of different recipes which include asparagus.

The website British Asparagus are counting down the days to 23rd April.

Their site is full of recipes, how to cook asparagus, facts about asparagus, where to buy asparagus, how to grow asparagus, health facts about asparagus and videos on asparagus.

One fascinating fact is that ‘Asparagus is dubbed the Usain Blot of the vegetable world as British asparagus can grow up to 10cm in one day!’ (ooh must try and grow some).

On a healthy note, eating asparagus promotes healthy bacteria in the large intestine and can help reduce bloating.

St. George’s Day has also become synonymous with National Asparagus Day, as the date marks the start of the English Asparagus.

The British Asparagus Festival is normally held on this day but due to Covid-19 is not taking place. For many years, Vale of Evesham asparagus has become more and more popular following the success of the famous asparagus auctions at The Fleece Inn at Bretforton. Talks between tourism industry providers and local growers took place to decide how the area could capitalise on this popularity and “fill in” the week between the auctions at The Fleece with other asparagus related events.

According to National Awareness Days every year, the “100 round” – comprising of 120 spears are delivered to a special recipient by Gus the Asparagus Man, together with a fleet of Morgan cars. At his side is the world-renowned asparagus fortune teller, Jemima Packington, Saint George himself and the Asparagus Fairy, together with a retinue of Morris Dancers and colourful characters, all dressed in green. Hopefully all will be back to normal next year.

GUESS HOW MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF TEA THERE ARE IN THE WORLD?…

How many different types of tea are there in the world?

I LOVE TEA

There are over 20,000 different teas in the world, according to Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss in The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook: A Guide to the World’s Best Teas.

They also say that Tea breaks are a tradition that have been with us for approximately 200 years, and by the mid 18th C tea replaced ale and gin as the drink of the masses to become Britain’s most popular beverage.

Tea is also a natural source of fluoride that can help protect against tooth decay and gum disease.

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BAKE YOURSELF CALM BY BAKING BREAD…

In an article in Prima Magazine Pauline Beaumont, counsellor and author of Bread Therapy: The Mindful Art of Bread Making she says, ” By mindfully making a loaf of nutritious bread, you will give yourself the satisfaction of creating something lovely, from scratch, with your own hands, something which has huge benefits for your mental wellbeing.

It’s an opportunity to give yourself some time: to slow you down, soothe and ground you, and create a moment of quiet calmness. From kneading dough, to taking a delicious-smelling freshly baked loaf out of a hot oven, bread-making can be a mindful experience and a therapeutic craft that can nurture and nourish us. As yeast transforms flour and water, so making bread can transform us and our lives.

As we seek ‘slow skills’ to free us from the digital world we are inhabiting more and more, and mindful activity to help us manage our mental wellbeing, so bread-making is experiencing a renaissance. This book will guide you through the art of bread making, with insight into the benefits of this ancient craft which will nourish mind and body. It celebrates bread making as a way of understanding ourselves better, learning important life lessons and making positive changes to our mental and physical wellbeing. It features eight simple bread recipes to get you started on your bread-making journey.

Pauline Beaumont is a passionate bread baker, mother of six and counsellor who believes fervently in the power of bread-making to aid our emotional and psychological wellbeing.

Amazon ReviewWe love this book as it sums up exactly how we feel about bread. Bread is like a small animal; it needs feeding, resting and quite a lot of love to get it to feel right. Caring for it gives you a huge buzz. Bread also has the ability to care for you and making bread is such a simple and pure way of boosting mental wellbeing. Pauline’s book captures the magic of this equation beautifully. — Alex and Kitty Tait, founders of The Orange Bakery

BAKING TIPS MONDAY – REMOVING YOUR CAKE SAFELY…

On Baking Tips Monday this week I am writing about how to remove your cake without any problems.

To easily remove your cake from a loose-bottomed tin, place on a tin can or jar and press the side of the tin downwards.

To remove a cake from a solid tin, run a knife around the outside of the cake then place a plate over the tin and invert it.

If your cake is particularly rounded or uneven, then level it off with a sharp knife before decorating.

To prevent your cake from sticking to a plate or board, dust the surface with icing sugar.

When the cake is loose, turn the pan upside down and gently ease the cake out and onto the cooling rack or plate. The best type of knife to use is a non-serrated or palette knife. Or use a thin nylon spatula.

If the cake still won’t come out then when the cake is cool, preheat the oven again to about 250. Put the cake back into the oven for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the pan over to rest on a cooling rack. The cake should slide nicely out of the pan.

CHOCOLATE WITH ALL THE GOODNESS BUT NOT THE CALORIES…

I am a chocoholic and proud to be one. From an early age when away at school all my chocolate in my tuck box would be eaten first then I would do a never-ending amount of jobs for senior girls in order to get some more. I really should have opened a chocolate shop before now. I’ve even been on a chocolate diet ! and ‘no’it did not work but it was rather enjoyable.

However, we all know it’s not good for our waist line nor our teeth but over the years it does get some good press as being good for your heart in the right format and the amount you eat. Chocolate is made from cocoa, which contains polyphenols, which may work as antioxidants that lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and reduce blood pressure. Some experts suggest that eating some chocolate every day can decrease your risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Cocoa contains epicatechins and catechins, which are similar to the polyphenols found in green tea; and quercetin, which is found in fruits and vegetables. Dark chocolate has more antioxidants than milk chocolate because certain processing methods remove the polyphenols, which have a bitter flavor.

Dr. Arebi on Net Doctor wrote “Fermentation in the bean and subsequent extraction generates cocoa butter and releases a variety of vitamins and minerals such as potassium and anti-oxidants,” she explains.

“Cocoa beans also contain dopamine, phenylethylamine and serotonin, chemicals with powerful antidepressant properties that also promote wellbeing. In addition, theobromine is another component of the cocoa bean and has caffeine like properties.”

And she says that many more healthy chemicals are released when chocolate is fermented in our intestines by our gut bacteria, citing research that showed the antioxidants released are similar to those found in green tea.

So, where can we buy chocolate that is that bit healthier but tastes as good as ordinary chocolate? Well there are many companies out there with healthier chocolate treats for us in fact far to many for me to write about in one post so instead I am going to write a regular post on it with all the information I have found about each company.

To start off this regular slot my first post is all about a company called The Skinny Food Company, The Skinny Food Co. was founded in May 2018. James Whiting and Wayne Starky (Directors) have previous experience in the food and beverage/health and wellness market and have discovered the need for great, tasty, and healthy products. It is promoted by diabetic family members who avoid so many favorite foods. This brand was born with the release of zero-calorie syrups, healthy, almost zero table sauces, and shortly thereafter.

Some of the products which I cannot wait to try are-

The Chocolate Flavoured Zero Calories Syrup at £3.99

The Prodigy Chunky Chocolate Low Sugar Vegan Chocolate Bars at £1.99

The Skinny High Protein Milk Chocolate Crispies at £1.25

The Double Chocolate 3 calories a cup drink at £2.49

The 92% less sugar Chocolate Spread at £3.99

I don’t need to go any further as I am sure your mouth will be watering by now but I promise I will follow up after I have tried some of these and another post on chocolate for fewer calories.