B for baking and so much more!
une in for baking, bananas, boiling and bread.
Baking is a brilliant way to cook. It's healthy and often leads to much more flavoursome food.
Here are five food facts about this healthy method of cooking!
1. Baking is a healthy way to cook food.
Generally because of the lack of oil needed to cook foods compared to frying or roasting, baking is a healthier, lower-fat cooking method.
2. When baking foods, the often tend to end up tastier.
When compared to boiling foods, baking is a much tastier way of cooking as it tends to lock in flavour rather than boiling where flavour can often leech in to the water
3. A big one...baking can help with mental health!
Baking of items like cakes and bread has been proven to be associated with the ability to ease anxiety and depression (what better reason to get that mixing bowl out!!)
4. Baking is a slower method of cooking.
Compared to methods like frying and boiling, baking is a much gentler method of cooking and takes longer in comparison to other cooking methods.
6. Baking better retains the nutritional value of foods
Food often retains its nutrient value better when being baked, as there is no liquid to leech its nutrients in to.
How to: stop your cake from sinking
We all love a delicious baked sponge cake, but so often they come out of the oven and are sunk in the middle with a crater like hole.
This can happen for a couple of reasons but often if the cake is not cooked enough and under baked, this can cause it to sink in the middle.
Another reason can be opening the door during cooking which can cause the cake to sink. So next time you're getting out the mixing bowls and making a delicious sponge cake for tea, follow these two hacks and see if you can stop your cake from sinking!
Food hack: Crispy-topped dishes
When baking any sort of dish that might need a crispy top; lasagne, shepherds pie, basically anything that is a pasta dish or a potato-topped dish, if you want to ensure a really crispy topping, there are two options: either sprinkle with a mix of cheese and breadcrumbs or a mix of cheese and crushed up crisps!
Quick Eats: Baked Eggs
The most delicious dish that is simply, comforting and tasty and can be served as an easy supper or lunch with toast.
Pre-heat the oven to 180oC.
Use ramekins (or small individual oven proof dishes)
Cook some streaky bacon (about 1/2 to 1 slice per person)
Chop it up and put it in the bottom of the ramekin
(optional - add a squirt of ketchup in to bottom of the ramekin with the bacon if that's what you like!!)
Crack an egg on top of the bacon - then if you have some, pour over a little double cream on top of the egg - and pop in the oven for 5-8 minutes until just set.
I like the eggs to be slightly wobbly. It's rich and delicious!
Another incredibly versatile cooking method that can be used for all sorts of cooking - whether it's cooking in a flavoured liquid, or simply water.
Whether it's cooking vegetables or meat or eggs. The options are endless.
When cooking using boiling as a method however, be careful as depending on what you are doing, too much water when boiling can lead to very flavourless dishes!
Five top facts on boiling as a cooking method
Boiling concentrates flavour
Keepings something rapidly boiling helps reduce liquids quickly. It's a great way to make sauces.
2. Boiling is used to enhance the texture of some foods
Boiling is used to improve the texture of some foods such as starchy foods like potatoes, and tougher proteins such as lentils and pulses. It helps to make them edible and digestible.
3. Boiling can revive grains and other foods
Dried foods like pasta and rice and other pulses / legumes, can be revived again and made soft and tender and more importantly edible through boiling.
4. Boiling up meat, bones, carcasses or vegetables is a great way to make a nutritious stock.
Stock is a hugely flavourful and nutritious liquid. Often when cooking meat or vegetables, especially when in water, nutrients can be lost. That is why using the cooking liquid for either a stock or turning it in to a soup or adding it in to a stew, is a great way to ensure you consume any leached nutrients that might have gone in to the water.
Quick Hack: How to know when water is boiling
You can tell when your pan of water is boiling and ready to go when you bubbles rapidly appearing on the surface of the water and breaking and steam is coming off the pan.
Add salt to boiling water when cooking vegetables helps to speed up the cooking of the vegetables. It also helps flavour starchy foods like pasta and stops them being so sticky. Roughly for 500g of pasta add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of salt to the water.
Quick Eats: Boiled Dippy Egg and Soldiers
An all time favourite and an easy go to meal that fills a hungry tummy anytime of the day; breakfast, lunch or supper.
Follow the instructions below:
Bring a small pan of water to a fast boil (lots of big bubbles are coming . Make sure it is deep enough and the pan is filled with enough water to cover an egg fully.
Use a timer. The difference in a hard boiled egg and a perfectly runny one is literally seconds so a timer is always essential.
Another key tips is to have the eggs at room temperature - as having them in the fridge can alter the timings.
Carefully lower them in to the water and cook for 4 minutes 45 seconds / 5 minutes depending on the size of the egg.
While you are cooking the egg, make some toast. I love to spread on a good serving of butter and grind a little fresh black pepper and salt on the toast. Or adding Marmite or any yeast extract alternative (if you are a fan) is DELICIOUS!
Slice in to fingers and dip in to your runny eggs!! Yummy!
A food fact on the letter B wouldn't be complete without the inclusion of the nation's most loved diet staple; bread.
It's a simple food made in its most basic form from a dough made of flour (often wheat) mixed with water. A lot of commercial breads however have preservatives added in order to increase their shelf life.
It comes in all shapes, sizes, tastes, consistencies, flavours, artisan/ non-artisan, the list is literally endless.
Here are five food facts about bread.
1. Brown Bread is more nutritious than white bread
If you have the option, try and eat wholegrain bread where you can. White bread is often over processed and has very little nutritional value. However if you are eating things like proper sourdough bread then this is a different story as sourdough even though it is a white bread, due to the way it is made with a 'starter' allows the body to uptake its nutrients much more effectively.
2. Bread is a good source of calcium
Unfortunately this applies to processed bread (e.g. sliced bread you find on your supermarket shelves).
However, processed bread is fortified with calcium to help maintain healthy teeth and bones.
3. Bread is a good source of energy
Less processed breads and wholegrain breads are good sources of carbohydrate which can help provide energy throughout the day.
4. Feel good factor
Carbohydrates increase the brain's levels of serotonin which is responsible for making us feel happy, boosts your mood and stops sweet cravings.
5. Low in fat
Bread is a relatively low fat food. Just be careful with what you load it with! That's where the hidden calories creep in!
How to: Use up stale bread
Stale bread is bread that isn't mouldy - it's just gone hard and dried out. It's pretty inedible with regards to normal uses for bread - however there is lots you can do with it so that you can still use it and save it from the bin.
Turn it in to breadcrumbs.
You can do this by putting stale bread in to a bag and bashing it up with a rolling pin. To stop the bag from bursting - I'd recommend putting a tea towel over it.
You can also blitz it up in a food processor as well.
Put it in an airtight container like a jam jar or tupperware and then store in the fridge or in the freezer and take out and use as and when necessary.
Food Hack: Do you always waste bread?
Bread can often be the thing that is either eaten incredibly quickly or ends up going mouldy and then has to be thrown away. There of course if it goes stale, is the option above to turn it in to breadcrumbs but if you are finding that you'd really rather eat the bread as 'bread' rather than having to use in it breadcrumb form, my best tip is to put it in freezer. If it is pre-sliced - put it in the freezer and just take out a slice and pop in the toaster as you want to eat it.
If you buy a full loaf. Slice then freeze the loaf - that way you can bring out a piece at a time and not worry about the loaf going stale before you eat it.
Quick Eats: Simply Eggy Bread
If you haven't had eggy bread before, I highly recommend it!
Mix together 1 or 2 eggs and a little bit of milk. You want to have a slight thickness to it but not to be as runny as just milk.
Cut one or two slices of bread and soak in the egg-mixture. Use a fork to prod the bread to make sure the egg mixture really saturates the bread.
When you have left it soaking for a few minutes (the longer the better!), turn it over - and again prod with a fork. You want it to get really soggy and to let the egg mixture really get in to the bread.
Heat a large frying pan on a medium heat. Melt a little butter ideally or use an oil of your choice.
Add the eggy bread and gently cook until golden on the side touching the pan before turning over. As it cooks, it should puff up and get quite spongy and fluffy.
Once golden on both sides, remove from the pan.
Serve with one of the following:
Bacon and maple syrup
Golden syrup or honey
Berries, Greek yoghurt and banana
Cinnamon and icing sugar
or even ketchup for something more savoury.
One of my personal favourites is maple syrup, bacon, and some raspberries all together.
Sweet, salty, and totally scrummy.
The glorious sweet yellow fruit that goes with so many sweet and savoury flavours, and that is a great energy giver.
Five food facts about bananas
Bananas are high in potassium
Potassium is an important mineral for heart health.
2. Bananas help moderate bloody sugar levels
Bananas are low GI (glycemic index) which means in healthy individuals, they are unlikely to cause a major spike in blood sugar levels.
3. Bananas are good source of dietary fibre
Bananas have a lot of dietary fibre. Fibre is linked to many health benefits but especially improving digestion.
4. Bananas are a very easy food to add to your diet.
Bananas are a very easy and nutritious food to add as a snack or as an additional to cereal, porridge, smoothies, yoghurts or in to cakes.
5. Bananas are high in anti-oxidants
Bananas may help reduce the risk of heart disease or other degenerative diseases
How to: Store bananas
Store at room temperature - do not refrigerate a green banana. Once a banana is ripe, you can then store it in the fridge (the skin will continue to turn brown but the banana inside will be fit to eat for about a week). Alternatively you can chop it up and freeze it without its skin.
Food hack: How to speed up the ripening of a banana
You can speed up the ripening of a banana by storing them in a brown paper bag or placing near ripe fruit. Ripe fruit emits a gas (ethylene) which causes ripening. On the flipside - if you want to slow the ripening on bananas take them away from other ripened bananas or fruit.
Quick Eats: Banana and peanut butter on toast
The most simple and delicious breakfast, lunch, or even light supper - or snack if you're feeling really peckish.
The peanut butter is a great source of protein and also a certain amount of good fats and the banana is a good source of potassium, fibre and slow release energy.
This goes so well on proper German Rye bread which is again full of nutrition for you. But any toast will do!
Incredibly simple - all you do is:
Toast your bread
Layer on the peanut butter to the hot toast
and add sliced banana - or mash the banana in to the peanut butter.
If you don't like peanut butter - you could always as a small drizzle of honey to the banana instead.
You can also add in strawberries like they have done here too!
This is also a great energy giver without the toast - just load up a banana with some peanut butter.
Try chopping up banana and adding it as a topping to a curry and sprinkling with desiccated coconut when you serve it. It's delicious.