The importance of water

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After a walk to Flitwick Moor I began thinking about tonic water and drinking water for good health. I can’t imagine I would ever dare drink the water from the River Flit as I am sure it is full of various pollutions and I have not seen any springs to drink from during my walks.

Since studying at CNM I have gained a better understanding of why water is so essential to life and good health. After eliminating fizzy drinks from this house I found I was drinking more water but still not enough. So I have set myself a new goal to make drinking more water a habit in our household.

To do this I have to first gather my ammunition as Jim likes facts and I will need his support. Here are a few things I feel that are important to know which I have learnt through my studies and further research.

Firstly some stats……

75% of the body consists of water
95% of the brain consists of water
83% of blood is water

Then some reasons why our body needs water……

  • To transport nutrients and oxygen
  • To maintain body temperature
  • To aid digestion
  • To lubricate organs and joints
  • To eliminate toxins
  • To metabolise body fat
  • It is essential for our immune system
  • It is required by each cell in our body to function properly
  • It aids in the recovery of illness

How much water should you drink?

The common response to this is 8 glasses a day. A common formula used to calculate it is to divide your body weight in lbs. by 2. In fact it can vary with how heavy you are, how hot it is and how much you exercise. However if you feel thirsty and tired and/or your urine is dark it is a good indicator that you may not be drinking enough.

Actually a large number of us are dehydrated and this is known to reduce our physical and mental functions.

I used a simple water tracking app called waterlogged over this last week to track my own water intake. The results were not good and my consumption was far less than I expected.

So what can we do in order to increase are water intake as a family?

  • Keep a jug of water in the fridge and on the table at meal times
  • Eat foods such as melon, grapes and tomatoes which have a higher water content
  • Track what we drink
  • Add fruit to water such as lemons, limes and strawberries in order to make naturally flavoured waters
  • Drink herbal teas
  • Drink in the morning and before bed
  • Keep drinking water easily at hand
  • Associate water with good memories and good health
  • Make interesting water based drinks and interesting ice cubes
  • Make drinking water a habit

Megan and I made grape cubes today. They took less than 15mins to make and approximately two hours to freeze. The inspiration for these came from a book by Brian Preston-Campbell called Cool Waters.

We used grapes but blueberries, raspberries or strawberries would be great alternatives.

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To make these you will need a hand blender, 3 ice cube trays, a fine sieve, a measuring jug, 3 mugs of water and 250g of seedless red grapes.

For each ice cube you will need half a grape. Cut grapes and place in trays. Blend the remaining grapes with one mug of water. Then sieve the blended mix into measuring jug and add remaining 2 mugs of water and stir. Pour the grape water into the ice cube trays and freeze.

Sausage Muffins

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Trying to persuade a picky eater to eat can sometimes be quite time-consuming and fruitless as I found out today. Yesterday I found a recipe on the Internet for Meatloaf Cupcakes I felt sure I was on to a winner. So today I went to Flitton Hill Farm Shop to buy as many of the ingredients as I could. Unfortunately for me they didn’t have any mince but they did have Breakheart Hill Farm sausage meat. This sausage meat is 75% meat and from pigs that have been reared on a free range farm in Bedfordshire.

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On returning home and looking at the recipe and what I had in my cupboard it was obvious I was going to have to be creative in order to produce the meal I had promised for dinner.

Here are the ingredients I used:

2 tbsp. of Griffin Farm extra virgin rapeseed oil
1/2 Chopped Onion
3 Grated Carrots
2 Garlic Cloves
325g of baby tomatoes
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
500g Breakheart Hill Farm Sausage Meat
2 pieces of old bread for breadcrumbs
2 Large Breakheart Hill Farm Free Range eggs
Cooking spray
1 kg Flitton Hill Potatoes
5g of Butter
2 tbsp. of Milk
Bacon Bits to sprinkle on top

I put the oven on to pre-heat at 200 while I prepared the vegetables. I chopped the onion, peeled and grated the carrot and peeled the potatoes.

Then I added a tbsp. of Griffin Farm Rapeseed oil to a saucepan over a medium heat. When the oil had warmed I added the onions, the carrots and the garlic and sautéed until the onions where a light golden brown. I put to one side to cool.

Next I put the potatoes on raising the water temperature to boiling and then reducing to a simmer for 20 minutes.

Whilst the potatoes boiled I took two pieces of bread and with the hand blender reduced them to breadcrumbs.

As we didn’t have enough tomato ketchup in the fridge, and I didn’t have time to make homemade ketchup or to blanch and peel tomatoes, I made a vinegar tomato mix.

To do this I heated 1 tbsp. of Griffin Farm extra virgin rapeseed oil in a small saucepan, added the baby plum tomatoes and cooked into a pulp with the aid of a wooden spoon. I then added two tbsp. of white wine vinegar and one tsp. of sugar for sweetness and blended the contents of the pan until it was smooth.

Next I emptied the sausage meat, the carrot onions and garlic mix, the breadcrumbs, the vinegar tomato mix, and two beaten eggs into a large bowl and mixed together with a hand blender.

I then sprayed my cupcake holders with a light dusting of oil before filling them with the mixture and placing them on a baking tray and into the oven for 25 minutes.

I drained the potatoes which were now nice and soft when forked and left over the pan in a sieve for at least 5 minutes before returning them to the pan. I then added milk and butter and with my blender I made a buttery mash potato mix.

When the oven timer beeped, I removed the tray of sausage muffins from the oven, piped the mash as best as I could over the muffins, and sprinkled bacon bits on top.

As I am a recent convert to vegetarianism I confess I have no idea what the muffins tasted like but my husband and eldest daughter liked them. The two youngest being the pickiest failed to even try a fork full but raved about the left over mash. This was obviously not quite the response I had hoped for :-(

No more fizzy drinks for me.

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It’s been nagging at me for a while now. I remember my friends telling me a few years ago that it wasn’t good for me. I remember the reports way back in 2007 about the cancer risks of aspartame. I promised myself on New Year’s Eve that I was going to stop drinking it. I wonder what it is doing to my stomach if the kids use it to clean their coins with. Today I read a news report which yet again suggested that soft fizzy drinks are really not that good for you. This time the colouring was linked to cancer if you drank vast quantities. I wondered why I just didn’t give up today.

As I pondered on this I wondered how much of our weekly shopping bill went on fizzy drinks. Firstly I calculated the cost on a weekly basis and then on an annual basis. Then I calculated my share of the cost. I was quite frankly shocked by how much we were spending as a family on soft drinks. I drink quite a few cans a week so for me alone the cost was £300 annually. It seemed daft to me that although I don’t smoke and I rarely drink alcohol, I was still ready until today to spend £300 a year on something that most of us know is not healthy.

I have made the choice to finally put a stop to it and drink more water and now I need to encourage the family to stop by sharing the facts and figures with them.

When I was a child, fizzy drinks were occasional treats. I would like to see a move in that direction in our house for the benefits of our health and budgets.

Leak, potato and carrot soup

The reason I visited Flitton Hill Farm Shop today was primarily to buy lunch for Jim and I, and to get some staples for the week.

My favourite vegetable is leeks, so I love this time of year. The leeks I bought today were not only grown and sold in Flitton, they were consumed in Flitton and lovely they were too.

For information of what is in season and what is being grown at Flitton Hill Farm Shop visit their website or alternatively try http://www.eattheseasons.co.uk/ where many seasonal recipes can be found.

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At the moment my husband and two of my daughters are enjoying the homemade soups. (Emily is still refusing to try :-() I love the comments I am getting about the smell of the cooking, and the joy of watching it all disappear. We waste far too much food in this house and that needs to change.

I have been making soup for years. My mother quite regularly makes soups and I think it was from her that I learnt how to make them. I can’t remember ever trying to make one from a recipe in a cookery book or from the Internet. The soups I make are not runny. They are thick with fresh vegetables. It’s the only way I know how to make soup and I much prefer it to soup from a can. They are most definitely a good source of fibre in our diets.

So this is how soup is currently made in my house but in time this may change.

Ingredients

5 Local potatoes
1/2 Organic Onion
Approximately a tbsp. of local rapeseed oil
3 Leeks
2 Carrots
500ml of Organic Vegetable stock
500ml of hot water

1. Peel chop and prepare vegetables for cooking.
2. Heat oil in large saucepan; add the onion and the leeks and sauté until softened.
3. Add vegetable stock and hot water.
4. Add potatoes and carrots. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft when pricked with a knife.
5. Remove from stove and blend with a hand blender adding more hot water if required for consistency.

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The Money Debate

I walked into the kitchen with my local meat. Organically reared beef from Croxton Park, St Neots I was feeling very proud of myself but unsure what the reaction at home would be as organic meat might be seen as unacceptably expensive compared to organic fruit and veg. As expected the question came “So how does that compare to the local supermarket?”

So I did the maths. I went to mysupermarket.co.uk and compared the prices across the stores. The supermarkets vary their store prices and receive a significant proportion of the price you pay with the farmer rumoured to receive a mere 9p of every pound spent. Today I am sorry to say the meat was more expensive at Flitton Hill Farm Shop. I am pleased though to say only by 1p which would easily be consumed in petrol when visiting the local supermarket.

Phew, I have that feel good factor again :-). In these harsh economic times, supporting our local businesses is crucial or else they will just disappear. Supporting local farmers who go the extra mile and provide us with organic food products is very much what I want to be doing.

Meat has now joined the honey, fruit and veg on my local food shopping list :-)

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But is meat good for you? That’s a question for another day?

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Lovefre.sh love Flitton Hill Farm Shop

We are really lucky to have an Organic Farm Shop very close to us. So expect to hear a lot about my visits to Flitton Hill Farm Shop.

Today during my visit to the shop I trialled the iPhone app Lovefre.sh . This is a social app with the goal to discovering local fresh food. The principle behind the app I love but none of my favourite local places had been marked on their map :-(. Which gave me a chance to use the app :-) .

I logged in and joined the service but you can check in at places anonymously basically you earn points when you check in. I am still not sure of the benefits of earning the points other than self gratification that you are sharing the discovery of fresh local food with others. The check in process is simple you just fill in a few fields describing the location and add a picture and a voice memo if you like. There are options for Facebook and twitter also. Other users can then love places which have been added to Lovefre.sh.

I will continue to add some of my favourite locations into Lovefre.sh. I am pleased to see Flitton Hill Farm shop marked now on their map even if I had to do it myself.

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Priestley Honey Digestive Biscuits

My youngest daughter Megan does not have a very varied diet and is very particular about what she eats and often quite stubborn. I have recently started cooking with her which I hope will encourage her to at least try a greater variety of foods.

On Saturday I stopped at the fruit and veg market stall in Ampthill. Here I found some local honey called Priestley Honey that is made in Flitwick. The idea that the honey was made from bees which may have visited our garden made it appealing to both myself and my daughter Megan.

One of the things I want Megan to get an understanding of is what goes into the food we eat. In order to do this I made Chocolate Digestive Biscuits with her. At some point we will make them again. Then we will look at our recipe and the ingredients in a common brand as listed on their label and perform a taste test to see which we prefer.

I hope that our Priestley Honey Digestive Biscuits will win the taste test. Although my grandfather kept bees I am actually not that fond of honey but the way the Priestley Honey dripped of the spoon was quite wonderful and almost tempted me to eat it directly from the spoon.

Honey itself contains antioxidants, has anti-bacterial properties and for many years has been included as part of a number of natural remedies. The most commonly known probably being its use as a cure for a sore throat.

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Here is our recipe.

100g Organic Oats
100g Wholemeal flour
1tbsp Organic baking powder
50g Light soft brown sugar
100g Organic Butter
3 tbsp Priestley Honey
2 tbsp of water

1. Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and mix. ( Organic oats, Wholemeal flour, Organic baking powder, light soft brown sugar)
2. Melt the butter in a small pan on the hob and add in the water and honey and stir together.
3. Add to dry ingredients and mix together
4. Leave mixture in fridge for 30mins
5. Retrieve from fridge and roll mixture flat on board.
6. Cut into desired biscuit shapes and place on baking tray
7. Cook in oven at 200 for 15mins or until golden brown.
8. Dip in melted chocolate if desired.

Megan’s were a huge success and came out looking like this. They are very sweet crunchy oat biscuits.

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Will the Flitton Phone box book exchange benefit my health?

I often pickup the Evening Standard to read on my way home from college. Recently I have also been picking up the Stylist for Rebecca to flick through for some fashion ideas. Last night the Evening Standard didn’t hold my attention for the whole trip home so I started to browse through the Stylist and found an article which referenced some research which has shown that re-reading books that we have read during a happy time in our lives can be good for our mental health.

As I drove home I passed our Flitton phone box and reflected on the news from the Flit n’ More that the phone box is soon to be used as a village book exchange.
I realised that not only could the old phone box have a new use but it could also have health benefits for those of us that made the effort to take a walk and use it.

More details of the research mentioned on this blog entry can be read here at the Telegraph.

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Welcome to Flitton Tonic

Hi my name is Fiona and this is my blog relating to nutrition. I am currently studying for a Diploma in Nutrition at CNM London.

In this blog I will write about the impact of nutritional changes on myself and my family, discuss nutrition news, and mention the odd iPhone app or other technology that has helped me to make changes along the way. I will also talk about the books and films that have impacted on my own personal choices regarding nutrition, as well as local farm shops, local produce and farmers markets, a few seasonal recipes and a little about my course and how my study is progressing.

Why Flitton Tonic?

Once upon a time, a tonic for the blood was made from the springs on Flitwick Moor. Flitwick Moor extends between Flitwick and Greenfield and is within distance from my house. I expect Flitwick tonic was sold and used in Flitton as a natural remedy.

I hope that my blog will become a guide to local food and its possible usage as a tonic .

What are my values in terms of food nutrition and health?

1. Eat more fruit and vegetables
2. Eat less processed food
3. Eat organic and local where possible.
4. Keep active.
5. Promote Natural solutions and well being