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The Scoop

Food and nutrition blog

About the blog  St Helen's award-winning food  2018 blog posts

Global food

6 February

Year 8 enjoyed cooking and presenting food from other cultures at the end of their food and nutrition course. They prepared some really interesting dishes, such as gyoza and mochi (Japan), Korean noodles, sushi, Dutch and Austrian pancakes, matcha cupcakes, Indian sweets (‘gulab jamun’), Lithuanian potato cakes and Spaetzle (a German pasta). Here are some of the highlights.


Managing disasters

14 January 2020

Year 9 were ‘off timetable’ on Friday for a day of disaster management, where geography and the creative subjects challenged students in new ways. In food and nutrition students were asked to work in pairs to create a range of dishes without the use of any recipes, and with a 'mystery tray' of ingredients. Past cooking experience definitely helped but every dish was edible (!) and students enjoyed tasting the various concoctions. Gnocchi made from scratch was a culinary highlight, as were the lemon drizzle and raspberry hearts. One pair made an amazing breakfast dish of potato rosti, homemade baked beans and egg baked inside bacon. Here are some photos of the experience.


Have a very Green Christmas!

4 December

In Year 7 and 8 we have been discussing Christmas and its impact on the environment. Food waste and the abundance of packaging are two areas to be aware of as we enter the Christmas season.

The food we eat also has a cost to the environment, from the energy we use to grow, rear, process and transport the food to the packaging and disposal of food waste.

Last year it is estimated that the UK threw away:

  • 263,000 turkeys
  • 7.5 million mince pies
  • 740,000 slices of Christmas pudding
  • 17.2 million Brussels sprouts
  • 11.9 million carrots
  • 11.3 million roast potatoes

You might not be responsible for buying in the food for Christmas dinner, but perhaps you can mention this to your parents and help them plan for a low-waste Christmas dinner? Or you can find some recipes for using up leftover Christmas food. Leftover vegetables can be turned into soup or ‘bubble and squeak’. Leftover turkey can be used up to 48 hours after eating and made into a curry, a pie or even tacos.

What about packaging?

  • The waste from plastic wrapping at Christmas weighs the same as 3.3 million penguins.
  • The UK uses 300,000 tonnes of card packaging at Christmas - the equivalent weight of 2 million reindeer.

Unfortunately a lot of Christmas waste can’t be recycled, eg foil paper or wrapping paper with sellotape. Food packaging can be minimised by the use of net bags when buying unpackaged fruits and vegetables and some supermarkets are now offering ‘fill your own’ dried goods.

I would love to know if you or your family managed to make some changes to your Christmas shopping and eating this year which benefitted the environment. Perhaps you hired a Christmas tree? You chose locally produced gifts and food? You experimented with some vegetarian recipes? You made handmade gifts?

 

Here are two recipes for using Christmas leftovers:

Leftover Turkey Bubble and Squeak (adapted from a Joe Wicks recipe)

This serves one, so just multiply by the number of people. You can used raw potato, parsnip or sprouts instead of cooked, but you need to grate them then squeeze out any excess moisture.

Ingredients

1 medium roast parsnip or leftover cooked carrot

1 medium roast potato

Handful Brussels sprouts or peas

1 egg

1 rosemary sprig, leaves picked and chopped finely

1 garlic clove, crushed

100g cooked turkey

2 tbsp leftover gravy

1 Tbsp oil or butter

Cranberry sauce, to serve

Method

In a bowl, mash the vegetables with a fork (you might need to chop the sprouts separately). Crack in the egg. Mix and season, then add your rosemary and garlic.

Shape the mixture into three rösti patties, equal in thickness. Slice the leftover turkey breast. Put it in a pan with the gravy on a low heat and simmer until the turkey is warm. Heat the oil or butter in a separate frying pan. Cook the röstis for 3 mins each side until golden brown, then put them on a plate, layer with the sliced turkey and add a dollop of cranberry sauce on top.

Korean Turkey and Rice pot (BBC Food)

Ingredients

500ml/ 18 fl oz hot chicken stock

250g/ 9oz long grain rice

300g/ 11oz cooked turkey, diced

250g/ 9oz baby spinach

2 carrots, shredded

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp toasted sesame seed

2 tbsp vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 tbsp thick chilli sauce

Method

Pour the chicken stock into a large pan and bring to the boil. Add the rice and turkey, bring back to the boil and simmer for 12-15 mins until the stock has been absorbed and rice is tender.

Meanwhile, put the spinach in a colander and pour over a kettle of hot water to lightly wilt. Keep the spinach and carrots separate, but dress both with the sesame oil and seeds.

Cover the cooked rice with a lid and leave to sit for a couple of mins. Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in a non-stick pan set over a high heat. Fry eggs so the white crisps up nicely round the edges.

Spoon the rice into large bowls and arrange the spinach and carrots on top. Finish each with a fried egg and a dollop of chilli sauce. Serve immediately.


Halloween 2019!

31 October

Some fun and freakish treats from Hayward House today! Here are the links to the recipes:

Ghostly meringues

Halloween cookies

'Mummy' Brie


Calling all home cooks!

30 September

Thank you to Mary in Year 5 for sending me a photo of these fantastic marbled biscuits she made at home last weekend. Over the year I will be posting photos and recipes from keen home cooks (as well as recipes from clubs and competitions). Please email me at balpers@shsk.org.uk if you would like to contribute to the food blog. It could be an article, a recipe or a photograph,

Mrs Alpers

 

 

 


What did you find in the holidays?

16 September

I managed to find some lovely food on my trip back to my homeland, New Zealand, such as the famous ‘steak and cheddar pie’, greenshell mussels, whitebait fritters, hokey pokey ice-cream, teppanyaki and 'poke' bowls (a bit like sushi bowls).

However, the most memorable thing I ate was in Singapore. I finally tried the 'stinky fruit’, the durian, which is banned in buses, trains and hotels throughout the country. They are grown in Malaysia but are all over food markets in Singapore. You really can’t escape the smell, which is a bit like overripe mango mixed with the aroma of a blocked drain. To eat a durian you should wear protective gloves, unless you want your hands to smell for days afterwards.

Now to the taste…… It was….er….strong! A little like mango, garlic, chives and custard mixed together. Fragrant to the point of sickening really. I wasn’t a fan. My children audibly so. My husband braved two or three helpings of the thick and cloying flesh surrounding the durian seed. Less terrifying was the mangosteen. It looks like a white satsuma encased in a hard purple shell, and tasted a little like grapes.

I hope I can encourage you to share your food stories, recipes and photographs this year. Any student from any year group is welcome, just email me at balpers@shsk.org.uk.

Mrs Alpers


Healthy Eating Week

14 June

This week is the British Nutrition Foundation’s ‘Healthy Eating Week’, which is a dedicated week in the year to encourage organisations across the UK (including workplaces, universities, and schools) to focus on healthy eating, drinking and physical activity.

At the heart of BNF Healthy Eating Week are five health challenges:

  • Have breakfast
  • Have 5+ A DAY
  • Drink plenty
  • Get active
  • Sleep well

Breakfast helps get the day off to a good start by providing some of the energy and nutrients the body needs for good health (e.g. starchy carbohydrates, fibre, B vitamins, calcium and iron). It is also a great opportunity to get at least one of your 5 A DAY and having breakfast, particularly one which includes protein, may help you to stave off hunger and reduce snacking on less healthy foods.

Have at least five portions of vegetables and fruit every day – choose a variety!

It is important to have at least 5 A DAY as vegetables and fruit provide a range of different vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (e.g. polyphenols) needed for health, as well as fibre which is important for the digestive system and can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. Variety is key, as each type of vegetable or fruit provides different amounts and combinations of nutrients.

Have at least 6-8 unsweetened drinks every day – water is the best choice. The body is about 60% water and this is needed for many different functions, such as regulating body temperature. We are constantly losing water through our skin when we sweat, our lungs when we breathe and when we go to the loo, so it is important to drink plenty throughout the day to avoid dehydration. Mild dehydration can make it difficult to concentrate and cause headaches and tiredness.

What counts?

In the UK, it is recommended that we have 6-8 drinks every day, in addition to any water provided by food. The exact amount of fluid an individual needs will depend on many factors including age, activity levels and the weather. The following are all healthier drink options:

  • water (this is the best option for a regular drink)
  • lower fat milks
  • unsweetened beverages (e.g. tea, coffee, sugar-free drinks)

If you find water boring, try adding a sprig of mint and lime or cucumber to your water bottle. A few frozen berries will turn it into ‘fruity water’, which is much better than sugary squash or juice. Ice cubes help too.

What about fruit/vegetable juices and smoothies?

100% fruit/vegetable juices and smoothies should be limited to no more than a combined maximum of 150ml a day as they contain free sugars. Drinks that contain free sugars (other examples include soft drinks, sweetened milk drinks,

energy and sports drinks) contribute to calorie intake and increase the risk of tooth decay if consumed regularly.

Drinks and dental health:

  • Fizzy drinks are the largest single source of sugar consumption for children aged 11-18 in the UK, and they provide an average of 29% of daily sugar intake, so switching to healthier alternatives is a must.
  • Sugar-free fizz is still bad for teeth: The fizz in sugar-free drinks is still acidic, and can cause tooth erosion, so it's much better to switch to tooth-friendly alternatives like water, milk, or a small serving of watered-down fruit juice (but this is best consumed with a meal, to avoid the erosive acidity of the fruit juice).

Get active every day - move more! Physical activity is beneficial because it can help you to maintain energy balance, improve heart health and strengthen muscles and bones,  improve sleep, relieve stress and lift mood.

It can be difficult to maintain enthusiasm for physical activity on rainy days such as today, so try some behavioural psychology for a minute! Come up with some intentions which you can write down, or repeat out loud to yourself. An example would be: 'When I feel tired I just need to remember that going for a run will make me feel stronger and more energetic' or 'I can still go for a run/walk if it’s raining because I have a waterproof jacket and I’ll soon warm up.' Research has shown that by having these words to hand will help motivate you when the weather is bad or when you feel tired.

Benefits of 150 minutes moderate physical activity per week (source: NHS)

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

Get the sleep you need every night. A healthy lifestyle includes getting enough good quality sleep. Regular lack of sleep can affect your health, making you more vulnerable to colds and infections and is linked to serious health conditions such as obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and may also lead to depression and anxiety. Sleep is also important for cognitive skills such as communicating well, memory and creative thinking.

If you want to improve your sleep, you could try:

  • establishing a regular routine for going to bed and waking up;
  • avoiding heavy meals, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol late at night;
  • making your bedroom ‘sleep friendly’ – a dark, quiet and cool environment will make it easier to sleep;
  • turning off all devices at least 1 hour before bedtime and keeping technology (e.g. TVs, tablets and smartphones) out of the bedroom;
  • being physically active in the day

Can getting enough sleep help me maintain a healthy bodyweight?

Not getting enough sleep has been linked to a higher intake of calories, eating more snacks and snacking on less healthy foods. Being sleep deprived can also change levels of hormones involved in appetite, making us feel hungrier. These factors can increase the chance of weight gain, which could lead to obesity.

When you’re tired, you’re more likely to snack! Make sure you choose healthier snack options. We should all be aiming for 30g fibre per day. You might want to try:

  • A bowl of fruit salad (2.1g fibre)
  • 3 handfuls of homemade baked vegetable crisps
  • 3 handfuls of plain popcorn sprinkled with chilli powder (1.9g fibre)
  • A small handful of nuts and seeds (1.2g fibre)
  • 3 rice cakes spread with a tablespoon of nut butter (no added salt or sugar) (2.7g fibre)
  • A crumpet with low-fat spread (1.6g fibre)
  • A small, low-fat fruit yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons of reduced fat hummus and vegetable crudités (6.6g fibre)

An evening of Mediterranean street food and antipasti

6 June

It was the turn of teaching and support staff to don their aprons and get cooking in the Food and Nutrition room on a warm evening in late May. After a short demonstration by myself, our keen cooks prepared and presented an appetizing array of dishes from Italy, Turkey and Spain. It was a fun evening, enhanced by wine pairing by Tim Bailey and a chance for staff to switch off from exam marking and enjoy good food and company.

We hope you enjoy some of the recipes and photographs!

Mrs Alpers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARANCINI

(Makes 10 medium or 16 small arancini)

  • 800ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 250g arborio rice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Very generous pinch of saffron
  • 50g parmesan or vegetarian alternative, grated
  • 150g mozzarella, chopped into small chunks
  • Fillings of your choice (eg sundried tomato, basil, ham)
  • 1 egg
  • 170g plain flour
  • 500g dried breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil, if frying. Olive oil spray if baking.

Method

If you are using leftover risotto, skip this step. Otherwise, bring the stock to the boil in a medium pan, then tip in the rice, salt and saffron. Bring back up to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer on a medium heat until the stock has been absorbed. Stir in the grated parmesan and season to taste, then leave to cool completely, preferably in the fridge – you can spread it out on a tray to hasten this if necessary.

Stir the mozzarella into the cool rice and check the seasoning. Roll a tablespoonful between wet palms to form a ball of your chosen size. Poke a hole in the middle and spoon your filling in, then plug the hole with extra rice. Repeat until all the rice is used up.

Beat together the egg, flour and enough water to make a thick batter (about 175ml), and season. Put the breadcrumbs on to a plate.

Deep fry: Heat the oil in a deep pan, no more than a third full, to 170C, or until a breadcrumb sizzles on contact. As it is heating, dip each rice ball into the batter to coat, then into the breadcrumbs, heaping them on top until it is well covered. Cook in batches until golden brown, making sure the oil comes back up to temperature between batches, and drain on kitchen towel. Sprinkle with a little salt while still warm and serve hot or cold.

Oven bake: Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Place arancini on baking tray lined with parchment. Use an olive oil spray to coat the arancini and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.

BUFFALO MOZZARELLA AND FRESH FIGS WRAPPED IN PARMA HAM – Jamie Oliver

  • Buffalo mozzarella
  • Mint leaves
  • Parma ham or prosciutto
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

Method

Quarter a fig (you could also use peaches or melon), pinch apart a little buffalo mozzarella, take a mint leaf then wrap a slice of Parma ham or prosciutto around everything and stab together on forks or cocktail sticks. Finish by drizzling over a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar if you like.

BUTTERBEAN MASH WITH MUHUMMARA

MUHAMMARA

  • 5 red peppers, quartered and de-seeded (or a jar of roasted peppers)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp thyme leaves
  • ¾ tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 60g walnut halves, lightly roasted and roughly chopped
  • Salt

MASH

  • 100ml olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, skin on and lightly crushed
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2x400g tins butterbeans, drained and rinsed

Method

Pre-heat oven to 220deg fan.

Mix peppers and oil and spread out on a large parchment-lined baking tray. Roast for 15 minutes and then add garlic. Continue to roast for another 15 minutes until the skin of the peppers is soft and starting to blacken.

Place the peppers in a food processor, along with the garlic, thyme leaves, paprika, chilli flakes, vinegar, walnuts and ½ tsp salt. Blitz to form a rough paste and set aside.

To make the mash, place oil in saucepan on medium heat. Add garlic clove and thyme sprigs and fry very gently for 2-3 minutes until the garlic begins to caramelise. Discard the garlic and set the sprigs of thyme aside, along with 2 tsp of the oil. Pour the remaining oil into a food processor with the butterbeans, 1 Tbsp water and ½ tsp salt. Blitz until smooth, adding a little more water if you need to. Spread out on a large platter or a few plates, creating a natural rim around the edge, and spoon the red pepper sauce into the centre. Top with the crispy thyme sprigs and their oil.


Anzac biscuits

24 April

Anzac Day, 25 April, is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, commemorating Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. It was originally conceived to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign in the First World War.

The Anzac biscuit is a sweet oat biscuit made using rolled oats, flour, coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda and boiling water. Supposedly, the biscuits were sent by wives and women's groups to soldiers abroad because the biscuits lasted for a long time, due to the high sugar content. However, some food historians argue that they were really only eaten at fetes and other public events such as parades, where they were sold to raise money to support the war effort. At the time they were often called 'soldier's biscuits', sold to fundraise for New Zealand troops in the war.

Here is the recipe being baked by Year 7 and 8 students this week in food and nutrition lessons.

Ingredients

85g porridge oats

85g desiccated coconut

100g plain flour

100g caster sugar

100g butter

1 tbsp golden syrup

3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method

Heat oven to 180 C/fan 160 C/Gas 4. Put the oats, coconut, flour and sugar in a bowl. Melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the golden syrup. Add the bicarbonate of soda to 2 tbsp boiling water, then stir into the golden syrup and butter mixture.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter and golden syrup mixture. Stir gently to incorporate the dry ingredients.

Put dessert spoonsful of the mixture on to baking parchment on baking sheets, about 2.5cm/1in apart to allow room for spreading. Bake in batches for 8-10 minutes until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Designing menus using local ingredients

27 March

The landlocked county of Oxfordshire has been providing inspiration for Year 9 students who have been designing menus based around local foods. Whilst seafood has been off the menu, other interesting ingredients have been discovered. These include local honey, cheeses, berries, chilli jam, rapeseed oil, rhubarb, asparagus, smoked trout, lamb and even kid goat! We have sourced herbs from the school gardens, eggs from home, cheeses and honey from local farm shops and nearer the summer berries, salad leaves and fresh peas will be available locally.

We hope you enjoy the photographs of some of our experimentation. Niamh and Aoife designed a sorrel sorbet with honey poached rhubarb, mini meringues and berries. Emily and Kate used smoked trout and asparagus in their summery tart.  Freya and Lil made their own pastry to construct their beetroot and goats’ cheese tart, followed by lavender and raspberry mousse with lavender shortbread. Pippa and Annabel chose a vegetarian main course: a spiral vegetable tart with chill jam. 

 


Sports and Spanish

5 March

We have had a fun (and very busy!) week in food and nutrition, with two cooking sessions for our Spanish exchange students and a session on ‘healthy snacks for sport’ with our sports scholars.

On Friday our Spanish visitors were introduced to the great British scone, whipping up a batch in 30 minutes and experimenting with their placement of cream and jam (deciding that the Cornish method of jam then cream made the most sense).

On Monday our sports scholars learned how to save money by producing their own energy-fuelled sports snacks. From cherry and apricot fruit nuggets to a breakfast super-shake, they all agreed that they will go home and try some of the recipes. A shop-bought energy ball costs around £1.75 whilst a home-made version is less than quarter of the cost. We also discussed how to select a healthy plate of food at lunch and Mrs Alpers showed some photographs of a well-proportioned plate, following the Eatwell Guide. Scroll down to find the recipes. We couldn’t prepare the bliss-balls at school (because they contain nuts) but you could try them at home. They are a great source of protein, unsaturated fats, fibre, calcium and Vitamin E.

No-bake orange, date and coconut bliss balls

They are quite energy dense so one or two would be sufficient to give you some energy for a sports match. These are great to keep in the freezer and they only take about 10 minutes to defrost. If you don’t have measuring cups, you can use a measuring jug. 250ml is 1 cup.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup almonds
  • 2/3 cup medjool or other soft dates, pitted
  • 4 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup coconut threads or dessicated coconut
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
  • 4 tbsp macadamia or walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 oranges, zested and juiced (about 1/4 cup)
  • To dust: cocoa powder or finely chopped pistachio nuts, sesame seeds or coconut

Method

  • Place all ingredients except cocoa powder (or other coating of choice) in a food processor and blend until a chunky paste forms.
  • Roll into small balls, about 3cm in diameter.
  • Roll in cocoa, pistachios, sesame seeds or coconut if desired.
  • Store in an airtight container where they will keep for several days, or freeze.

Breakfast super shake

Ingredients

  • 100ml full-fat milk
  • 2 tbsp natural yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 150 frozen fruits of the forest
  • 50g blueberries – can be frozen
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp goji berries
  • 1 tsp mixed seeds
  • 1 tsp honey

Method

Put the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy.

Dried fruit energy nuggets

Ingredients

  • 50g soft dried apricot
  • 100g soft dried date
  • 50g dried cherry
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seed

Method

Whizz apricots with dates and cherries in a food processor until very finely chopped. Tip into a bowl and use your hands to work in coconut oil. Shape the mix into walnut-sized balls. Then roll in sesame seeds. Store in an airtight container until you need a quick energy fix.

Dark chocolate, banana and rye muffins

These are low in added sugar. To make them taste sweeter make sure the bananas are ripe.

Ingredients

  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 150g rye flour
  • 100g spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 80 ml maple syrup
  • 3 medium or 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Method

  • Heat oven to 180 degrees (centigrade). Put 12 muffin cases in a muffin tin.
  • In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except the chocolate. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, coconut milk and maple syrup, then stir in the bananas. Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry and stir to combine. Add the chocolate, then spoon into the prepared cases.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until cooked.
  • These will keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container or freeze for up to 3 months.

Homemade cliff bars (no bake)

Ingredients

  • 11/4 cups rice crispies
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dried fruit (eg raisins, dried cranberries etc)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup local honey
  • 1/2 cup tahini paste
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, optional

Method

  • Combine the rice cereal, oats, flaxseed meal, dried fruit and seeds in a large bowl.
  • Combine the honey and tahini paste in a small bowl and heat in a microwave-safe bowl for 30-60 seconds until melted. Stir in vanilla and pour over the dry ingredients in the large bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until everything is coated.
  • Press mixture firmly into and 8-inch square pan, cool and then chill for at least 30 minutes to help it set.
  • Cut into 12 bars, wrap in cling film and keep refrigerated.

Variations

Chocolate chip cookie: replace the dried fruit with chocolate chips or cacao nibs.

Pumpkin-cranberry: use chopped cranberries for the dried fruit and pumpkin seeds.


Bacon is not a vegetable

28 February

Learning how to cook and knowing how to achieve a healthy, balanced diet will be invaluable as a skill to carry forward when you leave school. Whilst women were freed from their apron strings decades ago, today’s reality is that many of us are putting our health in the hands of large food producing corporations and it’s not doing us or the environment a lot of good.

In a short but focused series of practical lessons Lower Sixth have the opportunity to have a taste of life as a student and learn to cook healthily on a budget, avoiding years of pot noodles and frozen pizzas. The handbook that they take with them provides a short guide to independent living and nutrition, for the time when the school lunches and the family meals are a thing of the past. There is also a handy page of top tips for students, generously offered by the teaching staff.

Mrs Alpers

Top tips for students from St Helen’s staff:

My nephew is managing on a budget in London. He has ‘chicken’ weeks and 'mince' weeks. For chicken, he roasts a whole chicken – the largest reasonably priced one he can find – then uses the cold meat over a couple of days in a variety of dishes. For mince, he cooks a huge bolognaise mix with lots of tiny chopped veggies added then turns that into cottage pie, chilli, burritos etc during the week. Mrs Stringer

Remember that herbs and spices elevate the simplest of meals. Ditto condiments – Worcester sauce, mayo, mint sauce, pesto, tabasco. Cut herbs can be kept in the freezer till you need them. Buy seasonal fruit and veg. Don't do a food shop when you're hungry. Stay hydrated. When in doubt – improvise. Mr Verjee

As important as buying cheap food is not wasting the food you have. Some items go off quickly and before you know it, you’re throwing them away. Stock your cupboard with items that will not go off – pasta, rice, potato, tins of beans, anchovies. Other things that last ages are chorizo, eggs and cheese. Get good at some simple recipes using these, such as: puttanesca, bean and chorizo stew, baked potato, omelettes. But don’t forget the importance of fresh nutrition. Mr Odell

If you have a local bakery, go in just before closing time and ask if they are giving away (or selling cheaply) any bread or other foods. You might strike up a regular deal! Togarashi seasoning (a Japanese blend of spices, seaweed and sesame seeds) makes rice, noodles, vegetables etc super tasty. Use lentils or chickpeas in curries, chillies, pasta sauces – they are really cheap and good for you! Learn how to make a proper Italian tomato sauce, which you can then use as a base for so many dishes, such as tuna pasta, puttanesca pasta, as a pizza sauce, a sauce for meatballs, a base for a bean and sausage stew etc. Mrs Alpers

[If you have a blender] Use frozen spinach cubes in smoothies to act as ice cubes; more affordable than fresh spinach, packed full of nutrients, and won’t impact on the flavour of your smoothie! No scurvy for you. For a tasty and affordable snack: cheapest supermarket brand noodles plus a crumbled stock cube (ie Oxo vegetable stock) is a delicious but not necessarily nutritious bite. Buy punnets of grapes when they’re on offer/reduced and put them in the freezer: when you need a little something sweet but you have run out of chocolate Hobnobs you can munch on some frozen grapes. It’s like having bite-size portions of sorbet! Miss Stephenson

Clubbing together with friends for occasional Sunday roast, lots of healthy veg and if each person brings one thing, actually not too expensive and fun and sociable!! Mrs Scott-Malden

Use quorn or soya mince to make spaghetti bolognese. Lower in fat and much cheaper than meat! Mrs Homan

Wine doesn’t count as one of your five a day! Marmite makes everything taste good. Don’t throw away squidgy veg, put it in a soup. Adding chilli powder hides a multitude of sins. Mrs Washer

Porridge becomes your friend. Chickpea curry – so versatile. Don’t rely on meat. Eggs are great.  Cook en mass at the weekend eg veg chilli, and portion up for freezing or refrigerating. Frozen fish and chicken are much cheaper than fresh. (Frozen fish needs to be cooked from frozen; frozen chicken needs to be defrosted in a fridge the day or night before you need it). St Helen's Old Girls at Birmingham

If you are able to plan your menu a few days ahead and then shop for it you will end up with a much healthier range of foods and fewer takeaways which are expensive on a student budget and perhaps not as nutritionally beneficial. Mrs Bedford

Think about what you’re going to eat across the week before you go shopping, it saves money and reduces the number of times you have to shop in a week. Buy/take some herbs/sauces to uni so you can add different flavours to bland dishes like pasta. Mrs Stubley

Avoid getting take-away unless you really need to. Go to the reduced section of the local supermarket at about 5 p.m. in the evening. Make big portions and freeze them. Make a meal plan for the week. Buy own-brand products where possible. Mme Probert

Buying a whole chicken then roasting it and having the leftovers for the next few days is better value and means you can afford a better class of chicken than just buying breasts etc. Batch cooking is your friend if you have access to freezer space. Don't buy lunches out, make a sandwich instead. In a shared house, taking it in turns to cook for everybody is much more sociable than everyone cooking for themselves and means you get to improve your cooking skills no end. Don’t go to Waitrose!! Mrs Watson

Get a whiteboard planner divided into the days of the week and plan every day's meal before you do the weekly shop. Then you can buy exactly what you need for meal cooking and never have a panic because the only thing on offer for dinner is cheese or cereal! I use mine religiously, and I buy less chocolate... Ms Thompson


Why learn to cook?

11 February

Here are eight reasons why cooking is an essential life skill for everyone:

  • Cooking our own food from scratch is closely linked with better health outcomes such as a lower risk of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Home cooked food contains less sugar, fat, salt, additives and preservatives than industrially produced food.
  • Cooking provides opportunities for socialising and shared meals where we learn to listen, take turns and eat more mindfully than if we were eating on the go.
  • It is better for the environment because we are limiting the amount of packaging and industrial waste.
  • It’s fun, sociable and a creative outlet.
  • It is much less expensive to cook meals from scratch.
  • It gives you independence and confidence if you don’t have to rely on others or corporations to provide you with a basic human need.

Mrs Alpers learning how to cook pasta in Italy.
You're never too old (or young) to learn!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Pollen, M. (2013). Cooked.
Wolfson, J. and Bleich, S. (2014). Is cooking at home associated with better diet quality or weight-loss intention? Public Health Nutrition, 18(08), pp.1397-1406.


The Meringue Challenge

29 January

Improving food presentation skills was the focus of last week’s Year 9 lessons. Students were given a few meringues, a selection of fruit, some chocolate and some double cream to present as creatively and expertly as they could in the time given. This is all in preparation for the Create and Cook competition which kicks off this spring. As the Year 9 menus develop we will post recipes and photos on this blog post. We hope you enjoy the photos of the meringue challenge!

Mrs Alpers


Happy new year!

17 January 2019

Year 8 have continued to research and prepare recipes from around the world. From Greece to Cyprus to Lebanon and as far away as China, students have been bringing in an interesting array of ingredients to prepare authentic versions of sweet dishes. We hope you enjoy some of the photographs of their work. We have included a delicious recipe for Melomakarona from Greece which was ably prepared by Megan and Grace. It involves baking small spiced and orange-scented cookies, which are then dipped in a honey syrup and left to cool.

Year 9 are currently researching which foods are grown and produced in Oxfordshire. They will then be creating exciting menus based on locally sourced produce, similar to the way chefs develop their menus around the best seasonal ingredients. Recipes and photographs will follow next month.

Mrs Alpers

Melomakarona recipe

(You need to use cup measurements where 250ml = 1 cup).

This recipe makes a lot of cookies, so you could halve it.

For the cookies:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brandy (or whiskey)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ¼ cup orange juice

For the syrup:

  • 1 cup honey
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

For the garnish:

  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). In a bowl combine flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix well together.
  • In a separate bowl combine oil, sugar, brandy, orange juice and orange rind. Incorporate mixture into the flour. It should be easy to knead.
  • Knead lightly. Get a heaped dessert spoon full of the dough and roll it into an oval shape (it should be thick, 2-3cm high). Place on a greased baking tray and put it in the oven for 20 minutes or until light brown.
  • To make the syrup combine the sugar, water and honey in a saucepan and boil for five minutes. Take it off the heat and allow to cool.
  • Dip the cookies in the syrup and then place on a serving plate. Then put them in a large, shallow (but not too shallow) serving bowl and pour the remaining syrup in over the top so it collects at the bottom and the cookies bathe in the golden honey syrup (eat the ones at the bottom first). Garnish with chopped walnuts and cinnamon.