This is the fourth edition of my “Look What I Found!” Friday feature, where I share what I have found, been given, picked, planted and bought. I love a nosy in peoples’ kitchens. I hope you enjoy having a nosy around mine.
I am more of a water drinker/matcha tea drinker (see below) but when Luscombe asked me if I wanted to try their new range of summery softies, I couldn’t resist. Theirs are the glass-bottled organic drinks you will have seen sold in the UK’s best delis and shops. I was already familiar with Luscombe’s extensive range of apple drinks (mmm, apple and elderflower), but I had no idea that this small, family-run company in Devon produces 23 different drinks. All of the Luscombe drinks are minimally and naturally sweetened with fruit juice, making for an exceedingly refreshing and guilt-free special drink (over-sweet drinks are a pet hate of mine). Check their website for stockists, including Abel & Cole and Riverford Organics, but they are likely to be in any good deli and farm shop. Oh and the new flavours are: Damascene Rose Bubbly, Strawberry Crush, Cranberry Crush, Elderflower Bubbly and Passionate Ginger Beer. Perfect to take along as the non-alcoholic option to a bbq, picnic or classy gathering. 🙂
Here’s a fun one for you: Chirps! If you are already familiar with the Two Chicks brand of free range egg products (liquid white, liquid whole egg, omelette mix) then it may not surprise you that these clever ladies have a new product for the all-important snack market. These high protein, low fat and low carbohydrate egg white “crisps” are really rather good. I was actually quite sceptical and, truthfully, during the first couple of bites I still was. But once I got over the fact that the texture is not exactly like crisps (they are thicker but still with great crunch) and that they are made of egg whites, I was having to make sure not to eat a pack every time I got peckish!
The current Chirps flavours are Sour Cream and Chive, Smokey Jalapeño and Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper (the latter is my fave), but I wouldn’t be surprised if more flavours were added to this baked snack range. Two Chicks combine egg whites with delicate rice flour to make the crisps, and only flavour with natural flavours, and are always gluten- and GMO-free. So far they are mainly available online (Ocado, where they are currently on special offer), but also in a few London shops. Here’s the stockist link, including a field to request that they be stocked at certain supermarkets (they would appreciate it if we lobbied these stores). I am now rationing myself…
I don’t know about you but I love a good balsamic vinegar. It doesn’t have to be super expensive but it does need to be Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena: the real deal, in other words. Proper balsamic vinegar is aged for a minimum of 12 years, with extra vecchio (extra old) aged at minimum 25 years. Those long years of careful storage and stewardship in a vinegar loft (acataia) enables the characteristic macrobiotic and enzymatic changes from Trebbiano grape juice to top quality balsamic vinegar.
I was lucky enough to have been sent two grades of fabulous vinegars directly from Itay’s favourite vinegar brand, Due Vittorie in Modena. I have only opened one – the Tradizionale – and it was almost indescribably delicious: glossy, thick, sweet and so distinct from any of the even rather nice quality ones that I have had the pleasure of tasting over the years.
A good balsamic vinegar is one you can drizzle directly onto some green leaves, sans oil, and feel you are having a feast. This special occasion one from Due Vittorie is such a vinegar. Intense yet with a delicate aroma, and notes of wood from the cask it was matured in, I wanted to drink it. But I settled for dipping (okay, soaking) good bread in this dense, bittersweet liquid. Many of us don’t think anything of buying a pricey bottle of wine every once in a while. One that will be drunk over one or two days. But good balsamic represents an even better value as it will last and can be enjoyed over many occasions.
Tradizionale is the pricier of the two at nearly £50, with Oro being the everyday balsamic, for enjoying at family dinners. Oro – a very reasonable £9.99 – has a rather good score and comments on the independent Ocado website.
Try best balsamic (of any kind) as follows: on top-notch vanilla ice cream, splashed on sushi instead of soy sauce (great option for those reducing their sodium intake and for children), plain Madeira cake (pound cake), strawberries (classic), with chunks of (vegetarian) Parmesan or grana padano cheese, in a pasta sauce instead of wine, tossed through steamed or roasted vegetables, drizzled over freshly baked pizza (add some fresh rocket leaves too). And of course, on salad – the simpler the better.
Regular readers of Food To Glow (and those who follow me on Instagram. Especially those who follow me on Instagram) know that I am a certified matcha fiend. I have a glass of the cold green stuff every morning without fail. Green tea, while having some caffeine, is a primary food source of calming L-theanine – perfect for those needing to concentrate without the jitters of excess caffeine.
For those of you who don’t know about matcha it is green tea leaves that have been specially processed and ground to a superfine powder. I like leaf green tea, but I LOVE this powdered stuff. No worries about over-brewing it, no bitterness, you ingest the whole leaves (that’s one reason I like it so much), and no getting pesky leaves stuck in your teeth. 😉 It is also really convenient for people like me who prefer their tea cold. Basically it is instant tea with bells on. So, I was incredibly happy – I think I may have done a wee skip – when the people at Teapigs sent me one of their Traditional Matcha Sets, with a tin of their top-grade organic matcha tea, a chasen (the traditional Japanese wooden whisk), a wooden scoop (chashaku), attractive ceramic bowl for preparing and drinking the tea, and instructions on how to get the most out of matcha. This would make a super gift for anyone who loves green tea.
If you have never tried matcha before but would like to do so, perhaps purchase a small tin and follow the directions, which basically involves mere whisking. Mostly people drink it hot (not boiling hot as this impairs the principal phytochemical, epigallocatechin-3-gallate), but I prefer it cold. When I drink it I nearly always add some fresh lemon or lime as this not only tastes fab it also helps us better absorb all of the healthful catechin compounds, of which there are numerous.
Matcha isn’t soluble so it won’t behave like the powdered flavoured black teas you get at the supermarket – you are drinking finely ground leaves with all its fibre, after all. Once whisked I tend to give it a stir with a spoon once or twice while drinking it. I used to give the glass a quick swirl to redistribute the silty green powder, but that almost always led to me wearing more green tea than drinking it. Teagpigs products are available on their website with a selection of their wide range of tea and tea-related products available in many shops UK-wide. They also have black, fruit and herbal teas.
I love me an olive or two. As a child I would get a tin of brined black olives in my Christmas stocking. Even now I deliberately make dishes for myself that use olives as a salt substitute. They go on almost any salad I make for myself (that and hot peppers). Olive-ophile.
My olive-loving credentials firmly established, may I have a drum roll please: These are possibly the best olives I have ever had. And – it gets better – they are organic.
Waitrose, the sixth-largest UK grocery retailer, now stock three of The Real Olive Company’s popular organic blends – Wild Garlic and Basil, Kasbah and Kalamata. I was fortunate enough to be sent generous full-sized samples of all three. My first impressions were excellent. The olives have a firm, quite ‘meaty’ texture, and are marinated in high quality ingredients. The Kasbah olives have the interesting addition of rose water, and my personal favourite, the Wild Garlic & Basil olives, are so good that they had to be removed from my grasp.
Grown on small scale, independent organic farms in Greece, all three blends are a great accompaniment to a crisp glass of white wine or chilled beer – perfect for those balmy summer months that I am positive are just around the corner. *crosses fingers*
All of my greens are growing really well, but I am especially pleased that rainbow chard seems to “like me.” I don’t know much about gardening but with chard that doesn’t seem to matter. The colourful stems holding aloft glossy green leaves make me very happy. And, along with a teaspoon of Teapigs and some other bits and bobs, I have been making this smashing little smoothie. Sub spinach or kale if you like of course. Enjoy xx
This is a very green but also mild smoothie, perfect for the whole family. Use young spinach leaves for the ‘least green’ taste, and kale for the strongest. Peaches or nectarines are both great in this, but I like the slight pun of peachy green. 😉
1 & 1/2 frozen peach or nectarine, as pieces (I slice them up and open-freeze on a baking tray for a couple of house then decant into a freezer bag)
A good handful of chard, spinach or kale, roughly chopped (blanch these if you like first) – de-rib if you don’t have a power blender
245 ml (1 cup) milk of choice – I tend to use hemp or almond
3 tbsp thick yogurt of choice
1 tsp matcha tea
1 tsp berry powder ( I like the range from Finnberry, especially the seabuckthorn and lingonberry powders) – optional
1 tsp organic bee pollen, plus extra to garnish – optional but very nice and adds some excellent trace nutrients and more protein.
Method: Add all to a blender and blitz until completely smooth. Adjust the sweetness as you wish with a frozen half banana, a little honey or a drizzle of maple or date syrup. A half of a frozen banana might be a good call if this is for children. If you choose super-ripe peaches then you mightn’t have to add anything!
Disclosure: this is a review post and contains an affiliate link. I was not paid for this post nor asked to write a positive review for any of the products. All opinions are my own.