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Keeping it simple

Did you know that you can just heat and serve bace as a topping? It’s so perfectly simple! What could be easier? Just pile on top of toast, sourdough, muffins, crumpets, flat breads, pancakes, rice, quinoa and more. One of our favourite family meals is baked beans with benefits on toasted sourdough with poached eggs on top. The kids love it. Add some avocado or spinach and it’s a full on super-food bonanza!

I adore bread and in particular sourdough. Why not search out some fabulous artisan sourdough such as that made by the Pye Baker? As well as having a bakery in Norwich he pops up at different farmer’s markets throughout the county. This is my favourite way of eating sourdough. Cut a large slice. Toast or griddle lightly on both sides. Cut a clove of garlic and rub over the warmed toast. I then add popping peas with perks and some crumbled local blue cheese. Simple and delicious.

I lead a busy life so I don’t always have the time to prepare meals from scratch. When I’m in a hurry I grab a pot of aromatic peas with perks and a pouch of mixed grains. Heat the two and add a side of sliced red onion, chopped coriander, a drizzle of oil and a splash of red wine vinegar. This will easily feed two hungry adults (or hangry in my case as I’m grumpy if not fed quickly!

Now let’s talk garnishes – once you’ve piled on your favourite bace topping how about adding a drizzle of flavoured oil? There’s some great Norfolk rapeseed oil producers infusing with anything from smoked chipotle chilli to garlic & rosemary & dill. How about some toasted seeds from Suffolk based Munchy Seeds? The seeds have got a really tasty savoury flavour and they’re a fab source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Maybe you could crumble on some local cheese or crisp up some good quality bacon and sprinkle on. Then there’s chilli sauce – my Husband is a big fan of chilli. It’s not an understatement to say he puts it on everything (except his morning porridge). Check out Rocket Ship sauces and Chillis Galore.

If I’m going to add a side salad I like something crunchy. Half moons of red onion, finely sliced red cabbage, grated carrot, chopped celery and maybe some herbs – mint, parsley, coriander and dressed with a simple combo of good oil and cider apple vinegar. My children love a salad I call sunshine salad – chopped tomato, cucumber, red onion, yellow pepper and avocado. Now we’re packing in even more of our 5-A-Day.

I love cooking with grains. If I’m cooking rice or bulgar wheat I like to add a handful of quinoa to the mix. Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fibre, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus,vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants.

Make your life a little easier, just keep it simple. Meals don’t have to be complicated. All you need is a pot of bace and a few store cupboard staples and you too can make mealtimes a breeze!

If you want to find out more about my bace products then take a look at our online shop and get 10% of your first order using the discount code INTRO10%.

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January – how was it for you?

Well, we’ve done it! We’ve reached the end of January. The nights are pulling out and I can see bulb shoots poking their heads through the frosty ground.

How did you get through January? Did you abstain from alcohol or try Veganuary? I took my own route and committed to eating pulses (that’s dried beans, peas and lentils) every day of the month. I completed the challenge. Check out my Instagram account @bacefoods to see 31 different meals using pulses (recipes included).

I used my own products on some days to make quick and tasty meals and on other days I searched out new recipes using different pulses. I’ve eaten curries, salads, tortillas, soups, dals, quesadillas and more. I’ve really enjoyed the variety! At no point did I feel hungry because pulses really do fill you up! How do I feel? Pretty good for this time of year. I’m full of energy in fact. My skin is clear, my digestion is in good order (I’m regular as clockwork if you catch my drift!) and I’m not sporting a post-Christmas muffin top. This is a total relief because I’ll be squeezing myself into a little black number next Tuesday evening for an awards night. bace has been shortlisted for an “innovation in food & drink” award. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I’ve barely eaten any meat this month. I didn’t set out to avoid meat but it’s just worked out that way. My plates have been piled high with veg, beans, peas and lentils. The whole family have joined it too. I like to think that we’re all doing our bit for the planet. Pulses are a sustainable crop. They can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they’re a water-efficient crop and improve soil health. They’re also good for our health as an affordable source of protein, fibre and other essential nutrients and can help with the maintenance and prevention of diet-related diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

If you can’t quite embrace a full-on “pulse feast” why not throw some lentils (along with meat) into your next chilli con carne or ragu sauce? They’re cheap and a great source of protein and fibre. Better still, buy some bace pots and get cooking up some easy-to-follow recipes. Check out our recipes tab. I’ve done the hard work for you! That leaves you with little chopping or prepping to do. Our pea and bean pots are not just time saving; they add great depth of flavour and extra veg to lots of your regular recipes.

So what will February bring? I’m going to be focusing on quick & easy family-friendly meals. Given the new #vegpower campaign I’ll be showing you how to pack those veg in at meal times. Please share how you’ve been cooking with bace – post your photos and tell us what you think! I love to hear about what you’re doing with your pots of bace.

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I love pulses – there I’ve said it!

How will you be celebrating new year? I’ll be reaching for the lentils in the hope that they’ll bring me good luck and prosperity in the new year. Well that’s what the Italians believe. Lentils are thought to resemble coins so are eaten as part of new year celebration meals in Italy.

I’ve enjoyed a long-standing love affair with pulses (in simple terms dried beans, peas & lentils). I just can’t get enough of them. I think my love of them goes back to when I was a child. I didn’t like meat but thankfully my Mum was happy to accommodate her fussy daughter’s vegetarian needs! Our shelves were already full of cook books but new ones appeared by authors such as Rose Elliot, Sarah Brown & David Canter (Cranks) and so she set about making some fantastic vegetarian food. No one else I knew ate like we did. We loved shopping at Rainbow Wholefoods (a Norwich institution) for dried beans such as black-eyed, mung and aduki. I loved the smell of the shop – a combination of herbs, spices, fresh bread, spiced vegetable-filled pastries, sticky date oat crumbles and more. The shop still smells the same now and it brings back such happy memories.

I’m not a vegetarian or vegan. I love fish and I succumbed to meat when I was 30 but I only eat it occasionally and choose high welfare, locally reared meat. I suppose I’m a flexitarian. Some days I only eat plant-based foods, not on purpose, it just works out that way. Dairy products don’t really agree with me but I love veg, grains, beans, lentils and peas so that’s what forms the majority of my diet. When cooking meat I often add beans to make the dish go further and provide extra nutrition.

So, getting back to pulses. I’ve been reading a book called “Pulses – Nutritious Seeds For A Sustainable Future”. Pulses really are incredible – they’re naturally packed with low-fat protein and fibre, they’re rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals. They are excellent antioxidants that counteract our natural ageing processes (great news!) and we digest them slowly because they are high in complex carbohydrates and fibre. This gives us a feeling of satiety but also helps to stabilise blood sugar and insulin levels by reducing spikes after mealtimes. Pulses make an ideal choice for people with diabetes or those trying to manage their weight. On top of that they’re cheap and great for the planet. They require little water to grow and naturally improve the fertility of the soil that they’re grown in.

We use British-grown pulses in our bace products after discovering a company called Hodmedod’s who source and supply pulses from British farms. I love that Hodmedod’s offer little known pulses which aren’t readily available in supermarkets. We use red haricot beans, carlin peas, split fava beans and green split peas from their fantastic range. If you haven’t heard of carlin peas before they’re like chick peas but smaller, nuttier in flavour and I think are superior in taste and texture.

January for me is a time for change, reinvention and learning. In January I’ve set myself a challenge of eating pulses every day. I’ll be exploring different cultures and how people cook with them, I’ll be searching out new pulses and cooking them up with new found flavour combinations. Follow me on Instagram to see daily updates and witness my love affair with pulses take on new heights! I can’t wait to get started…

If you want to find out more about my bace products then take a look at our online shop

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My top 10 must have ingredients

Do you want to make mealtimes a breeze and eat a bit healthier with some plant-based protein and lots of veg? Then grab yourself some pots of bace, pop them in the fridge and fill up your store cupboard, fridge and freezer with my top 10 must haves.

1. Pearled spelt

When I’m making a risotto (see my recipe for easy peasy risotto) I often use pearled spelt instead of rice. Sometimes I might even do half and half. I buy the Sharpham Park organic pearled spelt. It has a delicious nutty taste, it’s high in protein and fibre and is a good source of slow release energy. The Roman Army apparently called it their ‘marching grain’.

2. Crème fraiche

Great for stirring into curries, soups, pasta sauces and perfect for turning down the heat in an overly-spiced chilli. My children love it spread onto tortilla wraps with avocado, baked beans with benefits and grated cheese. I make my own coleslaw with shredded red cabbage, sliced red onion, grated carrot and half crème fraiche half mayo. Using crème fraiche makes for a lighter coleslaw.

3. Frozen chopped spinach

A brilliant veg to keep in the freezer which I add to curries, soups and omelettes. They come in handy cubes and can be added directly from frozen.

4. Harissa paste & Curry paste

I love the flavours in harissa paste, the main ingredient being red pepper with chillies, garlic, cumin, paprika and more. I add it to omelettes, frittatas, soups, nut roasts and middle eastern stews. You can turn an ordinary dish into something quite exotic, warm and spicy.

I wish I had time to make my own curry pastes but sadly I’m rather busy so I buy a good quality curry paste which I always have to hand in my fridge. You can add as little or as much as you wish, depending on your heat tolerance. Try one of my easy curry recipes using aromatic peas with perks as a base. It makes a fantastic curry with very little effort. Quicker, cheaper and far healthier than ordering a takeaway!

5. Roasted seeds

The Munchy Seeds brand prepare these lovely pots of tasty savoury seven seed mixes. The seeds are perfect for sprinkling on top of salads, soups, chilli or my very special baked beans with benefits. They’re crammed full of minerals, vitamins, protein and fibre. A great little snack too.

6. Infused oils

I use Crush cold pressed rapeseed oil for making my products. It’s grown, cold pressed and bottled in Norfolk. They do some lovely infused oils. My absolute favourite is the smoked chipotle chilli infused oil. It’s a taste sensation when drizzled over popping peas with perks. I also love a slice of toasted sourdough, smothered in baked beans with benefits, topped with poached eggs and a drizzle of smoked chipotle chilli oil – absolutely delicious!

I also keep Yare Valley oils in my store-cupboard. Another great local cold pressed oil with a range of lovely infusions. The dill flavoured oil is delicate so perfect for dressing a light summery salad. I also love their madras flavoured oil for drizzling over crunchy mixed salads which I serve with my meat free Monday curry.

Rapeseed oil is low in saturated fat and contains omega 3, 6 & 9 plus vitamin E.

7. Bouillon powder (powdered stock)

This powder makes an instant stock so perfect for adding to any of my bace pots to turn them into a super quick soup. I buy the vegan, lower salt version. It’s available in all good supermarkets and is a must store-cupboard staple. You can even turn it into a delicious hot drink.

8. Chutneys

Having a jar of interesting chutney on hand will perk up a cheese sandwich and works a treat alongside a curry but it’s also great as an ingredient. Add a little chutney to curries, soups and casseroles. I swirl a dollop into yoghurt to make a spicy dip and spread it on toast under cheese and then melt under the grill. I love Candi’s Chutneys. She hand-makes every jar using local East Anglian ingredients. My favourite is spiced carrot chutney. It works beautifully with our aromatic peas with perks. Just pile the two delicious ingredients on top of naan bread and devour.

9. Tinned plum tomatoes

I add tomatoes to curries, chillies, soups, pasta sauces and baked pasta dishes. Cooked tomatoes are a great source of lycopene (an antioxidant) which has fantastic health benefits. I prefer plum tomatoes instead of the chopped ones. The chopped ones can sometimes look a little insipid. I work on the assumption that they keep the best plum tomatoes whole and chop up the rest.

10. Bread

I keep my bread in the freezer and just take out slices when I need them. More about that below. I’m always conscious of preventing food waste so I keep the ends of the bread and blitz them into breadcrumbs for coating fishcakes or topping baked pasta dishes. I also turn the bread ends into croutons. Just cut the slices up into bite sized pieces, drizzle them with oil and bake in the oven for 10-12 mins. Store them in an airtight container and use to top soups and salads or just eat them as a snack.

So, getting back to frozen bread – did you know that toast made with bread taken directly from the freezer contains more resistant starch? This means that your body gets far fewer calories from the bread as the resistant starch feeds your gut bacteria, rather than feeding you. Amazing! Check out this article The Truth About Carbs.

On top of these items I always have a well-stocked fridge full of fresh veg and salad to turn into crunchy side salads and accompaniments to my bace meals and snacks. #VegPower #LovePulses

If you want to find out more about my bace products then take a look at our online shop