How to ‘eat clean’

‘Clean Eating’ is trending in the world of nutrition.  It is not a fad diet; it’s a chosen lifestyle and celebrities like Katy Perry and Gwyneth Paltrow are two of the many fans supporting this trend. So, what is ‘clean eating’ and how is it good for you?

Definition of ‘clean eating’?

Put in simple terms, ‘clean eating’ is the consumption of unprocessed food.  ‘Clean eating’ consists of whole food – real food – from its origin to your plate.

Clean-eating Pyramid

It does not mean eating only raw food.  Some whole foods benefit from cooking because it removes toxins and kills bacteria.  However, with the exception of food like white meat (which needs to be cooked through), it is best not to over-cook your food cause you lose out on nutrients.

What are the benefits of ‘eating clean’?

Plant-based diets are good for you.  And ‘clean eating’ is mainly made up of fruit and veg.

A diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables

  • helps in reducing / preventing high blood pressure
  • prevents type 2 diabetes
  • prevents cardiovascular disease
  • helps you maintain healthy weight
  • gives you glowing skin and healthy hair

Is that a good enough reason to ‘eat clean’?

How do you ‘eat clean’?

If you would like to ‘eat clean’, avoid processed foods. ‘Eating clean’ begins at the supermarket.

Processed foods are stripped of all nutrients and they

  • contain salt or sugar or both
  • may contain fat
  • may contain flavouring
  • contain preservatives (those words difficult to pronounce or those E numbers)
  • contain added vitamins

Carlos Monteiro, professor at the Department of Nutrition at the School of Public Health, University of Sao Paolo says, processed foods claiming they contain “less fat”, “less sodium” or “vitamin enriched” are bad for you.  This is the manufacturer’s cunning plan to make highly-processed food look ‘healthy’.

“The key is to avoid foods that are ‘ultra-processed,'” says Jessica Fanzo, Assistant Professor of Nutrition at the Columbia University. ” … basically, anything food-product-like or ready-to-heat.”

Foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are also a big NO NO! GMOs are linked to cancer and infertility.

Just in case you’re not put off by processed foods yet, bear in mind that additives in highly-processed food make you crave junk food.

What is considered to be ‘clean’ food?

‘Clean’ food is unprocessed food such as fresh fruit and veg, dried legumes, nuts and farm-fresh eggs.

In addition to the four groups of unprocessed food above, you can add the following food which is slightly processed

  • unrefined grains – as in wholewheat bread, pasta, oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice
  • frozen fruit and vegetables
  • unprocessed meat
  • hormone-free dairy
  • oils

Organic food can be costly.  But when possible choose organic to avoid pesticides, hormones and chemicals in your food.

Wild and sustainably-caught fish have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Whilst grass-fed livestock is also rich in omega-3 fats.

If you are unsure of the origin of your food, ask where it’s coming from.

How do you cook ‘clean’?

Cooking ‘clean’ is easy.  The secret is – keep things simple and avoid fats.

Dos and don’ts

  • avoid sauces and gravies; go for simple olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice
  • do not deep fry
  • do not stew using animal or vegetable fat
  • do not over-cook your vegetables to a pulp
  • stir-fry or steam your food

You  will soon learn how to appreciate the good taste of ‘clean’ food.  Sauces and gravies musk the taste of your food and increase your waist line.

Food portions play an important part in your ‘clean eating’ lifestyle.  Do not over-eat; aim to have three fifths of your plate full of veg, one fifth of protein and one fifth starchy carb.

And you wondered how celebs look good?  Now you know how … enjoy!

My thanks go to






“Best before” labels: do they increase food waste?

Food which is otherwise thrown out, is being salvaged and sold at heavily discounted prices to people who need it. “Foodies” of Cape Town, South Africa are selling damaged food or food which is past its “sell by” or “best before” date at significantly reduced prices. the-issue-of-global-food-waste

The “sell by” date was first introduced by Marks & Spencer’s in their warehouses in 1953. The intention was for the retailer to know by when to sell their products.

Over the following two decades the “sell by” date was tweaked to “sell until”, “display until” etc.   It’s all very confusing for the consumer!  And as a result tonnes of food is wasted every year.

In 2009, the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs was quoted as saying that, the UK alone, throws away 370,000 tonnes of food each year.

Date labelling is mandatory under European law.

What happens if you consume food past the date on the packaging?

As long as you use your common sense and follow your nose, nothing will happen. Have you ever eaten a pot of yogurt “expired” by a few days?  Try it. I promise, you will live to tell the tale!

If you have fruit and vegetables in the bottom drawer of your fridge and they’ve been sitting there for the past five to six weeks, you do not need a date on the packet to tell you they’re not good to eat. They’re probably soft and mouldy and I suspect a foul smell hits you every time you open the fridge door.

“Sell by”, “sell until”, “best before”, “display until” are all meant for stock and quality control.  It is only “use by” which is meant to be taken literally, for food safety reasons.

A restaurant in Denmark is making use of fruit and vegetables which the supermarkets throw out.  The restaurant is sponsored by a charity and the proceeds from food sold go towards funding development projects in Sierra Leone.


Personally, I believe that one of the reasons retailers insist “best before” dates are not removed, is because they play on the consumers’ minds. No matter how much is said or written, a great number of people will still choose to “play safe” and throw out their “expired” products, resulting in increased sales.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think products past their “sell by” date are fit for human consumption? Leave a comment.

My thanks go to:

BBC News (Africa)

The Guardian online

The Telegraph online (food and drink)

Visit Copenhagen


Visit to Becketts Farm

My recent trip to the UK ended with a visit to Becketts Farm shop in Wythall, just outside Birmingham.  Similar to a farmers’ market, farm shops bring together the farmer and the consumer; for the benefit of both.

I visited farm shops before and was always fascinated with the display of fresh produce straight from the fields.


Besides a whole array of fresh fruit and vegetables, these markets carry fresh dairy products, eggs, meat, chutneys, pickles, ciders and much more.

The Farm Shop

My visit to Becketts Farm started with a wander through the shopping area.  I wanted to buy some homemade chutneys to take back home, so I took the opportunity to browse through the whole length and breadth of the shop.

A smell of freshly baked bread coming from the bakery filled the air.  Families with small children going round the various counters getting their shopping.

Through one of the glass doors I could see a children’s cookery class underway.  What a good idea to teach kids a love for cooking good food from scratch!

The Farm Yard and Restaurant

I made my way back to the large farm yard …  and looked around. There was a conference hall down one side, arable land stretching for miles.  I saw a few goats close to the fence … and a tractor parked to one side.  There was also a nice florist and a restaurant.

The place was packed!  A cake was brought out from the kitchen to the sing along of “Happy Birthday”.  The place had such a warm feel to it!

I’m no good with English breakfast, but I found myself a very nice vegetarian meal and a nice glass of Pinot … at very good value for money too!  No wonder the restaurant at Becketts Farm won various awards.

It struck me as though Becketts Farm was more than just a shopping experience.  It was a family day out!

If you’re in the area, check them out.  They’re certainly on my list next time I visit Birmingham.

My thanks go to

Becketts Farm


Wells: A Gold Award winning farmers’ market

In 2014 the farmers’ market in Wells won the Gold Award in The Taste of the West Hospitality and Retail Awards as well as the best farmers’ market in south west England.


The hustle and bustle of a farmers’ market has a certain vibe which makes it unique. Hawkers calling … loud voices … people rushing from one stall to another … the smell of fresh produce … vibrant colours!  It’s so alive!

I love browsing through the food stalls … even if I’m not buying anything! With this in mind, I set out to have a wander around and find out more about the farmers’ market in Wells.

Where is it?

As you get to the high street, you come across a flea market with stalls selling the typical bric-a-brac, antiques and other collectables.  Turn right at the top end of the road and there you find the farmers’ market.

It’s “an extension” of the flea market; located right outside the walls of the Bishop’s Palace and opposite the Local Council’s office.

What can you buy?

The farmers’ market is made up of seventeen stalls offering a wide variety of good quality food from meat to fish, to cheese, fruit and veg, cakes, homemade jams and chutneys, lemonade and much more.

The products sold at the market have one thing in common. They’re all sourced or produced in Somerset, by members of the local community.

As with many farmers’ markets, the main objective behind the market is to provide a platform for producers and customers to meet. Farmers’ markets provide an excellent opportunity for farmers to sell their produce directly to the consumer, making high quality food more affordable.

The farmers’ market in Wells is held between 9am to 2.30pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Next week … a visit to a farm shop.

My thanks go to:

Somerset Farmers’ Markets




5 basic steps how to make homemade soups

Have you ever thought how easy it is to make your own soups?  Vegetable soups can make an excellent detox meal or a warming comfort food, come cooler weather. Follow these five basic steps and you’re on your way to making hearty soups in time for autumn.

1. Basic ingredient

Most soups start with sauteing the onion and / or garlic or leek (leeks have a milder taste to onions).

When the onion is translucent, but not burnt, add any spices or herbs (if using).  Saute stiring continuously for one or two minutes.

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2. Other ingredients

Once the onion is coated with any spices (if using), tip in the pulses – lentils, beans, dried peas etc.- (wash pulses under running water before use).

Cut the vegetables into small pieces – keep them of a similar size so they cook evenly. If using root vegetables put these in first, cause they take longer to cook. Stir for a couple of minutes until your ingredients are coated with the onion mixture before adding the stock.

3. Stock

Add the stock – you can make your own homemade stock or add hot water to a stock pot or bouillon.  If using the latter, check out the sodium content of the product and go easy when seasoning your soup. You can easily ruin your soup by adding too much salt.

Once you add the stock, bring it to the boil and lower the heat to allow the soup to simmer. Cooking time depends on your choice of ingredients but a lot of vegetable soups cook in just under 30 minutes.

4. How to serve

Serving your soup is a matter of preference.  Some people like chunky soups, others prefer smooth.  Some like thick soups, whilst others prefer a thinner consistency to their soups.  Go for what you prefer; there’s no hard and fast rule.

For a chunky soup squash your ingredients with a potato masher or pulse in a food processor.  A vegetable mill (if you have one) gives your soup a thick, rustic texture.

To obtain a smoother result, process your soup in a food blender or a smoothie machine.

If you’d like to thin out your soup, add some hot water.  If your soup is too runny, add two tablespoons of quinoa, quinoa porridge or bulgur wheat in the simmering stage to thicken the consistency.

You can serve your soup with crusty bread or unbuttered toast to add substance and make it more filling.

5. Benefits of homemade soups

Homemade soups are quick and easy to make.  Once you master the basic steps you will appreciate the benefits of homemade over the convenience of buying ready made soups, anytime.

Homemade soups are

  • a nutritious meal in a bowl;
  • a good lunch box item;
  • good hearty suppers on a cold day;
  • refreshing when served chilled;
  • quick and easy to make;
  • economical.

Try making your own soups and find out how good you are at doing so!

Sharing is caring; share your favourite soup recipe or follow me on Pinterest to get soup recipes and ideas.

My thanks go


Watermelon: more than just a fruit

During the hot summer months, chilled watermelon is one of the most refreshing fruits you can think of.  Here in Malta, families and friends organise beach BBQs throughout summer.  They make the most of the balmy summer evenings with picnic coolers full of food – meat, fish, salads, beer, wine, nuts etc. – and head to their favourite beach (which is only a short distance away).

If the evening is hot and sticky they go for a dip before they light up … the smell of smoked food fills the air.  They eat and drink … and as the last cinders die out between the charcoal, out comes the watermelon from the cooler.  It is cut up in slices and everyone helps themselves.  They’re stuffed, but no BBQ is complete without the sweet, refreshing taste of a ripe watermelon.

Fruit or Veg?

Watermelon is generally thought of as a fruit.  But, according to some interesting facts I came across, watermelon is also a vegetable. It is related to cucumbers, pumpkin and squash.  Did you know you can eat the seeds and the rind of the watermelon?  I have never tried it myself, but studies show that if you blitz the rind with lime juice, you end up with a very refreshing treat full of the amino-acid Citrulline which, is very good for your heart and to maintain your immune system.

In Southern United States, the rind is stir-fried, stewed or pickled and in the Vietnamese culture, the seeds of the watermelon are used in the New Year.

Do you know where the watermelon came from?

GeoffreyNdung’u - watermelon in fields

It was the Moors who introduced the watermelon to Europe.  The fruit is a native of South Africa where it grows wild.  In the second millennium BC, it was grown around the Nile Valley and seeds of the watermelon were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Today, China is the biggest producer of watermelons.

There are more than 1200 varieties of watermelon.  The size of a fruit ranges from under one kilogram to over 90.  The flesh and the rind vary in colour.  The flesh of the watermelon comes in red, orange, yellow or white and the rind comes in yellow, dark green stripped and other colours.

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Is watermelon good for you?

Watermelon is 91% water but it is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and lycopene – a carotenoid antioxidant which decreases the risk of strokes and has potential anti-cancer activity.

Watermelon has a number of health benefits, which makes it good for you, but as always, eat it in moderation.  Go easy cause watermelon contains plenty of sugar (fructose).

How can you use watermelon?

Watermelon can be used both as dessert and as a salad ingredient.

It goes very well with herbs such as mint and basil and it also works well with certain types of cheeses.  Try this three melon and mozzarella salad or this Asian burger with minted watermelon.

For a refreshing drink, try this watermelon-lime cooler or watermelon jelly.  And for the little ones … how about watermelon lime ginger pops?

Keep cool this summer with one of nature’s gifts – a thirsty-quenching, refreshing watermelon.

If you would like to find out more about the health benefits of watermelons, go to 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Watermelon by Dr Mercola or for interesting facts check out Watermelon on Wiki.


My thanks go to:

  • Wikipedia
  • Google images