Get Healthy with Dr Carrot

21 07 2011

TV’s Dr Christian Jessen and the British Carrot Growers’ Association have collaborated on an informative yet fun leaflet that is now downloadable from  The Get Healthy with Dr Carrot leaflet is part of a year-long campaign by the nation’s carrot growers and Dr Christian to reiterate the words of wisdom uttered by Dr Carrot, a cartoon character from World War II.  Dr Carrot was part of an educational programme by the Ministry of Food to show people how to eat healthily during rationing but his words of advice are as valid today as they were 60 years ago and the leaflet is designed to communicate them to the younger generation.

Photo credit: The Imperial War Museum

“Dr. Carrot was a well loved character who promoted healthy-eating messages to keep the nation fit during the dark days of war,” says Dr. Christian.  “I’m delighted to be revisiting his advice on behalf of the British Carrot Growers’ Association.  Together we’ll get Britain healthy!”

The Get Healthy with Dr Carrot leaflet explains in a child friendly way just how important carrots are in our diets in particular the role that beta-carotene plays.  This is an antioxidant that occurs in high levels in carrots and which creates Vitamin A in the body.  This vitamin is vital for good eyesight, immunity, healthy hair and skin and ensuring good growth and strong bones and teeth.   As Dr Christian explains: “Research* has shown that many of this country’s youngsters and indeed adults have lower levels of vitamin A intakes than is ideally necessary.   But an 80g serving of cooked carrot – that’s just half a medium sized carrot – contains more than twice the recommended daily amount of vitamin A equivalent needed by adults.  It really couldn’t be easier to eat yourself healthier with carrots.”

The leaflet also looks into the fascinating history of carrots, which believe it or not were originally purple.  They only turned the more familiar orange colour in the 15th century when carrots were developed by Dutch growers in honour of their royal family who were from the ‘House of Orange’.

Perfect fodder for school quizzes, the leaflet contains some fun, interesting facts about carrots.  Do you know, for example, how many carrots are bought in the UK every weekend?  Or why carrots are ‘put to bed’ in winter and harvested at midnight at the start of the new season in June?  For the answers visit!

Carrots are incredibly versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked.  During the Second World War carrots were promoted as a replacement for sugar in many recipes due to their natural sweetness which probably explains their popularity with children.   If, as a mum though, you still struggle to think of ways to get your kids to eat more carrots, the Get Healthy with Dr Carrot leaflet can give some top tips to help make it happen eg mix mashed carrots with mashed potato and use to top cottage pie or fish pie.

Another sure-fire way to get children to eat better is to get them involved in cooking and the leaflet provides some simple recipes that youngsters should find easy to make and which have been developed by Dr Christian for that ‘celebrity flair and kudos’.

Dr Christian adds: “There’s so much to say about carrots.  They’re low in calories, low in fat and saturates, naturally low in salt but high in fibre making them the perfect snack to crunch on when you’re watching your weight or that of your children.  The beta-carotene, when converted into Vitamin A, is an important nutrient for eye health – a lack of it can cause blindness – and because beta-carotene is an important antioxidant, eating carrots helps to keep your skin healthy and elastic.”

To find out more about the wonder of carrots and to download the Get Healthy with Dr Carrot leaflet visit

*The research to which Dr. Christian refers is the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of Young People¹ that revealed that 13 per cent of 11-14 year old boys and 20 per cent of 11-14 year old girls have vitamin A intakes below the minimum amount needed for good health.  This is also true of 16 per cent of men and 19 per cent of women aged between 19 and 24².


¹  National Diet and Nutrition Survey:  Young People Aged 4-18 Years. 2000.
² National Diet and Nutrition Survey: Adults Aged 19-64 Years. Volume 2, 2003

Content provided by Mustard Communications.


Brightening up the Vegan BBQ

15 02 2011

A BBQ is a great social occasion and a good way of drawing friends and family together, and there’s no reason to feel left out of the traditional summer BBQs if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. You certainly don’t have to restrict yourself to veggie burgers, either!

Choosing to buy organic and locally-produced fruit and vegetables should ensure you get the very best for your BBQ and will supply you with fresher fruit and vegetables and help support local farmers. If you’re lucky enough to live near a farmer’s market or a farm shop, you should be able to pick up fantastically fresh, tasty, and good value seasonal fruit and vegetables.

And what better way to make the most of the best your area has to offer than with a BBQ and a wide variety of salads? Grilling seals in the flavours of the vegetables and it’s a healthy and fun way of cooking. You can experiment with marinades, fresh herbs, and vegetables you might not have otherwise tried. It’s also a great way to encourage the pickier members of the family to eat more vegetables!

The Usual Suspects

Mushrooms are a must for vegetable kebabs! Image Credit: Dinostock

The humble vegetable kebab can be brightened up with a marinade. Simply mix olive oil with a little lemon juice, then add fresh herbs, chilli, or crushed garlic. Soy sauce or balsamic vinegar are nice additions, too, or try harissa (a chilli paste from Tunisia) for warmth. Flavourful oils, such as walnut or avocado, are great drizzled over a green salad as an accompaniment. If you’re using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them overnight to minimise the risk of splinters.

For extra flavour, you could try skewering vegetables on stripped sprigs of rosemary. Good vegetables for grilling include sweet pepper, aubergine, courgette, tomato, mushroom, red onion, asparagus, sweetcorn, and sweet potato. Be aware that some vegetables, such as aubergines and mushrooms, tend to soak up a lot of flavour, so it’s best to limit the marinade time of these to avoid overpowering the natural flavour.

Your Vegan Platter

Make plenty of salads to fit the season, pasta, green leaves, and maybe some leaf and fruits, and the absolute essential, potato salad (with vegan mayonnaise and dill) – and provide plenty of rolls and dips (such as hummus, good quality olive oil, guacamole, tapenades, and whatever else might go well with crudités and bread). Supply some wine and perhaps a non-alcoholic punch or juice.

The Main Event

Grilled red peppers. Image credit: Food Factory

Find a few large portobello mushrooms and brush them liberally with some good quality olive oil or margarine, and some torn herbs or fresh crushed garlic. Alternatively, spread a little pesto, or olive or tomato tapenade over them before grilling. Or you can make your own garlic ‘butter’ with roasted garlic and margarine – simply spread this lightly over the mushrooms as they cook, adding more as necessary. The mushrooms should be grilled gills uppermost, and can be served in warmed buns with rings of red onion and some fresh organic salad leaves.*

New potatoes should be skewered and given a liberal brushing of olive oil with herbs (rosemary really shines here) before grilling, or you could bake a potato or sweet potato in foil in the smouldering coals for a side dish.

Stuff sweet peppers or large, par-boiled onions with a cooked grain and your favourite mixture of cooked vegetables (try Mediterranean vegetables with basil and pine nuts) and grill until soft.

For the best sweetcorn, peel back the husks, remove the silk, then rub the corn with margarine and tie the husks back over the corn. Cook the corn around the outside of the grill for about 20 minutes. To cook it quicker, try soaking it in cold water for thirty minutes beforehand, or blanch it in hot water.

Tofu well deserves its place on the vegan BBQ, too. Choose a good, firm, organic brand, and marinade it well (overnight is best, and add soy sauce to the marinade for a salty, savoury taste) before grilling. It’s great threaded onto skewers with vegetables.**

Don’t Forget Dessert

As the perfect finish for your meal, try wrapping bananas or plantains (choose plantains with black skin to get the sweetest) in foil, or cook them directly in their skins.

You can also thread fruit onto skewers and grill it – pineapple, peaches, pear, and apple all work well, and you can sprinkle these with a little mixed spice or brush them with agave nectar (a vegan substitute for honey).

Some fruits, such as peach, nectarine, or apple, can simply be sliced in half, grilled, and served with a scoop of vegan ice cream or sorbet for a simple dessert.

If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could try putting some stoned, ripe cherries in a foil pouch on the grill and serve them over vanilla vegan ice cream.

So there is every reason to fire up the barbecue, cast iron chiminea, or fire pit this year. As long as you have the time for a little preparation, and as long as you can source the best fruit and vegetables, you’ll be able to get the family and friends around a barbecue and enjoy a delicious, home-cooked meal alfresco.

And it’s well worth considering signing up to a local veg-box scheme or creating a vegetable plot in your own garden. You need surprisingly little space, and you can have as much fun growing your food as you can cooking and eating it!


Laura Phillips is a vegan – and has been for several years! – and outdoor living enthusiast, and writes for

This post has been syndicated by Nathan Brown, the gardening jobs recruiter for Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage and provider of Eco Advertising.


* – another site with lots of BBQ ideas.

** – an informative article with loads of good ideas for tofu.

The Green Teen Cookbook, by Aurora Metro Arts & Media

11 02 2011

The Green Teen CookbookThe Green Teen Cookbook will be a cook book designed by teenagers, for teenagers, and including teenager’s recipes. Our goal is to gather information about ethical food, and answer questions such as “Where can I get good local products that don’t cost the earth in terms of air miles?”, “Where can I get fair trade goods?”, “Where does my food come from?”

The book will also give teens advice on how to cook healthy recipes that are both simple and impressive, but cheap enough for those on a budget!

The Green Teen Cookbook will be ethical, healthy and fun but we also want it to be a collective project; that’s why we are looking for teenagers to get involved and send us their recipes. So if you’re between 13 and 18 (or a little older and you just feel like you have the soul of a teenager!), please send us your favourite recipe. For you, it could be an amazing opportunity to get published. For us, it would be a chance to create a cook book that could change the way young people look at food.

We are already working with several organisations such as Jamie Oliver’s The Fifteen Foundation, Acornhouse Restaurant, Heatham House Café and Kneller Café, as well as various schools, colleges, youth groups in and around London… All we need now is a little help from those among you who like to cook!

You can send your recipes to:

For more information see the Aurora Metro website:

Or phone 0203 261 000

New Year Recipes For Vitality

14 01 2011

As 2011 begins, discover how to nourish the glow of beautiful skin, the radiance of clear eyes and expand your energy levels and fitness this year.

Begin the year by feeding your health with pure and natural dishes.  Delight your palate with delicious cooking that’s healthy too.

Can you really enjoy both yummy and healthy meals?

Anna Freedman, a qualified Macrobiotic Cook and Wholefood Coach from Wholefood Harmony, is passionate about inspiring health through delicious, natural cuisine. She believes in whole, unprocessed foods for their powerful benefits to health and mitigation against disease.

Wholefood Harmony offer cooking workshops, coaching sessions and personal cook services  to share the wisdom of natural food diets, rich in whole grains, pulses and local, seasonal vegetables with no fat, sugar or added preservatives.

Anna says that ‘the influence of season and the balance of pure ingredients, dishes and cooking styles are central to the art of our menu design.  I love creating menus made up of dishes and flavours that harmonise together beautifully bestowing pleasure, vitality and wellness on those enjoying our meals.”

Wholefood Harmony are running a ‘Healthy New Year’ Cooking Workshop series beginning 20th January.  Here you can learn to create dishes that delight your appetite and expand your health.  The series will allow you to discover how to integrate pure foods into busy schedules and make a healthy start on enjoying feeding your vitality this year.

The workshops include themed wholefood teaching, hands on cooking and they conclude with enjoyment of a full, three course meal comprising over seven different dishes.  Sessions are £40 each and take place close to Golders Green, North West London.


For more information please visit  You can contact Anna on 07957313187 or at

Healthy New Year Cooking Workshops

Thursday 20th January – Cooking for Men & Women6.30-930pm; Includes full balanced wholefoods meal that will delight both men and women.

Sunday 23rd January 2011 – New Year Recipes for Vitality10am-1.30pm; Discover ingredients for wellbeing and learn to create recipes to expand health this year. Includes full luncheon.

Wednesday 26th January 2011 – Naturally Fast Cuisine10am-1.30pm; Learn about nourishing yourself and others with delicious, natural dishes that you can prepare quickly. Includes full luncheon.


Have you got what it takes to be a Fresh Herb Hero?

10 12 2010

British Herb Trade Association has joined forces with top chef John Torode to launch a search for the nations Herb Hero, which will begin in January 2011.  Here’s what they had to say about the competition:

While much of the food industry has been feeling the pinch during the recession, there is one category which has flourished.  Fresh herbs saw a rise in sales as consumers went ‘back to basics’ and to cooking meals from scratch. However, while one third of us use fresh herbs, that still leaves many who do not.  The British Herb Trade Association has joined forces with top chef John Torode, to launch a nationwide cookery competition in a bid to help change this.

For thousands of years, herbs have been used to add flavour and aroma to a wide range of dishes and have long been known for their health properties.  They can transform the most ordinary meals into something extraordinary.  And now The British Herb Trade Association is launching a search for ‘the nation’s Herb Heroes;’ looking for incredible food from real people, who are transforming everyday meals with fresh herbs. So if you love food, love cooking and want to share your innovative herb recipes with the nation, or simply relish the idea of showing off your culinary expertise, this is your chance to shine.

Leon Mundey of the British Herb Trade Association says: “We’re always on the lookout for new and exciting fresh herb recipes.  Perhaps you have a great family recipe which has been handed down through the generations or just love to come up with new ideas. We believe that when it comes to cooking, Britain really has got talent. So whether you love cooking, love fresh herbs, or think you can give Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson a run for their money, we’d love you to enter the competition.  If you don’t like being the star of the show, then we urge you to log on to and simply vote for your favourites.”

John Torode, chef and restaurateur says: “This is a great competition for people who love cooking and who understand the importance of using fresh herbs to transform ordinary meals into something really special.  The best chefs know that fresh is best and herbs are no exception. Fresh herbs can elevate recipes to something really extraordinary.  The balance of herbs in a recipe can make or break a dish with the correct combination exuding taste, freshness, flavour and aroma.”

To enter, simply create a home-video of yourself cooking up your creation.  You can record your demonstration on a mobile phone, camera or camcorder. Then go to to follow instructions to upload it from January 2011.  Videos should be no longer than 4 minutes and all entrants must be UK residents. Entrants will be judged by both the public and the competition organisers, according to their cooking skills, recipe, competence in the kitchen, but also their star quality as a presenter.  Most importantly we want to see enthusiasm for food and great use of fresh herbs.

If you don’t have access to the internet, simply send your herb recipe and a picture of the finished dish, along with your contact details to HERB HEROES, Mustard Communications, 5th Floor, Regal House, 70 London Road, Twickenham, TW1 3QS.

The top three entrants will be invited to the cook off in London as well as being treated to a 2 night stay in London for themselves and a guest, with the overall winner picking up the top prize of £2,500.

There is also a junior category for budding chefs aged 7-16 years.

So if you think you can make a meal of herbs, turn up the heat and get cooking!  The competition opens in January 2011 and all entries must be uploaded by Friday 6th May 2011, with the cook off taking place on Tuesday 24th May 2011 in London.

In season in December, recipes and a few eco goodies!

10 12 2010

December is getting off to a white start this year, with widespread snow and bitterly cold temperatures.  Thankfully it’s also the festive season; a time of goodwill, good company and good food, so there is plenty to look forward to!

In this blog entry we’ve highlighted kale, including scrummy recipes such as Spicy Kale with Chickpeas and Kale & Roquefort Parcels.  We’ve also included two recipes that mix apples and celeriac (read on to find out more), and we have a special soup section.

Enjoy the blog and we wish you all a very merry, festive time!

The VegBox Recipes Team

PS. This recipe for Mushroom and Winter Veg Pie should not be missed.  It’s a perfect winter warmer that will turn whatever root veg you have into a divine treat!

In Season in December

As well as marking the start of winter, December is of course the festive season, and the way things are going you would be forgiven for thinking that here in the UK, it might be a white one!   So what can you expect in your veg box?  Forced Rhubarb and Purple Sprouting Broccoli is coming in, and plenty is still in season including: Beetroot, Celeriac, Kale, Pototoes & Swede.

Click through for the full list.

Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: Kale

Kale is a great source of Vitamins C, A and B6. It’s also packed with antioxidants, which are vital for a healthy immune system.  It’s in season over the winter, which makes it a useful ingredient in the vegetable box.  It’s strong flavour requires careful cooking, so it’s worth reading how to use it and checking out the recipes, to make sure you enjoy it.

Read more about this ingredient.

Try these recipes:

Celeriac & Apples!

And what about putting celeriac and apples together? Try these recipes:

Wholesome, Warming Soups

With the temperatures as they are, here in the office we have been bringing in soup to have for lunch, to warm our cockles and help power us through the afternoon.  Here are some of our favourite recipes which we think you will love too:

Ooffoo Community

These fabulous articles were uploaded to our sister site, Ooffoo, by community members:

Tips for Wormeries, by Maddy

…BEDDING – Add some additional bedding to your wormery such as shredded paper, scrunched up newspaper and/or a moisture mat as this can help to add some “insulation” and keep your worms a little warmer over the winter…

Read the full article.

The Joy of Mess, by Kerryb

…it isn’t just laziness or the comfort of soft furnishings and central heating that keep me inside.  It is not because I choose to neglect my garden, it is because I choose not to interfere.  This is armchair gardening at its best.  With a cup of tea and biscuit by my side, I sit back on my comfortable settee and watch, reaping the rewards of my negligence…

Read the full article

Marketplace Goodies

 Product image

Scented Drawer Sachets

Fair trade. Perfect for keeping drawers smelling sweet.


 Product image

Flower Embroidered Jacket

Keep the cold out this winter.


 Product image

Long Socks

Warm and cosy socks knitted from recycled yarn.


 Product image

Sustainable Gift Wrap

Sustainable wrapping kit using recycled material.


 Product image

Garden Sign

An amusing sign that makes the perfect gift for a green fingered loved one.


 Product image

Gardening Book

Organise your gardening year and make the most of your produce.


In Season in October: Tomatoes

20 10 2010

Get Recipe

They’re nearly all gone for the year now. If you’re growing them and you’ve got some still on the vine but they’re still very green, try cutting off the vine and hanging it up indoors somewhere, or putting them in a paper bag with a ripe banana!

Once they’re ripe, make the most of them with our recipes for Autumn Pancakes with Blue Cheese Sauce, Tomato and Roast Garlic Soup, or Homemade Tomato Sauce (which you could freeze to use later in the year when the tomatoes are gone).

Tomatoes Baked with Parmesan, Parsley & Garlic

This toasty tomato recipe from the Vista Veg cooperative might help use up the final few tomatoes – perhaps nestled into a basic risotto or on fresh, warm buttered bread? Mmm…

In Season in October: Peppers

18 10 2010


We’ve only really got one month left to enjoy British grown peppers and chillies, so best make the most of them. As well as trying our new and special feature recipe, don’t miss other VegBox favourites like Andrew Williams’ Spicy Vegetable Lasagne with Peppers, or our Baked Autumn Omelette which you can cram with as many seasonal veggies as you like!


Honest to Goodness’ Cinnamon Roasted Seasonal Vegetables

cinnamon roasted veg


We love how simple this is, and we love the cinnamon variation on roasting whatever’s in season. Thanks to our friends at “Honest to Goodness” for the recipe!

Get Recipe

In Season in October: Jerusalem Artichokes

14 10 2010

Jerusalem Artichoke (which is not an artichoke and is not from Jerusalem!) has a tasty nutty flavour and is one of the best non-meat sources of iron, so it’s well worth trying. Now that it’s in season, try it gratineed, cooked with wine, rosemary and cream or “julienned” into a salad.

Read more about this ingredient.

Oh-So-Simple Jerusalem Artichokes and Sauteed Onions

sauteed with onions


This truly oh-so-simple recipe was provided by Polly B from Holymoor. How about serving this dish with rice for a substantial meal, or with hunks of bread at lunch time?



Get Recipe

In Season In October

11 10 2010

in season in october

October brings with it beautiful Autumn colours, the World Conker Championship (second Sunday), Apple Day (21st October), the end of British Summer Time (31st October), and Hallowe’en (also 31st October – don’t miss our top Eco-Hallowe’en Tips from last year, and our list of seasonal “paranormal party foods“).

The Saxons called the month Wyn Monath because it was the season of wine making, and it’s the central month for ripe English hot-house grapes. October 1st used to be the start of “English Pudding Season” (although this refers to savoury “puddings” filled with steak, leeks and mushrooms, rather than the kinds of puddings we personally prefer, like Treacle, for instance!).

As for fruit and veggies – don’t miss the last of the courgettes, figs, runner beans or Spring onions. And crack out the recipes for Brussels (they’re back!), celeriac and Jerusalem (f)artichokes (!) – all back in season from now.

Read on for the full list…

Growing Our Own Veggies: October Checklist

8 10 2010

october checklist

“All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey …” so make sure you’ve got a rain butt and some sacks for making leaf mold (see last year’s November feature for more on using fallen leaves), we say!

And dig out your woolly hat and an anorak, because there’s still plenty of outdoors exercise to be had if you’re an aspiring Grow Your Own-er.

And for the times when you’re cosied up indoors under the blankets (have you managed to keep the heating off so far?), there’s always planning for next year to do, and seed ordering. Remember to think about crop rotation (here’s the link again to the crop rotation “how to” over on The Gardeners Calendar.

Here’s your handy monthly checklist…

Nuts about Nuts!

5 10 2010


sweet chestnut chocolate brownies and more


Calling all free-food-ers / foragers … It’s British nut season.

We wanted to feature the British nut this year, because nuts are such an important source of nutrients, especially for vegetarians and vegans, and because with some help they should be foragable and so available for free. They’re a great source of protein, especially for vegetarians and vegans – for starters you can simply try throwing handfuls of freshly ground nuts into porridge, yogurt, on top of ice cream and other desserts, or into casseroles, bakes, risottos and pasta sauces. And if you’re ready to get cooking with nuts, how about having a go with one of our special nut-feature recipes? Or even try out our Peanut Butter Coleslaw!

Click through to read on, and for our super-tasty recipes for:

Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: Broad Beans

24 09 2010

Chilli Broad Beans and more...

This month sees the last of the broad beans. But before you dig out the hankies, here are some brand new broad bean recipes for making the most of them with. Remember that broad beans get tougher as the season goes along, so you’ll almost definitely want to pod and skin them before you eat them. See our Broad Beans page for a guide on podding and skinning…

Here are our newest recipes for finishing the broad bean season with:

Which will you be trying?

Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: Beetroot

20 09 2010

beetroot and cheese pie

Last year we published a feature on beetroot. This year we’re refreshing that feature as we approach the end of beetroot season, with some brand new recipes from our readers and some more brilliant beetroot facts…

And as it’s just about time to be planning your vegetable patches for next year, do bear beetroot in mind. They look great growing in borders or deep enough troughs on window-ledges because the leaves are so beautiful.

Click through for all the facts, and for recipes for:

Fruit-in-the-Spotlight: Apples

12 09 2010

Forget “tablets” and the new iPhone 4 “changing everything. Again.” We still think the best kind of apple is the eating kind and at least these ones DO grow on trees. For all the fascinating facts, a how-to guide on home drying, and eight apple recipes, including cosy, baked, stuffed apples, and the original walforf salad … Read on!

Growing Our Own Veggies: September Checklist

10 09 2010

in season in september

September heralds the end of Summer and the start of Autumn. To be “precise” – September 23rd is the autumnal equinox this year, when the North pole begins its tilt away from the sun and the nights begin to be longer than the days.

We are definitely in harvest time now, as you’ll know if you have children in schools that celebrate the Harvest Festival. There’s also a fair bit of maintenance that can be done in the vegetable garden. But there’s very little sowing to be done now until next year.

Here’s the run down.

Handy guide to eating left-overs

6 09 2010

Monday 6th September sees the start of the third national “Zero Waste Week”, and just like our dear friend Mrs Green of MyZeroWaste we at VegBox Recipes and Ooffoo plan to give it our full support.

This year’s theme is ‘Cooking for Victory’ in response to WRAPS “household Food and Drink Waste in the UK” report. The report shows we throw away 8.3 million tonnes of food and drink every year. Most of this is avoidable and could have been eaten if we had planned, stored and managed it better. This amount of food waste costs the average family in Britain £50 per month. And in these economic times, that’s £50 per month few of us can spare. What could you do with that £600 you’d save in a year? And if that’s only the average, then some of us are wasting a whole lot more than that…

We have made our own pledge, to publish this “handy guide to eating left-overs”, which we really hope you’ll:

1) find useful,

and, more importantly,

2) add your own ideas to, using the Comments field down there.

Alternatively, rather than adding your ideas here, why not add them to Mrs G’s website and put yourself in the running to win one of the two great prizes that she has up for grabs: a £50 LUSH voucher and £50 Natural Collection voucher!

Click through for the “Handy Guide to Eating Left-overs

Growing Our Own Veggies: August Checklist

25 08 2010

august to do list

As we hit the height of Summer and the soil is at its driest, do keep everything regularly (not sporadically) watered, using water from rain butts whereever you can. Many gardeners use “grey” water for watering, ie from baths and doing the washing up, although our jury is out on the advisability of that when you’re going to eat what you water…

Here’s the usual run down on sowing, planting out, maintenance and harvesting for August.

Meat-eater, Vegetarian or Vegan, right? Wrong!

23 08 2010

what are your food ethics?

There’s a risk that, when explaining you’re a (for instance) seasonally-focused, raw food, lacto-non-ovo-vegetarian, you’re going to get the kinds of raised eyebrows you see in certain coffee shops when someone at the front orders a tall, skinny, dry, double shot, extra hot, soya, vanilla cappuccino.

So which ethical food camps are there, which one are you in and why?  Find out.

August Sweet Treats

13 08 2010

cherry clafoutis

Cherry Clafoutis

August brings with it the last of the cherries, so make the most of them with this traditional, elegant yet amazingly simple French dessert.

eton mess

Eton Mess

Summer’s not Summer without Eton Mess … Make yourself popular with the kids by whipping one of these up whilst British strawberries are still abundant.

Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: Broccoli – Calabrese, Purple Sprouting and Tenderstem

28 07 2010

PSB, Tenderstem and Calabrese

Broccoli is a member of the brassica family, like cabbage.

The plant produces green flower heads on thick stalks. They are picked and eaten before the flowers bloom.

There can be confusion between these different types of Broccoli so let us try to help.

Click through for the low down on each type, including their different seasons, and ideas on what to make with each of them…

Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: Cucumber

27 07 2010

nature's WD40?!

Pretty much every weekday morning right now we’re mindlessly chunking up cucumber and throwing it into the box with salad leaves, peppers, spring onions, cashews, and mushrooms for lunch. Add a bit of black pepper, a splash of balsamic or even a tin of tuna and some mayo and I can be pretty sure we’ve saved ourselves from the pot noodle for another day!

But is there more to cucumber than salad? Is there more to cucumber even than tsatsiki? Cucumber side effects? Oiling your hinges? And is it possible that it can be cooked?! Read on …

Fruit-in-the-Spotlight: Squashes

26 07 2010

squashes in the spotlight

We are close to declaring squashes our favourite of all the ingredients we write about. Maybe it’s the sheer variety of them in all their amazing ornamental shapes, sizes and colours. Maybe it’s their versatility for cooking savoury and sweet dishes with.

We also love that they all grow on plants from the Curcurbitacea family, and so are related to courgettes, cucumbers, melons and LOOFAHS (we don’t recommend eating these)!!!

Originally native to Central and North America, many varieties have since been bred to weather colder climes.

Their seasons vary according to type.

Here’s a quick guide to the differences between Summer and Winter squashes, with recipe compilations for each.

Food-in-the-Spotlight: Ethically-sourced Chicken

19 07 2010

would you eat them?

Following on from the June feature on ethical egg shopping, this month we’ve collaborated with the good folks over at Farm-Direct to bring you some thoughts about the chickens behind the eggs.

Since the start of VegBox Recipes, we’ve been focused almost exclusively (and unsurprisingly!) on supporting you to eat local, seasonal, organic fruit and vegetables.

However, not all of our readers are strict vegetarians or vegans. So whilst it’s still true that one of the best ways of reducing your household carbon footprint is to switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet, if we’re going to eat meat, poultry and fish, or cook it for others, the natural choice would seem to be swapping quantity (especially ‘worryingly cheap’ quantity), for quality.

Read on to find out how to know what you’re eating, and for recipes to try with your ethically-sourced chicken.

** thanks to our regular reader, Steve-in-KL, for the photo of his “ladies”!

Growing Our Own Veggies: July Checklist

16 07 2010

july growing checklist

The essentials this month are

  1. keeping back the weeds,
  2. regular early morning or late evening watering, and
  3. ‘stopping’ your tomatoes and climbing beans.

There are also still seeds to be sown, especially if you are planning on being able to harvest your own food later on in the year, as well as armfuls of produce to start bringing in and trying out our recipes with.

Click through for the full July checklist.

In Season in July…

16 07 2010

in season in july

THIRTEEN new ingredients are coming into season – it must be July!

Click through to see the whole list and to let us know which you need help with.

Make sure you get the list at the very beginning of the month – sign up to the free VegBox Monthly Newsletter…

Growing Our Own Veggies – June Checklist

28 05 2010

june checklist

Half way through the year?! Already?! Is it too late to get started growing?!

We say not.

There is plenty that you can still sow, so if June is your month for having a go, let us help you with this checklist. And if you’re already well on the way, there are sections on planting out, maintenance and harvest too.

Click through for the full June checklist.

Food-in-the-Spotlight: Free Range, Organic Eggs

26 05 2010

is free range enough?

This month, as well as focusing on the fruit and veg that’s in season, we wanted to get your input on eggs and what you prefer to buy.

It seems like buying free range was one of the first ethical supermarket choices available to us. These days, however, there is a nagging sense that “free range” is not enough.

Click through to find out what we’ve discovered about ethical egg eating, and for our scrumptious recipes for:


Fruit-in-the-Spotlight: Tomatoes

23 05 2010

sauces, salads, tarts, soups, stews...

Tomatoes are a delicious and welcome sign that summer is here!

And they crop right through until the first frosts of autumn.

Anyone who has tried home-grown / veg box tomatoes will know their flavour and texture is vastly superior to standard supermarket tomatoes.

This is because the home-grown / veg box are left to ripen on the plant, rather than being picked too early, ripened artificially and then transported for days or even weeks, in cold storage. That’s why supermarket tomatoes often have a “floury” texture.

Read on for tips on storing, ripening and skinning, and for our brand new selection of recipes for:

and more…

Fruit-in-the-Spotlight: Cherries

16 05 2010

ooh what a pavlova!

In 2010, National Cherry Day is Saturday July 17th.

Cherries are a short-lived, summer treat. They can be either sweet or sour, depending on the variety so check before you cook with them as you’ll need sugar for the sour ones! But the sour varieties make better jam.

In the past, the stones were used in bed-warming pans, and the cherry was grown primarily for medicinal purposes rather than to eat as a fruit.

Nutritionally, they’re a good source of antioxidants, Vitamin C, iron, potassium and magnesium and are fast on their way to becoming a “super-fruit”.

Click through for our guide on how to buy, store, freeze and cook cherries. In particular, we’re delighted to bring you two brand new recipes donated generously by

as well as our recipes for:

Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: Kohl rabi

16 05 2010

NOT from Mars...

Kohl rabi (or kohlrabi – from the German for “cabbage turnip”!) is one of those vegetables that makes a regular appearance in veg boxes, but sits, unused, in the corner of the fridge until it slowly goes off.

Sometimes it arrives complete with its alien tentacles, sometimes it’s trimmed. If you’ve never sen one with its tentacles in tact, check out the picture, which was sent to us by Evette who lives in North Florida and has been growing her own since 2008.

Sometimes it’s green, sometimes it’s purple.

Yet this versatile vegetable is easy to cook and a useful addition to many dishes. It’s also a good source of Vitamin C, as well as magnesium and phosphorous, which are useful in the absorption of calcium. And its mild flavour and ability to absorb the flavour of other ingredients in a meal make it an ideal vegetable for bulking up recipes and sneaking in extra veggies.

Bear in mind that kohl rabi is really at its best when “al dente” so don’t over-cook it.

Read on for top tips on buying, storing and cooking, and for a selection of kohl rabi recipes, including two excellent new contributions to the database from The Nearly Naked Veg Company:

Growing Our Own Veggies: May Checklist

3 05 2010

growing our own in may

As the last Spring frost was calculated to be late April for Southern UK, this SHOULD mean that your precious seeds and seedlings are safer outdoors now. It’s starting to get busy for food growers, but there’s no need to be daunted, and remember if you’re new to it, keep it simple – less will be more if you want to sustain your motivation. Remember, year one is more about learning and growing in confidence than it is about reaping an entirely self sufficient harvest.

Here’s our checklist for May.

In Season in May

3 05 2010

in season in may

This year May brings the start of the Well-Dressing Season, May Day (May 1st), two Bank Holidays (May 3rd and 31st), one General Election (May 6th)!, British Sandwich Week (1) (May 16th – 23rd), Be Nice to Nettles Week (19th – 30th May), and even Cheese Rolling in the Gloucestershire hills (May 31st).

It also, of course, brings fruit and vegetables from all our lovely growers around the country.

Click through for a look at the list of seasonal veggies which May offers.

British Sandwich Week 2010 – The VegBox Recipes Round of Sandwiches

17 04 2010

Enter the VB "Sandwich-Off"...

May 9th-15th is British Sandwich Week.

So in anticipation and celebration of the Great British Sandwich, we’re kicking off another VegBox Recipes Round of Sandwiches…

Read on to find out how it works and for recipes to get the juices flowing:


16 04 2010

free seeds, free workshops!

Here at VegBox Recipes, we are avid followers of lots of great campaigns, including Mind’s “EcoMinds”, the BBC’s “Dig In” and the “Capital Growth” initiative in London.

This month, there is a flurry of activity that we wanted to make sure you knew about. For so many of us, the desire is there to Grow Our Own, and yet it can feel so daunting. If up until now, you’ve been putting it off, maybe these links will be the ticket…

Growing Our Own Veggies – April Checklist

29 03 2010

time to get outdoors in the April showers

Are you feeling it too? A certain … What’s it called? Oh yes! WARMTH!

Please don’t let us jinx it, but it does seem just ever so slightly like scarves are optional.

Which could also mean starting to plant out into the ground or tubs, especially if you’ve been warming your soil with fleece or plastic… However, be warned that the official last frost date for this year, and this is for the South of England, is not until late April, so best to keep an eye on the forecast.

Here’s your veggie growing guide for April.

Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: Purple Sprouting Broccoli

19 03 2010

which is which?!

Calabrese is the large headed variety that most of us call Broccoli. Actual Broccoli has individual stalks for each flower clump. It is often purple, and gets called PSB – short for Purple Sprouting Broccoli (confused yet?!).

In the picture, PSB is on the left, Calabrese is on the right.

As PSB is about to go out of season, we’ve just flagged some delicious recipes to help you make the most of it before it it’s gone:

Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: Asparagus

12 03 2010

asparagus casserole with mushrooms, nuts, rice and chickpeas...

Asparagus is considered a delicacy and its arrival heralds the start of spring – definitely something to be looked forward to.

When lightly steamed, its flavour is simply delicious. The motto with using asparagus is “less is more” – don’t worry about fancy recipes, enjoy it as it is.

If you are looking for a recipe, however, how about Asparagus Casserole with Mushrooms, Nuts, Rice and Chickpeas? Or maybe Cheesy Asparagus Flan? Mmmmmm!

Read on …

Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: Chicory

12 03 2010

a little cheeky chicory...

What we are here referring to as chicory is also known as Belgian endive (pronounced “on-deev, dontchaknow!) or witloof.

Read on to discover the amazing truth about how chicory is grown, and for recipes for Caramelised Chicory and Mashed Beans and Potatoes
with Chicory and Cheese… YUM!

Making Mother’s Day

26 02 2010

Here’s little inspiration on things to make, bake, buy and do in celebration of Mothering Sunday on March 14th. The article includes recipes for

plus links to ideas for cards, gifts and even Spring-time woodland walks…

Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: Last of the Beetroot from Storage

26 02 2010

caramelized, in cakes, mashed...

Although harvest season ends in October, beetroot will store and so can be eaten for months, if chosen and handled properly.

Here are our favourite beetroot recipes, including one for cake, one from our friend’s at Ripple Farm, and something a little bit different and not really for eating!

and finally!

Courtesy of the dear Mrs Green, check out the “recipe” for Homemade Playdough with Beetroot Water for Colour!

Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: Swede

26 02 2010

what to do with swede

Fellow member of the Ooffoo online eco-community Craftymax issued a plea to us last week… “Help us with some recipes for the endless swede / turnip etc that are in season – please!”

Well, how could we refuse?

So here are the basics on Swede, including recipes for

In Season in March

22 02 2010

in season in march...

March brings with it the second week of Fair Trade Fortnight, St. David’s Day (1st March), Mother’s Day (14th March), when Simnel Cake is traditionally eaten, St. Patrick’s Day (17th), the Vernal Equinox and the beginning of Spring (20th March), Palm Sunday (28th) and, on the same day, the beginning of British Summer Time when the clocks go forward. Phew!

March also brings with it a whole host of seasonal veggies, and notably, the very last of the root vegetables. Which we know some of you at least will be pleased to hear!

Here’s the run down…

Growing Our Own Veggies – March Checklist

22 02 2010

March checklist for growers

The most important tip for March is that, although it may officially bring the commencement of British Summer Time, there is no actual guarantee on the weather, so be realistic about any ground you’re thinking of planting into and focus on cultivating patience if it stays cold. A good guide to whether to sow is whether the grass in your garden or the local park has started growing.

Here’s the low down on what to sow in March, where to sow it, and what other preparations you can take care of.

PLUS – we’re looking for a guest potato grower to contribute monthly to the blog, so if that could be you, get in touch by sending us an email – info[at]

Growing Our Own Veggies – February Checklist

31 01 2010

February Checklist

Everything that was true in January is still true now.

So click through for a recap, plus our additions on making your own cloches, and your own hanging baskets for growing food in.

Valentines Day, Shrove Tuesday, and Pancakes

31 01 2010

Love Struck, Lonely or In Need Of Pancakes?

Both Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake Day) and Valentines Day are coming, and it wouldn’t do to leave you seasonally unprepared!

Click through for more about the traditions of Lent, gift ideas for V-Day, and of course and most importantly, for some recipes, namely:

  • Classic English Pancakes with Rhubarb Compote or “Love-Struck” Pear Ice-Cream
  • Savoury Winter Veg Pancake Cannellonis
  • Pancakes with Blue Cheese Sauce

Easy Rhubarb Cheesecake

30 01 2010

yet another way to enjoy rhubarb...

This is our newest recipe to the database, and is SO easy to make – brilliant for making the night before a dinner party so that all you have to do is put the sauce on top on the day.

Click through to try it out.

February Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: Watercress

30 01 2010

don't be fooled - it's FIREY!

Although the peak season is usually seen as April to November, watercress is usually available year round, depending on the weather and the farming method. And even if you’re foraging for it wild, by the banks of local streams, you might see it as early as February.

Now, it’s probably absolutely right that we all take care before bandying around the word “superfood”, and there’s food labeling legislation on its way.

Nevertheless, whether or not watercress wears its pants over its tights, what IS true is that gram for gram it contains more Vitamin C than oranges, and more calcium than cows’ milk, and it also contains significant amounts of iron, folic acid, Vitamins A, E and K plus magnesium.

Click through for some hiliarious bits of watercress folklore, the low down on storing, preparing and cooking it, and for recipes for:

  • Watercress Soup
  • Carrot and Watercress Stir Fry
  • Watercress, Spinach and Goats Cheese Salad

February Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: “Swiss” Chard

23 01 2010

Hey Pesto! Some Swiss Chard Sorcery

Swiss chard is another one of those vegetables that tends to arrive in large, unexplained bundles in your veg box! But it doesn’t keep for long, so you should make it one of the first things you use from your weekly box. A lot of people are not sure what to do with chard, and don’t know that sometimes it needs to be cooked as if it were two different veggies.

Read on to find out what it’s like, how to prepare it, and to access recipes for:

  • Roast Pumpkin and Swiss Chard Risotto
  • Swiss Chard and Seasame Stirfry
  • Chard and Veggie Bake with a Mushroom, Quinoa and Goats Cheese Crumble Topping
  • Swiss Chard Pesto