Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Supermarket shopping - rules which can be broken......!!

I made the stupid mistake of doing my weekly food shop with my children last week which must have added at least 20% to to the cost of my trolley.  Even though I like to think of myself as a ‘health supremo’, I let my three little cherubs add sweets, flavoured yoghurts and a large jar of nutella  to my shopping as I was feeling just too worn out to protest.  

The golden rules for shopping healthily are generally to shop as your ‘grandmother’ would have shopped which means:
  • Avoiding processed, refined and ready prepared foods
  • Avoiding buying any item which your ‘grandmother’ would not recognise as food
  • Avoiding buying any item which has more than 5 ingredients
This usually means sticking to the outside aisles of the supermarket (fruit and veg, meat and fish etc) rather venturing into the middle.  Depending on your supermarket, the alcohol aisle may or may not be on the outer aisles......!

As always, rules are made to be broken.  ‘Grandmother’ possibly did not mind not having a life and spending the whole day shopping and cooking!  Maybe she had a husband who worked 9-5pm and was around to help in the evenings rather than husbands who travel away all week (though there is a possible question mark around whether most men of that generation did help with children!).  She might have had a family circle nearby to help her, rather than living far away from any family and having to take her children shopping when she and they are cranky, hungry and tired.......

So, with all this in mind, I think we are doing well if we can follow these rules roughly 70% of the time, and that rather than mentally beating ourselves up about the sweets and biscuits we do give our children we should also give ourselves a big pat on the back for the number of times we get it right!

I’m just looking at the ingredients list of the Nestle Smarties yoghurt that my children 'forced' me to buy and wondering just when nutritional labelling is going to get clearer.  To be fair, while it does indicate that there is 24.5g of sugar per 120g pot (20.4%), it is hard to work this out from the list of ingredients.  My ‘grandmother’ certainly would not have recognised this as a yoghurt and it contains 24 ingredients.....

The contents of the yoghurt part alone looks like this, with my comments in brackets:

Sweetened strawberry yoghurt  83.3%:
  • 85% partially skimmed milk yoghurt
  • 7.2% sugar (at initial glance - under 10% so ok-ish)
  • 5.5% strawberries (don’t even think about counting this as a 1 a day portion, which is a 80g serving!)
  • fructose (er - that’s sugar too - how much?)
  • rice starch [amidon de riz] (white processed starch which helps stabilise the yoghurt)
  • milk concentrate
  • flavour (which one?)
  • Colouring E162 (natural red food colour derived from beetroots)
  • E296 (malic acid, used to balance acidity.  No side effects noted from use as an additive)
  • Vitamin D
The smarties element has 14 ingredients and no info on the sugar percentages.....!

Leaving you as always with a recipe:   Ricotta, spinach and pesto lasagne, which is perfect for a chilly autumnal evening.  Serve with a large salad and you’ve got your 5 a day

Tomato sauce:  Fry 1 large finely chopped onion with 75g chopped bacon (add a glug of olive oil if bacon is lean) for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add 2 chopped sticks of celery, fry for a further 5 minutes then add a 2 tins of tomatoes, 2 bay leaves, 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 2 tbs tomato puree and 2 tsp of mixed dried herbs.  Add 300 mls of water and simmer gently for 20 mins before adding a good slug of red wine and seasoning.   Blend the sauce slightly if you have fussy 'pick out the vegetables from the sauce' children!

Ricotta filling:  Mix 500g ricotta with 200g chopped mozzarella and 100g grated parmesan.  Add in 100g fresh pesto sauce, a handful of pine nuts and 300g of cooked chopped spinach (fresh or frozen).    Tear in some fresh basil if you have some and season generously.

Make up the lasagne:  Put a shallow layer of tomato sauce in a baking dish.  cover with lasagne sheets (use the dried no need to pre cook variety).  Then add layer of cheese mixture.  Repeat the layers a second time and you’ll end up with the ricotta layer on top.  Do a final layer of lasagne, cover with the tomato sauce and sprinkle with fresh parmesan.  

Leave the lasagne to ‘rest for a couple of hours at least if possible, so the sauces have time to soak through into the lasagne sheets, then bake at 180 degree for 30-45 minutes.  

You may have some tomato sauce left in which case you can freeze it or serve it with wholemeal pasta spirals if you have any members of your family who flatly refuse to eat spinach*sigh*! 


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