Cookery Course News

UK seeks comfort In biscuits

Biscuit sales have increased by more than 20% in the last 5 years according to a new study by market analysis firm Mintel.

Annual sales in 2010 were £2.2billion, with over 50% of the population admitting to appreciating a biscuit with their coffee or tea.

Biscuits are traditionally viewed as a comfort food that people opt for as an inexpensive treat when the more expensive forms of unwinding, such as a night out at the cinema are considered unaffordable.

The study also estimates that the UK market will continue to expand with forecasts predicting a further increase in sales of 15% by 2015.

The figures reveal that almost 90% of the 45 to 54 age band enjoys a biscuit with their tea. This figure is slightly lower for the 16 to 24 age band at 80%.

A spokesperson for Mintel explained the biscuit industry in the UK has profited from consumers reaching for their biscuit tins during the recession, however the inability to appeal to a discerning and younger customer base coupled with higher commodity are threatening the market.

The study also revealed the nation’s top 5 biscuits. Individually wrapped biscuits and half-coated varieties – such as chocolate hob knobs share joint 1st position in the list of the UK’s favourite sweet biscuits – over half of the population has purchased one or other in the last year.

Cookies are the 2nd most popular whilst cream biscuits are ranked third. Wholemeal or Sweetmeal biscuits are 4th most popular while tea biscuits take 5th place.

With sector sales of £468million the market is dominated by “healthier biscuits” such as the lower sugar and diet varieties. These account for a quarter of all sales with sales rising by 16% in the last 2 years.

For those interested in encouraging their children to make biscuits, The Kids Cookery School offers a specialist one day cookery course.

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Unhealthy diets cost the NHS £12bn every year

A recent study has identified that poor diets cost the NHS almost twice as much as the combined effect of alcohol and cigarettes.

The research, which was conducted by the WHO and Oxford University, concluded that, of the various lifestyle choices, poor diet and obesity now place the biggest economic load on the NHS.

Whilst experts acknowledged that the health risks associated with excess drinking and smoking are high, because a much higher proportion of the population have unhealthy diets, the overall impact on the NHS is much larger.

Whilst the proportion of adults that smoke has fallen by 50% in the last 40 years, the levels of obesity have increased four-fold, with 25% of adults now considered obese.

Poor diet and obesity have been linked to a number of different diseases including, most cancers, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

The problem is being blamed on the erosion of basic cookery skills and an over-reliance on junk food. The average diet now contains excess levels of sugar and fat and this has increased the risk of acquiring many diseases.

For many people, the issue is that they eat too much and this leads to obesity which is related to a variety of health issues. However, there are also those who look healthy and slim, yet the fat and salt content in their diet places them at high risk of heart disease, stroke and other health conditions associated with elevated blood pressure

The research, which was financed by the British Heart Foundation, estimates that the cost of alcohol related diseases is £3.3bn, which is roughly the same as the cost of treatments associated with alcohol.

A spokesperson for the National Obesity Form explained that the staggering cost of managing diseases related to Britain’s poor diets was threatening to breach NHS budgets.

Those looking to improve their cookery skills can book themselves onto a cookery course.

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Simple diet changes can help stave off cancer

Recent research into the effects of diets on cancer sufferers have thrown up some extremely interesting results.  Many of us are aware of the dangers of too much salt, not enough vitamins and minerals and additives in processed meals that are either harmful or do us no good whatsoever.

If you’re wondering why I’ve not included fats in that little list it’s because a lot of what you read about the danger of too much fat is sooo misleading you wouldn’t believe.  People do not get thin or healthy by cutting out fat in total.  Their diet improves by increasing healthy fats and kicking out saturates but that’s perhaps for another day.

Through research it is estimated that approximately 29,000 cases of cancer are directly linked to a poor diet every single year.   Yet a few simple changes in dietary habits can ultimately turn a poor diet around.  Typical cancers that are associated with eating the wrong foods over a period of time are those you’d expect: gastric tract, oral, bowel/stomach and even breast cancer threats can be radically reduced by knowing what to avoid and making healthier substitutions.

Very few of us eat enough fibre anyway.  Not only will increasing fibre help to keep your intestines clean and your bowel regular, but it will also stop food gestating there, which can, according to research, reduce the risk of bowel cancer by 25%.

A good source of fibre is fruit and veg, although many people think only of whole grain, pulses and cereals, especially bran, as delivering fibre.  So, as well as delivering essential vitamins, minerals and natural sugars – elements in their own rite guardians against some of those aforementioned cancers – they can help keep your system fluent as part of an overall nutritious diet.

A fantastic list of vegetables and fruits high in fibre can be found at fruitsandveggiesmorematters

Many people don’t realise that pork is a red meat but it is one of only a handful of red and processed meat associated with bowel cancer.  People who eat higher volumes of either/or red or processed meats are putting themselves at higher risk.  As well as pork, take any meat you care to think of from a pig, beef in its many forms (steaks, burgers, etc) or lamb and eat it in voluminous amounts and you’re increasing the risk of bowel cancer.

Processed meals – even those tagged ‘good for you’ as they’re ‘low fat’ (don’t get me started) – rely on salt to add taste.  Check your guideline daily amount compared to how much each processed meal you buy contains.  I promise you, you will be shocked.  Less salt equals less chance of many of those cancers.

If you’re genuinely concerned that you’re culpable for any of the above poor eating habits, try these simple changes.  Your sources of carbohydrate, such as bread, rice or pasta, are all available with a wholegrain alternative.  Swapping to wholegrain will add much-needed fibre to your diet.

Salad doesn’t have to feel like a snack.  By adding your protein and healthy fats through roast chicken, tuna or nuts and dried fruit you can make any salad into a meal.  You can also incorporate turkey mince into your diet rather than beef, lamb or pork mince, often higher in protein and with more good fats.  Alternatively, try vegetable grills made with potato, onion and peppers rather than a normal burger – just as tasty but with none of the risk that too much red meat can bring.

More information on all of these topics can be found at or why not enrol on one of the many healthy cookery courses we have to really get to know how to cook tastily from scratch so you know exactly what is going into each meal you serve?



Experts predict a huge rise in obesity

According to a recent forecast the number of Britons classed as obese could rise to a shocking 26 million by the year 2030. The predicted rise is being blamed on an abundance of rich food, a lack of exercise and an unwillingness on the part of policymakers to tackle the problem.

It has been predicted that if the current trend continues, the number of clinically obese people in the United Kingdom will rise by eleven million over the next twenty years.

Experts have estimated that the additional cost of treating the resulting health problems would be around £2 billion per year.

Over the next twenty years, the increase in UK obesity is estimated to result in an extra 461,000 cases of heart disease, 130,000 of cancer and 668,000 of diabetes.

The prevalence of obesity amongst UK men is predicted to rise from 26 per cent to between 41 and 48 per cent. The percentage of obese women is estimated to increase from 26 per cent to between 35 and 43 per cent.

Many experts believe that the Government should be doing more to tackle the problem. In a recent interview with BBC breakfast, leading epidemiologist Prof. Klim McPherson claimed that, whilst the Government is taking action, obesity is still at alarming rates so it clearly isn’t doing enough.

Prof. McPherson believes that better food labelling and a tax on drinks that are high in sugar, are just two examples of the measures that the Government should be taking.

Dr Michael Knapton of the British Heart Foundation expressed his concern with the predicted figures for heart disease and obesity in the United Kingdom. He also called on the Government to take a lead role by making it easier for people to be healthy.

Dr Knapton believes that the Government should focus on ensuring that children are protected from junk-food marketing.

For those that want to improve their diet but lack the basic skills to prepare healthy food the Gables Cookery School in Gloucestershire offers a one day cookery course which may be of interest.

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Community cookery courses come to Bristol

The city hub Coexist, situated in probably one of Bristol’s poorest neighbourhoods, would like to create an established cooking area in which members of the local community can arrive and have inexpensive courses on every aspect of cooking and cookery…

The Community Kitchen seeks not only to offer cookery courses to the Stokes Croft community, but also to supply a cost-effective service to vulnerable members in the local community, from cooking courses for the younger generation to diet classes for individuals in protected housing. Local business owners can utilize it as a system to launch food catering companies. The community kitchen seeks to connect the community with the tremendous plethora of Bristol cooking and support enterprises.

Bryony Morgan via Made In Bristol stated: “We are looking toward showcasing the brand new cooking organizations in the Community Kitchen at Made In Bristol functions and also the Harbourside Market.”

Coexist must raise finances to upgrade the flooring, re-establish services and purchase new machines. Coexist intend to raise funds via numerous fundraising promotions, the first of which is the global financing system IndieGoGo – go to the Coexist Community Kitchen web page to find out more about their strategy and to help boost funds today.

For the past two years Coexist have operated out of Hamilton House in Stokes Croft, and ever since arriving have developed a rundown range of offices into a lively social centre.

In only 2 yrs, Coexist has hosted in excess of 200 people and enterprises while offering a broad array of activities: such as dance and motion courses daily, educative discussions and programs, local community music area and recording studios, conference areas as well as alternate treatment rooms and facilities for artists and small enterprises.

If you have any additional questions regarding the Coexist Community Kitchen, make sure you get in contact via e-mail through clicking on this hyperlink.


Trial suggests eating more oats and nuts could lower cholesterol

Scientists have found that eating more oats and nuts – instead of just avoiding foods which are high in fat – could help to lower cholesterol.

They discovered that a diet which contained foods known to lower cholesterol was more effective than simply avoiding saturated fats.

The most effective diet also contained soy products such as meat substitutes, tofu and milk. Eating more beans, lentils and peas was also encouraged.

The Canadian research team also found that a significant reduction in ‘bad’ cholesterol could result from a six month change in diet. If the diet was sustained for a longer period then it could also lead to an 11 percent reduction in the risk of heart disease over a 10 year period.

During the research, patients suffering from high levels of cholesterol were divided into three different groups. One group were recommended to eat a diet low in fat, including vegetables and fruit.

The remaining two groups were advised to follow a dietary ‘portfolio’ which consisted of specific foods that were known to reduce cholesterol levels such as oats, nuts, lentils and so products.

One of these two groups underwent counselling during two separate clinic visits whilst the other received a more rigorous series of seven clinic visits.

Six months later researchers found that the group which had followed a simple low fat diet had experienced a 3 percent fall in cholesterol.

In contrast, the groups that had introduced cholesterol-lowering foods both experienced reductions of more than 13 percent. 13.8 percent for the group which made seven visits and 13.1 percent for the group which made two visits.

A spokeswoman for the Heart Foundation claimed that the research was encouraging but emphasised that people should be aware that following a diet plan of this type takes commitment.

It was also pointed out that everybody on the trial was already following a diet low in saturated fat and this should be the primary advice to those people who need or want to lower their cholesterol.

The Source Sligo Cookery School currently offers ‘Cholesterol Lowering’ cookery course aimed at people that would like to reduce their cholesterol naturally through lifestyle and diet.


Study reveals many people start a new diet every month

According a recent study of two thousand consumers, twenty two per cent of the adult population in the UK begin a new diet every month with more than a third choosing low calorie items during their weekly shop.

The study by Seven Seas, also found that forty three per cent of women regularly buy low calorie items despite the fact that two thirds believe that the pressure to lose weight is too much.

Fifty per cent of mothers questioned confirmed that their food purchases are often influenced by the wishes of their children whilst thirty per cent admitted to using unhealthy food to reward their children for good behaviour.

Around sixty per cent of those questioned claimed to eat the recommended number of five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, suggesting that forty per cent miss out.

These proportions vary significantly for the consumer age groups. Around seventy five per cent of people aged over sixty five consume the recommended number of portions whilst this figure drops to twenty five per cent for those between sixteen and twenty four.

Overall seventy per cent of people confirmed that they would really like to improve their diet but many claimed that they don’t have the time.

The study also found that many people believe that there are too many conflicting messages concerning which types of food are healthy. Experts are concerned that whilst people are be dieting they may not be eating healthily.

A nutritionist who worked on the report explained that whilst television schedules and magazines are full of food, recipes and celebrity chefs, our diets are losing balance and this is a real concern.

Whilst it’s important to understand the intake of calories, this mustn’t interfere with eating a varied and balanced diet, which is rich in minerals, vitamins and key fatty acids.

Cookery schools thoughout the UK  offer a range healthy cookery courses aimed at helping students improve their diet.


Healthier School Dinners Linked To Improved Results

Delegates at a recent London conference celebrated the success of a project that has demonstrated the link between healthy school dinners, improved behaviour and academic achievement.

The Food For Life Partnership (FFLP) project was established to help promote healthier food for schoolchildren and also to connect them with the environment and the source of that food. So far the project has helped to transform almost 4,000 schools that have taken part.

One of the project’s greatest supporters is celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. He has been really encouraged by its success and believes that the evidence demonstrates what the best teachers already knew – that school meals and food education don’t just influence children’s health, it also aids concentrated and success at school.

The conference, which was jointly hosted by the Faculty of Public Health and the FFLP, heard evidence from an impartial evaluation by Cardiff University and the University of the West of England.

This demonstrated that;

  • The number of primary schools receiving an outstanding Ofsted rating more than doubled following their participation in the FFLP project. Head teachers also reported a beneficial impact on the attention, attainment and behaviour of pupils.
  • The proportion of children eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day increased following participation in the project. In addition, almost fifty percent of parents reported that family was eating more sustainable and healthier food.
  • The take-up of free school meals increased by thirteen percent in participating schools.
  • Almost seventy percent of school inspectors felt that the project had helped to support pupil’s wellbeing and personal development.

A spokeswoman for the FFLP explained that these findings prove that the project is not only helping to improve the diet of schoolchildren but it is also having a positive effect on attainment and behaviour.


Olive Oil May Help To Prevent Against Stroke

A recent study has suggested that olive oil can be an effective way to reduce the chance of stroke in people aged 65 and over. French researchers spent five years studying over seven thousand people aged sixty five and over.

They discovered that people who consumed large amounts of olive oil as part of their diet were less likely to fall victim of a stroke than those people who never use it

The researcher team has suggested that, based on their study, older people ought to encouraged to increase the amount of olive oil in their diet. The lead author of the study, Dr. Cecilia Samieri, from the University of Bordeaux, believes that olive oil would be an easy and relatively cheap way to help prevent stroke which is so prevalent in older people.

The researchers found that, once other variables such as exercise, weight and diet were taken into consideration, the risk of stroke was 40% lower in people who used olive oil on a regular basis, compared to those who didn’t.

The possible health benefits of olive oil and other similar liquids such as good quality argan oil have been acknowledged for many years. It is thought that it may help protect against problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure and high colesteral

A spokesman for the Stroke Association welcomed the findings but stressed that the risk of stroke will only be reduced if olive oil is consumed instead of other cooking fats, as part of a healthy, well balanced diet which is low in salt and saturated fat.

The Stroke Association were also keen to point out the much more scientific research is required to measure how effective olive oil is at preventing against stroke.

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Scottish Retailers Make Fruit And Vegetable Pledge

In a move designed to tackle Scotland’s obesity crisis, eight of the largest food retailers, including Asda and Tesco, have signed a commitment to encourage customers to eat more fruit and vegetables.

The voluntary agreement has been arranged by the nation’s retail consortium and has been supported by the Scottish government. The retailers have agreed to implement up to six different initiatives.

They could choose to ensure that the price of fruit and vegetables remain affordable. They might also add more fruit and vegetables to their own branded products such as ready meals and soups.

Another of the initiatives the retailers can opt to strategically place displays of vitamin rich avocados and apples, in place of chewing gum and chocolate, to promote impulse buying.

They may also choose to ensure that a selection of ready-to-cook, pre-prepared vegetables is available to buy.

The other retailers that have pledged their support are Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Boots, Morrisons, The Co-operative and Sainsbury’s.

The Scottish Sports Minister, Shona Robson, welcomed the commitment that retailers have shown. She explained the by helping consumers make informed decisions about the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables, the commitment by the nation’s retailers can really help to improve diet and combat unhealthy weight.

It is hoped that the growth in the number of cookery schools offering cookery courses will also play an important role in helping to tackle the problem.

A spokesman for the Scottish Retail Consortium explained that the pledge that stores are making will impact how the promote, prepare and price fruit and vegetables. The affordable and practical steps should help customers to eat healthier diets.

The latest figures produced for the Scottish government suggest that almost sixty per cent of women and over sixty five per cent of men in Scotland are classed as overweight or obese.