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Food and Ingredients News

Coffee good for the brain? I ought to be the next Einstein!

Good day, guys and girls. Thanks for rejoining us for this second exploratory post into the top ten brain foods as advised by The Cooking Academy. If you missed the first three choice ingredients in the list, you can find them on yesterday’s post, Foods that are naturally healthy for body, mind and soul, where we marvelled at how ingredients classed as healthy options for the body are also believed to have potent mind-boosting powers, too.

So, in total contrast, let’s start today with number four in the Cooking Academy’s list, and an inclusion that should make me the brightest spark against the night sky if its power is increment by volume, coffee! In fact, I know a few myth-shattering facts about their number four item so I’ll not wax lyrical about coffee here; we’ll save the detail for a future article. Suffice to know that its inclusion in the list, in its purest, served form, is based on its antioxidant qualities and ability to stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia. Ah, “in moderation”, it says. Boooooo!

5. Nuts! Another ingredient utilised positively by both body and mind. Ever feel relaxed when you sniff almonds? That’s because the neurotransmitters therein elevate your mood. Walnuts are a great food if you’re peckish before bedtime as they help with insomnia and many nuts, including the bog-standard peanut, include nutrients that boost mental clarity; the vast majority also contain healthy, natural fats in their oils, prolifically Omega 3.
6. Avocados – a fruit that has long been steered away from by dieters (in error) is good for the blood, believed to help reduce pressure and increase the flow to the brain, improving its function. The healthy fats in avocados are an ideal substitute for saturates in a calorie controlled diet, too.
7. Eggs – another much-maligned product and, whether your looking to lose weight through diet and training or want a sharper mind, eggs fit the bill. The choline therein is associate with the building blocks of memory function whilst the protein and healthy fats are the basis of building and protecting healthy muscle tissue. Boiled or poached eggs will not, as urban myth has it, rocket your cholesterol; even at two a day, the effect of their nutritious content can help balance your body’s relative levels.
8. Whole grain – mm, the jury’s out on this one as far as dieting goes, but I’m totally in favour of it, for reasons other than content. In the context of the brain, they contribute massively to a healthy circulation. Some nutritionists may warn against wholegrain bread as part of a heavy resistance training diet but, for me at least, the benefits the grain give as an intestinal hoover due to their high-fibre content far outweigh the reasons some trainers give for not incorporating it. The grains are also a source of healthy, natural fats you can include in your diet without necessarily having to think to hard about it.
9. Chocolate – okay, here’s the second and final item on the list that you wouldn’t find on a dieter’s main menu, the darker the better, up to the point where it gets too bitter. Above 70% for me and it’s pushing it, but the Cooking Academy’s author prefers 85% cocoa – ugh, that makes me shudder. But, dark/plain chocolate (again in moderation) contains high concentrations of antioxidants and has been proven to target focus – perfect for the freelance writer who may get distracted by World Golf Tour or his e-mail, for instance…time to visit Hotel Chocolat again, methinks. Milk chocolate, surprisingly, has benefits too, cutting down reaction time as well as improving memory function.
10. And finally, Broccoli. One of the great Superfoods and, in my humble opinion, second in the all-time list behind only blueberries. It helps improve memory, is saturated with vitamins, helps reduce the ageing process and also helps improve memory. Mm, quite.

So, thanks to Kumud Ghandi who originally complied this list for The Cooking Academy and I hope you’ve enjoyed my expansion on the original theme, incorporating snippets on the bodily benefits as well as the brain power you’ll now exhibit by incorporating these ingredients into your diet – even if it’s not a healthy one, by inclusion of these natural food stuffs, you may well turn a corner there, too.

Some of the ingredients may not be the easiest to incorporate into the weekly cook/shop – why not check out our hand-picked cookery courses to see if those courses we are rating as offering the best value at your time of reading this (we do acid-test them, so the individual cookery schools we feature often rotate) offer a nutrition/healthy cookery class you can draw upon for inspiration?

Got a comment? We’d love to hear from you.

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Cookery Course News

Oxford students to teach elderly healthy cooking on a budget

Two Oxford Brookes University students are turning their hands to helping elderly residents of one Oxford estate learn to cook nutritious food on a budget following a similar class they held recently for moms and children to achieve the same with resounding success.

The cookery classes will be held once a week for the pensioners who are not only stuck for ideas due to lack of local choice but are feeling the pinch in their purses for the exact same reason.

Monika Kozlak and Julie Hayes, studying nutrition and business at the local university, are not just putting together a cookery course that their curriculum dictates they ought, either. Their cookery class has a real community spirit feel to it.

Once a week the elderly residents of Alice and Margaret House hold a coffee morning. Next Tuesday, 28th Feb, the two students will pop along to discuss the residents likes and dislikes in order to put together the cookery course on a shoestring as many locals are extremely concerned that their pensions, given the adversity they face to get to a supermarket of any renown, do not stretch to a healthy budget.

Cooking healthily is not so easy on a budget

This scenario is so prevalent that the Rose Hill residents, the estate in question, recently rallied around for one senior couple to aid their application for debt relief after they ran up bills of £8,000.

A local Rose Hill and Donnington Advice Centre spokeswoman, Carol Roberts, echoed the pensioners’ plight, underlining how tempting it is for them to nip to the shops to get out once a day with the adverse affect of impinging upon their budgets.

This way of thinking is one of the aspects Julia and Monika hope to change, encouraging a bulk-food shop rather than fresh produce bought daily. To run alongside that is the cookery course; many of the widowers have not truly grasped the concept of cooking at all, let alone on a budget, since their wives have passed away.

Details have yet to be finalised and will hopefully be concluded following next week’s tête-à-tête with the residents. If things go to plan, the communal kitchens will be the venue for the cookery classes at the nearby Desborough Crescent sheltered accommodation flats. Sainsburys will provide the ingredients from its local Heyford Hill store, although, long-term you’d maybe proffer  cheaper alternatives, if they’re truly serious about saving, drawing upon other chains’ value/store brands to fill their larders and pantries.

If you want to see the type of things the girls will be considering for the cookery courses, they’re holding a demo tomorrow (Fri 24th) at The Oval, courtesy of The Health Bus.

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Cookery Class News

Our mission on cookerycourses.co.uk

A quick glance at the ‘Top Ten Trends for 2012’ published by food&drinkstowers provides not only a reflection of where the country is economically but, as the title suggests, lays the foundation of where the UK is heading, gastronomically speaking.

There is huge emphasis being placed by the average consumer, whose feedback has constituted the basis for the results determining the report’s outcome, on getting back to basics. The best way to learn how to do this for the younger generation, many of whom have been brought up on microwave ready-meals and fast-food restaurants, is to get yourself enrolled on a cookery course.

There are so many one-off cooking classes or in-depth cookery courses, to suit every budget, that there really is no excuse not to learn how food works, why ingredients come together to produce the edible delights we see being created on television and, most importantly, what elements are good or bad for you in your diet.

One of the first lessons you will learn when joining a gym is that exercise alone is not the answer. Obesity, sadly, is becoming a plague, blighting the UK’s young and old alike, threatening the very economy that all sectors are conscious of stabilising. Today’s youngsters are tomorrow’s workforce – they will be the ones clocking on and off to ensure pension funds are there for the older generation (that’s us) to claim; it is imperative that they are taught the value of nutrition – the basis of a healthy lifestyle!  It is all relative.

The way we eat has changed beyond all recognition in just one generation, it seems. The reasons are many, few of them are good. One-parent families or households where both parents work full-time can often be stretched when it comes to preparing fresh meals every night of the week. We have got out of the habit of eating well – even understanding what foods are good for us and why.

There are so many young families starting to build a new home that simply do not know how to cook from scratch, not even the basics, it is unbelievable. Everything they know about shopping for food is how it is bought from the supermarket. Even if it’s not a frozen meal ‘ready in eight minutes‘, it is a ‘jar of curry‘ or pre-prepared in a ‘packet of Bolognese mix‘. And how some of the ‘healthy’ options can claim to be that is mystifying – they may contain less fat (being deprived of the right fat is bad for you, anyway), but are high in salt and stuffed with artificial fillers and preservatives which serve to give them ‘taste’.

Here on cookerycourses.co.uk, we will not only bring you the best cookery courses to be found on the internet and offline, but we will endeavour to put a healthy slant on news, too. Concentrating on the freshest ideas from top chefs and cooking houses, we will bring you a master class of our own as we recommend la crème de la crème in understanding and learning about cooking – you can Sous us, if we don’t!