Words by Charlotte Lindsay
Have you ever noticed the food we put in our weekly shopping basket oftentimes has origins far away? Or that we can produce an awful lot of collateral food and packaging waste through the things we buy? We decided to test out a few recipes using conscious cooking methods, to see if we could still make tasty and nutritious dishes while minimising our environmental impact. These recipes are sure to inspire new ideas to try!
WHAT IS CONSCIOUS COOKING?
Conscious cooking is different to the concept of “zero waste”. Conscious cooking is simply about being more conscious and deliberate about shopping. Look for minimal packaging, traceability, shop local and seasonal produce. You don’t have to do it perfectly, it’s about small changes that add up to a big difference.
Why not support your local butchers, buy your meat from there, instead of from the supermarket chains where it is packaged in plastic? Or try the local market and load your veggies into paper bags instead of the super markets plastic sacks.
WHY SHOP LOCAL?
In season, local, minimal packaging... you know what this means, get to your hands on some seasonal produce and support your local farmers market, green grocers, fromagerie, bakery and butchers!
My favourite market which I attend weekly is the Marylebone Farmers Market, this is part of the LFM. In times like these, I personally do not believe there is nothing better than supporting your local community. One simple way to do so is by supporting your local independent stores and the farmers market. In doing so, you will also shop more sustainably. For example, the farmers market and local green processors use considerably less amounts of plastic packaging than your super stores, and they cause fewer transport emissions in order to get to you.
Not only is this better for the environment, it is also good for your community. Another benefit of picking out your fruit and veg is that you are more conscious of the amount you are buying. Instead of simply chucking a bag of carrots into your trolley, not knowing really how many are in there, you will choose the amount you wish to purchase, having less food waste at the end of the week and taking your goods home in a paper bag as opposed to plastic.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF IN SEASON PRODUCE?
The produce at the farmers market is all grown within the UK, nothing is imported, simply homegrown goods. This means you will be eating what is in season. Knowing its seasonality might even make your favourite produce taste even sweeter; savour raspberries, for example, when they’re in season during summer.
Wondering why it is best to divulge into the in season produce? Well, there are many reasons. Firstly, in season produce contains more nutrients. Goods that are picked before they are ripe tend to not have underdeveloped nutritional value. Secondly, you will also find a fuller flavour when eating in season foods. What beats biting into a succulent and sweet strawberry? Thirdly, eating seasonal ensures we get a broad variety within our diets as our food intake will change monthly depending on ripened produce!
Do you need any more convincing? I believe it's time to get yourself down to the local market, shop conscious and cook conscious!
TOP 5 BRITISH SUMMER FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Blackberries - These tiny but powerful bursts of flavour boast a wealth of nutrients, loaded with vitamin C and K, these berries are also high in fibre, magnesium and have been told to help give your skin a healthy glow!
Cherries - Looking for a fruit that contains potassium, calcium and vitamin A… just to name a few? Well, cherries are your go to for a healthy snack, topping for your breakfast or a decadent element to add to your desert.
Courgette - low in calories and high in water, these green machines contain vitamin C, helping to boost your immune system. They made for a great alternative to spaghetti, try courgetti, a delicious side dish, and have even crept their way into baking, courgette and polenta cake anyone?
Chicory - this summer salad essential is rich in polyphenols, which makes it an awesome antioxidant, this veg is a powerhouse for healthy living, not only does it support digestion, it is great for constipation, nausea, anti-stress, heart disease… need I say anymore?
Fennel - fennel is fibre filled, it packs a punch of potassium, magnesium and calcium, promoting a healthy heart. This anise-tasting summer goodness also helps to reduce water retention and regulates blood pressure. So, the question is, will you have your fennel as a side dish, a summer salad or a cosy evening gratin?
BEST LONDON LOCATIONS TO DO YOUR WEEKLY SHOP
London farmers market - this market has everything you need, from fresh and seasonal fruit and vegetables, to locally sourced meats and fish, from artisanal bakeries and patisseries to organic dairy and kefir, the LFM is definitely one to please, the question is, which market will you go to, Bloomsbury, Nottinghill or Marylebone? (just to name a few!) Find a London farmer’s market near you.
As nature intended - This healthy food store is one that ticks all of the boxes, covering a range of food to beauty products, it is a one stop shop for your weekly essentials. This store stands out from the crowns due to its pick n mix paper bag style nut and legumes section. It is time to give this store a try!
CONSCIOUS COOKING RECIPES TO TRY
These recipes were prepared with minimal plastic packaging, hand picked and locally bought. It was a fun challenge keeping these things in mind, and honestly these were simple changes to make.
Breakfast is an essential part of the day, it kicks off your metabolism and provides you with fuel for the day, so get creative with your breakfasts and enjoy!
Granola Florentines with yoghurt and in season fruit:
1 & 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 olive oil
2 tsp cinnamon
1 handful blackberries
1 natural yoghurt
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees fan and line a baking tray with non stick paper.
Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl, mixing until thoroughly combined and evenly coated.
Place 1 tablespoon of the mix onto the paper at a time, leaving an inch between each.
Bake for 20-25 minutes and leave to cool and go crisp.
Enjoy! (store in an airtight container)
Now, create your yoghurt bowl, pour your yoghurt into your favourite bowl, decorate with blackberries, sunflower seeds and your fresh granola florentines.
Summer time is prime time for chicory and fennel, and trust me, there is no better combination than the crisp texture of chicory enhanced by the mild anise-flavoured fennel...
1 handful raisins
1 cup beans/legumes of your choice
- Finely chop your chicory, fennel and apple. Place in a large salad bowl and mix together.
- Add in the beans and raisins.
- Drizzle balsamic vinegar over your salad and toss the salad until thoroughly mixed.
- Serve with fresh burrata and enjoy!
The beauty of this salad is that you can buy your ingredients from your local market and fromagerie. No large supermarket or excessive packaging required… result!
What is better than a cool evening breeze fragranced by a succulent and simmering, smokey bbq. It is time for some conscious skewers!
2 chicken breasts
1 yellow pepper
2 sweet potatoes
Firstly, prepare your BBQ.
Wrap your sweet potatoes in tin foil and once the BBQ is ready, place them in the coals ( for around 40 minutes)
Slice your chicken breasts and sausages into chunks.
Slice your pepper and onion into chunks.
Alternating between the meat and the pepper and onion, place the prepared goods onto your 4 skewers.
Slice the courgettes and aubergines into quarters (lengthways), drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
Cook the meat skewers and sliced veg on the BBQ for around 8-12 minutes, keep checking and cook until no longer pink.
Once all the goods are cooked, serve up and enjoy!
Which one of these recipes takes your fancy? Next time you head out for your weekly shop, why not bring a reusable bag, or visit your local farmers market. There are many ways we can all make small changes in our everyday cooking and shopping habits that will have positive impacts on our environment and our tastebuds. Happy cooking!