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vegetables

There’s a stereotype that it’s avocado toast that millennials have a relentless obsession with, but Tesco Ireland have had to order their rare giant avocados due to popular demand.

It can’t be entirely 23-year-olds to 35-year-olds that have created such a trend, so we’re all guilty of the avocado love. Confess, why don’t you?

A very special delivery of the giant food, known as ‘Avozilla’s for their huge size, will land in 70 Tesco stores around the country on Saturday, September 14.

The Avozillas are priced at just €4 and exclusive to Tesco in Ireland. The game-changing giant avocados are perfect for creating a massive, family-sized portion of guacamole.

Think of the avocado toast brunches you could host with a stash like this, the possibilities are endless. Avozillas are naturally produced and not genetically modified.

Just four trees produce the Avozilla supply in the lush forest outside of Modjadjiskloof, Limpopo, South Africa. It’s basically a cross between two types of avocado; West Indian and Guatemalan varieties.

As these trees are not available for commercial sale, there is very limited supply of the fruit, so avocado fans are encouraged to pop into one of the participating Tesco stores while stocks last, to avoid disappointment.

John Brennan, Fresh Category Director, Tesco Ireland, commented:

“They are extremely rare and come from just four trees grown by one of the world’s biggest suppliers of avocados in South Africa. Deliveries will be going into 70 of our stores across the country on Saturday morning and will be available this weekend while stocks last.”

What are you waiting for? Set your alarms for tomorrow, and lift some weights so you can carry all those Avozillas home.

fab 5 avocado GIF by Queer Eye

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Have you ever heard of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen?

These two lists classify the fruits and vegetables that contain the most and the least pesticide residues, even after you carefully wash and peel them.

A recent report published this week by the Environmental Working Group, based on tests done by the US Department of Agriculture, has updated the lists and unfortunately, some of our favourite fruits and vegetables turn out to be potentially harmful. 

While fruits and vegs are essential components of a healthy diet, research suggests that pesticides may pose significant health risks, such as infertility, obesity and even cancer.

So, check the lists before you go shopping: for the Clean Fifteen, you can buy the non-organic choice without being at risk, while food from the Dirty Dozen should be bought organic as much as possible to limit your exposure to pesticides – or not bought at all.

The Dirty Dozen for 2018 (in descending order)

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Red and yellow peppers

The Clean Fifteen for 2018

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbages
  • Onions
  • Frozen peas
  • Papayas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Aubergines
  • Honeydews
  • Kiwis
  • Cantaloupes
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
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Imagine seeing a cake so beautiful you just want to launch into it… only to find vegetables in your mouth.

Bleh.

Well, that's the latest food craze in Japan.

According to CNN, salad cakes are taking over the country, as many are seeing them as a healthy alternative to traditional baked goods.

Japan's Mitsuki Moriyasu invented  "salad cakes", made entirely of vegetables, in 2015.

Called Vegedeco Salad (decorated vegetables), they first came on the scene in 2015 after cafe owner and food stylist, Mitsuki Mooriyasu, wanted to enjoy some guilt-free baking.

The icing is made out of tofu, the sponge cake is made from soy powder, eggs and vegetable oil and Mitsuki uses natural vegetable colouring to decorate her creations.

Then, once you bite inside, you will find marinated, cooked and diced veggies.

This next-level cake, flavored with pumpkin, has broccoli, cauliflower, beets and purple sweet potato inside, wrapped in yellow cauliflower, purple petit veil and amaranth sprouts.

"It looks like a normal cake — but it's made of only veggies. You can have it for breakfast, lunch… and it's very suitable for dinner with wine.

"Each cake tastes different, depending which vegetables we use, but I would say it tastes like something you've never had before," Mitsuki told CNN.

Lads, we don't know how we feel about this…

Images: Ichmure photo office

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There has been many debates about eating out-of-date food, but one supermarket in Denmark is trying to make you do just that.

WeFood in Cophenhagen just opened at the end of last month and it sees people queuing down the street to get in daily.

The food produce comes at 30 to 50 percent cheaper than your average store and most days WeFood actually runs out of food.

According to the Washington Post, the grocery store only sells food past its expiration date or with aesthetic problems like broken packaging or 'ugly' vegetables.

This isn't the first time a store like this has opened though. Daily Table in the states runs a store very similar, and any fans of Jamie Oliver will notice his campaign for this type of work on his show Friday Night Feast.

Well, would you be into this and want to see something like it open in Ireland?

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The cucumber. It's a respected resident of sandwiches, gin and tonics and body moisturisers, but that could change very soon as the humble vegetable is on the brink of extinction. 

The Cucumber Growers Association have reported that there are now fewer than 100 hectares of land dedicated to growing cucumbers, with many farmers either retiring or moving onto more lucrative crops. 

And with major supermarkets like Tesco, Aldi and Lidl slashing their prices (because of cheaper imports from the Netherlands), there is a genuine fear that the veg will disappear. 

The CGA and various farmers unions from Ireland and the UK have reported that there is little incentive to grow the crop anymore. 

"Nobody in the supply chain is making anything from the production and sale of cucumbers. Without an increase in returns the cucumber industry won't be endangered – it will be extinct," said Joe Cappalonga, who heads fruit and vegetable wholesale for G&C Produce

Is this goodbye to cucumbers? 

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While it will probably come as no surprise to many, another recent study has found that the humble potato is one of the most fattening vegetables. What might be of more interest however, is that there are a few more vegetables that need to be given a wide berth if you’re looking to slim down.

Harvard researchers have said that rather than filling up on potatoes when you’re hungry, you should try and opt for brown rice or a wholemeal bread instead.

So what are the other vegetables we’re eating that might not be doing our healthy lifestyles any favours?

Celery

Often considered a dieter’s best friend, it has not been proven to help aid weight loss. However blueberries, prunes and cauliflower should apparently be considered instead.

Sweetcorn

Unless you’re eating fresh corn then you might want to give it a skip. The tinned or packaged kind tend to be devoid of the good nutrients that the fresh vegetable can provide for you. Similarly you may not reap the benefits of this vegetable when it’s covered in melted butter.

Peas

While they aren’t necessarily going to make you gain weight, researchers say that there are more nutrient dense (and tastier) vegetable options out there. Researchers again pointed to fruits for helping participants shed weight, as people tend to substitute them for sugary desserts. If you really want more veggies though, cauliflower came out as the top vegetable for helping aid weigth loss in this study.

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At this time of year, after finally shaking off the remnants of winter doom-and-gloom, plenty of us are taking a cold, hard look at our diets.

But following recipes, counting calories, eliminating sugar, or replacing meals is tedious – not to mention tough to stick with. 

Now research from the US suggests that one simple tweak could result in weight-loss that lasts.

It is being reported that high-fibre diets provide heaps of health benefits while being largely easy-to-follow.

Indeed, people who only added more fibre to their otherwise normal diet were able to lose weight, lower their blood pressure and reduce blood sugar levels. Hurrah!

And although they didn't lose quite as much weight as people following more complex diets, the researchers contend that their findings are encouraging for those who might be overwhelmed by the likes of paleo, Dukan, Atkins, or 5:2.

"For people who find it difficult to follow complex dietary recommendations, a simple-to-follow diet with just one message – increase your fiber intake – may be the way to go," said study author Dr Yunsheng Ma of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

The study involved 240 adults who were at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers asked them to change their diets for one year.

"High-fibre foods are rich in vitamins and other essential nutrients," Dr Ma also highlighted. 

The results show that "one small step can have a big impact in your battle with the bathroom scale," said Joan Salge Blake, a clinical associate professor at Boston University.

"If you want to focus on one thing you can do in 2015 to help you lose weight, it might be increasing your fibre from whole grains, fruits and vegetables."

High-fibre foods, such as fruit and vegetables, as full of water as well as fibre – meaning they fill you up quickly. 

Alternative sources include beans, wholegrain and wholemeal rice and bread, pulses, nuts, baked potato with the skin left on, dried fruit, bran-based cereal, and porridge.

Most people in Ireland don't eat enough fibre: the RDA varies between 18g and 30g a day, depending on your age and gender.

Foods that contain 6 per cent fibre or more are considered to be high fibre foods, while those containing at least 3 per cent fibre are considered to be a good source of fibre.

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As if we don’t have enough things to worry about on a day-to-day basis, trying to remember to get the right amount of fruit and veg into our diets can cause more stress than it needs to.

And while we can’t ignore the importance of getting enough nutrients, we CAN give you a few sneaky tips to make the process that bit easier and less tiresome.

1. Load your breakfast

We know everyone doesn’t always have the time in the morning to cook up a tasty breakfast when they’re running out the door to work or school, but mixing some banana slices and fresh berries into your yoghurt or cereal is a great way to kick-start your day in the right direction.

2. Hide them in your cooking

If you find there’s only so much veg you can put on your plate before you explode, grate them down and hide it in your cooking. What exactly do we mean? Finely shred or grate your fruit and veg down and mix them into your favourite recipes. For example, grated courgette or carrots are delicious when mixed into meat to make burgers. Or try pureeing cooked cauliflower and stirring it through your mash.

3. Double the recipe

Whether you are making soup, sandwiches, or pizza, whatever your usual amount of veg is – double it. Don’t worry about ruining a recipe if it requires a certain amount of veg. Adding more will simply add to the nutritional value of your meal, as well as the flavour of it.

4. Experiment

Keep things interesting by adding one new fruit or vegetable to your shopping list each week. If you are trying something new, it is important to make sure that your chosen item is in season to make the experience more enjoyable. As we’re rolling into summer (and the weather seems to finally be catching up) it is a good time to add asparagus and aubergine to your cooking, and to nibble on berries for dessert.

5. Daily dessert

When most of us think dessert we think loads of cream and calories. But why not have a dessert after every dinner? Fruit desserts will provide something sweet after your meal, and provide extra nutritional goodness into your daily intake. Strawberries are great after dinner, or try freezing grapes or banana slices for a tasty summer snack.

6. Drink them

If you want a huge fruit and veg boost when you’re on the go, smoothies are a great way to get it. Create your own with your favourite fruit and veg to suit your tastes. Don’t be afraid to mix things up as well. Mango and papaya are delicious in smoothies and even cucumber can work surprisingly well. 

 

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Food poisoning can be one of the most debilitating and sometimes deadly things to happen to a human.

The Interagency Food Safety and Collaboration in America have released a new report that sheds more light on what foods caused which poisonings most between the years of 2008 and 2012.

E. Coli
The food product found to be behind 46% of E. Coli cases was beef.

Salmonella
Surprisingly, it wasn’t chicken or eggs that were found to behind the highest rates of Salmonella (18%) but actually seeded vegetables. Eggs and fruit came in at the same level at 12% with chicken a cause of 10% of Salmonella cases.

Listeria
Tainted fruit was found to be behind half of listeria cases.

Campylobacter
Dairy amassed a huge 66% of the cause behind Campylobacter food poisoning. Today, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland stated that raw milk increases the development of foodborne illnesses. The sale of raw milk for direct human consumption in Ireland is recommended to be prohibited by the FSAI.

How can you protect yourself from food poisoning?

The HSE recommend using the 4 C’s to prevent food poisoning:

1. Cleaning
By keeping your hands, utensils and surfaces clean and always washing your hands and surfaces that have come in contact with raw meat, poultry or fish, you can avoid contamination.

2. Cooking
Always ensure your food is cooked through properly for the required time in order to avoid listeria and salmonella.

3. Chilling
Always keep food that needs refrigeration in the fridge to avoid harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. With leftovers, always refrigerate them once cooled.

4. Cross-contamination
It is important to avoid the cross-contamination of raw foods onto other foods. Always keep raw food separate from others and ensure the utensils used are different and cleaned thoroughly afterwards. 

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We’ve all heard of the importance of our five-a-day and how it is becoming more common to grow your own vegetables in the garden or soil.

While you may run in fear at the thought of planting your own food, thankfully it can be as easy as putting seeds into the soil and watching them grow!

Carrots
You need to plant your carrots in cool weather and pull them up between 60 to 75 days after you have planted them. The rockier your soil the funnier the carrots will look.

Lettuce
This is one of the easiest vegetables to grow and you can even plant them in flower pots if you don’t have a garden. There is such a wide variety to go for as well you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Tomatoes
Tomatoes need lots of light so these are best grown in the summer. You can buy a grow bag and leave it in the garden or on your balcony. Simples.

Basil
This is easy enough to grow in garden beds or containers. It needs a good sunny spot so position it beside a window. If you leave it in the kitchen you’ll always remember to use it in your cooking.

 

 

 

 

 

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The time has come again – it’s January and everywhere we turn, we’re bombarded with adverts calling for us to lose weight and get healthy.

A positive message, but where were they when we were stuffing the fourth mince pie of Christmas Day into our mouths?

While a new year can make us feel invincible, small changes are actually more effective than a massive lifestyle overhaul because you’ll be more likely to maintain them.

So here is our small change proposal; dust off the blender, head to the fruit and veg section and watch your hair get shiny, your eyes clear and skin glow within two weeks of this small daily change. Yes, it is Green Smoothie time.

Below is a sample recipe, but feel free to add/take away anything you like. Remember that it’s better to include far more veg than fruit, which is full of sugar. The fruit should be there to add a little bit of flavour and some vitamin C.

You should keep some sliced banana in a lunchbox and a bag of spinach in the freezer as it is handier and makes the smoothie nice and cold.

Serves One

What you’ll need

1/2 frozen banana

Handful frozen spinach

Handful of kale

1 kiwi

1/4 Cucumber

1 Celery Stalk

Juice of One Lemon

1 tsp Flaxseed

1 tsp grated Ginger

1/2 tsp Cinnamon (optional)

1 tsp Honey (optional)

 

What you’ll need to do

Place all ingredients in a blender and cover with water (or coconut water if you prefer). Blend until smooth and drink. Place leftovers in the fridge for any hunger cravings later on.

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