The thinking behind our recipes and ingredients

Recipe Bag and ingredientsWe often get asked if we deliver bags for specialist diets. We would love to supply these and may consider this in the future.

In the meantime I thought it would be useful to give some information on the informed choices I make on the ingredients and recipes you get in your fresh food delivery and how these can be adapted to accommodate individual needs.

When thinking of recipes for the bags I consider:

  • Taste
  • Nutritional balance and fibre content
  • Variety
  • Cost
  • Children’s tastes / adult tastes
  • Availability of ingredients / seasonal produce
  • Quality of ingredients
  • Sustainably sourced ingredients where possible
  • Inspiring recipes
  • Aesthetically pleasing dishes
  • Easy recipes / prepared within 50 minutes

Why do I recommend olive oil?

Olive oilOlive oil is made up of 77% monounsaturated fat, 9% polyunsaturated fat and 14% saturated fat. This profile of fats means it can be heated to a higher temperature than polyunsaturated oils, such as corn and sunflower, without creating transfats. However never heat it to the smoking point as this damages the oil and makes it unhealthy.

Olive oil is a healthy choice for using cold in dressings too, therefore it is a good all rounder for your kitchen cupboard.

The best olive oil is “extra virgin, cold pressed”, which can be wonderfully flavoursome and delicious for dressings and dips. For cooking this is an unnecessary luxury and cost. A lighter oil may be a better choice for the budget, and for taste as you don’t want to overpower any subtle flavours in the dish.

Why do I recommend butter and not margarine?

Butter curlsButter is a chef’s dream, it will always add extra richness and flavour to a dish. That aside, I believe, in moderation, it is a healthier choice than margarine. Butter is a natural product and has no additives other than salt in the salted variety. Margarine, is a chemically altered food which may contain unhealthy hydrogenated fats.

Butter does contain a high percentage (54%) of saturated fat but used sparingly on vegetables, bread, and in cooking it is unlikely to add too much to your daily allowance.

The recommendations are for a dietary intake of no more than 35% total fat of which 11% is saturated fat. The total fat allowance is around 70g a day for women and 95g for men: 1 tbsp of butter provides approximately 20g total fat, 13.3g saturates and 7g monounsaturates.

For spreading on your bread or toast a good alternative to dairy butter is a nut butter such as cashew or almond butter. Or you can use olive oil or coconut oil in your cooking or even spread these on your bread too.

Ghee is a useful alternative for those avoiding lactose and dairy proteins. This is butter which has been clarified to remove the milk solids leaving just the fat.

Make your own quite easily by melting butter over a low heat until it is bubbling and you see the white milk solids forming on the surface. When these clear from the surface take the pan off the heat and allow to cool so that the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan. Being careful not to disturb the milk solids, gently pour off the yellow fat into a sterile container.

Why don’t you use low fat ingredients?

The reason for this is that fat makes foods tastier and it is for this reason that many low fat ingredients need additives, particularly sugar, to make them palatable. I feel added sugars are more detrimental to health than the natural fat content. I sometimes use crème fraiche, cream or yoghurt in recipes but a little goes along way.

For more information on fats see my blog on “fat facts”.

Can I cook the recipes if I am gluten intolerant?

Ingredients with glutenFor some people gluten intolerance just means cutting down the amount of gluten to a level the body can cope with, for others, and certainly for coeliacs, a small amount of gluten can have extreme adverse effects.

As our recipes mainly use natural ingredients many are gluten free or can be tweaked to make them so. Some of my recipes will have a stock cube in the home ingredient list. To avoid gluten make sure you use a gluten free product.

Knorr and Kallo stock cubes are gluten free but Oxo contains gluten. An easy way to get around this is to make your own stock by boiling up chicken bones with some veg such as onions, carrots, celery, leek tops etc. Add some herbs such as a bouquet garni and you will never need a stock cube again.

Other recipes may call for soy sauce which contains gluten. Use a gluten free alternative such as Clearspring Tamari soy sauce. Look out for other seasonings which are gluten free and use plenty of spices and herbs to flavour dishes.

Flour may be used in recipes, often to thicken the sauce or coat meat or fish. In most cases cornflour can be used to substitute wheat flour, particularly for thickening a sauce. Never boil cornflour for more than a minute or simmer for more than 15 minutes however, as it can lose its thickening properties if heated for too long.

Where breadcrumbs are used in a recipe, blitz gluten free bread in a food processor and use as you would ordinary breadcrumbs. Often dishes with bread or pastry can be just as tasty if these are omitted.

Can I use Jessica’s Recipe Bag delivery service if I don’t eat dairy?

I often use dairy products such as butter, cheese, yoghurt, cream and creme fraiche in the recipes.

Use olive oil or coconut oil to replace butter, and soya products in place of other dairy products.

Are Jessica’s Recipe Bag ingredients organic?

We use some organic ingredients and our British West Country meat is free range and pasture fed with no routine use of antibiotics and growth factors. We feel strongly that the quality of our ingredients is paramount and we choose fresh seasonal produce, British grown where possible.

Vegetarian choices

Heart of vegetables, green and red healthy foodAt present we always offer a vegetarian choice in the Family Bag and quite often in the Couples Bag. However we are taking heed of your comments and are planning to do a Vegetarian Bag in the future.

Choose a Jessica’s Recipe Bag;
be sure of what you are eating!

Choosing a Jessica’s Recipe Bag can be an easy way to cook to your individual requirements because when you cook from scratch using fresh ingredients you know exactly what is in your meal.