Hot Lists Thursday, January 12th Words by: Adam Knight, pictures by: Tile image by

Ditch the Nescafé and bacon butties, try these 8 healthy Herefordshire alternatives

Hot Lists Thursday, January 12th

Ditch the Nescafé and bacon butties, try these 8 healthy Herefordshire alternatives

Whether you're in full-on detox mode, or looking to transition gently away from a late-December diet consisting almost exclusively of paté and brandy - this is indeed a month to consider a few more healthy alternatives.

To that end, we've put together a foodie subs' bench of suggestions for you to try this January.

Ranging from the adventurous (cheese made from cashew nuts) to an unknown superfood that you may have been eating for years, all these products come from companies in or around Herefordshire - so no more shipping in your hand-woven quinoa from Bolivia.

1. Ditch the instant coffee and try some Oolong Tea 

Oolong tea. Have that flat white.

Your first drink of the day pretty much sets the tone - so whether you're usually a double espresso or a mug of instant, why not give the mid-morning jitters and general dehydration a miss and try some Oolong tea.

Oolong is the Goldilocks brew; lighter than the dark stuff, darker than the light, just perfect. It still has a good slug of caffeine to power you through the morning (around half what you get from a coffee), but it also has a load of cholesterol-fighting antioxidants, without the squint-inducing aftertaste of its antioxidant-rich, greener cousins.

The Queen drinks it. And she's about 170 and still jetting around the world so it must be working. 

Grab a caddie of the good stuff from Fairtrade-friendly Trumpers Tea in Hereford. Order online here. 

2. Ditch the olive oil and try some local rapeseed oil

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Yes, extra-virgin is super good for you. It's the reason there are retirees walking around Greece who look like they just finished Sixth Form. But here's the dirty secret - it's not great for cooking. 

Olive oil's smoke point is only 165 degrees. When you glug a load of it in to your pan, you're losing a lot of the great nutritional properties by the time you start cooking.

Step up rapeseed oil. Those bright yellow crops you see across the countryside produce an incredible cooking oil - rapeseed has less monostaurated fats than its Southern European cousin, more vitamin E and a bigger proportion of the kind of unsaturated fats that help lower cholesterol. Crucially, it's smoke point is a sizzling 205 degrees.

To top it all, it is now being grown, cold-pressed and bottled in north Herefordshire courtesy of Risbury Rapeseed Oil. Check them out here. Feel free to keep drizzling your olive oil on your salads if you must. 

3. Ditch the blueberry smoothies, and try some blackcurrant juice


Ten years ago the blueberry was annointed Superfood of the Century by the cartel that control the smoothie trade. Sales in the UK quadrupled. Stories emerged of crutches being cast aside and bald spots miraculously disappearing at the mere sight of a blueberry.

And while blueberries are great - for antioxidants especially - the reality is, you were closer to the truth when you drank a glass of Ribena after getting in from school.

Blackcurrants contain an incredible 38 times the amount of vitamin C than blueberries do, more than four times the anthoyanins (believed to be respnsible for both fruits' health benefits) and more than twice as much of those antioxidants the blueberry marketing people trumpet so much.

Like rapeseed oil, you don't have to look far to get your hands on some either.

Pixley Berries do a great Blackcurrant cordial, while British Blackcurrants - based at Harewood End - will ship you Herefordshire blackcurrants in quantities of 2kg up to 12kg which you can then freeze until you're ready to use them. 

4. Ditch the Heinz and try some Hawberry Ketchup 


"Hawthorn is magic - it's, bonkers it's brilliant, and there's loads of it in Herefordshire," says Liz Knight, who runs courses in the county on how to forage your dinner from the countryside around you.

Among other things, she uses the bright, red Hawthorn berries you will have seen in hedgerows to make a sweet, fruity ketchup that you you can use on anything from your sausages to your eggs.

As well as tasting great Hawthorn is used in many cultures to lower blood pressure and has been shown to help fatigue and breathing problems. You don't get all that from a bottle of Tommy K.

Grab a bottle of Hawthorn Ketchup here - or go one better and book on to one of Liz's courses and learn how to make your own. 

5. Ditch the cheddar and try some Cashew Brie


Yup, it's exactly what it sounds like. Cheese made out of cashews. The revolution will not be televised.

Raw Food Rosie is vegan chef based here in Herefordshire and her speciality is making tree-nut cheese. The process works by using cashew milk and traditional cheese-making techniques to create this rich, buttery brie (which comes in Original Classic, Smoked Chipotle and Baby Bleu).

Why? "Tree-nut cheese has the probiotic benefits of a cultured product without any of the side effects of dairy. It's completely lactose free and 100% vegan."

Check Rosie's Cashew Bries out online here, or swing by Fodder in Hereford and get your crackers ready.  

6. Ditch the bacon butty and grab a Buddha Bowl for lunch


Aside from being among the most fun menu names to say, Buddha bowls are insanely good for you. If Joe Wickes and Pamela Anderson ever got married and had a baby, that baby would be a Buddha Bowl. 

"A properly assembled Buddha Bowl is probably the most nutritionally-balanced meal in the universe, with the perfect blend of carbs, protein, fat, and micronutrients," said Sensory & Rye owner Nicola Hassenpflug.

"You could eat it at every meal for the rest of your life and only get healthier by the day."

The bowl is named, ironically, after the shape of Buddha's belly, and it features a mix of healthy grains, veggies, nuts, avocados and pulses - all separately dressed, and then combined.

In Sensory & Rye you might get quinoa, butternut squash, kale, chickpeas, lentils, nuts, avocado and a whole bunch of greens dressed up and spinkled with some fruit - all chosen in a way that will make sure the energy releases throughout your afternoon so that you won't be reaching for the cake at 3pm.

Drop in to Sensory & Rye in Hereford to give it a try.


8.  Ditch that slab of butter on your breakfast toast and try Tiger Butter

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The squirrels were on to something. Everything we're learning about seeds and nuts these days is telling us that they don't belong in small bowls, to be circulated at your next dinner party - but in fact have some serious superfood credentials.

In a weird twist, one of the best of the bunch - the vitamin-, iron and potassium-rich Tigernut - is not technically a nut. However they do also contain a natural appetite suppressant, so if you slather your morning toast in Ludlow Nut Company's Tiger Butter instead of your usual spread, then chances are your tummy won't be a-rumbling until lunchtime. 

You can buy Tiger Butter (along with Cashew Nut Butter, Almond & Pumpkin Seed Butter and good old Smooth Peanut Butter) from any of the 12 shops and delis in Herefordshire that stock Ludlow Nut Commpany products.


7. Ditch the meat, and grab some greens. And oranges and browns.


Okay, this is the big one. Mintel, in their annual report on upcoming food and drink trends, led with the headline 'Power to the Plants'. They also managed to avoid the 'plant-based diets are blossoming' pun which so many other sub-editors have fallen foul of.

But it is true. Veganism alone has grown 360 percent in ten years. Serena Williams is out there winning Grand Slams without so much as a hint of mince in her post-match pasta. It is nothing to be afraid of.

That said, starting out can feel like hard work. If you've cooked with meat or fish your whole life, your recipes may need a little work so that they don't feel like a side dish. We recommend checking out some of the great Veg Box schemes available in Herefordshire.

Depending on which one you use, you either sign up and get a mixed boxed delivered to your door on the regs, or pick out what veg you want. Either way, you're getting great, local and seasonal veg without having to leave your house. That should give you loads of time to work out what to do with that bunch of carrots.

Check out veg boxes from Little Marcle Farm, Skylark Organics, Leigh Court Farm, Growing Local, and Arkstone Mill organic vegetable boxes.

If you're out in town and want to be about that meat-free life The Rocket Café in Hereford always has delicious vegan options on the menu (and the best Bill Withers jokes). More on Herefordshire's best vegan spots coming soon...

(This article was orginally published in Jan 2016. But it's still good.)

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