FoodWrite Ltd Understanding the science of consumer goods Fri, 18 Jan 2019 16:03:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 FoodWrite Ltd 32 32 26454689 Mamey Sapote Tue, 15 Jan 2019 09:58:03 +0000 Mamey Sapote is a not a commonly found fruit in the UK or indeed the USA. It is one of those fruits however which is [...]

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Mamey Sapote is a not a commonly found fruit in the UK or indeed the USA. It is one of those fruits however which is commonly found in the market place throughout Central America and up into Mexico. The fruit belongs to the tree species Pouteria sapota in the family of the Sapotaceae. The fruit is commercially cultivated throughout central America but is starting to be grown in other semi-tropical regions such as Southern Florida. The fruit is commonly found in the marketplace (Almeyda & Martin, 1976).

The Fruit

The fruit ranges in weight between 250g and 900g. The fruit has a high moisture content which makes it very soft and prone to post-harvest damage. It also has a high sugar to acid ratio which means it is exceptionally sweet and is often eaten slightly under ripe because of this fact (Torres-Rodriguez et al., 2011).

The vitamin content is reasonably high with vitamin C and E predominating in the fruit pulp.

Heart Health Benefits

Mamey Sapote has a high potassium content which in its own right is a mineral that is often added to reduce blood pressure in nutritional supplements. The fruit itself is not directly linked to these specific benefits but it is one which demands further investigation.


Almeyda, N., & Martin, F. W. (1976). Cultivation of neglected tropical fruits with promise. Part 2, The mamey sapote. Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture.

Torres-Rodríguez, A., Salinas-Moreno, Y., Valle-Guadarrama, S., & Alia-Tejacal, I. (2011). Soluble phenols and antioxidant activity in mamey sapote (Pouteria sapota) fruits in postharvest. Food Research International, 44(7), pp. 1956-1961.

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The Best Coffee Pods Mon, 14 Jan 2019 15:33:47 +0000 Coffee drinking is as much an art as it is a necessity for busy work mornings and languorous Saturdays and Sundays. One of the revolutionary [...]

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Coffee drinking is as much an art as it is a necessity for busy work mornings and languorous Saturdays and Sundays. One of the revolutionary turns of recent years has been the appearance of the coffee pod and whilst coffee pod machines are regularly reviewed, the coffee is really only as good as the flavour coming out of that tiny pod.

Coffee pods have the great advantage of convenience which is hard to beat under any circumstance although they have received some negative press because they are not wholly environmentally friendly. The coffee coming from these pods is relatively cheap compared to purchasing it from a coffee shop. They also offer considerable variety and are vastly simpler to prepare than some of the machines. All the pods are hermetically sealed to preserve freshness and aroma with minimal fuss and packaging. I even know some people think the coffee extract in a pod is not real but we know that only coffee from Arabica and Robusta beans is used.

Going back to the environmental issue, plastic is certainly frowned upon and legislation even with coffee pod manufacture is likely to alter. Recycling is a key topic and one which deserves attention by the producers. In a few cases, composting the coffee pod is possible which shows how much innovation has been conducted in improving their acceptability. Ideally I would like ones that can be thrown into a food waste bin without having to wash them out or segregate them.

The top brands and the ones which consistently enter the top 10 in the grocery section of Amazon are probably offering the best quality in terms of bulk coffee. More tailored and nuanced offering are now coming from suppliers looking to develop a particular clientele for their flavours. Its also worth noting that whilst the pod is important but you might well base your decision to purchase on the machine that empoys those pods. Just be careful as not all are as good as they make out and can frankly ruin a coffee.


Tassimo Costa Americano Coffee Pods (Case of 5, Total 80 pods, 80 servings) Tassimo are a major coffee brand and are produced by Jacobs Douwe Egberts which are part of Mondelez. The range is quite extradordinary and must cater for nearly every taste out there. They offer 80 pods in a pack which means 40 servings and this is fairly standard throughout. They make great play of the strong associations we have with well known branding  such as the Kenco, The Coffee Company. Kenco was always a brand to be trusted and there is no shortage of interest in their coffee flavours. The American Grande is a highly aromatic flavour. They also offer a creamer which is worth pursuing if milk or something dairy like is needed to reduce the bitterness. Being a Grande means that you have a fair sized mug of coffee and it is strong. If you prefer something more conventional, try the Americano which is a smaller volume drink and worth it in terms of flavour. The flavour is a traditional roast  grounded coffee. Enjoy with milk or not!

We also noticed they had the L’OR range in their portfolio and these are coffees which are ideal for mornings as opposed to quieter afternoons. Take a look at the Costa brand too which is a highstreet name that’s been given to this particular range of coffee flavours. The Latte is highly sought out as is the Columbian coffee.

If you like flavoured coffee then Tassimo  have the caramel latte and if you like chocolate then why not go for the Cadbury Hot Chocolate drink.

We also like the Senseo brand from Douwe Egberts which is  a smooth coffee for drinking at any time of the day. In this particular coffee the cup is topped by a smooth crema layer which is said to provide an ‘extra touch of indulgence’. Look for the All Day Coffee.

Nescafe Dolce Gusto

NESCAFÉ DOLCE GUSTO Cappuccino Coffee Pods, 16 capsules (Pack of 3 - Total 48 Capsules, 24 Servings)The great rival to Tassimo is the Dolce Gusto brand and they make for some tremendous flavours. The most popular offer at the moment is their Cappuccino. The terms refers to the Italian for hood which is the foam on the surface of the coffee and helps keep the heat in the coffee (so we are told). The coffee flavour itself is a typical espresso. In their example, they have 48 pod servings in a pack of three. 

Throughout the range they are going head to head in many cases which means that there are at least two extremely good alternatives. It’s also worth noting that the reviewers (whether you believe them or not) on the Amazon web-site have very few unkind words to say other than  typical amounts of damage or the pods do not fit in the other manufacturer’s machine.  We also like their Cafe Au Lait and Americano Intenso, (formerly Grande Intenso).

Nespresso is part of an operation in Nestle but which usually offers coffee pod mixtures. Worth seeking out because of the great variety of coffee types possible. It also means that if you choose other brands, they must be compatible with the coffee making device.


Lavazza A Modo Mio Espresso Passionale Coffee Capsules, 36-Count, Pack of 1 (36 capsules)A brand that could certainly not be kept out of the pod marketplace. They have quite a range of their iconic coffees in pods. and these include Delizioso, Passionale, Dek Cremoso, Lungo Dolce, Divino, Magia, Lieve Lungo, Qualita Rossa DEK and Soave.

One to focus on is Espresso Passionale which has really warm coffee aromatics with a hint of toffee (caramel) and chocolate.

Gimoka Coffee

100 Nespresso Compatible Coffee Capsules - Gimoka Coffee (1. VARIETY PACK)A Nespresso compatible pod which offers coffee in five different blends. These include Deciso, Intenso, Cremoso, Vellutato and Lungo.  The Gruppo Gimoka produce their own coffee which is prepared in to the best of the Italian coffee tradition. The capsules are not compatable with any other brand of machine except Nespresso.


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The classic high street brand also have their own pods. Why not try the Fairtrade Espresso Roast Nespresso ® compatible capsules. These have a very dark roast which is intense in flavour and with a slight caramel note. many reviews do believe it has the same taste as the purchased coffee from the high street.  

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The National Bread Of Iran: Sangak Fri, 11 Jan 2019 16:04:36 +0000 Travel to Iran and you will taste the national bread of this country, sangak. (Persian: سنگک‎, Azerbaijani: Səngək; or nan-e sangak نان سنگک). It is [...]

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Travel to Iran and you will taste the national bread of this country, sangak. (Persian: سنگک‎, Azerbaijani: Səngək; or nan-e sangak نان سنگک). It is a remarkably large bread which comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and belongs to that group of whole wheat leavened breads that are so indicative of the baking culture of the country.

Originally, the bread’s name means little stone and this owes to the baking method of using a small river stones in the oven on which the bread rests. It is hand-made and is distinct from Barbari bread which is a leavened white bread but also made in the same country.

The bread is prepared from wheat flour and sourdough. The most common type is plain and simple. More sophisticated versions are topped with poppy seeds and sesame seeds according to Wikipedia but there are supposedly other variants which use a variety of seed toppings to lift the flavour.

We are told that the bread was eaten back in ancient Persian history and as a staple their army marched on. There are references to it in manuscripts of the late 10th Century but it is most likely to be produced well before that time. The story goes that soldiers each carried small amounts of pebbles which were all brought together at camp for creating the cooking bed on which the bread would be baked.

Sangak has one of the highest total zinc and iron contents of all the breads because of the nature and type of extraction used to obtain flour. This flour is invariably wholemeal. It also has a very high phytate content which lowers its mineral availability especially in reducing the absorption of minerals such as calcium in particular.

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Veganuary Fri, 11 Jan 2019 14:18:12 +0000 A fascinating range of ready meals and products for the vegan is now available in the month of January, redubbed Veganuary. The idea is to [...]

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A fascinating range of ready meals and products for the vegan is now available in the month of January, redubbed Veganuary. The idea is to promote a vegan or vegetarian diet for those of us removing the excesses of Christmas and the New Year celebrations. It comes around nearly every year and is designed as an initiative to inspire us to try vegan and vegetarian alternatives in this first month. Who knows, some of us stick with the project by continuing the diet throughout the year. Admittedly, many of us are still carnivores at heart but there is clear merit environmentally and nutritionally in reducing meat consumption for a start.

To help us cope with what might be perceived as a shortage of meat-free products, many of the own-label retailers have been producing their own vegan dishes. This is the group that is largely leading the way in both the vegetarian and vegan sectors. The trend for these types of products is worth quite a bit and it’s a growing trend in consumer shopping. Walk along the aisles and there are new variants of meat-free products or ones not sourcing animal-derived ingredients, popping up everywhere.

The market research group and insight provider, Kantar Worldpanel consider the UK’s meat-free market to be worth £310 million which is worth tapping into. Mintel who are also market researchers, consider meat-free sales to have risen by 22% between 2013 and 2018. In there eyes the value in meat-free brands is over twice that of Kantar Worldwide a an estimated £780 million. Mintel think the market is forecast to rise by a further 44% by 2023. These figures must be considerably greater now in the UK at the beginning of 2019. There must be similar increases throughout Europe and certainly in the USA. 

Many of the own-label retailers launched their vegan/vegetarian ranges in 2018. Waitrose, the UK retailer at the high-end launched its product range in October 2018 in recognition of the growing meat-free trend. Its party food for example is said to have seen a massive hike in sales of 20% in the first three months following the Autumn launch.

Some notable examples in recent months have been Fish’less’ Fingers which is produced by the UK retailer Waitrose. The food is made from breaded seaweed tofu which has been given a crisp coating and has a ‘subtle’ fish flavour. Clearly the frozen and chilled-food sector is ripe for product development innovations. Waitrose also offer vegan mushroom carbonara which makes considerable use of shitake mushrooms along with soy and vegan cheese. It is possible to enhance the dish further with other vegan ingredients such as Quorn.  They also have vegan vegetable paellas, ravioli, vegan cottage pies, sausages and so on. Likewise, we can find creamy sauces made from cauliflower, celeriac, various plant oils along with coconut and Dijon mustard. That sounds quite an appealing combination anyway let alone its vegan credentials.

Private labelled brands are also flying the flag. Beyond meat is releasing its Beyond Burger into the UK marketplace with a tie up with the UK retailer Tesco. It already offers its burgers for the vegan in the pub chain All-Bar-One.

Impossible Foods in the USA produces a flagship product, ‘The Impossible Burger’. The idea is to tackle the ultimate carnivore’s food with a soy-based meat-free burger. It uses the ingredient soy leghaemoglobin. The US Food and Drug administration (USFDA) considers the food safe to consume by concluding the ingredient complies with their food safety regulations by giving it GRAS status. GRAS (‘Generally Recognised As Safe’) is a status given to ingredients which have passed the USA food safety tests. Impossible Foods submitted a 1000+ page dossier for assessment for the FDA to work on. Perhaps significantly for many is that it passes the allergen status. Soy is a declared an allergen in its own right but soy leghaemoglobin has a low risk of allergencity.

One of the products that FoodWrite has been looking at is pozole which is a Mexican dish that can rightly claim to vegan-friendly and certainly gluten-free. Pozole is a dish based on soaking dried whole corn kernels or hominy in lime juice. It is simmered for a few hours and then chillis and spices are added to produce a soup of exceptional flavour. You can keep it vegan by adding vegetables but those of us who love meat will also add chicken and seafood so there is great versatility in this type of dish. It certainly brings out a certain flavour which is unique but wholly consistent with Mexican cooking.

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New Year Diets For 2019: A Look At Intermittent Fasting Fri, 11 Jan 2019 12:07:37 +0000 Having seen Christmas out of the way, the New Year soon beckons. New Year resolutions will often feature a desire to lose weight and improve [...]

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Having seen Christmas out of the way, the New Year soon beckons. New Year resolutions will often feature a desire to lose weight and improve fitness. With this comes a renewed attempt nearly every year to adopt a new diet. Many of them are probably fads and we have looked over the years at a few but it is worth just checking what the current trending diets are. These are the ones that people are talking about if not raving over.

Intermittent Fasting

The latest trend is to adopt intermittent fasting. The latest interest in the media and heavily featuring on Google Trends is the Dubrow Diet. Before we look a little more carefully at this particular diet, the idea of intermittent fasting has been around for a little while. The idea is to restrict what is eaten at various and different times of the day or week. It is designed to generate a deficit in calorie consumption with periods of starvation.

The one we are most familiar with is the 5:2 diet which means a fast of 2 days in the week followed by five days of normal eating. This diet is one favoured by doctors according to media sources and is still pertinent even now as one adopted by many looking to reduce the stress and strain of reducing food consumption. The hourly one is the 8:16 diet which involved a fast of 16 hours every day and 8 hours with normal feeding. This diet is very similar to the Dubrow Diet.

The Dubrow Diet

The Dubrow Diet has been developed by TV personalities Heather Dubrow and her husband Terry Dubrow.  The diet is supported by a variety of TV actors who have relied on the diet to help improve their fitness and shape before taking on various film and stage roles. What has made it so poplar is the idea that you can eat all the foods you like in a certain time period without the guilt. It is certainly not the keto diet which is still the current number one diet.

The Dubrow Diet is split into three different phases and with each phase there is a recommended period of fasting. The phasing is staggered to help the body adjust to the new regime which involves fasting. On the face of it, this appears relatively sophisticated.

In phase one, the idea is to radically alter the way in which the body responds to hunger over roughly a week. It entails a fast for 16 hours per day. This might mean eating only in an eight hour period say from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The plan is adopted for just 5 days. No alcohol is allowed so wine and beer needs to be put aside over that period. Given the Christmas period of feasting that is not a bad idea to have a period of abstinence.

In the second phase or phase two, there are three different ways to fast based on the length of time for the fasting period. We have a slow, medium and quick weight loss approach in this diet. The book states the following:-

  • Fast 12 hours per day and eat during a 12-hour window to lose 0.5 to 1.5 pounds per week. There is one cheat snack for the week.
  • Fast 14 hours per day and eat during a 10-hour window to lose 1 to 2.5 pounds per week. You have one cheat meal for the week.
  • Fast 16 hours per day and eat during an eight-hour window to lose 2 to 4 pounds per week. You have one cheat day for the week.

The three different phases means that there is some leeway in how much weight is to be lost depending on how fixed or onerous dieting means to you.

The diet suggests a number of healthy options ranging from lean protein, healthy fats and green vegetables. So plenty of nuts, chicken, fish, cabbage and kale, beans, avocado, coffee and tea, various yogurts etc. Really all the foods that are associated with a healthy diet.  It appears the diet encourages planning and lost of vegetables to be eaten.

The book upon which the diet bases itself is  “The Dubrow Diet: Interval Eating to Lose Weight and Feel Ageless”. The book has been the number one seller on Amazon in this category in recent months. There are a few others which are worth exploring including:-

(1) Dr. and Mrs. Guinea Pig present the Only Guide You’ll Ever Need To The Best Anti-Aging Treatments.

(2) The Ultimate Unofficial Dubrow Diet Journal: A Daily Guide for your Health!

(3) Dubrow Diet Cookbook: Discover over 70 Easy Recipes to help Supercharge your Energy,Feel Younger and Lose Weight Fast.

These are also worth checking out if you are looking for suitable ways to adopt the Dubrow Diet approach.

A number of other claims are made concerning autophagy which is improved cell turnover and the production of better and younger looking skin. Whilst that remains to be proven it fits with the ‘plastic surgery’ comparison and the profession of its male author.

Generally the scientific research is still being collected on the benefits of intermittent fasting. Back in 2015, a review by Tinsley and la Bounty reported in Nutrition Reviews on 21 studies associated with  the intermittent fasting regime. They looked at this type of fasting to see if body composition and clinical health markers associated with various diseases improved. Such a study is difficult when so many involve different fasting periods but there is a general trend towards weight reduction up to 7%.  Other features such as body fat, total cholesterol and levels of triglycerides also dropped. But to varying degrees and were assumed to associated with the degree of obesity of the subject following the fasting diet. It is largely acknowledged that reducing food intake is strongly associated with weight reduction so an intermittent fast should help achieve this result.

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Your Choice: The Electric Rice Cooker Thu, 10 Jan 2019 16:42:21 +0000 Rice is one of the world’s great staples. Without it much of the population throughout the world would be food poor because it is one [...]

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Rice is one of the world’s great staples. Without it much of the population throughout the world would be food poor because it is one of the main sources of carbohydrate for many. However if you are like me, cooking rice is not a straightforward job. I have often boiled a pot to the point where I have let the rice dry our completely, I’ve not cooked it enough or I have managed to turn it into a sticky glue. Preparing rice can be very dispiriting when it goes wrong ! Preparing perfect fluffy rice is as much an art as it is a science.

Here we look at the electric rice cooker and some of the models which have met many of the customer’s requirements in producing perfectly cooked rice.

What Is A Rice Cooker ?

The electric rice cooker was first developed in Japan because there were so many demands on housewives that pressing a button and cooking this staple seemed a no-brainer. Since then, this key electrical appliance has developed into a device which can not only cook rice but prepare other grains and sushi rice.

The rice cooker is simply a an electrically heated bowl which is thermostatically controlled. As well as being able to remove the bowl to serve the rice, the real brains is in the algorithms sued to manage temperature including both start-up and cooling. On the face of it they are simple pieces of kit but they have made cooking rice a simple pleasure allowing the chef to deal with other cooking issues.

How Does An Electric Rice Cooker Work  ?

Essentially, a portion of rice is placed in the bowl and a defined portion of water is added. During cooking the rice grains absorb the very hot water which alters the starches (the carbohydrates) in the rice and so do the cooking. Normal cooking times will be about 30 minutes. The electric rice cooker is an automatic version of adding hot, steaming water to rice and then boiling it until the rice tastes soft enough without going mushy.

A good bowl should be non-stick. None of the electric rice cookers should allow the rice to burn or stick to the bowl so make sure you check the reviews to see if anybody has had a serious issue with these devices where this problem was concerned. If rice is still in the bowl but not wanted then simply place in a washing up bowl and fill with water because the rice should come away extremely easy.

Most cookers should have three functions, the cook, a steam and warming function so look for these as standard. The ‘keep warm’ function is often switched manually but there are models to look for which do this automatically. Rice probably tastes better if it is allowed to rest a while. Remember, do not expose rice to the atmosphere for too long (say for more than 2 hours) because of the risk of contamination with food toxin producing bacteria.

Who Are The Leading Brands ?

The industry has produce some very well known names in electrical goods and most of them with pretensions to supplying cooking devices have designed a rice cooker worthy of inclusion in this review. One of the most famous names is Russell Hobbs. Take a look at a few of their models:-

Russell Hobbs 19750 Rice Cooker and Steamer, 1.8 Litre

This model is rather unusual because not only can you cook rice in its electrically heated bowl but there is a steaming tray provided for cooking your vegetables. Many reviewers have commented on how effective the longevity of the unit compared to other models they have bought. Many of the other reviewers are annoyed the cooking bowl is not dishwashable but this must be a small point for what is such a good machine. The current pricing also sets it up as an above average model. We notice that it is often discounted so check the marketing sites regularly and we place it at the beginning of the review because of its versatility. The rice and veg. combo must surely suit the health conscious – surely !

Reishunger Rice Cooker (1.2l/500W/220V)

Reishunger is not as well known a brand but is big in Germany where it comes from. Given German engineering and design they have a fabulous rice cooker offer. For many it is the top product in many reviews, mainly for its high performance in delivering well cooked rice and by well-cooked meaning that it is perfect time after time.

The bowl size is ideal for cooking for large families. It appears to be easy to use and only requires about 1.5 cups of water to help boil the rice. A variety of rice products including whole grains, golden and sushi rice can be cooked. We have also heard of others making paella in this machine but that hasn’t been corroborated. Most of their models have a keep warm mode. Said to be a good starting rice cooker for those not that familiar with the device.

Geepas 1.8L Rice Cooker

Chosen because this one could keep a large family going in rice because of its large bowl size.  Not that well known yet but it has all the functions needed so try it out.

Lloytron Kitchen Perfected Non-Stick Rice Cooker (0.8L)

A neat and compact rice cooker for those who are doing small portions or cooking for just two. Does 4 cups according to their product description. This device will automatically switch to a ‘keep warm’ mode once it has cooked the rice which is not always evident on other machines where this operation is done manually. A good cheap unit with easy to follow instructions. Highly portable too because of its size unlike those bowls which are 1.5 litres or more.

Zojirushi Rice Cooker NS-TSQ10

Zojirushi are a class act in electrical kitchen goods. An expensive gadget for many but it is able to produce cooked rice probably to the best level possible. This model has a 5.5 cup rice capacity which makes it ideal for a standard family of four people. Will do all types of rice depending on the setting made. There are numerous settings including one for a rice porridge which is not one of your standard food consumables. Some people also use it to cook other foodstuffs like oat porridge. Probably one for the Japanese sushi junky. Said to be great at producing brown rice to the best consistency.

Tefal RK1568UK Cool Touch Rice Cooker

Many folk find this brand highly reputable. This model has a large bowl capacity of 1.8 litres and will do large portions for a big family. Doesn’t have a rice steamer as an insert so cooking sticky rice which some other models manage is sadly not possible. Nonetheless it is a versatile and convenient model given its large size.

Judge Mini Rice Cooker, 300ml

A lovely little rice cooker for small portions.

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Date Nectar Wed, 09 Jan 2019 16:46:44 +0000 Date nectar is possible the newest trending grocery product for 2019. Why ? It is a vegan alternative to honey. Date syrups are 100% natural [...]

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Date nectar is possible the newest trending grocery product for 2019. Why ? It is a vegan alternative to honey. Date syrups are 100% natural syrups entirely taken from whole dates.  There is no refined sugar although that is not to be taken entirely as a positive. Most of the nutritional benefits are retained from the date save for the dietary fibre. It is a great source of phytosterols, polyphenols, various minerals and antioxidants.

The syrup is currently enticing a number of consumers on the west coast of the USA. 


Try it like honey as a pouring syrup for pancakes, waffles, cereals, muesli and cereals. It is also a great alternative to sugar for baking, drizzling and cooking.

Nutritional Value

Suppliers include the brand BeLoved.

They quote the following values per 100g which is indicative of all generic date syrups:-

  • Energy 1260 kJ / 300 kcal
  • Fat 1.7g
  • of which Saturates 1.0g
  • Carbohydrates 68.0g
  • of which Sugars 65.0g
  • Fibre 1.1g
  • Protein 1.1g
  • Salt 0.6g

Minerals: Per 100g | DRI | %DRI*/100g

  • Manganese (mg)*: 0.7 | 2 | 35
  • Magnesium (mg)+: 72 | 375 | 19
  • Potassium (mg): 750 | 2000 | 37

The current retail value is £8.80/kg and is supplied in squeezy bottles.


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Preparing Kefir Tue, 08 Jan 2019 10:20:55 +0000 Kefir is a fascinatingly complex fermented product which appears like a slightly fizzy yogurt.  The beverage has a strong following with those seeking a healthier [...]

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Kefir is a fascinatingly complex fermented product which appears like a slightly fizzy yogurt.  The beverage has a strong following with those seeking a healthier lifestyle because it is a classic probiotic product. It has long been drunk throughout the ages and is a part of folklore for its numerous benefits. The food has always been popular throughout Asia but is now part of the established health food culture in Europe, North America and Japan. 

The drink originates from the Caucasus mountains that straddle Russia and the middle Asian states such as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It derives from the word ‘kef’ that means pleasant taste in Turkish. It is also known variably as kefyr, kephir, kefer, kiaphur, knapon, kepi or kippi. There are many similarities with that other popular fermented drink, kombucha.

It is produced by the incubation of kefir ‘grains’ with either a dairy feedstock or just water. The fermentation combines lactic acid production with the alcoholic fermentation of lactose present in milk. The taste is mildly acidic because of the combination of lactic acid and ethanol with flavours from the milk, produced by the bacteria and yeast such as acetaldehyde and acetoin. It is also lightly carbonated. A variety of milks can be used although ideally full fat milk is preferred because it creates such a creamy texture. For many goat’s milk kefir has a slightly less viscous texture than the type produced from a cow. For vegans, a ‘kefir’ prepared from nut and oat milk or variants is suitable.

If the kefir is produced using ‘grains’ in only water than it is best described as a fizzy drink. The feedstock is fruit juice or water containing just sugar. To be honest, its the dairy based products which have caused most of the excitement.  It is often used in place of drinking yogurt or as an ingredient in its own right. Some folks prepare smoothies with it and it certainly goes very well with acid fruits like raspberries, blueberries and strawberries.

The grains  look rather like cottage cheese with a rubbery texture. These ‘grains’ contain at least 50 species of probiotic bacteria which are mainly lactic acid bacteria and yeasts. There is more microbial variety in the dairy versions than in the water-based products.

The therapeutic benefits are well known and these are being examined in great detail (Zeynap et al., 2011; Arslan, 2014). It is certainly the case that kefir has antibacterial, antifungal and even anticancer effects amongst the many others which are listed later on.

Kefir including the microorganisms that it contains act like most probiotics. Indeed it is a long-standing member of this group of foods and can modulate gut microbiota and mycobiota. The modulation is associated with its many health benefits but unfortunately there are still too few studies to establish the exact mechanisms of the benefits imparted (Kim et al., 2018).

Antimicrobial Benefits

Kefir shows inhibitory activity against mostly gram-positive bacteria such as staphylococcus, coccus and bacillus. The ‘grains’ are more potent than kefir itself.

Antifungal Benefits

Kefir acts against a variety of moulds especially yeasts. The moulds include Candida, Saccharomyces, Rhodotorula, Torulopsis, Microsporum and Trichopyton species (Cevikbas et al., 1994).

Anticancer And Antimutagenic Effects

Kefir has been shown in mice studies to reduce tumor size and necrosis associated with this disease (Cevikbas et al., 1994).

Other notable benefits include the following:-

  • antioxidants
  •  antiobesity
  • anti-hepatic steatosis
  • antiallergenic inlcuding reduction of lactose intolerance syndrome
  • anti-inflammatory
  • stimulation of the immune system
  • reduces cholesterol
  • relieves constipation

Preparation Of Kefir


  • kefir grains
  • milk from a cow, sheep or goat but officianadoes also claim horse and camel are probably the most realistic.

You will need a glass or plastic jar with a secure lid and of sufficient volume to hold the fermenting drink. The sieve (plastic) is used to filter out the culture before drinking.


Given its richness, the recipe below should generate about 100ml.

  1. A teaspoon of ‘grains’ is added to a jar containing about 100ml of milk. Adding more grains produces a more sour tasting kefir.
  2. Put the lid on and leave the jar in a room for 24 hours at room temperature.
  3. The following day, strain the product through a lined plastic sieve to remove as much of the culture as possible. The product should be relatively free of cloud and retain some of its fizziness. The lining should be muslin or coffee filter paper.
  4. Keep the ‘grains’ by placing in a clean jar and adding further milk to prepare the next batch. If the kefir is too thin, some of the watery component can be sieved off through a fine mesh.

Products Containing Kefir

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Arslan, S. (2015). A review: chemical, microbiological and nutritional characteristics of kefir. CyTA-Journal of Food13(3), pp. 340-345

Cevikbas, A., Yemni, E., Ezzedenn, F. W., Yardimici, T., Cevikbas, U., & Stohs, S. J. (1994). Antitumoural antibacterial and antifungal activities of kefir and kefir grain. Phytotherapy Research8(2), pp. 78-82.

Guzel-Seydim, Z. B., Kok-Tas, T., Greene, A. K., & Seydim, A. C. (2011). Functional properties of kefir. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition51(3), pp. 261-268.

Kim, D. H., Jeong, D., Kim, H., & Seo, K. H. (2018). Modern perspectives on the health benefits of kefir in next generation sequencing era: improvement of the host gut microbiota. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutritionpp. 1-12

Rodrigues, K. L., Caputo, L. R. G., Carvalho, J. C. T., Evangelista, J., & Schneedorf, J. M. (2005). Antimicrobial and healing activity of kefir and kefiran extract. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents25(5), pp. 404-408.

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Health Benefits Of Watermelon And Its Seeds Tue, 08 Jan 2019 08:26:55 +0000 Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is possibly one of the biggest fruit and vegetables you will find in the marketplace. It’s a firm favourite of anyone looking [...]

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Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is possibly one of the biggest fruit and vegetables you will find in the marketplace. It’s a firm favourite of anyone looking for a refreshing and tasty treat. The fruit is very common in West Africa such as Ghana, Nigeria and the Cameroons but is now being grown throughout the Middle East because it is an effective source of oil.

It is a gourd and related to other melons, courgettes and squashes such as pumpkin which makes it a member of the Curcurbitaceae family.

It has a sweet flavour with numerous seeds and is a superb low-calorie treat. The fruit is mostly water, 91% to be precise with the remainder being largely carbohydrate (7%). This means it has a very low carbohydrate content.

Not only is it high in fiber it is also a fine source of various antioxidants such as lycopene. Lycopene is well documented for its association with health benefits including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer and improving general health.

Eating watermelon is supposed to generate a slight diuretic effect. It is used by many in folk medicine for treating dropsy and renal or kidney stones. It is also associated with reducing hypertension, for treating an enlarged liver, jaundice and giardiasis.

Watermelon is also a source of citrulline which is associated with improvements in the health and functioning of blood vessels, overcoming for want of a better word with erectile dysfunction and diabetes. The flesh also contains small amounts of polyamines such as spermidine and spermine along with their precursor, putrescine.

It is a source of vitamins A and C and minerals potassium and magnesium.

Watermelon Seeds And Seed Oil

The seeds are a health food in themselves. They are consumed readily in India where they are known as tarbooj ke beej in Hindi. They are not easy to chew but are high in nutrients but low in calories. 

This oil is commonly used in west Africa where it is known as kalahari, bereff oil or ootanga oil.

The oil is a great alternative to avocado oil because its nutritional value is bolstered by having low molecular weight saturated fatty acids. The composition is also similar to sunflower oil where it is made up of linoleic acid (43%), oleic acid (27%), stearic acid (19.5%) and palmitic acid (5%). The iodine content is 28.51g/100g oil which is typical for seed oils. Having a relatively low iodine value means it has good oxidative stability on storage. The residue remaining following extraction is about 47% protein

The seed oil is prepared most often by cold pressing the seeds. If hexane extraction is used which is a common industrial practice, then a recovery of 50%w/w is often commercially obtained  (Moaddabdoost Baboli, & Safe Kordi, 2010).   More modern, less toxic extraction methods use supercritical fluid extraction with supercritical CO2 (SC-CO2). The seed oil from this type of extraction contains 75% unsaturated and 25% saturated fatty acids (Rai et al., 2015).  

The oil is also used in consumer products such as foaming agents, as a shoe polish, for creams, paints and some other industrial products where a high saponification oil is required. here it acts in a similar manner to linseed oil. The oil also flows well and spreads evenly onto surfaces .

When the seeds are roasted, they develop a well rounded slightly smoky note. the best way to prepare them is similar to other seed products. Simply spread the seeds on a baking tray and place in the oven at 325 Fahrenheit for nearly 15 minutes. the seeds become crispy and develop a red-brown hue. Whilst roast improves flavour, some of the nutrient is lost but they do make for a great snack. Adding some olive oil or rapeseed oil along with some salt and pepper to taste actually creates a wonderful snack. They are also great as garnishes for salads but depending on the country, are often used as garnishes, condiments, as thickeners for soups and broths, as a flavouring agent and even as a fat binder.

Watermelon seeds are full of nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, potassium and various B vitamins. They also contain plenty of fat and protein. Removal of the tough black shell improves their palatability. They are best sprouted if you want to obtain their protein.

To sprout seeds, soak in water overnight and wait for the seeds to sprout by placing on a clean white paper. They are best dried in an oven or dehydrator although in tropical climates, sum drying is perfectly fine. Again sprouted pumpkin seeds make a great snack.

The seeds also produce a reasonably good flour when defatted and a protein isolate is possible.

Watermelon rind should not be discarded as it contains polysaccharides which are inhibitors of angiotensin I-containing enzyme (ACE). This implies that the rind could offer a potential source of blood-pressure lowering materials and ingredients.  


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Moaddabdoost Baboli, Z., & Safe Kordi, A. A. (2010). Characteristics and composition of watermelon seed oil and solvent extraction parameters effects. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society87(6), pp. 667-671. 

Rai, A., Mohanty, B., & Bhargava, R. (2015). Modeling and response surface analysis of supercritical extraction of watermelon seed oil using carbon dioxide. Separation and Purification Technology141, pp. 354-365. .

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Konjac Glucomannan Mon, 07 Jan 2019 15:13:04 +0000 Konjac glucomannan (KGM) is a highly polymerized fibre obtained from the roots and tubers of the plant Amorphophallus konjac C. Koch. The chemical  structure is β‐(1,4)‐linked D‐mannose [...]

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Konjac glucomannan (KGM) is a highly polymerized fibre obtained from the roots and tubers of the plant Amorphophallus konjac C. Koch. The chemical  structure is β‐(1,4)‐linked D‐mannose and D‐glucose residues in a molar ratio of 1.6:1.

Functional Benefits

KGM has a number of useful physiological and nutritional benefits (Chua et al., 2010; Behera & Ray, 2016). It can reputedly act as a:-

  • antigenotoxic agent,
  • antioxidant,
  • antibacterial agent,
  • reduces obesity,
  • antidiabetic agent,
  • anticoagulant,
  • anti‐inflammatory agent,
  • regulates in lipid metabolism,
  • laxative,
  • prebiotic,
  • antitumor activities


Behera, S. S., & Ray, R. C. (2016). Konjac glucomannan, a promising polysaccharide of Amorphophallus konjac K. Koch in health careInternational Journal of Biological Macromolecule92, pp. 942956

Chua, M.Baldwin, T. C.Hocking, T. J., & Chan, K. (2010). Traditional uses and potential health benefits of Amorphophallus konjac K. Koch ex NE BrJournal of Ethnopharmacology128, pp. 268278

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