I've always inwardly groaned when, come January, foodie magazines start falling over themselves with low-fat this, healthy that and no-fun the other. Yet here I am, about to do the same thing. However, in my case this is as a direct consequence of events in my own life - I am, Dear Reader, on a diet! And not a faddy, New Year's resolution forget about it by the third week of January sort of affair but a proper, full- on join a Slimming Club with classes, books and beautifully packaged slimming bars that cost a fortune and that you suspect taste mainly of cardboard kind of a way. Since turning fifty in September (well, alright since about five years before turning fifty if I'm honest) the pounds have been piling on and it's not so easy to shed them when you are a little older - and when you run a cheese shop. So, here are three things I have been eating recently which were definitely starting to have a positive effect - until Christmas came and I was lured back to the ‘Dark Side’ by a particularly seductive piece of Roquefort...

Feta is for Christmas too, not just the summer! Whilst not specifically a low-fat cheese, although you can get reduced fat versions which are fine and substantially reduce the fat content, the beauty of a good Feta, is that it is so flavoursome, a little goes a

New Year Resolutions have either been taken up or thrown in the bin by the end of January, so those of you who, like me resolved to eat more plant-based dishes alongside proper local meat, will probably be researching new recipes to use squash, carrots and parsnips, brassicas and leeks.

long way. You don't need to use loads to transform a boring salad into something far more tangy, salty and moreish - bring a bit of Mediterranean sunshine into the Cumbrian winter!

I have cut out all fizzy drinks, crisps, snacking and so on, concentrating on plenty of veg (I am not a fruit person sadly), oily fish and lean meats but sometimes, usually at around 2.30 in the afternoon, I can resist no longer. Long a joke around these parts (cue ‘funny’ customer coming into the shop asking if we sell Babybel) I have to say, it does the trick! The Babybel Light versions are just 42 calories and 2.4 grams of fat per cheese and a couple of these just takes away the afternoon pang for me. Great if, like me, you are not a chocoholic but need the occasional savoury kick.

Luckily for me, I have discovered I am one of those rare things, a person who actually enjoys cottage cheese and not just any but specifically no-fat cottage cheese - I know! I have loved the Longley Farm Fat Free Cottage Cheese with Chives for simply ages and

I actually much prefer this to the same company's full-fat version. It's just so creamy and flavoursome! Their website gives some menu ideas but finishes by saying: "If you like to keep it simple, try it straight out of the tub" and, as awful as it might sound coming from a cheese

connoisseur, that would be my serving suggestion, best enjoyed at midnight in a darkened kitchen, the only light coming from the open fridge door, with a good Pinot Noir. Look, it's MY diet, I'll do it how I like! Now, where did I put that piece of Roquefort...

John Natlacen, Owner

I vow not to sow too many tomato seeds. I vow to do a stocktake of those I have and remove old packets.


seed sprouter is not only to provide crisp, fresh sprouted

seeds to give extra crunch to a stir fry but can also

All these vegetables can be heart-warming and delicious when cooked with spices or cream or both; pureed or roasted; filled into pancakes or wraps with sweet chilli sauce or simply made into tasty winter soups.

In the middle of this winter, (however mild), I’m glad I took the time to put vegetable and herb dishes into the freezer. Most are properly labelled, so when I retrieve garden pea casserole, I know I’ve something versatile. Peas aren’t in season, but they were captured when they were and have been preserved in frost to give us a taste of freshness and reminder of things to come. My pea casserole can be used as a base for a vegetarian lasagne or other pasta bake; stirred into a risotto with Solway Shrimps, or simply used as a side dish. I just need inspiration at the time of plucking from the


sow it, grow it, eat it! by Annette Gibbons

Annette Gibbons OBE is renowned as a champion of local food and whilst supporting Cumbrian farmers and growers, she cultivates her organic vegetable garden on the banks of the Solway Firth

freezer. There are bags of fresh

parsley which I squash whilst frozen to add to soups and casseroles.

Browsing seed catalogues or rows of seed packets are a constant pastime for me. I

feel like a greedy child looking at sweeties. This year though, I’ve tried to

be more circumspect and only buy tried and Annette Gibbons tested

organic seeds, or recommended by gardening friends. ISSUE 438 | 23 JANUARY 2020 | 20 those Email:

be used to check on old seeds to see if they are still viable. Saves on waste.

I’m collecting the inside tubes of loo rolls, kitchen paper rolls and wrapping paper to give a good start to broad beans and sweet peas. Starting early gives me a thrill that the gardening season proper isn’t too far away.

Still in the garden and ready to eat are

leeks, chard, kale.

cauliflower, sprouting broccoli and


parsnips, are

storing fairly well now that I’ve solved the rodent problem, so with the freezer still stacked, I think we’ll survive another month or two.

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