Blog

  • Spice up your spring menu - and get healthy too

    Spicy food can be just the thing as the weather warms up but there’s another great reason to try something new and exotic. From soothing joint pain to easing indigestion, we look at the surprising health benefits thought to be behind some of our favourite spices.

    They are the secret behind some of our most popular ready meals, from curries and Mediterranean classics to warming desserts. But far from simply adding mouth-watering flavours, these small yet powerful seasonings are believed to be good for us, too.

    Here’s a sprinkling of some of the world’s favourite herbs and spices, and the benefits they’re believed to have to our health:

    Turmeric

    This colourful, golden yellow component of most of our favourite curries – including Chicken Tikka Masala – has anti-inflammatory properties, and can be used to help relieve painful arthritis symptoms.

    Why not try: Moroccan Lamb or Oriental Chicken Noodles – just the thing to spice up dinnertime this summer.

    Chilli Pepper

    Chillies are so popular in the cuisines of hot countries because, by making you sweat, they help you cool down. All chillies, from mild paprika up to spicy scotch bonnets, also contain a natural chemical that helps your stomach cells fight off bacteria.

    Why not try: Chilli con Carne.

    Ginger

    This fiery root has been used to settle upset stomachs for centuries. Ginger is also anti-inflammatory, and can help relieve joint pain caused by arthritis.

    Why not try: Shanghai Beef drenched in a fragrant sesame, ginger and chilli sauce. Followed by Chunky Ginger Ice Cream for a sweet treat.

    If you’re not a fan of spicy foods, herbs can be a great way to flavour your meals too – here are some of the most widely used and some interesting health benefits that may surprise you…

    Parsley

    This popular garnish is high in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, and can help cells repair themselves. In concentrated doses, scientists have found that natural chemicals in parsley can neutralise cancer-causing compounds called carcinogens.

    Why not try: Chicken Casserole with Herby Mash or succulent Cod in Parsley.

    Rosemary

    In folklore, this fragrant herb was thought to improve memory, and is a symbol of remembrance across the world. When used in cookery, it can help make cooked meats healthier by fighting foodborne bacteria.

    Why not try: Lamb and Barley Hotpot, packed full of tender lamb and vegetables in a rich tomato and redcurrant sauce.

    Find out more

    If you fancy trying some of these delicious dishes you can find our full range of home delivered ready meals here. Or why not ask for a free brochure to read through in your own time?

  • 10 health reasons chocolate is good for you

    Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food, stress-reliever and aphrodisiac – here are 10 fabulous reasons why tucking into your favourite treat this Easter could be good for you after all.

    It’s rich in minerals
    Dark chocolate is high in beneficial minerals like potassium, zinc and selenium, and a 100g bar of dark chocolate (70 per cent or more) provides 67 per cent of an adult’s recommended daily intake of iron.

    Cough relief
    One study showed that chocolate helped to relieve coughs almost as well as codeine – and with none of the side effects.

    It boosts “good cholesterol”
    Cocoa has been shown to reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol and increase levels of “good” cholesterol, potentially lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.

    It reduces the risk of stroke
    Researchers in Finland have found that eating chocolate lowers the risk of stroke - by a whopping 17 per cent average in the group of men they tested.

    It makes you feel good…
    Chocolate contains the same chemical that your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. It’s also what makes your brain release feel-good endorphins.

    It boosts brain power
    Flavanols (found in dark chocolate) are thought to reduce memory loss in older people, and the anti-inflammatory properties of dark chocolate have also been found to be beneficial in treating brain injuries such as concussion.

    It keeps you slim
    Chocolate really can help you lose weight - by preventing overeating. A small square of quality chocolate melted on the tongue 20 minutes before a meal triggers the “I’m full” message in the brain, reducing the amount you eat. Finishing a meal with another square could also limit snacking afterwards.

    It could prevent diabetes
    It sounds unlikely, but cocoa has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which means that dark chocolate - in moderation - might help to delay or prevent the onset of diabetes.

    It protects your skin
    Researchers in Germany found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate absorb UV light and can therefore help to protect the skin against sun damage.

    It’s good for the heart and circulation
    A recent study found that dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries whilst preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels - both common causes of artery clogging.

    Of course, all these health benefits depend on the quality of the chocolate but eaten in moderation a good, dark chocolate can certainly be good for you. If you fancy a treat why not try our Tarte au Chocolat, made with delicious dark chocolate ganache and all butter pastry?

  • Put a spring in your step: 8 superfoods for spring

    You are what you eat, so the saying goes – so what are the best foods to keep you in tip-top condition and raring to go? We’ve rounded up some star ingredients that are sure to give you an all-round health boost this spring.

    Walnuts – good for mood
    Delicious in puddings and savoury dishes, walnuts are rich in the amino acid your body needs to create the feel-good chemical serotonin. And because they're digested slowly they can contribute to mood stability and can help you tolerate stress too. Why not try… Nut & Mushroom Roast

    Asparagus – good for mood
    Asparagus spears are a great source of folate, a B vitamin that could help keep your spirits up -folate is important for our dopamine and serotonin levels, which are crucial for mood. Why not try… Shanghai Beef


    Pulses – good for weight loss

    Because your body has to work to break down the fibre in beans you’re actually expending energy to digest it – meaning they are a good bet if you’re trying to lose weight. Not only that, the protein in pulses activates the "I'm satisfied" message in the hunger centre of your brain so you’re less likely to overeat. Why not try… Tuna & Bean Salad

    Spinach – good for energy
    Popeye was definitely onto something! These tasty leaves are a great source of iron, especially if you don't eat meat, which is vital for fuelling our muscles with oxygen for energy. Why not try… Smoked Haddock Florentine


    Salmon – good for skin

    Super healthy salmon is one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. As well as regulating oil production and boosting hydration, these healthy fats nourish the skin, decreasing clogged pores, and helping to prevent fine lines and wrinkles. An all-round winner! Why not try… Salmon Pasta Bake

    Strawberries – good for your heart
    Strawberries are the perfect ingredient for heart health, not only because they contain essential fibre, potassium and antioxidants but they are also naturally fat free, with one serving (around 8 strawberries) containing just 50 calories. And as if that wasn’t enough, Strawberries help to control high cholesterol and high blood pressure – two of the biggest risk factors for heart disease. Why not try… Strawberry Tart

    Eggs – good for memory
    As well as being loaded with high quality proteins, vitamins, minerals and good fats, eggs are one of the best sources of choline, a key nutrient needed maintaining memory and communication among brain cells. For a brain boosting start to the day why not try… All Day Breakfast

    Blackberries – good for the immune system and healthy bones
    These delicious berries are one of the richest fruit sources of antioxidants and are also packed with Vitamin C - vital for our immune system, helping to lower blood pressure and with the absorption of iron. They are also packed with magnesium and calcium, crucial for strong, healthy bones. Why not try… Apple & Blackberry Waffle

  • Meat Free Monday and beyond...

    If you've thought about trying a diet with less meat there are plenty of benefits to going vegetarian or even just cutting out meat one day a week. Meat Free Mondays are a great way to incorporate vegetarian meals into your diet and make a difference to your health and to the environment.

    Health benefits
    There are many health benefits to eating less meat including having a lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Vegetarians tend to have lower cholesterol and eat less saturated fat than those who eat meat every day and following a more plant based diet often makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Because of these health benefits, vegetarians and vegans also live longer on average than those who eat meat every day.

    Watching the pennies
    Eating veggie can be kinder to your pockets with lentils, pulses, fruit and veg often cheaper than buying meat. And there are plenty of tasty meat substitute products available these days, making it easier than ever to enjoy meat-free versions of your favourite meals.
    Roasted Vegetable Lasagne

    Whether you're incorporating vegetarian meals into your diet just one day a week or every day, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is always a good idea. Adding sliced fruit to cereals in the morning or having carrot and cucumber batons for a snack are just some small changes you can make to follow a healthier, more plant based diet.

    What's on the menu
    RatatouilleWe have some fantastic vegetarian meals in our range for you to try, including Great Taste Award winners Roasted Vegetable Lasagne and Roasted Vegetables with Goat's Cheese. You'll also find some delicious vegetarian options in our Mini Meals range, like our popular Cauliflower Cheese & Sauté Potatoes.

    If you would rather add some more vegetables to your dishes why not try our French classic Ratatouille or our Green Vegetables in a Wild Garlic Butter?

    Meat Free Mondays was launched in 2009 by Stella, Paul and Mary McCartney, and aims to "encourage people to help slow climate change, preserve precious natural resources and improve their health by having at least one meat free day each week."

  • Keeping Healthy Bones and Joints

    As we age it is important to look after our bones and our joints, as we can be more prone to problems like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. The most common type of arthritis in the UK, osteoarthritis affectsMiniMeals_250x300_2 (3)
    the cartilage between our joints and is most likely to occur in the knees, hips and small joints in the hand.

    Your weight can have an impact on the osteoarthritis of the hips and knees as it increases the pressure on them. If you are watching your weight why not try smaller portions with our popular Mini Meals range? This range has some of our favourite dishes but in a smaller portion so you don't feel like you are missing out on your usual tasty meals from Oakhouse!

    As well as keeping your weight in check there are other steps you can take to keep your bones and muscles strong. Some of the following nutrients can be helpful in keeping healthy:

    Calcium

    Eating for calcium is important as we age

    Most of us know children need calcium to help them grow, but it’s just as important in later life to prevent the development of osteoporosis, which causes brittle bones. If your diet includes food from a variety of food groups, it should be simple to get enough calcium each day without making any big changes to your diet.

    Good sources include milk, cheese, cream and green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage. Why not try our Cheesy Smoked Haddock Fillet or our sumptuous Clotted Cream Vanilla Ice Cream for a treat!

    Vitamin D

    Vitamin D plays an important role in bone health because it helps our bodies absorb calcium. Sunlight is one of the main sources, but in the UK, the sun is only strong enough to help us make vitamin D in the summer. During the warmer months, try to spend up to 10 minutes each day out in the sun without sunscreen.

    As well as going out in the sun, you can get vitamin D from eating eggs or oily fish such as salmon and mackerel a few times a week. Our Kipper Fillets are a great breakfast dish, and our Salmon & Broccoli Bake is a delicious option for the evenings.

    Exercise for Healthy Muscles

    To protect you and your bones against falls, you also need to look after your muscles. By keeping them strong, you’re more likely to stay steady on your feet around the home and outdoors. Regular exercise will help with this – even low-intensity activities such as walking and gardening. You could also try balance-based exercises such as Yoga or Pilates.

    To keep your muscles in good shape and help them repair after exercise, it’s important to include protein in your diet. Good sources include meat, fish, cheese, beans, lentils and whole grain cereals. Our Chilli Con Carne & Rice is a great mildly spiced dish or why not try our Woodland Chicken for something a little different?

    Whatever your taste, it's important to get a balanced diet including elements from all the major food groups. You can find out more about eating healthily with the Eatwell plate here.

  • In the Oakhouse kitchen...

    At Oakhouse we’re all about using traditional ingredients and classic recipes to create great food that really hits the spot. Award winning development chef Wayne Harris has been creating delicious dishes for the Oakhouse range for over 5 years and we spoke to him about the inspiration behind some of our all-time favourites.Development Chef Wayne Harris

    A lifelong passion
    “My love of cooking began at home when I was around 13 or 14 and I used to bake in my mum’s kitchen making classic puddings like Lemon Meringue Pie. I finally became a professional chef after completing my training in Salisbury and have been lucky enough to win several awards over the years doing what I love.

    Simply good food

    “It’s our mission to create food that tastes as good as homemade, that you can enjoy without all the hassle of cooking. We are cooking and retasting our recipes all the time to see where we can add something new or improve on flavour, and we've just been coming up with some exciting new dishes for our summer range too. We often find our inspiration in time-honoured recipes that have been passed down through generations, and add an Oakhouse twist to create something different. ”

    Mini Beef Stew with Bubble & Squeak
    Mini Beef Stew with Bubble & Squeak
    Wayne says: “I loved creating this dish – bubble and squeak is a British classic and I was really excited about coming up with a recipe around it. These two traditional favourites went really well together and a little red wine did the trick to bring out all the rich notes of the beef. This really is comfort food at its best.”

    You say...
    "Tender pieces of beef in a rich gravy together with the Bubble & Squeak made a very tasty meal..." ***** Brian

    Chicken & Cider HotpotChicken & Cider Hotpot

    Wayne says: “Cider is a fantastic ingredient to cook with and the flavours lend themselves to so many recipes, so coming up with this dish was a pleasure. I added cream to balance the light, fresh flavours of the cider and with some sage it produced a really tasty sauce that complements the chicken perfectly.”

    You say...
    "My absolute favourite. Restaurant quality" ***** Irina
    "Another tasty and enjoyable dish" ***** Maureen

    Have your say
    Have you got a favourite recipe that you'd like to share with us? Whether it's from our kitchen or yours, why not tell us about it on Facebook or Twitter?

    #sharethefoodyoulove

  • I did it! Aberdeen customer loses over 2 stone with Oakhouse Mini Meals

    We all know that carrying extra weight can take its toll on your health and after years of trying different weight loss plans, Aberdeen retiree Kathleen finally found the answer she had been looking for – in the pages of an Oakhouse Foods brochure.

    Kathleen was looking for some help with mealtimes for her elderly father when she came across Oakhouse Foods. “Dad had tried other options but was bored with the food and wanted something a bit more exciting. I picked up an Oakhouse brochure one day and we really liked the look of the food so we gave them a try.

    “At around this time I had some bad news from my doctor, who told me I had to start losing weight for the benefit of my health. As Dad became a regular Oakhouse customer I realised that their mini meals could be worth trying as they are all smaller portions and lower in calories.  To be safe I showed everything to my GP who gave it the thumbs up, and since then I’ve been eating Oakhouse mini meals for tea almost every day.

    “Since I started eating Oakhouse meals in April I have lost over 2 stone and the change in my health has been incredible. I haven’t had to use my inhaler once and I’m no longer borderline for diabetes. There is such a lot of choice you never get bored. I even get to have some yummy low calorie puds when I fancy a treat! I have tried every weight loss plan under the sun and nothing has worked until I found Oakhouse. My daughter has also lost over a stone using Oakhouse meals and we would recommend them to anyone. I think having smaller portions already planned out for you is a great help, and the food is so tasty you don’t feel like you are missing out.”

    If you're watching your weight and you fancy giving smaller portions why not have a browse through our Mini Meals and see what takes your fancy?

  • Eating for a Healthy Heart

    The best way to keep your heart healthy is through your diet and we have explained some of the easiest changes you can make. Heart-healthy lifestyle habits will also benefit your general wellbeing whilst reducing your risks of heart disease and lowering your cholesterol levels.

    Fruit and vegetables should make up a third of our diets so you should be having at least 5 portions a day. This can be hard so why not try adding frozen vegetables to dishes? We have some great choices like Broccoli and our Baby Carrots. Always aim for a colourful plate; variety is the spice of life and with a larger variety means more of the good things like fibre, vitamins and minerals.

    fruit and vegetable variety

    Eating more fibre will also help lower your risk of heart disease, aiming for 30 grams a day from a variety of sources like Wholemeal Bread, Oats, Wholegrain Cereals, Potatoes with their skins and of course fruit and vegetables.

    Cutting down on your saturated fat is always a great way to lower your cholesterol levels - using leaner cuts of meat and lower fat dairy varieties will help so try using skimmed rather than whole milk.

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    Eating fish at least twice a week especially oily fish is a great way to get omega-3 into your diet, which helps protect against heart disease. Why not try our Salmon in Watercress?

    As well as the importance of your diet, being more active will keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check as well as your waist! If exercise is too much for you simple changes like taking the stairs instead of the lift or going for a brisk ten minute walk are a great place to start, as long as you're raising your heart rate it counts as activity.

    Whatever your age, making some small changes to your diet and lifestyle can really help you look after your heart and keep you fit and healthy.

  • A Gift at Christmas

    The Oakhouse head office team have been doing their bit this December for those in need, with a collection of food items for the local food bank in Melksham, Wiltshire. Members of staff have been contributing items every day for a collection to be donated in time for Christmas.

    Melksham Foodbank was set up to help with poverty in our local area by providing a practical short term solution for a person or family between a need or a problem arising and Social Services organising benefits. A food parcel with food basics is provided for 3 days, this allows the person in need to concentrate on resolving their problem without having to think about food.

    Melksham Foodbank started in September 2007 and is a non-profit organisation running under auspices of the Melksham Family of Churches. It is run by a team of volunteers from different Churches. In order to work, it relies on donations of time, food, money and services from its supporters.

    During the month of November Melksham Foodbank gave out 66 family parcels and 23 single parcels, and in the first 10 months of this year they've given out 350 family parcels and 197 single parcels.

    We hope that our small donation will help to make Christmas a little easier for someone in need.

  • Extra Mile Award Winner!

    The Oakhouse Extra Mile Award Winner

    During the month of September we asked you to nominate your local driver if they had gone above and beyond for the Oakhouse Foods Extra Mile Award - we are very pleased to announce that the winner was Tracy Mann from our Reading branch!

    We had an overwhelming response with over a thousand replies in total and all the comments were absolutely lovely. We'll be passing these onto the drivers themselves so they also get to see the great feedback you gave about their efforts.

    Overall winner Tracy was very pleased to receive a £100 voucher for her favourite shop, just in time for Christmas!

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    20161118_134007

    A special mention also goes to the following drivers as runners up: Darren also at our Reading branch, Richard and Pete at the branch in Sharnbrook, Jack in Exeter branch and Mike at Gosport.

    We will be running the competition again next year, as we loved hearing from you so much and it's great to give our deserving drivers some recognition. A big thank you to all those who took part!

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