Tardy with the blogging, but busy with the social media!

Oh I’ve been very tardy with the blogging this year. But, in my defence, I’ve been very active on Facebook, where I have two pages – oonagheats which mostly features me reviewing restaurants and various foods and MoneyforJambook for new food startups, interesting foods I’ve come across in supermarkets and food producers. I’m on twitter @oonagheats (I love twitter!) and Instagram @oonagheats too though, so if you’re looking for a morsel, then please find me there!

And ofcourse for those of you interested in starting up your own food business but don’t know where to begin, my book Money for Jam is still for sale in bookshops all over the place and from online booksellers – here is the link to the list!

Money for Jam – 2nd edition – The essential guide to starting your own small foot business – Oonagh Monahan – book launch – Oasta Cafe . pic Frances Muldoon.

 

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New food trends 2018

What will be the big food trend in 2018? We’ve already seen how protein-enriched food
has moved mainstream, no longer the preserve of the elite athlete or mud-runner! The vegan or the plant based diet as its now known, has grown hugely in popularity, as has vegetarianism.

I came across this great yogurt concept at Gifted in the RDS in December. It’s called ProU, based in Dublin, available widely. Lovely people, great yogurt, made by Killowen Farm in Wexford.

(Photo: Farmers’ Journal)

I suspect that sugar will stay high on the no-no list, and rightly so. Fat isn’t so bad in moderation, (yay for real butter!), and everyone needs their carbs (be gone, Atkins Diet).  The free-from market grows and grows, though it drives me mad when I hear Gluten-free described as “healthy”. It’s no healthier than gluten-containing foods. Don’t get me started, I’ll post about that another day.

Someone said to me last week that they reckon cauliflower will be the veg of choice in 2018. I had a great meal which featured cauli done 5 ways lately in Fallon & Byrne, including great colourful varieties. I was always a fan of cauliflower cheese for supper, with white toast buttered on the side. Delicious! I posted a photo of this on twitter before Christmas.

For me, fresh, healthy, great tasting, convenient, food on the go is something I’m always on the look out for. In 2017, Chopped was a revelation for me – a fantastic concept, well executed.

So what’ll it be? Please get in touch and let me know your thoughts. You’ll get me here or on twitter @oonagheats.

Dreaming of Italian Gelato!

It’s definitely getting colder these past few days, and now that the clocks have gone back, it’s darker in the evenings. A far cry from sitting outdoors overlooking Lake Como, eating gelato at 10pm as we did this past Summer. I’ve neglected to bring you the fruits of my gelato research tour of Lombardy. Mea culpa (that’s Latin, I know, but it’s close enough!).

We toured around Lombardy, sampling the delight of Lago Iseo, Lago di Garda (again!) and Lago di Como. One thing that we noticed was that they have moved away from using spatula for icecream in a lot of places, which was not well received by our reviewers! Scoops do not cut it!

Italian gelato dates back to the 16th century. Most stories give the credit to Bernardo Buontalenti, a native of Florence, Italy, who delighted the court of Catherina de Medici with his creation. Italians almost certainly introduced gelato to the rest of Europe, with Sicilian born Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli being one of the most influential individuals in the history of gelato – he was one of the first to sell it to the public.

My daughter had heard of Ice N’Roll, a new phenomenon from Thailand apparently, and we watched with interest! Icecream is poured onto a freezing surface and then rolled up with a blade to form icecream roses! Here’s a great video of it in action.

Apart from the wonderful ice cream you get in Italy, there are several artisan producers all over the island of Ireland, such as Tipperary Organic (www.tipperaryorganic.ie) or Baldwin’s (www.baldwinsicecream.com), Linnalla Farmhouse Icecream (www.linnallaicecream.ie) and Fabio’s Italian Ice Cream in Sligo – this is the real deal! There are queues out the door of Fabio’s year round!

In Northern Ireland, Glastry Farm (www.glastryfarm.com) and Morelli’s (www.morellisices.com) are well-known and there is a lovely wee farmhouse ice cream parlour in Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh, called Tickety-Moo.

If you ever thought about trying your hand this yourself, I’ve a whole chapter dedicated to the art of ice cream making my book Money for Jam!

 

2nd Edition of Money for Jam is in the shops!

My new book, Money For Jam – the Essential Guide to Starting Your Own Small Food Business (2nd Edition) was published by Oaktree Press on September 15th and I’m just a little but excited about it (very!!).

So what’s new? The EU labelling legislation all changed over the past two years, so the new book takes account of all those changes including the Allergens information for both packaged and non-packed foods.
I’ve also included information for would-be food producers in Northern Ireland and Scotland too, and there are lots of resources and links to information. The new book has been revised and expanded and it includes new case studies and details on emerging food trends in an easy to read format. If I may say so myself, it is the perfect addition to your book collection or would make a great gift for the aspiring foodie!

Don’t take my word for it though, I’ve got lots of lovely testimonials, including:

This is a great one stop resource for anyone thinking of starting up a food business in Ireland. Full of practical advice, useful contact details and interesting case studies, it’s an investment well spent!
Aisling Flanagan, Velvet Cloud

Oonagh is an incredibly driven person who helped to point me in the right direction for my business projects and helped me believe in my products and the potential they had. Her passion, her straight talking manner and can-do attitude are just a few of her many positive attributes.
Michael Crowe – Connacht Pale Ale

Oonagh’s breadth of knowledge in all aspects of food production is impressive. What she doesn’t know you could write on the back of a stamp, but she’d know where to find that information. Her energy and enthusiasm for providing knowledge to the semi initiated is huge.
Tony McLoughlin – food startup client

I have been working with food producers for over 18 years now, helping them to start up and grow their businesses and I have assisted over 200 food business start-ups ranging from fudge, sausages, bread and cakes to beer and cream liquors, as well as working with many established and developing food businesses, some of whom feature as case studies in the new book. I love their drive and passion as much as I hope you enjoy my book. You can buy it from bookshops or online. Details of where to find it can be found here.

I hope you enjoy it – please get in touch to let me know what you think, thank you!

Kids need carbs!

To fuel an active healthy lifestyle, children and teenagers need
carbohydrates for energy and growth

As schools return after the Summer holidays and the weather is getting colder, it’s time to look again at what’s in their lunchboxes.

Despite the recent craze to cut carbs, the fact is, that not all foods containing carbohydrates are bad for kids, whether they’re complex (as in whole grains) or simple (such as those found in sliced bread). To fuel an active healthy lifestyle, children and teenagers need to eat carbohydrates for energy and for growth. Carbohydrates provide the body with a source of fuel and energy that is needed to carry out daily activities and exercise. Carbohydrates are vital to ensure the brain, heart, nervous, digestive and immune systems work correctly.

For children bringing lunches to school, a sandwich is a great way to provide a balanced mid-day meal, with carbohydrate from the bread and protein from meat or cheese as a filling, along with some veg (if you can get them to eat lettuce!), providing a tasty, nutritious and balanced meal. The recent IUNA report* stated that bread as a source of energy was found to be low in preschool diets at only 4-5% of a child’s diet. For children, a healthy balanced diet should include about 33% of food portions every day coming from carbohydrates, that’s one portion at every meal. The key is to make sure that most carbs come from good sources, such as bread, and that added sugar in their diet is limited.

According to the food pyramid (www.safefood.eu) children over the age of 5 years should eat 5-7 portions of carbohydrates daily. The body needs a constant supply of energy to function properly and a lack of carbohydrate in the diet can result in tiredness, fatigue, poor mental function and a lack of endurance or stamina. Bread is a convenient, healthy source of carbohydrate that is available freshly baked at a reasonable cost that your kids can eat every day. As well as bread, breakfast cereals, potatoes, fruit and vegetables are all excellent sources of carbohydrate.

The IUNA report also pointed out that white bread was the lowest contributor of total sugar in children’s diets at 1%, and white and wholemeal bread provided a contribution of just 1% of total fat intake. Oonagh said that “If like me you are keen to make sure your children are eating well, then balance is key and moderation in all things. Bread is low in sugar, low in fat and high in carbohydrate, making it a convenient, widely available, cost effective healthy option as part of a balanced diet when feeding your hungry children.”

*Report is the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) Report on the Pattern of White and Wholemeal Bread Consumption in Irish Adults and Pre-School Children, (September 2016))

Top Tips for starting your own small food business

I’m currently working on the 2nd Edition of my book, Money for Jam – the essential guide to starting your own small food business. It was published in September 2013, and since then, legislation has changed in relation to food labelling, or Food Information for Consumers (FIC) as its known in the trade! So, I thought this might be a good time just to share my top tips for starting out, just to keep you happy until my new book is published that is!

The header image (taken by @annaclarequinn) features a few jam producers I’ve come across – Daisy’s Pantry from Co.Louth, a Blas na hEireann winner; BoPeep Jams from Drumshanbo. Co.Leitrim, relaunched recently and a favourite of many childhoods of the past; Bramble Lodge Foods fro Co.Sligo; Erin Grove from Fermanagh (I love love love this unusual flavour!!) and Murson Farm, also from Sligo.


(1) Do your research – check out the competition! Is anyone else doing what you’re thinking about doing? If so, are they doing it well? Can you do it better? Look at their packaging, prices, where they’re selling, portion size, labels, branding.

(2) Try to fill a gap – make something that isn’t already available locally. While it’s very easy to start baking at home, the market might be saturated with cupcakes in your area. Shop keepers are always looking for something different that will sell.

(3) Work out your costs – how much does it cost you in ingredients and time to make it (and don’t forget to pay yourself!). This will help you to work out how much you can charge for it:

A Cost to produce (raw materials & packaging)
B Cost of processing / baking / preparation
C Cost of transport
D Cost of selling (market fees, store charges)
E Staff costs – starting with your own required income!
F TOTAL
G Sales value
PROFIT (G-F)

(4) Ensure that your kitchen can handle your new food business – ask your local authority / Environmental Health Officer to call and take a look. Most home kitchens are fine for low risk foods like baked goods, bread, jams, vegetarian, but NOT ok for meat, fish, dairy, prepared salads, sandwiches. You might have to extend or move to a suitable premises.

(5) Get Advice – from mentors, advisors, networks, Local Enterprise Offices and others – ask everyone for help, there’s plenty of it out there so you don’t have to shoulder all the burden! Check out www.supportingsmes.ie for potential funding supports.

(6) Leave the Branding / logos until you have your recipes sorted out. People love this part, but sometimes jump ahead to it too soon! Branding is no quick job, it takes consideration. Check out this handy guide.

(7) Labelling is really important – there are very particular legal requirements for labels which you must follow including Allergen declaration, weight, nutrition information, ingredients and so on. make sure you do this properly before you print labels or order packaging. Mistakes can be costly!

(8) Packaging will help protect your food as well as simply presenting it for sale. packaging might also determine the target market – no matter how good the food is, if the packaging is cheap and shoddy looking, it won’t sell to high end consumers.

(10) JUST DO IT – Once you make your first sale – you’re in business!

The photos below feature some producers from Mayo & Roscommon who took part in the Bord Bia / SuperValu Food Academy programme in 2016/17, one day this could be you!

Bread is good for you – it’s official!

I’m very happy to report good news for lovers of white bread like me! A report carried out by the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA), commissioned by the Irish Bread Bakers Association (IBBA) has today announced the findings relating to the consumption of white and wholemeal bread in Ireland.

white-sliced-pan

Happy days – break out the toaster! Personally, I feel totally vindicated now. I’ve always said there’s nothing at all wrong with a slice of white bread. If you stuff a sandwich with lots of fillings, that’s where any fat in the sandwich can come from, but you’re not getting much fat at all, if any, from the bread itself. Wraps, by the way, have more calories that sliced bread, just saying!

The report states that bread contributes 20% to our fibre intake, 9% to our protein intake, while white bread only contributes 1% to our daily fat and sugar intake. Interestingly the study found a direct correlation between those preschool children that ate bread and increased growth and development within that preschool group.

The report, which was a follow on report to one published in 2008, says that 57% of the population eat white bread and 72% eat wholemeal bread. The report also shows that a higher percentage of males (61%) compared to females (52%) consumed bread and males over 65 consumed the highest mean daily intake of bread compared to all other groups (1.3 slices).

Speaking at the launch of the report today, Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Dr. Mary McCreery said: “It’s quite fitting ahead of the annual National Bread Week , that we’re seeing the negative comments about bread made by so called “experts”, being challenged by scientific evidence that proves the contrary. Put simply – it’s OK to eat white bread – in fact white bread can contribute to a healthy, balanced diet. It’s an affordable, nutritious food, that has been consumed for thousands of years. It is low in fat, low in sugar and is a good source of carbohydrates, vitamins, calcium, iron, protein, fibre, and folic acid. There are so many untruths about bread in Ireland that are totally unfounded.”

So enjoy your sliced pan – batch is my favourite, toasted under the grill on one side like my Granny used to do. Delicious!