Thursday, 30 June 2016

The New Type of Pasta - Seamore's I Sea Pasta


I Sea Pasta, Seaweed spaghetti, low carb pasta

We have been eating seaweed in different forms since young. The seasoned paper thin ones are crispy, scrummy, and are kind of healthy (we try not to think too much about whether soya sauce is actually bad for us), where as the re-hydrated ones are delicious in soups (like in Miso soup). And don't let me get started on seaweed salad! It is my absolute favourite salad, and I'd be more than happy to have it every day!


When the PR from Seamore contacted me about their product I Sea Pasta, I was intrigued because their selling point was using seaweed in place of pasta (tagliatelle form), a bit like zuccini pasta/ noodles. We have only ever eaten seaweed in Oriental dishes, so I couldn't imagine the flavours of seaweed mixed with Western dishes, like with a Bolognese or Carbonara sauce.

To be very honest, I was very skeptical about using seaweed as a pasta. I was however thinking that, if this seaweed is similar to the ones we use in soups, then this will be a safer source for getting them (they are harvested in Ireland) than the ones we normally get (possibly contaminated with radiation. Yes I'm well aware of what the WHO and Japanese Government said about how safe their seafood is for consumption. I am also aware that some of their local farmers said that they wouldn't eat their own produce, and that the Japanese Government have been heavily exporting their seafood at low cost too).

I was also of course, interested in trying it out the way they suggested too, after all, there must be a reason why they confidently promote it that way.

The PR has kindly sent us a packet of 100g dried Seamore's I Sea Pasta to try for ourselves, which will make up to 500g worth of re-hydrated seaweed (for Euro4.95 per pack).


I Sea Pasta, Seaweed spaghetti, low carb pasta

First impression:

The I Sea Pasta looks more like proper seaweed than the ones we normally buy. I believe it is much less processed than the Oriental ones because of the look, and it smelled strongly of the sea (I tend to relate seaweed smell with tea leaves. This is definitely not smelling like tea leaves).

As I was entering unfamiliar territory, I decided to use the seaweed in a familiar dish first, so that I can understand the texture, smell and taste of it. So the first thing I made with it was a seaweed salad.

The texture after re-hydrating them is a lot like the meatier seaweed we use in soups. The first batch of seaweed salad was so good (albeit greasy), I was told to make more:

I Sea Pasta, Seaweed spaghetti, low carb pasta

I first soaked the seaweed, then cooked it until tender. I then soaked it in:

1Tbsp sesame oil (quality is key if you don't want the salad to be greasy)
2Tbsp light soya sauce
1Tbsp sweet Japanese soup base sauce (it looks like soya sauce)
1Tbsp White Rice Vinegar
1tsp sugar
Dash of salt
Sprinkle of chili powder (I didn't have red chili, and I doubt the kids will like to bite into the chili)

After tasting the seasoning, I kept it soaking in an air tight container in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

I didn't cook the pasta for long enough the second time, so it was a bit tough. If you are going to try this recipe, do make sure that your seaweed is tender (with a tiny bit of crunch). Also make sure that you use high quality sesame oil, which should give a strong fragrance so that you don't need to drench your salad in oil to get enough of it.


I then finally decided to give the Western style a try. I cooked spaghetti bolognese for dinner, and had I Sea Pasta with my bolognese instead of refined carbohydrate that I have been loathing recently.

I soaked a portion of seaweed to give it a try, and boiled them for long enough to remove the smell of the sea. Now here is the beauty of seaweed: it can endure long time boiling without going all soggy on you. There is always a bit of yummy texture left.

The Seaweed Tagliatelle Bolognese looked quite enticing actually:

I Sea Pasta, Seaweed spaghetti, low carb pasta

A bit like spinach tagliatelle really.

Then, to my amazement, the still mildly crunchy seaweed noodle ACTUALLY works with the bolognese sauce! All I could think of was: How did this work so well?!

So I was more than happy to consume the whole bowl of it. But then I do like my children to try new things, especially something I think is yummy, so I shared a tiny bit with each kid:

Clay happily tried it and loved it (and I refused to give him more), while Abby needed a firm "Just try it" before she would put a strand of seaweed with sauce in her mouth, cringing the whole time. Then came her reaction: her eyes widened while munching that mouthful of wonder.

"Oh! It really works! How did this work?"
"It's really nice isn't it!"
"Mmm *in agreement*! Can I have some more?"
"Nope."

And since hubby wasn't home yet, he didn't get any at all. Maybe next time hehe.


So yes, we are surprised that seaweed can be so versatile. It doesn't just work in Oriental dishes after all. We always associate seaweed with soya sauce, and maybe in Mung Bean sweet soup (over boiled Mung Beans like rice pudding, but much runnier so it's in a drinkable form), but we would have never thought that it will work so well in a dish like Bolognese.

We only have about 1/4 packet of I Sea Pasta left, so I'll be choosing a really good recipe for it. I might have to share this time, we'll see. It is safe to say that I'm more than happy to repurchase as it will be a great addition to help me cut down refined carbohydrate from our family meals.

You can buy Seamore's I Sea Pasta from their web store (in Euros), or (for the UK) in London Whole Food and The Grocery. I really hope to see them available in the rest of the country, but for now, Internet shopping is our best bet.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

SodaStream


Sodastream sparkling water, how to cut down using plastic bottles, cut down carbon footprint

About 3 weeks ago, we've taken on Sodastream's #PlasticBottleChallenge, to see whether we can cut down on our plastic bottle (and other recyclable drink containers) consumption by using Sodastream to make our sparkling water and fizzy drinks instead.

Before we accepted the challenge, we would buy plastic bottled water in bulk to keep in the car as they are convenient for when we go out. We also buy sweet drinks that comes in plastic bottles and carton boxes, and fizzy drinks in cans as a treat or when we are on holiday (the kids normally drink water or diluted juices), especially when the weather is (or was!) getting warm.

As the containers are recyclable, we never really think that we are doing harm to the environment, but we never thought about the carbon footprint we are leaving behind during the process of having them collected from our recycling bin, to them being turned into recycled materials, which consumes a lot of energy and water. So, after reading the PR's email, we decided to take on the challenge, and see whether we really need all that bottles and cans in our lives, and see how simple it is to help the environment a bit more.


Sodastream sparkling water, how to cut down using plastic bottles, cut down carbon footprint

Before I go on about our challenge, I have to mention how smart the Sodastream Source look, and how glad I am not seeing a cable in sight! It's really easy to set up and within minutes, I made our very first sparkling water using our filtered tap water.

For the first 2 attempts, we added flavouring into the bottle of sparkling water, but then decided to add them into individual glasses instead so we can have different flavours whenever we fancy (instead of waiting for the bottle of drink to finish first).


Sodastream sparkling water, how to cut down using plastic bottles, cut down carbon footprint

We first added orange juice to the sparkling water. While I was happily sharing this picture on social media, I realised that I have failed the #PlasticBottleChallenge, because the juice I used (it was siting in the fridge) came from a plastic bottle!

That's when I noticed how many plastic bottles we have in our house (honey, syrup, bread spreads, and even skincare!), and how difficult it is to cut them out from our lives completely. But instead of admitting to defeat, I told myself that the least we can do is to try to cut them down to the minimum, and not using single use bottled and canned drinks is definitely a good place to start.

So we went back to basic and tried to use as many fresh ingredients as possible for our drinks.

We don't normally drink sparkling water on it's own, and do prefer our fizzy drinks to be sweet, so we did use bottled honey for most of our Sodastream creations, but it does make me feel better knowing that a bottle of honey lasts much longer than single use bottles of water and canned drinks, and it makes the drinks a lot healthier too because it's a natural sweetener, and I can control the amount of it going into our drinks as well.


After 3 weeks (although probably less than 2 as there were times when we just wanted still water) of taking on the challenge, we noticed that, not only did we hardly drink from the canned and bottled fizzy drinks we have in storage (they are covered in dust now!):

Sodastream sparkling water, how to cut down using plastic bottles, cut down carbon footprint

we have also made a lot of fizzy drinks that are much more delicious and healthier:

Sodastream sparkling water, how to cut down using plastic bottles, cut down carbon footprint
Lemonade with a touch of honey
Sodastream sparkling water, how to cut down using plastic bottles, cut down carbon footprint
Fresh Strawberry infused Sparkling Water
Sodastream sparkling water, how to cut down using plastic bottles, cut down carbon footprint
Sparkling Freshly Blended Watermelon Juice
Sodastream sparkling water, how to cut down using plastic bottles, cut down carbon footprint
Sparkling Honey and Lemon Tea
And all of them are so easy to make!


After 3 weeks, we noticed that our recycling bin was only half full in 2 weeks. We used to fill it to the top! It took me some time to realise that it was because we haven't been drinking bottled and canned drinks, and thought that we've left some rubbish around that we forgot to add to the bin.

Because of this challenge, we also became more aware of the containers we use. We now have plenty of reusable bottles at home that we use for taking still water out with us. When the kids are up for a treat, we will fill them with homemade fizzy drinks instead.

We also haven't touched the single use bottles of water that's in the car for a good while now. We will keep them there for the days when we really need them, until they are all used up (or expired) without restocking.


So having a Sodastream isn't just about having a fancy gadget in the kitchen, make your own homemade fizzy drinks and saving money from buying drinks. It will also help you and the family save the environment that we are living in, which I think is the most important benefit for everyone.

Thank you Sodastream for this lovely opportunity to show us that we don't need all those extra plastic bottles and cans, and that we can do a lot more to help the environment than we think!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Tatton Park Roald Dahl's Tremendous Adventures - Spotting Witches


Roald Dahl Tatton Park Event, Roald Dahl 100 celebration, How to Spot a Witch

Tatton Park has a new installation added to their Roald Dahl's Tremendous Adventures - How to Spot a Witch Manual! Visitors can step inside the interactive "book" and explore various objects and artworks based around the witch-spotting theme:


Based on Roald Dahl's book The Witches, this interactive prop is created by the people who also made Willy Wonka's golden ticket chocolate bar and BFG's massive chair inside Tatton Park. The How to Spot a Witch Manual is a walk-in art gallery where visitors can transport and immerse into The Witches story, where grandma explains how you spot a witch.

And here is the ultimate "Witch Spotting Checklist" for all boys and girls:

- They always wear gloves because they don't have normal fingernails!
- They are bald as a boiled egg, but many choose to wear very realistic wigs
- They have large nose holes and can smell a child from across the street. The cleaner the child, the easier they are to smell!
- Their eyes change colour and will send shivers down your spine
- They have no toes, but they try to hide this by squeezing their feet into pretty shoes
- They have spit so blue they can even use it to write with!

We had lots of fun during our visit to Tatton Park for Roald Dahl's Tremendous Adventures, you can check out our review here, and for Summer holiday, other events will be added to the adventure as well, including additional Fantastic Mr. Fox activities at the Farm from 26th July, and Danny the Champion of the World Outdoor Theatre at the Old Hall from 27th August. You can read about the current activities here, and more on Tatton Park's website as well.