Thursday 29 June 2017

Spreading the love – a recipe for happiness

Good food can be found in the most unexpected places. Last week I started volunteering for the FoodCycleProject (watch their video here), a national charity that believes that “food waste and food poverty shouldn’t co-exist” - and I share this belief. The charity works with major supermarkets, greengrocers and markets in various towns across Britain collecting leftover foods that would go to waste otherwise. A healthy and tasty three course meal is then cooked for people in need.

The cooking preparation starts with a team of volunteers picking up the surplus food from the suppliers. They take it across to the kitchen, where another team of cook volunteers decide, there and then, what to cook with the food collected. When the meals are ready, the next group of host volunteers help to serve the food to people who often live on the streets, may be struggling with money, or vulnerable people who normally don’t have much social contact but enjoy sharing meals with others.   

I joined one of the nine community kitchens run by FoodCycle in London. The group was very welcoming and helpful. On my first day, we worked alongside the social action team from the West London Synagogue that offered to cook for a mosque near Grenfell Tower – the tower block that was destroyed in a fire this month in the borough of Kensington. Many survivors worship at that mosque.

Amidst so much sadness there is the beauty of seeing Jews, Muslims, Christians and non-religious people getting together in order to bring a bit of happiness to others. It was a humbling experience. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will carry on helping as often as I can.
Some of the food being chopped for the meals in the Marylebone FoodCycle kitchen.
Volunteers chopping the food.
A line of volunteers working.
Preparing the food.
Cooking a curry.

The menu decided was: fresh leafy salad with cooked baby beetroots as a starter;  vegetable curry, pilau rice and Bombay potatoes as main course; and fresh fruit salad with ice cream for dessert. One of the volunteers had 8 packets of leftover fresh basil leaves which I suggested we add to the fruit salad.

As an inspiration for my blog this week, I am making a fruit salad. We can draw so much pleasure from the simplest things in life.

Choose as many fruits as you like.
Cut them in chunks...
...add orange and lime juice, mix and sprinkle with fresh basil leaves.
Serve it chilled with a dollop of natural yogurt or a good quality ice-cream.
Fresh fruit salad.
Fruit salad with basil leaves
Serves 6

Use as many varieties of fruits as you wish. Below is just a sample of what I used in mine.


3 Kesar mangoes
1 banana
250g blueberries
200g raspberries
150g blackberries
200g a mix of green and pink grapes
2 papaya
4 gold kiwi fruit
3 oranges (juice only)
1 lime (juice only) 
A handful of fresh basil leaves


Cut the fruit in chunks. Put them into a bowl. Add the orange, the lime juice and mix gently. Scatter the basil leaves over it. Serve it chilled with a dollop of natural yogurt or a good quality ice-cream.

A healthy note: making this salad is a good excuse to consume a good portion of fruits a day.  Choose as many varieties as possible. The amount of vitamins and minerals in them would help to boost your immune system, reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases and feed your gut bacteria. But please, go easy on the servings. Despite it being healthy, too much of it can send your blood sugar levels crazy.  

Till next week!

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