Archive for January, 2016

Top 5 Health Benefits of Prickly Pear!

January 21st, 2016

Most of us eat only tasty fruits. It is natural to like a tasty fruit, the flavour of which is a treat to the taste buds. The blatant truth, however, is that the most insipid fruits make for the ones, which add numerous of nutrients and health to ones meals. Prickly pears not might sound unusual to you, but they also look unusual. Their taste and the tongue do not go well together. But the many health benefits offered by them are totally worth their insipid journey from the tongue to the stomach. So, do make it a part of the fruit baskets you buy for yourselves or send as gifts to your loved ones.  We have a list of health benefits by them. Read on.

They boost the immune system – Single serving of it has almost 1/3rd of daily Vitamin C need. The ascorbic acid, also known as Vitamin C, has a prime role to play in our immune system. It triggers the rapid formation of white blood cells and works as an excellent antioxidant in every part of your system. No metabolic as well as enzymatic processes will go on in the body without the Vitamin C. Starting from the muscle tissues to the bones; everything needs a good proportion of daily Vitamin C.

Strengthens the teeth and bones – A majorly essential part of one’s daily diet is the calcium, available in an excellent amount in this fruit.  Most people already would know calcium is the most significant element to form the bone tissues. 99.9% calcium in the body is located in the teeth and bones. Routine everyday intake of calcium is a safeguard against dental issues as well as bone disorder such as the osteoporosis.

Aids digestion – Like nearly every vegetables and fruit, even the prickly pears have a rich content of dietary fibre, signifying that they regulate all our digestive processes. It aids food to smoothly pass the digestive tract, and thereby gives no chance to bloating, constipation, gastrointestinal issues such as gastric ulcers and even the threatening colon cancer.

Assures a healthy heart – A lot of wonderful components in this fruit make it amazing for the functioning of the heart. First of all, the rich content of fibre can help eliminate the content of unwanted cholesterol, significant content of potassium helps keep the blood pressure normal. Potassium keeps the blood vessels relaxed and keeps you away from extreme stress levels. Plus, the betalains in this fruit is directly linked with the development of endothelial walls located in blood vessels. The possibility of any damages to the body is significantly reduced. Controlling cholesterol, building strong blood vessels and maintaining blood pressure prevents heart disease, strokes and atherosclerosis.

Wards off cancer – While science is still looking for a definite solution to cancer, one of the ways to ward off the spreading of free radicals is by increasing the antioxidants in the body and Prickly pears are rich in flavonoids, polyphenols and betalains, all of which are antioxidants.

Choosing essential vitamins nutrients over a good taste is up to you choice, and so is the fruit for a fruit basket. When the fruit basket delivered, make sure it carries with it a message of health.

The Long and Ancient History of Cakes

January 18th, 2016

The origin and symbolism!

All of us relish on a bite of cake on joyous events like weddings and anniversaries or even at home when we get sudden craving to indulge in some sweetness.  But have you ever wondered how your most favourite dessert came to be? The very long and ancient history of cake is pretty rich in symbolisms and customs from various countries and beliefs, all coming forward together to give existence to the cakes that we eat today.

If the food historians are worth lending an ear to, the very first culture to show record of baking interest were the ancient Egyptians. Ancient Egyptians were probably annoyed with the meat and wanted to try something different. They were more interested towards bread and as an alternative to sugar; honey was used by them as a sweetening agent. Cake, the word, hails from the Viking origin. Cake comes from the Norse word “kaka”.

A Cake is a symbolism of the value of the person it is baked for because in the ancient Egyptian days, the ingredients dried food, nuts and refined sugar cost a bomb. Although these same ingredients aren’t as expensive now, the message continues to hold truth. Baking is one of the ways to show your love and care for someone.

Cakes were an active part of ancient rituals!

Cakes in the ancient days had a major role to play in beliefs and superstitions, a few of them are carried on to this age. In olden days, the people used cake as an offering to gods and their respective spirits all over the globe. The Chinese celebrated and still celebrate the Harvest Moon festival in honour of moon cakes, which they offer to Moon Goddess. It is in practice till today. Russians have sun cakes, which are called by the name of “blini,” which are thin pancakes made to pray to a deity known as “goddess Maslenitsa”. Egyptians rolled cakes on a hill in the festival of Beltane, which would be celebrated on the first day of the season of spring, for mimicking the solar movement.  A rich history and relation of humans with cakes is not a wonder they are so important in our lives.

The history behind round shape of cakes!

Although, nowadays, you can find a variety of shapes  from heart-shaped cartoon characters, themed ones and lots more yet talking about a regular and simple one, a cakes is traditionally always round. This is pretty deep after but round cakes are a symbol of the cyclical nature life has. The round shape of the moon and sun is probably the reason cakes are round; focusing we are about to start on a new journey in our lives.

Ancient breads were also round in shape, cut into round balls, baked in round and shallow pans.

So, the cake, which you are so crazy about, the cake, which never misses your celebrations, and the cake, which one can send across through cake delivery UK was not born out of nowhere! So, spread sweetness and these facts with cake delivery.

Recipes for Chocolate Cookies with and without Eggs

January 16th, 2016

 A chocolate cookie is one of the most delicious food items, which are enjoyed by most. It has a crumbly exterior and cracks in which melted chocolate can tease your taste buds. Chocolate cookies can be eaten any time: for tea, for dessert or whenever your tummy growls for a tasty treat.

Some of the important contents of traditional chocolate cookies are eggs. Eggs act as leavening agent, binding agent and providing sufficient moisture to the batter.

But there are certain people who cannot consume eggs. It might be due to medical reasons like allergy to dairy products or personal choice like a vegan or vegetarian. In such cases, these people can enjoy chocolate cookies if they are made with eggless recipes.

Here are recipes for chocolate cookies with and without eggs:

A BASIC RECIPE for chocolate cookies is as follows:


  • 4 scrambled eggs
  • 2 cups sugar

Melt these two on low heat such that they do not scald

  •  Baking chocolate-4 ounces
  • Butter-1/4 cup
  • Sifted flour—2 cups
  • Salt-1/2 tsp
  • Baking powder- 2 tsp
  • Chopped nuts- half cup
  • Confection sugar- ½ cup (for decoration).


  • Combine eggs and sugar and mix well
  • After a bit of cooling, add chocolate and melted butter
  • Add baking powder, flour,  nuts and salt and stir well
  • Keep the batter to chill for some hours or overnight
  • Using 1 to 2 tbsp batter, roll the dough into small balls. Then roll each ball in confection sugar.
  • Keep each ball on greased paper and slow bake for 20 minutes
  • Observe how cookie expands and cracks to provide a beautiful chocolate pattern.
  • Serve warm

Recipe for Eggless Chocolate Cookies:


  • Self raising flour- 12 oz
  • Soft margarine- 8 oz
  • Dark chocolate drops- 2 oz (you can also use white chocolate/ raisins)
  • Caster sugar-8 oz


  • Mix all ingredients in a big bowl. Knead the dough using hands.
  •  It should not be crumbly. Use margarine to achieve this.
  • Make balls with dough the size of one and half ping pong balls
  • Squeeze balls so that they are circle about 1.5 cm thick.
  • Keep them on a tray that is greased
  •  This yields around 20 cookies
  • Bake for 15 minutes  in an oven, pre-heated to 180 degrees
  • Serve hot. Tastes good with milk.

Alternative Recipe for Eggless Chocolate Cookies:


  • Baking soda:1 tsp
  • Baking powder: 1 tsp
  • Flour- 2 cups
  • Salt-1/4 tsp
  • Softened butter-1/4 cup
  • Sugar-1 cup
  •  Brown sugar- 2 tbsp
  • Vanilla extract-1/2 tsp
  • Peanut butter- 1/3 cup
  • Cocoa powder- ¼ cup
  • Milk-1/2 cup


  • Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.
  • Sift together baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour. Keep aside.
  •  Cream together white sugar, brown sugar and butter in a big bowl.
  • Add cocoa powder, peanut butter and vanilla extract and stir well.
  • Add sifted materials till well blended.
  • Pour milk into dough and mix till fully combined.
  • Drop dollops of dough on ungreased baking sheet.
  •  Bake in oven that is pre-heated till cookies are lightly brown (13-15 minutes).

There are many ways to eat chocolate cookies. They are:

  • Cookie sticks: Cut with pizza cutter
  • Chocolate cookie pizza
  • Chocolate chip cookie cake
  • Deep fried chocolate cookie dough
  • Chocolate cookie shake
  • Chocolate cookie pie
  • Chocolate cookie dough football dip
  • Chocolate cookie dough cannolis
  • Chocolate cookie in a mug
  • Chocolate cookie ice cream bars
  • Chocolate cookie waffles
  • Chocolate cookie dough cup cakes

In sum, there are a variety of recipes and ways of consuming chocolate cookies. They make for excellent chocolate gifts. For loved ones faraway, you can send cookies made of chocolates by post. They are sure to be impressed.

Art and Science of Baking

January 15th, 2016

Baking is a cooking method, which uses protracted dry heat, usually, in an oven and also on hot stones or hot ashes. Bread is the most common baked item. Heat is transferred slowly from surface of breads, cakes and cookies to their middle. When heat travels via it, it transforms dough and batters into baked goods with a soft centre and firm dry crust.

Traditionally, women have been baking items for domestic consumption in the home while men have been baking in bakeries and restaurants for general consumption. Due to industrialization, baking was automated in factories by using machines.

Baked goods, particularly breads and cakes are common food items from cultural and economic angles. A person, who bakes items for a profession is named as a ‘baker.’ Apart from breads and cakes, baking is used to prepare scones, pretzels, cookies, crackers, quiches, pies and pastries.

Bread is the most popular baked item. Basic ingredients to make breads are:

  • Yeast (to enable bread to rise)
  • Flour
  • Salt (to add taste and help proving)
  • Vegetable fat (to make loaf airier and lighter and prolong shelf life)
  • Vinegar (preservative)
  • Water
  • White bread made in UK is fortified with Vitamins B, iron and calcium

The role of yeast:

Most breads made today are leavened, which means an additive helps the dough start fermenting and to rise. The most favourite leavening agent is yeast.

Yeats is a micro-organism. Thousands of yeasts thrive in the atmosphere. If provided damp but warm surroundings or sweet and starchy matter, it will begin breeding. When yeast multiplies, it converts sugars and starches to alcohol and produces Carbon Dioxide gas. This gas creates air in the dough and causes it to rise.

Yeast made use of by bakers is Saccharymosa Cereviserae, a by- product of brewing beer. Nowadays, it is made commercially in labs and sold as compressed, fresh or dried yeast.

One must mix yeast with a warm liquid before adding to the flour. The yeast won’t multiply, if liquid is too cool or will be killed if it is too hot.

Role of protein:

Gluten is the crucial protein found in flour. It makes the dough soft such that it can expand when yeast produces gas bubbles. It also provides strength to the dough, so gas bubbles don’t burst.

Steps in baking:

  • Mix ingredients to form dough.
  • Knead dough to soften gluten and make it strong.
  • Dough is left to rise, so it becomes double its original size. The rising time depends on where you keep the dough and generally shorter in warm place and longer in a cold place.
  • Knock back the dough to get rid of large air bubbles created by yeast. It leads to a better rise and an even texture.
  •  The dough is shaped and placed in a tin. It is covered and left again to rise. Time taken will depend on volume of dough and temperature.
  • Finally, it is time to bake the dough. A hot oven is necessary to destroy the yeast cells (230 degree C or 450 degree F).

Baked bread will be crisp and golden and soft at the centre. You can also make cakes by baking. If you want to send bread or cake to a loved one, try for cake delivery by ordering for cakes by post. This is a simple and easy method to impress someone.

Tips for Growing Fruit Trees in Home Garden

January 14th, 2016

There is nothing more satisfying than picking a juicy apple from your own fruit tree. Fresh fruit is one of the most delicious gifts of nature. It is highly versatile, adding taste to chutneys, smoothies, jams, jellies and desserts.

Here are some tips for growing fruit trees whether you want to enjoy fruits or like the look of fruit trees flowering in your garden:

  • Figure out pollination: First thing you need to ascertain is whether the tree is a cross pollinator or a self-pollinator. A self pollinator is one tree, which has both male and female flowers on it and requires only one tree for pollination. Cross pollinators have male and female flowers on different tress, so they require at least two trees for pollination. Citrus trees, nectarines and peaches are self pollinators while apples, plums and pears are cross pollinators. As for oranges and lemons, different varieties have different types of pollination, so take care to enquire from nurseries.
  • Climate: Different fruit trees have different climates in which they thrive. Apples thrive in rainy and snowy winters. Peach trees bear fruit in mild temperatures. Lime and other citrus fruit trees thrive best in warm climates but produce fruit all year. From semi-tropical citrus fruits to cold and hardy cherries and apples, fruits trees grow in a variety of climates.
  • Types of fruit trees: Apples are a favourite as they are universal palate pleasers, easily adaptable and easy to grow. The best soil for apples has pH of 6.5, but apples can thrive in all soil that is well drained. Begin cultivation with two trees for cross pollination. Cherries are found in colours ranging from black to yellow and found in two flavours: sweet and sour. They need fertile soil and much air circulation. Citrus fruits are the easiest to grow organically. Cold tolerance is limited but fragrant oil content helps prevent pest damage. Peaches and nectarines are also simple to grow but require high pest management. Plums produce fruits erratically as they lose fruit to weather or pests. Pears are less hardy than apples but easier to grow in a variety of climates.
  • When to plant: For fruits classified in zones 3 to 7, best time to plant trees is early spring after thawing of soil. In zones 8 to 10, plant new trees in February. Choose a site with lots of sun and well drained soil. Dig a hole, which is twice the size of the tree’s root ball and plant tree at same level as in nursery condition, taking care not to bury grafted portion. Water well and install a trunk guard. Add a stake to help the tree stay steady. Put some mulch over the roots using saw dust, wood chips and other mulch that is slow rotting. Water well during dry seasons the first two years.
  • Pruning: This is an essential aspect of growing fruit trees. The main aim is to provide air and light to fruits and leaves.  Many fruit trees produce excessive fruits, which need to be thinned. For instance, Asian pear trees need 70% of their fruit snipped away when they are the size of a dime. Pruning helps raise fruit size, lower breakage of limb and avoid alternative bearing.
  • Harvesting and storage: Most fruits must be harvested when they are approaching ripeness. Thereafter, they must be refrigerated to prevent spoilage. Flavour may even improve after storage.

After growing fruit trees in your home garden harvest and collect them in fruit baskets. Home grown fruits make for excellent fruit gifts to present to a loved one, who is sick and hospitalized or who is far away from you.