How to Balance the Food Groups, without Losing your Sense of Humour

As you know there are four main food groups: Pony Food, Rabbit Food, Comfort Food and Chocolate.  And a new one has recently been added – Super-food, making five in all.

It is so complicated to ensure that all these groups are balanced, especially if you want to eat ethically as well as healthily, you practically need a spreadsheet,

Here’s how I keep it as simple as I can, stay happy and share lots of foodie goodness with my guests.

First, Plenty of Pony Food

I eat delicious complex carbohydrates, AKA Pony Food, for breakfast, as wheat-free, seasonal, organic, fair-trade, low fat, low glycemic and local as I can get it.  This is usually oats and other grains, with nuts, fruit, toasted pumpkin seeds and Chia Seed (hardly local, but high omega-3’s ).  I add yoghurt (live, pro-biotic, low-fat, organic, local) for more protein.  Delicious!  This is a mix-and-match staple on the Two Rose Cottages breakfast menu.

Second, Lots of Rabbit Food

And for lunch I usually focus on the second main Food Group, and have a bowl of delicious salad, or Rabbit Food, with nuts and cheese for protein (as seasonal, organic, fair-trade, free-range and local as I can get it). This is mainly chopped vegetables. I use anything I have in the fridge – although the essential base ingredients for both flavour and substance are: some apple, some brassica (chopped cabbage, broccoli or Brussels sprouts) and some leek.  After that anything goes, and I often include blueberries for a zing of sweetness.  And perhaps some fermented root vegetables (pro-biotics), for added tang. My favourite dressing is made with balsamic vinegar (hardly local but organic) and rape-seed oil (very local, organic, high omega-3), and lots of grainy mustard and garlic (local, local).

Third, Comfort Food and Chocolate

So then, in the evening, I feel able to push the boat out a little bit, and enjoy some Comfort Food and Chocolate.  I find this rounds off the day very nicely.

Being British, I mainly go for variants of Shepherds Pie (free-range, pasture-reared, organic, local), with some veggies on the side (local, organic, steamed).  I love vegetable risotto too, made with barley (fairly local, organic) instead of rice, and all the variants of pasta.

And then I have a little piece of dark Chocolate (fair-trade, slavery-free, no child-labour, organic, anti-oxidant), or a big piece.

Very delicious and full of warm, nostalgic associations – that’s Comfort Food.

Shepherd’s Pie and other forms of evening Comfort Food are not on the menu at Two Rose Cottages, but there is of course, the other major branch of British comfort: breakfast!

The good old “Full English” (high fat, high carb, high cholesterol, protein overload) is extremely comforting.  Every now and again (not every day), when I have time, just occasionally (usually when I’m on holiday) I start my day with breakfast Comfort Food  (local, organic, free-range, indulgent), for a real treat. And it’s always on the menu at Two Rose Cottages.

And this is where the balance comes it.  There is no doubt about the calories in Comfort Food: loaded up with all those big round high-calory molecules that roll around the tongue in such a wonderfully seductive way.  So lovely!  But don’t forget portion control.  I sometimes (that is, often, in fact normally) do, but at least I know in principle that enough is as good as a feast when it comes to Comfort Food (and don’t forget exercise).  But mainly I just go for it, and enjoy!

I don’t pay all that much attention to portion control at Two Rose Cottages, assuming you will all be going for a long walk afterwards, but tell me if it’s just too too much.  No one has told me yet!

And then there is Super-Food!

And to balance it out further, we offer a Super-Food smoothie for breakfast (organic, local, mega-vitamin boost, micro-nutrients, trace minerals).  It includes the complete colour range – yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, green – with yoghurt for calcium and protein and coconut water (potassium).  It includes a handful of mixed greens (alkaline, micro-nutrients), and at least a cup of mixed berries and mango (frozen, organic, bought in bulk, as local as possible).  These are strong flavours,  so you can’t taste the mixed greens or the tomato  – promise.  Nor can you see them, it is just a delicious-looking creamy-purple colour. For extra creamyness, and extra calories, we can also chuck in some banana (fair trade, organic).

That’s at least three, perhaps four, of your five-a-day, right there!

Superfood

Summary

So somewhat high calorie, because comfort is essential, and often pricey (no doubt about it, food ethics comes at a bit of a premium), but not always, and not junk, and as ethical as I can get it, with lots of exercise: that’s how I balance things out among all the food groups (and walking, of course), and everything absolutely delicious.

There is only one “NO” rule: I have is absolutely no transfats, none, not allowed (except sometimes, when I’m eating out, but never any junk food).  These days that means that I have to make pretty much everything from scratch.  But I like that.  I find it’s all part of the comfort.

Thus do I navigate as best I can the reefs and shoals of health, ethics, sveltitude and happiness, and come up pretty well, on the whole(some).  And I am committed to doing the same for the Two Rose Cottages guests: good, healthy food, enjoyable and comforting, with plenty of choice, and as ethical as possible.

What little tricks do you use, to balance it all out?

After all, we can’t take life too seriously, can we?  Its just a bowl of cherries (organic, local, seasonal, low calorie, delicious), isn’t it?  Especially when you are on holiday, or taking a short Bed & Breakfast break.

Super-food Smoothie Recipe.

Half a cup of plain live yogurt
1 cup Coconut Water (or just water)
1 tangerine
1 tomato (golf-ball size)
At least a cup of fresh or frozen mixed berries, such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and a few chunks of mango if you can get it.
A handful of mixed fresh greens, with 2-3 sprigs of parsley.  Some mint is also nice.
(Optional) 2 little packets (about 2 grams) Stevia, for sweetness, or a slug of Agave Syrup (organic, fair trade, low-glycemic).

Blend together until completely smooth, and serve immediately.

Makes 3-4 servings, about 60 calories each.  Not bad!

Two Rose Cottages Breakfast Smoothie

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Midhurst Shops

Just like the typical English Market Town that it is, Midhurst has many interesting independent shops.  They are very popular with visitors browsing in the historic Tudor and Georgian centre of Midhurst, and its nearby streets and alleyways.

They include:

Anarge, with its vintage and automobile-linked mechandise, named for the famed corner of Le Mans racetrack.

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Artichoke gifts and housewares.

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Wheelers fabulous bookshop on Red Lion Street

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Between the Lines is not exactly an independent, but still a great place to browse

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Churchill’s a traditional clock mender and horologist

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Michael Courtney, traditional butcher

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The Granary, traditional baker

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Truffles shoes and accessories

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The treasure trove that is Marmadukes, a favourite with Two rose Cottages guests.

 

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Six Steps to Better B and B Access, Even when there is no Access

On the face of it, there is no disability access to Two Rose Cottages, but that’s not the end of the story!

Here’s the thing.  There are five steps up to my front door, and the staircase to the bedrooms is almost alpine. This is an architectural reality of the house which I cannot change: a characteristic shared with many other buildings, including most of the shops, in charming, historic Midhurst.

This is a picture of the staircase when I moved in.  It is, as you can see, steep.

Staircase

Sadly therefore, Two Rose Cottages is not the place for people restricted to wheel chairs or walking frames.

But there are many kinds of disability, some visible, some not, and so there were several things that I could do so that as many people as possible would feel included.

Here are some of the things that I did:-

1.  Information: I wrote about the issue clearly on my website, so that everyone (with and without a disability) knows what to expect, and can more easily make their choice. For example, there is information on potential tripping hazards (such as rugs – none in the bedrooms), the height of thresholds, and which taps have lever handles.

You can see what I wrote here.

2.  Support: I installed handrails for the bathtub and each shower, beside the outdoor steps to the guest front door and on both sides of the staircase.  I find these useful myself!

3.  Arthritis: is so common that we don’t really think of it as a disability. But for some it can be.  I installed as many lever taps as possible, and ensure that all my table lights have toggle rather than twist switches. (see also Comfort, below)

4.  Sight: menus and guest information documents are available in large print upon request.  Light switches are outlined in black, so they can be more easily discerned by those with partial sight.  On the other hand, most of the door handles are white, like the doors themselves, so this is a potential difficulty.  When I replaced one set I chose a handle with a stencil design.  This is in keeping with the decor of the house, while making the handle easier to see for some.  I’m told it helps.  I will gradually change all the handles.

5,  Allergies:  all bedding and furnishings are hypo-allergenic, and we willingly respond to any specific dietary needs, such as a wheat free, nut-free or lactose-free breakfast (for that matter we are completely open to dietary preferences, such as a vegetarian or vegan diet, and always have locally-produced lamb sausages in the freezer, for those who do not eat pork).  It is not a nut-free house, so it may not be suitable for all, but we are happy to remove nuts and other allergens from the guest areas as much as we can.

Two Rose Cottages is a pet-free house, although a cat did once stay in the house for four months while his owner was house-hunting around Midhurst.  He was only allowed in the private area, but we can’t guarantee that he never made it into the bedrooms! However, the rooms were very thoroughly cleaned after he left, so they should be OK for most sufferers, but not for anyone with very severe cat allergy.

We have chosen not to encourage dogs, with the exception of service dogs, partly because the general smallness of the house makes it rather unsuitable for waggy tails, but mainly to reduce potential allergens. We are not inflexible on this point, so dogs have stayed there, and we have been very happy to have them where it has been important to our guests.  Because of this, its not the place to stay if you have a very severe dog allergy, but we try to keep the risk to a minimum, and so far its been fine for everyone who has stayed here.

6.  Comfort: we have provided a choice of pillows and blankets in each bedroom (check out our pillow menu).  These benefit everyone, because we all have different comfort needs, but they are particularly useful for people with restricted mobility, who may need specific forms of support while they sleep.

In fact, as a rule of thumb I would say that what benefits people with access and mobility challenges benefits all.  So paying attention to this issue is just a win-win.

And the most important step of all?  Step 1.  Let people know you care about access.

And here’s what it did for my business

I’m glad that I took these steps so that as many people as possible would feel, and be,  welcome in my bed and breakfast.  But in addition, these actions have directly benefited my business.

This is what I know from last season: three guests made a point of telling me that they really appreciated seeing the information on the website, and two more said they specifically chose Two Rose Cottages because of this information.

None of these people had the appearance of having access problems.  For example, one had a husband with advanced cancer, and felt that I would understand their needs for extra bathroom supplies, which I did.

Another was a young couple who both had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and felt that I would be sympathetic to their concerns, which I was: they made a couple of requests for minor adjustments so that they would feel more comfortable, which were no trouble to provide, and we all felt happy.  They also loved the pillow menu!,

And who knows how many others it may have been drawn to my little biz by the discussion of access issues on our website, that I don’t even know about.

So don’t be discouraged if you can’t provide full access – do what you can, and who knows who may benefit (including yourself).

I am grateful to Karen Thorne of Hopton House Bed and Breakfast, who included this topic in her fabulous Bed and Breakfast workshop. @HoptonHouseBnB

 

 

 

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Promoting Midhurst, and Two Rose Cottages too.

Midhurst has a terrific local tourism promotion group – the Midhurst Tourism Partnership.   Check out their Visit Midhurst website, which gives you a really good idea of what Midhurst is like, with lovely photographs.  You can find out all you need to know about visiting our beautiful town.  It is updated periodically, so keep going back.

The Tourism Partnership has just produced its annual Midhurst Brochure, ready for the 2014 season. It’s quite eye-catching, don’t you think?  You can also view and download it from the VisitMidhurst website

Design by Hooli of Midhurst

Design by Hooli of Midhurst

And here’s a sneak preview of our advertisement for the brochure.  Do you like it?

Murison Two Rose Cottages Ad - with frame

Design by Desray Caroline Preston. Photo by Jas Poole Photos, Midhurst

(And yes, that was indeed a thumb-nail of our ad, front and centre of the brochure cover as well!)

You can pick up a copy of the brochure from Two Rose Cottages, the Midhurst Tourist Information Centre, The Midhurst Hub on Church Hill and most shops and venues around Midhurst and the surrounding area.

 

 

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Medieval Midhurst, a summer’s evening, a perfect place to visit.

A lovely image of medieval Midhurst, captured by local resident and artist Jeanette Sutton while enjoying a late cup of tea at Garton’s Coffee Shop in the Midhurst Town Square, only yesterday evening.

Midhurst Town SquareIt shows two of the most iconic buildings in Midhurst.  The black and white one on the right dates from 1430.  That is, it was standing here during the Wars of the Roses, long before Columbus sailed for the New World.  It is the Spread Eagle Hotel, which features prominently in Anya Seton’s iconic novel based in Midhurst, Green Darkness.

The other building, with its striking diagonal brickwork typical of the early Tudor period, dates from slightly later, probably the end of the 15th century.  It is the old Midhurst Market Hall, and has been a Temperance Hotel in its time.  Midhurst Grammar School was established in its upper floor in 1672, during the reign of Charles II.  It is now an annex to the Spread Eagle.

Midhurst, historic heart of the South Downs National Park – well worth a visit.

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