*Paid for Campaign*
Encouraging children to eat more fruit and vegetables I am sure is not a battle I face alone. The trouble with eating fresh is that unless you buy good quality in the right quantities it can easily and quickly become food waste.
I was invited with my family along to one of M&S’ Select Farms Wither’s Fruit Farm in Ledbury with my family to discover about the farm to fork process. To learn how M&S work with British Select Farmers to provide delicious seasonal produce to customers at great value; offering the freshest and tastiest produce, and to try some recipes for myself. We got to meet the owners, talk to the growers, have a tour of the farm and also had an opportunity to ‘pick our own’ to enjoy at home.
Withers Farm is a family-run fruit farm who have been supplying M&S for 5 years and have been growing fresh fruit for over 50 years. It has evolved from a local farm serving wholesale markets to one of the largest fruit farms in the country. The 700-acre farm originally grew strawberries and apples, before introducing blueberries and kiwi berries in 2008. Kiwi berries are full of nutritional goodness are high in anti-oxidants, Vitamin C and a source of fibre. They can be just popped into your mouth with no need to take the skin off; making them ideal snacks and additions to the school lunchbox as an alternative snack to sweets and biscuits, plus they are fantastic value at only £1.
We discovered about the rigorously high standards used to ensure that only the prime picks are selected from the strawberry patch. The strawberries are left on the plant for longer to ensure that maximum sweetness, perfume and a rich red colour develops. Did you know that keeping the stalk on the strawberry keeps them fresher for longer – so M&S strawberries are picked with a specific stalk length!
M&S Select Farms are given this special title in recognition of the steps they take to ensure animal welfare and protect the environment through innovative farming methods. I was impressed with the way Withers Farm considers the impact it has on the environment and how they treat their workers. Little touches such as encouraging bees to cross-pollinate and how strawberries are grown on tables so that they are the right height to be picked without the workers having to bend down.
I am an ambassador Zero Waste so to me it is important that we make the most of the abundant seasonal produce available. M&S has teamed up with chef and TV presenter, Chris Baber and their British Select Farmers, to create exclusive new recipes to celebrate home grown produce. His recipes are easy, speedy, family friendly and use only the best M&S Select Farm fresh ingredients.
Withers Farm supply M&S with Red Diamond Strawberries, which are left to ripen on the plant for longer, so they’re deliciously sweet, full of flavour, and amazing value at £2 a punnet! I was given the ingredients (all available at M&S Food Stores) to try a couple of recipes that utilise them for myself.
Strawberry and almond milk oats
- 1 punnet of M&S Select Farms strawberries
- 400ml M&S Plant Kitchen almond milk
- 2 tbsp M&S roasted almond butter (or peanut butter), plus extra to serve
- 1 tbsp M&S Scottish Heather honey (or use maple syrup to make this dish vegan)
- 160g M&S jumbo porridge oats
- 60g almond flakes, toasted
- Dice half the strawberries and combine with the almond milk, almond butter, honey and oats.
- Set aside in the fridge, ideally overnight (it will be ready in a few hours, though).
- When you’re ready to serve, stir well and add a little more milk if it feels too dry.
- Slice the remaining strawberries and serve in bowls topped with berries, flaked almonds and a little extra almond butter.
A good breakfast is really important and if you can have the added advantage of adding fruit to it this is even better. Cereals are so full of sugar so this is a really healthy alternative. I was delighted that our youngest son loved this – plus it can be got ready the night before.
Strawberry shortbread sundaes
- 2 scoops M&S Cornish vanilla ice-cream
- 3 tbsp M&S raspberry coulis
- ¼ punnet M&S Select Farms strawberries, sliced
- 2 shortbread biscuits (30g)
- 3 tbsp double cream, lightly whipped to soft peaks (you may need to add icing sugar to help with this)
- First, put a scoop of ice cream in the bottom of a sundae glass.
- Next, layer coulis, strawberries and some crumbled shortbread.
- Repeat this process again, then top with the whipped cream.
- Finish with more strawberries, a drizzle of coulis and a crumbling of shortbread.
Let’s face it who can resist a sundae – perfect way to get fruit into your children’s diets whilst they consider it as a treat.
This is a paid collaboration but all words and opinions are honest and my own.