Friday, 29 August 2014

Getting rid of plastic in your kitchen (bento/ lunchboxes)

It wasn't until I decided to get rid of (or at least minimise) plastic containers in my kitchen that I realised how heavily I relied on them for storage and other uses. If you are thinking of doing the same I've listed some tips below.

- Don't attempt to remove all plastic containers at one time as it will cost money to do this. Try to build up your stock of non-plastic containers and reduce your plastic containers over a few months.
- Remember that plastic becomes increasingly dangerous in extreme hot or cold conditions so try to replace this type of storage first i.e. plastic containers in the freezer, plastic containers used in the microwave etc.
- Be creative and think of budget friendly ways to collect non-plastic containers e.g. re-using  jam jars, glass bottles, biscuit tins etc
- Shop around and look out for sales and coupon offers in supermarkets/ petrol stations. It will make a big difference if you can buy these items at a reduced price yet not compromise on quality.
- Talk to family and friends you'll be surprised what you can learn from them. I was motivated to do this after talking to my friend who had started this already.

Where can I buy non-plastic storage containers and lunchboxes (bento):

- (stainless steel bento/ lunchboxes)
This company is based in the US. If you order through their website from the EU you will be required to pay import duties and VAT. You can also buy ECOlunchboxes through or

Have a wide range of stainless steel and glass containers including a brand called Indian-Tiffin bento/ lunchboxes.

- Tefal
Have a range of glass storage containers with a plastic (non-leak) lid.  Although the lid is plastic usually the food doesn't make contact with the lid so it's a nice compromise. Also these containers are ideal for packed lunches if you have liquids such as dressings, sauces etc.

Have a great selection of glass bottles and different sized glass jars.

What's wrong with plastic?
I'm still learning  and don't claim to know everything about this topic so please feel free to educate me! In summary there's a mix of chemicals in plastic containers which can leak into the food stored in these containers. The risk of this happening can increase when plastic is heated (e.g. put in microwave), old & scratched, washed in dishwasher etc.

If you have any tips on this topic or know other places that sell non-plastic containers please let me know via a comment on this post.

Remember that reducing our use of plastic will help the environment too!

Thanks Fiona

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Pat Whelan brings wagyu beef to Ireland

I've previously written about Avoca on this blog as it's one of my favourite shops to visit. It's an Irish family run business with a selection of clothing, gifts, homeware, food and cafes/restaurants. They also have a fantastic range of Japanese basic ingredients including seaweed and miso. 

Last week I visited the Pat Whelan butcher shop in Avoca Rathcoole. It's such an experience to go there and see the wonderful selection of meat available and chat to the butchers. 

Pat Whelan is a well-known Irish butcher from the same county as me Tipperary! He was Ireland's first online butcher and recently wrote a book called "An Irish Butcher Shop".  

In recent years Pat Whelan brought Japanese Wagyu to Ireland by cross breeding it with his own Aberdeen Angus and creating his own "Whelan Wagyu" here in Ireland. According to Pat Whelan "The cross breeding has maintained the integrity of the intense marbling associated with the Wagyu beef and marries the best qualities of both breeds to create a unique product". 

Wagyu beef (also referred to as Kobe beef) is a Japanese breed of beef well known across the world for it's intense marbling, great taste and higher price tag. Recent studies have proved that the monounsaturated fats in Wagyu beef can actually help lower cholesterol making Wagyu far healthier than any other beef product. 

When I lived in Japan I remember my Japanese friends telling me about Kobe beef and how the farmers use different techniques to help make the meat more tender and tasty such as massaging, adding Japanese beer or sake to the feed and seemingly playing music to the cows!

Although it's priced a little higher I think it's worth it considering all the hard work that goes into creating this beef. You have to try this for a special occasion or just to spoil yourself. Let me know what you think :)

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