Emma Nutrition

Simplifying the science through cooking and education. When I'm not on Mummy duties…

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RECIPE: Mince pies

Last week I attended a cookery workshop run by Cook With Me Kids with my family. We went to the beautiful Taste Kitchen Academy in Suffolk and between ourselves and another family managed to mess up the entire kitchen! We had alot of fun 🙂


The recipe was as follows and I’ve since tried it with half wholemeal flour. It could also work with coconut, rice or almond flour. Continue reading


Kikkoman – culinary delights with soy sauce

Soy sauce….Who’d have thought it could be so fun! Last night I had the pleasure of attending a culinary feast for the eyes and the belly. Kikkoman, the soy sauce kings, invited me to a cookery master-class and dinner. This was no ordinary dinner though! The master-class was run by Kikkoman at Matsuri restaurant – a restaurant in central London owned by Kikkoman and the Japanese railway. Yes I too thought this was bizarre until I realised the connection – the designer of the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle also designed the iconic bullet train in Japan. The in-house chefs were amazing and Simon Hulstone of Elephant Restaurant in Torquay cooked up some delectable scallops. I had some great laughs too with Annie of scrummy suppers quirky cakes, Michael the food curator, Lucy of super golden bakes, Bing of Kikkoman UK and everyone else who was there.
Simon cooking scallops Simon cooking scallops

Kikkoman soy sauce is a product I have been familiar with since I was quite young. Growing up in Australia I saw the bottle on the table of nearly every South East Asian restaurant there. Chinese restaurants, Japanese and even the funky (and super affordable!) little Vietnamese restaurant I went to when at Uni. I’ll be honest though, I’ve never really associated it with cooking. I guess I perceived it to be too light and always choose a heavy darker soy sauce. As it turns out these heavier darker soy sauces are made that way by adding caramel or sugar, often high fructose corn syrup to them – solving a long-standing dilemma of mine….why my soy sauce burns. It shouldn’t! The sugar in other soy sauces burns but Kikkoman soy sauce doesn’t (at a normal cooking temperature). I am ridiculously happy to have discovered this. Anyhow… The name Kikkoman comes from Kikko (Turtle) and Man (10,000) i.e. turtles live to 10,000 years old (Japanese legend not fact…) and are symbolic of happiness, riches and a long life. All things I’d like to have thank you! 

What is in it?

The Nutritionist in me was fascinated with the fact it is a natural product made with just 4 ingredients:

  • Soyabeans
  • Water
  • Salt (they also make a reduced salt soya sauce)
  • Wheat (they also make a wheat free soya sauce)

How is it made?

I’ve been to enough food factories to know how quickly products can be churned out I am impressed that it is brewed for 6 months. This process is long and unhurried and develops the flavour fully and comprehensively. Like a fine wine or cheese it is just not possible to get this depth of flavour by flash processing. You can mimic it by adding flavours but its not good and its not satisfying. Kikkoman is the real deal. They even have a ‘tasting’ procedure like wine – colour, viscosity, smell and taste. I enjoyed the tasting although I admit I’d rather spend an afternoon wine tasting than soy sauce tasting 🙂

Ice cream kikkoman style Ice cream kikkoman style

In detail: the steamed soybeans, (non GMO, from Brazil), roasted and milled wheat (non GMO, from Germany) are fermented with enzymes. Then the salt and water (locally sourced) are added to create ‘moromi’ (a mash). The mormoi ferments for 6 months, after which it is wrapped in cloth and pressed, filtered and pasteurised. This may sound complicated but compared to most other food processes this is simple and straightforward.

How can I use it?

  • Can be used instead of seasoning -to replace salt and pepper
  • Stocks, sauces, soups
  • Mixing with egg yolk before brushing pastries or bread (some things shouldn’t be questioned and just ‘work’ right?!)
  • Yorkshire pudding batter
  • Chutney or pate
  • Beans on toast, cheese on toast etc
  • Stir fries or salads
  • Desserts – chocolate dishes, ice cream, cheesecake

You can check out my recipe here using Kikkoman soy sauce. I adapted a recipe from their book – try it, its sensational!

Simon Hulstone Emma Nutrition kikkoman Too much peach wine for my photographer?!

What’s good about it?

As a salt replacement you will get alot more punch per volume. Whereas salt tends to enhance only particular flavours soy sauce will enhance all of them. As it contains the 4 flavours; salty, sweet, sour and bitter it will also enhance all of those flavours. As a bonus it contains what the Japanese refer to as ‘Umami’. Not Miami…as per my spell checker! Umami is the 5th flavour that we can perceive. It is similar to salty but not as harsh and has a more ‘mmm that’s delicious’ kind of taste to it; Umami enhances the overall flavour and palatability of a dish. Most of us know this flavour when we try it and many of us were lucky enough to sample it in our first food – breast milk. Incidentally this is what food technologists aim to do with most manufactured foods; to enhance flavour, palatability and mouth feel.

Once again eating authentic, whole foods with natural ingredients hits the spot when it comes to satiety and getting the feel good factor. Kikkoman; I am converted!


Fancy cooking with soy? Check out my recipe’s here.

Disclaimer: Kikkoman supplied me with 3 sample bottles and a complimentary meal (that was terrific!).


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Vegetable & protein quiche


Spelt flour x 2 1/2 cups
Eggs x 2
Salt x 1tsp
Coconut Oil x 4 tbsp

Eggs x 7
Milk x 100ml (cow’s, almond, pat or rice)
Fetta or Bacon x 200gm
Red Capsicum x 1 cut into squares
Red Onion x 1 sliced
Courgette x 1 sliced or grated
Carrot x 1 sliced or grated
Cherry Tomatoes x 8 halved



  • Preheat oven to 200c


  • Combine spelt flour, eggs, coconut oil & salt together until a soft dough is formed (may need to add more oil or flour depending on consistency). Make sure your dough is firm and not too sticky otherwise it won’t work
  • Grease your pie pan with coconut oil
  • Flatten your dough into the pan with the palm of your hands make sure to cover the sides with your dough


  • Cook your bacon (if using)
  • Cook your vegetables (onion, capsicum, carrot, courgette) only until they are just soft
  • Place your vegetables on top of your pastry
  • Whisk eggs, milk and salt in a bowl ( I use a blender as it makes it fluffy and is easy!)
  • Pour the egg mix over your vegetables
  • Place your cherry tomatoes and fetta or bacon on top
  • Bake for 35 – 45 minutes or until golden brown and set in the middle

From my nutrition notes:
Using spelt flour instead of wheat flour reduces allergenic reactions. While spelt flour maintains a very strong flavour it also contains a huge amount of fibre and nutrients as the husk isn’t damaged. The killing process is generally of the old style whereas wheat flour is so processed there is very little nutritional value left and it also spikes blood sugar.
The bacon or feta are used for saltiness to complement the egg and contain protein. Feta is healthier than bacon but there is no harm in having bacon every now and then.

*This quiche is full of flavour and is complemented per very well by a side salad with a vinegarette or plain balsamic dressing.



Tasty Beef Burger recipe

It doesn’t particularly surprise me that horse-meat and pig DNA have been found in frozen prepared burgers. Often there are many suppliers in the chain and quality checks can sometimes be hasty or incomplete along the way. I’ve had the pleasure of working with incredibly meticulous technical staff but there is only so much they can do if their provided paperwork is incorrect or inaccurate.

I spent 10 years as a vegetarian yet now eat meat and I personally don’t see the issue of what type of meat is eaten – how it is slaughtered and prepared is the key point to me. If I’m going to eat a burger I prefer to know exactly what’s in it!

How can you know exactly what is in your burger? Make it!

Tasty Beef Burger’s

450 gm lean Beef Mince  (the  more fat in the beef mince the easier the burger will bind together)

1 small Onion finely diced

1-2 Garlic cloves finely chopped

1-2 tsp Thyme or Italian herbs

Sea salt & Pepper

1 Egg lightly beaten

2 tspn Olive Oil or Rapeseed Oil

1 tbspn breadcrumbs – I don’t use these as I prefer to save my carb intake for other foods but they do help the burgers to bind

Baby spinach

Red onion


Sliced cooked beetroot


Heat the oil, fry the onion until soft. Add to the other ingredients and mix together – this is the fun part! Shape into burgers/patties. I make various sizes – man-size, woman-size and child-size to keep the whole family happy.  You can use a cookie cutter to shape them.

Cook on a BBQ for the best tasting burgers or on a griddle pan if you don’t fancy stepping outside to the BBQ. Usually they take around 5 mins each side, 3 mins for the smaller ones.

You can eat the burgers as they are with the salad ingredients above or stack them into a wholemeal bread bun with salad items. I highly recommend adding beetroot to your burger stack a la Australian style 🙂

Nutritional benefits:

Lean beef mince holds around 20 gm protein and 12 gm fat per 100 gm.  That’s 190 calories. 100 gm makes 1 man-size burger or 2 woman-size ones.

Beetroot is my favourite super-food! It is high in Potassium & Magnesium that can prevent muscle cramps. It can lower high blood pressure and also increase endurance in athletes

Avocado is one of the healthiest fats around. 85% of avocado’s calories come from fats that decrease inflammation and heart disease. They are also high in antioxidants but you must eat the dark green part near the skin. To do this slice the avocado in 2 lengthways, pop the seed out then peel the skin off like a banana.