Archives December 2019

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A European Mindful Escape to Slovenia

Discover the stunning landscapes of Slovenia on this one of a kind mindful adventure. Along the way you will discover the spectacular Julian Alps and meet the local food producers.

We have teamed up with local experts to provide design a once in a lifetime adventure that encompasses everything we love about travel: time to relax, time to explore, time to learn and time to taste the land.

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Did you know that Slovenia produces world class red wines on the slopes of the alps. Also, in Slovenia there is a long history of bee keepers and many households have their own, homemade honey. In a time when we are trying hard to get back to our roots and understand the nature and wildlife around us, Slovenia is a good place to learn how to bring nature into your everyday life.

10 REASONS TO VISIT SLOVENIA

  1. Relax and unwind at Lake Bled
  2. Over half of Slovenia is forest – Nature & Hiking lovers delight
  3. Visit the Fairytale castle in Ljubljana
  4. Taste traditional Foods like Kranjska Klobasa
  5. Enjoy the magical sunsets
  6. Explore the Caves
  7. Get friendly with the bees
  8. Nature is everywhere – Enjoy!
  9. A friendly, warm welcome awaits
  10. Sip the Local wines

On our 7 day adventure you will taste the honey, pick the flowers, visit the waterfalls, take a scenic train ride and tour an eco-village. Get in touch with us to learn more about this epic natural adventure in the heart of Slovenia. We promise you an unforgettable journey. SEE TOUR HERE

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3 Wild Christmas Dinner Side Dishes

‘Tis the season to be merry and wild. We are always experimenting with wild produce in the kitchen and Christmas dinner side dishes are a fun way to use some of your favourite winter greens.

Roasted Pine & Garlic Croquettes

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Roasties and Christmas dinner go hand in hand. In Ireland we have every kind of potato imaginable on the plate. From mash to roasties to boiled to everything in between but by far my favourite are the fluffy potato croquettes. This delicious side dish takes a little bit of extra prep but it is worth every minute. Why not give roast potatoes on a bed of pine or spruce needles a try. This is an easy recipe that has all the smells of the holiday season and the tastes of the forest.

  • Ingredients: Potatoes, Freshly cut Pine tips, Breadcrumbs, 1 Egg, Flour, Oil, Butter and Sea Salt
  • Instructions: Wash and Par boil your chopped up potato squares. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees. Melt two large spoons of butter in a pan and toss your potatoes into the pan. Lay your pine needles onto the tray. Cover the whole tray if you can. Now carefully place your boiled, buttery potatoes on top. Sprinkle salt and drizzle oil over the top. Enjoy!

Wild Winter Greens

Christmas dinner can often be heavy with stunning, potatoes and all of those carb filled treats. For a light, refreshing side try a wild green salad.

  • Ingredients: Ground Ivy leaves, Seabeat, Sloe Berries, Hairy Bittercress, Sorrel, Gorse Flowers, Dandelion leaves, dandelion roots, lemon and olive oil.
  • Instructions: Collect your edible winter greens fresh from the land around you. Wash the ground ivy leaves, bittercress, sorrel and dandelion leaves carefully. To prepare the dandelion roots scrub off the dirt and slice into small cubes. Oven bake the roots for 15 minutes. Remove all thorns from your gorse and only use the bright yellow petals. Mix your leaves together, sprinkle the berries, roasted roots and flowers. Add a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.

Pickled Sea Radish and Red Cabbage

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If you live near the coast than you will be spoilt for choice with wild green edibles. Sea Radish is one of our favourites as it is available throughout the year. This simple little recipe provides a tangy taste that goes well with your less fragrant vegetables. It takes a few days to pickle so be sure to prepare this one in advance.

  • Ingredients: Sea Radish pods, curly dock seeds, red cabbage, peppercorns and white wine vinegar.
  • Instructions: Wash all of the ingredients gently under warm water. Thinly slice up a 1/4 of the red cabbage in strips. Add all of the ingredients to a large jar and cover completely with the white wine vinegar. Close the jar tight and place in the fridge. Allow the pickling to work its magic for a few days. When you have chosen your cheese and wine, take out your wild pickle mix to go with them. This is a super easy, tasty treat to have as a snack at Christmas time. Surprise your guests and add an extra punch of flavour to your cheese board after dinner.

You will be ready for a true festive feast with these delicious Christmas side dishes. For more wild food inspiration you can find more recipes here.

To start planning your foraging adventures you can download a copy of our Foraging Workbook Planner here.

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Interview: Plant Based Diet Coach Padraig O’Dwyer

Last week we had the pleasure of catching up with Health & Fitness Coach Padraig O’Dwyer who told us about his journey to a plant based diet.

How long have you been on a plant based diet?

I have always had an interest in food and fitness for lifestyle. At the age of 27 I went vegetarian. I was also training a lot at the time and I ended up getting very sick as I wasn’t getting the right nutrition. Only the basic vegetables were available to me at the time and I ended up expending more energy than I was putting into my body. I would cook, eat and get sick. The doctor recommended that I retrain myself to eat again and it felt natural to return to a meat based diet. 

I came across Juice Plus in 1994 and this was a turning point for me. I started to learn about fruits and vegetables and read more about processed foods. First, I started using only meat from butchers, then less meat and more fish. I never lost the idea of going vegetarian. I went plant based 6 years ago. 

However, I had done a lot of research. I remember watching “What the Health” and this was a turning point for me. I had to ask the question, how can I keep training and not make the same mistakes I had before?plant-based-diet-coach-interview

This is when I came across the Happy Pear. I started following them, replicating their meals. I was still eating fish and eggs but I was learning about alternatives. 

We are all sold the idea that drinking milk leads to strong bones but the research clearly states that the more milk you have in your diet the most likely you are to suffer with Osteoporosis.

The China Story by Colm T Campbell is a brilliant book following over 30 years of research and shows that the whole idea of protein from meat is a myth. 

What exactly is a plant based diet? Do we need to cut out fish?

It’s not a vegan diet. A lot of people are starting to replace processed food for more processed food. A plant based diet is based on real fruit, real vegetables, lentils, beans, all natural foods. For me, it doesn’t have to be organic. That is trying to reach perfection. And then there is the whole question of is organic actually organic to be considered. I eat all plants.

What was the hardest animal based food to give up?

Eggs was by far the hardest thing to give up. We got our eggs from a local farmer. Between the two of us we could eat 24 – 30 eggs a week. They were so versatile but after I did the research and learned more about the egg it was easier to stop eating them.

What would you say are the major benefits of being on a plant based diet?

Any decision for me is about recovery. That’s why I added Juice Plus to my diet. I went plant based for health reasons. Now at 59 years old I go our training at 5am in the morning and recover so quickly that I can do it everyday. I haven’t had a cold or a flu in 25 years. I sleep very well and for an auld guy I reckon I have okay skin (I can confirm Padraig has very smooth skin).plant-based-eating-orchards-near-me

Training?

I like running, trail running and hill running. If anyone is just starting out I would recommend following some of Joe Wicks easy exercises. I recover so quickly after any training that it allows me to train every day.  

What would you say to someone who is trying to cut out animal products but struggling?

Make simple changes, keep it simple. Eat 1 meatless meal per week. Consciously add vegetables to your plate and cut your portions of meat in half. Educate yourself about the health benefits. When you realise that you are not following a fad, but doing it for a reason. I want to live longer but with a good quality of life. You hear about many older people stuck in homes for the elderly and taking a lot of medication. I would prefer to avoid that if possible. 

What is your opinion on restaurant offerings in terms of plant based options?

There is definitely more movement here. This year more than ever. With the influence of the younger generation. The only worry is that everyone starts to think that everything vegan is good for you which isn’t the case. It all comes down to reading the ingredients. If you see more than 5 ingredients this is usually a red flag for me. If you can’t understand the terminology on the back of a packed then it is probably put together by a scientist or lab. Instead, focus on fresh foods. If you need some help understanding check out Bosh.tv.

The impact of me changing is that Gabriella, my partner has changed and my daughter has changed. I do all of the booking at home. For the 4th Christmas in a row all of the people coming to our house for Christmas dinner will eat a plant based dinner on Christmas day. 

Will it become boring once the food becomes familiar?

For me I have a list of 39 meals at home that we consider go-to recipes. Where as when we grew up it was probably a maximum of 10 dishes we would resort to.

What is your favourite plant based dish?

There’s a couple. I enjoy plant based Wellington. Chickpea curry was one of the first dishes I learned from the Happy Pear and it is everyone’s favourite at home. If you are looking for real comfort food, you can put it with mashed potatoes. I once went to a restaurant where the waitress came to the table and said I’m sorry but our risotto contains cream and I say bring it on. 

“I’m not looking for perfection, I’m looking for progress”

What is your favourite sweet treat?

I am the wrong person to ask about desserts and I don’t really eat them but apple with dairy free ice-cream is a nice treat.

What’s in the future for Padraig?

My love has always been coaching people on fitness and health. I meet people where they are and ask them where they want to be. If somebody wants to ease themselves on to a plant based diet I am happy to help. I love it.

“Once we learn that we have been conditioned to think a certain way about food we have some choices to make”

If you want to look at independent, clinical research than Dr. Michael Gregor at nutritionfacts.org is a good place to start. Changing to a plant based diet isn’t a 6 – 8 week course. It’s a lifestyle choice and it’s not easy. I like to sit down and talk to a person for 45 minutes so that we get to know one another before we work together. 

We would like to thank Padraig for his time and for answering all of our plant based questions. If you have a question regarding plant based eating or wild foods reach out to us anytime.

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6 Tasty Food & Foraging Experiences in Europe

At Orchardsnearme.com we only partner with the experts. From food filled adventures to local foraging experiences, each trip is designed to reflect the true landscape and production in a region. If you are a food and nature lover than there are some mouthwatering foraging experiences in Europe.

A Taste of Ireland: Coast to Coast

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We always start at home. As we are based in Ireland we can guarantee a fun time on this action packed food adventure. From coastal foraging along the Wild Atlantic Way to mountain walks to meeting the local historians, every activity on this excursion is unique.

WHEN TO GO: When you visit Ireland at any time of the year you can expect all four seasons in one. However, the tides do need to be considered when planning any coastal foraging adventure. We are planning expert guided tours for April and May 2020. If you want to organise a private group trip outside of these days please get in touch with us directly.

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Italian Foraging Experience

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Real foodies will be in heaven on this bespoke foraging experience. This day long tour is packed full of natures delights. You will enjoy learning about the wild produce of Italy, sample pasta making, taste the wines and meet the local experts.

WHEN TO GO: Italy can be extremely hot in the summer months so we are recommending the Spring and Autumn months for guided foraging adventures in Italy.

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Do Emporda Wine & Orchard Adventure

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The untouched beauty of Do Emporda region in Catalonia will leave you wanting more. From famous tapas to orchards bursting with fruits, this area is waiting to be discovered. Visit stunning apple orchards, taste the local wines and meet the fruit producers.

WHEN TO GO: Catalonia is blessed with the beautiful sea breeze from the Mediterranean. Even in the middle of summer if you are by the Costa Brava you should enjoy a nice summer temperature. Any month from March to September is good for this tasty adventure.

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A Taste of Slovenia: The Mountains are Calling

Untapped and ready to be explored, Slovenia is rich in nature, making the perfect partner for our team. From those who love to combine outdoor adventure and food filled trails, the Julian Alps is the perfect spot to sip the local wines and get a true taste of outdoor life.

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WHEN TO GO: There are snow capped peaks in the North west of Slovenia from December to March each year. From May to October you will enjoy warm weather and perfect conditions for getting outdoors, visiting the local food producers and experiencing the landscapes.

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Discover the Douro Valley

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Our friends in the Douro region of Northern Portugal are looking forward to welcoming you to one of the most famous wine regions in Europe. On this unique trip you will have the opportunity to visit an olive farm and several vineyards to get a true flavour of the land.

WHEN TO GO: The Douro Valley experiences warm summers and cold winters. From May to October you will enjoy sunshine, warm winds and the ideal months for witnessing the harvest activities of the region.

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A Taste of Croatia: Gourmet Adventure Break

Now renowned as the home of Game of Thrones, Croatia is a magical country to visit. From the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic coast to lush waterfalls of the interior, we will connect you with every aspect of nature. Truffles feature heavily in all aspects of this farm-to-table adventure.

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WHEN TO GO: From November to April many of the tourist accommodation and facilities close for the winter season. Between May and October you can expect dry, warm weather weather and lots of activity around all of the major towns.

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To book your next food filled adventure or learn more about the wonderful foraging experiences in Europe talk to a member of our team anytime.

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Wild Recipe: 3 Cosy Wild Tea Recipes for Winter

Nothing warms the heart like a hot cup of tea in the winter months. Sitting by the fire with a mug of your favourite wild tea will bring a smile to your evening. We love to forage for wild tea ingredients. From calming chamomile to energy boosting dandelions, there is inspiration everywhere in nature. Here are three of our favourite wild tea recipes to try out at home.

Sweet Rosehip Tea

Rosehips are a ripe winter fruit that contain large amounts of Vitamin C.

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Dandelion Delights

This little yellow weed never fails to surprise us. We use the flower heads for tea, starter snacks and additions to our pies. The leaves and root can also be used in your wild dishes. Dandelions contain anti-oxidants and are said to reduce cholesterol and inflammation.

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Soothing Yarrow Tea

Yarrow is a relaxing herb. It helps your muscles and improves blood circulation. Note: do not use this herb if you are on other medication or pregnant.

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To learn more about Wild herbal teas and make some delicious blends you can download your own Wild Herbal Tea Recipe Collection.

For more information about foraging for wild tea ingredients contact the team or join us on one of our foraging experiences.

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Foraging Gift Vouchers: Give the Gift of Nature

‘Tis the season to be jolly and think about the ones you love. We have been getting a few requests for gift vouchers and we are delighted to provide you with two unique foraging gift vouchers for your family and friends. If you are looking for something different and a special item to add to your Christmas stocking then we can arrange a private foraging experience in the new year.

€50 Gift Voucher

If you know somebody who would like to spend more time in nature and give one of our tours a try we are happy to arrange a private group session for €50.00 in Ireland. Foraging will be weather dependent and we will decide the best availability with the group in advance. Along the way you will learn about wild herbs, edible flowers, edible plants and mushrooms.

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€100 Gift Voucher

Spoil a loved one and get a private foraging adventure for 2 people. These day tours are limited and you must check availability in advance but we are delighted to provide introductory day tours for food and nature enthusiasts.

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If you are planning a longer trip to Europe and would like to embark on one of our week long food adventures these vouchers can be used to help towards the overall cost of the tour.

To give the gift of nature this Christmas reach out to us and we would be delighted to offer you a unique foraging and food adventure in Europe.

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