December 2016

Wholemeal mince pies: A Christmas recipe

22nd December 2016

Our favourite Christmas recipe – wholemeal mince pies – from our lovely recipe analyst and researcher Caroline…

The supermarket shelves are full of mince pies. I find them far too sweet and prefer to make our own tastier, more wholesome wholemeal version. By baking them yourself at home you can cut out a vast amount of sugar and get creative by doing different lid designs. It’s a really fun way to spend an evening, pop on some Christmas tunes and start feeling festive.

Depending on how thin you manage to roll the pastry, the size of your cookie cutters and how efficiently you cut the pastry this recipe will make up to 30 mince pies. You do not have to cook them all at once as the pastry and mincemeat will keep well in the fridge for several days. If you are pushed for time you can always make the pastry dough the night before and you can even prepare it in a food processor. We recommend using a hard margarine like Stork for making the pastry, but butter will also work.

Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 17 mins


  • 200 g – Flour, plain, wheat, white, soft
  • 200 g – Flour, wheat, wholemeal
  • 250 g – Stork, margarine, block
  • 60 ml – Water, tap
  • 100 g – Suet, vegetable, reduced fat
  • 300 g – Dried mixed fruit
  • 50 g – Dates, dried, flesh & skin
  • 50 g – Sugar, dark muscovado
  • 1 tbsp – Syrup, golden
  • 1 tbsp – Brandy
  • 200 g – Apples, cooking, raw, flesh only, peeled


  1. Mix the hard margarine and the flour together in a large bowl. Rub the mixture through your fingers to blend until it forms a sand like consistency.

  2. Gradually add the cold water to the mixture, stir and kneed the dough. You may not need to add the full amount of water. Once the dough has formed then roll it in to a ball, tie it up in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.

  3. While your pastry is chilling it is time to make the mincemeat. In a big bowl add the vegetable suet, dried mixed fruit, dates, muscovado sugar, golden syrup and brandy together then stir. Finely chop the cooking apple then add to the mixture.

  4. wholemeal-mince-pies-in-progress

  5. Roll the pastry out onto a floured surface. Make sure the pastry is an even thickness and approximately 5mm deep before cutting out the shapes. Use large circular cutters to create the base of the pie and smaller shapes to make the lids. A simple design of holly leaves and berries is quite effective.

  6. Grease the trays of muffin tins with margarine and then sieve flour over the tray so that you will be able to get the pies out easily when they are cooked. Place the larger base shapes into the tin, push them down before spooning in the mince meat. Do not over fill your pies otherwise the mincemeat might bubble over in the oven.

  7. To finish assembling the pies put the smaller shapes on top of the filled cases and press down gently. Brush the lids with milk to help them go golden brown in the oven. If you are doing the holly design then brush the holly leaves with milk first, then roll up small bits of dough to make the berries and roll each ball in the milk before sticking them on to the holly. This will prevent the berries from falling off in the cooking process. Place the trays in to a preheated oven and cook for 17 minutes at 180° Fan / 200°C / 400°F / Gas mark 6.

Nutritional values per serving

Carbs – 21.8 g
Calories – 170
Fat – 8.7 g
Protein – 1.8 g
Sugar – 10.0 g
Fibre – 1.1 g

Check out the nutritional values! 21.8g of carbs and 170 cals each compared with 32.2g of carbs and 217 cals in the shop bought version. So much less sugar and so much more taste than the average supermarket brand. It’s a no brainer… get baking!

Why not download Cook&Count app now to try some more of our recipes?

Honeymooning in hurricane season – Deborah’s JDRF fundraising cycle

19th December 2016
JDRF fundraising cycle

Our founder and CEO Deborah and her new husband Dieter decided to do something different for their honeymoon in Cuba, but as it was hurricane season things didn’t get off to the best of starts!


An unusual wedding gift


Dieter and I got married on 1 October 2016. Instead of the traditional wedding gift list, we decided to choose a challenge and ask for charity donations to JDRF. This is a cause close to our hearts because we understand how type 1 diabetes can affect peoples’ lives. Our son Solly got type 1 diabetes suddenly when he was 10. It has drastically changed his life, and ours too.

We want to do what we can to support the JDRF in their mission to find the cure for type 1. We decided to help by doing what we do best – cycling long distances and exploring! Yes, it was our honeymoon. And no, we weren’t going to do much lazing around on beaches. We had chosen to spend our honeymoon in the saddle, doing a tandem bicycle tour of southern Cuba.


Hurricane Matthew hits Cuba


The lead up to our challenge was … challenging. It was hurricane season in the Caribbean and Florida. Just as we were leaving the UK we heard that one of the biggest hurricanes for decades was heading towards Cuba and then on to Florida. So instead of spending the first couple of days relaxing on Caribbean beaches before our ride, we had a three day delay boarded up in Miami waiting for Hurricane Matthew to wreak havoc.

Eventually we managed to get to Cuba to start our cycle tour. The first morning we got straight on the bike. Riding long distances in 35C heat was not easy, particularly due to the lack of food, water and shade. The roads were in a very poor state and in many areas they had collapsed into the sea. Over long distances we came across only the occasional ‘cafeteria’ but all that was on the menu was rum, cigarettes and sometimes beer.

By the third day of riding we started to enter in the area that had been hit by Hurricane Matthew. While holed up in Miami we had been watching the news and social media to get as much information as possible about how Cuba had been affected and whether it would be safe to go there. It was shocking and saddening to cycle through an area of nearly 200km in which most of the houses had lost their roof and palm trees were strewn across the landscape like boxes of matches. Electricity was down and water and food was scarce. After five days we emerged from the destruction zone, dirty, tired and hungry. And we managed to complete the final few days cycling in relative normality.


The aftermath


Despite recent stories of Cuba changing so much, becoming commercialised and being overtaken by tourists, we saw no other tourists or travellers for days. In many places the horse and cart was still the most common vehicle. Where we did see cars, many were still the beautiful, colourful 1950s American cars that people imagine when they think of Cuba.

We rode 712km over nine days. It was much tougher than we imagined and we definitely feel like we earned the brilliantly generous donations to JDRF of over £2,000 that we’ve received. We are really grateful for all the support friends and family gave for this very important cause.


Why not plan a big fundraising adventure yourself? We highly recommend it! Few people had come across the idea of doing charity donations instead of a wedding list. But many people have so much ‘stuff’ these days. So instead of receiving yet more plates, towels and cutlery, why not put money to good use by supporting research to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes. We challenge you to a challenge!

Dieter and Deborah