What do people want from health tracking apps?

25th May 2017
Health Apps survey results

We love learning more about the health apps market. Health, fitness, weight loss and nutrition are hot topics, and we’re keen to know what people find most helpful when it comes to improving eating habits in particular.

We carried out a short survey among those who are less familiar with Cook&Count but who have an interest in health and fitness. Some interesting insights have emerged from the results that we’d like to share.


1. Accuracy is key

When asked what would improve tracking apps used, the top response was more accurate data. Over half of those surveyed said that increased accuracy was important to them. This was followed by integration with wearables, increased nutritional information and healthy living advice.

It’s great to hear that people want as much accurate information and advice as they can get! The nutritional information for ingredients in Cook&Count is sourced from government databases and we pride ourselves on not using often inaccurate crowd-sourced data.



Improve


2. Trusted advice doesn’t just come from the doctor

Nutrition websites, blogs and social media are just as popular for healthy eating advice as speaking to healthcare professionals. A sign of the technological age, people are relying more and more on a wider range of information sourced from all over the web.

We just need to make sure that this information is as accurate and reliable as possible. At Cook&Count we work with trusted healthcare professionals to make sure the information we provide comes from true expert sources.



Advice


3. Digital recipes are the future

As expected, the internet has far overtaken books as a source of recipes. 89% of those who filled out the survey said they source recipes from the internet, while 57% say they use recipe books. One third of respondents get recipes from friends and family, but fewer use or are familiar with recipe sharing apps.



Recipes


4. It’s all about personalisation

People love to adapt recipes to suit their tastes. Our favourite finding – a huge 92% of people said they like to adapt recipes either for taste or health reasons. This is just what we want to hear! Cooking should be an enjoyable and experimental process. Whatever restrictions you may have on what you eat, adapting recipes allows you to still enjoy variations of all your favourites. Find ways to cut out some carbs or calories, or up your protein intake.



Adapt



In summary, people want accuracy, variety, availability and adaptability. It’s all about accessing the right nutritional information and advice, alongside sourcing the most interesting and adaptable recipes. Do you agree?

Our top recipes for batch cooking on a Sunday

21st April 2017
Beef ragu

It can be hard to find time for home cooking during the busy working week. Full time jobs and family commitments can make it tricky to fit in a food shop and find time every evening to make a new meal. Our latest cookbook – Sunday Cook-in – is here to help with some of our favourite batch cooking recipes.

Set aside an hour or two on a Sunday afternoon, put some music on, and have a nice relaxing cooking session. Then you can stock up your fridge or freezer with these delicious and nutritious recipes that will keep you going throughout the week.


Founder Debs’ greatest granola recipe

Making two large jars and tasting ten times tastier than anything you’ll find in a supermarket, this will keep you going for weeks. Serve with cold milk and a dollop of natural Greek yoghurt, plus a sprinkling of blueberries or raspberries. And take some into work with you and eat a handful to keep you going until home time. This is a great alternative to popping to the vending machine or the shop to buy sweets.

Granola


Researcher Caroline’s lentil and chorizo pie with pesto mash

Full of veg and pulses with a herby mashed potato topping, this homely and comforting staple keeps in the fridge for a few days and also freezes well.

Lentil pie


Hannah’s favourite mixed bean salad

Beans, hard crunchy veg and citrus juice make this salad last for days in the fridge. It’s the perfect summer lunch that will keep you coming back for more.

Mixed bean salad



Download Cook&Count app now for iOS or Android to make your working week a little easier by cooking ahead!

Lemon heart biscuits for Valentine’s Day

13th February 2017
lemon and chocolate heart biscuits

A tasty heartfelt gift for the one you love this Valentine’s Day – lemon biscuits dipped in dark chocolate – created by our founder Debs…

Visually striking, with dark chocolate part coating the buttery lemon biscuits. These crisp biscuits have a refreshing zing of lemon and rich chocolate flavour that go perfectly together.

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

 

Ingredients

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 450g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 300g plain chocolate

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas mark 3. Line two baking trays with baking paper and leave to one side.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl before adding the lemon zest. Mix for 30 seconds then stir in the egg.
  3. Sift in the flour and baking powder and keep stirring. Gradually add the milk to turn the mixture in to a dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes if the kitchen in warm.
  4. Roll out the dough on a floured surface so it is 5mm thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and transfer on to the trays. Bake for 15- 20 minuets, when turn lightly golden remove them the oven and transfer on to a wire rack to cool.
  5. Melt the chocolate in a microwave. Half dip each biscuit in the chocolate then return it to set on a new sheet of baking parchment.

 

Lemon biscuits

 

Enjoy this sweet treat with someone special, or share the love with your friends, family and colleagues!

Check out the nutritional information in the app – you’ll find this delicious recipe in the Baking section.

 

Download Cook&Count for free now for lots more tasty creations, all with accurate nutritional information, available for iPhone/iPad and on Android.

How cooking burns calories

31st January 2017
calories-burned-while-cooking

We believe in cooking from scratch not just for healthier eating, but for a healthier life. Getting active in the kitchen requires a bit more effort, but you’ll burn a good few more calories too!

Here at Health Apps, the Cook&Count app team don’t believe in strict calorie counting, but we absolutely do believe in calorie awareness and portion control. We need to know what we’re taking in in order to adjust our portions and daily exercise accordingly.

So does shopping for, preparing, cooking, serving and clearing a meal really count as exercise? It certainly does.


Food shopping

Wandering up and down the supermarket aisles or around the local shops is a healthy walk. You can burn close to 90 calories simply on your weekly food shop. And over 100 calories carrying your bags home or up some steps. Don’t ignore the effect of this routine exercise. It’s not just about the calories, it’s the movement and activity that really counts.


Preparing the dish

Thought standing around in the kitchen while you chop veg was a waste of time? Think again. From fridge to oven to sideboard and back again, you’ll be burning calories you didn’t even know about. Put some music on and you might even find yourself having an extra little jig!


Post-meal tidy up

Food bought, meal prepared and you thought you were done. But there are still more calories to lose. Laying and clearing the table then washing up will keep you moving and burning energy. The numbers may look small, but they all add up to a more active life.



That’s a grand total of 337 calories simply from creating a tasty meal! And that’s just an average. Calories burned will vary depending on your weight, so take a look on CalorieLab.com.

Cook&Count app has some tasty recipes for you to try and will show you how many calories are in any size portion, plus lots more useful nutritional information. Download Cook&Count app for free now!

Wholemeal mince pies: A Christmas recipe

22nd December 2016
wholemeal-mince-pies



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


Ingredients

  • 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


Method

  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?

Dietitian Monika on Polish cuisine

7th November 2016
Dietitian Monika Jakiel-Rusin at table

Our dietitian Monika has been working on some brand new Cookbooks for the new Cook&Count app. As a dietitian, registered nutritionist in public health and a personal trainer, she has a wealth of experience in health and nutrition. Here she tells us a little about herself and her passion for healthy living and home cooking…


At home

My food journey began where I grew up, in a little village in central Poland, where natural food was an integral part of my childhood and my home. Our food was reared or grown locally or by us, and we ate what was abundant, affordable and seasonal. In Poland, food is at the centre of family, friendship and community: it’s about enjoying life! My time growing up in Poland was one of the biggest influences on my nutritional philosophy and is the source of my passion for sharing my love of natural, health-giving food with others.

My goal is to help people lead healthier lifestyles, and I believe that the easiest way of achieving this is through being generally more active and cooking from scratch. Cooking is a great form of physical activity. From my experience, I’ve learned that the more you do it the more you enjoy it and the more benefits you can get out of it!

I enjoy cooking and love spending time in my kitchen where I can completely relax and get lost in preparing enjoyable meals for my family and friends. Cooking and sharing food, for me, is one of the best ways of expressing love.

I try to lead a healthy lifestyle myself, so I can teach with authority by being an example for others. I love sport and in my free time I run, swim, cycle, and practise Pilates and yoga.


At work

My professional journey began with my BSc Honours degree in Diet and Health at Bath Spa University, followed by a Masters degree in Dietetics at the Medical University of Silesia in Poland. I have eight years’ experience in nutritional & dietetic counselling and within the sports industry.

My nutritional philosophy is to use nature as a guide. I encourage people to make the most of the harmony and balance inherent in natural, local, seasonal ingredients.

Balance and harmony are the pillars of my philosophy and clinical method. Harmony for me means all aspects of diet and lifestyle working together, efficiently. In turn, this helps us balance our commitment to our health with all the other demands of our lives.

The focus of my philosophy is on what healthy choices bring to life rather than what they take away. This approach allows changes in attitudes, tastes, and relationships with food and exercise to take place naturally, as a process of discovery. For me, creating a healthy lifestyle is a life-long journey, one that can be challenging, surprising, enjoyable and exciting. I would like all people to be able to find a huge joy in their food journeys.


We love Monika’s philosophy! Here at Cook&Count we’re all about healthy balanced diets, good home cooked food and knowing what we’re eating.

The benefits of home cooking and cooking from scratch

19th October 2016
Dinner table with home cooking

Health Psychology MSc graduate Caroline has joined the Health Apps team to work out what people really class as “home cooking” or “cooking from scratch”. Does a jar of pasta sauce count if you chop and add all your own veg? Is using ready made curry paste counted as “scratch cooking”?


We want to understand what cooking from scratch really means to people so that we can find better ways to encourage more people to cook for themselves rather than eat ready meals and processed foods.


There are so many reasons why it makes sense to cook from scratch:

  1. It’s healthier
  2. It can help to prevent or manage type 2 diabetes
  3. It could prevent other diseases and some types of cancer
  4. It’s fresher and tastier
  5. There are no hidden ingredients or chemicals
  6. You have control
  7. Relax – put some music on!
  8. It’s rewarding – impress your friends!
  9. Get sociable – share a meal with family
  10. It gets you active – put your step counter on and see how much you move while shopping, preparing food, cooking and clearing up.



So put some music on, impress your friends, and have a good catch up while you enjoy the benefits of home cooking!


Can you think of any more benefits? Let us know!