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National Blood Week 2019

This week is National Blood Week here in the UK.
NHS Blood and Transplant needs 400 new people to register as new donors every day in order to keep up with demand.

To support this effort, here are five foods you can eat to support red blood cell count:

Red Meat.

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Red Meat, such as beef, is high in iron, and can increase your body’s production of red blood cells. Normal RBC counts range from 4.7 to 6.1 million cells per microliter for men, and 4.2 to 5.4 million cells per microliter for women.

Red meats are also high in Vitamin B-12, which supports blood health.

Dark, Leafy Green Vegetables.

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Vegetables such as spinach and kale are also iron-rich, and are also high in Folic Acid and Vitamin A, which support healthy red blood cell production. The average person needs about 100 to 250 mcg per day, though this number jumps for pregnant women.

Dried Fruits.

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Dried fruits, such as prunes and raisins are high in iron also, and provide other nutrients to support the body’s overall health.

Iron deficiency causes low RBC production, and women need about 18 milligrams per day, where men tend to only need about 10 milligrams per day.

Beans.

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Beans, while high in iron and Folic Acid, are also high in Copper, which doesn’t directly result in RBC production, but does help your RBC’s access the iron they need to replicate. Women need about 18mg per day, and men need about 8mg per day. This number can vary based on other factors such as age and body weight.

Egg Yolks.

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Egg yolks are surprisingly high in iron, though this doesn’t help vegans at all. Eggs are high in a number of other nutrients, so if supplements are needed due to a special diet, it is best to talk to your physician about what your body needs for healthy operation.

If you are anything like me, while you pay attention to your overall health, you don’t consider the individual processes that occur in your body that contribute to that health. One of these aspects is the importance of blood health.

Blood supports various functions in the body, including supplying oxygen to cells and tissues, providing vital nutrients to cells, and protecting the body from infection through the white blood cells.

For more information about supporting National Blood Week and/or becoming a blood donor, please visit https://www.blood.co.uk

Food Photographer: Tom Davies, Lead Photographer, Full Steam Pictures.
Written by: Kate Davies, Media Manager, Full Steam Pictures.

National Barbecue Week

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The barbecuing experience is a long-standing fond joke in our family. When my brother and I were kids, nothing would stop our Dad from wheeling out the barbecue; not snow, not rain, nothing.

I remember one particular Saturday when the family was all huddled around the picnic table, shivering and soaking, while the rain poured down and our Dad flipped burgers with one hand and held an umbrella with the other.

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This week we see the celebration of National Barbecue Week, which was first launched in 1997. Back then, there were 9 million barbecue occasions, and this grew to over 135 million in 2018. All hail the British barbie!

As with most things, people are divided on what kind of barbecue provides the best tasting food; gas, wood or charcoal.

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While gas is cleaner and faster, the majority of barbecue aficionados will tell you that cooking over gas fails to bring out the smoky flavours that cooking with wood or charcoal provides.

The reason for this is due to a chemical called lignin which is present in wood. When heat is applied, this chemical breaks down into something called guaiacol which provides the smoky flavor. Guaiacol is also present in charcoal.

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Barbecues seem to have become more sophisticated since I was a kid; the days when a barbie consisted of hamburgers, hot dogs, and the height of refinement was foil-wrapped corn-on-the cob.

These days, a typical barbecue is likely to present spicy chicken skewers, beer-braised short ribs and lamb and rosemary koftas. Nor is the barbecue as limited to meats as it used to be. With the increase in popularity of vegetarianism, you are just as likely to see black bean burgers, jerk grilled eggplant and cauliflower steaks.

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And now I’m starving, and these barbecue photoshoots we have done for our clients are making the cravings worse… I’m off for a chicken skewer!

For more information about National Barbecue Week, please visit https://nationalbbqweek.co.uk

Happy grilling!

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Food Photographer: Tom Davies, Lead Photographer, Full Steam Pictures.
Written by: Kate Davies, Media Manager, Full Steam Pictures.

National Butchers Week

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We, as a nation, are all familiar with the local butcher. The phrase conjures up images of people in striped aprons wielding fearsome-looking utensils and adeptly cutting sections of meat.

Butchers started forming guilds in England as far back as 1272, and were a vital part of every community, and though recent years have seen a decrease in the prevalence of independent butchers due to the popularity of large chain supermarkets, there are communities who still put a high value on having a local butcher’s shop. 

One such community can be found in Yoxall, Staffordshire. Yoxall is a village on the banks of the River Swarbourn, in between Burton on Trent and Lichfield, and boasted a population of 1,895 in 2011.

When A. Johnson & Son Butchers closed its doors in 2018, there was much consternation throughout the village, as the local business had been a staple of the area for many years. With its loss, it seemed as though Yoxall was going to lose a business that had made the village such a community-oriented place to live.

Enter Paul Shum.

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A local Yoxall man, Paul had worked at Johnson’s Butchers for 20 years, and when they announced that they were closing, he took the opportunity to realise his dream of opening his own local business. He now runs it based on the tenets of providing service to the community, supporting other local businesses, and offering reasonably-priced, high quality food.

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Paul understands the importance of family; not just his own, but of those in the community he lives in, and as such tries to keep his prices sensible in the interests of being able to cater to families who want to eat well at the same time as getting their value for money.

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Paul Shum Family Butchers offers a Family Pack, which changes monthly, and includes cuts of meet and poultry, along with corresponding recipe cards on their website, which takes some of the effort out of the weekly meal planning, as well as making it more intuitive and affordable.

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In addition to the meat that Paul offers, which is all locally sourced from companies such as Packington Pork and Packington Chickens, the Butchers also stocks vegetables, snacks, sauces and jams, all of which come from other local businesses in Needwood, Hamstall Ridware, Kings Bromley and Abbotts Bromley.

So, while it seems as though many local butchers are closing their doors due to the proliferation of large supermarket chains, we believe that the support of the local people and the high standards that they keep will ensure that Paul Shum Family Butchers will be a pillar of the community for many years to come.

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Full Steam Pictures would like to say how much we enjoyed working with Paul and his team. We wish you every success for the future!

Food Photographer: Tom Davies, Lead Photographer, Full Steam Pictures.
Written by: Kate Davies, Media Manager, Full Steam Pictures.