Food: Six delicious brunch ideas without eggs, to survive the shortage



The cost of eggs is soaring and there’s a shortage reported on shop shelves.

From eggs benedict to shakshuka, eggs are a brunch-time staple, and whether it be boozy, bottomless or just when you happen to indulge in a late morning meal, brunch is huge.

But shoppers at major supermarkets are reportedly being faced with empty egg shelves and told to ration purchases. It’s claimed to be down to an outbreak of avian flu – something The British Free Range Egg Producers Association warned about back in March – supply chain issues, and rising costs.

New data from the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation published by the Office for National Statistics show that in the past 12 months, the cost of eggs has risen by nearly a quarter (22.3%).

So, what should we be dishing up and ordering if eggs are hard to get hold of? And could brunch actually be better off without them?

Here are a few of the best brunch offerings that require no eggs, so your weekly brunch need not suffer during the shortage.

1. Overnight oats

You may have only heard about these from fitness fanatics and nutritionists, but they are actually a delicious, easy-to-prepare brunch option. Overnight oats need not be bland and boring; make a big batch the night before and fill a bowl with oats, yoghurt or kefir of your choice, chia seeds, fruit, nut butter or jam. Then dish it up the next morning and top it with seeds, sauces, and extra fresh fruit.

2. Pretty porridge

“For a luxurious and indulgent porridge that’s a far cry from instant mixes, try topping your slowly-simmered oats with a splash of double cream, some dark brown sugar and a pinch of nutmeg – it’s a gloriously rich brunching option that’ll keep you going all day,” says food writer (studentcuisineforthegloomyteen.com) and guest on BBC Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet, Fliss Freeborn, who is currently working on her first cookbook.

3. French toast

Yes, eggs do seem like a vital ingredient in French toast, but did you know you can use nut milk as an alternative?

“For a vegan take on French toast, fry your bread slices lightly in vegan butter, then sprinkle over a mix of sugar and cinnamon in the pan so that the edges caramelise slightly. Top with sweetened vegan cream cheese, strawberries and maple syrup and some more cinnamon for luck,” says Freeborn.

4. Yoghurt parfaits

Why not get decorative with glass jars and lush fruit and yoghurt?

“Layer your favourite yoghurt – I like the strained extra creamy Greek stuff – with some chopped mango mixed with a pinch of ground cardamom and if you’re feeling it, a small grinding of black pepper. Add some ready-made tropical granola for crunch, and if you have it, extra flaked toasted coconut. Depending on how ripe the mango is, you may not need to add any extra sweetness, but if you do, a drizzle of honey goes a long way,” Freeborn says.

5. Smoothie bowls

“Smoothie bowls are all about presentation, and the best ones are pretty maximalist – I love using frozen raspberries on top as well as in the mix for extra bite and coldness, plus chopped toasted nuts, a swirl of yoghurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon,” says Freeborn.

“It’s even better if you do an insta-worthy peanut butter or chocolate crackle top, which breaks like a creme bruleeto reveal the brightly coloured smoothie underneath. And use frozen bananas for a glorious thickness that fresh ones just can’t replicate.”

6. Baps and rolls

But, brunch doesn’t have to be sweet. The old classics are always great.

“If you’re serving a meat-eating crowd, cooking off sausages, bacon, and black pudding, then letting everyone do a DIY assembly in the middle of the table is a great idea. Wholegrain mustard is always a winner here but caramelised red onion chutney works well too,” sats Freeborn.

“And everyone needs some carb-on-carb action now and again so if you’re vegan or vegetarian, try getting hold of some potato scones or Irish soda farls and frying them in butter or olive oil to go in your bap alongside the usual suspects of grilled cherry tomatoes and fried mushrooms. Soy sauce will give an extra umami boost to your shrooms, and I always love a bit of fresh thyme in there too. I’ll let you be the judge on whether this should require ketchup or brown sauce, but the roll should always be served warm in my books.”





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Shaun Williamson: Snoring can have a profound effect on relationships



The former EastEnders actor talks to Abi Jackson about the ‘wake-up call’ that left him determined to tackle his snoring.

 

Snoring is often the subject of jokes but for those affected, it’s no laughing matter – as former EastEnders star Shaun Williamson knows only too well.

The actor, who says he’s “always snored”, explains things came to a head recently when he and wife Adele were staying at a hotel.

“And this is the crux of the story, because there’s no escape route, there’s no going into the spare room, we’re in a hotel room,” recalls Williamson, 56, who played Barry on the popular BBC soap from 1994-2004. “In the morning, I woke up and she wasn’t looking happy. She played back a recording – she’d recorded it during the night – and said, ‘That was five hours, midnight to 5am you were snoring, I couldn’t wake you up’.”

Another hotel guest had even knocked on their door at 4am, as it was so loud.

“That was a bit of a wake-up call,” admits the affable entertainer, acknowledging snoring can be tough on partners. “It splits some marriages up. It can have a really profound effect on relationships.”

Williamson – who’s been married to forensic scientist Adele since 2018 (he was previously married to Melanie Sacre with whom he shares two grown-up children) – has now teamed up with Mute, who make nasal dilators designed to reduce snoring.

The brand recently surveyed more than 1,000 UK adults and found being subjected to the sound of snoring is indeed a big deal, with 31% saying they become enraged as a result, 15% saying they may cry, and 16% saying it makes them hysterical.

When asked how it felt hearing his wife’s recording of his snoring, Williamson says: “You’re not proud of yourself. It’s a very selfish thing to inflict on your partner, but of course, you’re not doing it on purpose. It was quite shocking. You’ll know what it’s like if someone’s ruined your sleep for you for one night, maybe noisy neighbours having a party, then you’re pretty cranky. Imagine that for 50 years? It is pretty grim for partners.”

Snoring can happen for a range of reasons but is often linked with things like being overweight, sleeping on your back, smoking and alcohol. In some cases, snoring may be associated with sleep apnoea – a potentially serious medical condition where people stop breathing briefly during their sleep – so it’s important to speak to your doctor if this is a concern.

“I don’t do myself any favours, I like a nightcap and I’m overweight,” says Williamson. “But ironically, snoring can be very pernicious, it can pick on anyone at any time.”

He’s tried various solutions over the years, but none have been as effective for him as Mute. “It’s a nasal stent, basically, you put it in your nose because at night, the reason a lot of people snore is their nasal passages tend to restrict and it forces you to breathe through the mouth. That’s when you get that really deep, guttural snore that really reverberates through the house. So just by keeping the nasal passages open, we found you do get a much better night’s sleep. And certainly, my wife reported that my snoring turned more into sort of deep heavy breathing, so occasionally I wake up now and she’s [still] in the bed with me,” Williamson shares.

It means he’s getting better quality sleep, too. “I’m a great napper, I usually have an afternoon nap – but when I say nap, I mean properly getting back into bed, more of an afternoon sleep,” he explains. “But sometimes since I’ve been using this, I’ve found I just haven’t needed one, so that’s been a real bonus.”

Since leaving EastEnders, Williamson’s had a string of different acting gigs, most notably alongside Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant in their sitcom Extras, as well as lots of theatre and panto and a stint on Celebrity Big Brother in 2017. During the pandemic, he says he was fortunate to land work hosting remote quizzes for various companies (he also wrote a book on quizzing called A Matter Of Facts, published in 2020) – and of course there’s ‘Barrioke’, which, as the name suggests, involves Williamson singing karaoke on stage with participants, alongside some trademark banter.

Aside from tackling the snoring, what does self-care look like for him these days?

“Well, I need to practise more of that,” he says. “I get into terrible habits because for years, I worked in theatre. As soon as I left EastEnders in 2004 really, right through to the pandemic, I was doing at least two touring shows a year and pantos. And personally, I can’t eat before I go on stage, not a big meal, so you get yourself into this habit – and it’s a bad spiral of having a few drinks when you come off stage at 10pm and then you eat at midnight.

“So my aim is to get out of the habit of the late meal, particularly when I’m not working, and drinking less at night. Hopefully, if I’m sleeping better, then I think I can achieve it.”

His workout of choice is a good walk in nature. “I do a lot of walking,” he says. “I live on a lovely island, Isle of Sheppey [in Kent], and there’s a lot of nature reserves and things like that. So I go for long walks, and that’s also good for your brain – you can think all your problems out. It works for me and it’s low-impact.”

Shaun Williamson is working with nasal dilator Mute (mutesnoring.com) to help him stop snoring. Available in three sizes from Amazon UK and all good chemists, from £12.99 for a trial pack and £16.99 for a months’ supply.





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Health: Five things to do now to reduce your risk of type 2 Diabetes



Type 2 diabetes is extremely common, so much so that by 2030, Diabetes UK predicts that five-and-a-half million people in the UK will have the condition. However, there are some really simple ways to reduce your risk of developing type 2 – and improve your overall health at the same time.

“Diabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels run out of control due to a lack of the hormone insulin, leading to dangerous health complications such as blindness and kidney damage. More than nine in 10 cases are type 2 diabetes, which [unlike type 1] is preventable because it’s linked to our diet and lifestyle,” says dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton, who also works with the Tea Advisory Panel (teaadvisorypanel.com), and has conducted extensive research into diabetes.

So, what steps can we take to avoid joining those statistics?

 

1. Keep an eye on your weight

While weight isn’t everything when it comes to health, being overweight can impact your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

“With more than two-thirds of adults in the UK carrying too much weight, it’s a shocking statistic that you are up to 80 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are obese, compared with having a body mass index under 22,” says Ruxton.

“Scientists think this is because the body cells of overweight people become increasingly resistant to insulin, forcing the body to keep producing more and more. This overuse exhausts the pancreas – the organ in the body where insulin is made – and the production of insulin then dwindles.”

 

2. Get into fitness

“A report in the World Journal of Diabetes found that, while vigorous exercise was best for cutting risk, even walking for at least 30 min per day lowered the risk by around half,” notes Ruxton.

“What we put into our bodies, how we recharge, and how we move are the three key pillars of maintaining our health. I recommend a combination of cardiovascular and strength training for optimal fitness.”

 

3. Drink tea to help manage blood sugar levels

Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels could be vital for helping keep type 2 diabetes at bay.

Ruxton says a new report by the Tea Advisory Panel found simple diet strategies, such as drinking black or green tea daily, can help boost our intake of polyphenols – “natural bioactive plant compounds, which help to stabilise blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation”.

A study in British Medical Journal found that having more than three cups of tea daily is associated with lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.

 

4. Take breaks between meals

Ruxton suggests a longer fast between meals is better for blood sugar control.

“A plan where you stick to water, regular tea or herbal tea between 7pm and 11am gives your pancreas a break and helps to stimulate fat burning. If you can’t face that, try to keep your carbs for mealtimes only and stick to low-sugar, high-protein snacks, such as nuts, seeds, cheese, yoghurt, or dark chocolate,” she says.

 

5. Try wholegrains

A study published in Diabetologia found that eating more fibre is associated with a reduction in type 2 diabetes risk of around a fifth. “Fibre is found in wholegrain bread, pasta, and rice as well as oats, beans, vegetables, and fruit,” says GP, Dr Gill Jenkins.

“Scientists believe that wholegrain cereal types are better for blood sugar control and reducing the risk of diabetes, but all sources are good for general health. We should aim for 30g a day, but intakes in the UK are less than half of this.”





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Glasgow Caledonian University to offer free breakfast


A Scottish university is to offer all staff and students a free breakfast to help alleviate cost-of-living pressures.

From Monday, undergraduates and employees of Glasgow Caledonian University will be entitled to a hot breakfast or fruit and a cup of tea or coffee.

The offer will be available from 8am to 11am, Monday to Friday and the university has increased catering capacity to cope with demand.

GCU, which is known as the ‘University for the Common Good’ has around 1,500 staff and more than 21,000 students.

The free breakfast initiative will initially run until the end of February 2023 and uptake will be monitored by the university.

HeraldScotland: Glasgow Caledonian University has jumped up the table for student satisfaction

GCU’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Pamela Gillies said: “We know that the cost of living crisis has made this a particularly challenging time for our University community.

“This GCU initiative will provide our students and staff with the opportunity to start their day with a free, healthy, and warming breakfast.”

A number of other Scottish universities have launched initiatives to help students experiencing hardship.

The University of Edinburgh has cut the cost of lunches while UWS has also launched a free breakfast scheme.

The National Union of Students (NUS) said its research suggests one in three students survives on £50 or less a month.

 

 

 





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McLeish urges Sturgeon to press on with National Care Service



HENRY McLeish has urged Nicola Sturgeon not to be tempted to put her plans to establish a National Care Service on hold following hefty criticism and growing concerns over cost.

The former first minister, who was the architect of free personal care for the elderly, often regarded as one of the most popular policies since devolution, said the government must press on with the reforms.

He warned that if the plan was halted problems in the health and social care sector – already facing intense pressures – would mount as the number of people needing social care grows as people live longer.

Mr McLeish, who is an ambassador for Alzheimer Scotland, said he understood the difficult background in which the reforms were being made.

He cited the UK’s financial problems and the scrapping of the increase in national insurance by the Conservative government as among the challenges.

“The National Care Service is probably the most important reform that has happened in Scotland since the 1998 Scotland Act. It is taking place against an unbelievably difficult financial background, against a background of a crisis in care, a crisis in health and a government at Westminster … [which has] scrapped the national insurance increase which means there could be cuts in care down south and that could hit us,” he said.

“So this may not be the easiest time but we have got to get this right. The prize is that Scotland could be leading Europe in the development of care.

“What we don’t need is this to collapse into internal bickering in Scotland among the various institutions and political parties. And that is my fear.”

The National Care Service was a recommendation of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care (Feeley review) which reported in February last year.

A bill to establish the service was introduced in June this year with its stated purpose to improve the quality and consistency of social services in Scotland. 

The reform is also intended to improve conditions for staff in the sector amid concerns that many are leaving for better pay and less challenging roles in other areas of work.

A lack of care staff and a shortage of beds in residential homes is contributing to problems in the health service with about 1,800 hospital beds being taken up by people who don’t need acute care but do need support either in their own home or in residential care.

The bill is a framework bill that lays the foundations for a National Care service, allowing for the substantive detail to be co-designed, chiefly with people who access support, those who deliver it and unpaid carers, later.

The legislation – which is currently making its way through Holyrood – will see the government set up “care boards” directly accountable to Scottish ministers who will take on functions and staff that are currently managed and run by local authorities and health boards.

Ms Sturgeon has described it as the most significant reform to public services since the creation of the NHS.

But criticism of the bill has been mounting, with MSPs, councils, unions and carer’s charities urging the government to pause or think again.

The public spending watchdog Audit Scotland raised serious concerns last month about the financial memorandum accompanying the legislation. It warned that ministers had underestimated “the margin of uncertainty” in their cost estimates, which have ranged from £650 million to £1.3 billion. 

Mr McLeish said there are about 700,000 unpaid carers in Scotland, 200,000 workers in social care, and at present 70,000 people at home and 40,000 in long-term residential care with 130,000 people in some form of care in the community.

“This is an enormous subject and unless we get a unifying approach we are going to get mired in party political differences and differences between local government, central government and the trade unions,” he said.

Mr McLeish went on to say the Scottish Government needed to adopt a more collaborative approach and make sure care providers, councils and trade unions were on board with the reforms.

“Local government has a remarkable record in public health provision over the last century but this government has at times been running down local government and it is facing its own crisis,” he said.

“So while I don’t think we should stall the process [of setting up the NCS], what I am asking for is for the government to rethink how we take it forward. I think they should take a multi-party approach, include all opposition parties and I would like to see the Health Secretary and his shadows set up a co-ordinating committee. 

“I would also like to see local government treated not as a group that is being difficult, but for their problems to be understood. It would be a National Care Service but it has to be locally delivered.”

He added: “The demographics are working against us and unless we can develop a coherent health and social care policy in Scotland we are just going to be building up problems for the future.”





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