We want to support as many small brands as we can at this difficult time, and especially ones created by fellow mums. So one name that should definitely be on your home delivery list is Eight...
As sales of frozen food surge in the UK, with panic-buying Britains stocking up, this has never been more needed. The all-natural freezer food range, offering eight frozen dishes, has been developed with naturally fortified ingredients to save time, stress, and ensure little ones are well fed. Created by three mums, nutritionist Jo Saunders, chef Georgie Soskin and caterer Hattie Mauleverer, all of whom were inspired by a health challenge, a divorce, and a child with major allergies. And with eight children between them (hence the name) and a combined passion for health and wellness, this seemed like the perfect solution to lock in goodness without the frantic family meal planning. The meals, including lentil shepherd’s pie, lasagne, fishcakes, hotpot, and Moroccan lamb tagine are all gluten-free, are boosted with vitamins, minerals, and other naturally-fortified ingredients such as chicken livers and flax seeds. They also contain organic dairy products and free-range meat wherever possible. And with popular Caribbean food writer Shivi Ramoutar launching her new book, The Ice Kitchen in April, filled with recipes for the freezer, there has never been a better time to cut down on waste and get freezing.
How did you become friends?
Jo (a BANT registered nutritionist) and I – Georgie – have been long-term friends since university. Together we’ve nurtured our shared passion for food and wellbeing. Starting with a blog called ‘Cooking Them Healthy’, we brought our cooking and nutrition knowledge together creating a range of “supercharged” recipes with a specific health focus, boosting recipes with natural goodies. We also started running sell-out workshops showcasing our recipes with plenty of nutritional advice. I met Hattie, CEO of TopHat Catering, at a foodie event and we got chatting. Hattie later attended one our workshops and realised the huge potential for families in the information we were providing. We then got our heads together – and Eight was born.
How and why did you decide to set up Eight?
Hattie was using our recipes to ensure a constant supply of tasty and nutritious food in her freezer for herself, her husband and children while working full time. Jo was seeing nutrition clients who were overwhelmed by starting unfamiliar gluten or dairy free diets, and those who were well intentioned but unable to cook or simply didn’t have the time. With six young children between us, we were always looking for an option we were happy to feed our children but it simply wasn’t there. It felt like the perfect solution to combine our skills and create a nutritionally boosted frozen food brand for families.
What are the common misconceptions regarding frozen food?
It has a reputation for being less nutritious and often poor quality. There are very limited options in the freezer aisle, but Eight sees frozen as an opportunity, rather than a compromise, and aims to turn the previous thinking around the frozen food aisle totally on its head.
Are frozen fruit and vegetables as good for you as fresh?
Yes absolutely. In some cases frozen fruit and vegetables are superior to ‘fresh’ as they are frozen immediately after picking whereas some vegetables sit in cold storage for months, during which you see a decline in the nutrient status. Eight meals are blast frozen on cooling to lock in the nutrition. This means we don’t have to use an artificial preservative to extend their life.
Do you have any facts/figures on what percentage of the nutritious-content is preserved in frozen food?
A study by Ali Bouzari and colleagues at the University of California, comparing nutrients in eight different fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables (corn, broccoli, spinach, carrots, peas, green beans, strawberries and blueberries) found no consistent differences between fresh and frozen. Food which is ‘shelf stable’ has been processed in some way with artificial preservatives which frozen food like Eight doesn’t require.
How long can you leave frozen food in your freezer for?
Our guidelines are six months.
How is your business coping at this difficult time and what opportunities are there?
These desperate times have had a significant impact on the hospitality industry and all of Hattie’s catering jobs for the foreseeable future have been cancelled. This is obviously hugely worrying for her and her team. As something of a silver lining, Hattie’s staff are now throwing themselves into helping meet a massive spike in demand for Eight. It is all hands on deck in terms of cooking the food, labelling it and distributing it. As people enter a period of self-isolation, with stockpiling and empty supermarket shelves, Eight provides a lifeline in the form of nutritious family food. It is ideal when the schools close and people are unable to get out to the shops, and for the elderly and vulnerable who may be struggling to ensure they are eating healthily.