I come from the UK, but our family moved to Cyprus when our sons were 11 and 9. For many years we educated them at home, living on a fairly tight budget. I have always been interested in the study of nutrition, and have been aware of the strong links between food and health for around thirty years.

I don't particularly enjoy cooking, but I realised when our sons were little that it was better to spend more time in meal preparation, with real ingredients, than to buy pre-processed or ready-made food that was, too often, filled with colourings, sweeteners, preservatives and other potentially toxic additives.

Fruit and vegetables are abundant, and usually good value in Cyprus. So I used them as much as I could. By preference I would be vegetarian; I'm not particularly keen on meat. However I'm married to an omnivore who becomes quite depressed if he doesn't eat meat at least two or three times per week. So we tend to eat chicken once or twice per week, fish once, and vegetarian foods at other times. Where possible we buy free-range; however Cyprus has a mid-range style of chicken which is not quite free range, but a great deal better than battery farming.

When my older son was about six he saw the film 'Babe' and refused, thereafter to eat pork of any kind. I'm not keen on pork in any case, although I will eat some sausages; at the time there was a good brand of vegetarian sausages available in Cyprus, though, alas, they can no longer be bought here. At around the age of 14 the same son decided to become fully vegetarian, and has remained so for the past fifteen years. This encouraged me to start using recipes based on beans and lentils for protein. There are many health benefits to legumes so I try to include them in our main meals at least a couple of times per week.

Our younger son suffered 'glue ear' as a child, which was no better in his teen years, so he experimented with going dairy-free when he was about 16. This was so successful in reducing the problem that he's remained dairy-free ever since. My husband is also dairy-free, for the same reason. This is why I learned how to make almond milk and coconut milk (now a staple in our family) as the packaged alternatives are very expensive. Many of the recipes on this site are dairy-free, or have dairy-free adaptations listed.

As for me, I suffered from migraines for many years until I was persuaded by an online acquaintance to write down everything I ate and look for links. I had established many years previously at the artificial sweetener aspartame was a strong trigger, and more recently that the flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG) was another. I never knowingly used either, but they sometimes come in the most innocuous looking products. I gradually realised that my migraines were also triggered by nitrites (found in processed meats, along with MSG), preservatives such as sodium benzoate (found in many cordials and other non-natural drinks), and MSG-related additives such as soy protein isolate, maltodextrin and - to my horror! - yeast extract. Giving up Marmite was very difficult for me, but the difference it made was incredible.

I have thus, in the past ten years or so, started to make my own chutneys, soups, and even tomato ketchup. Initially this was to ensure they were additive-free, but when I realised how much better they tasted than even the best ready-made products, I didn't look back.

The recipes on this site, therefore, are not truly 'random'. You won't find any shellfish or offal recipes here (I refuse to eat either), nor anything containing artificial sweeteners, colourings, or MSG. I use basic ingredients that should be easily available in most of the world; if not, I usually suggest alternatives. They're not low-fat or low-cholesterol or low-calorie, or any of those depressing things that feature in so many people's lives. However, they're an eclectic mixture of main courses, desserts, and miscellaneous items that we enjoy in our family.

Feel free to use the 'comments' section to ask any questions or make suggestions.

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