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Happy Leap Year! A few fun facts

It’s a well known fact that a Leap Year only comes around once every four years, but here are a few things you may not have known about February 29th.

Julius Caeser introduced the leap year

The former Roman dictator is believed to have been the first known person to introduce the leap year in 46 BCE – and who were we to disagree with him! Since calendar changes have taken place, some subsequent studies have shown Ceaser’s calculations were out slightly, and the leap year of February 29th, as we know it today, seems to have been set in the 1500s.

Without a leap year, we’d lose 24 days every 100 years

Yes it’s only one quarter of a day per year, but when you add it up it’s quite significant. Without the leap year, eventually, our seasons would change – and over a lifetime, it works out to be almost an additional month!

People born on a leap year are called Leaplings

More than 4 million people around the world are Leaplings and there is an international group called The Honor Society of Leap Year Babies which has over 10,000 members. Even though they can only celebrate an official birthday every 4 years, some leaplings chose to celebrate early on February 28th, with others opt for a day later on 1st March.

Olympics and Leap Years are always the same

The Summer Olympic Games are always held on a Leap Year – and the next ones are taking place this year!

And our final fun fact….

In a “normal” calendar year there are 525,600 minutes but on leap years, there are 527,040 minutes – giving us an extra 1,440 minutes in the year.

What will you do with your extra time?

Asparagus, prosciutto & Parmesan pasta

This elegant spaghetti dish is super-easy – and ready in just 20 minutes

  • Feeds 4Feeds 4
  • Ready in 20 minutes


  • 400g Co-op spaghetti 500g Co-op British asparagus, chopped into 4cm pieces
  • 80g pack Co-op prosciutto crudo, roughly torn
  • 5 tbsp Co-op olive oil
  • 90g Co-op Parmesan wedge, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Zest of 1 lemon


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6
  2. Cook the spaghetti according to the pack instructions
  3. While the pasta is cooking, put the asparagus on a roasting tray and nestle the prosciutto around it
  4. Drizzle with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, then roast until the prosciutto is crisp and the asparagus is tender — about 10 mins
  5. Drain the spaghetti, reserving 80ml of the cooking water, then return to the pan with the reserved water
  6. Add most of the Parmesan and the rest of the oil
  7. Beat until you have a silky sauce
  8. Stir in the parsley, lemon zest, asparagus and prosciutto, then serve sprinkled with the reserved cheese

Each serving contains

  • Energy 35%2932kj 699kcal
  • Fat High 43% 29.9g
  • Saturates High 45% 8.9g
  • Sugar Low 5% 4.9g
  • Salt Med 28% 1.69g

% of adult’s reference intake | Carbohydrates per serving : 76g

Lentil & vegetable soup with crispy carrot topper

With a hint of curry, this tasty soup is a super-quick option.

  • Feeds 4Feeds 4
  • Ready in 15 minutes


  • 300g leftover potato and carrot curry
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (from your storecupboard)
  • 300g leftover cooked lentils
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (from your storecupboard)
  • 1 carrot, peeled into ribbons with a veg peeler
  • Pinch of curry powder
  • Chopped coriander, to garnish (optional)


  1. Put the leftover curry into a blender with 200ml cold water and blitz until smooth
  2. Tip into a saucepan with an additional 500ml water and crumble over the stock cube
  3. Season with black pepper and bring to a simmer
  4. Add the lentils, reduce the heat and cook for 5 mins
  5. While the soup is cooking, heat the oil in a small nonstick frying pan and cook the carrot ribbons a few at a time over a high heat, for 1-2 mins, until golden at the edges
  6. Drain on kitchen paper
  7. While still hot, toss with a pinch of curry powder
  8. Divide the soup between bowls and top with the crispy carrot
  9. Serve garnished with chopped coriander, if you like

Each serving contains

  • Energy 8% 715kj 170kcal
  • Fat Low 6% 4.4g
  • Saturates Low 3% 0.5g
  • Sugar Low 4% 3.6g
  • Salt Med 11% 0.66g

% of adult’s reference intake | Carbohydrates per serving : 25

Leftover Cheeseboard Macaroni

Turn your party leftovers into the star of the show with this comforting cheesy creation.

  • Feeds 4Feeds 4
  • Ready in 30 minutes


  • 2 pints Co-op semi skimmed milk
  • 250g Co-op macaroni
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150g leftover mixed cheeses, a mixture of blue, mature and rinded is ideal, crumbled, grated or cubed depending on style
  • 600-700g leftover cooked vegetables (or fresh, see tip), including sprouts, carrots, peas
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 tbsp cranberry sauce
  • 4 cream crackers to crumble on top, optional


  1. In your largest saucepan, gently heat the milk, macaroni and bay leaf, stirring until it begins to simmer. Cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until the pasta is just cooked. Season with lots of black pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, chop veg into bite sized pieces.
  3. Heat grill to high. To the pan, add three quarters of the cheeses and the cooked vegetables and cook for 2 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the vegetables are hot. Stir in the mustard and discard the bay leaf, season with plenty of black pepper. Pour into a 1.5-2 litre heatproof dish, and scatter with the remaining cheese. Add the cranberry sauce in small blobs, and ripple through the surface with a spoon. Place under the hot grill for 2-3 minutes until golden and bubbling.
  4. Optional: Crumble cream crackers and scatter on top to serve.

TIP: if using fresh veg, boil 2 large sliced carrots for 10 minutes, then add 200g sliced brussels sprouts and cook for a further 2 minutes, then add 200g frozen peas and cook for a further 2 minutes. Drain well.

Each serving contains

  • Energy 32% 2692kj 641kcal
  • Fat High 32% 22.3g
  • Saturates High 48% 9.5g
  • Sugar Low 16%14g
  • Salt Low 20%1.19g

% of adult’s reference intake | Carbohydrates per serving : 92.5

Christmas tree breakfast buns

These lightly spiced buns are full of festive fun. Get the kids involved in making the dough and decorating them

  • Feeds 16Feeds 16
  • Ready in 50 minutes


  • 320ml Co-op semi-skimmed milk
  • 500g pack Co-op white bread mix
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 100g raisins
  • 1 Co-op British free-range egg, beaten
  • 3 tbsp Fairtrade icing sugar
  • 8 glacé cherries


  1. Gently heat the milk in a small saucepan until lukewarm
  2. Put the bread mix, cinnamon, mixed spice, orange zest and raisins into a large bowl, and mix together
  3. Make a well in the middle, then pour in the milk and stir with a wooden spoon, until you have a tacky dough
  4. Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead for 5 mins, until smooth and elastic
  5. Leave to rest for 10 mins
  6. Divide the dough into 16 even pieces and roll into balls
  7. Arrange the balls in a Christmas tree shape on a lined baking tray, leaving a bit of space between them to allow the dough to expand
  8. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for 30-40 mins, until almost doubled in size
  9. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7
  10. Brush the buns with the beaten egg, then bake for 15-20 mins, until golden and the base of the buns sounds hollow when tapped
  11. Leave to cool fully
  12. To serve, mix the icing sugar with 1 tbsp water, until smooth
  13. Drizzle over the buns, then decorate with the glacé cherries

Each serving contains

  • Energy 8% 673kj 158kcal
  • Fat Low 2%1.4g
  • Saturates Low 2% 0.4g
  • Sugar Med 11%10.2g
  • Salt Med 7% 0.45g

% of adult’s reference intake | Carbohydrates per serving : 33g

Pumpkin muffins

These spicy teatime treats are easy to make, and freeze really well too – a great way to use up Halloween pumpkins!

  • Feeds 12Feeds 12
  • Ready in 45 minutes


  • 250g Co-op self raising white flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 large Co-op British free range eggs
  • 150ml Co-op sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g Co-op Fairtrade light brown soft sugar
  • 100g Fairtrade golden caster sugar
  • 1 Co-op British pumpkin, peeled and chopped (seeds reserved), roasted and mashed or blitzed to make a purée
  • Co-op crème fraîche, to serve (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4
  2. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases
  3. Mix the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, sunflower oil, vanilla and both sugars until you have a smooth batter
  5. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined
  6. Add the pumpkin purée and mix again until fully combined
  7. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, scattering the reserved pumpkin seeds on top and pushing in lightly
  8. Bake for 20 mins, or until the tops are golden
  9. Leave to cool on a wire rack for 15 mins, then serve with crème fraîche, if you like

Each serving contains

  • Energy 14% 1154kj 276kcal
  • Fat Med 20%14.1g
  • Saturates Low 10%1.9g
  • Sugar Med 20% 18.2g
  • Salt Low 4% 0.24g

% of adult’s reference intake | Carbohydrates per serving : 33g