In the UK we love our food porn, people spend a fortune on recipe books they probably rarely use and love TV programmes like The Great British Bake Off. Problem is most of these programmes and recipes are not very good for our waistlines, heart health or sugar and salt addictions. If eating out I am forever asking for the chef to not add any extra salt for instance (often with limited results)
During my 25 years as a food teacher I became very disenchanted with many of our TV chefs . Back in the 80s we watched and learned to broaden our horizons from the likes of Sarah Brown –in Vegetarian Kitchen. Inspirational chefs like Ken Hom and Madhur Jaffrey enabled me to get some skills in ethnic food preparation and I can even remember Gary Rhodes giving helpful hints on scone cutting. In the past we enjoyed the Galloping Gourmet and the antics of Keith Floyd. Moving on to the 1990s there was an explosion of what were now called ‘celebrity chefs ‘ and I soon became bored and switched off. I certainly rarely bought a cook book either. As the internet became more important, we would google for something we were interested in rather than buy a book which would sit on the shelf for decoration waiting for a rare read. I have been gifted cook books which I have hardly opened too. Cookery programmes have long passed into the realms of entertainment and competition . Twitter means they are a kind of spectator sport. Everyone has an opinion they can share.
Luckily we are starting to see a shift in focus and some of these now very well-known and affluent chefs are starting to think about the Nation’s Health, This started with Jamie Oliver and his school meals campaign followed by this efforts to get the locals cooking in Rotherham. He bit off a bit more than he could chew trying it in the USA too but all power to him for trying. More recently we have seen James Martin be the first chef in 21 failed attempts by other well-known faces to actually improve the Hospital food offering in Scarborough and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham. The Hairy Bikers got a meals on wheels service going again In various places; then owned up to their own Obesity. They took on a 3 month challenge to do something about it by changing their own diets and taking up exercise. Now they have started the Hairy Bikers Diet Club in an effort to help more people change their lifestyle and still eat the sort of food many of us have come to enjoy. Yes they charge a monthly fee if you want to use their App and get more support than the recipe books but then Weight Watchers and Slimming world charge too. BUT This is where I think they have a good point – their meals are made with ingredients from scratch. There are no low fat (high sugar) special ‘diet ‘foods as far as I can see. Yes dear readers I actually bought the book and find that the curries and spicy recipes they suggest work very well indeed. Many of the other recipes are similar to those I have already adapted for our own new lifestyle but I have certainly picked up a few more ideas from them too. My only concern is adding sugar to things that don’t need it IMHO – including savoury meals. Not good in a house where we have turned back type 2 diabetes.
I am hoping that we are going to see more of this in the near future, after all I don’t think it is rocket science to adapt recipes to make them healthier. So come on chefs- who will be next to help fight diabesity?