Get ready for a culinary cook-off

The fun of home cooking

The fun of home cooking

 

Cooking programmes have never been more numerous, Celebrity Chefs’ richer or cooking competitions more popular. Some, such as The Great British Bake Off, not only attract huge prime time audiences, but made national news headlines when it shifted channels. There are even entire television networks dedicated to food preparation, yet cooking as a general activity has gone the same way as soccer; there are a lot more spectators than active participants.

This is serious, because just as a lack of exercise has contributed to globally expanding waistlines, the fall in the incidence of preparing real food at home is another contributor to the rise of obesity and associated diseases.  Just consider some facts:

  • according to Emory University, Americans eat fewer than 70% of their meals at home
  • according to John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, people who frequently cook at home eat healthier and consume fewer calories, eating fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and fats

There are broader social consequences too. According to Washington State University children who grow up in homes where meals are eaten together perform better academically and show fewer tendencies towards engaging in risky behaviour.

Time for a friends & family culinary cook-off?

“Big Food” has been very clever at exploiting our natural bias toward ‘convenience’ – never failing to remind us how busy we are and how bright shiny packages of processed foods can make our lives so much easier – except what ends up on your plate never seems to match the images on the wrapper, while highly processed energy dense ingredients are more like ‘fake food’ than real rood. Meanwhile the rise of ‘Takeaway’ or ‘Takeout’ Apps has helped make us even less inclined to prepare anything. Yet the benefits to be gained from returning to the kitchen and preparing real food are substantial and can make a material impact on your health and quality of life. So why don’t we step into the limelight of our own kitchens, creating our own competitions to become home-grown cooking superstars?

Lights, camera, action

Think of the benefits:

  • Cooking our own meals gives us control over what we eat & how we would like to eat it
  • Better control over the quality of ingredients
  • Better accommodation for any food intolerance or allergies
  • Making your own healthier ‘Takeaway/Takeout’ food
  • Having fun – use the preparation as a way of bonding and competing with friends or family
  • Grasp the opportunity to teach your kids simple cooking skills
  • Experiment with herbs and spices or try new foods – let your imagination rip
  • Enjoy the huge nutritional benefits that can come from a home-cooked meal

As your cooking skills improve you will become more creative and begin to revel in the challenge of preparing a nutritious meal, perhaps trying new, exotic foods, but equally, don’t be afraid to keep it simple; you don’t need to be a cordon-blue chef to cook a wonderful, tasty meal. My main rules are:

  1. choose the best seasonable fresh food you like to eat and can afford
  2. avoid preparation that seems too complex or fussy
  3. let the food do the work

Steam, boil, poach, grill, broil, bake and stir-fry. Just think of the possibilities with all the wonderful ingredients that you can even have delivered to your door. Just take charge of the kitchen, plan ahead and keep the pantry stocked. If you have a busy lifestyle some dishes are perfect for saving precious time across the week. Great foods for freezing include casseroles, stews, chillies, meat loaf, pizza and pastry doughs. So, when cooking up a stew, go LARGE and freeze the leftovers for delicious dinners later in the week. Homemade convenience food is so much better.

What’s more, with the imminent completion of Just Routine, the healthy eating app, before long you will be able to save and share all your wonderful recipes within a real food community.

The time for real nutritious food is now

The development of Just Routine, the healthy eating app, is almost complete. Created to encourage variety, balance and moderation in the consumption of Real Foods, six food groups lie at the core: Protein, Carbohydrates, Legumes, Vegetables, Fruits and Fats. Designed to be inclusive, we avoid cutting out macronutrients to ensure other important nutrients are not excluded. By cutting out the large you risk cutting out the little: micronutrients. Little is important.

We think of it as eating simply, simply eating

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          About the author
Iris is the driving force behind No Targets and a dedicated campaigner for real foods. Having spent years reading research on food she believes what we eat is more important than the calories we consume or burn. “It's about calculating nutrition, not counting calories.”

Iris is the driving force behind No Targets and a dedicated campaigner for real foods. Having spent years reading research on food she believes what we eat is more important than the calories we consume or burn. “It’s about calculating nutrition, not counting calories.”

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