Don't get fooled by the foodie revolution
It's great to see so many of us taking an interest in new foods and cooking methods, but do you really know what's in that pre-packaged meal? The only way to ensure you're eating 100pc healthy foods is to cook for yourself, writes Karl Henry
Ingredients like stevia, quinoa, desiccated coconut, dried basil; methods such as poaching, steaming, baking; and cookbooks and foodie columns have never been more popular. Every week there is a new book out and every paper and magazine you read is awash with recipes and stunningly photographed foods that make you foam at the mouth in anticipation.
It's great to see these recipes and even better to see food being so popular; it's such a crucial component of health that can so often be forgotten. All of the training in the world won't out-train a bad diet, and this becomes especially true as you get older. We live in a world where processed food seems to be one of the reasons for the obesity and health epidemic that we are facing on a national and global level.
But I wonder, are all of these recipe books scaring off those who actually need to cook? Those who have the most to gain? Complicated ingredients and long lists of products can look scary to someone who doesn't have the skills to match. While I admit I am not the world's greatest chef, these recipes freak me out more often than not.
So that got me thinking, wouldn't it be cool to teach an average chef how to cook? To keep things simple, with few ingredients and meals that are quick to cook? That's something that I would read and actually do myself.
Through my Twitter and Instagram accounts I have been posting easy-to-follow recipes and already there has been great feedback from clients and people who always wanted to cook more, but didn't know how.
You don't actually realise what is going into the food that you buy packaged with long shelf lives until you start to cook them yourself. The difference in taste, colour and nutritional quality is incredible, and the reality is that anyone can cook. Stocking up on simple ingredients that become the staple of your kitchen means that you can cook lots of meals easily.
Here are some benefits that cooking for yourself can provide:
• Improve your energy
• Improve your sleep
• Lose weight
• Lower your cholesterol
• Improve your skin
• Learn skills
• Improve your mood
It's a nice list isn't? Well all of those things are there for you, it's just a matter of taking that first step, like any goal I suppose. Begin with your kitchen, ensuring that you have the utensils, pots, pans and some sharp knives too. That's the structure organised. From there there are a few things that I always have in my kitchen:
• Donegal rapeseed oil - great for cooking meats and vegetables
• A mixture of vegetables, ideally whatever is in season
• Greek yoghurt, very handy for sauces
• Lean meats: chicken, turkey or beef
• Spices, chilli or tabasco sauce provide a great way to improve flavour and taste as well as being great for your health
• Jumbo porridge oats, not only great for breakfast but also for use in granola bars etc
With these ingredients you can make a host of healthy dishes, cooking them using a pan, wok or double-sided grill.
Don't worry, I'm not going to bombard you each week with recipes, but every now and again I will pop one in for you to try or you can follow me on @karlhenrypt on Instagram to get some more simple ideas. Try this scrumptious turkey burger recipe for starters.