|Couldn't get a pic of Nigella or Jamie (copyright) so here's a pretty pic instead|
It's Christmas, so I'm allowed to go completely off piste. Here goes...
Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Hugh and Lorraine are in the spotlight today after a report by public health experts at Newcastle University. The report analysed some of the celebs' popular recipes and compared the nutritional content to a random selection of ready meals. It found that the celeb recipes contained less fibre and more energy, protein, fat and saturated fat than ready meals.
And because of that, they would be more likely to attract - gasp! - red 'traffic light' warning symbols.
Oh. Dear. God. Haven't we missed the point here?
The real issue is not about the fat content of a home-cooked recipe; it's about gently educating those who consider a bucket of cake bites to be an appropriate meal for a five-year-old. And how should we do that? By casting doubt on the wisdom of cooking from scratch? Durr....
Scarcely a week passes without Jamie/Hugh/someone waving a bunch of green stuff at our screens and enthusing about its goodness. Should we frown on that enthusiasm for fresh veg simply because they then add a béchamel sauce with - horrors - some salt, pepper and a sprinkling of gruyère?
Should we ask Lorraine stop with the butter? How dare you show people how to make pastry from scratch; get thee to Morrisons and buy some in a packet containing Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids!
It's nonsense isn't it?
Yes, occasionally home cooking will be higher in fat than ready meals. Occasionally.
But the point of home cooking is that it is a way of life. Sometimes it's plain, sometimes glamorous, sometimes complete overblown gluttony, hurrah!
What would you rather we taught our children? That ready meals are the way to go? That packaging is just an unfortunate side effect, but it's OK because your meal has an amber traffic light? And - hello - the salt content of ready meals? The preponderance of glucose-fructose syrup?
Gah - health experts - what planet are you on?
The way to a leaner nation lies in educating people about food (and exercise) and showing them that cooking at home with real ingredients - and yes sometimes they'll be high in fat - should be the norm. And that a ready meal from a microwave is not healthy just because experts say so.
So leave the chefs and bakers alone! Let them wax lyrical about the roux method and poaching and other skills that we are learning to forget.
Maybe then we'll raise a generation that can rub fat into flour and can whip up a - salty - onion gravy should the need arise.
Do I hear an amen?
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