Confused by food….lets be friends!

Food glorious food…lets be friends!

Eating healthily really begins with understanding food and choosing foods which fuel our body and give us the energy we need. I often hear people say they can’t cook or are intimidated by recipe books or quite simply they just don’t know much about food so this article is a first attempt to demystify food and bring it back to the basics. If it looks like an apple…then it probably is just an apple!

Intimidated by recipes

Most anglo-saxon countries (in this I include the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) seem to have a love-hate relationship with food. At one end of the scale we have huge food manufacturers filling our supermarkets with pre-packed, processed products and fast food outlets offering fried, filled, and foreign objects disguised as food. At the other end we have uber yummy mummy farmer’s markets selling oh-so chic black carrots and kale for our juicers (obviously all organic darling!) and boutique bistrots offering whole-food, raw-food or no food! So what’s the middle ground and why can’t we find a healthy relationship with food?

I have lived in France, currently live in Italy and have travelled widely in Europe and my general impression of these cultures is that they have a healthy relationship with food. The Mediterranean diet is formally recognised as a “type” of diet and lifestyle which can promote longevity. Ultimately don’t we all want to live a long and healthy life? So what is so different in Mediterranean countries? In a nutshell…food is an integral part of their culture. They shop at markets, independent food stores which specialise in bread, cheese, pastries, etc and whilst supermarkets and multi-nationals have brought some processed foods they have not eroded the culture for real food and the love of cooking.


Start at the beginning…

We need food to survive so we need to have a helpful relationship with food. My general philosophy when shopping is to start at the beginning and by this I mean the original ingredient eg. If you want to eat an apple then buy a bag of apples. Apple strings, laces, snack bars, juices and the many many forms of apple products now available for adults and kids have all been manufactured and the nutritional content will not be the same as a simple apple. Likewise a piece of fish will most likely be better than a fish finger and so on and so forth. But this doesn’t help those of us who are unsure about cooking and what to do with the ingredients.

Apple peeler From this to…Green apple sour strings

Cook smart…

Smart cooking is about finding a style of cooking that fits in with your life and lifestyle. Simple styles of cooking are often the best for ingredients and help them retain more of their nutritional values. If we take our piece of fish above… put a splash of olive oil in a fry pan on a low heat…put the fish in…cover with a lid so the fish steams…5-7 minutes later it will be cooked. Just as quick as grilling fish fingers. If you don’t know much about cooking then try simple dishes like soups and casseroles first. You can literally place all of your chopped ingredients into a pan, cover with water, put a lid on and leave to cook on a low heat for c. 40 mins to longer (according to the recipe). Meat becomes tenderer if you cook it slowly for a longer period. A while back I also wrote about embracing cold foods such as salads which you just need to wash and chop. They are a great way to eat 6 or 7 different salad vegetables together. I published a few simple recipes on in the article “Can’t boil an egg? 10-minute-family-friendly-dishes”. Start small and make it smart. Complicated recipes can be confusing for confident cooks so stay within your comfort zone.



Get a balance…

Eating healthily comes down to balance and getting a good balance of foods in your diet. The greater variety of foods you eat the bigger selection of vitamins and minerals you will eat. If you don’t know much about food then I would suggest having fun with it. Buy a few random pieces of fruit or vegetables that you haven’t tried before and see if you like them. Experiment with fish knowing that most can be cooked as described above. Food comes in all shapes and sizes and you never know what you might like.


Have fun…

Remember the famous purple soup in the film Bridget Jones diaries? Play and play and have fun as food is ultimately our friend. We may all be dazzled by master chef specialities on tv but at home, after a long day at work or with the kids, what we need is a simple, delicious and balanced dinner. I often cook with my eldest daughter and its fun to eat the mis-shaped biscuits, squidgy bits of banana, soggy toast that she often presents us. Share the fun with friends and family and make your food journey all the more glorious!




2 Responses to “Confused by food….lets be friends!”
  1. My favorite way of eating. Nicely done.

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