Nutrition in the Home Kitchen

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

I have been working as a chef for the last seventeen years but my attitude towards food and ingredients has taken a complete U-turn over the last couple of years when I began to study nutrition and obtained a diploma as a nutritional advisor. When you start out as a chef you are always trying to create dishes that taste and look amazing, and you generally don’t have the nutrition content of a meal at the top of your priority list when planning menus. I love heading out with friends and family and dining in amazing restaurants and treating myself to warm chocolate brownies, butter based sauces and all the other delicious things that we chefs make, but what I eat at home is completely different. It’s all about eating as healthily as possible.

It is all too easy these days to head to your local supermarket and buy a concoction of processed food that really only satisfies your taste buds, quenches the hungry feeling in your belly and provides very little nutritional content. There is a great divide in the world of food today. We have amazing small producers who are using traditional farming methods to produce free range, natural and organic, great tasting nutritious food versus large companies who work in industrial kitchens and science labs mass-producing food as cheaply as possible whilst trying to make it look attractive, with their main focus being on profit and taste.

We, as the consumer, really have to question what we are putting in our shopping trollies. The food we eat is probably the most important factor in ensuring that we can maintain optimal health. We need to shop like our parents, grandparents and great grandparents would have. We also have a responsibility to educate our children in making good food choices.

So what should we eat? This is the million dollar question and the great news is that the answer is extremely simple. The solution: EAT REAL FOOD. Fill your shopping trollies with good quality meat, fish and eggs. Then pack in as much seasonal fruit and vegetables that you can and finally get yourself some nuts, seeds and a good bottle of olive oil and that’s it. Cook like your great grandparents would have, stews, broths, roasts, being thrifty with your food and trying to cut back on waste. By eating real food you are guaranteed to look and feel better. Cut back on sugar and processed food. Always read the labels on the food you buy. If don’t understand what any of the ingredients listed are or where they come from then please don’t put them in your body.  Eat the food that grows naturally, it’s what we are designed to eat. Below is a recipe for a Fruity Lamb Tagine that is both simple and nutritious.

Fruity Lamb Tagine

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g lean diced lamb
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 large carrots, quartered lengthways and cut into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp ras-el-hanout or piri piri spice mix (see tip, below)
  • 400g tomato passata
  • 400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 200g dried apricots
  • 400ml chicken stock

To serve

  • 120g pomegranate seeds
  • 2 large handfuls coriander, roughly choppe

Method

  • Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Heat the oil in a casserole and brown the lamb on all sides. Scoop the lamb out onto a plate, then add the onion and carrots and cook for 2-3 mins until golden. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min more. Stir in the spices and tomatoes, and season. Tip the lamb back in with the chickpeas and apricots. Pour over the stock, stir and bring to a simmer. Cover the dish and place in the oven for 1 hr.
  • If the lamb is still a little tough, give it 20 mins more until tender. When ready, leave it to rest so it’s not piping hot, then serve scattered with pomegranate and herbs, with couscous or rice alongside
  • Tip

 

Spice mix

Ras el hanout, a North African spice mix, contains cardamom, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, turmeric and black pepper. Find it in larger supermarkets, or use a mix of the spices above.

 


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