Today’s Telegraph article Celebrity Chefs – Are they making us ill? reveals, from my recipe analysis, that the meals we make after watching our favourite chefs on TV or reading their books may not always be all that healthy.
I analysed a range of recipes, from indulgent desserts like chocolate hazelnut cheesecake to mealtime staples like shepherds’ pie. While you might expect a Nigella dessert to be loaded with sugar and fat, which is fine once in a while, you may be more surprised to find a fail-safe family favourite like shepherds’ pie to contain over 100% of the guideline daily amount for saturated fat in one serving.
Much as the evidence linking saturated fat to heart health is equivocal at best, that doesn’t mean we can smother our food in butter and feast on monster-sized portions and expect to stay the same weight.
While it’s great that chefs encourage cooking from scratch, using fresh and unrefined ingredients (white bread and Nutella aside!) there is still an obsession with adding huge glugs of oil and handfuls of butter, which ramp up the calorie count of meals unnecessarily. Not to mention the amount of high salt ingredients, when you can add taste with herbs, spices, lemon and lots of other salt free, tasty ingredients.
When cooking, try to use less butter and oil and go for a grated strong cheese instead of slices as it goes further while still giving a lovely taste. Trim the fat from meat where possible and opt for leaner cuts. Avoid smoked foods where you can and add herbs, spices, lemon, onion and other strong tasting foods to flavour, instead of salt. Lastly, replace refined carbohydrates like white bread, flour and rice with wholemeal versions and use a bit less sugar. Cinnamon and vanilla add a sweet taste without the need for tons of the white stuff.
So, I’d advise that we take these recipes with a pinch of errr… turmeric. They’re fabulous for a dinner party or special occasion but stick to healthier options for your weekday family meals.