Happy New Year.
Have you ever noticed how many references to food there are in all forms of media at this time of year? All of them seem to be telling us to lose weight, or not to eat too much of this food or that one not to mention drinking!! There are also those that talk about lifestyle changes and what you should or should not be doing. Sometimes, there are so many articles and posts that people are more likely to switch off and carry on as before – the New Year, New You idea lost completely.
I have long been an advocate of Balance. Balance in eating, in exercise (calories in balanced with calories out), Balance in life. If you have over-indulged at Christmas then there is a case for redressing that balance in January.
Following a request for a cake that would be OK for those with pre-diabetes or even Type 2-diabetes, I’ve recently developed a range of Low and No-Carbohydrate cakes; specifically an Orange and Almond cake and a Chocolate and Raspberry cake. Yes, I know that it doesn’t sound very good to eat, but they are actually delicious, and they have the added advantage of being gluten free as well (though because I use flour and gluten products in my kitchen, I cannot say that they are suitable for coeliac sufferers, but they will be for those with an intolerance to gluten). The cakes use a natural sugar substitute and ground almonds to provide the structure and bulk of the cake to replace the function of the flour. (For anybody local to Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, they can be found at the Innovations café).
Sugar remains the ‘bad’ ingredient in foods that we need to cut down on, particularly children, who, in general, are eating more than the recommended adult serving, according to recent reports. There is even talk of a ‘Pudding Tax’ to make sweet foods more expensive and therefore a treat rather than an everyday food. There is also a theory that if children and young people are encouraged to cook at home, they will eat a healthier diet. This is great. But, the problem with this is that the first thing that most children start with, whether cooking with parents, grandparents, or friends is the batch of buns or biscuits. These are ‘safe’ to make. They do not need any equipment that has sharp bits, they require very little skill – beating all the ingredients together in a bowl till well mixed and then putting them in cake cases is not that great a skill – and you can get to eat them fairly quickly after for a quick reward.
So, what can you cook with children that does not require too much effort and skill, has quick results and doesn’t contain sugar? What about a One-Pot Noodle – I know this is a trade name but at least you will know what I mean. You can use frozen vegetables – often nutritionally better than fresh as they are frozen soon after harvesting, especially peas – so there are no sharp knives involved and make it any flavour that you want depending on the sauce that you add. I have done this with Year 5 students in primary school classrooms, so I know that it works.
So – place a handful of dry noodles (the fine noodles are good), and a handful of frozen vegetables into a bowl/cup/useful microwaveable container and cover with boiling water. (some adult supervision may be required here). Microwave on high power for about 2 minutes so that the noodles can absorb the water and become soft. The timing depends on your microwave, the size of the noodles and the amount of water and may need to be adjusted. If you are using fresh noodles, you need to add a little water so that they do not stick. Tear or cut, (you can use a table knife if doing this with young children) slices of cooked meat into small pieces and add to the container. Obviously, vegetarians can add more vegetables, including beans, or use a protein substitute. Stir together with a low-sugar sauce of choice and eat.
Till next time