I spent a very enjoyable day last week at the lovely, kitchen envy inducing, Cheshire Cookery School courtesy of Total Greek Yoghurt.
Total were having an event for bloggers and very kindly invited me along. Interestingly, the day was lead by nutritionist Martin MacDonald, and the focus was healthier eating. Not something readers of my blog would recognise as an interest of mine, but it was a really useful experience.
We went round the room, with yoghurt-based smoothies in hand, explaining what we blogged about and why we where there: weight loss, mental health, family health, sports training…then we came to me. ‘Er, well actually, we eat really well in our house, maybe a bit too well, and I go to cake club once a month where there are over 20 cakes.’ I sucked in my stomach and made a mental note to walk more and eat less.
I needn’t have worried though. Martin was really interesting and engaging and I think that the stuff he said was useful for everyone, no matter what our goals in life.
For example, salt. I’d say that I cook 90% of our food from scratch but I still worry about salt- I don’t add it to cooking water, I don’t add it when making pasta sauces, curry sauces etc. In fact I only season with salt when I have roast beef or PMT and my body is crying for it. Martin reckons that if your diet is mainly of the unprocessed kind like mine, then there is no need to worry about adding salt and that in fact, we need to be adding salt to ensure we get some in to our bodies.
Next up, fat. Butter and lard are good to cook with, oils not so good. This was turning out to be my kind of nutrition! I didn’t realise that oils such as vegetable which are highly processed are also bleached as part of that process- urg. Olive oil is ok, as long as you use it raw or at very low temperatures. If you eat less than 15% fat in your diet you risk hormonal disruptions. Oh and add fat at breakfast (ie a 5% yoghurt) and you will feel fuller for longer. I’m giving that a go so I might be able to give up my mid morning banana.
The most interesting part of the nutrition stuff for me was about vitamin D. You are more likely to get a Vit D deficiency if you are on a low-fat diet because you need fat to absorb it. The sunny vitamin, I always thought that a few hours outside would help be absorb more. But my ginger genes and pale skin mean I wear factor 30 at the slightest hint of sun and apparently sun screen blocks Vit D absorption.
After all the chat, we were let loose in the kitchen! I teamed up with Danni who blogs and tweets at Hungry, Healthy, Happy . She’s lost 98 lbs and looks bloody amazing– what a lady!
First up, we made almond cookies- see recipe here. These were Martin’s ‘healthier’ cookies- using almonds, Stevia and coconut oil. Too delicious to wait to eat, we snuck a couple straight from the oven. Heavenly. We had them served with yoghurt when still slightly warm as dessert. I love almond cakes, but have never used in cookies before. These have gone to the top of my favourite biscuit list, and I will be making them again very soon.
We then made a penang curry with peppers, mushrooms, beans and again coconut oil and milk. The creaminess came courtesy of 5% Total yoghurt. I normally use loads of coconut milk in a curry like this so this was a great alternative. I also discovered something called cauliflower rice. We shoved half a cauli in a processor and blitzed until breadcrumb-like. It was then heated in the microwave for a minute. The result is a cous-cous like side dish which you can eat as much as you like without worrying about carbs. This was a complete eye opener for me. Not normally a cauli fan, but this was great. Can’t wait to put it in front of my hubby and see if he realises what it is!
Being a civilised bunch, we all ate lunch together and shared stories before heading on our way.
I had a great day- it was interesting and useful and great to meet other bloggers (including Jules from GoodGobble who I tweet with – always good to put a face to a name!). Martin was a brilliant host and Total kindly sent me on my way with some tubs which I am already working my way through. Thanks to Alison from Total for inviting me and for giving me some food for thought!
All images courtesy TOTAL / David Burrows Photography