Published on the 18th May, 2013 by Azmina
The Department of Health Responsibility Deal has encouraged manufacturers to gradually improve the nutritional content of their products. Restaurants, especially big chains, are printing calorie values on their menus. It’s vital that brands use qualified experts to nutritionally analyse their range, and dietitians need to have the knowledge and skills to provide accurate calorie values on menus and food labels.
I attended last month’s Calories on the Menu course organised by Nutrition & Wellbeing. We met at a convenient location in London and were an intimate group of about 12 people. We had access to a laptop and were coached through the up to date regulations on health claims, front-of-pack labelling, calculating fruit and veg portions in composite foods, and more. We had hands-on training on calculating calories using Saffron software and the delegate handouts were comprehensive and professional. My 10 top tips… (more…)
Published on the 8th May, 2013 by Azmina
Thanks to my friend Sumant Bhal, I was invited to the launch of Moti Mahal Delux in London. I didn’t know what to expect – I’d been told they created legendary dishes but I needed to sample them for myself.
As we walked in, the atmosphere was buzzing. It seemed to me that customers had taken in the aroma of the freshly roasted spices and had been lured into the restaurant even before it was officially opened. We were directed to our seats and then offered a taster menu of various delights. I was particularly interested in the healthier items, so here’s a sample of those dishes that won’t go straight to your waistline.
I had a platter of goodies including some spicy roasted aubergine, grilled chicken tikka, charred tandoori lamb, spicy potato cakes and grilled paneer with roasted tomato. All accompanied by a fresh mint chutney and home-baked naan bread (no butter or ghee on top). (more…)
Published on the 29th Apr, 2013 by Azmina
I was lucky enough to attend the latest Food and Drink Innovation Network Nutrition & Science Claims Masterclass event in Daventry. I haven’t been to one of Jeffrey’s seminars for some time and this was a chance for me to be reminded of how refreshing these events can be. Learning aside, I met some inspiring people, was fed and watered tastefully, and also had a fun time.
Speakers included Dr Carrie Ruxton, Claire Nuttall, Dr Janice Harland, David Jago from Mintel and the eminent Professor Rob Pickard. The short and sharp lectures were interspersed with team exercises and networking opportunities.
10 take-outs from the day:
- The consumer needs to “feel the benefit” if you’re making a nutrition claim. However, adding nutrients doesn’t often translate to benefit for a number of years.
- If the shopper buys something that doesn’t taste good, they’re unlikely to buy it again.
- Let’s get health on the shopping list! Manufacturers need to help people interpret labels and health info (cue the registered dietitian…).
- There are a number of issues consumers are concerned about – bone and health issues are amongst the big ones.
- The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition is reviewing vitamin D and carbohydrate evidence, so there may be more public health campaigns that could work to the benefit of food manufacturers.
- Brands can start the education process by using credible experts to help communicate issues such as bone density in teenagers. This type of responsible advice can help create long-term loyalty to a brand.
- Asian dishes seem to be penetrating much of Europe. There’s a lot of focus on nutrient claims regarding eyesight improvement in countries like Japan and China. New ingredients from Asia will gradually filter through to the UK – we may see more “Beauty Food”.
- Food-based advice is important for brands – how much of a food you need to eat to get a benefit and derive recommended nutrient intakes.
- We can’t get complex science across on a pack, and we need to use consumer-friendly info to help the brain to analyse messages. The brain depends on repeated messages, so brands need to repeat key statements on all communications. Alliteration is an incredibly powerful means of communication.
- You don’t necessarily need to talk about the benefit – other things like graphics on-pack can convey a clear message.
If you want more snippets, check out my tweets below. And you can download the presentations here.
Published on the 12th Apr, 2013 by Azmina
I love ordering this type of dish in restaurants and wanted to create my own healthier (cream-free) version at home in about 15 minutes – so I cheated!
I added one tsp. each of crushed garlic and ginger to a skinless baby chicken, which I asked the butcher to cut into small pieces (you could use boneless chicken thighs or breast, or turkey for this instead). I then coated this in flour and added a little seasoning.
I heated a couple of teaspoons of rapeseed oil and threw in the chicken, stirring it from time to time. Meanwhile, I chopped a green pepper and an onion. Once it was browned (which took just a few minutes), I added the chopped peppers and onions with some semi-skimmed milk (about a mugful), covered the pan and let the chicken cook happily on its own for about 10-15 minutes, stirring now and then, and adding more milk if the sauce was too thick.
This lower fat yet creamy velvety dish was then brought to life with some chopped flat leaf parsley, and I devoured it with some mustard mashed potato and green beans. Want some?
Published on the 8th Mar, 2013 by Azmina
I’m working with Change4life to help get us eating better and moving more. Today I was on Sky breakfast news talking about the latest survey of 2000 mums around the challenges of cooking from scratch. The story is also in the Metro, Daily Mail online, Express and more.
Time and confidence are the main barriers that mums report when it comes to preparing meals for their families:
- Over half (51%) of those surveyed said the reason they don’t cook more often is because it is too time consuming;
- Almost a quarter of mums (24%) said they don’t cook from scratch more because they don’t know how to; and
- Almost three quarters (71%) said they eat convenience foods instead of cooking from scratch because they are quicker to prepare.
The survey was commissioned for Change4Life’s Be Food Smart healthy eating campaign, which aims to lift the lid on the hidden nasties – salt, sugar and saturated fat – found in many popular foods, particularly convenience meals.
It’s understandable that over time eating habits change and that the time-pushed mums of today aren’t necessarily going to approach cooking family dinners in the way their own mothers once did. However, many take-aways and processed foods can contain high levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat, so shoppers needed to be encouraged to buy healthier options whist still taking short-cuts to fit in with demands on their time. (more…)
Published on the 11th Feb, 2013 by Azmina
Keep a note of what you’re eating, when, how much, and your mood at the time. This can help you lose weight! Research suggests that simply knowing and recording your eating habits makes you more conscious of what you’re eating and that in turn leads to improvements because you’ve got your brain in gear.
Print off your Food & Mood Diary by right clicking the table below, and saving it.
Published on the 11th Feb, 2013 by Azmina
Warning: you will need a large supply of napkins before you dig in!
This is one of my easy short-cut recipes that always goes down a treat. Simply mix together a tablespoon (tbsp.) of olive oil, 2tbsp honey, 2tbsp light soy sauce, 2 teaspoons (tsp.) coarse grain mustard, 1 tsp. crushed garlic and a huge handful of freshly chopped coriander leaves. (more…)
Published on the 19th Jan, 2013 by Azmina
I had only a few small pieces of chicken in the fridge yet needed to feed the family. So I improvised to find a way to bulk up my chicken with whatever else was in the fridge and ended up with this delicious and easy concoction of pan-fried chicken on the bone with onions, peppers and jalapenos. I decided to call it Spanish Chicken because of the lovely Mediterranean ingredients and hot japapenos.
I put some pasta on the boil and just added some dried roasted garlic and olive oil to it. It worked beautifully and we had clean plates all round!
Here’s what I did: (more…)
Published on the 3rd Jan, 2013 by Azmina
Just returned from a sofa chat on ITV Daybreak studios with John Stapleton and Helen Fospero, and today we were talking about healthy living campaign Change4Life survey results on what consumers know about nutrition. Watch one minute of the interview.
Two thousand adults took the newly launched ‘Food IQ’ quiz, designed to highlight levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat in popular foods. The results show that the majority of people are largely unaware of what is in their food – with over three quarters (77%) of respondents’ Food IQs rating as low (scoring 50% or under).
I’m not surprised that people have low awareness. I wouldn’t expect the average person to know that a cheese and ham sandwich has more salt than a packet of crisps. We’re bombarded with different nutritional messages from websites, magazines, even celebrities; often this can be confusing.
And you need to be really label savvy to make healthier choices. Food labels need to be simpler. We don’t often realize that there’s hidden salt in bread or that a fruity cereal bar could be packed with sugar. Cakes & biscuits have hidden fat and sugar, and cured meats, cheese, & breakfast cereals can be high in salt.
Published on the 2nd Jan, 2013 by Azmina
You don’t need me to tell you which foods are fattening; you probably already know that. You don’t need me to tell you to cut down on your portion size – you know that too. But you might not know what makes you reach for unhealthy foods, and what gets in the way of you keeping to your goals – that’s where I come in!
I’m a believer in the slow and steady approach to weight loss, and the more success I have in helping people avoid yoyo dieting, the more I am convinced that the trick is to find ways to make a healthier lifestyle fit around you, not the other way around.
There’s good published research to suggest that if you tackle your weight issues with good behaviour-change tools, you’re more likely to lose weight and most importantly, keep it off. Having practised behaviour-change strategies for years, I believe the Counterweight method is an effective way to lose weight. Here’s why, and what it could mean for you…
Why count on Counterweight?
This programme fits me like a glove because all my working life I’ve ensured my advice is based on good published evidence that encourages realistic weight loss. This philosophy promotes simple ways to change your eating behaviour, your activity levels and crucially, the thought processes that led you to becoming overweight in the first place! This is exactly the type of thinking that I practise and believe in; there’s no point in learning about fat and calories if we’re still holding on to those old habits that make us overeat.