Well welcome to my blog that I am going to attempt to write every week. Along with giving you a recipe from my collection to help in your quest to feed you family, keep healthy, stay within budget or whatever your goals may be. I have come from a long career in food starting when I was about 10 years old when I used to cook the family meals most nights. Both my parents worked so my sister and I were expected to help out and I really enjoyed the cooking side of things. We had an interesting upbringing in that my dad has Type 1 Diabetes and back then he had a strict insulin regime that required getting dinner on the table exactly at 6pm. Cooking for someone with diabetes also meant cooking fairly healthy food with minimal sugar addition.
After High School I attended Otago University, completing a Degree in Human Nutrition which was ALL about healthy food. After this I completed a Certificate in Cookery at Otago Polytechnic which was based around traditional French Cooking – Making stocks from scratch, using lashings of butter and cream and making sure everything is seasoned well – Yum. This started my love affair of sugar and fat!!
Needless to say I had to exercise A LOT so I could eat what I wanted (within reason). I always saw the need for plenty of fruit and vegetables so combined my love of sugar and fat with healthy stuff to maintain good health. After all its all about balance!
When I met Sean I was working as a Dietitian at Wellington Hospital. The first gift he gave me after a couple of dates was a pair of Red-Band Gumboots! Most of our time spent together then consisted of me traipsing around the country shifting stock on the numerous 10acre blocks that he had. Before Sean I thought all beef was and tasted the same and there was no difference to store bought or varieties of vegetables, fruit, milk butter etc. I now realise there is a difference. NZ butter is a completely different colour to American butter – NZ butter is yellow because of the Vitamin A content that comes from a cow eating grass. In America majority of cows are feed grains which is not a natural food for a cow so there is no Vitamin A and hence the butter is whiter in colour. Vitamin A is an essential fat soluble vitamin important for eye-sight, growth and fertility. There have been old-fashioned apples found that are packed full of vitamins, much more than are found in our modern, genetically modified, large varieties. And then beef – I had no idea beef could be tender and flavoursome until Sean introduced me to Angus Beef. When I cooked It, it seemed I could not ruin it.
Food has been modified over the years to suit trends and fix problems with yields e.g. vegetables and fruits modified genetically to make them safe from certain pests so pesticides are not needed to be sprayed, and cattle was bred with bigger breeds in the 1970’s as the trend of “bigger is better” and also low fat diets were around. The result of “bigger is actually not better” because the bigger animals are harder feed and keep condition on. In America majority of cattle are raise in feed-lots where they are fed grain not grass, and do minimal exercise. This alters the composition of fats in the meat to be more saturated (or bad fats). This phenomena has also been seen in chicken where free-range or exercising chickens develop more omega 3 &6 fats (good fats) in their leg muscles than caged chickens.
So the biggest development I have seen in my career as an average cook has been that not all food is the same. However we are all governed by our finances and access to the foods we want to eat. I think the thing to remember is this – do the best you can and don’t expect to be perfect. I have found having children a big hindrance to eating healthy. They don’t like new things or things that are mixed together! I am a big believer is making one meal for the whole family so unfortunately I find myself making food that my kids will enjoy rather than myself. Its been a long time since I made a curry, ate lentils or a fried rice one pot meal using leftovers and all the old veges. Hence I am just an average mum!