6 August 2013

Adding a litte sugar and salt to homemade food is not sacriligious - is it?

I keep reading article after article from Europe and especially the US regarding ways that the government and key organisations are tackling obesity and illnesses associated with unhealthy eating habits. They talk constantly about reducing the calorie intake by limiting snacks, regulating portion size of fizzy drinks and the like and eliminating foods with high sugar and sodium content. This is all good if at the same time children are having cookery lessons where they learn the benefits of healthy eating and basic recipes which give them a starting block to go home and cook with their parents. It's one thing to take away the favoured snack, but you need to replace it with tasty food that the children actually enjoy eating. Otherwise the forbidden food becomes even more of a wanted thing and children's cravings become uncontrollable.

my delicious tomato salsa with the tiniest pinch of salt
In the UK, I read articles saying that you should omit sugar and salt from children's meals. When I cook at home I always add a little salt to what I am cooking because adding 1/2 tsp of salt to a meal for 4-6 people is hardly a lot - the key is I want the food to taste good. We should look more to French and Italian cuisine (to name a few) to get our ideas when we teach children. On the southern continent they use the raw ingredient and by adding a little salt they are enhancing the taste of a piece of meat, fish or vegetable. In addition a tsp. of sugar in a tomato sauce goes a long way to making it very tasty. For example, our tomatoes in the UK are not that sweet as they don't receive the sweetening rays of sunshine that tomatoes on the Southern Continent receive. A little sugar does not hurt when you are enhancing the flavour of food.

By adding sugar and salt to food, especially when teaching children to cook, allows us to explain to them about moderation. By totally ignoring the issue and pushing it under the carpet will only result in children yearning more for the so called 'forbidden' fruits.

I recently attended a cooking course aimed at teaching children cookery in schools. One of the recipes was chickpea and cauliflower curry with turmeric and other spices. It was the most tasteless curry I have ever tasted and all you could taste was the turmeric - which if any of you use it in your cooking will know, it is not the most pleasant taste in the world. Why was it tasteless - because the recipe did not have any salt in it because it was aimed at children (not 12 month year olds but children from 5 upwards who are allowed a little salt in their diets). Well, if this is the food we are going to serve up our children in schools, then there is no surprise we have such a huge food problem in this country.

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