You may have seen a report in the press today that researchers from Newcastle University have found that recipes by TV chefs are not as healthy as ready meals! On average, they stated that meals in the chef’s books were less healthy and “more likely to achieve red traffic light labels”. Are things as simple as the research states?
At Great British Chefs we aim to bring you hundreds of delicious recipes from some of the country’s greatest award winning chefs. Many of our recipes include butter, cream, sugar, cheese, duck fat and other ingredients that if eaten every day would not necessarily do a lot to tackle obesity. So the claim from the students at Newcastle Uni could easily be levelled against most food website and indeed a number of best selling cookery books.
The research which was published in the BMJ, is not stating that ready meals are the answer to great health either. Prof Martin White, from the Institute of Health and Society at the university, told the BBC: “Both ready meals and those by TV chefs are not as healthy as they could be. We’re not bashing TV chefs, among them are chefs that have done a huge amount for healthy eating and tackling obesity.”
Just as well, as one of the chefs in their study was Jamie Oliver who has long been campaigning for healthy eating in schools. A spokesperson for Jamie quite rightly said the following: ”We welcome any research which raises debate on these issues. We would regard the key issue to be food education so that people are aware of which foods are for every day and which are treats to be enjoyed occasionally.”
Isn’t this one of the key issues? We’ve all heard the phrase “a little of what you fancy does you good”. One argument is that using good quality ingredients (regardless of the fat content) means that you can potentially use smaller amounts. Also well sourced food is not laden with preservatives that are found in ready meals.
The researchers also said that most people take it for granted that home-cooked food is better for us than something that comes ready-prepared in a carton. However, the researchers have not really looked wider than calorie content when making this claim.
How do you measure the joy and satisfaction of preparing a meal from scratch to popping something in a microwave? Much of the satisfaction of a meal also comes from the look of a dish. It’s impossible to compare a microwaved lasagne or macaroni cheese with a well baked one that’s come straight from your oven.
Then there is the issue of packaging. Most would agree that ready meals are over packaged which not only adds to the cost of the meal, but brings along environmental concerns too.
What are your thoughts on the research? Do you think ready meals are healthier than the recipes from your favourite chefs and their recipe books? What about nutritional information? Would you agree with the researchers in that nutritional values that you find on packaged food should be put on websites, TV programmes and in cookery books? What of the argument that some TV chef’s dishes are so unhealthy they ought to be subjected to the 9pm watershed?
Let us know your thoughts over on Great British Chefs Facebook Page.