In the times recently, there was an article concerning “the balanced diet and how little we pay attention to such an important part of our lifestyle”.
The reason I was interested – my daughter Charlotte, who as I have mentioned before has been a pescatarian for about 18 months, recently had blood tests because she was not feeling on top of her game. She, being a teenager, thought she was most probably gluten intolerant or some such (dare I say it) ‘trendy’ dietary problem. It turned out that her actual diet was at fault – she had B12 and iron deficiency, which could be fixed with the odd piece of red meat and more leafy greens.
This did start me thinking about ‘the balanced diet’ and how a cook like me always feels that he eats well, just because I don’t eat a lot of junk food, am keen on vegies and in recent years do not eat huge amounts of red meat. But, I also looked at other areas of my diet and was a little dismayed. Of course, I imbibe too much (alcohol, that is), but not as much as I once did. And, unlike Frank Zappa, tobacco is not and has never been my favourite vegetable. But, when I look at other things I should be eating, there certainly are deficiencies in my diet – according to The Times expert anyway. At my age, I should be including more foods that are high in Vitamins C and E. There’s plenty of C in berries, capsicums, citrus fruit, tomatoes and yes brussels sprouts, and Vitamin E in sunflower seeds, almonds, sunflower oil, hazelnuts and peanut butter. Supposedly, intake of same lower the risk of inflammatory disease and cancers. And, whilst I’m alright in the C category, my intake as far as E goes is non-existent. But it also says that getting Beta Carotene from carrots, sweet potatoes and apricots will also help build up the body’s defences against serious diseases. All of them favourites.
But I do sometimes feel that experts in the field, instead of telling us what we shouldn’t eat, should tell us what we should. Because, after this helpful advice, I find a list of all the things I shouldn’t be eating and, to be fair, it doesn’t leave a lot. Actually, my mate Dr John Tickell, who specialises in such things, makes a lot more sense when he talks of a sensible diet being made up of two-thirds fruit and vegies to one-third meat, poultry and seafood, and being careful about the cooking methods. For example, unlike my mother and grandmother, don’t fry everything in tonnes of butter (although they both lived into their nineties). Which reminds me of this quote from Jean Kerr:
“If you have formed the habit of checking out every new diet, you will be left with one definite piece of information – French Fries are out.”
We also spoke last week of sitting down at the table, which is a healthier way to eat, rather than wolfing it down – not giving the food a chance to be digested properly. So, a balanced diet can be as simple as putting a little thought into it. I think most of us realise what we are doing wrong and realise that leafy greens, pulses and grains are a lot better for us than a greasy hamburger or even a 500 gm steak and chips. And, we also know that the next time our doctor asks about our alcohol intake and we halve it, he is not believing a word of it and is most probably tripling it.
And, to finish, a few interesting points from The Times article:
• For the kids – at exam time, eating a little dark chocolate might give teenagers improved brain function, as will a smoothie made with 220 gm blueberries two hours before an exam.
• Beware of going dairy free – all ages. Can result in an iodine efficiency, which can lead to thyroid disorders leading to low energy levels and poor metabolism.
• For us oldies, one or two serves of leafy vegies may improve mental abilities and can result in less confusion and an increase in attention span (although, I’m not sure it’s working for me).
Listen to the podcast here.
STEAMED CHICKEN WITH SOY, ORANGE & STAR ANISE
Combine grated ½ cm piece fresh ginger with 1 finely chopped small chilli, 1 tbsp Japanese soy sauce, ½ tbsp Mirin (Japanese rice wine), ½ tbsp Sake, the juice and finely grated zest of ½ orange, 2 star anise and a pinch of sugar. Mix well and add 1 skinless chicken breast. Marinate for 30 mins.
Then put the chicken and some of the marinade in a fairly shallow bowl and steam in a bamboo steamer over simmering water. Cook for 10 mins and then add Asian greens, such as bok choy leaves, Chinese broccoli, snowpeas, etc. and cook for another minute or two.
Serve the chicken on the greens with cooking juices over the top and rice alongside.
Who Is Iain “Huey” Hewitson
Born 4 October 1948 (age 69)
Otaki, New Zealand
Iain “Huey” Hewitson (born 4 October 1948 in Otaki), is a New Zealand-born chef, restaurateur, author, and television personality who moved to Australia in 1972. He is best known for his television involvement with Network Ten. He was also the face of supermarket chain BI-LO.
image for illustration only.