Melting pot: Good Health

Nourishing recipe ideas to support the healthy eating trend

Healthy eating remains the biggest trend of the culinary era – and is even more prevalent in the current coronavirus crisis.

Research by CGA in the second week of lockdown concluded that health and fitness moved up the nation’s priority list in the wake of Covid-19, with 67% agreeing that they were taking precautions to protect their long-term health, such as changing what they eat and drink and how frequently they exercise.

In the same survey, 78% said eating out was the activity they missed the most (second only to visiting relatives) – so there’s a clear appetite for healthy eating out of home post-lockdown.

Here, several chefs and industry experts across a variety of sectors of foodservice share their health-giving tips and recipe suggestions…

MICHELE HARMER head chef, Sambrook House Residential Care Home, Telford We serve homemade soup as a starter every day, always made from fresh ingredients and therefore packed with flavour and nutrients. We don’t do boring flavours – we do things like courgette, cheddar and potato; butternut squash and Philadelphia, and the all-time favourite is butternut squash and sweet potato. Everyone loves it because it’s so smooth and silky. I always use vegetable stock so that it’s suitable for vegetarians and I add a swirl of cream or soya cream to fortify it and make it nice and creamy. Omelettes are another easy-to-eat, healthy dish for care home residents, and can be made to suit everyone’s taste using ingredients like ham, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach and salmon.

CRAIG SMITH national chair of the Hospital Caterers Association
We believe food is the best form of medicine, but it is important to understand that healthy eating in a hospital doesn’t necessarily mean a diet low in calories. Many dietitians and catering staff use the term eating for health instead to refer to a therapeutic diet tailored to the individual. For example, patients with an eating disorder or those undergoing chemotherapy need additional calories within a smaller portion size Equally healthy food for some might be fresh fruit and salads, but for the frail and underweight, it may well be a high calorie, nutritionally dense snack. Ultimately, we would always recommend the Eatwell plate is followed, which promotes a healthy balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein, fibre, fruit and vegetables.

ROBIN DUDLEY business development chef, Essential Cuisine
As chefs, you are in the perfect position to impact the health of the nation. By encouraging people to eat well, utilising tasty, nutrient packed ingredients and providing delicious and wholesome dishes. A healthy, balanced diet utilising the many superfoods available to the working kitchen can play an integral part in the health, wellbeing, and productivity of us all. Our team of development chefs are always coming up with new recipe concepts, such as tofu poke bowls so you can help influence good health and support diners to be at their absolute best. Many of these recipes can be found in Essential Cuisine’s Summer Superfoods recipe book. For the full recipe for the tofu poke bowls, visit
www.stiritupmagazine.co.uk/recipes

ANDREIA HARWOOD head of marketing, Wasabi, one of the restaurant chains feeding NHS workers during the coronavirus crisis
We thought hard about how we could help frontline staff get through the next few weeks as well as making sure that they were looked after nutritionally because it’s incredibly important at the moment that everyone isn’t going hungry. The Home Bento meals are perfect because they’re high in energy-giving carbs to fill you up, and the chicken or veggies also provide protein and essential minerals for busy people. The chicken Thai green curry has steamed green beans, red pepper and bamboo shoots for a hit of vitamins and minerals plus carbs in the form of cooked long grain rice and, of course, char-grilled chicken thigh for protein.

PRESTON WALKER director of Oak House Kitchen and chair of the NACC Midlands Region
Eating for health’ is the primary focus in a care setting. The elderly have different nutritional requirements at different times, depending on, for example, how active they are or if they’re recovering from an illness, and a healthy diet must adapt to these needs. Dishes that may be perceived to be unhealthy could be exactly what an older person needs at that moment in time for good health. One element of healthy eating that is, however, consistent across all the age groups and equally important in a care setting is choice. Variety and a good balance of flavours and textures is essential to create interest and stimulate appetites.

RICHARD DAIBELL kitchen and hospitality compliance manager, Millennium Care Group, Brookdale Care Home, Bury
90% of what we do is fortifying meals. We have a lot of residents with dementia who forget they have eaten so every mouthful they do eat becomes a burst of energy and potentially stops them from losing weight. Many spend a lot of time walking up and down so you’ve got to catch them on the move. Cakes and finger foods are therefore hugely important, and we do afternoon tea every day at 2pm. We use ‘full fat’ milk and cream and add milk powder to everything. We decorate cupcakes with fresh whipped cream and fresh fruit to make them appealing. Care residents can get lethargic and fed up of eating so it can be tricky to keep them motivated to eat. Things like homemade sausage rolls with buttery pastry are good too.

SARAH LESSER-MOOR brand manager for Lion sauces at AAK Foodservice
Salads get a bad rap. All it takes is the right dressing to turn worthy, wholesome ingredients into something really moreish and tasty. Our sauces and new vegan dressings are perfect for adding flavour to salads while keeping them free from egg, dairy or fish. Try a falafel salad with Middle Eastern hot sauce and a pot of vegan garlic mayo on the side; create a crunchy slaw with vegan French dressing for a beetroot, spinach and walnut bowl; or bring a bit of fruity spice to mixed beans with Lion’s new Mango & Lime Piri Piri Sauce.

LAURIE GEAR chef patron, Artichoke chef patron, Artichoke restaurant, Old
Amersham

When looking for health giving ingredients for our restaurant dishes we need look no further than Mother Nature. Our British coastline is packed full of superfoods full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. When in season you will often find sea buckthorn, salty fingers and sea beet adorning our menus. Buckthorn providing a welcome tart sourness in the form of a sorbet to cut any rich counterpart whilst the sea vegetables rich in vitamin B and K pair beautifully with fish and shellfish letting the astringent chlorophyll freshness shine.