It is dif­fi­cult to avoid the moun­tains of fat and salt

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

tephanie Alexan­der’s most cher­ished child­hood mem­o­ries are watch­ing her mother at the kitchen ta­ble knead­ing dough for bread rolls and cut­ting up ap­ples for a pie. But the cook and restau­ra­teur says chil­dren and young peo­ple are no longer get­ting these ba­sic cook­ing skills from par­ents and grand­par­ents, and as a re­sult face a poor nu­tri­tional fu­ture. Alexan­der, whose mam­moth and en­cy­clopaedic recipe book The Cook’s Com­pan­ion is an Aus­tralian clas­sic, , will re­lease a new com­pen­dium this week — The he Cook’s Ap­pren­tice — in a bid to at­tract a new gen­er­a­tion of young cooks back into the kitchen. “I still feel an aw­ful lot of peo­ple are shy­ing away from cook­ing be­cause they’re anx­ious and, for what­ever rea­son, are not con­fi­dent in the kitchen,” Alexan­der tells BW Mag­a­zine. “This This boo book is aimed at teens, young peo­ple and n new cooks, and I have tried to ex­plain straig straight for­ward tech­niques and in­gre­di­ents t that any­one can un­der­stand, no mat­ter what their skills. “A lo lot of par­ents of young chil­dren n also d didn’t learn the nec­es­sary kitchen hen skil skills, which now means two ge gen­er­a­tions lack the con­fi­dence to p pre­pare ba­sic meals at home.” The Cook’s Ap­pren­tice is one ne of those keep-for­ever cook­books s that will be­come an es­sen­tial tool in the kitchen, its pages blot­ted and dirt­ied with in­gre­di­ents over time. The first chap­ters deal with cook­ing tech­niques and take new food­ies through skills from how to b blind-bake pas­try and carve a leg o of lamb to chop­ping onions and tim tim­ing a meal. An A-to-Z sec­tion will take you through all the in­gre­di­ents menti men­tioned in the recipes. And then there ar are more than 300 recipes from sim­ple dis dishes such as a five-in­gre­di­ent but­ter-and-r but­ter-and-rocket pasta sauce to more com­plex ex­am­ples such as a Thai steamed fish. All of them though are ex­plained in sim­ple to fol­low steps.

The cook­book is ex­pected to take the place of the par­ents and grand­par­ents who once passed on these ba­sic skills to their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren. Alexan­der says our hec­tic mod­ern lifestyle has made this shar­ing of ideas and pass­ing on of skills dif­fi­cult.

“I re­ceived this in­for­ma­tion from my mother and so did my sib­lings, it was part of our fam­ily tra­di­tion,” she ex­plains.

“But that has changed so much now that we’re grab­bing food on the run, eat­ing out and ne of the great­est food wor­ries Stephanie Alexan­der has is the high vol­ume of heav­ily pro­cessed food on the mar­ket, some­thing she refers to as the nu­tri­tion world’s “low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor.”

“The medi­ocre foods out there are a cop-out in terms of flavour and nu­tri­tion,” she says. “It is dif­fi­cult to avoid the moun­tains of fat and salt if you’re grab­bing food on the run.”

The re­sults of the lat­est Na­tional Sec­ondary Stu­dents Diet and Ac­tiv­ity sur­vey won’t give her any peace of mind. It found about 40 per cent of ado­les­cents and teens con­sume eat­ing eatin meals at odd hours due to the grow­ing num­ber num of af­ter school sports and ac­tiv­i­ties. The cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect of this kind of so­ci­ety is that skills are not be­ing passed on.

“I don’t want to ex­ag­ger­ate it — there are plenty of peo­ple who love to cook — but we still need to do these things as a fam­ily. They are good habits that need to start some­where.”

Alexan­der re­calls early mem­o­ries of watch­ing her mother cook­ing in the fam­ily’s Mel­bourne home when she was still a school­girl and learn­ing the skills that would be­come the foun­da­tion of her cook­ing em­pire.

They are also the skills she passed on to her own two daugh­ters years later. Mother and daugh­ters still en­joy a get-to­gether over a spe­cial meal around the ta­ble.

“My mother was a very good and cu­ri­ous cook,” Alexan­der says. “She was a frus­trated burg­ers, pizza and hot chips at least once a week, with more boys than girls giv­ing in to the crav­ing, ac­cord­ing to the re­port by Can­cer Coun­cil Aus­tralia and the Na­tional Heart Foun­da­tion.

Fur­ther­more, those who con­sumed fast food reg­u­larly in­di­cated a low con­sump­tion of fruit and veg­eta­bles.

The only high­light was the fact the num­ber of high school stu­dents who ate fast food at least once a week had dropped from 43 per cent in 2010.

The re­port also found young peo­ple were sus­cep­ti­ble to ad­ver­tis­ing from fast food com­pa­nies, with more than half claim­ing they had tried a new food or drink they had seen ad­ver­tised in the month be­fore be­ing sur­veyed.

A fur­ther 24.3 per cent of sec­ondary stu­dents had cho­sen a food or drink that had been linked to a movie or sports per­son­al­ity they ad­mired.

And when it comes to soft drinks, the re­sults were worse — with 17 per cent of teenage boys claim­ing to drink a litre of the high-sugar bev­er­age a week, com­pared with 10 per cent of girls.

“Over a year it equates to at least 5.2kg of ex­tra sugar,” says Kathy Chap­man, chair of the Nu­tri­tion and Phys­i­cal Ac­tiv­ity Com­mit­tee at Can­cer Coun­cil Aus­tralia.

“And this doesn’t even ac­count for other sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages such as en­ergy drinks.”

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