Kate Barmby produces a very special apple custard tart
Words of wisdom are often given regarding food and health. Our cookery writer Kate Barmby, of the Great British Bake Off, says it is important to consider the impact of advice.
As a nurse I am aware that what I say often carries more weight and has a greater influence on people’s behaviour than the comments that I would usually make in everyday life. Carefully chosen words can have a positive impact on a patients’ sense of empowerment and can in turn lead to them making healthier lifestyle choices, however, I am also conscious that negative or poorly chosen words can be taken badly or misconstrued leading to unnecessary anxiety.
Recently a member of my own family was the victim of some rather heavy-handed advice from a well-meaning health professional. The misinterpretation of some results led to them being told that they had developed type two diabetes. The person concerned was already very active, a healthy weight (if anything bordering on the low side) and ate a balanced diet - they also have a tendency to be overly concerned about their heath. This advice caused a great deal of worry and resulted in them deciding to remove all sugar from their diet and to limit other carbohydrates. At their next appointment they were told that they were not actually diabetic or even pre-diabetic but, being an already anxious person, the damage was done and despite losing weight as well as their previous enjoyment of food, they were too fearful to return to their normal diet.
I was saddened that my family member had been unnecessarily upset when they received advice based on an unreliable test result which consequently changed their relationship with food. But it has made me think about my cookery work and the impact of our diet on our health. I have always justified my recipes for treats with the old adage of ‘everything in moderation’, but I think this is perhaps an excuse to ignore nutritional advice and that it has the potential to turn into a licence to eat anything and call it moderation. With this in mind, along with the undisputable fact that as part of a healthy, balanced diet, we should all consume fewer foods that are high in sugars, I have begun the difficult task of developing some recipes for cakes and desserts that use more whole foods and less refined carbohydrates.
The use of low fat cheese and nuts to increase the amount of protein, and higher fibre ingredients such as wholemeal flour in this month’s recipe for an apple custard tart help slow down the release of energy, while the cinnamon, vanilla and apples add a natural sweetness that reduces the need for added sugar.