Healthy cooking class with expert nutritionist, Kate Cook

Posted on December 5, 2013

Healthy cooking class with expert nutritionist, Kate Cook

Simplyhealth, the health cash plan and private insurance provider, hosted a healthy cooking class with nutritionist Kate Cook on Sunday 1 December 2013 at The Underground Cookery School in East London. Guest food and lifestyle bloggers were invited to an 'Eat Yourself Young' workshop hosted by Kate, who has been practising nutrition for over 13 years, to discuss healthy eating and nutrition.

The second half of the event saw the bloggers don their aprons and head into the kitchen for a hands-on cookery class with Kate and The Underground Cookery School chefs. Split into two teams; one vegetarian, one meat eaters.  The bloggers learned how to fillet a fish, debone a whole chicken and were taught to understand taste, seasoning and engage in the cooking process. The menu, a collaborative creation from both Kate and the cookery school chefs, was a hit with the bloggers. "The menu consists of great anti-ageing foods such as mackerel, high in Omega 3 EFA, and beetroot - a blood cleanser. In the main course, the squash, aubergine, along with puy lentils are a great source of fibre providing slow energy release," commented Kate.

The three course lunch menu was as follows:

Upon arrival: Vegetable juice and crudit¿s with hummus

Starter: Fillet of mackerel with roasted beetroot and horseradish cream

Vegetarian starter: Griddled aubergine with garlic, chilli and thyme marinade, roasted beetroot and horseradish cream

Main: Grilled breast of chicken, with roasted butternut squash and puy lentils, balsamic reduction

Vegetarian main: Lentil burger with roasted butternut squash wedges

Dessert: Poached pear with cinnamon syrup

The field of nutritional health is full of misguided information. We're a nation who are confused by what we should and shouldn't be eating and how best to look after ourselves. It seems everyone these days are acutely aware of aging and in search of how to stay looking young. The constant worry and counting of calories can lead to tension build up and, in extreme cases, Orthorexia  an excessive, extreme preoccupation with avoiding certain foods thought to be harmful. In a world saturated with promises of how to look and stay younger, there are ways in which to feel happier and healthier without resorting to drastic measures.

"It's important to have a connection with what you are eating and be sensible with your consumption," says Kate. It all begins with balancing your blood sugar. Doing this can help with weight loss, sleep intake and stress. Food and nutrition are the key; learning more about food to keep fit and healthy. The choices you make now can have both an immediate and gradual effect on your health. So, how do you know what to consider? According to Kate, there are seven areas to focus on: digestion and fibre, stress, antioxidants, water, detoxification, fats and blood sugar.

Whilst the health industry promotes many ways to lead a healthy lifestyle, it can lead to confusion. Kate believes the first step is to understand how to balance the blood sugar. When you eat foods that fall into the sweet, fluffy and white category your Glycaemic Index (GI) will rocket, but crash heavily. By eating a diet of thick, fibrous and protein, you are more likely to remain at a consistent level, therefore not needing to snack. By following a system loosely based on The GI diet, you can ensure you have consistent energy across the day.

You'll need to make sure you're consuming the right food in order to have the energy to exercise. But, where does energy come from? Once you've consumed your food it's broken down into glucose and released into the bloodstream. It's important to maintain our glucose levels in order to function optimally. If blood sugar levels aren't maintained it can lead to irritability, tiredness and loss of concentration in the short term and a risk of weight gain, depression and diabetes in the long term. This blood sugar imbalance can cause ageing and lead to the over production of cortisol, the stress hormone which can contribute to the ageing process.

Essential things to remember

Make sure you are drinking enough water as it helps carry nutrients around the body, hydrates the cells, and flushes out toxins.

Incorporate exercise into your lifestyle, not necessarily vigorous cardio training but walking as it is a great form of exercise that is regularly overlooked.
Antioxidants are important for your body's natural defence to the aging process. These can be taken as supplements or by eating certain foods such as spinach, tomatoes and drinking green tea, for example.

Eat those essential fats that can be found in nuts and seeds, oily fish, flaxseeds and nut and seed oils.

Get eight hours of sleep per night to help manage stress.

Kate's takeaway tip of the day: "Always eat breakfast. It's true what they say, it's the most important meal of the day! But, make sure it's the right breakfast. Eggs are a great breakfast constituent. Look at your diet in context to your lifestyle and preferences. Try to include as much natural produce as possible and increase your protein intake. Most of all, enjoy the process of cooking."