Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Healthy food made deliciously simple - Nadia Lim visits the far south next week

Many of us know what we should be eating and why, but not how to put it into practice, according to Nadia Lim.

By Charmian Smith on Wed, 13 Nov 2013 - Otago Daily Times

MasterChef New Zealand winner in 2011 and a trained dietitian, she will be speaking in Dunedin and other places in the South between November 18 and 22 to promote her latest cookbook, Good Food Cook Book (Random House).

''What I found is there's a real lack of connection and we need to bridge the gap.
"Dietitians and nutritionists have all the scientific knowledge about what we should be eating and why, but you can't just tell that to someone because they might not know how to put it into practice.
"If they don't know how to cook what you are telling them to eat, there's no point in telling them.
"I guess that's what I'm all about now, to incorporate both of them and turn it into something practical that people can actually do.''

Growing up in Auckland and Malaysia with a Kiwi mother and Malay Chinese father, she enjoyed food from a young age. Food tech was always her best subject at high school.
At 13, she would cook three-course meals for her friends and teachers and at school she was known as the girl who was obsessed by food.

She wanted to go to chef school but her father, being Asian, set the rule that she must get an academic degree. The closest thing was human nutrition and dietetics, which she studied at the University of Otago for five years, she said.

She had always wanted to write a cookbook but thought it might be after she had had children.
However, when she saw part of the MasterChef prize was having a cookbook published, she decided to enter.

The competition was tough and she would not do it again, but the publicity and cookbook opportunity were a great springboard, she said.
''I don't know if people realise, but the food industry is really very hard to crack and do well in, and it's one of the hardest-working industries,'' she said.
For a while after winning MasterChef, she worked in Simon Gault's restaurant, Euro, on the Auckland waterfront.
''While I loved it, I didn't see my husband at all because of the hours and you have to work very hard.
"I admire people who can do it but it's not for me and there isn't really a creative outlet in that type of restaurant work. I'm more of a person who cooks with the seasons and who cooks simple food.''

However, contrary to popular opinion, she does not like spending much time in the kitchen on weekdays - 20 minutes at most, so she is more suited to easy recipes for the average home cook, she says.

There are two guiding principles in her philosophy of good food: Eat from the ground, the sea and the sky instead of from the factory; and follow the plate model at dinner - half the plate should be vegetables, a quarter protein, such as meat or fish, and the other quarter starch, such as potatoes, rice, or pasta.

''Even that one simple change can make a huge difference to their health. If everyone ate like that, I think obesity wouldn't be half the problem it is,'' she said.
Besides writing cookbooks, she is one of the founders of My Food Bag, a business that delivers recipes and the ingredients (all free-range) for them to people's homes each week.
The classic bag is designed to feed up to five people for five nights, and the gourmet option is for couples for four nights.
At present it is available only in parts of the North Island, but they are about to expand to Wellington and hope to take it further afield in the future.

  Recipes from Nadia Lim's Good Food Cook Book (Random House)

See her, hear her

Nadia Lim will share her food philosophy and her passion for delicious, healthy food that is simple and easy to prepare at venues around the country.

• November 18, 6pm: Dunedin City Library, 4th floor
• November 19, 7.30pm: Fenwick School Hall, Oamaru
• November 20, 7pm: Paper Plus Gore
• November 21, 7pm: Fiordland College, Te Anau
• November 22, noon: Edgewater, Wanaka

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