Jane Clarke needs little introduction. She’s appeared loads of times on This Morning, The Wright Stuff, Radio 4, Radio 5 Live, and lots of other TV shows, and she writes regularly in the Daily Mail.
On her quest to educate us about nutrition, Jane is heading Tefal’s ‘Clever Cooking’ campaign – promoting innovative and clever ways to cook for people with little time on their hands, but who demand food that can boost brain power and energy levels through a nutritious diet.
“At a time when parents are stressed and worried about money, there’s a great temptation to go for the quick and easy processed foods,” she told UKPL. “The idea of this is to get them back into the kitchen and to help them feel confident about cooking for themselves using simple recipes, easy ingredients and processors that do a lot of the work for you.”
A recent study said that kids know more about nutrition than their parents, but we hear stories of school kids shunning the healthy meals that have resulted from Jamie Oliver’s school dinners campaign. Jane isn’t surprised and says Jamie’s campaign was still an important campaign that was needed.
She said, “Kids may know what’s good for them but if they can’t get the healthy food at home they can’t get it. There’s also a problem with many schools because they don’t have their own kitchens, and if all some schools have done is taken ketchup off the tables, then of course kids are going to rebel and go in search of fast foods.
“The Jamie Oliver campaign, which I worked on with Jamie, was very much needed. You have to make small changes that make a big difference in the long run.”
For a parent, there’s a difference between knowing what’s nutritious and being able to create imaginative and tasty meals, and that’s one driver behind this current campaign.
“We want to help people realise that you don’t have to cook complicated and expensive meals to eat healthily. Twenty years ago the idea of eating frozen fish would be abhorrent but it’s actually a good thing to include in your diet.
“The trick to cooking fresh, healthy food that isn’t complicated is to start with the basics. Roasting vegetables covered in olive oil only requires you to peel and chop them and stick them in the oven. Egg on toast is easy, and Italian food is simple.”
Jane says dried pasta will do nicely – no need to buy fresh.
“It’s actually easy to over-cook fresh pasta, and there’s no nutritional benefit over dried pasta. I’ve spent a lot of time in Italy and many people there use dried pasta.”
Back to basics when it comes to nutrition is about cooking simply, but also about regulating how much and how often you eat.
“If anyone comes to me wanting to lose weight, I would say to them, quite simply, to ask themselves two basic questions. First, do I want this food and will it nourish me? Second, am I eating it because I physically need it or am I just comfort eating.
“I ask people to keep a diary of what they eat, and if you cut out the comfort eating completely, you will be amazed how much weight you lose.
“For parents wanting to know what is healthy for their children, I would say go back to the basics. Three meals a day, and then a mid morning and a mid afternoon snack. Be patient with the meals and ensure the children eat, and don’t use food as a reward.
“The reason we have so much childhood obesity is because children get treats to stop them misbehaving, and they are constantly eating junk.”
Surely exercise must play an important role in how fat you get though?
Jane, who has done a lot of work with famous sports stars, like David Beckham, says, “If you look at the body, every cell gets what it needs from the stomach. In my mind, you can’t even do any exercise if you don’t get the fuel right.”
With her TV and newspaper exposure, Jane is in a strong position to rub shoulders with the powers-that-be and to share her vision to a massive audience.
“I’m really passionate about the charity Beat Bowel Cancer, and I am planning a new lobby campaign which I can’t talk about yet. One of the things I am also very keen to do is to bring down pseudo practitioners.” She means people who give dieting advice that isn’t scientifically proven, to put it simply.
“And teach kids to cook in schools. Get kitchens in schools and start teaching them again how to cook for themselves.”