Celebrity chef and WCRF UK supporter Chris Horridge is on a mission to show that gourmet food can be good for you too. Most of us know that restaurant meals don’t go often hand-in-hand with healthy eating, but Michelin-starred chef Chris Horridge has set out to prove that this need not be the case.
His interest in nutrition and the role food can play in our wellbeing has led him to develop a new approach to cooking, which he terms ‘3D food’.
“Chefs usually focus on presentation and flavour, which, of course, are both incredibly important to people’s enjoyment of food,” says Chris. “The recipes that I prepare has a third dimension though – nutrition. We try to combine ingredients so that nutrients become more available to the body.”
One of the main driving forces behind his desire to research and understand nutrition was the untimely loss of his mother twelve years ago to cancer. “My mother died of ovarian cancer – she was only 52 years old. When she was diagnosed with the disease I was serving with the Royal Air Force in Germany, which meant that I wasn’t around to support her or my family through this difficult and upsetting time as much as I would have wanted to.”
“Her death left a lasting impression on me and I made the decision to pass on my knowledge of nutrition to benefit people. This is why I am helping to promote WCRF UK’s work in funding cancer prevention research and that about a third of cancers can be prevented through a healthy diet and lifestyle.”
Chris is keen to encourage people to eat healthily at home, as he does with his partner, Christelle, and their young son. So what type of food does the 38-year-old chef prepare at home? “Very simple food,” he says. “Last night we had chicken and ratatouille, which is a great way to get lots of vegetables. We also have a lot of fresh fish.”
A hallmark of Chris’ cooking is tweaking traditional recipes to include more nutritious ingredients, such as Spaghetti Bolognese or curry packed with finely diced veg. “It’s a tip that’s easy to incorporate into home cooking and is an excellent way of shifting the balance of our meals towards a two-thirds of a plate being made up of plant foods that WCRF UK recommends.”
Chris is very passionate about WCRF UK’s cancer prevention message and has worked with us to develop a range of Healthy Home Cooking recipes that incorporate his style of cooking with our Recommendations for Cancer Prevention.
“The work WCRF UK undertakes in funding research into cancer prevention is remarkable and the education side of their work with health professionals, children and the general public is just as crucial in arming people with valuable information that can significantly reduce cancer risk. There are no real hard and fast rules when it comes to cooking these days, it’s so easy to create simple or experimental healthy meals depending on your time and budget.”
“No one should have to go through the suffering of cancer; it’s an undignified and painful disease and tears families apart. If you are able to help towards WCRF UK’s work in any way, I know that not only would they be grateful of your support but also that even small donations can make a huge difference.”
Chris Horridge’s top tips for serving appetising food at home
“People are attracted to colour, so that’s something I always think about when putting a dish together. For example, the Spaghetti Bolognese in the WCRF UK Healthy Home Cooking cookbook includes lots of different coloured, finely diced vegetables so that it looks appealing. We also serve the dish in a bright bowl to make it look even more attractive.”
Home cooking can look fantastic too
“Don’t faff around trying to serve restaurant-style food at home. If friends have come over for a meal, then they want to enjoy home-style cooking - so if we do a roast, we’ll put the vegetables in a nice pile on the plate but that’s about it.
Setting is also really, really important,” adds Chris. “Sitting down to eat at the table makes a meal so much more enjoyable.”
“It’s a good idea to gradually replace some of the red and processed meat in recipes with more vegetables but do it gradually. Try chopping vegetables into small pieces that are the same size as the pieces of meat.
Slowly reduce the amount of salt you add and your taste buds will adjust.
Finally, don’t forget to taste food as you cook it so that you can judge seasonings and balance ingredients.”