Top cookery tips from a blind chef

Post date: 
Thursday, 7 July 2016

There’s been a lot of focus in Connect recently about the importance of staying active. This might be running ultramarathons (yes there is a Connector who does this!) or just making sure you take a walk around the park every week.

Keeping fit is all very well, but if you’re eating unhealthily you  aren’t going to feel the full benefits. Also, in some sight loss conditions such as diabetes, it’s important to regulate your diet to help slow down sight deterioration. Which means there’s a whole host of benefits to paying some attention to what you eat.

One of the recent podcast episodes from the excellent In Touch series from BBC radio 4 touches on just that. They asked Richard Lane – the man who brought us the Can't see, will Cook series a few years ago – to take us step by step through cooking a simple, nutritious meal from scratch. As he has sight loss, he uses techniques that will make it easier if you have little or no vision. He says on the relationship between food and fitness "the two are obviously closely related. I don't use exercise to offset any food that I eat, as I think that is a bad way of looking at it. I see the two as complementary. What’s important is to cook creatively, use lovely ingredients, and  don't make it too complicated."

The focus is on producing a well-balanced meal that's full of fresh, nutritious ingredients that will taste great. When people think of healthy eating, they may think of low fat (and often low taste!) readymade health foods. These foods can actually contain preservatives and sometimes secret sugar and other nasties. Although it may take a little more work and planning ahead, by making something from scratch you reap the satisfaction of enjoying something delectable you’ve made yourself. Plus you save money and eat more “whole” natural foods – and cut out the preservatives.

Listen to the full podcast, to find out what he cooks and how he does it. Or, you can download the podcast as an MP3. 

If you don’t have time, here are some of his top tips for making sure you don’t have a kitchen nightmare:

  1. The level of preparation and attention needed if you can’t see is much higher, but "if you spend the time preparing it, it takes the stress out of cooking. There's nothing worse, particularly when you can't see and you've got a hot stove going on, if you're getting stressed about what you're doing. So preparation is everything.

  2. Use a pan with a wide diameter which is deep at the sides so you don't have any gas leaking round the edge of the pan to burn you. If you're worried when transferring food - turn it off first. If in doubt, turn it off!

  3. Remember, everything will take a bit longer - you will never be as quick as someone with full vision. So allow yourself extra time in the recipe, and choose something you can make at your leisure on a Sunday in a big batch and then snack on during the week.

  4. It's understandable not to want to restrict your food, but by making something from scratch you are automatically being healthier without compromising on taste.  

  5. Use a covered pourer for boiling water - you can pick this up on the high street or any large supermarket for around £30. Or, the RNIB shop stocks a variety of inexpensive kitchen equipment online.

Not a meat eater? One of our Connect Radio listeners Veronica talks Jill Barkley through her delicious Chana Dal recipe. It’s super simple, healthy, cheap, and you can make a batch ahead of time to cook during the week. Listen to the podcast here.