This is a guest blog by researcher Anika Knüppel, originally posted at leap.ox.ac.uk
LEAP and Good Food Oxford offered a Cooking Class on Sunday 21st October at the Oxford Science Festival. In the kitchens of The Oxford Academy 20 people got the opportunity to cook and learn new techniques to cook with veggies. Did you know that you can grate broccoli to add it raw to a salad? Or why not plane the entire carrot instead of just the peel!
In the first session participants were invited to cook a vegetarian raw pad Thai salad, with a kale rice salad and a squash curry. Participants were shown the best way to hold a knife, how to easily cut onions, chillis and how to fillet a grapefruit. The colourful result was delicious!
In the second session the participants were invited to have a go at inventing their own recipe. Using a matrix of ingredients, participants could choose their own mix of flavours and were able to learn a number of ways to build their own dish. A raw salad with maple syrup roasted nuts, baked beetroot with polenta squares or roasted celery.
Talking to people at the course showed an important thing – adding veggies to the diet is a family affair. When children just want to eat ‘beige’ it gets difficult to introduce new foods to the menu. Before the course one participant pointed out how they just really like the take-away meal more than the home-cooked one. Taste seemed quite important. But at the end of the cooking sessions all participants sat down proudly after a day of connecting with new people and learning new skills to enjoy their self-cooked meals.
I also found that working with the two groups had made me suddenly aware of the way having children affects people’s dietary choices. I’m potentially thinking of feeding this into my research as I hadn’t previously thought about differentiating between these cohorts.
All in all, a productive and flavourful day!