Two simple (and fun!) things you can do right now to get healthier

If you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance you’re interested in eating well. Like us, you probably don’t need to be convinced of the benefits – you’ll know that choosing healthier food means we feel better, perform better and have more energy.

But there’s still a big chunk of the population that isn’t interested, don’t care, or still need to be convinced about healthy eating. Which is why it’s really great that we’ve recently had approaches from two different companies wanting our help with their projects, both with the goal of making what they’re doing healthier. And they’re both projects that let us take our message – small, healthy changes that make a big difference – out to a wider audience.

Firstly, we’re thrilled to be a partner to Let’s Cook with Parmco for 2013. This is a free schools-based cooking programme that aims to get kids excited about cooking. Most of us would recognise the importance of knowing how to prepare and cook for ourselves. If we don’t have these skills, we give up control of what we’re eating to others – and the consequences of that can be pretty unhealthy.

Let’s Cook with Parmco has a series of cooking challenges presented by MasterChef winner Brett McGregor. This year, Parmco asked the Healthy Food Guide team to help make the recipes healthier, and we obliged; so kids taking part in the challenges will learn how to make delicious food that’s healthy as well. What’s really great about this is that the programme is all about having a go and having some fun – which hopefully will get at least some kids on the path to a lifelong love of cooking.

If you’re a parent with kids at school, make sure you visit to get your school involved. Registrations are open now, and schools taking part can be in to win a classroom full of kitchen appliances and much more. Registrations close on 30 August, then you’ll be asked to vote for your school, and the schools with the most votes at the end of the programme win the prizes.

The other interesting partnership we’re involved in started over a year ago when we were approached by Columbus Coffee. They asked if we would help them make the food in their cafés healthier. At first we were wary – knowing, as we do, that much café food is far from healthy, and often wears an unwarranted ‘health halo’. We wondered how our recipes would translate into a café setting, and also whether they’d be able to do it! But the team at Columbus Coffee were really committed; they persevered, and we worked together to both adapt recipes from our pages for café use and to rework their recipes to meet our (pretty strict) nutrition criteria. The fantastic result is that now you can go into any Columbus Coffee café in New Zealand and find delicious and healthy Healthy Food Guide recipe dishes on offer. It’s a small thing, but if you consider that Kiwis spent $3.49 billion eating out at cafés and restaurants last year, that’s a lot of potentially healthier cakes, muffins and meals.

And speaking of muffins, we did a rough calculation that if someone swapped from having an average café muffin at morning tea, five days a week, to a Columbus Coffee Healthy Food Guide recipe muffin, the kilojoule (energy) difference would mean they could lose up to 6kg in a year, without even trying. So that’s a small change which could end up making a big difference over time.

First published: Aug 2013

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