Thursday, 18 June 2015

BBC Good Food 7-Day Summer Diet Plan - Evaluation

Dee – The Seven Day Diet Plan introduced us to the concept of ‘clean eating’.  This quote from one of the communications from the diet organisers gives a suitably succinct definition of what it means:  “Clean food is as close to its natural form as possible – unprocessed, minimally handled from source to shop, and preferably with little in the way of packaging.”  It is fairly close to how we’d been shopping and cooking for ourselves before the diet.  Yes, we did slip a little in recent weeks, which was what gave rise to us starting the diet in the first place, but that was more down to eating out too much and not watching what we were drinking, rather than any major flaws in our approach to cooking for ourselves.  We’d already started to address the imbalance a week before starting the diet, but its arrival gave us a ready-made structure to help us keep the diet going.

The plan was well organised, with menu, shopping lists and recipes available as electronic files for downloading.  The email communications at the beginning, mid-point and end of the seven day period were also full of useful information and encouragement.  Each dish had a calorie count attached, which was good to see, as were the comments on why the key ingredients had been selected.

The shopping list however was the main hurdle to overcome.  Some of my initial concerns about availability of ingredients proved to be valid, causing us to make most of the substitutions that I had anticipated.  These are discussed in the commentaries for each day’s meals.

Cost was another factor which we had to take into consideration.  We spent more on our weekly shop than we would do usually, but we also ended up with leftovers which we have been able to freeze and enjoy for future lunches and teas, so what seemed to have been a week’s shopping turned out to be a week plus one or two extra lunches and teas.

The recipe instructions were easy to follow and were suitable for cooks of all levels.  That does come with a caveat though.  Not all of the ingredients were readily accessible, and we had to rely on our experience of cooking at home to know what would work in their place and what wouldn’t.  It would be useful next time I think to identify where obscure ingredients are required and to list alternatives.
Quantities also tended to vary a bit, as I wrote about in the commentaries on each individual dish, but they exceeded the stated servings rather than falling short of them.  The recipe documents were well laid out, with photographs of the finished dishes to act as guidelines.

Taste-wise, we were very impressed with nearly all of the meals.  All of the five taste sensations were provided for, and nothing was left bland or tasteless.  There was a distinct lack of salt in the recipes, which I thought would be a problem, but everything we cooked turned out fine.  Pepper and other spices were used in contexts where I would have used salt, which is something I will be taking into my own cooking.  Even the one dish that I wasn’t keen on didn’t lack flavour.

Would we cook any of it again?  Yes, definitiely.  My personal favourites were the Spicy Vegetable Pilau and the Flatbreads and Beans, and Jay was particularly fond of the Quinoa and Chia Porridge.

As for the future, it’s unlikely that we will adopt a clean eating regime entirely.  There are several factors contributing to this decision, including cost, availability and convenience, but we will certainly be more mindful of how much processed food we are buying.

So that just about covers it from our side.  Thanks to everyone who has read this far.  It’s been a very interesting project.

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