Leading Nutritionist Urges Australians to put Passion back in the Kitchen Too many cooks don't spoil the broth
Aussies are sacrificing romance and passion in favour of TV dinners, say Australian Passionfruit growers.
The 2012 Kitchen Passions Index, conducted by the Passionfruit Industry of Australia, surveyed more than 2,600 Australians to reveal just how passionate we are in the kitchen.*
"Food shows on TV have certainly increased our interest in cooking, but has this translated into 'doing' in the kitchen?" says passionfruit ambassador and celebrity nutritionist Lola Berry.
According to the research, 41% of respondents eat dinner in front of the TV every night while only 15% switch the TV off at meal times.
Moreover, many people are not even stepping into the kitchen with 47% ordering take-away and 36% eating out at least once a week. Almost a third of respondents cook only as a necessity.
"We are missing the true pleasures cooking can bring by being spectators and just watching foodie TV," Berry says.
"There's something pretty magical about cooking at home, we are less likely to consume processed foods and more likely to use fresh ingredients. It's not only healthier for you but it also tastes better when you've made something from scratch!
The research further highlighted why it is so important to cook at home and enjoy meal times together as 72% of respondents still list a home cooked meal as part of their ideal date.
"Cooking dinner shouldn't be saved for special occasions, I cook most nights and it's super easy, you don't need to be the next master chef, it's all about trying new flavors and giving new things a try" says Berry. "These days there are delicious recipes that even novice cooks can use to create delicious results and keeping the spark in the kitchen can help keep the spark in the bedroom!"
The research also found that cooking can be a lonely chore with 57% of respondents claiming to cook on their own.
Beyond the kitchen, Australians are also not eating together at the table - only half of those surveyed said they regularly sat down to dinner.
"With many couples being time poor, meal times offer a great opportunity to spend time together and talk about the day. And if you're too busy, take the time to get a little organised, it's always fun to cook for or with someone. One of my favourite things is to prepare dinner for someone else. It gives me goosebumps!
"Cooking dinner is a great time to catch up, and couples that cook together are more likely to continue the conversation at the table, away from the TV," adds Berry.
Australia offers a diverse range of great ingredients that can create simple yet satisfying meals.
Keith Paxton, President of the Passionfruit Industry of Australia agrees with Berry that novice cooks can create impressive dishes, as long as they are using fresh and Australian grown ingredients.
"Australia has the ideal climate for growing a broad selection of fruit including passionfruit," says Paxton.
"Using the zesty pulp and seeds of a passionfruit can brighten up many meals, from vibrant Thai salads, to simple breakfast smoothies or trendy dinner party dishes like kingfish and passionfruit ceviche," continues Paxton.
"A lot of love goes into growing perfect passionfruit in Australia, there is no reason why a lot of love shouldn't go into eating them," concludes Paxton.
About the Passionfruit Industry in Australia:
Australia produces approximately 3,000 tonnes of passionfruit annually, with the majority of fruit grown in the warmer climes of Queensland. There are several varieties of passionfruit grown in Australia with the most popular being Purples and Panamas.
Unlike many other fruits, passionfruit grows in Australia all year around and so is regularly available in the fresh food aisles of greengrocers and supermarkets.
Selection and Storage:
When picking fruit, it is advisable to choose fruits that feel heavy for their size. Passionfruit can be stored at room temperature for up to two weeks or refrigerated for up to a month. It is best to store them in plastic bags as this will prevent the fruit from dehydrating. The pulp freezes and stores very well.
Contrary to popular belief, passionfruit does not have to be wrinkled to be considered ripe.
Warm Thai Chicken Salad with Passionfruit DressingLook for simple recipes to put some spice back in your evening, try this Warm Thai Chicken Salad with Passionfruit Dressing for a vibrant Aussie twist on a classic dish.
2 small chicken breast fillets, trimmed
½ Lebanese cucumber
2 baby cos lettuce
1½ tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 long red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt reduced soy sauce
Mint leaves, basil leaves and coriander sprigs to serve
Person one: Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Poach the chicken breasts in the water until cooked through then remove and set aside until just cool enough to thickly shred. Cover and keep warm.
Meanwhile, peel the cucumber into long ribbons and tear the cos leaves into smallish pieces.
Person two: Halve the passionfruit and place the juice and pulp in a non-metallic bowl, along with the lime juice, fish sauce, chilli, honey and soy. Stir until fully combined,
Toss the shredded chicken with half the dressing and stand for 10 minutes.
To serve, toss chicken mixture with cos leaves, cucumber and a large handful of the mixed fresh herbs. Arrange on serving plates and drizzle with remaining passionfruit dressing.
Tip: If you prefer your dressing a little spicier, do not remove the seeds from the chilli before slicing.
©Horticulture Australia Limited
*The Kitchen Passions Index was conducted on Femail.com and surveyed 2,666 Australians.