Nadiya Hussain has called for more cookery lessons in schools and dismissed the suggestion that TV chefs are fuelling the nation’s obesity crisis.
The ex-Great British Bake Off winner, 34, said stepping up lessons would boost children’s mental health and help tackle weight issues.
“My son is cooking at home but I make him get in the kitchen. That’s not necessarily the case with every single child. They don’t get to cook at home… everyone has got their own rules,” the mother-of-three told PA.
“We don’t do it enough. There’s not enough emphasis on learning how to cook,” she said.
The star, who is about to front a new BBC series, Nadiya’s Time To Eat, said: “We forget that cooking not only educates, which of course in turn helps with childhood obesity… but it also gives you a love for something. It brings joy.
“We’re not just trying to tackle child obesity… What about what cooking gives you for your mental health? We need to think about both things.”
She said: “Learning how to cook, being frugal, using vegetables, learning how to put a rainbow on your plate, is going to help what you eat and how well you eat.
“Equally, being able to have the freedom to go into the kitchen and be able to cook and create something and have something at the end of it, will help mental health issues too.
“These are two things that we could really improve by cooking more.”
Hussain, who has previously revealed she suffers from anxiety, also dismissed Coronation Street actress Maureen Lipman’s suggestion that cookery shows “pander to” the nation’s obesity crisis by serving up “uncookable food”.
The former star of the BT adverts said she turns off “anything with a hint of a spatula in it”, saying: “I don’t care if it’s nice Nadiya with a mini-whisk, personality-plus Prue (Leith) with her dangly sherbet earrings or repeats of Gordon (Ramsay) out-effing himself.”
Hussain, who is demonstrating time-saving recipes in the new BBC Two series, said: “If somebody doesn’t like watching cookery shows that’s absolutely fine.
“But to say that it is fuelling obesity crisis is absurd. It isn’t. And that’s what I love about cooking. It’s not just about feeding. Cooking is about celebration, about love.
“When I cook something and I see that look on my children’s faces, when I cook their favourite birthday meal…
“For me, food is about balance, about love, about sharing. I just think that we need to remind ourselves of that.
“We move so quickly in society now we have no time for anything, the least we can do is make time to eat with each other. It brings happiness, it makes people talk.
“The only thing that can make my teenager talk is a good meal. When I say, ‘How was school today?’ he’ll say, ‘Yeah it was fine.’ Then I put dinner in front of him and (he says) everything.”
As well as demonstrating “time-saving hacks”, viewers will see Hussain doing “early morning milking, late-night mushroom picking” and working “on the production lines helping to create everything from yogurt, chocolate bars and golden syrup” in the new show.
Nadiya’s Time To Eat will air at 8pm on Monday July 15 on BBC Two. Time To Eat by Nadiya Hussain (Michael Joseph, £20) is out on July 11.