BDA says families can take back control with home baking

BDA says families can take back control with home baking

25 June 2018

Following the publication of the second chapter of the Government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy yesterday, dietitians are calling for a renewed focus on cooking skills and home baking to help families eat healthier and reduce health inequalities.

Large parts of the government’s Strategy are based around popular packaged and out of home foods. These include companies reducing the amount of sugar we eat in cereals, yoghurts, sweets, cakes, biscuits and puddings as well as reducing advertising for foods high in sugar and salt to kids and increasing the calorie labelling on out of home food.

With mixed results from the recent Sugar Reduction report from Public Health England, the British Dietetic Association (BDA) are keen to emphasise that one of the best ways for families to control sugar content, portion size and better understand how to balance ingredients within a healthy diet is by preparing food from scratch at home.

The BDA recently invested in ‘Let’s Get Cooking’. Originally set up by the Children’s Food Trust, the programme is designed to give children and families the confidence and skills they needed to get hands-on in the kitchen and make healthier food choices throughout their lives. Since it was set up in 2007 it has reached over three million people. The recipe section of the website has been re-launched for schools and families today.

BDA Chair-Elect Caroline Bovey says “We generally consume too much sugar in the UK, and families are often told to read the labels on every day packaged foods to keep within guidelines. The government’s recent report on progress with their sugar reduction programme with the packaged food industry showed that they were not even half way towards this year’s 5% target for own brand and packaged foods. Families can take back control by choosing recipes which help them move towards healthier choices. We’re excited to share the free Let’s Get Cooking recipe bank to get you started.”

The packaged biscuit category showed absolutely no reduction in sugar consumption overall in this first year. We hope the next report will show more progress but if you want to get ahead, Let’s Get Cooking have a great recipe for a chocolatey oat biscuit which has half the sugar of a store-bought chocolate hob nob. This recipe is controlled for portion size and the sugar comes from dried apricots for softness and a small amount of soft brown sugar for crunch.

Apricot and Chocolate Crunchy Biscuits

Makes 26 biscuits
1 x 5ml spoon sunflower oil for greasing
100g dried ready-to-eat apricots
100g unsaturated fat spread
50g light brown sugar
1 x 15ml spoon cocoa powder
100g self-raising flour
100g porridge oats

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan or gas mark 3.
2. Grease the baking trays with a little oil, then line with baking parchment.
3. Cut up the apricots into small currant-sized pieces.
4. Put the spread and sugar into the saucepan. Gently melt the mixture, stirring continually, then remove from the heat.
5. Sift the cocoa and flour into the bowl and mix in the porridge oats. Add these dry ingredients to the melted mixture together with the apricots and stir well.
6. Using the teaspoon, take big teaspoon sized pieces and roll each into a ball with clean hands, then place on the tray and press flat. Leave a little space around each biscuit for the mixture to spread. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
7. Bake for 12–15 minutes until they are golden brown.
8. Leave on the tray for 5 minutes to cool and firm up before removing with a palette knife and putting onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

By baking biscuits at home, rather than buying packaged ones, families can control the amount of sugar in each biscuit and are likely to reduce their sugar intake simply because they’ll probably eat them less often.

For anyone looking to further slash the sugar in the treats they bake at home, low calorie sweeteners could be an option. These are safe to use but the switch isn’t always straightforward – home cooks can actually end up increasing overall calorie or fat content by experimenting to get the right consistency.

The BDA has worked with the home economists and dietitians at Splenda to provide some tips for using them in home baking - low calorie sweeteners can work in different ways, depending on what they’re made of.

Tips for using low calorie sweeteners in baking:

  1. You may notice a smaller amount of mixture as you usually use a smaller volume of the low-calorie sweetener. This means you may need to adapt your recipe slightly or beat the ingredients a little longer to get enough air into the mixture.
  2. When you bake with low calorie sweeteners, they don’t brown like they would if you’d used sugar. If the colouring of a recipe is important then take out your bakes 2 - 3 minutes before the end of the suggested baking time, and glaze with a small amount of egg white or milk.
  3. Some products cooked with low calorie sweeteners can cook slightly faster, so check 7 - 10 minutes before the end of the suggested cooking time (1 - 2 minutes for biscuits). 
  4. Some low-calorie sweeteners absorb more liquid than sugar, so try adding extra skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, fruit juice or water to your bakes if the mixture feels too dry.

For more information / interview requests, please contact the BDA Press Office on:
0800 048 1714

Let’s Get Cooking - Recipe bank launched today  

Biscuit recipe

• Nutritional Info for Biscuit Recipe per 17g biscuit: Energy 259kJ/62kcal/3%, Fat 2.9g/4%, Saturates 0.6g/3%, Sugars 2.8g/3%, Salt 0.1g/2% (% of adult’s reference intake) Typical values per 100g: energy 1524kJ/365kcal.

• If you’re keen to find out more about making sugar swaps, visit

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