Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the crusading Channel 4 chef, believes that The Great British Bake Off could do more to promote recipes for people who are wheat intolerant.
While the show has occasionally featured wheat-free bakes over the course of its five series, Fearnley-Whittingstall believes it could go further.
“I am pleased to note that in this run they have included a few recipes that are wheat free or dairy free and that cater for people for whom wheat flour and butter are a problem,” he told RadioTimes.com. “But I probably think they could do a bit more. I think they should do a bit of that in every run.”
Asked whether he was a fan of the show he said: “I have only watched bits of Bake Off but I totally get the addictive nature of it and the charm of it. To fire the nation up for home cooking, it is a very effective show.”
Fearnley-Whittingstall was speaking to promote his new book of recipes, Light & Easy which features 170 dishes, all of which are wheat and dairy free, using potentially unfamiliar ingredients such as buckwheat and chestnut oil.
“I want to write a book that gives people reassurance that healthy cooking can be delicious,” he said.
“There’s a sense around that being healthy is about denial and not having what you want. It doesn’t have to be like that. It doesn’t have to come at a price. You can have all the pleasure, you just need a nice repertoire of dependable recipes and that is what I have tried to put together.
“For me doing this book was about discovery rather than excluding things.”
The chef, who is best known for his River Cottage shows for Channel 4 and his 2012 campaigning series Hugh’s Fish Fight, said that he wanted to create recipes “that everybody can enjoy” in his new book.
However he is adamant that he has always been interested in beneficial and sustainable food and that getting older – he is now 49 – has not been a major factor in writing a new selection of super-healthy recipes.
“I wouldn’t call it a health crusade,” he added, amid reports today that he has been warned by doctors about his levels of cholesterol.
“I am getting older, yes, and I perhaps had a more gung-ho attitude to discovering food at the outset. But I have always been pretty consistent about being healthy. Even ten years ago when I wrote my meat book, I also said… we need to eat less meat not more and we need to make it special when we do cook it.”
River Cottage Light & Easy: Healthy Recipes for Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is published by Bloomsbury, price £25.00