Food Skills Expert

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Four seasons vegetables

In your school and community food skills classes aim to include recipes and activities that allow your students or participants to know...

how to choose and purchase quality local seasonal vegetables for eating and inclusion in recipes
how to choose vegetables based on classifications to assist with meal design
how to access accurate consumer information about vegetables from market personnel and web site sources
how to prepare, cook and serve vegetables for eating and inclusion in recipes
how to use small and large items (stove top) of kitchen equipment

Great local (Australian) web sites include:
Market Fresh Guide
Fresh for kids
Taste for recipe ideas
Seasonal Vegetable Guide

RECIPE: Design Your Own Quick ‘n’ Easy Risotto

Risotto is a rice based dish which uses a rice variety known as arborio which absorbs 3-4 times its volume in liquid.  The dish can be made more substantial with the addition of vegetables as flavouring ingredients.
The following recipe is basic and is modified to include the stock all at once. In a true risotto, heated stock is ladled in slowly as the rice absorbs the liquid (see Basic Risotto recipe in The Food Book on p. 254-255)

Ingredients (Serves 2)
1/4 onion, diced
15g butter
2/3 cup arborio rice
1 1/2 cups stock (beef, chicken or vegetable)
1 cup flavouring vegetables (selection of seasonal vegetables)
Garnish - parmesan cheese shavings, fresh herbs
1. Dice the onion finely and prepare (shred,chop,grate,slice) other vegetable flavouring ingredients accordingly.
2. Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan and gently sauté the vegetables for a few minutes.
3. Add the rice and toss over a gentle heat for a few minutes or until the grains look white in colour.
4. Add the stock and a few shakes of pepper. Bring the rice to the boil, stirring once or twice.
5. Cover with a lid and turn the heat down as low as possible.
6. Allow to simmer very gently for 15 - 20 minutes. (Rice should still have a slight nuttiness in the centre). Do not uncover the rice during this time.
7. Toss gently with a fork, adjust seasonings and serve immediately.

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Food Literacy Skills in Education

Are you interested in participating in the IFHE Pacific Region's Food Literacy Skills Network?

Home economics teachers have a particular interest in developing the procedural or hands on food skills of  young people.  The declarative or food literacy skills, which include but are not limited to the meal planning and shopping skills, need to be incorporated into every home economics teacher's toolkit. 

Congratulations to colleague Dr Helen Vidgen on her recent conferral of her PhD late 2013.  Helen is a senior research fellow and now leads a $220,000 project with the QUT 

More information soon to register your expressions of interest in participating in the IFHE Pacific Region's Food Literacy Network.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

New! Sandra's Food Literacy Model

Sandra Fordyce-Voorham's Food Literacy Model

Based on a three-tiered hierarchy and presented in a pyramid. Find out more and contact me via Twitter @foodskillexpert  #foodliteracymodel and link to word press




Friday, May 24, 2013

Food Skills Rating Checklist - Snapshot of Research Findings

1. Over ninety per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the use of the Checklist was a good idea and would help teachers, particularly new or less experienced teachers, to more accurately assess their students’ food skills.

2. Eighty-three per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they would use this Checklist and use it to report on, and to assess the development of their students’ food skills, often in conjunction with the videos as a training tool for their students. 
One respondent had this to say:

I would like to use the Food Skills Rating Checklists in conjunction with the videos as an entertaining and challenging tool for teaching and reinforcing food health and safety in Years 8 and 9.
What's next?
Based on the respondents' input, I am in the process of developing the Food Skills Rating Checklist further by:
1. creating a Food Skills Rating Checklist that includes the 'declarative' skills - the preliminary meal planning and decision making skills prior to shopping for ingredients.
2. an abridged 'portable' version that could be used on a digital tablet when teachers' are checking out their students' in class.
3. different Food Skills Rating Checklists that cover different skill sub-sets.
4. a food literacy version.

In the future...
Teacher respondents have already been using the three levels of videos as a training tool.
This was really very surprising since the videos were meant as a way of demonstrating the skills without using students (because of ethical concerns as they are minors).
I am looking at the possibility of making professional versions of videos which demonstrate different levels of food skills.
Let me know if you think if that's a good idea and would be a helpful resource to use in your classrooms or community cooking programs.

More updates soon (I am in the last stages of writing up my thesis which accounts for the long delay between posts!)
Sandra (hopefully soon to be 'Dr. Food'!!)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

International Federation for Home Economics - XXII World Congress in Melbourne

July 16-21 July, 2012
And what a week it was for 700 home economists and health professionals from around the world gathered in Melbourne, Australia.
The IFHE World Congress is held every four years - it is truly an Olympic event for Home Economics where latest research and education ideas are shared and opportunities for networking are infinite.

Our keynote speaker Dr Vandana Shiva, Founder of Navdanya International, spoke about gender equity as part of her description of her 'nine seeds' biodiversity project in India and the role of women as the harvesters of original seeds. Read more here  at Navdanya International
Read more about the program here at IFHE World Congress.

We also welcomed Melbourne Home Economist and CEO of Home Economics Victoria, Ms Carol Warren as our International Federation for Home Economics new President.
We are justly proud of Carol as we are of Ms Gail Boddy our Executive Officer, IFHE Pacific Region and Professor Tony Worsley our incoming Vice-President, IFHE Pacific Region.

I had the pleasure to present 2 papers based on my research.
Predictors of the importance of food skills amongst home economics teachers the aim of which  was to investigate relationships between demographic characteristics and life orientations of home economics teachers as predictors of the importance of the essential food skills that ought to be taught to students in secondary schools in Victoria, Australia. 

Food Skills Rating Checklist:  An evaluation instrument for use in skill-based programs in schools.
The aim of this study was to develop a food skills rating checklist that could be used as a food skills evaluation instrument by home economics teachers and other facilitators of skill-based programs.  To the best of our knowledge, no reliable and validated evaluation instrument currently exists. 
Research  is currently being conducted.  Initial results suggested that a rating skills checklist would have merit and application for use by home economics teachers in schools and other facilitators in community skill-based programs.  The use of a reliable, validated rating checklist would provide home economics teachers with a sustainable and valuable tool to help them evaluate students’ progression of food skills. 


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Are you interested in joining a Food Skills Network?

Food Skills Network Group
Many researchers, health professionals including community nutritionists and nurse educators as well as teachers have contacted me about a reliable food skills evaluation tool. 
There are many food skills experts out there! It has been great to exchange updates, resources and information to progress our understadning of this important area.
Please let me know if you are interested in joining in on the fun- contact me for more information.

Community Nutrition in Canada
Over the last few months I have had made several new contacts from Community Nutritionists and Nurses working with people in community programs in Canada. 
There has been a great deal of activity mostly in response to these health professionals searching for tools to support their community programs.

Tracy, a community nutritionist in Vancouver

I have been a Community Nutritionist working at the Vancouver Island Health Authority in Victoria, British Columbia for 7 years now, and have worked on primarily individual and community food security related projects within the region.  

Recently, we have seen an increased interest and call from the community to develop individual & household food skills, and have been working on some proposals that would work to enhance and develop the food skills of the community as a whole (Community Food Skills).   I had been searching online for a working definition of food skills as well as a validated tool that would be a summary measure or indicator of food skills – this led me to you.  Your response has come at an opportune time, and I would very much like to take a look at your “Food Skills Rating Checklist” and discuss a variety of potential community settings that we could apply this tool.  

I have attached a very rough concept of a “Food Skills Continuum” that I have developed for a recent food skills project.  I would be very interested in talking with you not only about your Checklist but also if you have a working definition of “Individual and Community Food Skills” and how community nutrition educators can work to move individuals through the continuum - I think that this is really missing in the literature as well.  

Lydia, a researcher and a community nurse who is currently working on her Masters is about to release a community food skills tool of her own which may be more applicable to those of you looking for an evaluation tool specific to community, rather than a school setting.

 My study actually created a valid and reliable tool to assess the food skills in a community.  I used the Ministry of Health Promotion of Ontario's definition of food skills which was also later used in a literature review associated with Health Canada.  Here is a link to that definition:

It is on page 36.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Upcoming Conferences and Meetings

HEIA's 20th Birthday Celebrations in Canberra 4-5 April 2014

Hot on the heels of HEIA's successful bid to have home economics included in the Australian curriculum, the team from HEIA are hosting their 20th birthday celebrations in Canberra.  Visit HEIA's new web site to find out more.

International Congress of Dietitics in Sydney September 2012

Click here for the link 

Helen Vidgen (Food Literacy expert) from Brisbane, Queensland has organised a symposium for Thursday 6th September titled


Food Literacy: The role of dietitians in developing food knowledge skills

Presenters: Helen Vidgen, Andrea Begley, Sandra Fordyce Voorham, Rie Imoto, Danielle Gallegos
“Food literacy” is an emerging term used to describe the ability to understand the nature of food and how it is important. It also describes the knowledge and skills to gather, process, analyse and act upon information about food and to apply it in different contexts. This symposium will provide an overview of three key Australian studies which examine practical approaches to the improvement of food literacy in education settings and in public health nutrition and dietetic practice. It will hear from the experiences of the United Kingdom and Japan in endeavouring to address the practical implications of meeting nutrition guidelines.

2.00 –
Danielle Gallegos
Food literacy: what is it and how does it relate to nutrition
2.05 –
Helen Vidgen
Food skills: what are they and how do they inform the development of a food skills-based curriculum in Australian schools
2.20 –

Sandra Fordyce-Voorham

The role of dieticians in using cooking skill interventions
2.35 –
Andrea Begley
The UK experience: lessons from 20 years of promoting food literacy
Prof Martin Caraher
What is Shokuiku?
Prof Rie Imoto
Panel discussion and questions from the floor
3.30 –
Dr Danielle Gallegos

Presenter Abstracts:
Food literacy: what is it and how does it relate to nutrition: This presentation will examine the meaning of food literacy, it components and present a theoretical framework of the relationship between food literacy and nutrition.  The presentation is informed by the results of a series of studies including a Delphi of food experts from diverse sectors and settings and a phenomenological study of consumers; using the case study of disadvantaged young people leaving their parental home for the first time.  The presentation proposes a planning and evaluation framework for food literacy work and discusses where it might sit within broader food and nutrition systems.

Food Skills: what are they and how do they inform the development of a food skills-based curriculum in Australian schools: This presentation will examine the essential food skills that are required to be taught to enable young people to live healthy and independent lives.  These food skills have been identified by interviewing six groups of fifty-one food experts, including independent young people.   The results of a second study involving a quantitative survey of 271 home economics educators within Australia verified the essential food skills that teachers believe ought to be taught in food skills-based programs in Australian secondary schools.  This presentation outlines the attributes of a food-skills based curriculum that works towards improving the healthy eating behaviours of young people. 

The role of dietitians in using cooking skill interventions:  This presentation will critique the use of cooking skill interventions by nutritionists and dietitians in Australian public health nutrition practice drawing on findings from two research projects.  The first project is a quantitative survey of practitioners in Western Australia describing their use of cooking skill interventions in practice funded by Healthway and the second research project is qualitative interventions with practitioners exploring issues in delivery of cooking skill interventions, evaluation challenges and personal training experiences of practitioners in the area of cooking.  The paper will demonstrate the breadth of the use of cooking skill interventions but at the time highlight areas for improvement.

The UK experience: lessons from 20 years of promoting food literacy: The UK experience will set out the historical landscape of public health interest in cooking from the early 1800s. Current experiences related to the Jamie Oliver initiative on schools and cooking will bring the presentation up to date and parallels drawn with the early public health approaches. This latter perspective will be informed by data on changing skill sets in the general community. Two studies on cooking interventions, one in schools, the second in a community setting will help frame the evidence for such interventions. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of the recent policy proposal to introduce compulsory cooking for all 11-14 year olds and the withdrawal of that policy.

What is Shokuiku?: Shokuiku Law as a national movement in Japan:  This presentation will explain Shokuiku Law (Food and Nutrition Education Basic Act) which came into effect in 2005 in Japan.  This Law is a collaboration between Departments of Health, Education and Agriculture and represented a new approach to food and nutrition in schools and communities.  The presentation will also examine strengths and learnings from is approach and propose the role of Shokuiku for the next stage in food education.

Presenter Bios:
Danielle Gallegos is a social dietitian-nutritionist with a strong research and teaching profile at the Queensland University of Technology, she has over 20 years experience in working in the community and public health nutrition setting. Her focus has been on the nexus between translating food into good health outcomes across broad social environments.

Helen Vidgen is a dietitian, nutritionist and home economist with almost 20 years experience working across the health continuum in government, university, private and non-government settings, in urban and regional Australia.  Most recently she has worked as a public health nutritionists and is currently undertaking her PhD in food literacy.

Sandra Fordyce-Voorham is a home economics educator who has taught food skills in schools in Australia and the Netherlands.   She has championed the development of food skills programs in schools in a voluntary capacity in non-government organisations and home economics professional associations at the state, national and international level.   She is currently teaching food skills in an independent K-12 school in Melbourne, Victoria and is undertaking a PhD focusing on the evaluation of food skills-based programs in Australian secondary schools.

Andrea Begley is the Program Leader for Nutrition and Dietetics at Curtin University.  She has over 20 years experience in teaching nutrition and dietetic students and has witnessed a changing relationship between practitioner cooking skills and use of cooking skill interventions in practice.  She is currently completing a DrPH on reconceptualising cooking skills for health.

Martin Caraher is professor of food and health policy at the Centre for Food Policy at City University, London. He has worked on ‘food knowledge’ and cooking skills for over 20 years and is author of some of the key research on issues related to food and cooking in the UK situation. This has involved work on cooking and growing skills in communities and school. His focus is on public health programmes and the role of food literacy as an advocacy tool.

Rie Imoto, Ph.D. (Pedagogy), is a professor of home economics education and environmental education at Department of Health and Nutrition at Kagawa Nutrition University in Japan. She has worked in the development of food literacy curriculum with a particular focus on the environment.  She currently teaches Education students.