Food Education Review

The results are in, and it doesn’t make for happy reading. An expert group including The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, Food Teachers Centre, British Nutrition Foundation and the University of Sheffield have now completed a commission to undertake a comprehensive review of food education and culture in England’s primary and secondary schools. Thanks to all of you that got involved, filled in surveys and took part.

Jamie Oliver believes that “Every kid in every school no matter their background,
deserves to learn the basics about food – where it comes from, how to cook it and how it affects their bodies. These life skills are as important as reading and writing, but they’ve been lost over the past few generations. We need to bring them back and bring up our kids to be street wise about food.”

Focusing on the curriculum, the whole school approach and behavioural change, the report highlights an alarming disparity in standards, overshadowing the success of the 2013 campaign for compulsory food education.

There’s a stark difference between schools doing a great job at delivering appropriate food education, and others struggling with a lack of time, resources and support. The report also highlights the unhealthy food environment at secondary schools which is in turn compromising pupils’ ability to make good food choices, and interestingly found that teachers, pupils and parents are all calling for a healthier school environment.

The report goes on to make four recommendations to counter these findings and ensure that children receive a better start in life:

  1. Schools should be healthy food zones
  2. More support should be given to the school workforce
  3. Improvements in food education qualifications and resources are needed
  4. Stronger reporting and evaluation needs to be in place

You can read the full report here:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B6vmekGX5OPfTm9xMzc5VkpCUTg

Something that really struck a cord with me as a parent and a change professional was the opinion of Dr ​Caroline ​Hart ​from ​the ​University ​of ​Sheffield – she referenced the environment in schools and concerns about the ‘cake-culture’. I myself have been flabbergasted by the mixed messages around healthier lifestyles, as schools attempt to implement good practice, but unfortunately contradict themselves in their policies around unhealthy snacks, allowing treats for birthdays, and routinely supporting and enabling regular fundraising through the sale of junk food. It’s a tough one, as it’s always hard to change and move away from things which are ‘easy’.  ​

Dr Hart wrote:
“For ​many ​primary ​schools, ​a ​major ​concern ​is ​the ​prolific ​sale ​of ​cakes, ​sweets, ​cookies
and ​crisps ​as ​part ​of ​fundraising ​efforts. ​In ​many ​secondary ​schools, ​a ​key ​issue ​is ​the
lack ​of ​healthy ​food ​offers ​that ​enable ​pupils ​to ​put ​their ​food ​education ​into ​practice.
Pupils ​told ​us ​that, ​when ​sugary ​drinks, ​super-sized ​cookies ​and ​‘chip ​only’ ​options ​are
available, ​it ​made ​it ​hard ​for ​them ​to ​select ​healthier ​alternatives. ​The ​vast ​majority ​of
parents ​responding ​to ​our ​survey ​supported ​the ​reduction ​of ​unhealthy ​food ​offers ​in
school.”

We’re heading in the right direction as momentum builds and media coverage increases, but as a nation trying to overcome rising childhood obesity rates, there’s still a long way to go. I expect that big changes in government policy are on the way as a result (fingers crossed…).

 

Pasta for Italian Day

What a great day. I’d forgotten just how much fun it is to make fresh pasta; very satisfying. I’d also forgotten how much hard work is required to knead the dough, especially when you have an audience of 8-year-old schoolchildren. This is the 10 minutes or so between the lovely eggs nestling in a flour well on your work-surface, and that perfectly formed, smooth ball of elastic dough (which is routinely skipped over in every TV cookery show you’ve ever seen).

Nonetheless, it’s a joyous and virtuous task with a far more delicious outcome than a trip to the gym.

Year 4 from St James C of E primary school did a Stirling job helping me roll and shape said pasta into lasagna, tagliatelle, angel hair (capellini) and farfalle. They learnt about the origins of pasta, its ingredients, geometry, gluten, composition and chemistry, the extrusion manufacturing process, not to eat raw pasta… etc. 

Italian day was a blast and has got me thinking about classes for parents too. 

Eggs and flour

The basic principle of making egg pasta is as follows – go on, dig that pasta machine out of the depths of your kitchen cupboard and get the kids involved.

Ingredients:

  • 400g Tipo ’00’ (super fine) flour
  • 4 Eggs

Method:

Beat your eggs and gradually mix in the flour. You can do this on a clean work surface by making a well in your mound of flour (like a volcano as the children cleverly observed) and cracking your eggs into it, or just bung it all in a food processor and pulse it a few times.

As it all starts to come together, give it a good knead as if you were making a loaf of bread. You’ll be surprised how what appears to be a particularly anhydrous mixture will turn into a beautiful smooth dough with a bit of elbow grease.

You’ll know when it’s ready as it’ll become smooth and silky to the touch.

At this point it needs to rest; wrap it tightly in cling film so the air can’t get to it and pop it into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

When you’re ready, you can start to cut it, roll it out (using a rolling pin or a pasta machine) and form it into a plethora of shapes.

measuring pasta

If you’re cooking it fresh it will only take a minute or two in a pot of rapidly boiling salted water (traditionally as salty as the Mediterranean sea), or alternatively, you can dry and store it.

Have fun!

 

pasta machine

pasta shapes

Gluten Free Granola

Homemade granola? So easy – so much easier than you’d think!

This is my last recipe in this series of twists on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution healthy breakfasts.

I’d planned to simply create a homemade granola recipe for my twist on Jamie’s Banana & Cinnamon Porridge, but a little research has led me towards using buckwheat and making this recipe even more inclusive. The GFG!

Granola is such a delicious, nutritious and flexible breakfast that you can make in batches and store so that it’s always on hand.

making granola

Ingredients:

  • 200g buckwheat
  • 200g oats (certified Gluten Free)
  • 200g mixed nuts, roughly chopped
  • 100g mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, linseed)
  • 75g coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g dried fruit (cranberries work well)
  • Milk, honey, yoghurt and fresh berries to serve (all optional)

Method:

The key here is to watch your granola like a hawk whilst toasting it in the oven – ovens vary tremendously – don’t let it burn! Turning it frequently will make sure it’s evenly cooked.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan).
  2. Except for the dried fruit, mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Melt the coconut oil in a small pan over a low heat.
  4. Add all of the wet ingredients to the bowl and mix well.
  5. Spread the mix out on a couple of baking trays in a single layer (or bake in batches).
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 – 35 minutes, turning roughly every 10 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.
  7. Allow the granola to cool, mix in the dried fruits and store in a clean airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
  8. Serve plainly with milk, or perhaps yoghurt with fresh berries and a drizzle of honey for a more decadent breakfast.

granola

 

gluten free granola

Variations:

This recipe doesn’t have to be gluten free (GF) if you’re not on a specialist diet – regular oats are much cheaper and taste exactly the same. Technically, oats are GF anyway (oats contain a similar but more tolerable protein than gluten, called avenins), however there is a risk to those suffering from coeliac disease as they may have been stored or packaged in the vicinity of barley, wheat or rye grain.

You may wish to adapt this recipe to suit your taste, in fact, I’d implore you to do so; try switching the maple syrup for honey, the coconut oil for olive oil, add cacao nibs and chia seeds, experiment with different nuts or even add a little cardamom. Have fun with it and soon you’ll be batch-cooking your own special blend on a regular basis.

Baked Sharing Pancake

What better way to enjoy food than sharing? This dish is a joy-inducing crowd-pleaser and ideal for a lazy weekend brunch with family and friends.

I think that it works best in a cast iron skillet or small oven-proof pan (about 23cm), but a baking tin will suffice if you don’t have one.

This is my twist on Jamie’s One-cup pancakes with blueberries recipe as part of the Food Revolution campaign 2017. Simple, simple recipes that anyone can master, and everyone will love.

gorgeous baked sharing pancakes

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250ml milk
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 20g butter
  • 175g blueberries or raspberries
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Crème fraîche to serve
  • Icing sugar to dust

Method:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan).
  2. Whisk the eggs, milk and vanilla together in a large bowl.
  3. Sift in the flour and mix to make a batter.
  4. Heat the butter in a 23cm baking tin or pan in the oven. Once melted, carefully swirl it around, pour in the batter and sprinkle over a handful of blueberries or raspberries (about 50g).
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and cooked through.
  6. Whilst the pancake is baking, pop the remaining soft fruit in a small pan with the maple syrup and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently until it turns into a sauce.
  7. Dust the pancake with icing sugar and serve with a dollop of crème fraîche and the sauce. Do be careful with the pan – it’ll be hot hot hot.

This is a great way to use up frozen berries (i’m forever popping the last few from the fridge into a freezer bag before they turn).

 

Teach A Man To Fish..

As the adage of much disputed origin states, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

That’s exactly what’s going on with Jamie Oliver’s latest venture. He’s teamed up with Hotpoint to not only provide free cookery lessons for children and adults around the country, but teach locals in 6 cities how to become cookery teachers in their own communities. How awesome is that!?!

The Hotpoint Teaching Kitchen started out in London, travelled to Bristol, and is about to transform back into a truck – very robots in disguise – and journey up to Middlesbrough for a couple of weeks before taking in Sunderland, Widnes and a mystery location…

It’s a remarkable piece of engineering and boasts 7 fully-stocked cooking stations and everything that the team needs to get the public, young or old, boshing out amazing dishes. Yes, I have to admit that it puts my humble kitchen to shame.

The crack team from the Ministry of Food are truly some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet; Jimmy, Maria, Mandie and Trish are not only welcoming and engaging, but my word do they know their stuff!

jamie oliver food foundation team

I had the pleasure of catching up with them outside the Ashton Gate Stadium as they put a group of trainees through their paces and helped them to develop their skills – not only to cook Jamie’s recipes, but to lead a classroom, appreciate nutritional information and healthy eating, follow food safety guidelines, field questions and queries, and evolve dishes based on seasonality, availability and personal preferences. I’m so impressed.

demonstration

The depth and detail provides so much more than you can get from a watching an equivalent TV show. The most significant lesson to be learnt is around balance – mindfully balancing food groups, your plate and your diet. Giving students the ‘why’ alongside the base skills helps to embed behavioural change and promote a positive attitude towards food and cooking in general. We’ve come a long way in the last couple of decades, but we’ve still got a long way to go. This shiny cookery school is really making a difference in the community, and the simple fact that it’s on wheels enables the Food Foundation to get out there and disseminate the life skills needed to help people live happier, healthier lives.

nutrition class

Please do check out their journey and show them the support they deserve on social media or in person! https://www.jamiesministryoffood.org/hotpoint-teaching-kitchen/

Hotpoint Teaching Truck

 

p.s. thanks for the delicious Teriyaki Salmon breakfast ;o)

teriyaki salmon