Okonomiyaki

Today is a good day. I’m rarely happier than when I’m off on a foodie expedition, ice-axe in hand. There’s things I’ve eaten, read about, seen on TV and the like, but the mountain is never really conquered until you’ve truly ‘been there’. Tick.

Okonomiyaki [o-konomi-yaki] is a Japanese savoury pancake. I’ve eaten plenty, but discovering how easy and satisfying it is to make them in your own kitchen is positively joyous.

Here’s the low-down:

Make a pancake batter, fill it with delicious savoury ingredients, cook it slowly and top it with equally delicious and visually attractive garnishes. 

The name derives from ‘okonomi’ which means ‘whatever you like’ and ‘yaki’ meaning ‘grill’. As you may be aware, I’m a big fan of using up leftovers and reducing food waste so this is right up there in the list of go-to/back-pocket dishes.

Although it has regional variations across Japan, generally speaking it’s filled with shredded cabbage, but I’ve used gem lettuce in my version as it’s what I had to hand. It’s your dish – mix it up to your liking, but you’ll have to trust me with the mayonnaise zigzag.. I think it really is essential and brings an additional dimension.

Felix eating Okonomiyaki

Ingredients: (serves 1)

  • 1 large egg
  • 50ml stock, cooled
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 handful lettuce (or cabbage), shredded
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tsp black sesame seeds or Furikake*
  • 1 tsp rapeseed of vegetable oil
  • mayonnaise (from a squeezy bottle)
  • oyster sauce
  • Sriracha chilli sauce

Method:

  1. Beat the egg, stock and flour together with a pinch of salt.
  2. Mix in the lettuce and some of the spring onion (or ‘whatever you like’).
  3. Fry in the oil over a low heat for about 5 minutes on each side until until golden and a little crispy.
  4. Top with the obligatory crisscross of sauces and top with the remaining spring onion and your choice of condiments.

*Furikake is a Japanese seasoning made from mixed sesame seeds, Shiso leaves and nori seaweed.

japanese savoury pancake dish

Superfood Cereal

Jamie Oliver recently published his ’10 recipes to save your life’ – if you can master these simple recipes, you can feed yourself and your family for the rest of your life. We’re bringing you easy twists on each of these recipes to extend your repertoire.

My twist on Jamie’s DIY Oaty Fruity Cereal is to guild it with delectable flourishes that are both stunningly beautiful, and wonderfully nutritious.

The basic cereal is ridiculously easy:

  • 100g dried fruit, such as sultanas, raisins, dried apricots
  • 50g mixed unsalted nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts
  • 50g mixed seeds, such as pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy
  • 400g porridge oats
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Just roughly chop the nuts and dried fruit, give it all a mix, and serve with milk or natural yoghurt.

Now here’s my list of nutrient rich tweaks that you can pick and choose from to elevate this simple breakfast bowl. The health benefits of superfoods are much debated – above anything, these little treats are both interesting and tasty:

  1. Goldenberries – these are dried Physalis (Physalis peruviana) or as they’re also known, Cape Gooseberries, Ground Cherry or Capuli. High in iron and fibre, they’re both tart and sweet.
  2. Bee Pollen – tiny little pollen pellets that have been packed by worker honeybees!
  3. White Mulberries – (Moras alba) – Delicious dried fruits and a good source of protein, fibre, iron, vitamin C and K.
  4. Blueberries – or ‘star berries’ as the Native Americans called them. Rich in antioxidants such as anthocyanins from their blue colour, they truly are a star of the fruit world.
  5. Cacao Nibs – the basis of chocolate without the dairy or sugar added, these are simply smashed up cacao beans. (Note that Cocoa has been processed further at a higher temperature).
  6. Coconut shavings – containing lauric and caprylic acids, the fruit of the ‘tree of life’ acts as a natural antibiotic.
  7. Goji Berries – also known as Wolfberries, they are dense in minerals and contain selenium, vitamin C, B2 and A, iron and polysaccharides (antioxidant). These berries have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

Give it a mix, add your milk or yoghurt and enjoy the variety!

Winter, my 5-year-old daughter, thoroughly enjoys creating her own “bowl of deliciousness” as she calls it, raiding all the kilner jars and balancing her breakfast just how she likes it.

superfood cereal mix

Countdown To Food Revolution Day 2016

On Friday May 20th, Jamie will be asking people across the world to join him, and sign up to the Food Revolution.

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This is our annual day of action that brings people together from around the world in thousands of events that celebrate good, fresh, real food. The ongoing global campaign provokes debate and aims to inspire meaningful change in the way our children access, consume and understand food.

This year is a step-change in our approach; it’s not just a day, it’s a revolution!

We’re in the middle of a global health crisis. Right now an astounding 41 million children under five are overweight, while another 159 million are too undernourished to grow properly. We’re failing both our children and future generations by not empowering them with the right food and skills they need to grow healthily and happily.

If you need any further inspiration, here’s Jamie’s 2010 TED talk.

Everyone should have the opportunity to lead happier, healthier lives by learning how to cook nutritious and delicious food from scratch.

The theme for 2016 revolves around not one, but ten basic recipes that act as a ‘Starter Pack of Cooking‘; ten recipes to save your life. These recipes are nutritionally balanced and each one covers a different skill and technique. We’re passionate about creating a movement that can deliver real change and help the world feed the future. These recipes can help to build confidence in the kitchen so that anyone can cook healthy, real food for themselves, and their families.

All the resources for planning local events are now available to download here.

Get involved, and help us to fight obesity and diet-related diseases.

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Reflecting on FRD2014

I was appointed as a Food Revolution Ambassador a mere 10 days before the big event on 16 May 2014. I still remember exactly how I felt receiving that email – simply overjoyed. And then it hit me… what am I actually going to do?!
A few days later I’d secured a slot with my son’s primary school, St James’ in Cheltenham – the relief I was feeling after getting a gig for Food Revolution Day was mixed with bouts of panic as I fretted about what I was actually going to do on the day.. Thankfully, the Ambassador’s Facebook pages are filled with helpful folk and fantastic ideas.
The message for the 2014 campaign was that “We need every child to understand where food comes from, how to cook it, and how it affects their body. This is about setting kids up with the knowledge they need to make better food choices for life.
I settled on something simple yet effective and chose to take a selection of fruits, herbs and vegetables in to do a little ‘Show & Tell’ for the reception children. I hoped to relay key messages about seasonality, healthy eating and balance. Did I forget that there were 2 reception classes? Maybe. Was I slightly overwhelmed having 60 eager 5-year-olds sitting in front of me? No comment.
Selection of fruits, vegetables and herbs
Alas, it was the most brilliant and enlightening of experiences. The children were engaging and intrigued, enthusiastic and seriously switched-on! They looked, touched, smelled and identified before jumping at the opportunity to taste. I had to enrol the teachers to help with cutting as we just couldn’t keep up!
Teaching the children
I foraged some Wild Garlic from next to the stream on the walk to the school thinking that they’ll definitely learn something new here.. How wrong was I! “Oh yes Alex, they’re Ramsons – we have them in the garden at home”… Unbelievable. Big tick for that little girl’s parents.
Wild Garlic
An hour flew by and I wished that we’d had more time. Great kids, great attitude and lovely feedback. #exhausted (but thinking about what we can do next).
Note to self; look for local sponsorship to cover the costs next time. What to do with all these offcuts and leftovers?
Voilà!
using leftovers
This year, Food Revolution Day will be held on May 15th and I can’t wait to get involved. The campaign is focussing on making practical food education compulsory in all schools. Have a look at www.foodrevolutionday.com, sign the petition and support the movement.