The Smalls

I have two smalls. Felix is 8 and Winter is 6. If you’re familiar with my writings or follow me on social media you’ll have seen that they eat pretty damn well. My wife and I put a huge amount of time and effort into feeding them to the best of our ability, and they’re routinely exposed to, if not taking part in, my incessant culinary expeditions and Food Revolution campaigning.  

Felix was in fact the motivation for this very blog; Emma and I strived to give him the very best start in life through ideal nutrition and a focus on real food from the outset. 

BUT, here’s the thing folks – even in our ‘perfect’ little gastronomic household, we still hear Winter saying things like “I’m allergic to pasta” on random occasions or “water is disgusting” and Felix, well …. tomatoes are the devil (although ketchup and anything derived from tomatoes is just fine..). 

Yep, that’s right: It’s not all as rosy as anyone’s Instagram feed appears – sure there’s negatives and difficult times, but who wants to see that right?  

I’m pretty confident that every child follows a similar path, and that every parent certainly struggles at some point with the battle between what we know to be right and the best thing for our children, and simply giving in to an easier life, if only for one peaceful meal.

Here’s my advice:

This will happen. Persevere.  Involve them in selecting, buying and preparing food, go with the ebb and flow, and don’t be hard on yourself. Persist with variety in their diet, and your own – they’re clever little beings and pick up on all of the social cues, reactions and traits, regardless of how tiny or insignificant they may seem to us. Obviously seek professional help via your GP in extreme cases, but don’t give yourself a hard time.  Ask questions of other parents – we’re all in the same boat. If you’re even thinking about these things, then you’re already doing great. 


Food Fit For Felix and the smalls

Must. Try. Harder.

Well, it’s finally out there. I know I should be jumping for joy to see it, but alas, although I haven’t even read it yet, the public reaction tells me that the UK Government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy doesn’t hit the mark.



I’ve had an opportunity to pore over it now, and here’s what I think.

Reading the introduction inspires me to go out for a run; this is serious stuff that we can’t ignore. More needs to be done to get the facts into the public domain and reinforce the severity in the minds of those not inclined to read Government strategy papers.

There’s absolute sense in what they state about long-term, sustainable change only being achievable through the active engagement of schools, communities, families and individuals. This is the core objective for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. It follows the basic principles of change, as we must raise awareness, create the desire, and help people to understand what they can do to make a difference.

The sugar tax is a positive step, but is it enough? If I were a food manufacturer, I don’t think I’d be too worried about any of this..

I see a lot of wishy-washy wording that leaves plenty of room for localised interpretation. I would have liked to have seen some more decisive moves rather than merely ‘encouraging’ change with a limp carrot.

The plans around sport for schoolchildren are great, but I’m concerned that the mindset will become “I do lots of physical activity, so I can get away with eating whatever I want”. The balance is paramount, and if those affected don’t have a clear understanding, then what hope do they have?

In conclusion, I’m glad that we have this, but we had a real opportunity for transformational change, and I can’t help but feel terribly disappointed that we didn’t grab it with both hands and really capitalise on it.

As stated, the launch of this plan represents the start of a conversation, rather than the final word. I for one will be making sure that I’m involved in that conversation, will you?


Meals from Meals

Making meals from the remnants of other meals is essentially what I do most days, unless of course I’ve pre-planned a specific meal and bought exactly what I need in advance.

I truly believe that being able to peer into your fridge and cupboards and put a meal together from whatever you find, is the cornerstone of food education that we’re now lacking, especially here in the United Kingdom.  It’s the classic Masterchef ‘Mystery Box’ challenge although I wouldn’t say my food was that refined.  It ties into food waste, healthy eating and balanced diets.  It enables us to reduce food bills and make wonderful meals that are nutritious and tasty, and it encourages people to experiment in the kitchen and make more of what we have.

Personally, there aren’t many things that I find as satisfying as producing a great meal for my family from what many people would deem ‘nothing’.

I recall gloomy days at university when my housemates and I would repeatedly wander into the kitchen and peer into the cupboards looking for something to eat, eventually accepting defeat and inevitably going to the pub.  There’s little I’d want to change in my life, but I can tell you that I really wish I’d acquired the skills to enable me to ‘rustle something up’: the cupboards were never truly empty – nobody’s cupboards really ever are.  To make it worse, I was already a pretty confident cook back then…

It isn’t something that’s difficult, but there’s no doubt that this particular skill comes from experience, and herein lies the problem; people just don’t cook enough anymore.

It’s super-important for younglings to be taught food education and cooking skills in school, but it’s equally important they’re taught the right skills…  I’m fairly certain I haven’t made a Swiss Roll since 1993.

I had the pleasure of setting the first of this months Jamie Oliver Food Revolution challenges.  A very proud moment for me, which was only outshone by the terrific level of engagement by fellow Ambassadors around the world.  The concept was simple: go and create something delicious from whatever leftovers you find in your fridge.

Give it a go – but then go and tell someone about it!


Here’s what you can do with some leftover chicken, a packet of noodles and some frozen vegetables.  Plenty more to follow.

JOFR Leftover Challenge