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.

govt_strategy

 

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?

 

Chilli con Jamie

Yesterday I had the absolute pleasure of cooking for a lovely group of school mums on their annual get-together in The Cotswolds.

A dear friend had asked if I’d like to cater for the event, and together we hatched a plan to use this as an opportunity to raise awareness for the Food Revolution and Elizabeth’s Footprint – [Natalia Spencer is walking the entire 6,000 mile coastline of the UK in aid of Bristol Children’s Hospital following the sudden and tragic loss of her beautiful 5-year-old daughter Elizabeth.] 

So, deep breath, what do you cook for fourteen…?

I needed something hearty, a little bit special, and above all something that wouldn’t be a logistical nightmare given Chipping Campden is a 40 minute drive from Cheltenham.

Delectable and transportable; it’s got to be a slow cooked chilli. It just so happens that I recently acquired a cast iron, 12 litre, Staub Cocotte (dutch oven)..

Let’s not reinvent the wheel here – I know a man who’s nailed this dish, so please do check out Jamie’s tried and tested recipe here: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/beef-recipes/chilli-con-jamie/

The only tweaks I made were to scale up the quantities to make it go a bit further. I used 3kg of brisket, 5 cans of tomatoes, 750ml fresh coffee and 3 tins of kidney beans etc.

3kg beef brisket

Trimming up the beef takes a little time but once it’s all in the pot you can pretty much sit back and leave it alone for a few hours. If you’re interested, I chose to use a combination of Ancho and Pasilla chillies which were rehydrated in strong coffee.

Ancho and Pasilla chillies

I wrapped a couple of towels around my impractically heavy cast iron pot and carefully stowed my precious cargo in the passenger footwell.

Seeing a rainbow over Chipping Campden as I made my way down the quiet country lanes really made my day. I had to stop the car and take a moment to fully appreciate the world around me, basking in the horizontal early evening sunlight and cherishing every aspect of the quiet, rolling countryside. I wish I could have captured it for you Natalia.

I want to extend a huge, huge thank you to all you lovely ladies for donating a whopping £200 to Elizabeth’s Footprint – I’m so pleased you enjoyed your dinner :o)

Chilli con carne

Omelette Twist

As Jamie launches his ‘10 recipes to save your life’ for this year’s Food Revolution, here’s my twist on the basic omelette for you: Baked Mini Omelettes!

Super-simple fayre, these little treats are a fun take on the humble and nutritious egg, and can be served hot or cold.

The fillings are up to you – I like to have a bit of variation so here’s some ideas:

Fresh chives, chillies, bell peppers, ham, tomato, cheese, smoked salmon; perhaps some pre-cooked ingredients: bacon, mushrooms, black pudding, sausage, broccoli.. the list goes on, so feel free to experiment.

The most important factor is to use the freshest and highest quality eggs you can find – the hens deserve it, and it’ll make such a difference to your cooking.

You’ll need roughly 1 egg for each omelette.

 

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C degrees (160°C fan).

Grease a muffin/cupcake tray with butter or a drop of oil.

Beat the eggs and season them with salt and pepper.

Pour the egg mixture into the muffin tray and sprinkle in your choice of ingredients.

Bake for 12 minutes.

It’s as easy as that.

Enjoy!

mini omelettes

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.

FOOD.REV54833%201_preview

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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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!

#KeepCookingSkillsAlive

http://www.jamieoliver.com/us/foundation/jamies-food-revolution/news-content/october-monthly-challenges

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