Jamie Oliver’s new book is stuffed with simple, healthy recipes with the aim to encourage adults and children to spend more time in the kitchen.
WITH the arrival of a fifth child earlier this month, TV chef Jamie Oliver is qualified in more ways than one to talk about family food.
It’s safe to say that the little boy, who weighs the same as “16 packs of butter”, or 8lbs, as Oliver put it, will get to sample many of the recipes in his father’s new family-focused offering, Super Food Family Classics.
In it, the children’s health campaigner applies his super-food philosophy to the family menu.
He’s taken classic family favourites — such as Guinness and beef stew and chicken curry — edited, tested and reworked them so that they pack a serious nutritional punch.
Each recipe, he says, is designed to “give you a brilliant boost of goodness”.
To see just how much goodness that is, every dish comes with detailed nutritional information, a calorie count as well as a run-down on the vitamins and minerals content.
“If you can cook food like this three or four days a week, it will only have a positive impact on your and your family’s health,” he says.
There’s much here to inspire — fish bakes, pasta dishes, healthy hotpots, cheat’s pizzas, healthy snacks — but Super Food Family Classics is also packed with sound nutritional advice.
Oliver, who now has a qualification in nutrition, advises on the importance of good hydration, how to cut down on sugar and eat well.
However, it’s the sections on how to get fussy eaters eating and children involved in the kitchen that shine.
And of course they do: Jamie Oliver has had plenty of experience thanks to his children; three girls (Poppy Honey Rosie, Daisy Boo Pamela and Petal Blossom Rainbow) and a boy, Buddy Bear Maurice.
(Yes, he admits, inspiration for the names came from the floral and natural world).
The latest arrival will, no doubt, have his own likes and dislikes but his parents are already equipped with an arsenal of tricks to get him eating his greens.
On that subject, Oliver says he’s not a huge fan of hiding veg but he admits that it works really well and says he blitzes or blends them into his children’s favourite dishes.
The key to lifelong healthy eating, however, is to give a child an appreciation and love of good food from a young age.
“A kitchen-savvy kid is going to be a much healthier, happier one in the long run,” he says.
Here are Jamie Oliver’s tips to get children cooking and eating the good stuff
Start them young: Investing time when they are young and impressionable is key, says Oliver.
“Expose them to the widest variety of nutritious foods you can — the more experience and food knowledge they can gather, the more confident they’ll become.”
Have a hands-on attitude: Get your kids to taste, touch and smell the ingredients you’re cooking with. Explain that it’s OK not to like everything, but that it’s always good to give it a try.
Grow stuff: If a kid grows it and cooks it, they’ll probably eat it. You don’t need a big garden to grow stuff — a few herbs or tomatoes growing on a windowsill is enough to spark their interest and will help to form positive eating habits that will last a lifetime.
Use real equipment: Jamie Oliver is a firm believer in getting kids to use real equipment in the kitchen.
“For example, the best and safest way for a child to learn how to use — and even walk safely with — a knife is by using a knife,” he says.
Visit farmers’ markets: If you want to instil a real understanding of food in your children, bring them to farmers’ markets.
“I truly believe that because of the passion of the people working there, their incredible and instinctive knowledge, their respect for produce and their ability to embrace the seasons, your children will develop an amazing understanding of food.”
Look at the bigger picture: Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t quite go to plan. Your child is not an adult, so cut them a bit of slack. Remember, he adds, dinnertime can be chaos – embrace it.
Quality cocoa powder creates a luxurious feeling of comforting chocolaty goodness here, but without all the sugar and saturated fat we’d get from actually adding chocolate to the mix.
Makes: 12 portions
Total time: 20 minutes
For each portion
Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan on a medium heat until golden, tossing often, then tip into a food processor.
Tear the stones out of the dates and add the flesh to the processor with half the oats, the vanilla extract and cocoa powder.
Finely grate in the orange zest and pulse until fine, then stir the mixture back through the rest of the oats.
Pour into an airtight jar, ready to use.
When you want a portion, simply put 65g of the mixture into a saucepan with 200ml of coconut water and heat gently over a medium-low heat for 3 minutes, or until it’s the consistency that you like, stirring regularly and adding splashes of water to loosen, if needed.
Serve each portion with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt and 80g of fresh fruit.
It’s also nice finished with a pinch of cinnamon or a dusting of cocoa, if you like.
And remember, if you up the number of portions you’re cooking at one time, simply adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Chocolate porridge – how cool is that!
Make up a batch of this dry porridge mixture and it’ll keep happily for up to 2 weeks, making your brekkie routine super-easy.
CALORIES - 356kcal
FAT - 15.9g
SAT FAT - 2.9g
PROTEIN - 11.3g
CARBS - 45.2g
SUGAR - 21.2g
SALT - 0.2g
FIBRE - 6.3g
1 PORTION VEG & FRUIT
Tuna gives us a hit of vitamin D, which in turn helps our bodies to absorb calcium from the feta cheese and natural yoghurt, and they’re what makes this salad creamy and delicious.
Total time: 25 minutes
Peel and finely chop the onion, place in a large bowl with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, then squeeze over all the lemon juice and put aside.
Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions.
Chop the broccoli florets off the stalk.
Cut the woody end off the stalk, halve the stalk lengthways, then chuck it in with the pasta to cook through.
Chop the florets into small bite-sized chunks, adding them to the water for the last minute only, just to take the rawness away.
Meanwhile, whiz the bread and cayenne into crumbs in a food processor, then toast in a dry non-stick frying pan on a medium heat until golden and crispy, tossing regularly.
Peel the cucumber, halve lengthways and scrape out the watery core, then finely slice.
Finely chop the herbs. Mix the yoghurt into the lemony onion, then add the cucumber and herbs.
Drain the pasta and broccoli, finely chop the broccoli stalk, and add it all to the bowl of dressing.
Drain and flake in the tuna, toss together well, then taste and season to perfection.
Divide between your bowls, and serve sprinkled with crumbled feta and the hot crispy crumbs.
CALORIES - 411kcal
FAT - 6.2g
SAT FAT - 2.7g
PROTEIN - 33g
CARBS - 58.9g
SUGAR - 8.8g
SALT - 1.5g
FIBRE - 6.4g
2 PORTIONS VEG & FRUIT
A little sausage goes a long way in this delicious dish. I’ve paired it with sweet squash, which gives us a hit of vitamins A and C, both of which we need to keep our skin nice and healthy.
Total time: 55 minutes
Finely slice the chipolatas and place in a large high-sided pan on a medium heat with 1 tablespoon of oil, the fennel seeds and chilli flakes.
Stir and fry while you chop the squash into 1cm dice (leaving the skin on and deseeding), and peel and finely chop the onions.
Stir the veg into the pan, then cook with a lid ajar for around 20 minutes, or until the squash is starting to break down and caramelize, stirring regularly.
Simmer the stock in a pan on a low heat.
Push the squash aside, and pour the Chianti into the pan. Let it cook away, picking up all that goodness from the base of the pan.
Stir in the rice for 2 minutes, then gradually add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring and waiting for each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next.
Repeat this, stirring and massaging the starch out of the rice, for 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked but still holding its shape, and the risotto is oozy.
Finely slice the radicchio or chicory and stir through the risotto with the cottage cheese, then taste and season to perfection.
Portion up and serve with a fine grating of Parmesan and a sprinkling of picked thyme leaves.
To make this recipe veggie, simply swap out the sausage for 1 x 400g tin of borlotti beans and add them with the rice.
CALORIES - 600kcal
FAT - 15.6g
SAT FAT - 5.1g
PROTEIN - 31.1g
CARBS - 79.6g
SUGAR - 12.2g
SALT - 1.2g
FIBRE - 3.9g
2 PORTIONS VEG & FRUIT
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved