January 2011: My Infatuation with Jamie Oliver

Happy 2011!  OK, so maybe infatuation is the wrong word, but I bet that got your attention!  I do absolutely love all the work he is doing to bring awareness to the issues around food and nutritionally related diseases. I love that he is a champion of fresh, seasonal and local food.  I also love that he is absolutely enjoying what he is doing—you can tell that he is having a blast while he cooks.  What I love about him most is the really approachable way he thinks about cooking.  Anyone can (and should) do it!  He has actually said that the “chef hat/coat” can be a hinderance to building a repoire with people who want to learn to cook some simple, fresh dishes, as it creates a barrier between those that have professional cooking training and education and those that don’t.  No worries!, says Jamie Oliver.  Every child should learn at least 10 recipes that they can make easily—this should be part of basic education/life skills.

So how’s that for some ideas for a New Year’s Resolution for 2011…  Teach your kids to learn to make 10 recipes?  Cook more yourself?  Eat more local, seasonal food?  Have fun in the kitchen, the heart of the home?

My first exposure to Jamie Oliver was when I read one of his books, Jamie At Home.  This is a fantastic book that will leave you with the burning desire to have your very own “potager” (or kitchen garden) from which you get daily inspiration for seasonal meals. The recipes are great, but he doesn’t emphasize the recipes as being the point.  It is more about how to combine things to make something wonderful with what you have after you’ve visited your garden (or farmer’s market).

I’ve since read a few more of his books, but my favorite is still Jamie At Home (with a close second being Cook with Jamie).  I haven’t yet read Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals yet, but that is on my list for this year.  Post a comment and tell us what your favorite book by Jamie Oliver is!   You can also purchase Jamie Oliver’s books through links on the HKIE site, and when you do Nurture will receive a small commission from Amazon Associates.  So check out some of the books and see if any catch your eye.

I also love anything to do with the Fifteen Foundation, which started as a training restaurant for young people who were not in full time education or employment.  The Fifteen Foundation charity now owns Fifteen London and continues its work, recently recruiting the eighth year of students for training in London. The first Fifteen franchise opened in Amsterdam in 2004 and subsequent Fifteens have opened in Cornwall, UK and Melbourne, Australia in 2006.

I must admit that since we do not have cable TV (we only get a few channels via our old antennae), I haven’t seen many of his shows, and notably, I’ve missed the “Food Revolution” series, but I’m eagerly waiting for it to be released on DVD.  But I’ve heard a lot about the content he covered, and the episode about making chicken nuggets is high on my list of “must see”. If you’ve seen the series, post a comment and let us know what your favorite episode was!

If you have about 20 minutes and want to see something inspiring, I’ve included the link here for Jamie’s TED award speech this year.  If (you are in a hurry and) you want to skip over the (somewhat depressing) background information describing the problem of food in our country and nutritionally-related diseases, skip the first two thirds (about 14 minutes) and get right to where he talks about solutions.  But you’ll miss his description of how the problems have come together through almost a “perfect storm” type interaction between 1) “Main Street” in America (how we buy our food in huge supermarkets, fast food, etc.), 2) Home (we don’t cook anymore) and 3) School (kids are not taught nutrition education and are exposed to a lot of awful food in school).  At about 11 minutes, there is a brief clip where he shows vegetables to kids at school, and they have no idea what they are.  Very jaw-dropping.  You’ll also miss the part where he dumps a wheelbarrow of sugar on the stage that represents the sugar in milk (he is going after the flavored/sweetened milk manufacturers, not the dairy industry) that is consumed in the elementary school years of the average American child.  Ultimately, he goes through a list of things we must do, including increasing education about food/cooking, improving labeling, providing fresh school lunches.  I hope you find this speech as inspiring and motivating as I did.

You can also surf around the Jamie Oliver website and find recipes, information about his foundation, cool videos that teach you basic kitchen skills, and so much more.  Check it out!

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution for 2011?  Please post a comment on Healthy Kids Ideas Exchange and share it with us!


Back copies of Healthy Kids Ideas Exchange are always available online.

Don’t forget to check out the recent posts on the Garden Tales and Simple Dinner Ideas Blogs!

Garden Tales:   a seasonal adventure for you and your kids to enjoy all the wonderful bounty of edible and ornamental gardens.  http://www.healthykidsideas.com/category/garden-blog/

Simple Dinners Ideas: on-going inspiration for easy meals your entire family will enjoy. http://www.healthykidsideas.com/category/simple-dinner-ideas/


This column is for information only, and no part of its contents should be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, recommendation or endorsement by the author. You should always ask your physician for his or her recommendation before starting any new health-related activity.


  1. Hi Ya,only just found this blog thanks to a google alert. Did you know that Jamie is also now doing party plan! Any people in the south west can contact me for further details on jamiesw@uwclub.net Its another way for him to pass it on and have others join in with his success x

    Great blog and I am now going to have a good look around x

  2. kathryn says:

    More on why kids should be doing the cooking themselves: Kids Eat Healthier When They Are Involved.
    Getting kids to pass up junk food in favor of healthier fruits and veggies has led to many a mealtime meltdown for parents everywhere. Now, researchers in Public Health Nutrition offer a simple solution: give them an apron.

    A province-wide survey of Grade 5 students in Alberta, Canada suggests the best way to get your child to eat healthier foods — and actually enjoy them — is to have them help with meal preparation. Nearly one-third of children reported helping with meal prep at least once a day; another one-third said they helped one to three times a week. A quarter of children helped once a month, and 12.4 per cent avoided the kitchen completely.

    In general, children preferred fruits to veggies, but children who helped with cooking showed a greater preference for both. Vegetable preference was also 10 per cent higher among children who helped cook. The data also showed that kids who did meal prep and cooking were more confident about the importance of making healthier food choices.

    These lessons are equally important to older youth, many of whom will be leaving home and may be responsible for their own diets for first time.

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