Food Revolution Day 2016

As we head towards Food Revolution Day 2017 (FRD) on Friday 19th May, I want to reflect on how awesome last year’s events were.

What a day it was. The stats build year on year, and we’re seeing the revolution gaining ground as the key messages propagate around the world from person to person and community to community.

Jamie’s Facebook Live broadcast reached an astonishing 115 million people, and we saw over 700,000 people become revolutionaries by signing up to the Food Revolution Hub.

Our ambassadors and supporters ran thousands of events all over the world and Jamie shared ’10 recipes to save your life’; learn how to cook these, and you can feed yourself, and your family, for the rest of your life. Along with 9 other writers, I published twists on each of these recipes to show how easy it is to build on these basic recipes and broaden your repertoire to 100 nutritious dishes.

I took a couple of the recipes into Felix’s primary school, St James’ C of E, and spent the day cooking up a storm with the younglings. We had muchos fun with the DIY Oaty Fruity Cereal before making the Simple Houmous. SO EASY, yet so delicious and nutritious. Seriously, they couldn’t get enough.

The younger children in reception loved the classic ‘Identify and Try’ class with a variety of fruits and vegetables. They were so good at giving everything a go.

I have to add that none of this would have been possible without the kind donations from Whole Foods Market Cheltenham who supplied literally everything we needed from their selection of beautiful organic products. We’re so grateful.

 

And it didn’t stop there – Jane Gearing and our wonderful friends and Waitrose Cheltenham kindly ran a class for Dunally Primary School as well, cooking lovely little wholemeal flatbreads with pepper dippers and sugar snap peas, along with the simple houmous recipe above. The children were taught how to make their own bread dough and learnt about how to cut safely using the bridge and claw methods. Jayne, Emma and the team talked to the children about healthy diets and the importance of trying new and different foods, a subject they work into all of their classes in the onsite cookery school. Good on you Waitrose, we salute you.

wholemeal flatbreads

Here’s a little statistic for you that will give you an insight into why this year’s campaign is so important to us: “70% of three-year-olds recognise the McDonald’s symbol, but only half know their own surname…..”

Watch this space..

Food Revolution Day 2017

The UK CEO Cookoff

Here’s what you get if you combine 30 of the worlds finest chefs, 60 of the UK’s captains of industry and 600 unsung heroes under one roof. The inaugural UK CEO Cookoff brought this seemingly unlikely gathering of incredible people together in support of the recently established UKHarvest and the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.

Following the fantastically successful OzHarvest in Australia, founded by social entrepreneur Ronni Kahn back in 2004, the UK now has its own food rescue charity that redistributes quality surplus food from commercial outlets to charities. It carries out this truly inspirational role to nourish our nation’s vulnerable, free of charge. Where do I sign up?

Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cornwall is patron of UKHarvest and we had the pleasure of her gracious company on the night as she mingled with guests and chefs alike, and even got involved in creating a delicious plate of food for an everyday hero.

Camilla Parker Bowles

I was volunteering in the esteemed company of three other wonderful Food Revolution Ambassadors, Lara from Essex, Jaroslav from Switzerland and Thomas from Germany. I’m still awestruck; not by the number of celebrities, but by the sheer inspiration, love and palpable motivation in the room. I’m so grateful to everyone that worked so hard to make this happen.

Food Revolution Ambassadors with Jamie Oliver

Everyday heroes from schools, hospitals and charities were treated to a spectacular evening which I have to admit I was rather jealous of; Nyetimber English sparkling wine and Toast Ale on arrival, producer stalls and the Food Assembly showcasing their wares, stunning food crafted in front of them, raucous entertainment from the magical Dynamo, and the most agreeable tones of Calum Scott.

So here’s how it worked. The 30 chefs taught the 60 CEOs, who then cooked for the 600 guests in groups of 20 around little kitchen pods. It was perhaps the most social, friendly and team-spirited experience I can remember. I dearly hope that this is the first of many such events and given Hotpoint‘s kind sponsorship, I’m sure there’s bigger and better to come next year. I teamed up with Jimmy of Ministry of Food fame, Amy from Hotpoint, the legendary Brett Graham of the Ledbury and Andreas Viestad the Norwegian farmer, traveller, home cook, food writer and activist….yeah, busy guy. My word these guys are talented; the attention to detail leaves me speechless. More importantly, they’re incredibly down to earth, charming and generally bloody good guys. Alongside their budding superstar chefs of the future, Eilish Maloney and Nicolai Ellitsgaard Pedersen from Norway, we had a blast with our CEOs from Google, Quadia, John Lewis and Jamie Oliver Licensing.

I was a little busy to be taking lots of photographs as I normally do, but it would be rude not to pop in a few shots of the mouthwatering plates:

beautiful buffalo mozzarellaUK CEO cookoff dish

These guys weren’t holding back: Truffle seaweed, pigs jowls and goat’s whey butter all made an appearance. The fact that Brett and Eilish put a call through to the Ledbury to have their own bread couriered over in a taxi shows how serious they were about delivering the perfect experience for their guests.

How much did we raise….? Over £500,000 before the night was out, and the total is still rising. Mind-blowing! We’re aiming high in the name of food education, tackling malnutrition and obesity, and reducing the staggering level of food wastage.

Get over there and support the cause folks: www.ceocookoff.co.uk

Roll on 2018 CEO Cookoff.

View from Old Billingsgate Grand Hall

 

Heartbeat

For those that know my friend Sara, little of this will come as a surprise.

How do you fancy catering my charity party? They’ll be about 100 people..

Sara has always hated running, so now she’s running the London Marathon. Admirably, this will be in support of The British Heart Foundation and in loving memory of her dad. You can read her inspirational story here.

To raise cold hard cash she decided to throw one big party.. One big hurrah; the party of the century to smash her fundraising target in one fell swoop.

100 people is a lot more than I’ve ever cooked for, but sure, how can I resist helping out a friend. The loan of her brother’s barn, many late nights of planning, and a troop of dedicated volunteers helped her to pull everything together for the big night.

So. What do you cook for 100 people? It had to be street food, gluten free, and without doubt a Food Revolution stunner – something nutritious, delicious and portable. Oh, and with a vegetarian option too..

Thankfully I had a special request for chilli, and between us we hatched a cunning plan to feed everyone without actually having any cooking facilities in said barn.

Oh, great news Alex, it’s been really popular and I’ve sold a few more tickets..

So.. now we have 250 hungry mouths to feed. I’m big enough to admit I was somewhat terrified. Not to worry though, as my 6-year-old daughter, Winter, crafted me this little beauty to keep me company:

mascot

Many, many hours of prep and we finally made it to crunch time with a beef chilli and a vegetable chilli to serve in wraps with sour cream, salad, chillies, cheese and fresh herbs.

Oh, not to forget the comedy of barbequing sweet potato in a panic.. I kid you not:

barbequed sweet potato slices

A couple of camping burners in the barn to keep it all piping hot and we were away.

Getting ready

What a party! I started serving at 9pm and it was 11:30pm before I had a moment to glance at my watch. I have a whole new respect for people that do this for a living.

The Heartbeat BHF party

Clich here for the Pulled Beef Brisket Chilli recipe, and slide over to Jamie Oliver’s website for the Smoky Vegetable Chilli recipe. Personally, I think that the Veggie Chilli tastes better, but as you can imagine, given the option almost everyone went straight for the beef until it sold out.

I’m super pleased to report that Sara raised a staggering £6,000 for the British Heart Foundation. Amazing. What a legend. Same again next year?

Heatbeat party bottles

Pulled Beef Brisket Chilli

For all the lovely folk that enjoyed the Beef Chilli at the Heartbeat party for the British Heart Foundation in Newent last night, here’s the recipe I used (based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe):

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 kg beef brisket, trimmed and scored
  • olive oil
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 400 ml beef stock
  • 4 bell peppers (red/yellow), sliced
  • 1 tin of black beans
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 3 red chillies, sliced
  • red wine vinegar (splash)

Method:

Mix the spices together with a little salt and pepper and rub it all over the beef. Drizzle with olive oil and seal in a hot pan until browned all over.

Browning beef brisket

Place the brisket in a large pot and add the tomatoes, stock, peppers and black beans.

Fry the onions and chillies for a few minutes and add them to the pot.

Bring it all to the boil, cover, and then simmer on a low heat for 4 to 5 hours until you can easily pull the beef apart using 2 forks.

Add a splash of red wine vinegar to balance the flavours.

beef brisket chilli

Serve with sour cream, grated cheese, fresh chillies, salad leaves, fresh coriander and basil. If you’re serving the beef in tortilla wraps, this should serve around 20 people.

 

 

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

Foodie Resolutions 2017

Every year the Food Revolution becomes stronger and reaches further. This year is going to be a big one – I can feel it. The number of concurrent initiatives combined with growing media coverage is helping us to build awareness. Every little action adds to the snowball effect that will ultimately turn the tide and deliver change.

So. For 2017, my resolutions are as follows:

  1. Carve out additional time for supporting the Food Revolution charity. I’ve found it quite challenging over the last year as I’ve been involved in more activities and events than ever before, but it never feels like enough. I want to do more, so I’ll have to develop a strategy for allocating time.
  2. Run. I honestly don’t think that there’s any other sport as accessible and ’rounded’ for mind, body and soul. I’m slowly returning from my running hiatus and I need to focus on getting out there as often as possible.
  3. “Why not?”. I love pushing the envelope and forcing myself into situations where I have to try something new, different or out of my comfort zone. Last year I made a list of specific ingredients that I’d work with and it was hugely satisfying. Whatever comes up, my initial response will be to ask myself “why not”. Relax and go with the flow; what’s the worst that can happen hey?!?
  4. Make more videos. Hmmm, see point 3 ref: comfort zone. Do I wish that I had more clips of events and moments from the last few years? Absolutely. Let’s be a bit brave and see how it pans out.

Now, when I suggested this monthly ambassador challenge to the team, I was feeling, like every year to date, quite optimistic and positive about what the following year may have in stall.. Little did I know that the world would be facing such troubling developments with potentially long-lasting and catastrophic implications.

Good luck all, I hope it’s a good one.

 

Gluten Free Hoisin Sauce

I’m hoping that I’m not the only person who struggles when deciding what to cook when friends come over to eat. I get a bit anxious when said friends have allergies or a particular intolerance. Thankfully there are thousands of recipes and ideas out there on the internet, but I still seem to have a bit of a mental block about it.

I thought I’d cracked it last time with ‘Char Sui Pork’ until I realised that Hoisin sauce (one of the key ingredients) isn’t gluten free..

Given that I aim to make everything from scratch, I thought I’d have a go at making the hoisin sauce as well – it turned out better than expected and made quite a nice little parting gift as well.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 1tsp Five Spice powder
  • 125ml Red Miso paste
  • 125ml Honey
  • 2tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar

Method:

  1. Blend it all together.
  2. Marvel at how clever you are.

You can use your GF hoisin sauce straight away or pop it into sterilised jars, refrigerate and use within a month.

homemade Hoisin

This blog post is part of December’s Food Revolution challenge to make your own condiment.

And for interest, here’s how the Char Sui Pork belly strips turned out:

GF char sui pork

Happy eating!

 

Going Green

I’m a convert. I’ve been initiated into the world of smoothies.

Inspired by the request for an ‘Alien Food’ cooking lesson at St James’ Primary School, I too have ventured into a somewhat mysterious and unfamiliar world..

This has long been the domain of my wife (For The Wellness Of Winter) and her dawn blender sessions that act as my daily alarm clock.

This recipe is just so perfectly quick and easy, but more importantly for me, the result is more ‘juice’ than ‘smoothie’ (personally I struggle with texture of smoothies).

Today’s four classes proved that children just adore this recipe, even though it’s loaded with raw spinach – a great way to pack in essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

green smoothie classes

Green Juice

Ingredients: (1 glass)

  • 100g Baby Spinach
  • 1/2 Lime
  • 125ml Apple Juice
  • 1/2 Banana

Method:

  1. Wash your spinach, peel your banana and squeeze the juice from your lime.
  2. Blend it!
  3. Serve.

If you have a Nutri Ninja/Bullet then great, but a normal blender will be just fine. The baby spinach leaves are not fibrous like kale so you won’t be left with any pulp.

happy face

 

 

 

Fighting Talk

I’m feeling a little despondent following the panel discussion on the UK Obesity Strategy this morning. Just when things were looking so promising with the Sugar Tax and David Cameron’s wholehearted support for the cause, we’re having to rally the troops yet again.

The long awaited Childhood Obesity Strategy delivered by Prime Minister Theresa May simply doesn’t hit the mark, and without a significant and meaningful plan of action, the outlook for the NHS is bleak, bordering on futile.

Lucky for us, we have a pretty formidable line-up in our corner… Olympian James Cracknell OBE, Dr Dawn Harper of Embarrassing Bodies fame, Justine Roberts of Mumsnet and Jamie Oliver gathered together at Fifteen to re-open the debate with Channel 4 Social Affairs Editor Jackie Long.

Jamie Oliver, Jackie Long, Dr Dawn Harper, Justine Roberts and James Cracknell

I’m not going to regurgitate all the details from the day for you, as proceedings were broadcast on Facebook Live and you can watch the entire event here.

The solution isn’t straight forward, it’s not as simple as just enforcing one particular change, we have to influence behaviours over time, and tackle the problem on a number of fronts.

So what happened exactly? Why did we end up with a watered-down, limp version of what could have been, in the words of Jamie Oliver, a real moment: a moment where we took charge of the future for our children, and corrected our course to protect the welfare of millions. I’m at a loss, I have theories, but I’m not one to speculate.

The conversation is not over yet – you can hear more about it all on Channel 4’s Dispatches at 8pm tonight (31st October 2016): The Secret Plan To Save Fat Britain.

Let’s not fail our future generations – please join us by contacting your local MP (http://www.tweetyourmp.com/) and #TellTheresa what you think about it.

chatting with jamie oliver

I’m going to end on a positive note as I’m confident that we can resolve this; the stakes are higher than you think, and the issues affect millions of us. There’s still hope.

Hey junk food, leave our kids alone.

 

 

Vietnamese Sweet Potato Curry

This recipe completes the set; 10 twists on Jamie Oliver’s 10 recipes to save your life. It has been an honour to share recipes for such an important cause. The concept is simple: master these basic recipes and you’ll be empowered to cook good, nutritious and delicious food for yourself, and your family. If you can learn to cook those dishes, you can easily extend your repertoire to a whopping 1oo dishes with our twists and tweaks.

Vietnamese curries are milder than Thai curries but you can always add extra chilli as a garnish if you like it hot.

This curry starts with a paste that will deliver the wonderful aromatic flavour – you could always buy a paste, but I like to do things properly.

Ingredients:

Vietnamese Curry Paste

  • 1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer leaves removed
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of galangal or ginger, peeled
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 shallots, peeled
  • 2 small green chillies
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 bunch coriander stalks
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar or light brown muscovado
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil

 

Sweet Potato Curry

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 tbsp Vietnamese curry paste
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 600g sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 200g green beans, halved
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • dash of fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • coriander leaves

Method:

Begin by blending the curry paste ingredients together.  vietnamese-ingredients

curry-paste

You can keep the spare curry paste in an airtight sterilised jar in the fridge or freeze it for future use.

Fry the onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes and then stir in 3 tablespoons of the curry paste.

Cook it out for a couple of minutes and add the sweet potato, palm sugar, fish sauce and coconut milk.

Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until the sweet potato is tender.

Taste the curry, you may want to tweak the flavour with a dash of fish sauce or sprinkling of palm sugar.

Add the green beans and spinach and cook for another 5 minutes until the beans are tender.

vietnamese-s-p-curry

I serve this dish with cauliflower rice, fresh red chillies, fresh coriander leaves and a wedge of lime, but it would work well with rice or even noodles.

You can add chicken to this recipe if you like, but to be honest, I really don’t think that it needs it.

Enjoy!