If you’ve followed me on Instagram over the past month, you’ll have noticed I’ve been cooking up a storm from Jamie Oliver’s latest book Everyday Super Food and loving the results. Everyday Super Food is Jamie’s manifest for a healthier happier life, the “most personal book” he has written by his own admission. Approaching 40, Jamie took stock of his life and his health, wanting to be in the best shape he could be. Realising that “knowledge is power”, he set out to learn from the experts (doctors, nutritionists, scientists, professors) and travelled to some countries where people are considered the healthiest in the world in order to absorb the most information he could so he would be able to bring “the relevant stuff” back to us, helping us “get it right on the food front most of the time.” (You might have noticed Jamie’s looking pretty fit these days too…).
The recipes have been developed in collaboration with Jamie’s nutrition team, meaning that they embrace all the food groups and use ingredients that are nutrient-dense. The dishes reflect the “balanced plate” philosophy along with portion control, helping you to ensure you’re getting the correct amount of food. The book included recipes for around 30 lunches, 30 dinners (less than 600 calories each) and 30 breakfasts (less than 400 calories) all of which come in at on average £2.50 per portion. As Jamie says “I don’t know about you, but for the health investment you are making by cooking from this book, for me, that’s a total bargain.”
Jamie acknowledges that a sustainable healthy relationship with food is not achievable without “some naughty days and a few treats” so it’s not about giving up everything you enjoy. Indeed these are not recipes you will feel deprived eating. You will be eating delicious real (and quite often quick to prepare) food that’s nutrient dense to help you feel satisfied – what’s not to love?
What I love about the recipes is that they are all relatively simple and short, most of them fitting on one page of the book alongside a photo which is definitely a bonus. Nothing I like more than all the information I need for a recipe being included in one double page spread. The layout is clear and easy to follow and each recipe includes nutritional information per portion serving. the headnotes often include reasons why X or Y ingredient featured in the dish is a better choice which I find helpful. The recipes use mostly easy-to-find ingredients, nothing obscure that you’d have to go out of your way to find which makes these all the more accessible.
The book is full of big bold flavours, the kind Jamie loves – with more vegetables than you are used to seeing from him (there are only a few meat and chicken dishes in the book, some fish but mostly vegetarian recipes) and less sugar, salt and fats. The recipes are fairly accessible for most levels of cook, indeed I have cooked a few of them with my boys’ cooking club – they are definitely more complex than, say, the recipes in the Food Revolution book but still approachable for those who are not so confident in the kitchen.
So far, I’ve tested (and loved):
Baked eggs in popped beans with cherry tomatoes and ricotta on toast
Not one dud recipe in there (as one would expect from Jamie, his recipes are generally very reliable) and what strikes me looking at all these pictures together is how colourful the dishes are. Big flavours, big colours – this is the type of food that tastes so good you’ll forget how good it is for you!
The Live Well section
Along with the recipes in the book, there’s a fairly comprehensive section that includes information about nutrition, health and well-being. Jamie subscribes to the philosophy that “you really can make positive, sustainable change just by doing the odd thing differently, building on small new habits” and this section talks about ways you can do just that. The chapter covers: the idea of the balanced plate, calorie requirements, the importance of hydration, the key role breakfast plays in setting you up right for the day, eating the rainbow with fruit and veg, the idea of “good carbs” (not all carbs are evil) and dairy, the power of protein and the right kinds of fats. Jamie even ventures into chatting about alcohol and how we can enjoy it responsibly without it becoming detrimental to our health (and there’s some tips for dealing with a hangover – love how he keeps it real!). Jamie discusses organic vs regular produce and gives some tips on how to shop more strategically for a more healthful (and perhaps more economical) shopping basket. Finally (and I love this bit), there’s a section on sleep and its importance. I personally know that if I don’t get enough sleep, I’m not set up for a successful day and Jamie breaks down the whys and hows in this short but very useful section (in his words “fascinatingly geeky stuff” about sleep that he’s learned in his research).
The information in this chapter is not overwhelming in its science – again, making it accessible for all. Many people (me included) would not want to wade through pages and pages of information about nutrition but this is just enough to pique your curiosity to perhaps read more – certainly there’s enough information there to make you question some of your decisions throughout the day – as Jamie wants you to do. Baby steps often…
If you are already a Jamie Oliver fan, you’ll love this book. If you’re not so familiar with his work, this is the book to pick up and read cover to cover – it gives a good sense of who Jamie is today and I feel like it’s a real insight into his food journey over the past, well 30 ish years. The basic Jamie is still there (cheeky, irreverent) but with a wisdom that can only come from spending his life “in food”. Jamie’s sharing what he’s learned along the way so that we can all life a healthier, happier life.
(Full disclosure: I am a contributor to JamieOliver.Com, and a Food Revolution “Super Ambassador” for Canada, though I was supporting Jamie’s cause well before I was doing any of those things. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know how much of a Jamie fan I am and how strongly I believe in his message. I was not asked to write about this book, I purchased it myself. Harper Collins are generously offering two copies for a giveaway but I am not being compensated in any way or in kind for writing this post or hosting the giveaway.)
Canadian readers – win a copy of Everyday Super Food! Details here.
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