Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day – Here’s To Jamie’s Food Revolution!

I’d like to celebrate Earth Day by celebrating Jamie Oliver.

His Food Revolution television show (the finale is on tomorrow night) isn’t just good for our health, it’s also good for the planet by celebrating all the fresh, fabulous food that’s out there. And it’s an important step on the path to a nationwide commitment to healthy eating.

Jamie's Food Revolution, the book

I haven’t seen every minute of every show, but what I have seen has been really moving. Seriously, I have to have tissues nearby.

When Jamie was trying to win over that recalcitrant radio host and he showed him the super-sized coffins that were being required more and more in their town, oh my! He definitely got me...and the radio guy. It was a complete wake-up call.

Who would ever have thought about the actual, real-life ramifications of the end of life arrangements for the morbidly obese? I’m kind of amazed that ABC had no problem with that segment. It’s great that they didn’t, though, because it was an authentic stick-to-you-forever moment that is hard to forget.

Some of the most important messages in the Food Revolution are so commonsense that it’s a little disheartening that they have to be spelled out.

We should know what's in our food. That means the sources of the meat in a hamburger; the additives in food on the supermarket shelves; where our vegetables are coming from.
Our kids are going to live shorter lives than we are. This alone should scare us into throwing out the Cheetos.
Jamie loves to make this point: “The trouble is with the adults” and not the kids. Parents that cook healthfully FOR and WITH their kids are a huge part of the solution.
Unprocessed school lunches are another vital step. We see Jamie completely agog as he watches little kids eating chicken nuggets for lunch, when they had the same thing for dinner the night before. It’s heartbreaking…and maddening. Those poor little people.
Simply taking the brightly colored (and highly sweetened) milk out of the lunch room is a small victory.

It’s all so obvious that it’s hard not to ask HOW DID WE GET HERE? But, luckily, Jamie really doesn’t want to blame anyone, he wants to move forward, and as he says, “It begins now.”

I’m sure you’ve seen this petition:

I support the Food Revolution. America's kids need better food at school and better health prospects. We need to keep cooking skills alive.

Click on it and pass it along. Jamie plans to take the signatures to the White House to show the growing support for new food policies that enhance and encourage a healthier lifestyle. He’s aiming for a million signatures.

Now, as a special treat for you on Earth Day, NOT ONLY have I posted these really dishy photos of Jamie, but I also have two of his recipes that I’m posting with permission. AND here’s that really cute picture again to gaze at while you peruse the recipes.

Jamie Oliver’s Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Crispy Posh Ham

Click here for printable recipe.

This is a great way to prepare chicken breasts. The texture of the crisp cooked prosciutto goes brilliantly with the tender chicken. Bashing the chicken out thinly before you start cooking means it cooks much faster than a regular chicken breast. If you can’t get hold of prosciutto, then any kind of thin ham, such as Parma ham, or even smoked streaky bacon will work just as well.

Serves 2

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 skinless chicken breast fillets, preferably free-range or organic

Freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon

1 ¼ ounces grated Parmesan

6 slices of prosciutto

Olive oil

To prepare your chicken

Grate your Parmesan. Pick the thyme leaves off the stalks. Carefully score the underside of the chicken breasts in a criss-cross fashion with a small knife. Season with a little pepper (you don’t need salt as the prosciutto is quite salty). Lay your breasts next to each other and sprinkle over most of the thyme leaves. Grate a little lemon zest over them and sprinkle with Parmesan. Lay 3 prosciutto slices on each chicken breast overlapping them slightly. Drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining thyme leaves. Put a square of plastic wrap over each breast and give them a few really good bashes with the bottom of a saucepan until they are about ½ inch thick.

To cook your chicken

Put a frying pan over a medium heat. Remove the plastic wrap and carefully transfer the chicken breasts, prosciutto side down, into the pan. Drizzle over some olive oil. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, turning halfway through giving the ham side an extra 30 seconds to crisp up.

To serve your chicken

Either serve the chicken breasts whole or cut them into thick slices and pile them on a place. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over and a good drizzle of olive oil. Lovely with mashed potatoes and green veggies or a crunchy salad.

Jamie Oliver’s One-Cup Pancakes, Tropical Yogurt and Mango

Click here for printable recipe.

These are the easiest pancakes to make—you don’t even need scales to weigh your ingredients. All you need is a cup or a mug. As long as you use the same cup for measuring both the flour and the milk, you’ll be laughing! If you use self-rising flour, the pancakes will be more American in style, lovely and fluffy and thick. All-purpose flour will give you thinner ones, more like European crepes. Great with a sprinkling of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice (very old school!) or drizzled with maple syrup and served with crispy bacon. Try throwing a handful of blueberries into the batter mix if making American-style pancakes. I also love eating them with coconut-flavored yogurt, which is delicious. I’ve given you a recipe here for making your own similar tropical-flavored yogurt. It actually gets better if you let it stand in the fridge for a few hours, the coconut will soften.

Serves 4

For the flavored yogurt

2 ripe bananas

A handful of unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup natural yogurt

For the pancakes

1 egg, preferably free-range or organic

1 cup of self-rising flour (see above)

Sea salt

2 ripe mangoes

2 tablespoons butter

1 lime

To make your yogurt and pancake batter

Peel your bananas, put them into a large bowl, and mash them with a fork. Add the coconut and the yogurt and mix well. Put this to one side until needed and get started on your pancakes. Crack your egg into a large mixing bowl. Add your flour, milk, and a pinch of sea salt. Whisk everything together until you’ve got a lovely, smooth batter. Slice the mangoes away from their pits, score the flesh across, and push outward so that you can slice it off the skin to give you diced mango.

To cook your pancakes

Put a large frying pan on a medium heat and add half the butter. When the butter has melted and the pan is nice and hot, use a ladle to spoon the batter into the pan. Each ladleful will make 1 pancake—they’re quite small, so you can cook several at a time. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes and use a turner to flip them over when they start to brown on the bottom and get little bubbles on the top. When cooked on both sides, transfer them to a plate, carefully wipe the pan clean with paper towels, add the rest of the butter, and start again. Keep going until all the batter is used up.

To serve your pancakes

Serve straight away, topped with a dollop of flavored yogurt, the diced fresh mango and wedges of lime for squeezing over.


Java Joggers said...

I signed the petition earlier. I do like the show... I hope that some serious steps will be taken to improve the school lunches and their federal and state guidelines. I'm constantly appalled at what the students in my school call "lunch." Many of them rely solely on french fries and cookies for their mid day meal. The hot lunches/sides seem to be very heavy on the starches. The kids that brown bag seem to have more healthy options, although many admit to me that they often throw the lunches away and buy the fries and cookies anyway!

Mary said...

You are doing such wonderful work and reinforcement here. I'm so glad I found your blog. I learn something everytime I visit. As an aside, I personally agree with you about the 5 minute boil, but there is a push for discarding marinades. It probably is like eggs. This year good, next year bad. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

P.S. Signed the petition earlier.

Emily said...

Something drastic does need to be done about school lunches. I think this problem will be fixed. But what about the parents cooking dinner for their children? I'd say most parents are too tired/lazy to fix anything healthy for their kids.

I know a lot of schools have changed their policies on what kids can bring to share with the class for parties and birthdays. Now they have lists of healthy snacks that they can bring in.

Sheila said...

I signed the petition earlier as well. I mentor at the school in my town, and its so sad. First, the kids get maybe 13-15 minutes to get through the line, find a seat, eat, and chat. They have teachers roaming through the tables remind them to stop chattering and stuff their mouths with whatever slop is on their plate. Its awful! When I leave the school which is usually right after the last lunch shift, there is at least one kid in the nurse's office complaining of upset stomach. The nurse replies, "You ate too fast." UGH!

Have you heard that some of the sponsors behind Jaime's show are companies that sell fast food or frozen processed food? I googled it awhile back - but couldn't truly trust the sources... I do understand that it takes money to do what he's doing..... I don't know... Just didn't sit right I suppose. I wonder if there are alternative sponsors who promote wholesome foods. Maybe without the processed sponsors it wouldn't be financially possible to do what he's trying to do.

What do you think of that?

Sue said...

Hey Ginny,
On the show last night, they were showing that the kids that BROUGHT lunch had the unhealthier choices. Why, with all we now know, would parents do that?

Hi Mary,
You're right. Throwing away marinades seem to be this year's bugaboo, but I'm sticking to my guns and my yummy BOILED marinades.
Great that you signed it.

I know it takes more effort to put together a healthy lunch, but the facts are irrefutable about the harm of fast and junk foods. We gotta get with it!

That's so interesting. Instead of lunch being a relaxing respite in the middle of the day, it becomes a rushed continuation of the rest of their hectic day. That's not good.

About the fast food sponsors, Jamie's FR site even has a message board about it. It's horrible, but I guess, just as he had to deal with the realities of that freezer filled with processed food, he decided that sponsorship by the very same people that cause the problem - but are adding more healthful choices - was something he could live with.

I hate to admit this, but I heard an interesting take on a similar issue on Rachael’s show. (I KNOW!) It was some kind of audience pro and con segment and the question was about banning fast food places in poor neighborhoods.

The pro person obviously said that they were contributing to the health and obesity problems of the neighborhood etc.

The con person made SUCH an interesting point. Banning fast food places from poor neighborhoods will take away a great source of employment for young (and other) people. (I NEVER thought of that.) And why not, instead, demand that they have healthy and economical choices on their menus, before they are permitted to build?

I like that compromise, even if it’s not perfect. Public pressure got supersizing out of McDonald’s, increased attention could continue to get more and more healthy menus.

Plus which is more likely? That the American public will stop eating at fast food places? Or that the American public will start making healthier choices at fast food places? I admit, both SEEM like a longshot, but aren’t we all beginning to catch on to the fact that WE ARE WHAT WE EAT??!