Saturday, March 27, 2010

Review & REVOLUTION: Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

I've had Jamie's Food Revolution cookbook sitting in my kitchen for several weeks, cooking from it, and waiting for my own copy to arrive on my doorstep. The recipes are simple, easy to cook, and full of flavor and basic, healthy properties to fill our tummies with home cooked...REAL food. After watching his show last week, and having my own thoughts on cooking and health, I had to post a review of his cookbook and plan to help change the way we all eat.

Jamie's newest cookbook is really great. I had to say that I was sold when I saw the expansive, simple recipes for a variety of curries. He had pasta dishes, salads, vegetables, meat dishes, and just good, basic food. These foods aren't new to many of us, but they are brought back into our attention, and the varieties of ways you might tweak these recipes into new, fun dishes for every day of the week is a nice addition.

Let me give a bit of background on Jamie Oliver, and his appeal to me, personally. One of the first years the Food Network started on TV, we also started watching. Jamie Oliver was a regular on the network, sometimes not on during regular hours, but you could always catch him, or record him as I did. There was something about his passion about food and cooking that really drew me in, and I was hooked. To date, I've cooked more recipes inspired by or introduced to me by Jamie Oliver than any other chef (and I actually really like his nemesis Gordon Ramsay as well...ha, ha). His approach to food is natural, multi-cultural, and exciting. I have his TV show DVDs and cookbooks, and though I don't always like everything he cooks (some of those fish dishes I still can't sell myself on), I do love his passion.

Let's segway to the documentary Food, Inc. that came out on DVD last year. Appropriately so, I was scared of what I saw, and deep down knew that the message of that DVD was true and very real. The basic premise of the film is that too many of are relying on processed, prepackaged foods that are full of chemicals and additives. Also, our meat and dairy have chemicals and antibiotics in them, as a result of producing these products as quickly and efficiently as possible. In essence, we've gotten away from our ownership of our own food.

Why does this all matter to me? Well, in 1998, my father passed away from breast cancer, and thanks to a pancreatic tumor of my own, I was put on a cancer study that revealed I carried a number of cancer genes. Here's what I've learned. Weight isn't 100% of the issue. Health is. I've always tried, as desperately as I can, to eat healthy meals. I'm not a fanatic, but know that I have to try. After seeing Food, Inc., however, I did change the types of foods I put into my shopping cart. I already knew that harmful chemicals could set off the cancer producing portion of my genes, but hadn't thought about the foods and materials I came in contact with that are doing just that. I now eat a lot of organic foods, whole grains as much as possible, and have included much more fruits and vegetables in my meals and cooking. More importantly, I have changed my thinking about food and health. I'm definitely not perfect, but a shift in the way I look at food has taken place. Weight is my next big hurtle to tackle, but food seems to be top of the list for good health in the present.

*Soap box removed from the room, and back to ground level.*

All right. I'll stop waxing long in my testimony to good foods, cooked in our own homes. Even if you don't enjoy cooking, there are amazing cookbooks that can help break you in with easy recipes and beautiful pictures to see what you're cooking. Jamie Oliver's most recent cookbook is one, but as also highlighted here previously, are: Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave, and So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week.

I also have to say that Anticancer, A New Way of Life, changed the way I think about health and food forever. It's no longer about my waist size, and more about extending my life with greater vitality. If you're interested in a more scientific background on how food turns off and on those cancer genes, I think this book is a must.

My final plea. As a huge Jamie Oliver fan, and lover of his cause, I would ask that you visit his web site to sign the pledge for healthier foods in our schools. I don't have children, but if I did, I would want the school fixing my child more than chicken nuggets and pizza. Join his food revolution to impact the health and vitality of all our children!

Watch Jamie's show every Friday night on ABC, and don't forget to sign his petition.


  1. I didn't know you had a pancreatic tumor--how frightening! That's serious stuff. :(

    I watched Food Revolution last night and had several thoughts:

    1. I want to have Jamie Oliver's children;
    2. Kids don't even know what tomatoes or potatoes look like anymore?!?!? and
    3. No wonder my brother didn't know how to use a knife and fork until he was 16.

    Scary stuff. I'm really glad I spend most of school not eating lunches now. I never watched any of Oliver's previous shows, but I do love Rachel Ray, who is also a big advocate for healthy food I think.

  2. This is an excellent post! I've got Food, Inc. in my Netflix queue, and like Ellie Krieger's books, too. There is a Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads every Saturday - you should add this post to her links!

  3. Wonderful post. I saw that his show was on earlier this week. I'll have to see if I can catch it again soon. How scary to find out you have a tumor! Wow bless you.

    Heart issues run in my family quite a bit and I've lost people really close to me because of it.

    I can't change how my family eats, but maybe if we set good examples we can help? I'd like to not just diet, but change my eating life style habits. This sounds right up my ally.

    Isn't he the chief from Oprah too? I don't watch Oprah a ton, but he sounded/looked familiar.

    lol I'm addicted to Gordon Ramsay.

    If you don't mind suggestions my main go to guy is Dr. Weil: Optimum Health. I have his old health book. It has the top 10 best eating healthy diets. And the worst 5. Looks like Jamie Oliver will be my next in line go to guy.

    btw: there's a little something for you at my blog. :D

  4. I love your focus on healthful living and the impact that our food can have on development of disease etc. I went to Canyon Ranch a few years ago and their focus there on the incorporation of whole foods and knowing what is in your meals really resonated with me.

    Thanks for highlighting "Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life" - this looks like one I would enjoy.

  5. Wonderful blog, and thanks for all the links to other cookbooks that also address the same issues. I've been cooking my way through Jamie's Food Revolution for the last 8 months or so and there are so many wonderful, easy and nutritious recipes that I've become quite addicted to. It's really made a difference to the way my family eats. I no longer allow any junk food in my house, and don't buy frozen entrees or mixes any longer. Everything from scratch!

  6. Enjoyed your review...and your thoughts on eating healthier! It's not often that issues such as this can come off as anything other than preach-y or rant-ful...but yours simply showed the passion you feel for the issue while still allowing the reader to make up their OWN mind on the matter. Well done! May have to check out a few of his recipes myself....thanks for sharing! Happy reading (and eating)!

  7. Heidenkind--Yea...pancreatic tumors...NOT fun. :) I'll admit, that's made me a bit paranoid, but definitely a lot more careful about making sure it doesn't come back. I have to say though, I really do hate what I see lunchrooms serving. Egg rolls, hot dogs, french fries, and fried chicken on a regular basis is just not a great idea.

    JoAnn--Thanks. I hope you like Food, Inc. Scared me a bit, I won't lie. I'll have to catch one of Beth Fish Reads later posts!

    Milly Marie--Yes, he has cooked a couple of times on Oprah's show. He's just a great chef, and so excited about doing it. :) It seems like with health issues, you really are forced to look at it, eh? Thanks for the "something" you have for me. :) I'm bad at acknowledging those things, so let me say thanks now!!! (In case I don't get back to it!)

    Booksync--I've never heard of Canyon Ranch, I'll have to look that up. Thanks for sharing!

    Luckiest1--Thanks for sharing. I love hearing that other people are trying to cook more for their families. There's just me, so I really don't have any excuse. I can always put food up, and should!

    GMR--Thank you so much for your kind words about my post! I'm really not trying to shove any sort of food ideology on people, but am pretty concerned about health. Thanks again for your vote of confidence. That means a lot to me. :)

  8. I like Jamie Oliver, but I haven't yet caught his new show. I'll have to take a look.