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.