Michael Pollan’s food rules animation

Politics and greed causes starvation not lack of food – there is enough food produced in the World to feed everyone. Yes, there are going to be issues, going forward, feeding the world’s population and research shows that organic can be a big part of the solution, providing similar and in some cases almost double the yield of intensively farmed crops. So don’t necessarily think of organic as niche market. Not least as intensive farming uses pesticides and fertilisers which need oil for production.

Michael Pollan puts it ever so much more eloquently than I ever could….and this wonderful animation brings his words to life beautifully..

“Food Rules” by Michael Pollan – RSA/Nominet Trust competition from Marija Jacimovic on Vimeo.

We all need to eat more sustainably – a healthy diet looks the same as a sustainable diet – lots of veg, some fruit, lots of water, some complex carbohydrates, lean protein from vegetables and some from fish and meat, some healthy fats and little sugar – best in its natural form – in fruit.


Organic Catalan Chicken

My first job when I graduated was on the Organic Targets Campaign at Sustain – where I worked for the lovely, Cath Fookes. We organised a rally and lobby of MP’s to increase Organic Farming in the UK and it worked. Cath now works for the Organic Trade Board on their Why I love organic campaign – which published the Discover Organic Cook Book – which is on sale in Waitrose at the moment.

Yes I know that all sounds like a thinly-veiled plug and it is, and I don’t care because I love organic and only ever buy organic and free range meat, eggs, dairy and salmon. With fruit and veg, I buy British and organic and I grow my own – which is of course, organic.

Quality over quantity is my mantra. Yes organic is more expensive, but there are good reasons for this – the animals have more room to move about (lower stocking density), are not fed antibiotics to make them grow unnaturally fast. Milk and meat has higher levels of omega 3 fats compared to intensively farmed – because cows are fed on a natural grass diet. Another reason why we shouldn’t have mega dairies in this country.

Organic and free range chicken has 25% less fat than intensively farmed, and higher levels of healthy fats.

I bought a lovely organic chicken from the farm shop and made Catalan Chicken from the cook book – Kate Humble’s recipe – and it was delicious – my daughter loved it, though didn’t believe me when I told her it had chocolate in it…

You will need…

1 tbsp olive oil
1 finely chopped onion
1 free range organic chicken cut into 8 pieces
1 tin of plum tomatoes
small bag of prunes (I used just over 100g and ate the rest)
4 cloves of garlic crushed
two handfuls of pine nuts
1 tbsp ground almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
25 g organic dark chocolate

How to….

Heat the oil in a pan over a low heat and add the onion and cook for 15 minutes until soft, with the lid on. (I cooked mine for 10 minutes). Put the lid on the pan and bring to a simmer on a low heat.

Meanwhile brown the chicken in a pan.

Whizz the tin of tomatoes in a food processor, and add to the onions with the crushed garlic.

Cook for a further 10-15 minutes, simmering gently reducing the sauce.

This is apparently the basis of lots of Catalan dishes, and is called the sofregit.

Add the chicken to the tomatoes and onions with the ground almonds, cinnamon and prunes to the dish, stir well and season.

Meanwhile toast the pine nuts.

After about 30 minutes, when the chicken is cooked, grate the chocolate into the pan and add the toasted pine nuts.

We had ours with mashed potatoes, carrots and purple sprouting broccoli. And I’ve got some more in the fridge for tomorrow.

There are lots of lovely seasonal recipes for the family in this book: Raymond Blanc’s apple tart (well his’ maman’s) recipe, baba ganoush, tarragon baked chicken and carrots, green thai curry and some lovely pasta recipes too…o and a recipe for homemade scotch eggs from the founder of Laverstock Park Farm.

Some of the recipes are on the Why I Love Organic website too.

Breakfast pancake recipe for Shrove Tuesday or any other day

We had these for breakfast yesterday, this morning and will have them for breakfast tomorrow too! Bleary-eyed and packing for a trip to France, my husband agreed to make daughter pancakes for breakfast this morning. So this is his recipe really – I had to ask him to text it to me from the airport. Tomorrow night,for a change, I might just make the old fashioned pancakes I remember from childhood… in the meantime here’s Andy’s mini pancake recipe:

For 8-10 pancakes you will need…

150g white spelt flour
1tsp baking powder
capful of vanilla extract
150ml milk (or plant based milk)
1 organic egg
10g unsalted butter
maple syrup
yogurt (optional)

How to…

Sift the flour, baking powder into a mixing bowl.
Crack the egg into a bowl and add to the milk and vanilla extract, whisk together.
Pour the liquid mixture into the flour, beating with a wooden spoon.
On a medium heat melt a teaspoon of the butter.
Ladle a couple of spoonfuls of the batter into the pan and fry for a couple of minutes until bubbles appear on the top of the pancake – this shows its ready for you to turn over.
Cook the other side for two minutes.
Serve piled with fruit and a teaspoon or so of maple syrup.


These pancakes are a great weaning food for babies, cut into strips makes them easier to handle. No need to add the maple syrup as babies shouldn’t have sugar. Serve with mashed banana.

I like mine with yogurt on the side too…

To add more fruit add about 120g of blueberries or 80g of raisins to the pancake batter before cooking. Right am off to make batter for tomorrow morning’s Lets Get Cooking breakfast at school…

Easy ways to get your children to eat veg #1

Serve veg before the main meal, as a starter. It’s as simple as that.

I am usually running late with my cooking so my daughter often tells me she’s hungry in that half an hour before mealtime.

It doesn’t take long to steam a few veg and serve as nibbles, or preparing raw veg is even quicker.

She will happily munch through the veg without loosing her appetite for the main meal.

As a guide on portion sizes, the wonderful CHEW! by Caroline Walker Trust* gives guidance as about 40g per veg for children under 5 years – with at least 2 types of veg served at main meals. So thats about 80g of veg at main meals.

For children aged between 5 -11 years this increases to the recommended portion size for adults – 80g per portion. Of course you aren’t going to double veg intake over night on their 5th birthday. Its useful guidance and shows what to aim for.

At snack time too offer veg and/or fruit along with starchy carbs for energy.

*Caroline Walker Trust was the first organisation to devise school nutrition and food standards. The current school standards are based on those set by Caroline Walker Trust.

Clam Linguine

I have been off work for a week with the 5 year old who has a cough that’s doing the rounds. She hasn’t been well enough for school but not ill enough to be in bed. I did manage to get her out of the house yesterday – she has wanted to be in pyjamas all day – I get that sometimes too. After shopping we went to the beach and sat by the shore. The sounds of the sea, watching the waves, the open sky and sunshine was all very therapeutic for a short while before we decided it was too cold and time to get cosy indoors again.

After sitting by the sea I wanted to make a dish with shellfish for supper and found frozen clams in the supermarket They’re high in iron and vitamin B12, these ones are MSC certified (certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as sustainably sourced). They defrosted quickly too. I bought some linguine to go with them, my favourite pasta.

Because I have been cooking all week, Mr O took over in the kitchen and made Clam Linguine for us and it was delicious, cheap (about £1.80 per person) and easy to make…


1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
3 cloves garlic crushed
500g vacuum packed frozen clams
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
Handful of chopped fresh parsley
200g dried linguine
Grated Parmesan cheese

How to…

Put the olive oil, butter into a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Pour in the tomatoes, simmer and reduce for 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. If the sauce reduces too much add a little juice from the clams.

Cook the pasta until al dente, drain and add to the sauce with the clams and chopped parsley, mix and cover with lid and allow to cook for a couple of minutes before serving with parmesan.

My daughter liked the clams, saying they tasted like the sea. Then she told me she didn’t like them anymore. At the moment I am battling with the influence of school, and its ongoing. I knew this time would come, though as she’s always been a good eater I didn’t worry about it too much. It’s one of those things you don’t deal with it until you have to.

For now I am just taking it a meal at a time, and not limiting the foods I offer, and will continue to try new dishes, like this one. Its tricky sometimes to work out whether she genuinely doesn’t like something, which I am fine with or that she is trying to get attention or being influenced by friends.

So, I said, she obviously did like it and encouraged her to eat more, which she happily did, and considering she’s not had much of an appetite this week, was good