Author spotlight: Jamie Oliver’s take on Super Foods

Jamie Oliver turned 40 this year –  a Big Birthday that encouraged him to reassess his life and improve his health.  The result is a 12kg weight-reduction, better sleep and more energy.  So how did he do it?  His new lifestyle approach forms the basis for his new show – Jamie’s Super Food Revolution, and accompanying book, Everyday Super Food.

A major part of his strategy relates to diet.  In Jamie’s Super Food Revolution, Jamie and his team travel the world to find places famous for longevity – such as Japan, Costa Rica and Greece.  Jamie then investigated their food secrets for staying healthy and productive well into old age.  The result is Jamie’s version of super foods –  14 “hero ingredients” that are nutrient-packed, health-giving yet commonly-found. These include:

  • Eggs
  •  Fish
  • Goat’s milk
  • Wild greens and herbs
  • Tofu
  • Walnuts
  • Wild rice
  • Sweet potato
  • Black beans
  • Fresh fruit
  • Seaweed
  • Garlic
  • Prawns
  • Chillies

Jamie and his team of nutritionists then created a range of recipes based on these ingredients, from breakfasts, lunches and dinners to snacks and drinks.  These form the basis of the book Everyday Super Food.

One appealing aspect of Jamie’s approach is that he has not relied on the exotic ingredients that are currently considered “super foods” – such as chia, quinoa, and goji berries (although they do make an occasional appearance).  Instead, most of Jamie’s “hero ingredients” are commonly available, cheap and similar to ingredients we already use. The recipes are pure Jamie – simple, family-friendly recipes showcasing bold natural flavours – that look vibrant and appetising in the gorgeous photos.  His “everything in moderation” mantra means that he has not sworn off foods such as carbs or sugar – but instead has created healthier, tastier versions of favourites such as French toast and pasta carbonara.  This makes Jamie’s Super Food approach very accessible to everyone, including people on tight budgets, even those who are cynical about food fads and unusual ingredients.

Another appealing aspect of Jamie’s approach is that it is holistic.  He emphasises a number of other lifestyle changes that has improved his health – such as sleeping longer, drinking more water and less alcohol, and valuing incidental as well as scheduled exercise.  In effect, Jamie has used his own experience to show how a healthier living philosophy can improve anyone’s health.

Jamie is not the first champion of these teachings, but his hugely influential voice offers welcome support to the fight against rising obesity rates.  (Do you know that Jamie is the second best-selling author of all time in Britain, only after J.K. Rowling? Or that his campaign towards improving school dinners resulted in a pledge of GBP280 million from the British Government?)  Jamie’s Super Food Revolution is his personal, approachable (and tasty!) health improvement strategy, a worthy successor to his earlier efforts to improve public health through improving school dinners,  and teaching people to cook.

About Karen Seligman

Karen Seligman is a librarian working in public libraries. As a lifelong booklover, she loves having access to a library’s worth of books! As a librarian, an important (and fun) part of her work is about connecting people to new ideas and new books. Karen is a literary magpie who can't settle on a single favourite genre – she loves narrative nonfiction, historical fantasies and food writing.