Jamie Oliver – British Chef and dad to five – is a household name, and for good reason. From breakfast to yummy dips, here’s how to grow healthy eaters from the start (plus read till the end to win a free family meal at Jamie’s Italian!)
Jamie Oliver’s TV shows and cookbooks have been a huge hit in making everyday cooking popular and accessible. Jamie’s restaurants in Singapore are super popular with families, and he scores big points for having great kids’ meals with a focus on healthier eating. We caught up with the famous chef and, along with his wife Jools, parent of five (Poppy Honey, Daisy Boo, Petal Blossom, Buddy Bear and River Rocket) to ask him how he gets his own kids to eat healthily and how he deals with picky eaters.
What do your kids eat for breakfast?
It depends what day of the week it is: on school days it’s yoghurt, fruit and compotes or birchers, and we love porridge, or simple things on toast. Then at the weekend, anything with eggs is joyful, or pancakes are always a winner.
How do you encourage your kids to eat healthily?
My kids have grown up around cooking and fresh ingredients so they have the knowledge that they need. Of course, they’re around unhealthy things too, but they tend not to choose them because they’re used to home-cooked food. Jools and I have always put loads of different fresh foods in front of them since they were tiny so that’s what they know.
Do you cook with your kids at home? If so, what do you make together?
Yes, they love it! We make anything, really – the older ones are getting really good at baking, and the smaller ones are great helpers. It’s what we do at the weekend.
How do you encourage your kids to be interested in food and be adventurous with eating?
I can’t recommend enough getting them involved in the kitchen nice and early, to really spark that excitement about food, where it comes from and how to cook it. Even simple jobs like getting them to pick herb leaves or stir a batter will give them a great sense of accomplishment and will mean they start to understand and be interested in food.
Do you have any picky eaters at home? Any tips for parents who do?
My lot are pretty good, but we’ve had our fussy moments over the years. I’ve learnt that it’s incredibly important to get kids wanting to eat good stuff on their own. It’s about training their mind and palate from an early age to embrace and be excited by new flavours, textures and ingredients, to grab their attention and to inspire them to step outside of their comfort zone and try new things.
Do you limit sugar in your household?
We don’t have things like sugary cereal in the house, but we try and have lots of fruit for smoothies or snacking.
Do you have any sugar-free snacks that you can recommend for kids?
Dips are super-easy to make: I’ve got a really tasty minty yoghurt dip recipe on my website. Serve it with some crunchy colourful vege for dunking and you’re laughing.
What, in your opinion, are the top three most important things parents can teach their kids?
That food is fun, that cooking is normal, and that shopping can be an adventure.
What age should kids start using a knife in the kitchen?
The best and safest way for children to learn to use a knife is by using a real knife. Everyone’s different, but when you feel your child is ready then a good knife to start with is a 3-inch paring knife. Work with them to teach them how to use it safely, and always watch them carefully!
Try out Jamie’s Proper Picnic Box recipe here and make sure to enter our giveaway below to win 1 Family Meal at Jamie’s Italian for 2 Adults and 2 Kids!