As a professional chef, Jamie Oliver thinks about food all the time. But this year, he changed what goes on his own plate, and it’s made a huge difference in his life - he’s lost nearly 30 pounds.
“There isn’t really one secret,” he tells us. “Just cutting back on red meat and turning up the [vegetables] is hugely important.”
His other “secret”? Getting enough sleep: “I’ve been saying this for months now — I used to get three or four hours sleep a night and that’s not good. You need more. These days I’m getting around seven hours and I feel much more energized.”
The 40-year-old father of four also never skips breakfast: “Make it a good one too, not sugary cereal!” Sugar has been a sticking point with him this year, and in June he became the first chef to add a surcharge of 10 pence (15 cents) to the price of sugary drinks at his restaurants.
Oliver, who also has a new cookbook for the holidays, “Everyday Super Food,” talks to us about balancing good health with good cheer.
How are you celebrating Christmas this year?
It’s pretty much the same every year, and I’m guessing it’s very similar to a lot of people reading this — good food, some good telly, hopefully some good presents, and happy kids because Santa has brought them what they asked for.
What are the foods that mean Christmas to you?
Roast turkey, roast goose — which I’ve been doing for a few years now just as a delicious extra meat — roast potatoes and loads of veggies. I tend to delegate different dishes to different people as it spreads the load a bit: my mum will bring her world-famous trifle, my sister will do a cauliflower cheese and someone else might be responsible for a cheese platter.
What are your favorite Christmas foods?
To be honest, I love the veggies, and I’m not saying that to sound healthy. I genuinely love cauliflower cheese, Brussels sprouts and red cabbage. I’ve got various ways of cooking them so they taste incredible — have a look on my website, where there’s a whole section of easy, delicious Christmas recipes.
Do you watch yourself over the holiday season, or is it all aboutindulging?
I think a couple of days of indulgence is fine – it is Christmas, after all – but after that I’ll be back to normal. At the moment I’m pretty much eating “Everyday Super Food”-style during the week, and a bit of comfort food at weekends. I’m also having at least two or three vegetarian days a week, and I’ve really cut back on red meat.
Is it possible to eat relatively healthily at Christmas?
Sure. Turkey is a pretty healthy meat, anyway, and you can always push the veggies and dial back on the roast potatoes and mince pies. But wherever you are in the world, I just hope you have a great day.
How easy is it to integrate superfoods into your holiday meals?
You can do simple things like replacing potatoes with sweet potatoes, which is going to make a world of difference.
What’s your favorite Christmas cocktail?
One of the things I’ve tried for the last few years is a Quince Bellini, which feels quite Christmas-y and it’s simple to do. All you need is [4 ounces] of poached quince plus [half a cup] of poaching liquid. Purée it up with an immersion blender, then divide between six glasses. Add a small amount of prosecco and give it a stir, then slowly top up with prosecco, while blending it together without losing too many bubbles.
—by Elodie Noel