Sunday 6 September 2015

Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals... I've Cooked Them ALL

At the start of 2013 I made a decision. To get myself healthier.

I had been ill quite a lot so needed lots of nutrients and goodness but I also wanted to lose a few pounds for our wedding in the process and to change how we ate for our all round well-being. I wanted to be eating fabulous, gluten free food that was healthy, tasted amazing, was a pleasure to make and eat and was completely balanced. I wanted meals that my friends and family would enjoy too.

So to help my journey, and force myself into eating healthier (tastier) meals, I decided I would use Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals book. Not just cook a few recipes from it, but cook EVERY SINGLE RECIPE in the book, in the order that they are published. ALL of them. Jamie Oliver has always inspired me to cook and this book is filled with healthy, nutritious and perfectly balanced meals.

Now, before you ask me if they take 15 minutes to cook, I don't know. I never actually timed myself to the minute because I did not choose this book for the speed factor but for the balanced and 'family' sharing style of the meals. After you have gathered all your ingredients and got your utensils and cookware ready, they don't take long at all to cook.

As well as achieving a healthier lifestyle, there was something that I wanted to prove by doing this. To show that being gluten free (and suffering with various other food intolerances) doesn't have to mean missing out on cooking exciting food from 'normal' cookbooks or eating interesting and exciting food.

Obviously I had to make some small (some large) adjustments to some of the recipes due to my somewhat restricted diet which includes no wheat, gluten, lamb or beef and limited garlic. This did sometimes prove quite a challenge but in the end I found substituting these fairly easy.

The most challenging substitutes were having to substitute red meat and filo pastry. Although sometimes the substitutes weren't quite the same at all, the recipes still turned out great and tasted fantastic. For example, I had to substitute beef and lamb with chicken or pork. It does go to show that anyone, whatever their food intolerance or allergy, can have a go at these recipes. 

In terms of gluten substitution, the recipes are pretty easy to do. Several of the recipes in the book are naturally gluten free anyway. Others, it was as simple as swapping couscous for quinoa or maize couscous and just changing the cooking slightly. As a gluten free cook, I am used to making adjustments to recipes.

This book has inspired a lot of my recent cooking, my own recipe developing and finding balance in my own meals. I find the family style way of eating more interesting and fun than just serving up on average dinner plates and there are things I have now eaten that I never dreamed I would eat before. It has completely opened my mind to trying different foods. Having always been restricted with my food intolerances, I now realise that there is so much more out there.

Cooking my way through a whole cookbook has been a challenge and over two and a half years later I'm finally done. I'm healthier, slightly slimmer then when I started and totally more open minded when it comes to food. It did take quite a while to cook every recipe because you do have to buy lots of ingredients for the recipes which means they can be quite expensive.

If you want to take a look at the journey, have a look at my Pinterest board where I photographed and uploaded every single recipe. The photos are all iPhone photos so unfortunately they are not great quality. The Pinterest board also shows my journey with food blogging and photography, and how much it's improved!

Let me know what you think of the book and if you have tried any of the recipes! 

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