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Watching Jamie with bated breath

Aubergine Lasagne, cooked in 20 minutes

Aubergine Lasagne, cooked in 20 minutes

I’ve seen a sneak preview of Jamie’s Food Revolution in the US (watch the trailer here) and already I am fascinated and horrified in equal parts.

I think Jamie is fantastic, you can see that he really cares about what children are eating. He takes Huntington in West Virginia as his starting point for a ‘seed of change’ across America, because Huntington bears the dubious title of America’s fattest and unhealthiest city (they have since slipped down the scales, but not much).

This is not only an American problem, as 300,000 children in Ireland are overweight or obese – that’s obese – and this is set to grow by 10,000 a year (yup, read about it here). Our children are eating too much of the wrong foods. Same problem in Huntington, except they are giving their kids pizza for breakfast with weird bright pink milk, and chicken nuggets for lunch. At home, the children are getting pizza, corn dogs (I don’t want to know what they are) and more unknown meats in nuggety form.

I have seen this in so many households in Ireland, and I’ve had to bite my lip while I watch parents giving their children food that is simply not good for them. And I know children can be difficult to feed, I know they are. But so what? Find a way. We are the adults, they the children. They do not know any better, and it is up to us to teach them.

Try to cook your food from scratch and buy the best-quality ingredients that you can afford. This will be cheaper, in the long run, than the money you will spend on medical expenses for diseases like Type 2 diabetes, which in Ireland, is predicted to rise by a whopping 37% in the next few years.

I’ll be following this series with bated breath, and I hope that Huntington embraces Jamie, I really do. Meanwhile, a lovely, little lasagne recipe from the brilliant Gill Holcombe, author of How to Feed your whole family a healthy, balanced diet with very little money…(full title here). 

Aubergine Lasagne – Serves 4-6

6-9 lasagne sheets

1 large or two smaller aubergines

1 onion

1/4 bulb of fennel

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 standard sized tins of chopped tomatoes


1/4 vegetable stock


For the cheese sauce

50g butter or margerine

50g plain flour

1 pint milk

25g cheese


Wash and thinly slice the aubergines, cut the slices in half, and put them in a bowl of salty water. Slice the onion and fennel and fry in the oil with the crushed garlic and some parsley. Add the tinned tomatoes, bring to the boil and simmer gently while you fry the aubergines, on one side only, and drain them with kitchen paper.

For cheese sauce

Melt butter in a large saucepan, stir in the flour and cook for a minute until the paste is glazed and shiny. Remove from heat, add milk and cheese, then return to heat. Keep stirring with a hand whisk until it thickens slightly. Layer lasagne sheets, tomato sauce, aubergines and cheese sauce in a large ovenproof dish, finishing with cheese sauce on top and bake in oven for 20 mins at 200c.


  1. Somewhat off topic but a corn dog is basically a hot dog dipped in donut batter and deep fried, a weird sweet version of a battered sausage.
    It is not good.

  2. Jon……that sounds amazing……

  3. M&S has a new children’s food range (well new to me). They have teddy bear shaped breaded ‘chicken’. In my mind I could hear Jamies sobbing.

  4. No, I don’t think it’s good to ‘disguise’ food like this Spud. Chicken is a chicken is a chicken. Except when it’s not.

  5. Do you know, I was speaking to a taxi driver this morning who has just been diagnosed with diabetes; and he was telling me his brother-in-law’s three children, all of them just diagnosed with diabetes. Now it’s part of casual taxi talk, as it slips into the acceptable or rather the not-shocking-anymore category. But it IS shocking!

  6. Nice post Jacqui, although I’m wondering if you’ve often fed kids. They’re so fussy, and I’m not convinced that a few waffles and novelty-shaped, reformed chicken meat will actually do them much harm. My nephew eats only rubbish (waffles, nuggets, spaghetti hoops) and seems a very happy healthy kid.

  7. Interesting response foodface! The waffle/nuggets/spaghetti hoops diet is not recommended – while a kid may be happy and healthy now it is not teaching healthy habits, the impact of which may take many years to become evident.

  8. I dont believe that children ARE fussy, parents MAKE them fussy.
    I completely disagree with feeding children separately from the adults, as seems to be the norm in Ireland.
    We have always eaten as a family and my kids will eat almost anything. They have one or two pet hates each, but that is OK. Didn’t eat tomatoes and olives when I was a child and love them now.
    The number 1 rule is, that everything has to be tried, if they don’t like it they don’t have to eat it, but it is surprising how much they acutally like once they have tried it.
    I don’t buy waffles, nuggets and so on. The only time my kids get junk like this, is when they eat at a friend’s house or maybe twice a year at McDonalds.
    They are happy and healthy kids, too!

  9. im sorry foodface but that type of parenting is just unacceptable and ridiculous.

    Kids will eat whats put in front of them, if there used to eating that processed crap yes it might take awhile. but when they get hungry the will eat.

    AND how do u think it wont do “much harm to them” have you seen the statistics. 1 in every 5 irish children are obese.

    Its doing plenty of harm. Parents need to be educated. Feeding children crap food is child abuse and theres no excuse. fresh food is much cheaper.

    You cant see that childs insides, and anyway how is that food teaching to child good nutrition. Thats why we have this cycle of bad eating past down from each generation. That child might grow up and will only know who to put on a frozen pizza. Is that right??

  10. I don’t know, he eats yogurt too 🙂 That’s healthy right? Not every kid is going to be obese just because they’re a fussy eater.

  11. We all eat the same, and have pretty much once we got our kids off the liquidised gloop as babies. We all eat curries, couscous, stews, chips and breaded fish (occasionally), home made together pizzas, roast chickens, vegeburgers, spaghetti, chillis etc and we generally eat together. Every kid goes through a stubborn phase, think it was about 2 or so, son would only eat bread and cheese! but we got him around it. Not keen on some veggies, but he must eat 3 peas, 3 small carrots, 3 of whatever veg, and if asked if it’s yeuchy he says no! Main key is do not let them break you down!! and reward good eating with smoothies, they love those and they’re good for them! Equally though when introducing something new, do it gently and keep it simple. A junk diet is just that, it’s awful to see some gorgeous little kids in Junior Infants turn into blobs by 1st class…

  12. Hi Foodface – I’ve just read your comment. I wouldn’t write about trying to feed kids unless I spent alot of time feeding them! I have a step-daughter aged 11, and also look after 2 boys aged 7 and 9. Eating only rubbish is simply not acceptable – waffles, reformed chicken, spagehtti hoops. In moderation, yes, but not all the time and not even most of the time. Yes, your nephew IS probably healthy now, but he is still growing, and the blueprint for his FUTURE health and habits is now being set. It is being set, specifically, by the adults around him, who must teach him good habits.
    I really agree that parents make their children fussy, and if you educate their palate from a very young age, then they will pretty much eat anything. Have you seen what is in those chicken nugget things? None of the nice parts of the chicken, all of the gunky bits, and its meat too that has been stuffed full of antibiotics. This really drives me crazy, when I see children innocently eating what is being put in front of them, when it is patently not good for them.
    That said, I really, really sympathise with parents who are finding it challenging to feed a picky child. They just have to persevere. The boys I was looking after simply would not eat anything else, and in the end I had to talk to their parents. I hated myself for giving them bad food like this everyday, and came to realise that they weren’t to blame, because ‘they wouldn’t eat anything else’, but I was to blame, and the parents were to blame. It is laziness to not feed your children properly – and I have been guilty of it too.

  13. Unfortunately from what I see most fussy kids leave in a household with fussy parents…They feed them junk separately, them eat their own later or just crisps and beer/wine on the couch, while watching telly. They don’t like to cook, don’t know how and don’t feel like learning. So much nice, cheap food on the supermarket fridges, why bother?
    Bring on health education in schools, they have to be taught young!

  14. Jacqueline – I feed my kids chicken nuggets the very odd time. I can’t help it, they are always begging to go to McDonalds for them. We have a really healthy diet (even our own eggs!!!) but my children are a bit obsessed with chicken nuggets since their school friend had a party there a few months ago. I think they seem ok though…I feel very guilty because I do agree with you. It’s hard though

  15. @Siobhan, why don’t you get the kids to help you make you’re own chicken nuggets? I must admit, I do it the lazy way and buy the tubs of Paxo breadcrumbs, put a few spoons into a bowl with some spices and just add the chopped up chicken to it and mix it around and pop them in the oven. But you can also do it by chopping up the chicken, cover in flour, dip into beaten egg and then breadcrumbs. Bit messier but worth it!