Saturday, 19 February 2011

what to eat

a friend asked recently about what we eat, thinking low carb would be a good way to lose weight before his wedding. both rich and i excitedly tried to explain how easy and straightforward it was, and how it is not like a diet at all and how you shouldn't think of it as such. it's a way of life, maaan.

the reality is probably not quite that simple. easy though it seems now, i remember clearly the horror of a plate piled high with veg and missing the obligatory starchy, carby bit. what do you mean you just eat a piece of fish with vegetables?? where is the rice, the pasta, the potato?? will you not go hungry?

well, no, you won't and that's because you will not be eating a piece of steamed fish with some steamed broccoli and nothing else, victoria beckham-style. your fish will probably be a large hunk of protein and it will probably be fried in butter, with a lovely crispy skin. and you will eat a LOT of vegetables. you will not go hungry, that's for sure.

but first things first. what should you eat?

it IS simple.

do eat: vegetables. non-starchy veg, so don’t just replace pasta with potatoes. potatoes are not really vegetables anyway - they're tubers. think leafy green, like spinach or cabbage, think aubergines, courgettes, peppers, think cauliflower and broccoli, fennel and chicory, not to mention tomatoes. okra, mushrooms,leeks, brussel sprouts. some paleo/primal people don’t eat any root veg so no beetroot or parsnip, or even carrot. i am personally not convinced by that, so we continue to eat them but in moderation. also think squash and pumpkin – again, not in huge quantities as they are pretty sweet. no peas, no sweetcorn. go beyond what you’d usually have or you’ll be bored to death pretty quickly. you have to overbuy vegetables - they will be the bulk of your shopping basket. we are surely our greengrocer’s best customers.

also eat: meat and fish. and i don’t mean chicken breasts either. i mean proper meat, including offal and stuff that has to be slow-roasted, and fish like sardines and herring. in, fact, the kind of stuff that is usually the cheapest - and the tastiest. i also mean - and this is not really optional: flesh from happy animals and sustainably-caught fish. eating as much animal and fish protein as you will do in this case means that you not only have to think about environmental sustainability but also your own health. a cow is not meant to eat grains which it needs antibiotics to digest. it’s meant to eat grass. the fact that you now have to pay extra to get meat from a cow that's eating what it's meant to eat is just bizarre. world gone mad, etc. so choose carefully and be prepared to spend more. if it’s too expensive, eat more offal or properly cheap cuts. a kilo of pigs’ cheeks will feed at least four very hungry people, and it should cost less than a tenner.

also eat: eat coconuts, in all shapes and forms, from milk to fresh stuff. eat butter and some diary, if you like, though i am not so keen on it these days. it's a pretty good guess our ancestors wouldn't have eaten dairy - having seen a programme this week about mongolians trying to catch a wild mare to milk shows you it wouldn't have been easy. but life without cheese would be dull so, though i don't drink milk i do eat cheese, use butter and eat greek yoghurt from time to time.

eat: fruit, in moderation. no fruit juice. no gorging yourself either. eat seasonal, that should take care of things. if you consider where we are geographically, fruit season is short and so exciting. make the most of it. PS bananas are not proper fruit.

don’t eat: anything that comes out of a packet. mainly beans, legumes, lentils and such like. when was the last time you grew a lentil? or a chickpea? the only things we keep in the cupboard are tins of tomatoes, tins of coconut milk and tinned fish. also loads of spices, vinegar and oil. and genuinely not much else - i've just had a look in the cupboard to check. tahini is useful to jazz up aubergines, also those roast peppers in jars, and olives, artichokes and such like. the equivalent of what they called 'zimnica' at home - i.e. vegetables you put away for the winter, preserved in some way, usually by pickling.

so there you have it. i've probably forgotten something but there are loads of sites that will tell you more. it is not that hard but it takes some getting used to. and you can either do this art de vany style, and basically eat pretty bland food which consists of a piece of meat plus some boiled veg, or you could cook like i do and transform those ingredients into something truly exciting.

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