These vegetable days

This week, I have been mostly eating chickpeas.

I love Jesse’s Diets from The Fast Show. I also suspect I’m beginning to look a bit like him, what with the wellies and the coming out of a strange shed. His diets included bourbon biscuits, taramasalata and acorns. Oh, and prozac. 

In all seriousness, I used to be a very serious organic vegetarian. My brother-in-law calls this ‘lesbionic’ food, and yes, my cupboards were largely unappetising if you were on the scrounge for chocolate, sugar, crisps, biscuits and the likes. I ate rice cakes and brown rice and lentils and hummus and all the things that people like to laugh at. I made a pot of mixed-bean salad at the beginning of the week and ate it with brown rice or cous-cous for lunch every day. It was a finely-balanced diet and any nutritionist would have been proud, if not a little stunned. To my brother-in-law, it’s the kind of food that sandal-wearing, hippy social workers eat. Yotam Ottolenghi is the king of the lesbionic food.

But when I had to stop running, when my feet were busted for good, I fell to comfort foods. I did lots of low-impact activities anyway and lots of weights and so on, but eventually, life got the better of me. When I say life, I mean feeding boys and men who won’t eat chickpea and aubergine curry. Whilst I am proud I expanded Steve’s diet from mainly pies, chippy and huge sandwiches, taking him into the realm of risottos and cous-cous and occasional vegetarian meals, I started eating meat again, after a 20-year hiatus, mainly because it was convenient. Cooking three separate meals is something of  a chore when you’ve been working all day.

Anyway, my friend Rachel has inspired me to be more experimental and healthy again. She makes this amazing quinoa salad and I’ve been feeling more and more like I needed a break from the dairy/meat and sandwiches grind I’ve been in. Plus, when it’s just me, I eat a lot of sandwiches. Sandwiches constitute my main meals. Toast for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, sandwich for tea.

I’ve no allergies to anything, it must be said, but eating ‘lesbionic’ food does make you feel clean inside. It gives you back all the energy you used to have. I’m a big believer in what you put in and how it affects your mood and energy levels, but then I’m also a comfort eater who eats her feelings. So this week, I ‘ave mostly bin eatin lesbionic food.

I cut out most bread and yeast last week. I had a couple of rounds of French bread and a burger bun. This week, it’s been mostly dairy-free as well. I’m not being mad about it. It’s not a cult. It’s not ‘all or nothing’. But yesterday, I made a Keralan coconut curry with chickpeas, tofu, almonds and green peppers. And very delicious it was too. It’s nice to be able to be experimental with flavours again.

The recipe was as follows:

2 red onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp of fresh chili paste (from the Portuguese section in the supermarket if you’re in France) or 1 chopped chili.

1 tsp of garam masala

1 tsp powdered ginger

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp turmeric

200 g chickpeas

1 chopped green pepper

100 g tofu, chopped (from the ‘bio/nature’ section in the supermarket)

20 g chopped almonds

3 tbsp sunflower oil

200 ml coconut milk

Fry the chopped onions in 2 tbsp sunflower oil for about 5 minutes, or until they are soft. Add the garlic and the chili and fry off for two minutes. Add the spices and continue frying for 2 minutes. Add more oil, then the tofu and green peppers. Sauté until both are browned. Add 100 ml of coconut milk and stir in, before adding the chickpeas. Add the remaining coconut milk and cook for 20 minutes. Add water if the sauce becomes too dry or sticky. If the sauce fails to thicken, you may want to add some cornflour paste.

Serve with brown rice and sprinkle the almonds on top.

It’s a very mild curry indeed – very gentle. Nobody’s going to have watering eyes from it.

Having said that, Mme V gave me real English bacon butties last night and boy was I glad to break my bread and meat fast 🙂

A little of what you fancy doesn’t do you any harm, now does it? I think that’s what got my waistline in trouble in the first place!


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