I guess it had to happen some time: the acknowledgement, and subsequent overhaul, of a diet laden with carbohydrates — usually the ‘bad’ kind. I’ve known for a while it’s time to cut back on the bad carbohydrates — or the C-word. The white rice, pasta and bread products that bulk out our meals and are easy fodder on a week night after work have been filling us up, but also filling us out.
Our two-person household doesn’t eat unhealthily, for the most part. Ninety five percent of what we eat at home is cooked from scratch, by me. We hardly ever buy processed foods. We don’t snack, buy biscuits, bake cakes or cookies of muffins or any of that sweet-lipped malarkey. I keep a semi-productive vegetable patch that delivers red romaine and butter leaf lettuce, spring onions and an abundance of fresh herbs all year round, plus leeks in winter and tonnes of tiny tomatoes in summer.
But much of what we eat falls into the “same, same, but different” category: lots of Indian or Thai curries with rice, or pasta with various sauces. We eat a lot of chicken and prawns, a little bit of lamb, less beef, and very few fish or vegetable-based dishes. Portion sizes are probably too large; coffee and alcohol far too prevalent. Eating fruit is an effort, whereas skipping meals (on my part) isn’t.
On the whole I suspect our diet is imbalanced: we lean towards bad carbohydrates and the after-work quick fix. The veggie patch could be worked harder and planted more thoughtfully. We could eat more slowly, drink less alcohol in the evening, and drink more water all day long.
So we’re trying to shake bad habits and cultivate new ones. In the process I’ve:
- Introduced us to Kale and actually quite like her. (I’m growing a gorgeous, leggy Russian variety and pick leaves as needed to shred into omelette, salad and green juice.)
- Found our pulse: smoky blackbean soup with spicy corn salsa for weekday work lunches has been a firm and filling winter favourite.
- Bought a huge bag of chia seeds. Used them once.
- Made, and enjoyed, my first green juice.
- Fallen off the wagon.
- Got back on.
- Embraced fresh turmeric (grown at home) and now use it wherever possible, including in chai and cleansing turmeric and ginger tea that have usurped the evening coffee.
- Experimented with almond and rice milks in super-charged smoothies and drinks.
- Stopped eating ‘bad’ carbohydrates with all three meals a day.
- Craved creamy, buttery mashed potato. Made sweet potato mash instead. Got over it.
- Made granola cookies.
I’ve also found several “clean living” cookbooks to help us along.
In My Petite Kitchen Cookbook: Simple Wholefood Recipes (Murdoch Books) Eleanor Ozich does some lovely things with beans and pulses. Sage and lemon butterbeans and Spanish braised chickpeas are two of my bookmarked pages and I can’t wait for my baby cos lettuce seedlings grow so I can try her roasted lettuce hearts with lemon zest and garlic aioli.
Lee Holmes’ Supercharged Food: Eat Yourself Beautiful (Murdoch Books) has an excellent Super Smoothies and Drinks section and some lovely ways to play with kale, including chicken with kale and turmeric or “a chicken dinner for the soul” as Holmes calls it.
Eat Right For Your Body Type (Quadrille Publishing) has inspired me to dabble in a diet inspired by Ayurveda (one of the oldest medical systems on earth). I’m still grappling to understand Ayurvedic principles, but the book was written by Anjum Anand, who I travelled to India with last year and who’s book Quick and Easy Indian Cooking I reviewed and use often. In this Ayurvedic inspired book the recipes are charming, as well as healthy. Anand’s asparagus and goat’s cheese frittata for breakfast this morning was simply divine.
As I sit in my sunny back garden this Sunday afternoon, stocking up on Vitamin D after a week of torrential rain, I’m contemplating the week ahead. Another week of rain is forecast, so we have smoky blackbean soup and spicy corn soup for our weekday lunches.Thanks to Anand, our dinners will comprise a fragrant coconut fish curry, salmon and vegetable parcels and grilled tahini chicken. Also on the menu are chilli bean burritos and homemade fish cakes with salads rich with kale, spinach and lettuce from the veggie plot. There’s no pasta, only one side of rice, and plenty of ‘good’ carbohydrates and super charged foods.
Thanks to Holmes I’ve got green juice already prepped to kick-start my Monday morning and several shakes and smoothies ear-marked to see me through the commute to work instead of the usual fresh ‘coffee breakfast’. I’m already looking forward to Holmes’ turmeric and ginger tea tonight.
It might not always go to plan but hopefully we’ll strike more of a balance in a diet that already has good bones.