Cooking George Orwell’s Kidney Stew

Keen to try making this. Might serve with mash and veg rather than pasta.

Followed the link ‘British Cookery’ and greatly enjoyed George Orwell’s detailed analysis of our best and worst dishes plus clear explanations of what we mean by lunch, dinner and tea.

An unexpected treat for my lunchtime reading.

Critical Dispatches

On the day followingKing George V’s Silver Jubilee celebrations on 6th May 1935, George Orwell took a break from writing A Clergyman’s Daughter to type a letter to his friend and one-time romantic interest, Brenda Salkeld. Amongst Orwell’s usual topics of discussion (politics, literature, and low-culture) the author outlined what he described as a “wonderful” ox-kidney stew.

Remembering his late friend, the poet Paul Potts recalled Orwell as possessing “the same atittude to bulbble and squeak as a Frenchman to Camembert. I’ll swear he valued tea and roast beef above the OM and the Nobel Prize.” Throughout his life, Orwell hada great fondness forfood and drink, and one needn’t venture too deeply into his work before emerging with evidence of this occupation. In bothDown and Out in Paris and LondonandThe Road to Wigan Pierhe noted the “appalling” diet of bread, margarine and sugared tea that the…

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Eat a Good Breakfast

Some of my clients have improved their weight and health simply by changing their breakfast habits.

The current fashion is for carbohydrate only but this sets you up for rapid hunger, unhealthy snacking later on and weight gain. All carbohydrates are sugars, whether that’s added sugars or natural sugars, simple sugars or starches (which are chains of sugar and quickly break down into simple sugars). Cereal can be thought of sugar, as can toast, fruit and fruit juices/smoothies are sugar and breakfast biscuits are mostly sugar. A bowl of cereal with low-fat flavoured yoghurt, and orange juice contains the equivalent of around 14 teaspoons of sugar and virtually no nutrients. Eating no breakfast is preferable to bad breakfast but what might be better?

Some people do well on porridge made from natural oats. Top with nuts and seeds. Beware the type in sachets as some contain loads of sugar. Muesli can be goodchoose one with plenty of nuts and not much dried fruit. Top with full-fat plain yoghurt.

My breakfast green smoothie prior to whizzing

My breakfast green smoothie prior to whizzing

Smoothies are quick to make and easy to consume and digest.

Base them on coconut milk, avocado, ground almonds, flax, spinach, whey powder concentrate, natural oats etc.

Add just a little fruit for sweetness eg ¼ apple, 1” banana or a spoonful of berries.

I have a smoothie 3 or 4 times a week and last for 5 or 6 hours on it.

To save time, you can batch up all the dry ingredients in advance so that in the morning you just tip them into the glass on top of your veg and fruit.

Dry ingredients ready to tip in

Dry ingredients ready to tip in

Bought smoothies are usually made from fruit so can be very sugary.  Also beware smoothie recipes on the internet as many of these include very large amounts of fruit.

Fry-ups can sustain you for ages. Choose from bacon, egg, black pudding, sausage, mushroom, tomato or do the Aussie thing – steak and egg – a favourite of mine, with wilted spinach.

Go continental with boiled eggs, ham and Boiled Eggcheese (you can save time by hard boiling an egg the night before). Dip avocado or buttered, wholemeal toast ‘soldiers’ in soft-boiled eggs.

For a change, go fishy with a tin of mackerel plus half a pear and some seeds. Or indulge in smoked salmon, delicious with scrambled eggs and courgette.

Top tip: Eat a good breakfast.

Avoid Weight Gain this Christmas

Weight gain seems inevitable at this time of year but if you don’t want to start 2016 fat, tired and ill, how can you minimise the damage?steak salad

Eat as much natural, realS/W Ver: 85.83.E7P food as possible. Buy fresh meat, fish and vegetables and fill yourself with good home cooked meals. Bake your own Christmas cake (nice with a slice of Wensleydale and some almonds) and mince pies using butter and reducing the sugar content.  Make salad dressings, dips and healthy treats (ask me for my no-cook chocolate, seed and nut recipe). Doing a bit of something in the kitchen can be great fun if the family gets stuck in too.

My breakfast green smoothie prior to whizzing

My breakfast green smoothie prior to whizzing

The right breakfast can set you up for the day. Include some protein and fat eg nutty muesli with natural yoghurt, poached egg on toast, home made porridge (not sachets/pots) with flaked almonds and cream or a low-sweetness smoothie (mine is based on avocado and coconut milk).

The worst choices are cereal, toast with jam, fruit juices/smoothies and chocolate which will have you on a blood-sugar roller-coaster for the rest of the day, and craving for more bad things.

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Water

Have a healthy snack before going out and drink plenty of water before and during parties. You’ll be less likely to drink too much alcohol or over-eat. Sugar and vegetable oil are in almost all processed ‘party’ food and will cause weight gain. Soft drinks are sugary and, surprisingly, “diet” drinks also increase weight.

NutsHide biscuits, chocolates, cake, crisps and alcohol in cupboards and leave bowls of nuts, veg sticks and dips in plain sight. Treat treats as treats. Enjoy them but don’t make a meal of them. If you try to abstain and you’re more likely to have a blow-out. Ditch the diet ‘on it, off it’ mentality and allow yourself to have a little. Accept that there will be naughty goodies everywhere you go; you will eat some, and so will I!

Top tip – Eat well and have a Merry Christmas

Vive La France

Did you know that French kids don’t get fat? They have the lowest levels of childhood obesity in the developed world and it’s the only place where it isn’t rising. Children aren’t educated about nutrition and taught to be anxious about food, they are taught the joy of food and learn to love it.

At 2013 July Brendas 6home, the family eats together so children develop a taste for real food, not fake ‘children’s food’. Kids don’t snack randomly but learn to wait. Parents don’t use food as bribes or rewards for good behaviour – it’s for pleasure and nourishment.

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The French rarely buy ready meals or takeaways. Instead, they spend more than we do on real food, revelling in copious amounts of butter, cheese and cream. They consistently have the highest levels of saturated fat intake in Europe and the lowest levels of heart disease. It’s termed the French Paradox; how do they get away with it? But actually there is no paradox. Research, including a review last year by Cambridge University of 72 studies, reveals an “absolute lack of evidence that consuming saturated fat leads to heart disease“. Yet the old school dietitians still cling to the notion and only last month, Nigella Lawson was vilified in the paper for using coconut oil in her new cookery book. But the French aren’t doing something mysterious to cheat the death that their diet deserves; their diet does them good. They look at the British eating processed sugar and oil and think we’re mad.

The French government helps too, with tough policies designed to prevent commercial interests damaging the health of its children. Tax on fizzy drinks (Jamie Oliver is campaigning to introduce the same here), health warnings on TV ads for snack foods, incentives for fruit and vegetable producers, no hormone treatment of animals, no vending machines in schools, water only to drink with the children’s 4-course, freshly-prepared school lunches for which they have a 2 hour break! Sounds good to me.


Top tip: Like the French, learn to love real food.

(I wrote this month’s piece a few weeks ago and decided to post it as intended in spite of the recent terrible events.  It seems appropriate to celebrate the French at this time.)

Quotes of the month

Michael Pollan – Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.

Zoe Harcombe – Eat food, mostly animals, quite a lot.

 

Real food

Real food

Which of these suits you will depend on your metabolic type but they both agree that you should eat food.  What do they mean?  We all eat food don’t we?  No.  They mean real food, not fake food.

 

Fake food

Fake food

Zoe’s tip for telling the difference is to think what you find in nature.

There will be fish in a river, not packets of fish fingers.

Real food

Real food

 

 

There will be apples on the trees, not cartons of juice.

Fake food

Fake food

 

 

 

 

 

You can dig potatoes out of a field, not bags of oven chips.

Fake food

Fake food

Jack LaLanne – If man makes it, don’t eat it.

Barry Groves – Civilsed man is the only chronically sick animal on the planet.

Zoe Harcombe – We’re the only species clever enough to make our own food and stupid enough to eat it.

And here’s a little rhyme I wrote:

When you go to the shops

If it comes in a box,

Let it stay on the shelf

For the sake of your health!

 

Food on the Move

I’ve been travelling the country this year doing Nutrition Talks for the staff of a company (so that they can enjoy the benefits of better energy, productivity and concentration throughout the day).

Keeping control of what you eat and drink is relatively easy in your own home, especially if your family shares your enjoyment of good food.  It can become a bit more tricky when you travel on business.

On the motorway, there is no end ofIMAG0495 unhealthy, processed snacks and meals readily available. Almost everything is full of sugar and vegetable oil and hardly anything is fresh. You have to search really hard to find a few things that resemble food. Instead of buying any if it, I took my own supplies. Cool bags are great. Lunch was a delicious salad with lettuce, sprouted mung beans, carrot, celery, avocado, a chicken drumstick and a hard boiled egg. I took a bottle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing too. The bottle is glass, like a half-pint milk bottle, with a lid that doesn’t leak and came from Lakeland Ltd – very useful.

In hotels and especially B&Bs, breakfast is often pretty good with muesli, fruit and natural yoghurt followed by bacon, egg, sausage and black pudding or porridge and kippers.  Take care to avoid scrambled egg which is usually overcooked which will have oxidised the cholesterol in the egg.  Less healthy items available include cereal, hash browns and baked beans (usually containing a lot of sugar).

The standard business lunch is a starchy nightmare best avoided: sandwiches, chips, crisps, unidentifiable brown deep-fried things.  At a pinch, I eat some salad garnish with the fillings from the sandwiches and leave a pile of bread on my plate.  Ideally, I find a nearby supermarket the evening before where I can buy cheese, carrots and celery for the following day.

Evening meals vary.  If there isn’t anything appealing in the hotel, find a nearby pub with a chef that uses local produce and actually cooks meals from fresh ingredients.

 

Top tip – on the road, a little planning helps a lot.