Thursday, 7 January 2016

Some clean talking

Since we're all new here, I thought I should give some background.  Why 'clean'?  Well, I've always been fairly interested in nutrition and gone through the occasional fad or trend. But if you knew me at uni, you'll probably remember me more for late nights and questionable dancing than healthy living.  Then you turn 30.  And then you have babies (actually, it was the other way around by three months for me but who's counting?) and you spend so much time and energy planning what you put into their little bodies.  And you think: Why don't I do that for myself?

About a year ago, I saw this book in the library.  They'd done this crazy thing: stood it up so I could quickly judge it by the cover.  Thanks for that. 

Now, I'm not really into 'diet books' .  Too many rules and technicalities.  So perhaps it was the cunning rhyme in the title that drew me.  Maybe it was the jumping woman.  Whatever the case, it became my guiding text.  I'm fickle like that.  And here are the key guiding principles (as chosen by moi):

1. Toxins make you fat - live clean.
2. Cut the CRAP (caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol and processed foods)
3. If it hasn't grown in the ground, walked on the land or flown in the sky, don't eat it.
4. Move your body every day: your body loves to move.

There's loads of specification beyond this of course, but I'd say these are the essentials.  And there's a caveat to the caffeine no-no.  Because it's the excess caffeine or the added sugars/syrups that he's against, he recommends no more than two cups of good-quality coffee (or tea) a day - and you should have them with double cream if you like!  SOLD!  So, I do.  Two filter coffees a day made with beans strongly-roasted and ground by ye local shoppe, with a big glug of double cream (heavy cream, if you're Stateside).  Yummmmm.  Oh, and the author is Australian; did you guess?  I'm sure I'd find it easy to go for a run first thing or eat chilled salads every day if I lived there too...

Since reading this book, I've discovered a mountain of related ones.  It seems that clean is in.  And, food-wise, it's now going mainstream (think Jamie Oliver, Lorraine Pascale, Bear Grylls (it's true - saw his book today), Davina McCall and Nigella Lawson).  If you're interested though, this is still a good place to start.  It addresses the whole way of thinking and living, and not simply the food.

But what does this all mean, day-to-day?  Well, for me it means being active - I go to the gym at least twice a week (I'd go every day if I could - I love it!) and, with two toddlers, I don't really stop to sit down until they're in bed.  I'm also good at leaving whatever I need at the other end of the room/house/city.  It also means avoiding packet sugar, white carbs, meat (except poultry), biscuits and crisps and upping the pulses, veg, nuts, seeds, herbs, oily fish and dried fruit.  Heard it before, right?  Sounds pretty boring?  Hmm, I disagree.  It just takes a little inventiveness and forethought to make spiced veggie 'chips' instead of frozen processed potato ones (takes about the same time), roasted chickpeas instead of crisps or use nutritious flours with a whole heap more flavour than the refined white wheat version for baking.  It's a sign of our times that we go for cheap, fast offerings which are bashed out by some machine in some factory.  And then, if you're anything like me, you're hungry again (if you were in the first place) an hour later anyway.  Well, the rebellion is nigh! 

(Disclaimer: I eat chocolate.  Daaarrrrk chocolate.  And drink beer.  And wine.  And hey, so what if I have a couple slices of chorizo along with some of that giant brie tonight?  Just not every day, thank you.)

Clean & Lean Chickpea and Carrot Stew

This must be the recipe I've made most.  It's from another of James Duigan's books I think.  I usually up the carrots or add some chopped courgette, leek or red pepper.  You can really get a lot of veg in here, and the chickpeas make it really filling.  Make extra and freeze it for a day when cooking isn't so appealing.  The Smalls here love it.  I think there's something about little rolly-about things (peas, chickpeas, whatever) that they can't get enough of.

Straight from the website...

Serves 4
2 tablespoones olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 tablespoon tomato puree (easy to make you own or buy high quality organic product)
1 tablespoon sherry vineagar
800g chickpeas
3 carrots, sliced
500ml organic vegetable stock or chick stock (easy to make you own or buy high quality organic product)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g baby spinach
a bunch parsley, chopped

  • Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and garlic and cook gently, until softened.
  • Add the spices and fry for 3 minutes.
  • Add the tomato puree and sherry vinegar and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas and carrots, stock and salt and pepper. Bring to a steady simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  • FInally, stir in the spinach and cook for another 3 minutes until it is wilted, then serve with the parsley and olive oil on top.

Let me know if you decide to give it a try.  I've attempted to set up ways of subscribing to my posts so keep an eye on the sidebar over yonder --> for RSS feed and email options.  Meanwhile, I think I've just been inspired to read Clean & Lean again.  Get ready for a new-found strictness!

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