I'm trying to be on a bit of a health kick at the moment. Last year I was working long hours and sitting at a desk all day. There was a very tempting Marks and Spencer downstairs selling very delicious wasabi peas and chocolate covered pretzels, among other things. If I managed to squeeze in a yoga session it would be 10pm by the time I got home, and toast became my go-to dinner. Needless to say, I did not look or feel great. When I was in New Zealand in April I was inspired by my sister to think a bit more carefully about what I'm putting into my body. She has recently gone veggie and is very conscious about what she eats. She looks fantastic and says she has much more energy since giving up meat.
Now that we're back in London I'm determined to make more of an effort at meal times and to be more mindful about the food I'm eating. I want to learn to eat with the seasons, to eat locally sourced and organic food wherever possible. Although I don't think I can give up meat, I do want to make sure the meat I eat is organic or high welfare. I've just signed up with Abel and Cole, and our first box of organic fruit and veggies will be arriving on Wednesday, I can't wait!
Ottolenghi has been a great source of inspiration lately. I made three meals using recipes from his book, Plenty, last week and they were all delicious.
From Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
110ml sunflower oil
2 small onions, cut into 3cm dice
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 fresh green chilli, thinly sliced
2 small red peppers, cut into 3cm dice
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3cm dice
1 small parsnip, peeled and cut into 3cm dice
200g French beans, trimmed
1 medium courgette, cut into 3cm dice
1/2 large aubergine, peeled and cut into 3cm dice
1 small potato, peeled and cut into 3cm dice
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp tomato purée
chopped coriander to garnish (optional)
salt and black pepper
Pour two-thirds of the oil into a large heavy-based casserole dish or a pot (our 20cm pot was almost overflowing), and place on a medium-high heat. Add the onions and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, stir in the garlic, chilli and red peppers and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the butternut and parsnip and continue frying for 5 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, lift the vegetables out of the pot and into a medium bowl, leaving as much of the oil in the post as possible. Top this up with remaining oil. Add the French beans, courgette and aubergine to the hot oil and fry for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
Return the contents of the bowl to the pot. Add the potato, tomatoes, sugar, tomato purée and plenty of salt and pepper. Stir well, then pour in the water, or just enough to half-cover the vegetables. Cover with a lid and leave to simmer gently for 30 minutes. Taste the vegetables and add more salt and pepper, if you like.
Finally, preheat the oven to 200C. Use a slotted spoon to gently lift the vegetables from the pot and into a large, deep roasting tin to make a layer 2-3cm thick. Pour the liquid over the vegetables and place in the oven to cook for 30 minutes. At this point all the vegetables should be very soft and most of the liquid evaporated. Garnish with coriander, if you like, and serve with steamed white rice.
P.S. I've set up a Facebook page for this yellow-haired girl! Feel free to take a look, if you like.