This east Asian inspired dish was inspired by people on TV complaining that Seven a Day was unaffordable and impossible to do. It is simple, tasty and does not take too long to cook. Here is a walk-through recipe:

Recipe: Pork Tenderloin with chopped vegetable broth

Summary: Roast marinated pork tenderloin served on a bed of root vegetables and a rich stock soup

Ingredients

  • One tenderloin
  • 300 grams swede
  • 150 grams celeriac
  • 150 grams carrot
  • 750ml pork stock (cubes is fine)
  • 1 – 2 pak choi
  • Mangetout
  • 3 lime leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 stick fresh lemon grass
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon five spice
  • 2 table spoons of fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy
  • 1 tablespoon light soy
  • 20 thin slices mooli (chinese radish)

Instructions

  1. Smother the pork with the dark soy and five spice and set aside to marinate for a while – heat the oven to 200c
  2. Peel and dice the swede, celeriac and carrot and boil till just tender
  3. Bring the stock to the boil and add ginger, lime leaves, garlic, lemon grass, fennel, light sow and fish sauce. Boil to reduce slightly and you are happy with the taste. Keep on a simmer.
  4. Put the pork in the oven and roast till it is just cooked through – about 65 degrees celcius internal temperature which should take about 25 minutes. Once roasted, set aside somewhere warm.
  5. Boil some water and quickly cook chopped pak choi and the mangetout.
  6. In a large bowl, put a pile of the cubed veg in the middle. Surround with a couple of generous ladles of the stock, or more if you wish. Put a pile of the green veg on top of the cubed veg. Slice the pork and lay a portion on top. Decorate with thin slices of fresh, raw mooli and chopped coriander.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Diet tags: Low calorie

Number of servings (yield): 3

Calories: 300 per portion

Homegrown tomatoes
Homegrown – even better

Apparently, loads of people have been contacting the BBC complaining that a suggestion that they should eat seven a day, rather than five a day is simply unaffordable.

To those people, I say, complete rubbish, you lazy, excuse ridden gits!

The guidance on eating more fruit and veg is actually about eating mostly more veg. And veg is one of the cheapest things in the supermarket. (Unless you buy ridiculous stuff).

We are on diets at the moment and are eating a lot of veggie mashes rather than potato. A large swede cost me just a pound the other day, and a bag of cheap carrots was also on offer for a pound. Well, that was two down and it will be several meals worth.

Then I bought a huge bunch of spring greens – 500g £1.  Then I bought a savoy cabbage for 80 pence and a cauli for a pound.

A kilogram of frozen peas was a pound,  as was a bag of beans.

4 tins of chopped tomatoes was £2 (great for a good old rat) and a kilo of courgettes to go with it was under £2.

You see how cheap this all is? With a bit of imagination you have an entire plateful of veg here, your entire day’s worth, and it has cost you pennies.

So, cut down on meat and pre-made rubbish and stock up on veg – it will not only be healthier but CHEAPER!

 

Mash for Dieters
Carrot, Celeriac and Swede

We have been dieting at home again (have some sympathy, please) and this has meant I need to get adding up in the kitchen. A couple of the dieters are on a calorie controlled diet and are being sensibly very strict with some good results.

But no diet will work unless you stick to it and you will never stick to it if you do not get any enjoyment and at least some feeling of fulfilment.  Normally we add potatoes, rice, pasta or bread to a meal to give that fulfilling element, but if you are on a low calorie diet, these are very difficult to use and if you do it is in frustratingly small quantities.

So, I have developed a little selection of mashes made from more forgiving veggies that are served with more or less every meal. These are made from a small selection of ingredients:

  • Swede – 38 calories/100 grams
  • Butternut Squash – 45 calories/100 grams
  • Celeriac – 42 calories/100 grams
  • Carrot – 41 calories/100 grams
  • Parsnip – 75 calories/100 grams
  • Leeks – 61 calories/100 grams
  • Skinned Red Pepper – 26 calories / 100 grams

With these seven ingredients you can create a very wide range of mashes and when you add your favourite herbs like parsley and dill, you can get even more variation. If you work it out, even 400 grams of this mash is only around 200 calories and that is lots to eat as part of the rest of your dinner.

Cooking is very simple – bill three or four of the above in a proportion of you choice until tender, drain, add salt, pepper and herbs and then mash up.

My core ingredient is Swede and I often then flavour this with smaller quantities of, perhaps, celeriac and carrot and then mash very coarsely. I don’t always use swede, of course, but it is my most regular starting point.

I use parsnip in smaller quantities because it has more calories than the others and peppers and leeks are used as flavourings.

Because I often bake food like fish for dieting, I will sometimes finish off the mashed veg in an open dish in the oven with some red pepper on top.

Skinning the red pepper is not vital but makes the dish more edible. If you have a gas stove, hold the pepper in tongs and blacken in a flame. Let it cook and then quickly scrape off the skin – it takes seconds. If you don’t have gas, blacken them under the grill, though it might take a little longer. The resulting pepper is soft and sweet and adds greatly to the mash.

You can also vary how much you mash your mash. If I am using it as an addition to other veg I will often mash it quite a lot, though avoid going as far as you would with potato as the structure of the veg will break down too much. Other times I leave it very coarse as above, perhaps as a base for other foods. Coarse is also  good when you have a thin gravy – it soaks up the sauce wonderfully! And it also works as a fantastic topping for fake shepherds pies made with minced turkey breast and rich beef stock.

So, a low calorie regular that you can serve with every evening meal if you want that will leave you feeling more satisfied than a pile of lettuce leaves!

 

It is wonderful to see science eventually start to catch up with what us fat people in the population have known for years – we are not fat because we exercise too little, we are fat because we eat too much.

New research has been studying a tribe of hunter gatherers, the Hadza Tribe of Tanzania, who use only primitive weapons to forage and hunt for their food. Apparently, it has been assumed that such a lifestyle consumes a huge amount of calories and results in a very beneficial metabolic rate. But in reality, it has proved not to be the case; indeed members of the tribe are very little different to their distant cousins in the fat west.

Herman Pontzer
Herman Pontzer – image from NYCEP

According to a BBC article, the data came as a surprise to Dr Herman Pontzer of Hunter College in New York. “This to me says that the big reason that Westerners are getting fat is because we eat too much – it’s not because we exercise too little.”

Well, this I could have told the very slim doctor for nothing, to be honest. In my quest to lose weight I have increased my daily exercise over the last year. I was taking the dog for three mile walks, I have taken over the allotment and generally walk everywhere. Has it helped?

In fact, it has made dieting far more difficult. There are two sides to dieting (leaving aside overall body health): the mathematical side where you give the body less than it needs and the psycological side where you persuade yourself that it feels good to do that. The latter is far more difficult and is heavily relient on not feeling hungry too often. When I increased my exercise, I not only improved my fitness (that is good), but I also improved my appetite. Oops.

As a consequence, I am much more likely to want to snack as I am now hungry much more often than I was – since I do all the cooking and am therefore in the kitchen a lot, the combination is disasterous; my weight loss has slowed down and I am finding the entire process much more difficult.

As the doctor points out, however, the exercise is still important – overall fitness is beneficial, but possibly for its own reasons rather than because of being overweight. When trying to survive and recover from obesity, it is better, perhaps, to look at the two parts seperately rather than making them part of the same calculation: Dieting will reduce weight and exercise will increase fitness.

This fits in well with what I have been saying for a long time about the problem of obesity in society – it is easy to say that fast food is to blame and that we sit on our backsides too much, but the bottom line is that if we do not reduce our daily intake of what ever food we choose to eat (I have never been a fast food eater), we will never solve the obesity epidemic.

I would be uneasy in advising any obese person to REDUCE exercise as part of dieting, but maybe we need to find a better balance, or prioritise the two, to ensure that we benefit better from these two elements. After all, a muscularly strong fat person  is still at a very high risk of dying from a heart attack, however much they work out!

“Obesity is a highly contagious disease spread by stunningly good marketing and a hunt for profit”

BBC2 have been airing an important three part documentary by Jacques Peretti, studying how the food industry has changed our eating habits for their own profits and are the main cause for the huge increase in obesity rates in the last twenty years.

Jacques Peretti - The Menu Who Made us Fat
Jacques Peretti – © BBC

In many ways, this is nothing new. Anyone that thinks about this stuff (especially those of us with weight problems) understands that how fat we are is first and foremost directly related to how much we eat; if we have a huge intake of calories, then we will become huge, this is simple maths. Continue reading

For once, I think the goverment is making the right noises and the so-called experts are being idiots.  The health secretary has been banging on about his strategy for obesity again. The chief Medical Officer, Prof. Sally Davies, has said:

“It is about what we eat, how we cook it and about portion size.”

She is absolutely right. We don’t NEED calorie counts! We need smaller plates. We need to stop supermarkets trying to sell us more than we should eat. Why else, even at this time of austerity are supermarket profits rising? As anyone who reeds this blog knows, I am fat – I am dangerously obese and I am working hard at becoming not obese at all. In the end, I am achieving this by the simple expedient of eating less than I use. I have not added it up, I have not read clever books and I do not sit around trying to read the tiny print on labels. I just eat little enough so that I am hungry. And guess what? I have lost 45 kg. It is not easy, and I get stuck sometimes and it seems to go wrong and all the rest – but it is not complicated either.

However, Prof. Philip James of the International Association for the Study of Obesity said her idea was “Stupid and Pathetic.” Apparently, “It is not simply a question of personal responsibility. There is an environmental problem in terms of the food system we have.”

He and others are far more worried about advertising of junk food and wants to see more regulation coming down on the retailers. Well, I have no problem with that, but it wont stop people getting fat. You can eat a McDs without getting fat – as long as it is your main meal. Not the healthiest thing out, but you will be okay. People get fat because they EAT TOO MUCH. They have too big a portion of dinner at home, they buy chickens that are bigger than they need, they buy huge bags of crisps and keep sweets permanently in a draw at home rather than making them a treat. Then they eat junk food on top.

I am fat, not because of junk food – I hate the stuff! I am fat because I have big plates and I fill them up.

How complicated do you want to make this?