Cooking For A Family Of Dietary Heathens

Anyone who is responsible for cooking the evening meal knows what a mindfuck it is. It takes a lot of preparation – you have to remember to defrost, to check you have all the ingredients and that there will be enough food to go around, and if you have kids like mine, one of the fuckers will tell you at the last minute that they are going out.

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Worse, if you’re a pushover like me you end up cooking an assortment of customized variations of the same meal to keep everyone happy. Add to that the issue of staying abreast of current dietary recommendations – which seem to change as quickly as Facebook privacy regulations – and it can make the responsibility an exhausting process.

I like to think I cook healthily and creatively but there are some food trends that not even I can contemplate. Take the green smoothie. As Generation Xer, hence brought up on bacon and eggs for breakfast, I am afraid that green sludge is that step too far for me. I maintain the cynicism of my toddler years when it comes to anything green, which is that it is not to be trusted.

Last weekend, I went on a girls weekend to celebrate my sister’s fortieth birthday, for which we hired a lovely apartment for two nights. As we planned to eat out in the evenings and self-cater for breakfast and lunch, our first stop on the weekend’s agenda was to the local supermarket for a communal shop for necessities.

In hindsight, four mums on a food shop had the potential to end the weekend prematurely. As each of us manages our own homes and have, understandably, our own ideas when it comes to food, our interpretation of what constitutes ‘healthy’ was surprisingly different. My sister and the other two mums are still in the young children zone of parenting and as such are used to checking the ingredients and small print on all packaging with a fine toothcomb, hence we spent half an hour in the green juice section. While each of them Googled which was the grossest healthiest juice, I waited patiently and prayed that the one with the odd kiwi or apple thrown in for good measure would be enough to  pass their rigorous checks. Eventually, as it was my sister’s birthday, we let her choose the pond green juice, which contained something called Spirulina and smelled of poo.

If you believe everything you read, Spirulina is a blue-green alga and a super-food with loads of inspiring for health benefits, particularly for more senior folks like me because it can help lower our cholesterol,  prevent cancer, increase weight loss and reduce blood pressure without even trying. Which means, I suppose, that if my health anxiety gets a say, I will end up eating something that tastes like shit for the rest of my life.

Because, when it comes to the taste of this superfood – look online, where there are more articles about how to make it taste good than articles about its value to our body’s microbiome – it really does taste of shit. I imagine that it might be edible in a Vindaloo or Jungle Curry, but the general recommendation is that the best way to take it is in powder form – I suggest, up your nose.

Anyway, the following morning, I put on a brave face as I peered into our communal fridge in spite of the hangover from hell, silently cursing whoever ate the last piece of cheese and secretly praying that KFC had dropped a food parcel or something vaguely unhealthy to quell nausea and an unsettled stomach from the foot long Kransky sausage with all the trimmings that we devoured like animals the evening before, when our dietary concerns were compromised by alcohol.

Surprisingly, Spirulina did not meet my need-for-immediate-comfort brief, nor had it quenched the thirsts of my housemates if the line of green around the sink was anything to go by.

Healthy eating is not as straightforward as it looks when you cohabit with other people and I know this because I live with a couple of die-hard, meat-and-two-veg men. I am continually having to compromise my idealism when it comes to nutrition, and although I had thought that I had changed the three-year-old mentality of the old man when it comes to food, the other day he asked me when I was going to cook something nice after I had presented him with a plate of fresh, pan-fried Barramundi and roasted sweet potatoes in a Balsamic glaze.

I realize that the fight about how much red meat we have in our diets, or indeed what we eat, is an embarrassing first world problem to have, yet I fear it is a battle I am losing at home. Although dieticians have proved again and again that red meat is the devil’s food, I know that my son and husband would die happily (and quickly) if I rotated spag bol, Chilli Con Carne, and Shepherd’s pie through the week, and as a natural carnivore, my own willpower disappears as soon as those red juices begin to call to me from the pan. It appears that I can only keep my cavewoman/canine impulses that see me drooling in the face of a rare steak in check, as long as I don’t have to cook it or watch someone eat it in front of me.

 

So, do I?

Give in, and continue to clog their arteries slowly for a quiet life?

Endure the looks of disappointment and criticism leveled at me that forced me to add secret ingredients of Spirulina and dog food to the Chilli last Thursday?

Or, tell them to fuck off?

Super Foods Or Super-Bitch Foods

As I smugly lathered my toast in perfectly-ripe avocado the other morning, I found myself smiling to myself reassuringly, safe in the knowledge that what I was about to put in my mouth was a super-food.

Super-Foods, Bitch-Foods

Or was it?

It’s amazing how these days I get my kicks out of eating virtuously rather than being the ‘bad girl’ I prided myself on being up until my forties.

I knocked together this broccoli and potato soup yesterday. Just sayin…

Super-Foods, Bitch-Foods
I MADE this!

The problem with middle age is that we all suddenly get fixated on our health. It correlates with when our mortality begins to stare us boldly in the face, and friends start dying. In the old days, a good night out was determined by getting as trashed as possible; these days a good night out is finding a main course with less than 400 calories and being in bed before midnight.

We fall for all that garbage about what to eat and what not to eat, because we’re scared.

Because we don’t really know what we’re doing anymore, do we? Food has become as controversial as politics. We look down at people in the McDonalds queue, check out people’s trollies in the supermarkets and make surreptitious judgment calls. Even the chefs we looked up to once upon a time aren’t beyond reproach – we’ve taken to witch-hunting them now, if they don’t say what we want to hear.

Due to the minor issue of premature death caused by hypercholesterolaemia in my genetic history, eggs and butter became as scary as ISIS to our family in my teens; to the point that we created a bunker in the cellar in case the milkman stopped by and tried to sell us his coagulated, full-fat milk.

That was until the nutrition gods did a complete fucking u-turn and decided that there were in fact two types of cholesterol, one good and one bad; which really confused us, because none of us had the faintest idea what ‘saturated’ and ‘unsaturated’ meant.

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Now we’ve been told that (Surprise!), there’s nothing actually wrong with eggs, and that what we eat, in fact, has very little effect on the amount of cholesterol in our blood stream after all. So I’d like to thank those doctors for forcing me into a miserable adult existence of fatty food denial for the last twenty-five years of my life.

It’s not difficult to understand that modern food technology, with its scary fertilisers, additives and suspect preparations to ensure a longer shelf life for its products can be harmful, but surely if you eat a diet of fresh, unprocessed food, there can’t be too much risk to your health?

Yesterday we were told that the cases of breast cancer will double by 2030.

Joy!

TBH, these new-wave, new-fangled diets and super-food guides get on my tits. I blame the hipsters and this incessant pressure on social media for women to be thin.

Surely, good nutrition is about common sense? We all know that:

If you eat too much you get fat.

Red meat is hard to digest, which is why it makes you fart.

Additives have scary names made up of a confusion of letters and numbers so it’s obvious that we should avoid them at all costs.

Sweet corn does not digest and makes your poo look really surreal.

These days ‘low-fat’ means you’ll get fat.

Sugar is the best invention EVER but not a good idea if you want to lose weight or desire flawless skin.

Super-foods disguise themselves as healthier choices, but no-one can seriously survive on, (or afford), a diet of avocado, red fruit and seeds and we all know that avocado is a super-bitch food anyway, like pears, because it only has a two second window of perfect ripeness.

And does anyone really care about Pete Evans Paleo diet or Thermomixes, anyway? In my humble opinion, Pete is definitely not as hot as he was before he stopped eating properly.

If you cut carbs out of your diet, it CAN help you lose weight; that is until you put it all back on again.

In fact, the only great news to come out of this wealth of nutrition advice is that apparently alcohol is bordering on super-food status… this week.

Or was that a dream?