Patrick Skinner goes easy-on-the-waistline
The email I was dreading arrived on my laptop last week. “Dear Patrick”, it read, “I want to lose weight – can you recommend a diet?” My simplistic answer would be “Eat less!”, but it’s not as easy as that. Changing any part of your lifestyle is in the mind, and
Diet, of course, is not only about weight. It’s about sugar-levels (and avoiding diabetes) and cholesterol as well. You can achieve and maintain good health through sensible eating. I maintain you can also enjoy every meal. Having lived in the Mediterranean for many years, I became accustomed to food that was generally good for you, provided one largely ignored most Cypriot taverna keepers’ custom of serving foreigners chips with everything. If you really do want a regime: look up If you just want a bit of advice from this old hand, then… 1. Cut down on “dairy” (butter, cheese, cream especially) and animal fat; 2. Don’t snack between meals; 3. Use a polyunsaturated oil instead of fats for cooking; 4. Reduce the amount on the plate, e.g. instead of four roast potatoes, have three; two rashers of bacon and not three; one slice of buttered toast instead of two, and so on;
5. Eat less jam, cakes, buns and sugary puddings. Try to eat more fruit and vegetables, taking in natural sugar rather than the packed stuff.
For much of the time, we don’t have to bother with too many heavy dishes, because generally lighter plates of chicken, rabbit, fish and vegetables are sufficient for our needs. I shall try and offer you some healthy and tasty dishes from time to time. Cut them out and keep them and you will soon have a guide to keep fit food. I start with one of the best vegetables you can find for nourishment, the sweet pepper.
One of the essences of Chinese cookery is the use of the steamer – but it seems most of us want all our far-eastern dishes fried, so you don’t see too many steamed dishes on offer in Chinese restaurants. Steaming not only keeps the flavours in, but also produces very nourishing food. This vaguely oriental main dish is jolly tasty. 1. Cut the chicken into small pieces. 2. Mix the chicken with the sherry, sugar, corn-flour and salt. 3. Slice the mushrooms and ginger very, very finely. 4. Grease an enamel or Pyrex plate with a little oil, and place the chicken pieces on it. 5. Put the mushrooms and ginger on top, sprinkle over the pepper and the sunflower oil. 6. Steam vigorously for 20 minutes. (Note: if you don’t have a steamer, stand the plate on a bowl in a very large pan one third filled with water, so that it is well above the water level. Cover and keep the water bubbling reasonably).
7. Serve at once, with either plain steamed rice or noodles (ready-cooked, such as “Amoy”, are convenient)