Palatable alternative to dieting
Forget food as punishment, just eat well and sensibly
A PROSPECT to chill even the leanest of bellies, an all too predictable consequence of the seemingly endless festive bacchanalia.
As sure as Auld Lang Syne rings in the new year, so the papers are filled with regimes of dreary abstinence and po-faced parsimony.
This is food as punishment, not pleasure, guilt-soaked repentance for the sins of months past.
The only diet that really works comes without celebrity endorsement – eat less, exercise more. Sadly, though, this admirable dose of common sense doesn’t offer instant results and so is largely forgotten in favour of the next ridicu- lous fad. A rather more palatable alternative to some ghastly diet, however, is to eat well, but sensibly.
Fish could be the answer to most of your prayers. Take snoek, for instance, plucked from the sea a few hours back. Make a few slits in the side, and rub in a mixture of cumin and cayenne pepper. Anoint with oil, then cook for a few minutes each side under a fierce grill. Serve with a tomato-and-onion salad, and you have a heaven-sent dinner.
Meanwhile, nothing could be easier than a South American ceviche – the freshness of the fish is paramount, but most white fish will do. Chop whatever you prefer into small chunks and mix with sliced chillies, diced tomato, coriander, onion and a good whack of lime juice. Let it sit for up to an hour and attack with gusto. It sings with freshness and vitality.
As the regime goes on, wrench your eyes from the cured red meats at the deli, and gaze towards the bowls filled with artichokes, anchovies and olives. The cured anchovies will put lead in your pencil, and served on Ryvita or other such crispbread, will suckerpunch those hunger pangs.
Ryvita is a store-cupboard staple, even in times of unfettered feasting. Salads, too, should thrill. Pert leaves of chicory, with their slightly bitter tang, caressed with a thin, sharp vinaigrette are unbeatable, as are canned chickpeas, drained and mixed with parsley, olive oil, lemon juice and tomatoes.
One beast that you can eat with abandon is chicken. Roast a decent bird and just ignore the skin. If you can. If not, life goes on. Then use the carcass to cook up a stock (with onions, tomatoes, parsley stalks, peppercorns, bay, carrots and celery), the base for endless healthy soups. Best of all is a fiery broth, where the stock is reduced down by half, then sprinkled with fish sauce and lime juice and scattered with chillies and coriander. Serve with some rice noodles.
Vegetables, too, can be a joy – a globe artichoke, with a decent dressing; avocado drenched in lime and sprinkled with salt; peas glistening with good olive oil; lightly steamed broccoli and cauliflower, served with a chilli-laced fish or soy sauce. These are all things that taste beautiful, and will send you to bed sated and untroubled by calorie-laden guilt.
So for the next few weeks, forget the fad diets and exercise common sense. Fourteen days without sausages, steaks and pasta might seem like an eternity. But when the healthy option is this attractive, the time will fly. Followed, one hopes, by the kilograms. – Daily Mail
PISCINE PLATTER: Salmon sashimi and salad, a winning combination for taste and healthy eating.