Let’s not beat about the bush here; I’ve always been greedy. If I were a dog, I’d be one of those really annoying types that’s always jumping up and pestering their owners at the table when they are eating, or whining the minute that I could smell something delicious in the the oven. If you threw me a juicy bone I’d be made up, and the merest hint of the promise of a bacon rind would have me slathering over your shoes until you handed it to me.
Back in the 60’s when I was born, British Mothers had a very different approach to parenting than they do today. Young mothers were discouraged from picking up their babies when they cried as this was thought to spoil them. ‘You’ll only be making a rod for your own back’ I can remember my own Mother saying those words to me when I became a mother at the tender age of 21. All this crying and screaming was supposed to be character building and excellent exercise for babies’ lungs which now I think of it, may go some way to explain why my singing voice spans two octaves with ease.
In those days of strict routines, babies were fed like clockwork every 4 hours on the dot, and in between feed times prams all over the British Isles were parked outside the home regardless of weather conditions. Fresh air, whether it be blowing a gale, sleeting, pouring with rain or even snowing, was considered essential for baby’s health and development and at least with their infants outside, Mother’s couldn’t hear them shrieking as they got on with their chores.
The trouble was that I screamed a lot, and rather than my Mother picking me up and giving me a cuddle which was probably all that I wanted, she thought it must mean that I was hungry. When I was just 5 weeks old, unable to cope with my puce, tear stained face and pleading cries another moment, she slashed the teat on my bottle with a razor blade and squirted something resembling wallpaper paste into my formula. I believe that from that moment I’ve always associated mealtimes with the feeling of being stuffed full. It’s a terrible thing to admit, but if I don’t feel stuffed full, I feel short changed.
But as we all know, (certainly those of you who like myself tread a perilously fine line between being a fully-fledged fattipuff if we allowed ourselves to be, and someone who occasionally struggles to get the zip done up on your jeans) it’s what you DON’T bung into your cake hole that makes the difference. We won’t mention the muffin top.
I’ve tried so many diets over the years but it was only when I reached my mid-thirties that I discovered a regime which worked for me and yes, I am going to blow my own trumpet because once I’d mastered it, I did manage to keep the same size and weight for over a decade with minimum effort. Vegetables have always been my secret weapon.
Well, that 12 odd years of keeping fairly trim has clearly come to a grinding halt and the writing has been on the XL label in the back of my pants for a while now. All this high living in Jakarta has seen me slowly start to morph into an almost perfect copy of the apple logo on the front of my laptop. It’s time for a radical re-think.
I’ve been experimenting making soups for the past month and they seem to be working, well working in so much as I’m not getting any bigger at least.
Here is my current favourite, which I hope that you will love. I eat it a big bowl of it at lunch then have grilled chicken or fish with vegetables for dinner. Breakfast is fruit. For the moment I’m off bread, rice, pasta and potatoes – the only carbs I allow myself are pulses and beans like chickpeas and of course my classic vodka and soda health drink which is essential to keep one’s spirits up and with the juice of 4 limes in every glass, scurvy at bay.
SOUP FOR FAT GIRLS, and thin girls because they’ll love it too.
half a medium sized pumpkin, or one small one
1 large onion
4 large cloves of garlic
2 ripe tomatoes
2 dessertspoons of good quality oil such as olive or coconut
Dried red chillies to taste
1 heaped dessertspoon of ground turmeric
1 heaped dessertspoon of cumin seeds
1 heaped dessertspoon of coriander seeds (crushed)
3 dessertspoons of red lentils
salt and pepper added at the end to taste
Chop onions finely and add to pan with oil, stir until glassy looking then add chopped pumpkin and diced carrots. Keep stirring as this mixture burns easily due to small amount of oil and the sugars in the vegetables. Add chopped tomatoes, slithers of garlic and the turmeric, cumin and crushed coriander seeds. Stir to coat the vegetables with the spices and then add water to cover vegetables in pan. Add the dried red lentils and some dried chilli if you want some heat. Do not add salt at this stage as it toughens the lentils.
Bring to boil and then simmer for half an hour – add more water if necessary. Once the vegetable and lentils are cooked add salt and course ground black pepper to taste.
I then blend ¾’s of the mixure until pureed and add back to saucepan with the rest.
The result is a beautifully creamy and satisfying spicy vegetable and lentil soup that keeps well in the fridge or can be frozen. I sometimes add a pinch of garam masala when I re-heat it in a bowl in the microwave and add more chilli because that’s how I love it. Enjoy!