“Let food be thy medicine
and medicine be thy food”
For half of last week I averaged about 5 hours sleep a night, I drank more alcohol than water, skipped meals, overate processed food and generally treated my body as an expendable commodity. Don’t get me wrong, I had the best week, cramming a family wedding, street feast, secret cinema and a pre-honeymoon-breakfast-picnic into a long weekend. This week I am feeling it. I have been a grade-A bitch snapping at anyone in my vicinity, I have had a dull headache for 5 days, my skin is sallow and flakey and I have more than my fair share of mouth ulcers (sorry – overshare!).
It’s no wonder that I spent most of Sunday curled up in my pajamas taking comfort from reading The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone, about healing your body with a nutrient filled vegan diet. I can’t claim that this is the best written book, parts definitely smack of Cher Horowitz in style, and as mentioned in many less favourable reviews she does lean heavily on food substitutes like veganaise and faux butter. What it is is a beautiful collection of pictures that serve as healthy living inspiration. The food is bright and colourful and Silverstone looks radiant and healthy in the photos of her and her husband.
Obviously you want to to take an untrained celebrity’s guide to nutrition with a pinch of salt. That being said, not leaning too heavily on the statistics in the book, meat production is tougher on the worlds resources and reducing our intake will lower our carbon footprint and impact on the environment. Flicking through beautiful photographs of radish tabbouleh and over stuffed hand rolls is a fantastic reminder that there is a plethora of delicious vegan dishes out there that would make for a fun change of pace at dinner.
The book is split into three sections, flirting, vegan and superhero based on how far you want to take the diet. Whilst the text is slightly preachy about her vegan macrobiotic diet I appreciated the sections where she recommended simple changes that could be made to anyone’s diet. She talks a lot of balance and chi, which isn’t really my thing, but it did serve as a healthy reminder to think back to the cause of any ailment and see if there is a nourishing solution rather than just popping another pill out of a packet. For me, it is usually dehydration headaches as I am terrible at remembering to drink enough, so I have been trying to hold off on taking a paracetamol, and instead drink a large glass of cold water. Also some people who eat a strict clean diet develop a heightened sense of taste, I have experienced this a couple of times myself during my more virtuous bouts of healthy eating. This is very obvious throughout the book as everything is under seasoned and lacking in the herbs and spices an average pallet would crave.
I read somewhere that some of the best cookbooks are those that inspire you to experiment in the kitchen and create your own version of it’s recipes. I wouldn’t call this ‘one of the best’ cookbooks I’ve read, but it has certainly influenced my home cooking. The superhero section is full of ingredients I wouldn’t usually experiment with like daikon, nori and umeboshi plums which are starting to filter into my kitchen cupboards.
Flicking through the recipe section (which is approximately the second half of the book) in my run down state I was immediately drawn to ‘Alicia’s Magical Healing Soup’ a broth based noodle soup. It is packed with a boatload of vegetables, and as you can drinking the water they are cooked in you are maximising the amount of nutrients you take in. The recipe is so simple, which is exactly what you need if you are feeling under the weather. You simply chop a lot of vegetables, throw them in a pan and then serve. I would recommend either making your own vegetable stock, or plumping for a really good quality one as it really does make a difference to broth based dishes.
Just a quick thank you to Rachel Phipps, who’s fantastic new cookbook review column has inspired me to start my own.
serves 2 plus leftovers for lunch recipe adapted from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone.
1l good quality vegetable stock OR 1l water plus 4 tbsp of miso paste - reserving the paste for later in the recipe
1 carrot, cut into quarters lengthways and then chopped into 2cm chunks
½ daikon radish, cut into quarters lengthways and then chopped into 2cm chunks
2 celery sticks, finely sliced, reserving the leaves
150g broccoli, cut into small florets
4 white mushrooms sliced
4 oyster mushrooms sliced
½ medium leek sliced
1 inch ginger finely chopped
3-4 tbsp soy sauce
handful of watercress
noodles of your choice
sliced red chilli
sliced spring onion
- Bring the stock/water to the boil.
- Add the carrot and daikon and bring down to a low simmer.
- Add the celery, broccoli, mushrooms, leek and ginger. Simmer for a further 7-10 minutes until the vegetables are tender but still slightly firm.
- Whilst the soup is cooking, in a separate bowl, cover the noodles with boiling water and cook until slightly al dente. You want to drain them just before they become completely soft (but would still be considered edible) as they will finish cooking in the broth.
- If you are using miso instead of stock mix the paste with a little water from the soup to loosen it and then stir through the soup.
- Season to taste with soy sauce and pepper.
- Distribute the noodles between the bowls, and top with the soup.
- Serve with bowls of chilli, coriander, spring onion, celery leaves and a bottle of soy sauce and let people garnish as they would like.