Loving this lunch …
One of my gardening books that I'm re-reading - and thoroughly enjoying - is 'Veg Patch: River Cottage Handbook No. 4' by Mark Diacono. He's the Head Gardener at River Cottage in Devon (the restaurant/farm/venture that put chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on the media map) and also teaches on the River Cottage courses. He's written the book in a way that makes a first-time veg grower like me feel excited about what I'm doing – his passion for gardening is evident on every page; listen to this: "If you've got better things to do at 8 o'clock on a mid-June evening than pop freshly shelled peas into your mouth as you amble round your vibrant plot with a glass of what you fancy, then life must be pretty special." (Definitely a kindred spirit, especially the addition of "a glass of what you fancy", although I would also add a friend or two into this scenario.)
"Think firstly of flavour and you won't go far wrong."
And that's what I thought of when I sat down to eat my lunch: a delicious mix of Rainbow Stir Fry, rice noodles and coriander cut fresh from the kitchen windowsill. Every crunchy, flavoursome, filling mouthful tasted of good health on a fork.
So now I know… next year I have to grow bean sprouts, cabbage, red and yellow peppers, baby corn, red onions, carrots and edamame soya beans. In the meantime, there's always Waitrose* …
*For non-UK readers, Waitrose is one of the big 5 food retailers in UK.
A lunch like this will make you feel good beyond it's sheer visual delights: A rainbow of veg will supply fibre as well as a range of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A is found in carrots and peppers as beta-carotene, an antioxidant that converts to VitA when the body needs it. (And did you know carrots are more nutritious when cooked?) Soya beans supply protein and are rich in potassium and a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, iron, folate and Vitamin E (needed for healthy bones, teeth, nerves and muscles). The peppers are excellent for Vitamin C (green peppers contain twice as much VitC as oranges, red peppers three times as much) - as are the Sprouted Mung Beans (one portion provides three-quarters of the adult daily requirement for VitC). Cabbage is vitamin rich and well known for it's anti-cancer properties, especially bowel cancer - and only 16 calories per portion when boiled (hence the famous Cabbage Soup diet - which I loathe to mention as I hate "dieting".) Small bunches of Coriander are used in Herbalism as a tonic for the stomach and heart and also strengthens the urinary tract. Rice is a good source of starch protein which steadies blood sugar levels, but you can't grow it in the UK.
See? Yum, yum - and anti-aging from all that vitamin C (vital as a building block for collagen).