Come on then – ‘fess up! How many of you Slimming World followers have actually read your books? And for those of you sitting there nodding, how many of you read something that had your face scrunched up in puzzlement? I have read the books, cover to cover, and I have also had my face scrunched up on a few occasions!
Let me begin to explain…growing up with a Dad who loved cooking meant that I knew a fair bit about food at an early age, as I used to sit on the kitchen work surface and watch him! I knew what okra, or ‘ladies fingers’, were by the time I was eight, and I also knew that gherkins were mini cucumbers, and courgettes were mini marrows. Oh, and tomatoes are a fruit, not a vegetable…not bad going for an eight year old! By the time I was ten, I could pretty much rustle up most basic dishes, with supervision of course. And this has meant that cooking is something which doesn’t really phase me – I will have a go at most things, but I am not a fiddly piddly cook!
So knowing what different fruits and veggies are available means that I can rustle up a fairly wide range of dishes, even though I tend to stick with some firm favourites. For example, my staple Superfree combos are ‘fried’ tomato / spinach / onion / mushroom and carrots / broccoli / green beans / cauliflower. I will also roast parsnips, or butternut squash, or sweet potato and use these instead of syn free chips – and they taste lovely! Oh, and I even tried roasted beetroot for the first time the other day and it was really nice. And so this is where my challenge begins to take shape…
Boredom is a slimmers worst enemy. Our eyes begin to wander and our heads begin to crave food that our bodies – and bums in particular – do not really need. So I think that what has been helping to keep me on track this time around has been the variety of meals I have been having. Not necessarily using new ingredients, but just new herbs and spices can really make a difference – an Italian dish can become a Moroccan dish, and an Indian dish can become a Thai dish. But looking through the Slimming World books made me wonder how much I really knew. I have never heard of a custard apple, or feijoa, or jujube, or medlars, and what is a bloody rambutan? Yet these are all fruits listed under the Superfree section! And as for the veggies…balor beans, choko, karela, and papri beans…I have no idea, and haven’t ever tried them as far as I know. Apparently a choko is a delicately flavoured vegetable which absorbs the flavour of the herbs and spices used. So I think it would be a bit like an aubergine really, which also takes the flavour of the dish it is used in. And as for a karela, this is also known as a ‘bitter melon’ and is used in Asian cooking…it also looks quite funky!
So there it is then – my challenge is to try at least one new fruit and vegetable each week! I am not too sure that my local, rather sparse, Asda store will help with this challenge though. But I am lucky enough to live near a road which goes for miles and miles and is lined with a wonderful array of ethnic stores of numerous variety! I love driving along it and seeing all of the stalls outside the shop fronts, with the fantastic colours lighting the road up…so I think a trip here will be in order.
I took a quick look at some interesting – weird – fruits and veggies for inspiration, so I thought I would share these with you!
Cauliflower isn’t the most exciting of veggies – unless it’s the Romanesco cauliflower, a beautiful geometric counterpart to its better-known white, lumpy cousin. The Romanesco may look more intimidating, but it’s prepared the same way.
Dragon fruit may be just a fancy Vitamin Water flavour to many in the U.S., but these distinctive plants – whose official name is the pitaya – are common across Central and South America and Asia. They’re known for their striking appearance and a taste that’s sour, juicy and refreshing.
The Romanesco isn’t the only crazy cauliflower out there. There’s also purple cauliflower, known as cape broccoli, and an orange variety.
The gourd-like Chayote – which comes in spiny and plain varieties, above – is native to Central America. The pear-shaped, starchy fruit can be cut up and eaten raw in salads and salsas.
Chinese artichokes, or crosnes, look almost like caterpillars, but have a rich flavour akin to artichokes. They are commonly pickled, sauteed or eaten as a garnish on salads.
The cherimoya, native to South America, is approximately the size of a grapefruit, with soft, super-sweet flesh that’s often described as a combination of pineapple, banana and strawberry flavours. They are delicious in fruit salads and desserts.
Some common fruits and vegetables come in many other varieties beyond what we see at the grocery store. The black radish looks nothing like its smaller red counterpart.
Purple sweet potato
Sweet potatoes aren’t always orange, either. The purple sweet potato – also called the Okinawan sweet potato after its native island of Okinawa, Japan – is a favorite of chefs thanks to the distinctive hue that makes it look pretty on the plate. They’re particularly popular in Hawaii, where they are locally grown.
Fiddleheads, native to northern New England and Canada, are a delicacy available for only a few weeks each spring. The curly fronds come from young ferns and taste something like asparagus. They have been linked to food poisoning when consumed raw, so it’s best to give them a good steam or saute before eating.
Another prized culinary delight, morels aren’t your average mushroom – though the brain-like look and texture may be a turnoff for picky eaters. Part of the fun for morel lovers is searching for them in wooded spots across the U.S. and Europe (but beware, some kinds are poisonous).
Most Americans are more familiar with the grapefruit than its relative, the pomelo – even though the grapefruit is actually a hybrid of the pomelo and the orange. This largest of citrus fruits is native to Asia and has pink flesh much like that of its smaller cousin, but less sour.
Star fruit, or carambola, are becoming more common in supermarkets with a rich, sweet taste like plums or pears. Ridged and oblong in appearance, the charming five-point shape becomes apparent when you slice it. These, I have tried, and they are lovely!
I am not sure whether they will inspire or scare you, but I am definitely going to try and increase the variety in my diet. When you think about it, there isn’t much to lose really – if you don’t like it, don’t eat it again! Plus, a one-off purchase of a fruit or veggie won’t break the bank either. So let’s get cooking – and if you do join me in this challenge, take a picture of your culinary delight and share it with me!
Today’s usuals were a bit strange really…
With no car I was stuck at home, but my other half managed to get a lift to the horses – in a car with one spare seat – so he headed off to feed and water them. Apparently they were rather happy to head out in the sun today! Meanwhile, I mooched around at home and rustled up breakfast and prepared lunch. Once he was back we discussed the potential demise of Freddie Freelander and concluded that we will be buggered if he is written-off – so I am praying that someone, somewhere, is looking out for me! This conversation wasn’t helped when my Dad called, having spoken to some of his friends ‘in the know’, and told me not to be surprised if they do write him off…I just could have done without hearing it, and am trying to just put it to the back of my mind. I didn’t sleep well last night – worrying, feeling guilty, feeling stupid, and wondering what we are going to do! But I shall try and just think about it if and when the worst happens. On a more positive note, I thought it would be nice to have a little website which helps me organise my thoughts and ramblings a little better than the original one did, and so my other half and a friend of his got on the case and have set me one up. This meant that he has been on at me all day to provide content…I only asked him about the possibility of the site…not expecting it to be done within hours of me asking! So I have written a few book reviews and will be adding more to it over the coming days – I will keep you all updated on progress. Tonight, I was hoping for a nice relaxing evening, but having spent a fair while on today’s blog post, I lost it and have had to start from scratch again…not a happy Weight Loss Bitch this weekend…and not a happy other half either as he is unfortunately getting the brunt of it!
Breakfast: Two slices of toast with ‘fried’ bacon bits, onion, mushroom, tomato and spinach. (1 x HEB + 5 syns).
Today’s food was nice – but nothing out of the ordinary really. Just a straightforward brekkie and a quick soup for lunch. Dinner was nice – I love roasted carrots and onions! I still haven’t eaten my snacks yet, and am not sure if I will, but we will see how things go.
I am stiff and sore from yesterday’s accident and so will give myself a bit of a break. Thankfully, I have already completed enough exercise for my Gold Award – third week, and as long as I am up and running by Wednesday, which is the first day of my new exercise week, I will be happy.
Thank you for reading! I hope you have a great week, and have had a less costly weekend than I have!
Weight Loss Bitch xxx