Appetite for Reduction

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I’m not one for ‘dieting’. I’ve tried it a couple of times, and the only thing that’s ever decreased has been my general satisfaction with life. I enjoy food. I don’t enjoy calculating numbers. Calculating numbers to determine the limitations on my intake of food? I would rather sit through Die Hard  4.0 again.

Die Hard 4.0 was not good. Yet for some unfathomable reason, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it at least three times.

Despite my general distaste for dieting and the weight-loss culture, I’m rather excited to have a copy of the new vegan, low-fat cookbook Appetite for Reduction in my sticky little hands. I’ve only heard wonderful things from testers, and a quick glance at the contents page let me know immediately that this is going to get some good use in my kitchen.

But alas, because I live at the end of the Earth, in a desolate wasteland where everything wants to kill you and shipping for shiny new books is obscenely slow and expensive, I’ve had to rely on an old method to get my early taste. Amazon’s ‘look inside’ feature and Google Books’ previews have served me faithfully in the past, allowing me to write well-referenced university essays without making me get out of bed and put pants on. The former has again come through with the goods, giving me preview access to several delicious-sounding recipes, two of which I made this week.

The first was the 40 clove chickpeas and broccoli. I was hungry, and ate it before photos could be taken. It was delicious, and I have no regrets. The second recipe to make its debut in my kitchen was red Thai tofu.

I served said tofu with basil fried rice and sesame garlic greens. Judging from Chadwiko’s muffled, mouth-crammed-full-of-tofu noises of approval, this will be getting a decent dinner rotation in future. This definitely didn’t taste ‘low-fat’. Just juicy, spicy-sweet and delicious. The rice and greens are my own recipes and are quick, easy accompaniments. Here are the recipes:

Basil fried rice

Okay, so I lied a little bit. This is my mother’s recipe, or at least inspired by hers, since I don’t actually remember how she does it. Aside from being quick and delicious, this is a great way to use up leftover rice- very handy if you’re like me and always drastically overestimate how much rice a person can consume in one sitting.

You’ll need:

  • 2-3 cups cold, cooked white rice (you can also make the rice at least three hours in advance if you don’t have leftovers, just spread it out on a flat surface and pop in the fridge until needed)
  • 1 tsp peanut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 3 tsp finely chopped chilli
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (plus more as needed)
  • a decent handful of chopped Thai basil

Heat the peanut oil in a wok, and add garlic, ginger and chilli. Fry over medium heat for around one minute. Dump in the rice, and stir until heated through. Stir through soy sauce and taste- it’s easy to add an overpowering amount of soy sauce, so just add a little bit at a time until it’s to your liking. Throw in the chopped basil, stir through and serve.

Sesame garlic greens

Not counting the time spent chopping the greens, this side takes less than two minutes to put together. Great for seeming like a super chef with next to no effort. The greens themselves can be substituted for any Asian greens, really- these are just the ones I like best.

You’ll need:

  • 1 bunch pak choy
  • 1 bunch gai lan (Chinese broccoli)
  • 1 tsp peanut oil
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegan oyster sauce (made from oyster mushrooms, and easy to find at most Asian supermarkets)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Roughly chop the greens into large bite-sized pieces. I usually keep the smaller, inner pak choy stems and leaves intact, and chop the rest to a similar size. Heat the peanut oil in a wok and add garlic, frying over medium-high heat for around 30 seconds, being careful not to let it burn. Add greens and toss to coat with garlic. Stir through soy and oyster sauces until greens have wilted slightly- less than a minute. Add sesame oil (a little bit goes a long way here!), toss to coat and serve immediately.

Sure, the oil and white rice in these recipes might make the whole meal less healthy than it could have been. But as I’m sure the timelessly wise John McClane would tell you, old habits do indeed die hard.

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