So my 5 day challenge is over, and I’m not really sure if it was a success or not.
On day 5 I finally managed to have my stuffed peppers. It’s a recipe I’ve cobbled together over the years, borrowing bits from other recipes and adapted for whatever I have in the fridge at the time. This time, it went a little something like this:
2 slices onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1/2 courgette, peeled and diced
1/2 carrot, grated
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered and deseeded
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp basil
1 tsp tarragon
1 tsp parsley
1/2 mug cous cous
1 red pepper, halved and deseeded
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 180C. Cook cous cous according to instructions.
Heat oil in frying pan, add onion, garlic, coriander & cumin, cook for a few minutes until soft.
Add the courgette and cook for a few more minutes, followed by the carrot and tomatoes. If you like you can peel the tomatoes as well as deseeding them (I rarely have the patience), in which case dunk them in some boiling water for a minute first.
Once all the veg is cooked, turn the heat off and add the basil, parsley and tarragon.
Stir in the grated cheese.
Mix with the cooked cous cous and season to taste with the salt and pepper.
Pour a little water into an ovenproof dish (the infamous roasting dish came into play again), and set your peppers inside.
Spoon the mixture into them and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for around 45 minutes.
I used to work in a restaurant where we sliced the tops off the peppers, stuffed them and replaced the top like a lid. They would fall over in the oven all the time, so we used to make little cocktail stick legs for them. They always looked like tiny 1970s bubble chairs. Anyway I prefer my way, because the stuffing comes out all crispy and crunchy on top and fluffy inside.
I usually add some diced bacon to the mix, which is delicious, and a strong, hard cheese like parmesan is best, but this time all I had was Double Gloucester, which worked just fine.
I also forgot to drizzle any oil over them before they went into the oven, so they were a little blander than normal, but to be honest, I’ve never really mastered the art of the ‘drizzle’ and usually end up with random splashes of oil over everything.
The final product looked like this:
(yes, I did singe the edge a bit)
Not exactly food art, but if you wanted to work on the presentation, a few scattered dark leaves like rocket or spinach and some shaved parmesan round the edge, finished off with a ‘drizzle’ of that glorious balsamic syrup would leave you looking like a complete pro.
So how did I do overall?
Well, over the five days, I think I ate:
1 handful frozen fruit
2 bell peppers
10 small plums
1 bag grapes
1.25 litres apple juice
4 broccoli florets
That works out at 26 portions of fruit and vegetables, which is one more than I actually needed.
There have been some negatives. My kitchen looks like it’s been attacked by hungry squirrels. I’ve also been feeling a bit like a hungry squirrel, mainly due to the lack of stodge in my diet, so I’ve been snacking like there’s no tomorrow. I haven’t felt any less tired, although I’ll concede that that might have nothing to do with diet and everything to do with lifestyle. And it has been a bit of a nuisance having to do so much planning and preparing in advance.
On the plus side, I’ve lost a pound. I haven’t been eating any less, so I can only attribute the weight loss to the fact that I must have been eating more efficiently, i.e. eating things that my body actually uses, rather than storing as fat. I’m no scientist, and have very vague ideas about the way the body works, but it seems plausible. I’ve also spent a lot less on the weekly food shop than normal, which is a massive bonus. Vegetables are actually quite cheap. Who knew? And I’ve got to admit that it was nice to have some variety. I’d been getting a bit sick of sandwiches.
I don’t think that I could do all this cooking every week, not with the bizarre hours that I work. However, I don’t see why that should mean I can’t eat the requisite amount of fruit and veg all the time. Raw fruits, juices, soups etc are all fairly easy to incorporate into the menu, and carnivores like myself can easily fulfil their veggy needs just by adding some steamed vegetables to the evening meal. It’s been an education, and whilst I’m never going to be organised enough to monitor my diet all the time, it has made me rethink the way I plan my meals a little.
And, most importantly, this little venture has pushed me over the 600 followers mark and got me back into writing (even if it is just drivel about vegetables). On which note, I’ll be off. I’ve got fish fingers and curly fries in the oven, and they’ll be ready in a minute.