I have a couple of loose guidelines I try to adhere to in any given meal:
- A loony amount of vegetables (leading the way in global broccoli deforestation).
- Fat & protein; without a hearty helping of each, my stomach sulks.
- Seasonal and bodily demands; Do I need a more warming, winter offering? Am I famished after a crazy morning workout? What item contains the least amount of salmonella in my student-friendly fridge? (Just kidding. We’re the clean, anally-retentive type of student).
Generally, I treat lunch the same as any other meal; it is interchangeable with dinner or breakfast, and warrants equal amounts of time, care and taste. No el blando sambo’s or microwave meals here. And at this time of the Aussie year, my guts are demanding warm, nourishing, flavoursome fare to combat our sub-30-degrees-celcius winter weather. We’re all big kangaroo-wrangling sissy’s, really.
This has been a staple the last few weeks; Throw-together-sautéed-salad
A foodie genius friend of mine sometimes comes over to lay down the cooking law, and without fail makes sautéed veggies taste like an incredible Heston Blumenthaal banquet, every time. It’s similar to Mum’s cooking – each dish is spiked with a magical, unattainable essence one can never quite capture. This is my attempt, perfect for a wintery midday pause with aromatic fennel, turmeric, sweet caramelised onion and an orgy of earthy vegetables. I add eggs and mackerel for protein, and cook with ladle-fulls of coconut oil or homemade tallow for instant fatification.
Open-to-suggestion-ingredients (for one)
- 1-2 tbs diced red or brown onion (depending on your sulphurous veggie threshold)
- coconut oil or beef tallow for frying
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbs grated fresh turmeric (or 1/2 tsp powdered)
- vegetables; brussel sprouts, zucchini, broccoli, carrot, kale, cauliflower (chop up relatively small for speedy cooking)
- 1/2 diced avocado
- 2 soft boiled eggs
- mackerel fillets (optional, I had some leftover)
- fresh lemon for squeezing
- fresh parsley, basil, coriander for sprinkling artistically
- a few tbs homemade broth (water will work fine if you’re out)
- salt & pepper
What to do n shit
- Place 2 eggs in pot of water on the stovetop, bring to boil and set a timer for 3 minutes for soft yolks. Rinse & sit in cold water until ready to peel & serve.
- Heat coconut oil/tallow over low-medium heat in a pan and add diced onion & fennel seeds. Sauté until translucent and lightly golden.
- Add all veggies & turmeric, allowing to heat through before gluging 3-4 tablespoons of stock into the bottom in order for the veggies to steam. Cover with a lid, if you like, and cook for a few minutes until slightly soft. (But not denture-friendly-squishy).
- Remove lid and add a few shakes of salt & pepper to veggies; take off heat and serve.
- Add eggs, diced avocado, mackerel, lemon juice and fresh herbs for a super quick, super tasty and super satisfying lunchtime meal.
The geeky breakdown of why this particular plate-full of produce rocks:
- Cooking with heat-stable fats such as coconut oil or tallow prevents excess oxidation. They are tough, wily and saturated, with Hydrogen bouncers blocking oxygen’s gatecrashing party antics. Ergo; less free-radical consumption, and better arterial health for you!
- Fennel is a beautiful, calming herb that is wonderful for gastrointestinal upset, gas, bloating and all manner of gnarly digestive dilemmas. It is also subtly uplifting, according to our herbs teacher, so extra points for the happiness injection!
- Turmeric is one of the most potent antioxidants you can add to your regular diet, in my not-so-humble opinion. The research on Curcurmin (one of Turmerics’ active constituents) is brain-bending. It is a supreme anti-inflammatory and has been shown to induce cancer-cell death (apoptosis), and down-regulate over-active cell-proliferative pathways. (Say that with a mouthful of macadamias!). When it is paired with a fat (coconut oil, avocado) and piperine (a chemical constituent of pepper), it is galaxies more effective.
- Brussel sprouts, onion and other cruciferous veggies contain a high amount of sulphur which is fantastic for skin health, immune function and liver detoxification.
- If adding broth, you are enjoying the many benefits of nature’s gruesome multivitamin! Including high amounts of calcium, magnesium, glycine…all the minerals you’ve ever dreamed about in your nerdy nutritional nightmares.
- Fresh herbs such as parsley and cilantro are epic inclusions, sporting high amounts of iron, silica and with the added ability to chelate (or bind to) heavy metals such as mercury for daily detoxification. (I always add coriander for this reason, as I had amalgam fillings as a kid. Yikes).
Enough justification to eat the meal, already? Thought so. Get sautéing to reclaim your lunchtime mojo and enjoy a hearty, steamy bowlful o’ goodness.