Over the past few days I’ve had very little control over my food. This is not great for shifting the last half stone.
I’ve been on a residential offsite with work. Life isn’t just about food, and there have been many positives to this:
Time to get away from my normal work and think about bigger issues;
Spending time with friends from work and meeting new people;
Listening to an inspiring debate which helped me think deeply about whether university is (or isn’t) the best tool for social mobility.
On the food side however, there have been many negatives. All food was provided for us – all 500 and something of us. Food produced on that scale is rarely fresh and healthy. Lunch consisted of white bread or white wraps filled with mayonnaise, cheese etc. All lunch boxes came with Kettle Chips and cake – hard to resist. Every break we were offered tea, coffee and biscuits. So many biscuits. Tables full of assorted biscuits. That was very hard. I’m very pleased to say I didn’t eat any biscuits, cake or Kettle Chips. I don’t want to sound ungrateful – being offered lots of food is obviously a great privilege – it is interesting how many unhealthy options are typically easily available though, and how much harder it can be to eat well.
Dinner was difficult, as there were no options. It was like a wedding where you get what you are given. This included creamy risotto and a chocolate brownie – having left most of lunch I was hungry so I ate it all. That can be excused. I shouldn’t have taken two chocolates with the coffee though.
I learnt that I should have prepared more than I did. I took a packet of naked bars, which I love, and I happily devoured guilt-free to help me refuse the treats on offer throughout the day. I should have brought more though. When you know you won’t have control over your food it really is a good idea to be prepared with lots of things you like and are healthy.
When I got home I did rather delight in regaining control, and made myself some yummy carbonara. Which sounds very fattening, because everyone is used to what we in the UK have done to carbonara, but if you make it the Italian way it isn’t! No cream at all, nowhere in sight. I also add in spinach for more goodness, and this is a very quick (ready in 15 mins max) and tasty tea:
Dry fry some chopped up bacon in a pan. I used lardons because I was tired and hungry and they are ready chopped up. I fry it for about 4 mins on a highish heat until it starts to go brown. I fill the kettle and turn it on, and chop up a lot of mushrooms while it’s cooking.
When the kettle boils, pour it into a pan on the hob. When the bacon looks a bit crispy, add all the mushrooms. Put the pasta in the pan (I was using fresh which only takes 4 mins. Again, tired and hungry).
While that cooks, separate an egg yolk and put it in a mug. You can just use one, but I used 2. Beat it with a fork briefly. I added a very small amount of Parmesan. The more you add the nicer it is within reason, but as it’s so strong you can get away with a small amount and it’s still lovely.
As the pasta is almost ready, you need to be ready with your egg mixture and a bag of spinach. I put a spoonful of pasta water into the bacon and mushroom pan (it’s starchy and gives the sauce a nice texture). Then drain the pasta. Immediately pour the egg mixture into the pan with the drained pasta. Stir it all around so that it coats the pasta. It sort of cooks a bit in the heat of the pasta and makes a delicious sauce. Once you’ve stirred that around, put the spinach in, and stir again so that it begins to wilt a little in the heat.
Now I tip the pasta into the bacon and mushroom pan. Mix it all up, and then tuck in. Really yummy, and not fat free but it has goodness and feels like a treat when actually it isn’t too bad at all.