Yes folks, when the health powers-that-be tell you that you need to eat at least five, preferably ten portions of fruit and veg a day, they mean you should work your way through up to 800g of the stuff in said 24-hours — 10 portions of around 80g each. Here’s what is reported on the NHS web-site, referring to an article from the Guardian: “A major review found people who regularly ate 800g of fruit and veg a day had a significantly lower risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease”. For those who aren’t keen on the idea of consuming such a vast quantity, the blow is softened by stating that even an extra 200g a day contributes to a lower chance of suffering heart disease, strokes, cancer and death in general.
Luckily I love ‘the stuff’ so am happy to rise to the challenge of eating as much as I can. One recipe I have developed is for a chilli (note the lack of con carne — chilli con carne translates as ‘chilli with meat’ and mine does not contain meat — you can add it in if you wish). Let’s go for at least 400g (five portions) per person…
When producing a dish that is often, typically made with meat, I try not to fall into the trap of using a meat substitute — but you can if you wish by adding fake mince or cooked lentils. Meat eaters (of which I am occasionally one) will soon suss this out and immediately comparisons will be made with ‘the real thing’. Meat has a very distinctive taste and texture that most substitutes fail to match so such comparisons will usually be unfavourable — at least when presented by carnivores. For my chilli I aim instead for a really good chunky and crunchy vegetable texture with chunk from sweet potato or butternut squash and crunch from red onion, carrot, peppers and celery.
The following will be plenty for two people — double up to serve four or five.
Prepare a fistful of long-grain rice per person by soaking it in water before you start cooking and make 150ml of your favourite stock. A fistful will measure out around 100ml in a measuring jug and you really don’t need any more — honest…
Pour a couple of table spoons’ of your favourite frying-oil into a big frying pan and set it on a medium heat.
So we start with a medium-sized, sweet-potato — if you want to check that it weighs in at 160g you can. Alternatively, a couple of 3cm-thick slices from the bottom segment of a butternut squash will work just as well. Peel and cut the potato into 3cm slices and then cut each slice into chunks. Get this frying gently straightaway.
Top and tail, then peel two small to medium red onions (about 160g); cut them in half from top to bottom; slice each half into six large chunks and add to the pan, stirring gently so as not to break up the onion chucnks too much.
Then take a couple of garlic cloves and peel and slice them.