Sunday, 25 March 2012

Rainbow Salad

Yay, it's spring! Time to shake off the depressing shackles of winter, ignore this deadly drought we're having, and start munching down plant material in the vain hope that this will be the year you'll look good in a bikini (newsflash: it won't be). But well, you can't have a spectacular failure without at least some good intentions, so here I am to talk about them. I've started back on the Couch to 5K plan. This week is supposed to be week four, but I got derailed a little, so I think I'm going to have to repeat week 3.

Anyway, everyone knows that looking good is more about what you put in your body than what you try to get out of it, so let's see what I had for early lunch today:

Aww yeah, rainbow salad! Doesn't it look good? So fresh and crisp and tasty? So what's in it?

  • The white stuff is mooli (AKA daikon radish). It's a giant radish that is originally from Asia. Low in calories but full of vitamin C and very filling with a delicious subtle tang of flavour. My favourite way to prepare it is Korean style, but here I just cut it into matchsticks. It was a bit of a sad old radish (last on the market stall), so it didn't need salting.
  • Next up we have everyone's favourite root vegetable- carrot of course! Carrot has lots of vitamin A which is good for your eyes, and they're so so cheap which I why I always have a fridge full of them.
  • Red bell pepper adds a shot of scarlet and sweetness to the dish. Don't buy them from the supermarket, they're going to charge you upwards of 60p for a single one. At my local market you can get 5 for £1. They're smaller and less perfect looking, but they're just as tasty. Red peppers have twice the vitamin C content of green ones, and also contain lycopene.
  • Padding out everything with lots of water and fibre is that old salad staple, cucumber. Cucumbers contain vitamin K and potassium as well as a whole bunch of antioxidants.
  • And to garnish everything off and add some more flavour, spring onion (AKA green onion, scallion). This little superstar contains iron, more vitamin A & C, and apparently a substance that prevents the formation of blood clots. 

Mmm, healthy. For protein I served mine up with mushrooms dry fried with garlic, and for dressing I used sweet chilli sauce and a splash of sushi vinegar. If you want to add carbohydrates (I like to have carbs with my midday meal to keep me energised), then you could have some crisp bread or rice cakes. I had a pack of baked crisps.

One thing I've learnt from my time in London is that the produce aisle in the supermarket is a rip off. Go to a local market instead- no, not a foodie market like Borough, where I shopped last year for 5 year cured meats and cheeses made by blind angels- but a market like East Street in Elephant and Castle where you can find traders selling everything off in £1 bundles. 5 for £1 on bell peppers, a whole bowl of carrots for £1 (I bought that last week and nearly overdosed on them... so many), 3 mooli for £1, 4 bundles of spring onions for... you guessed it, £1. There is no such thing as a food desert in London, although you do have to be quick and available to get the nicest stuff. 

Go before noon, especially in warm weather, so that your veggies haven't been sunbaked. Bring a comfortable canvas bag and make sure the market guys use it instead of their flimsy blue carrier bags. Take your time and walk around to make sure you're getting the best deal, and there's no reason why someone on even the most studenty of budgets can't eat delicious fresh plants for most of the year.

Mmmm, fresh plants.

One last thing, I'm really sorry I haven't been doing much craftwise recently, but I am super out of cash and applying desperately on Gumtree for any job going. Hopefully on Monday I will be getting my sewing machine out to Camberwell, and then I'll get back to working my way through my stash and making something beautiful that isn't edible!
Although really, it's not like I hate making stuff like this:

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