light bites



The 2012 London Olympics will show off the fittest sportsmen/women from every corner of the world. Unfortunately this is under the sponsorship of the likes of Coca Cola and McDonalds. It nearly feels like some parallel universe where the impossible becomes reality.

As the obesity rates are rising in the UK, with the harrowing prediction of 48% of men and 43% of women being obese by 2030 (current numbers 24%women, 22% men), we have to welcome the initiative coming from the organisation that represents nearly all doctors in the UK. The Academy of Royal Medical Colleges is calling for an immediate review of the obesity tackling measures.

The 3 month long enquiry will look at actions such as diet, exercise, banning companies as the two mentioned above from sponsoring sporting events, restriction of advertising, fat taxes, fast food free zones around schools... I am extremely pleased this has become a priority for the medical community.

Judging from some of the comments, that follow articles on this subject, many people are outraged by the possibility of “fat tax”. Many families, who are on very restricted budgets, can’t see past the cheap junk food, many have never been shown how to. This is why an education program should be put into place. You can (and we should) make cheap, fast and junk food less available but not without offering other options, teaching people how to shop, cook and eat. I know it is a bit of a utopia in today’s cash strapped world, but I think if money was spend on teaching mums how to feed their families, kids about healthy eating, and getting everyone back in the kitchen, perhaps in due course (even if this means few decades) we may be able to reverse this massive problem.

To quote Prof Terence Stephenson: “ This is a huge problem for the UK. It’s much bigger than HIV was, much bigger than swine flu.” Action is definitely needed and I wish AoMRC will be able to kick start a major change.


I never though she would but my daughter really enjoyed eating these pancakes, possibly because she made them with me or perhaps her brother cheering made all the difference.

For the spinach: I had 250g of mature spinach, after taking stalks off, wilting it in a pan, squeezing all the water I was left with about a cup of spinach. You could use 200g of baby spinach. Or just defrost and squeeze some frozen spinach. The amount doesn’t need to be precise.

Makes 16 pancakes


Spinach pancakes
175g (1 cup + 2 Tbs) wholemeal self-raising flour
375ml (1 and 1/2 cups) non dairy milk
1 cup cooked spinach (see above)
6 spring onions, white and light green parts only, finely sliced
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil spray

Mooli pickle
1 good size mooli (Japanese horseradish)
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1 Tbs Sweet Freedom (or agave syrup)

  1. First start making the pickle.
  2. Peel the mooli, grate in coarsely using a box grater or food processor.
  3. Add the teaspoon of salt to the mooli, place a plate on top and weigh it down with something heavy such as tins of beans.
  4. Let rest for 30min.
  5. Put the mooli into a clean tea towel (you can wash the salt off first), squeeze all the water out.
  6. Dress the mooli with vinegar and sweet freedom. If you like a tarter pickle omit the sweetener. Set aside.
  7. To make the pancakes, in a large bowl combine the flour and milk, mix well, creating a thick batter.
  8. Chop the spinach finely and add to the batter.
  9. Add the spring onions, cumin and cayenne (if using).
  10. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Let the batter rest in the fridge for 20min.
  12. Heat a large non-stick frying pan, spray with some olive oil spray.
  13. Spoon a heaped tablespoons of the spinach batter into the frying pan, cook until bubbles start to appear on the surface (about 2-3 min), flip over. Cook for further 1-2 min or until the pancakes fill firm with no batter using out when pressed.




My friend G asked me yesterday if it was hard cooking vegetarian food. My other friend D jumped in saying: “Linda loves cooking, so it isn’t hard for her at all”. She was right my love of cooking definitely makes it easy.

I can see why it would be a daunting prospect for anybody who hasn’t got any experience with cooking meals free of animal products. When you watch any cookery shows chefs have a tendency to base their meal around protein by which they mean meat. I base my meals around protein too, in a much looser sense of the word. I don’t cook thinking here is my protein, here is the carbohydrate, here is the side of veg... I cook with the knowledge that a) we really need less protein that most people think and b) protein doesn’t just equal meat, it is abundant in plants. Therefore, with variety, my meals are naturally protein rich (or just right for my needs)

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, in his TV series accompanying River Cottage Veg Every Day, talked about going vegetarian for the duration of writing this book so that he could see the vegetables as the centre of his recipes, not just as an accompaniment to the meat. That is the perfect approach for anybody who wants to include more veg in their cooking. Put veg on the front page.

With the salad try to have equal amounts of the veg.
Carrots for the pate can also be steamed, I prefer the roasted flavour. I have roasted them without any oil but you can use a little bit of olive oil.
They both yield quite a few servings, keep in the fridge for about 3 days.


1 small potato (about 80-90g/3oz)
90g (1/2cup) red lentils
230g (1/2 lb carrots), cut into sticks or chunks (sticks cook quicker)
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 tsp miso paste (any will do)
1 tsp cumin
2 Tbs fresh coriander, chopped
squeeze of lemon to taste
freshly ground pepper


3 medium carrots
1 large beetroot, raw
half a red cabbage
pinch of salt
juice of 1 large orange
2 Tbs raspberry vinegar
couple handfuls of pecans or walnut

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Cook the potato in its skin (or use leftover cooked potato). Cook for about 30min, or till soft when pierced with a fork. Drain and let cool. When cool enough to handle peel and put through a ricer or mash thoroughly.
  3. In a small sauce pan place the lentils and 375 ml (1 and 1/2cups) water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15-20min till lentils are soft and almost all the water is gone. Let cool. Rest of the water will get absorbed as the lentils are cooling down.
  4. Line a baking tray with a greaseproof paper, place the carrots on top and roast for about 20-30 min till the carrots are soft and begin to caramelise. Remove the carrots from the oven and let them cool down.
  5. In a food processor, combine the lentils, carrots, garlic, spring onions, miso, cumin and coriander. Process into a a pate consistency, mainly smooth with some texture (see picture). The pate shouldn’t need salt as the miso is quite salty.
  6. Tip the pate into a bowl and add the mashed potato and lemon juice to taste.
  7. For the salad, fit your food processor with the grating attachment, grate the carrots, beetroot and cabbage.
  8. Transfer to a large bowl, season with salt, add pecans, the orange juice and the vinegar.
  9. Serve the pate and salad with some oatcakes or flat bread.