Real Fast Food

Not the splendid Nigel Slater book which every student should own but Olives, the noblest fruit, both quick and now also sustaining me during days of 5/2 Intermittent Fasting (I.F.).

To explain; I’ve been professionally eating, mainly pork, for 12 years and for 20 years before that I was a most enthusiastic amateur. Approaching my 41st birthday my friends suggested an MOT; blood tests, blood pressure & various unpleasant examinations. I thought I should shape up first lest my blood be made of lard (who takes an exam without revising ?).  Step forward Horizon: eat, fast & live longer where the presenter tried various fasting systems and then settled on the easiest; 5/2 I.F.

Basically, pick 2 days in the week and eat less than 600 calories boys (500 girls), max. 55g of protein. Eat normally for the other 5 days. The idea is to fool the body away from protein surplus (new cells please) into repair (make do and mend) but not enough to activate full blown starvation response where your metabolism slows up. Studies on mice suggest that you can prolong life, improve brain function and learn to fly. Not the last one but your body can start to act nicely with some or all of the following; reduced blood lipids, blood pressure, markers of inflammation and oxidative stress.  Increased cell repair, fat burning, metabolic rate and improved appetite control, blood sugar control, cardiovascular function, and neuronal plasticity.

I don’t know if mine’s doing this but I’ve shed a few kg, sleep better and good for the planet I’ve reduced my food consumption by over 20%. So I.F. saves me money, reduces my alcohol consumption and weirdly sorts out hangovers more quickly almost as if my body can just get on with fixing itself and not worry about digesting whatever I normally wolf down the morning after the night before.
Best of all its relatively easy apart from the semi-constant state of bi-polarity; ascetic masochist to sybaritic hedonist. I’m either really hungry, crying over foodporn like The Best Thing I Ever Ate (check out the MONSTER Reuben

or rolling around groaning holding my overstuffed belly which is packed tight with hand-pulled noodles and stir fried potatoes (thank you BBQ Chinese Manchester and Jay Rayner for alerting me).

There are some real professionals e.g. Lavender and Lovage creating spectacular and delicious fast day triumphs, Im not one of them. The current I.F. set menu (table d’hote); a small glass of smoothie (either berries or mango) with a small bowl of 50:50 water:milk porridge enlivened with prunes and a flaxseed sprinkle all anointed with maple syrup. Lots of green and mint tea through the day (the occasional mental episode when someone offers me shaved fully roasted Porchetta) and a handful of olives if it all gets too much to tide me through to dinner, usually eggs and probably the humble Frittata and her infinite variety (or current vogue non-authentic Menemen). there are some real professionals making delicious 

I tried sausages and lost the plot and rightly so, who can eat one delicious glistening caramelised sausage ? I ended up stealing the kids ‘snags’ and then more or less drinking the fat from the oven tray. So eggs it is and Just as Iberico is known as the four-legged olive tree (because of high levels of oleic acid in the fat) Olives have become my one-legged Iberico as they have replaced the beautiful myriad pork rainbow (bacon, chorizo, coppa, jamon, prosciutto, guanciale et al) as the flavour base on which all my fasting fritattas are founded.

Fry a sliced onion in a teensy splash of EVO, then some green (courgette or runner bean frozen peas or anything), add garlic & parsley to taste, fry a bit then tip into a bowl with 6 beaten eggs, a splash of milk, a handful of stoned chopped olives (lately Noire de Nyons lucky lucky me) lemon zest and seasoning. Mix well return to the pan, cook until fluffing then microplane a little cheese on top and soufflé under the grill. Simple tomato and/or green salad (reserve some big leaves if possible so the kids can roll up the frittata) and you’ve just fed 4 people well for not much at all.