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This week's seasonal recommendation

 

What to cook this week?

Sun, 30 April, 2017

It has been cold and dry in Britain, a combination potentially lethal for my new garden plants. I do detest mild and wet weather and it used to annoy me no end to hear such weather is 'good for the garden'. Now I find myself nodding to it thoughtfully - a sure sign of middle age, of which Sudden Onset of Gardening is one of the symptoms, according to Mimi Spencer, a lifestyle journalist and the Times columnist. She also launches a cookbook (and who does not these days?), 'Midlife Kitchen' co-written with Sam Rice. Guess what: nihil novi, ban processed foods, eat your omega 3s, leafy greens in, sugar out...

It really is a no-brainer to eat well - basically, go for the least appetising options. I'm joking, but still no one will persuade me that kale is edible.

I proceed to contradict myself. Healthy is tasty a lot of the time: take this smoked mackerel salad which is not only both of above but cheap as well. Or lettuce wrapped salmon - an unusual way of preparing the royalty of omega 3 that salmon is.

Throwing some vegetables into a dish and baking them with a little cheese and/or cream (only for the extra calcium) is another way to go. Courgette and spinach tian is so good you might want to double the ingredients. Have it with plain rice if you must, or just a chunk of bread to wipe the sauce off the dish.

If a salad doesn't sound quite enough, go for new potatoes and serve it warm. Asparagus and new potatoes are a heavenly match - plus a couple of rashers of pancetta if you crave the meat.

Does chicken seem healthy-boring? It's not with a homemade teriyaki sauce. Okay, there's sugar in the sauce but if you skip the post-lunch chocolate bar, it won't do you much harm. Or cook your chicken under the skillet and serve with plenty of green salad for that satisfyingly healthy feeling.

Which means you can have a dessert once a week. Island buttermilk cake takes about 3 minutes to mix, it's eggless and butterless but amazingly good. Use frozen fruit - fresh is still better and cheaper to eat raw now. On top of your breakfast porridge for instance: and if you swap the cow's milk in my recipe for watered down coconut milk, you'll be bang on trend.

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