Finally… a food post

I’ve always wanted to write a food blog, but could never think of a unique way to do it so didn’t bother. What I’ve realised now is that you don’t need a point of uniqueness to blog about anything – in many ways blogging is a therapy and an end in itself that doesn’t require an appreciative audience. Ironically though there is now a point of uniqueness to my writing about my cooking – well, when I say unique I mean ‘only applicable to one person in 800’. What’s different about what I cook and eat is that I need to try to eat especially healthily to stave off the worst MS symptoms – but I’m not prepared not to enjoy my food.

There’s a fair bit of debate about whether or not diet can impact on MS. My consultant has just said ‘eat healthily’ – of course that can mean many things and in the self-obsessed developed world, where we never have to worry about having enough to eat, we seem to have become preoccupied with how the choices we make from the abundant food available to us might enable us to unlock a life free of illness. Of course, it’s not that simple – and cutting out food groups or stuffing ourselves with the latest ‘superfood’ won’t achieve everlasting life. But when you’re diagnosed with an incurable illness, it’s psychologically bolstering at least to attempt to wrest some control back in the smallest ways even if it’s unlikely to be successful.

Back when I had my first worrying brain scan and saw a consultant neurologist, he advised me to give up dairy. At that point, I hadn’t been diagnosed with anything, but I clung to that advice. It felt like the one thing I could do that might save me. Obviously, it didn’t, but that’s not enough of a reason to start ignoring the advice now. I didn’t know the reasoning behind it and maybe if I saw that consultant now he’d tell me that he’d changed his mind but I’ve been reading up on the current thinking about diet and MS and the main diets advised for people with MS – the Swank diet, the Overcoming MS (Jelinek) diet, the ‘Best Bet’ diet, and the Paleo diet do have in common that they recommend minimising dairy, but they also variously recommend cutting out red meat, or saturated fat, or gluten, or all three. I’ve never been very good at following a diet, let alone following the combined instructions from four diets at the same time, but as I was already eating a dairy-free diet when I was diagnosed with MS it seemed sensible to make more healthy changes where I could.

Luckily, I love fish, nuts, fruit and vegetables, so it’s fairly easy to plan a diet that has lots of those things, adding in lots of polyunsaturated fat, nuts and seeds. Doing all that and making meals that are tasty, filling, and appealing to all my family is the challenge I’ll be writing about.

So I’m kicking off by writing about two recipes I cooked over a weekend – a Keralan fish curry for a Saturday night on the sofa and, for Sunday lunch with the family, roasted chicken joints with lemon and garlic. Both are adapted from recipes originally written by Nigella Lawson.

Keralan Fish Curry

This fish curry is from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Forever Summer’, you can find the recipe on Nigella’s website here. It has a very subtle, unusual flavour. I halved the recipe for two people and it left me with a half tin of coconut milk on Sunday morning – for a perfect Sunday breakfast of coconut pancakes.
Slow-roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken

Another Nigella recipe, this time from ‘How to Cook’ and available online here. I deviated somewhat from the recipe, firstly using chicken joints instead of jointing my own chicken, and then by substituting marsala for the white wine – which I never ever seem to have 150ml of hanging around the house. Served with purple sprouting broccoli it went down really well – even with two fairly fussy small children – on a hot summer day (which shows how long it’s taken me to get round to writing this…)

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