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A few years ago when I was still in my old M&S job, we were contemplating the January marketing campaign and as ever I had a major disagreement with the Marketing Director. I had presented healthy eating, which was always peaking at this time of year. Great new soups, fruit salad, probiotic yogurts (they were new then, honest) soy glazed salmon etc. were tasted with him. Said Director literally threw them back at me saying that he ate pies & stews in January so that’s what we would be promoting. I never did have the guts to point out that he hardly represented our target customer and thanked my rounders teacher for making me a good catcher…as well as the yogurt manufacturer for his sturdy pots.

Six months later, the January TV campaign featured the fastest line that we ever did put on telly…. prepared fruit salad with fresh pomegranate seeds. It beat any erupting chocolate pudding or slices of roast chicken hands down. I tell you this not to be smug, but to emphasise that January is always a month when we do nod to health and that’s just the way it is.

But what exactly is healthy? Rosemary Conley’s low fat diet of the 80’s was usurped by the high protein Atkins approach in the 90’s. These days the 5:2 diet fights for top spot with the Paleo way of eating and now we all understand so much better that refined sugars are actually the devil and good natural fat helps with your body’s absorption of various vitamins. January is a time when every media outlet is promoting some opinion on what we should consume and frankly it is all a bit confusing.

Another old boss of mine, Jody Scheckter at Laverstoke Park Farm, kept it simple. No processed foods. And honestly I think he is onto something. His organic, biodynamic food comes from a great farm that starts with the soil and its nutrients before it progresses through the field or animal to our tables. He really walks the walk and seeing that every day for a year opened my eyes to the benefits.

These days I try to do as he says and January seems to be a great month to make even more of an effort to be good. I generally keep it natural, cook from scratch and keep the red meat to a minimum. In fact, I tend to eat veggie quite a lot of the time but want to find alternatives to my old stalwart: veggie stir fry.

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Cauliflower steak

 

So imagine my surprise to find that the answer to this dilemma lies in the humble cauliflower. This unassuming vegetable has quite the following across the globe. From the USA to South Africa, I am reading about how it provides a great base to create clever vegetarian meals, disguised as your favourite indulgence. The lovely Campari and Sofa team shared this article showing how to make cauliflower ‘bagels’ amongst other things and it seems that cauliflower steaks are the way to take your ‘meat’ input these days. In fact if you haven’t tried ricing cauliflower and disguising it into some other meatfest dish then you really haven’t lived!!

My caulipizza

My caulipizza

The other week I came home and tried it all out for myself with a caulipizza recipe that I had saved from Crush online and it really did work. The lovely Nick at work told me about Anna Jones’ recipe in her great veggie book: A Modern Way to Eat. We are all hooked on that book at the mo and her addition of oats and ground almonds to the base mix apparently make all the difference so I will be going back to try that one soon. In the meantime, I would like to doff my cap to the humble brassica that is cauliflower and suggest you embrace it too. Cauli cheese anyone?

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