It’s official: vegans live for longer. That’s what a recent BBC documentary says anyway and I’m going with it.
In How to Stay Young, Angela Rippon and Dr Chris van Tulleken turn to science to discover the secret of a long and healthy life and discover that (surprise, surprise) stress is bad for us but that dogs and dancing do us the world of good.
In the programme, Angela and Dr Chris (who’s quite a dish and has an identical twin brother) speak to lots of important looking people in white coats who tell them that one way to stay healthy is by eating foods that contain inulin. Nope, not a typo: inulin is a starchy substance found in pulses and vegetables which can break down visceral fat (the type that you can’t see as it’s stored around your vital organs).
Lentils and chickpeas, and indeed most pulses, are inulin-rich and contain plenty of fibre and protein. They’re used in lots of curries and dhals because they’re filling and super cheap to boot. You can buy big bags of pulses for next to nothing in all supermarkets – or even better, get yourself to your nearest Asian supermarket where they’ll be even cheaper. Some pulses need soaking overnight so if that sounds like a faff just stock up on tins. Again, check out the international aisle at larger supermarkets as tins of chickpeas are much cheaper (you can get four for a pound at Tesco at the moment).
Why not give this quick and simple curry a try? It’s perfect for when you’ve had a long day at the office and want something quick and nourishing and is ideal for the weekend as it’s cheaper and healthier than a takeaway. I can testify that this goes well with a couple of beers and several poppadoms with mango chutney and lime pickle.
It’ll take you about twenty minutes to knock this up; just make sure that you start cooking the rice at the same time as the curry. Or you could use one of those microwaveable pouches of rice or quinoa which are usually on discount at the supermarket – yeah, it’s a bit lazy but needs must.
A lot of curry pastes are suitable for vegans, even if they’re not labelled as such so just check the ingredients. I used Patak’s Balti paste for a bit of spice. Of course, you can grind up spices like coriander and cumin seeds if you don’t want to use curry paste but remember that this will take you longer. You can also use tinned tomatoes if you don’t have fresh and if you want to add a bit of indulgent richness to the curry, include coconut milk or cream.
Chickpea and cauliflower curry
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1 head of cauliflower broken into florets
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes (or a tin of plum tomatoes)
A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed, grated or finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
Three tablespoons of curry paste
300g of spinach (fresh or frozen)
One tablespoon of olive or coconut oil
Heat your oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Add the onions and let them cook for 2–3 minutes until soft. Add the cauliflower florets with the ginger, garlic and curry paste, and stir. After a minute, add the cherry tomatoes to the pan and squash them gently with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring the mixture regularly and add half a mugful or so of water gradually. After about ten minutes, add the chickpeas and another half a mug of water. Give it a good stir and add the spinach. Cook for another five minutes and you’re done. Serve with rice and/or poppadoms.