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Time to avoid meat for a while…

Posted Feb 18 2013 5:59am

It is, I think, time to give meat-based ready meals a wide berth for a while, until the problems with horse meat of extremely dubious provenance – or none at all – are finally sorted out. As I explained in this post , it’s not about horsemeat per se – I actually like the stuff – it’s all about unknown quality and potential risks to health – and mine is so fucked up right now I’m not risking anything making me worse (right now, aside from the ever-present nausea, it’s like I’m looking at the screen through broken glass).

I also seem to be back into the cycle of nocturnal diarrhoea and vomiting again. WTF that’s about I still have little to no idea. Why, for example, only at night? The trigger, though, was fish fingers (Birds Eye have a new, battered variety – good, but a bit stingy with the fish though), and it seems that fried food is off the menu now, along with cheese, Clover, butter, too, presumably, and olive oil.

So anyway, in an excess of optimism over experience, I’ve ordered some vegetarian convenience foods. Actually, that’s a little unfair – as long as you approach these things with no expectation that they’ll resemble any sort of meat, even though, as meat analogues, they purport to, you won’t be too disappointed.

Linda McCartney’s veggie sausages are a case in point. Simply fried, they’re dire, and the main emotion they evoke is “WTF did I do in a former life to deserve this?!” However, lightly fried, thickly sliced on the diagonal, then cooked with cannellini beans, onions, maybe a little garlic, in a tomato sauce, and they’ll be greatly improved. Then again, many things are.

Similarly, the worst thing you can do with Quorn sausages is fry them, IMO. Make a vegetarian onion gravy, though, and poach them – remembering not to overcook them; cook out the onions first, then drop in the sausages – and serve them in that, and it’s a whole different ball game. If you want them in a sandwich, just poach them in a light veggie stock. It also works well for uncoated Quorn fillets.

I’ve also added a bunch of veggie pies and pasties, both McCartney and Quorn, to the list. It’s a long time since I’ve eaten these, and memory suggests they were a tad dry. However, Bisto Caramelised Red Onion Gravy Mix is veggie-friendly, and goes with pretty much anything, be it pretend chicken or pretend beef. Though, for some tastes, for pretend chicken the Roasted Winter Vegetable flavour might be more suitable.

On the subject of Old Mother McCartney, there’s a TV ad running at the moment which features imagery that is incredibly familiar, yet I can’t place it – anyone any ideas?

Over that past few years I’ve had several flirtations with a return to vegetarianism (I was a veggie for 20-odd years – that might seem vague, but it slowly fizzled rather than suddenly stopping), none of which have been successful. This time, at least, I have a reason for doing so other than let’s see if I can, not least the fact that I need to eat something. For various reasons – distrust of the ready meals I have in stock, constant nausea, and plain, old-fashioned exhaustion – I’ve eaten tantamount to bugger all (three meals in seven days, including a bowl (two cans), of chicken noodle soup this evening, which I’m by no means certain I’ll be keeping!**).

**6 hours later (23.00 Sunday), I did keep it, but it was touch and go for a while and right now, at 01.15 Monday, I’m chugging dilute ginger wine in the hope of staving off an impending barf-fest! Which worked, but at the moment (Monday, 09.45), it’s clear it had just been delayed, not averted.

For my height, I’m supposed to be under 10 stone, but at 12 stone, my current weight, I’m just skin and bone for the most part (I appear to have a bit of a belly, but that’s just overdeveloped abs from decades of coughing – staggering how many medical staff are unaware this can happen in chronic respiratory illness).

To try to reverse this loss I’ve just loaded my Tesco order with hi-cal crap (mostly Pop Tarts, with condensed milk to dribble over them).

Back in the day, Nestlé condensed milk was a backpacker’s staple, sucked  straight from the tube on the move, when it wasn’t being added to tea or coffee. These days it’s from Carnation, but appears otherwise the same – a quick hit of carbs, fats and protein. The various Primula “cheese in a tube” products are useful, too, but pretty rubbish in hot drinks.

Not suggesting I’m going backpacking, DWP please note, as an expedition to the bathroom is challenge enough, but both are a decent source of zero-effort food. Or for minimal effort, slap some on bread or crackers – when I was a kid condensed milk and sugar, on bread, was, for many poor families, a staple…

On a similar theme, PBJ sarnies are pretty good, too, to which end there’s also a jar of smooth peanut butter on my order, as well as a jar of blueberry jam. The fat content of peanut butter might be problematic, though, as it is with cheese.

Just in case, I’ve put some Quark on my Tesco order, too. It’s high in protein, 14%, and very low in fat, 0.2%, and while it’s quite a boring cheese, it shouldn’t cause me any problems. Works well with jam, too, or chopped cornichons and onion.

Whether this’ll work or not depends on my appetite for veggie food supplemented heavily with sweet junk because, right now, I have little appetite for anything at all, and I’m getting worryingly close to malnutrition in a home filled with food, simply because I can’t eat it or – too often – hold onto it.

Hopefully, I can change that. If not, I’ll have to accept that I need to be in hospital,** to find out what the hell is going on – and hope they can fix it.

**But best avoided if I want to avoid dodgy horsemeat; by all accounts school and hospital food is widely contaminated, thanks to an obsession with lowest-cost contracts and complete disregard for quality.


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