Spring Balance


Blueberry and banana breakfast overnight oatmeal in a mason jar, with checkered cloth on wood

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.” ― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

It’s September and even though the weather is more like Charles Dickens described as, “…summer in the sun and winter in the shade”, it’s officially spring. Good old Ma Nature is doing her thing with a fanfare of daffodils and an orchestration of hyacinths, crocuses, irises and violets everywhere to announce the new season, together with giving her annual promise of edible delights yet to come.

In the kitchen the winter ease of “passive” cooking of casseroles and the like will give way to the simple preparation of gloriously fresh spring produce and maybe, weather permitting, early barbecues. Goodbye to plentiful, locally-grown Brussels sprouts, chillies, butternut, turnips, swedes, yams, leeks and other stalwarts of the cold months and over the next three months or so, hello to the springtime pleasures of asparagus, fresh peas, beans, broad and other, courgettes, globe artichokes and strawberries and other berry fruit.

September is also the time I embark on my annual plan to rid myself of any extra kilos I have put on over winter. I loathe “diets”; Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Atkins, Caveman, South Beach or any of the other “fad” diets, it matters not; I dislike them all. The idea of counting calories, not cooking my own meals, eating the same things over and over or, horror of horrors, avoiding one or more food groups altogether is an anathema to me. I love food and enjoy preparing it. I like to be innovative and creative and know that the restrictions of any set diet would bore me and not last long.

Winter comfort food and time spent in front of the fire with good books rather than taking bracing walks and the like are my main downfall. Spring goes a long way to providing the answers though. I enjoy getting out, being it to tend the rampant primaveral garden, to play petanque or just to walk in the spring air; with this and the bounty of the season’s table, the kilos fall off naturally.

I start my day with a bowl of whole grain oats with a few blueberries (frozen are fine), a tamarillo or kiwifruit, a small banana, a few seeds (sesame, melon or sunflower), some trim milk and a spoonful of Greek-style yogurt; some days I might have a chopped apple or pear for a change.

Lunch is a simple salad of whatever raw vegetables I have in the fridge, or an open sandwich on Ryvita, perhaps avocado and tomato or tuna, or other days I will have a clear soup with vegetables; our homemade chicken stock is excellent for this, again with whatever fresh vegetables are to hand.
When it comes to dinner though, I do like to try different dishes every night and always welcome new ideas. I was delighted therefore to receive a copy of Nadia Lim’s latest cookbook.

Nadia Lim’s Fresh Start Cookbook is in fact more than a cookbook; it’s a book on happiness through healthy living. The author stresses that this is not a diet book and that although a qualified dietician, she doesn’t believe in diets…music to my ears…or should that be eyes?…and it is through healthy eating and exercise that weight is lost and kept off; there is even a twelve week programme to get you started.

Nadia’s recipes have all the colour and excitement of those in her two previous and bestselling books, using fresh and affordable ingredients to make delicious everyday dishes that suit our busy lifestyle. Should you be one of those who have to see the workings out, there is nutritional information for every recipe. Including dishes like a splendid version of breakfast bacon and eggs; a recipe for black pepper steak and mushroom pie that would delight any discerning pie-loving Kiwi; an exceptional and rather different smoked fish pie and a selection of Mexican dishes that had me shouting Viva Nadia, these recipes are a delight. None of the boring diet food; even if you are not interested in the health aspect these recipes will have you asking for more.

Nadia Lim’s Fresh Start Cookbook by Nadia Lim
Published by Random House NZ
RRP $50.00 Softback

By Gerald Bryan