Tough going on the diet front

This week, and thankfully this week only, I’m at the school that gives me enourmous lunch portions every day. In some ways this is excellent – the food is delicious, I barely get hungry and it saves me spending too much at the supermarket – but it has the obvious downside that they contain many more calories than I would ordinarily consume. On top of this, because it’s a much smaller school and therefore has fewer staff, people often bring in sweets, cakes and other delicious things. For example, today I have already been given some chocolates and mochi, and about 20 minutes ago was handed a giant pastry – choux pastry filled with something that I can only describe as thick melted ice cream (imagine a thicker version of Waitrose fresh custard). Yum. Dinners have remained small, thankfully, and next week it’s back to more moderate lunch portions.
Anyhow, here is your recipe for the day:
Red pepper and grilled chicken quinoa salad
Quinoa (pronounced keenwa) is a grain that is similar to cous-cous, and is also a complete protein – rare for a non-meat thing. You can buy it in most big supermarkets, although you may have to hunt around for it, or go to a specialist health food shop. It needs to be rinsed before cooking, as otherwise can be a bit bitter, and since brands might vary you should follow the cooking instructions on the pack.
  1. Fry a red onion and a red pepper or two, both cut into cubes of roughly 1cm, until soft and browned. If you like chilli you could add some too, ditto garlic, which I sadly have to avoid during the week due to not wanting to gas my dojo buddies.
  2. Grill some chicken. Any bits will do – breast with no skin is best if you’re on a diet, obviously, but personally I like thighs – let it rest for ten minutes, then slice it into bite-size pieces.
  3. Tip the cooked (still warm is good) quinoa and chicken bits into the pan with the onions and pepper, add salt, pepper and a splash or balsamic vinegar, and mix together.
  4. Serve with a green salad (rocket would work well).
Today first tip was prompted by a friend who, when we were talking about dieting, asked, somewhat aghast, “but what about when you want to eat chocolate?!”. Well, one of the many good things about Japan is that it’s very easy to buy small portions of individually-wrapped chocolates, cakes and so on. It’s all about portion control, and if you want some chocolate then have some, but just have a small piece and not a whole bar. If you’re in the UK then I guess one of the closest things would be the bags of “snack size” bars from Cadbury’s. Or, if you’re feeling like something a bit more up-market, a pack of Green and Blacks individually-wrapped chocolate selection :) The key, in short, is moderation.
Ahh, how easy it is to sit here and type all this, though, and how hard it is to resist! The second tip is therefore this – revel in the misery of depriving yourself what you want. Think how exercising all that willpower is increasing your mental strength, and making you a better person! Drown in the stomach-wrenching agony of not having what you want, and console yourself with thoughts that those who do are WEAK ;)
(That last paragraph is not to be taken entirely seriously, just in case my sense of humour has got gobbled up by the internets).

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