All in all it took five days. Five days and mum felt pretty much back to normal. Although we know that with each round of chemo the side-effects tend to get progressively worse, there is an air of optimism floating around our household. Five or six days of feeling lousy followed by a fortnight or so of feeling well doesn’t seem like too bad a deal (if there is such a thing of a ‘good deal’ in this situation).
I can’t tell you how happy it made me to see mum feeling and looking her normal self – the sense of despondency a child feels when a parent, who is normally the pinnacle of strength, guidance and protection, is taken ill is significant to say the least, even with more ‘common’ illnesses such as colds and flus. It is difficult to describe the emotions felt when someone you admire so much is suffering from such a sinister disease.
Yet the sense of hope when the colour returns to their cheeks and they start hauling heavy bags of food shopping home (!) is equally, if not more, substantial. And with her regained strength, comes a regained taste for healthy meals. Her cravings for comfort have been replaced with cravings for fresh, nutrient-rich food; when my phone flashes up at work now, it brings messages and pictures of vibrant colours, varied ingredients and vitality.
It seemed only fitting to cook Marge a bean-filled meal to match her new sprightly disposition, and Ella Woodward’s Roasted Aubergine and Tahini Bowl from her new book Deliciously Ella Every Day was the ideal choice. Aubergine is one of Mum’s favourite vegetables but not one that we have that often, so it seemed like the perfect healthy treat to celebrate normality. Baked in the oven, the meaty, charred aubergine slices worked in harmony with nuttiness of the tahini and the salty tang of the tamari – the dish was delicious. Served with brown rice and kale (which I had substituted in for the spinach in the recipe), it was a brilliant hearty but healthy winter meal.
One side note – we had this meal on the evening that Dad was taken down by the winter illness currently doing the rounds. A bit of a ‘meat and two veg’ man anyway, vegetarian and vegan meals are never a preference of his. This was the first meal in all my 24 years of life that I have ever seen him not finish. He blamed the flu, but I am not so sure. Oh well, you win some you lose some…
Aubergines contain plenty of antioxidants which have a variety of benefits, including protecting the heart from oxidative stress caused by the free radicals in the body and balancing blood sugar levels. They contain beneficial amounts of potassium, folate, magnesium, beta-carotene and fibre and boost gut health, water balance and bowel regularity.
Black beans are abundant in iron, essential for carrying oxygen to our red blood cells and for the production of haemoglobin , and the trace element molybdenum, essential for liver function. They are also a great source of fibre to help cleanse and protect the colon.
Recipe: Roasted Aubergine and Tahini Bowl
- 300g brown rice
- 6 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce)
- 3 large aubergines
- Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Big bag of kale (approx. 250g)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 6 tablespoons tahini, plus more to serve
- 2 x 400g tins of black beans, drained and rinsed
- juice of 3 lemons
- 2 handfuls of mixed seeds
- Place the brown rice in a saucepan with enough water to cover the rice by about 3cm and 4 teaspoons of tamari. Simmer for about 30 minutes until cooked – keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t run out of water.
- Once the rice has been cooking for 15 minutes or so, preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/fan 180°C Then cut the aubergine into thin slices (a couple of millimetres thick).
- Oil a baking tray with olive oil and place the aubergine slices on to it, before drizzling a little more oil over the slices, along with some salt and pepper. Put into the oven for 15-20 minutes until they are starting to go crispy.
- Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan before adding the kale, garlic, salt, pepper and half the tahini. Cook for a few minuted until wilted.
- Once the kale is cooked, ass the beans and saute for a few more minutes until warmed through.
- Once the rice is finished cooking, stir in the rest of the tamari and tahini and the lemon juice.
- Toast the seeds in a dry frying pan for a minute or so.
- Place the rice, aubergines and kale and black beans in a bowl, sprinkle over the seeds and drizzle with extra tahini to serve.