VADA PAU “Bombay’s version of London’s Chip Butty. Sprinkle the red ‘hillbilly’ Ghati masala to taste.” (V) (S) 3.90 (Dishoom, Covent Garden)
1/5 - Awful, pointless food. Nothing like a chip butty (a sacrilegious claim). I like spicy food but this was searing, unbearable heat. The potato bhaji thing was tasteless fried mush. The green sauce was also tasteless and added more spice where a cooling raita or such would have been preferable. Avoid at all costs, unless you like the taste of your tongue burning and nothing else.

VADA PAU “Bombay’s version of London’s Chip Butty. Sprinkle the red ‘hillbilly’ Ghati masala to taste.” (V) (S) 3.90 (Dishoom, Covent Garden)

1/5 - Awful, pointless food. Nothing like a chip butty (a sacrilegious claim). I like spicy food but this was searing, unbearable heat. The potato bhaji thing was tasteless fried mush. The green sauce was also tasteless and added more spice where a cooling raita or such would have been preferable. Avoid at all costs, unless you like the taste of your tongue burning and nothing else.

Vegetarian kievs, potato wedges, Yorkshire pudding, red cabbage and peas (Home meal)

Anonymous: Hi, I became vegetarian last winter, I found myself eating more than usual especially when I was cooking with meat substites. In general in almost every meal I was exceeding with the carbs quantities I was ingesting. How do you prepare a balanced and satisfying veggie meal without eating too many carbs?

Let me start with a disclaimer that I am not a nutritionist or dietician, though I can boast a Food Technology GCSE (grade A).

I don’t think there is anything wrong with carbs themselves - after all, we need the nutrients and fibre we get from fruit and veg, which are carbs. In my view, what people tend to rely on too much are grains and starches - big portions of pasta, potatoes, rice, bread. These are low in nutritious value, can cause bloating, and generally have little to offer except filling you up, especially if you go for the white varieties. 

There are three general rules I have come up with to ensure I’m getting a balanced diet and not relying on grains and starches:

1. I noticed around 5 years ago that I was eating wheat in almost every meal, e.g. toast for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, pasta/pizza/pastry etc for dinner. Since then I’ve ensured that my breakfast and lunch are normally mostly if not entirely wheat free. For instance, for breakfast I might have bran cereal, oatmeal/porridge, or fruit with yoghurt. For lunch I’ll often have a soup and veggie sticks with hummus, or rye/rice crackers with cottage cheese. I don’t blog most of these everyday meals as it would get very boring and repetitive!

2. I never limit my vegetable intake; if I’m hungry, I’ll add more veggies to my meal to make it more filling. A general piece of advice I’ve read is to try to make half your dinner plate vegetables - I don’t live by it as a rule, but I try to keep it in mind, limiting my protein and grain/starch/carb portions to a quarter of the dish and balancing them out with salad or veggies. 

3. I weigh out my portions of grains/starches, or use other tricks to control my portions. I used to just pour out half a bag of pasta then force as much of it down as I could because it tasted good! Now I weigh around 110-125g per serving. For rice, millet or quinoa I use a half cup measure (US) per serving, for cous cous a quarter cup. For potatoes, I mostly use potato waffles which are easy to limit to 2 per portion, though of course these are processed and not very nutritious. Instead of using normal bread or rolls I tend to use Warburtons sandwich thins, which being smaller help me limit the portion by only having one. 

It’s funny how so many people think being vegetarian automatically means eating healthily. I put on a LOT of weight one year when I lived in the US, living off fries and pizza due to the limited veggie options in restaurants. I quickly lost it when I came home, because I cook for myself so much, rarely eating deep fried food (only in restaurants), and limiting cheese at home to cottage cheese and low fat cream cheese.

Think about what your regular meals are, and what small changes you can make to them, whether it be weighing out a healthy portion, subbing in lighter ingredients, cooking with less oil/fat, or swapping in more vegetables and pulses to replace some of the grains/starches. 

Good luck and let me know how you get on!

Cheese sambousek (feta pastries), batata harra (fried potato cubes with pepper), hummus, halloumi cheese, and a salad of cucumber, tomato, onion and yoghurt (Al Balad, Edgware Road)

2.5/5 - A decent meal, it was delivered from a restaurant a few minutes walk away yet it was pretty cold on arrival. The hummus was bland and the potatoes soggy, but the pastries were lovely. NB: the salad and yoghurt were my own, not from Al Balad.

Cheese sambousek (feta pastries), batata harra (fried potato cubes with pepper), hummus, halloumi cheese, and a salad of cucumber, tomato, onion and yoghurt (Al Balad, Edgware Road)

2.5/5 - A decent meal, it was delivered from a restaurant a few minutes walk away yet it was pretty cold on arrival. The hummus was bland and the potatoes soggy, but the pastries were lovely. NB: the salad and yoghurt were my own, not from Al Balad.

Raw chilli chocolate tart (Down to Earth, Kensington High Street)

2/5 - I’m not sold on raw desserts. The base was moist but crumbly. The chocolate part was very rich but dry. I’m not a fan of cacao nibs but on the plus side they added some texture at least. All in all I finished it but I wouldn’t order again or recommend it.

Raw chilli chocolate tart (Down to Earth, Kensington High Street)

2/5 - I’m not sold on raw desserts. The base was moist but crumbly. The chocolate part was very rich but dry. I’m not a fan of cacao nibs but on the plus side they added some texture at least. All in all I finished it but I wouldn’t order again or recommend it.

"Mexican flatbread pizza" - a warburtons square wrap topped with Refried beans, tofu "ricotta", mushrooms and peppers, with salad and yoghurt on the side (Home meal)

"Mexican flatbread pizza" - a warburtons square wrap topped with Refried beans, tofu "ricotta", mushrooms and peppers, with salad and yoghurt on the side (Home meal)

Summer rolls filled with fried tofu, carrot, cucumber, coriander and crushed peanuts. Soy sauce and sriracha mix on the side (Home meal)

Kale, white bean and pasta soup (Home made, reheated at work)

Kale, white bean and pasta soup (Home made, reheated at work)

Mozzarella and tomato stack with vegetable and chick pea stew, and a side of potato and leek dauphinois (Terrace, Parliament)

Mozzarella and tomato stack with vegetable and chick pea stew, and a side of potato and leek dauphinois (Terrace, Parliament)

Tofu and vegetable kebab with jewelled cous cous and broccoli (Terrace, Parliament)

4/5 - Really flavoursome and colourful meal, I’ll definitely try to create my own version at home sometime.

Tofu and vegetable kebab with jewelled cous cous and broccoli (Terrace, Parliament)

4/5 - Really flavoursome and colourful meal, I’ll definitely try to create my own version at home sometime.

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