We are all going to die one day, one way or another, but there is a growing chance that for many of us it will be as a result of the biggest cause of death in the developed world today: so-called non-communicable diseases.
These include cancer, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. And the biggest principal cause of death from non-communicable disease is obesity.
According to calculations by the World Obesity Federation, on current trends the cost of treating ill health caused by obesity alone will be over $1.2 trillion every year from 2025.
Not long after his appointment, the UK’s National Health Service executive, Simon Stevens, warned that the cost of treating obesity-related illnesses could bankrupt the NHS, and the cost continues to rise.
According to the World Obesity Federation, a staggering one third of the world’s population will be overweight or obese by 2025.
We have to take drastic action to reverse this trend.
Political parties must be forced to cut all sponsorship ties with the food industry. Sugary drinks and other unhealthy food must be taxed to the hilt. Taxation must be linked directly to the benefit or damage a product causes, and the money raised used to pay for the cost of treating the illnesses it helps create.
More resources need to be directed into prevention and early intervention – through education (for example, teaching children how to prepare a nutritious meal) and encouraging more exercise (for example, providing more cycle paths and walkways). There must also be a greater emphasis on primary and social care, so that those in danger of becoming obese are identified early on and given encouragement and support to take remedial action.
These are but a few proposals, all of which would have far greater long-term impact than continuing this losing battle of dealing with the problem after the damage has been done.
On to the recipe.
This is my vegan take on an Indonesian street food classic called nasi goreng. Translated simply as “fried rice”, this is a stir-fried rice like no other, with a unique, powerful, spicy flavour.
In Indonesia it is eaten at all times of the day, sometimes with a fried egg on top. I have been known to eat it for breakfast on the rare occasion when there is any left from the night before.
You can vary the vegetable ingredients according to taste and what you have available. Sambal oelek is a traditional and unique Indonesian chilli sauce, available from Asian stores (just check the list of ingredients before purchasing because some versions include fish sauce). Crispy shallots are also available from Asian stores, but you can very easily make your own, as I prefer to do, by deep frying thinly sliced shallots in very hot oil and then draining well on kitchen paper. Once cool, these crispy shallots will keep in an airtight container for about ten days and can be used as an interesting garnish to any number of dishes.
vegan Indonesian-style fried rice
320 g brown basmati rice
2 banana shallots
1 leek, finely sliced
200 g sprouting broccoli
200 g shiitake or oyster mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 red pepper, finely sliced
160 g marinated tofu pieces
6 spring onions, sliced diagonally
2 tbsp crispy shallots
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 tbsps toasted sesame oil
1 lime, cut into wedges
for the sauce
2 red chillies, seeds in, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
3 tbsp soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce for GF version)
2 tbsp sambal oelek
1 tbsp maple syrup
1. Cook the rice according to the instructions. Drain and set to one side to cool.
2. While the rice is cooking, make the sauce. Put the chillies, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sambal oelek and maple syrup in a food processor and blend to a paste. Set to one side.
3. Place a wok over a high heat, and add the groundnut oil and the toasted sesame oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, quickly add the shallots, leek, sprouting broccoli, mushrooms, red pepper and spring onion. Stir fry for 4 minutes then add the tofu pieces and fold in the cooked rice. Reduce the heat to medium and stir-fry for a further 4 minutes. Add the sauce. As soon as it bubbles up, stir in half of the crispy shallots and half of the coriander. Remove the wok from the heat.
4. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the remaining crispy shallots and chopped coriander and accompanied by lime wedges