Recipes: Nowhere to run from those takeaway treats
Post-baby, there's new motivation for going for a jog, discovers Sophie White, as she flees the family in the hopes of working the pad Thai off the phat thighs
A few weeks ago, I was pictured at an event with a very attractive colleague of mine. I really hate having my picture taken. There is a knack to looking good in a picture, which I don't possess. As soon as a camera is trained on me, I automatically try to suck in my stomach, which, for some reason, has the unfortunate knock-on effect of flattening my arm flab unattractively against my torso, thus causing the arms to more closely resemble legs.
Usually, I avoid having my picture taken, but, on this occasion, I was pushed into the shot against my will.
I assumed mercy would be shown by the photographer, and that the shot would be discarded, until I opened this very magazine some time later.
There I was, hulking awkwardly beside the nymphette, looking red-faced and fat-armed. Himself, as ever, was on hand to provide words of solace. He laid a comforting arm around me and told me not to worry about it: "Nobody's looking at you in this photo, believe me", as he leaned in for a closer admiring look.
Before getting preggers, I was a keen runner - well, runner is overstating it somewhat, but, you know what I mean: I jogged. However, I had been pretty slow at getting back on the exercise buzz since having Yer Man.
I was riding the excuse-wave of my Caesarean for months. Any time I encountered my long-abandoned old runners in the house, I would defensively think: "What? I've had major abdominal surgery." After seeing the aforementioned picture, I admitted it was time to take action.
Before, when I used to go running, it would usually coincide with some annoying-but-obligatory task, such as cleaning the bathroom or writing thank-you cards. Running was a form of sanctioned procrastination. It's a healthy activity, so it's better than ordinary procrastination.
I have learned that, once you have a child, procrastination is quite simply out of the question. Not a single moment can be spent idle, because the to-do list in your head is infinite and is now no longer simply arranged according to chronological imperative.
My internal to-do list has a new filing system. It's chronological, sure, but now it's cross-referenced by activities that can be done at the same time - like brushing your teeth in the shower. Or tasks that can be completed with a baby strapped to your front (cooking, cleaning, wheeling a bicycle and a pram at the same time - don't ask). And, of course, activities that can be slotted into nap time (work, feeding and cleaning myself).
Since I no longer run as a means of procrastination, I've found a new reason. I'm not running for my life, but from it. I am fleeing Himself and Yer Man, who, let's face it, give me nothing but shit, both literally and figuratively. Another good reason is the reward. Pad Thai is one of my favourite takeaway treats, but, when I haven't worked for it, I make this healthier cheats' version at home.
You will need:
200g (7oz) dried rice noodles
60ml (2½fl oz) fish sauce
2 teaspoons tamarind paste
60ml (2½fl oz) water
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon groundnut oil
2 chicken breasts, sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of chilli flakes
Juice of ½ a lime
Two cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 small head of broccoli, chopped quite small
80g (3oz) mangetout, finely sliced
100g (3½oz) beansprouts
2 carrots, grated
3 spring onions, sliced into 2cm lengths
Lime wedges and chopped peanuts, to serve
Soak the dried rice noodles in boiled water for 10 minutes, stirring until soft, then rinse with cold water. To make the tamarind sauce, put the fish sauce, the tamarind paste, the water and the brown sugar in a pan and bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.
Heat the groundnut oil in the pan over a high heat. Add the sliced chicken breasts to the pan, along with the sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, the chilli flakes and the lime juice. When the chicken is cooked thoroughly, add the sliced garlic and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Then push all the sliced chicken to the side of the pan and crack in the two eggs - piercing the yolks - and quickly scramble them using a spatula.
Mix the scrambled egg into the sliced chicken, add the tamarind sauce and toss in the chopped broccoli, the sliced mangetout, the beansprouts, the grated carrots and the sliced spring onions.
Stir-fry for a few minutes, until the broccoli is done to your liking. Add the rice noodles and toss everything together over the heat. Garnish with the lime wedges and the chopped peanuts.