Is ageing inescapable? Unfortunately, yes. Scientists have yet to discover eternal life. What science does know, however, is that we can certainly change the speed at which our broad mind and narrow waist begin to change places.
So, put down that sneaky sausage sanger you vowed to divorce in 2012, and listen up. By nourishing our cells, our cells will nourish us. Not a bad mantra to continue 2012 with.
This means a lot more fresh veg and a lot less processed food. To slow down the ageing process, we need some serious armoury. You're not going to find it in a packet of crisps. The good news? Healthy food doesn't have to be penitential. I'm here to show you that.
Sprouted alfalfa is the patron saint of youth and it requires absolutely no cooking to eat. These baby shoots are densely packed with nutrition, working out cheaper and tastier than popping a daily multivitamin pill.
Alfalfa is flush with more vitamin C than a smug bowl of oranges. This is the vitamin that keeps skin luminous and supple, and feeds barrel-chested immune systems. There's also calcium to help strengthen bones and teeth, and immodest amounts of antioxidants to chase toxins away.
Harness alfalfa's potent powers by adding to salads, sambos and awkward silences at dinner parties.
Find freshly sprouted alfalfa in delicatessens, health-food stores, Dunnes Stores and Tescos. Try local brands such as by Natasha's Living Food, Good 4U or the Happy Pear. Or sprout them yourself on a sunny window sill at home.
2012's Anti-Ageing Lunch
If you want to canter after grandchildren, or lovers, well into your 70s, my advice is to pay heed to what you eat. This recipe is a tasty little antidote to ageing, stuffed as it is with helpful ingredients.
The sulphur content of garlic and red onion may help to keep joints supple by aiding the production of synovial fluid. This is the balm that bathes bones and squeaky joints. Included is some chilli to boost circulation, and unpasteurised cider vinegar for its deluge of alkalising minerals and probiotics.
Pomegranates and red grapes are famed for their anti-inflammatory anthocyanins and cholesterol-lowering resveratrol, both of which you should court if you're on the other side of 40. And finally, avocado is useful for its vitamin E and beta-sitosterol, making it an age-old remedy to ageing skin and arteries.
So Sellotape this recipe to the back of your kitchen press if you want to high-jump the ageing process in 2012.
You will need:
1/2 tablespoon unpasteurised cider vinegar
1 small garlic clove, crushed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1/4 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
Large handful of alfalfa
Handful of pomegranate seeds or red grapes
1/2 tin chickpeas, drained
3 fresh figs, halved (depending on season)
1 avocado, peeled and diced
In a tall glass, whisk the unpasteurised cider vinegar, the crushed garlic, the extra-virgin olive oil, the finely chopped red chilli and red onion together with a fork. This is your supersonic anti-ageing dressing. Pour over the alfalfa sprouts and let the flavours socialise while you prep the remaining bits and pieces. It's important the sprouts are left for a while to soak up the dressing.
Split the pomegranate in half carefully with a knife. Tear into random segments, and gently pick the juicy baubles out of their pith. If you're using red grapes, cut them in half and de-seed them before sprinkling on top of the salad. Tumble in the chickpeas, the halved fresh figs, and great big chunks of avocado. Toss gently, and serve alongside some iced green tea and lemon.