“New health fears over processed red meat” is not a headline that any bacon sarnie lover wants to see. But a study published in the American Heart Association journal called (and get this for a chirpy title) ‘Circulation: Heart Failure’ indicates that those eating over 75g of processed meat a day (about 3 rashers of bacon) are twice as likely to die of heart failure than those who eat less than 25g. The study tracked 37,000 men (but apparently the results apply to women too) for 12 years.
It’s the first study to distinguish between processed meats like bacon, sausages and salami and unprocessed meats. The author suggests it is additives in processed red meat like sodium, nitrates and phosphates, which are to blame. Processed meat has also been linked to an increased risk of bowel, bladder and pancreatic cancer, as well as raising the chance of developing diabetes.
If you are prepared to pay the premium, there are of course organic sausages, nitrate free hams and artisanal chorizo which have fewer additives. But they are still going to have a higher salt and fat content than a lean piece of unprocessed beef or pork.
At Kale and Cocoa we are trying to get our families to eat less processed meat as we strive to eat well and age well. But I often find that a plant-based meal lacks the “ooh” fact that plonking a joint or a plate of chops in the middle of the table gives. Stuffed vegetables look enticing and provide a focal point for a meal. Vegetables like peppers and courgettes can be stuffed with a filling made of pretty much anything, except, maybe, a load of bacon….
CURRRIED STUFFED VEGETABLES (serves 4)
2 tsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 decent sized garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt
200g (cooked weight) of brown rice (around 100g uncooked weight)
1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tbs raisins, soaked in hot water for a few minutes to plump up
75g frozen spinach –defrosted
2 tbs flaked almonds, plus more to garnish
1 tbs coriander leaves, chopped, plus more to garnish
2 bell peppers, halved lengthways, seeds and pith removed
2 courgettes , halved length ways, watery seeds scooped out with a teaspoon
Raita (or plain yoghurt), mango chutney and naan bread, to serve.
Pre-heat the oven to 170C degrees.
Heat the oil in a medium frying pan, add onion and cook for 5 mins. Add the garlic, ginger and spices and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the rice, chickpeas, passata, drained raisins, spinach, almonds and coriander. Cook gently for 5 minutes then use to stuff the pepper and courgette halves. Carefully place on a baking tray and cook in the oven for around 20 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Garnish with remaining coriander and almonds, and serve with raita, chutney and naans.