“You’re vegetarian?
You run?
But how do you get protein?”

I am asked this a lot. I am asked it even more in France, where the thought of not eating animals is generally taken as a national insult or a sign of insanity. However, with marathon training, and after my horrible nausea run the other day, protein is something I am going to think about carefully. Marathon training requires calories, and it requires carbohydrates and protein and fat and everything. But I fell into the mistake of over-emphasising carbohydrates in my food, especially when it seemed like my ideal pre-race dinner was a chip butty, mushy peas and gravy. I base that on a very enjoyable PECO cross country run after chips but I think it was wishful thinking. It certainly shouldn’t be an ideal pre-race dinner, because it consists of quick-release carbohydrates. Those are known as The Wrong Carbs. The Right Carbs are slow-release complex carbohydrates such as brown rice or wholewheat pasta. So maybe it was the crumpets with nutella I had for breakfast instead. Or lunar tides. Or something.

But now I am all about protein. My muscles need protein, and so, on recent evidence, does my stomach. So now and again if I make a successful meal, I’ll share it. And today, I did. It was a day where leaving the house seemed impossible. That happens a lot now I have two charming cats at home.


I procrastinated and lingered and loafed. One moment of loafing involved sitting in a chair watching my cats chase each other around the room like cats on crack, while I drank coffee and looked through Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Veg Every Day. It is an excellent book. I want to eat pretty much everything in it, and I can’t say that of many other vegetarian recipe books except maybe Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. I was about to leave and planned to go for lunch to Emmaus, the homelessness charity that is next to my studio in Leeds, and which has a cheap and cheerful – depending on who’s on that day – café. I did that yesterday, and had some very good vegetable soup made by Martin, who likes to add spice. But the man working in the café wasn’t coping too well with the lunchtime rush and the soup was cold. It was good soup, Martin, really, but not so good that I enjoyed eating it cold (there was no chance of getting it warmed up; the man already looked close to collapse from stress).

So I read Hugh, and I changed my mind, and made a warm winter salad. It took less than fifteen minutes to make. I don’t remember the quantities of everything, but it consists of this:

15-Minute Protein Salad
1 sweet potato, boiled and chunked
A handful of feta
A cooked beetroot
A stick of celery
A handful of kale, steamed then crisped in a frying pan with sesame seeds
Peanuts, walnuts, mixed seeds (sesame, linseed, sunflower), toasted in a frying pan

Dressing (a good splash of everything):
Rice vinegar
Soy sauce
1/4 teaspoonful of sugar
Sesame oil (teaspoon)
Vegetable oil (teaspoon)
A bit of lemon juice

That includes protein from the nuts and feta, Good Carbohydrates from the sweet potato, all sorts of goodness from the kale, water from the celery, and deliciousness from the soy sauce dressing.

It’s a poor picture, but it tastes amazing:



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