BLOG: With enough butter, anything is good

Before I took on this rather ridiculous “Banting Challenge,” I met with one of our hospital’s dieticians.

I told her what I was planning to do. She was intrigued to see if I could manage and offered to help. She said that what I will probably miss the most is variety, something I only truly grasped when I began planning my shopping list.

“This is what it bought me, which will hopefully last the week”

R150 is really not a lot of money and this is what it bought me:

  • 2kg of frozen chicken pieces (R44.99)
  • 24 eggs (27.99)
  • 1litre long-life full-cream milk (R8.99)
  • 500g of butter (R29.99)
  • 24 teabags (R4.99)
  • 1 packet (5 small) sweet potatoes (R12.99)
  • 1 large unpeeled cabbage (10.99)
  • 2 onions (R4.52)
  • 3 green chillies (R1.02)
  • 1 small clove of garlic (R2.38)

I hope it will last the week.

Banting diet creator Tim Noakes says that one should not go hungry, so I had to try to develop a shopping list that had enough fat and protein for me to eat as much as I wanted. In my previous post, I mentioned that I wanted to challenge my own assumptions around obesity.

While walking up and down the aisles at Shoprite, I also had to challenge my assumptions around poverty. While I thought my shopping basket was miserly, the pregnant lady behind me was carrying only one unpeeled cabbage and paid the R8.99 in small change.

Anthropometrics: Starting weight: 65kg; height: 1.76m; BMI 21

 Day 1
“Dinner: chicken cooked in butter and garlic, served with half a sweet potato cooked in, you guess it, more butter.”

Meals: I had a cup of tea in the morning. Not my usual Earl Grey, but it wasn’t too bad even with the long-life milk. In the mid-morning, I came home and had two boiled eggs with salt and pepper.

Salt and pepper weren’t on my list but I decided they would be my one exception to the rules.

I then had a very busy day – got stuck in theatre the entire day with a Caesarean section that went a bit sideways. It was a tricky operation and she continued to bleed after the operation so we had to  re-open her.

Eventually, we managed to control the bleeding and stabilised her after a blood transfusion. I only got home at 5 pm, so I inadvertently skipped lunch. I made some tea when I got home – sans rusks – and then started cooking an early dinner.

[quote float=”right”]”Trust me, the irony of boiling up a pile of bones in a pink Le Creuset pot is not lost on me.”

Dinner was chicken cooked in butter and garlic, served with half a sweet potato cooked in – you guessed it – more butter.

The meal was pretty tasty actually, as Julia Child said, “with enough butter, anything is good.” I ate my fill and still had one small piece of chicken left.

I put the small piece of chicken in a pot with the chicken bones, fatty juices and boiled it with onion and cabbage to make a broth for lunch the next day.

Trust me, the irony of boiling up a pile of bones in a pink Le Creuset pot is not lost on me.

There was one point in theatre when I felt quite hungry but I was too busy to do anything about it anyway. For the most part I felt fine – I certainly could’ve done with a glass of wine at dinner, and that chicken would’ve been delicious with a few spices, but it really wasn’t such a bad start.

I should add for completeness – and the disproportionate number of inquisitive, sceptical and desensitised doctors reading this – that my energy levels were normal. I slept well at night and I didn’t experience any debilitating constipation… yet.

Day 2

Meals: For breakfast I had two buttery scrambled eggs with a cup of tea. I had a rather uneventful day at work and managed to make it home at lunchtime to eat the chicken broth that I  prepared the night before. It was actually incredibly tasty, and filled me up nicely, which was entirely necessary because in the evening I went to one of Mdu’s Aerobics classes with some of the other doctors.

When I got home from class, I sliced  some onions and a quarter of a sweet potato and fried them up in some butter. I  added some chilli, and lastly three beaten eggs with a dash of milk.

There you have it: Spanish omelette!

Admittedly, the ratios were a bit off. I should’ve used at least six eggs, but I have been hesitant to splash out like that so early in the challenge. So it was more like a Spanish Fritata, but no less delicious.

Day 3

Meals: A stroke of pure genius: for breakfast I peeled half a sweet potato and boiled it up until nice and soft.  I mashed it up until it was nice and smooth and added some milk and yes, you guessed it, more butter. The result was one of the most delicious breakfasts I’ve had in a long time – a sort of sweet potato porridge. It was silky and sweet ,and reminded me of Purity baby food. Although I only ate about half a cup of it in total, it filled me up. I was so glad that I had the rest of my Spanish omelette for lunch because I really didn’t have time today to cook anything.

I kept  the skins aside which I hope to make into some chips later in the week. Noakes suggests a maximum of half a cup of sweet potato a day, and I will be sticking to this.

We had two emergency C-sections, and labour ward was teaming with patients. I went to Mdu’s step class at 18h00, and surprisingly I felt just fine, or rather, no more tired than usual.

When I got home I cooked up some chicken in butter, garlic and chilli and served it on a giant mound of delicious steamed cabbage  – with butter. I kept the bones and an extra piece of chicken and boiled them up in the water that I had drained off the sweet potatoes in the morning. Think I’ll be having that for lunch tomorrow.

So far, I haven’t felt hungry at all. I miss eating fruit more than anything, and the lack of variety is starting to get to me, but its quite fun trying to think of new ways of cooking with the same ingredients.

The more I do this, the more I’m starting to think that it really might be possible to trade in the pap and bread for some butter and eggs…

So far so good.

Used with permission. Read previous posts by Lace, a rural community service doctor in South Africa here.


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