What's in your basket?

'My idea of perfection is roast leg of lamb with roast vegetables. You see, I'm rather a plain cook. For breakfast I eat one slice of dry bread and marmalade, as anything more makes me feel sick. I'm functioning on automatic pilot and am by then well on my way into the second half pint of coffee: the straightforward soluble variety - Nescafé. By lunchtime I'm hungry so I usually pick from leftovers from the night before. If I'm out visiting galleries, which I do at least twice a week, I might grab sandwiches from Pret A Manger; their All Day Breakfast is my favourite. Eating at the galleries is not an option: I have, I think, eaten in every gallery at least once and my inclination is never to return. My other favourite foods include avocado pear, bananas, pears, oranges, grapes and walnuts, when they are in season. When I'm abroad, what I long for is good solid cheddar cheese with rind around it from Paxton & Whitfield.

In my household, dinner is a proper meal and I'm insistent on that because otherwise the whole place would fall to pieces. Lamb is a treat so it's more likely to be chicken poached in a casserole with onions and mushrooms. It's my own recipe and I cook (I have an early copy of Mrs Beeton which I produce to convince people that you can eat magpies).

I campaign quite a bit on matters of farm animal welfare so I do take care to buy something that has a reasonable chance of being organic. Animals that are organic have a better chance at having led a slightly better life. I do shop at supermarkets but not for meat because I think they are thoroughly dishonest about their place of origin. I think farmers' markets are pretty dishonest too: they sell us a load of shit quite frankly. I don't know it from experience, but it is my hunch that they are no more farmers than you and I are. I think a lot of very doubtful people motor up to London on Saturday morning before dawn who are not the jolly farmer's wife that wrung the necks of the chickens, but small town butchers who spin the yarn.'

Cheeses such as cheddar, gruyère and stilton tend to be rich in tyramine, which can affect mood and cause headaches. In any case, I suggest Brian eats his cheese with some of his other favourite foods (grapes, pears or walnuts) to add nutritional balance.


Bananas are rich in potassium, which helps regularise or quell blood pressure levels. They are also good sources of vitamin C and folate, both of which have been linked to some protection from cancer and heart disease.


In a recent study, pears were found to have even greater antioxidant power than both bananas and oranges, which suggests this fruit has much to offer in protecting against disease.


Famed for their Vitamin C, oranges also offer other nutrients, including folic acid (protects against heart disease) and a substance called hesperidin, which has been linked to a reduced risk of against cancer.


Grapes, particularly purple ones, are rich in plant chemicals known as anthocyanidins that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in the body.


Nuts are a highly nutritious food - rich in substances which may help the heart, including magnesium and potassium. Walnuts are especially rich in alpha-linolenic acid - a type of the so-called omega-3 fat that seems to have particular benefits for the heart.


Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, which is thought to raise levels of 'healthy' cholesterol in the bloodstream while reducing unhealthy fats called triglycerides.

Pret A Manger All Day Breakfast sandwich

Bread's high-carb content stimulates surges of insulin that can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure and an increased risk of diabetes. It may also cause blood sugar levels to dive in the afternoon, which can induce feelings of sleepiness. A Pret salad would be a superior choice in terms of both blood sugar and nutritional value.

Instant coffee

While coffee may stimulate Brian's mental powers it might also make him restless or tetchy. It's not all bad news though - studies suggest that regular consumption can help ward off diabetes, although the health benefits are usually found in ground coffee rather than instant.

Organic lamb and chicken

Organic meat will be relatively free of chemicals, and this is especially important with regard to chicken, which is generally a very intensively reared bird.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.


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