I’VE often wondered, at what point did my dad, 5’6” tall and 22 stone, 50” waistline (when he died twenty years ago), fail to say “enough is enough, I’m going on a diet”. My personal epiphany came on the February 28 just gone, 5’7”, 14st 7lbs. I’m now officially on a diet and as of today, March 12, I’m down to 13st 8lbs. I’m targeting 12.7, which is a stone heavier than my peak fighting weight, forty five years ago and playing rugby for Cheshire. Some websites suggest I should be 10.7. I haven’t been 10.7 since I was twelve.
Dad was an old school Northern boy, 14 pints of mild in the village pub on a Saturday night. Sunday morning spent prepping and cooking Sunday lunch with my mum, and BFPO two-way family favourites blasting down the garden path. He was happy as the day was long, loved his family and friends, his home, his food, a pint and a cigarette, a perfectly simple life really.
Then he gave up the booze, and the ciggies for the last twenty years of his life and eventually died, somewhat ironically of lung, throat and brain cancer aged 69. Diagnosed and given six weeks to live, he gathered all his friends together to say goodbye, shared a few jokes and a lot of old stories and promptly died, three days short of my birthday. I’m 63 now, I know I look much younger, but hence all the fretting with numbers, dates and statistics. Weight and waistline are real killers though, so it’s important to realise when “enough is enough”. I’m really looking forward to my seventies. 
One of my favourite family dishes from the 60s was strips of pork belly cooked in the oven on top of layers of potatoes and onions, tossed in a little oil and wetted down with some seasoned vegetable or chicken stock, resulting in silky smooth potatoes and crispy belly topping. Nowadays and with the advent of fresh herbs, you could easily add some thyme and sage to give it a lift. Serve it up with some very simple shredded and buttered savoy cabbage and toasted caraway seeds for loads of Lancashire flavour.
Back in the world of healthy eating though and having just spent a week in the Canary Islands, the land that vegetables forgot, I’m focused on the green stuff, blanched and sautéed seasonal greens in really good quality olive oil, with a little pancetta, garlic, onion for flavour and tossed with some, non-seasonal (frozen) peas and baby broad beans. Great as a side dish, great on its own for a light lunch, throw a poached egg on top for added pleasure.