All Hail the Sunday Roast!

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Keep the Sunday Roast Alive!

I was saddened to learn about the waning popularity of one of the highlights of my week. According to research just out by Oven Pride, the Sunday roast is on the decline. Their findings show that while nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of British parents could look forward to a weekly Sunday roast at home when they were young, fewer than a third (29 per cent) of families are now serving up the wholesome fare on a weekly basis.

Now it seems the top five main meals eaten on a Sunday are:

• Italian (44 per cent)
• Takeaway (36 per cent)
• Indian (31 per cent)
• American (19 per cent)
• Asian (18 per cent)

The research cited that 16-29 year olds complained about how long a roast takes to make, while those over 60 get frustrated by getting all those wonderful components served warm all at the same time. Overall time, difficulty and the clean-up were responsible for choosing more convenient options of take-aways and quick-to-make pasta dishes.

Natural downtime

With older mothers most likely to make this meal and the younger generations not picking up the baton, it looks like an age-old tradition has every chance of being relegated to something from the ‘good old days’. Sunday dinners sit alongside shops being closed, the Sunday walk and Antiques Roadshow as a wonderfully, natural calming pause that comes round to keep us sane once a week. That feeling where everything slows, there’s a communal pull to get this weekly feast together – and then cleared up – and then we drift into a cosy Sunday night to prepare for the coming week, was a key part of a cycle of activity, then rest.

I for one am a big fan of the Sunday roast dinner tradition. My body and metabolism welcome this periodic communication that I am definitely not living under famine conditions and therefore I do not need to be constantly searching for food. Really filling up and feeling totally full and satisfied with a big meal, gives me a sense of relief. In the past, I had issues with raging appetite and food seeking when I was at my most stressed and anxious, so now I feel liberation and freedom around how I eat, I can really enjoy this punctuation at the end of the week that says, ‘you’re full, now you can relax’. As a meal, the combination of meat (local, free range and organic please), starchy roast potatoes, oceans of veg and lashings of gravy, really hit all of my buttons. It covers all of the sight, smell, taste and warming factors that say comfort.

Comfort foods hit many buttons

With research showing that comfort foods actually help alleviate feelings of loneliness and help us feel more at ease in relationships with others, feeding this ‘I want’ with something that satisfies on emotional and nutritional levels periodically, is good for the body and the soul. That’s not to say that an Italian meal or an Indian take-away can’t do this, per se, but if your childhood included the Sunday roast as a punctuation to the week, there’s a whole sense memory element that might just be missing. If you’re from Italian or Indian stock that might be another story of course!

Nutritional goodness

Personally, I rarely eat starchy carbs either, it doesn’t suit me at all to include many grains, beans or potatoes in my diet. Grains give me digestive problems and instant acne, beans are the route to bloating and gas (always fun) and potatoes set off sugar cravings. I can handle the odd bit of each here and there, but if they creep in beyond occasional, I soon lose connection with what I actually need and get taken over with wanting more of them. The Sunday roast is where I ignore all that and have a few really good roast potatoes – true comfort food to me. I choose excellently sourced meat (it’s easy to buy locally for me) and large amounts of vegetables in gravy are an absolute must. There has to be at least one or two members of the brassicas family in there; cabbage, red cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts or mustard greens. I’m not including cauliflower in there as it just doesn’t do it for me, unless someone makes me a cheeky cheese sauce of course.

Not just a meal

So it definitely feels healthy, warming and satisfying to have a whole day that revolves around that one meal. Not doing yet more shopping, maybe getting the odd thing done around the house, hopefully seeing some of that green stuff they call the countryside and ending up with a bit of telly. If you’re generally into the healthy-eating, yoga practising, mindful living side of things, getting old-skool on a Sunday is a pleasant change of gear that doesn’t make this ‘alternate living’ seem like a chore.

I have to admit, I’ve got into the habit of going to the pub for a Sunday roast. I really don’t get out much with a small child and it’s my main social occasion now. I am a little fussy to ask for less potatoes and more greens, but it all works out. But whether I eat it at home or out, there’s something about this most compete of meals that makes me feel content, glowing and comfortably full to the brim. Let’s not lose it!

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