Mushrooms on toast – pimped up Jamie Oliver style


Mushrooms on toast

No matter how much selfish British shoppers stockpile, they’ll never see off the humble mushroom. Old habits die hard, and for me I have to have a ‘hot’ meal for breakfast which has become more problematic recently due to the shortage of bacon, egg and sausages. Thankfully, Mushrooms on Toast from Jamie Oliver has come to my rescue as a comforting, vegetarian alternative.

The addition of the garlic, butter, thyme (I used dried herbs as I couldn’t get any thyme leaves) and balsamic vinegar perfectly pimps this modest meal up. Enjoy it with some decent bread (sadly I couldn’t get any) and it’s happy days. Incidentally, this recipe is tucked at the back of Jamie Oliver’s ‘Save with Jamie’, a book packed with lots of frugal culinary ideas (including a cracking vegetarian section) which have never been more relevant in present times. Continue reading “Mushrooms on toast – pimped up Jamie Oliver style”

Scrambled egg with bacon and mushrooms – healthy English ‘fry-up’


scrambled eggs and bacon

Given the current difficulties in sourcing ingredients, my blogs for the foreseeable future will be less imaginative, or feature mushrooms because that’s the only produce I can get my hands on in decent quantities! Scrambled egg with bacon and mushrooms from the Hairy Dieters won’t win any prizes for originality, but as a healthier, toned down version of an English ‘fry-up’ this meal is a great weekend breakfast treat. Best of all, you can have it ready in under 10 minutes at a cost of less than a quid per portion.

Traditional fry-ups can typically exceed 1,000 calories, whereas this recipe comes in at a more modest 337 and it fills you up too. Reducing the (rather generous) quantity of butter to make the scrambled egg will further cut the calories. Continue reading “Scrambled egg with bacon and mushrooms – healthy English ‘fry-up’”

Herby chicken traybake – frugal feeding


Herby chicken traybake

Ok, so as the photo shows I’ve unceremoniously burnt my potatoes, so why am I publishing this? Well, I want this blog to be honest, down-to-earth and, above all, relevant. These are frugal and uncertain times we find ourselves in so Jamie Oliver’s Herby Chicken Traybake fits the bill when we can no longer pick and choose what we want to eat.

This recipe uses just 5 base ingredients and can be prepped in less than 10 minutes. Chicken legs are cheaper than breast and I had some potatoes lurking at the bottom of my fridge and a lonely lemon. It wouldn’t be my first choice of meal, but it was probably one of the most satisfying ones I’ve made recently, even if my spuds were a little too ‘well done’. Continue reading “Herby chicken traybake – frugal feeding”

Curried butternut squash and apple soup


Butternut squash soup

Some people ask me (actually no one has), ‘why do you bother making soup when you can buy low-sugar tinned soups instead?’ My retort is, ‘tinned soups are (invariably) shit, home-made soups can taste lovely, you know exactly what’s gone into them and you can make a big-batch up which can last throughout the week and/or leftover portions can go in the freezer’.

Curried butternut squash and apple soup from the Hairy Dieters is one of the nicest home-made soups I’ve made. You get the sweetness from the squash and the apples with a bit of a kick from the curry powder. I wonder if you could stick some gin and/or other liquors in this and make it into a cocktail? Hmm, maybe not.

If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on these ingredients at the present moment then give this recipe a go. My only issue is with the Hairy Dieters’ claim in their book that you can prep this in 15 minutes. Erm, chopping two onions, peeling and dicing the squash and peeling, coring and chopping the apples took me considerably longer than that. But let’s face it, we’ve all got a bit more time on our hands to spend in the kitchen right now! Continue reading “Curried butternut squash and apple soup”

Baked eggs with mushroom filling – just 52p per portion!


baked eggs with mushroom

I’ve previously featured baked eggs with chorizo from the Hairy Dieters on this blog and finally got round to trying the vegetarian option in their ‘Good Eating’ book. Frozen spinach has quite a strong taste, a little too strong for my liking, but at a cost of approximately 50p per portion baked eggs with mushroom filling makes for a cheap vegetarian breakfast.

Due to the current food shortage in my local supermarket because of the coronavirus pandemic, I’m trying to make what ingredients I do have in go further with no wastage. Given I had some frozen spinach in my freezer and a few tired looking mushrooms in my fridge this recipe fitted the bill perfectly for these uncertain times. Continue reading “Baked eggs with mushroom filling – just 52p per portion!”

Quinoa, prawn and mango salad – seductive treat!


Mango prawn salad

Quinoa, prawn and mango salad from the Hairy Dieters is one of the more expensive healthy eating recipes I’ve made, but it’s an absolute treat to devour and so worth the extra cost and effort. The marinated prawns and mango are a match made in heaven, you get the ‘nuttyness’ from the quinoa and the zing and heat from the mango chilli dressing. This is one seductive salad!

You might be tempted to ‘double up’ as this is only 200 calories per serving, however I recommend you don’t as one portion is more than filling enough. Diet or no diet, this colourful, flavoursome lunch packs a brilliant punch. Continue reading “Quinoa, prawn and mango salad – seductive treat!”

Mushroom, feta and tomato baked peppers


Stuffed peppers

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I previously considered vegetarian-based dishes to be bland and, well, just for vegetarians. But my ignorance has slowly subsided, helped by brilliant recipes like mushroom, feta and tomato baked peppers from the Hairy Dieters. This really was a bit of a game changer for me when it came to reducing my over-reliance on meat.

I love mushrooms and feta is probably my favourite cheese. And although I’m not a massive fan of peppers, roasting them in the oven makes them taste sweeter and the accompanying filling is plentiful and sublime. You should have enough of the filling left to make another portion of this which you can either freeze or enjoy the next day.

Don’t forget to cover the surface of the stuffing with some foil, otherwise trust me, they will burn! Continue reading “Mushroom, feta and tomato baked peppers”

Pasta with summer vegetables and parma ham


Pasta with summer vegetables and parma ham

You don’t have to wait until Summer to enjoy this fab pasta dish from the Hairy Dieters, or perhaps you will unless shoppers stop going Coronavirus crazy and emptying supermarket shelves! There are a lot of ingredients in this pasta with summer vegetables and parma ham recipe, but the combination of the veg, herbs and parma ham sing together beautifully with the stock, white wine and crème fraiche. It makes for a filling, guilt-free lunch at just 305 calories per portion.

If you’re not sure what to do with any remaining broad beans, try broad bean or chicken and broad bean pilaf which you’ll find in the Hairy Dieters’ Good Eating book. Their fourth instalment, Fast Food, also contains a minted lamb and broad bean recipe which I must get round to making again soon. Check it out. Continue reading “Pasta with summer vegetables and parma ham”

Tortilla chilli pie


Tortilla chilli pie

Justine Pattison’s Tortilla Chilli Pie is a quirky adaption on a traditional chilli con carne recipe . The addition of the tortilla chips was enough to whet the appetite of my picky teenage son and the jalapenos went down well with my wife who is a real heat freak. Result! :-).

Opt for a side salad rather than rice to keep the calorie count down, don a sombrero, and you’ll think you’re in Mexico (possibly). Continue reading “Tortilla chilli pie”

Home-made Butternut Squash Tortellini for under a £1 per portion!


Butternut squash tortellini

Stuffed pasta on a diet? Absolutely, according to the Hairy Dieters, whose Home-made Butternut Squash Tortellini recipe offers an excellent healthy vegetarian option for under a £1 per portion. However, you will need to devote up to 3 hours in the kitchen and have a reasonable amount of skill to ensure the filling doesn’t escape from the tortellini shells! Lazy Sunday, anyone?

Disclaimer: My wife Ann-Marie made this recipe, so all I did was rock up and tuck in when it was ready! I have to say the buttery squash pasta filling, accompanied by the spinach tasted fantastic, and I wanted more. According to Annie, this wasn’t too tricky to pull together and it would be quicker to make next time now she’s got the knack of folding the pasta and sealing the filling. Off you go then, love ;-).

If, like me, you lack patience and are time-pressured, then why not check out the Super Speedy section of this blog which provides a selection of tasty, diet-friendly recipes which can be rustled up in about 20 minutes. Continue reading “Home-made Butternut Squash Tortellini for under a £1 per portion!”

Penang chicken and sweet potato curry – Thaitastic!


Penang chicken

Several healthy eating cookbooks contain ‘fakeaway’ chapters – reduced-fat recipes of our favourite takeaways – but none better than Justine Pattison who has dedicated an entire book to them. Penang chicken and sweet potato curry is a sumptuous Thai fakeaway that I’d be delighted to have served to me in a restaurant. The beauty of this is that you can enjoy restaurant quality food for just over 400 calories providing you follow the simple cooking method to the letter.

The sweet potatoes mean that you don’t need to add extra calories by having rice or bread, and the accompaniment of the stir-fried broccoli with chilli and garlic adds some extra zing and class for only 48 calories more. This is a really special dish to cook on a weekend ‘date night’. So crack open some vino, tuck into this and get ‘love is in the air’ blasting out by John Paul Young and you’ll be sorted :-).

If you love this, why not try another of Justine’s fakeaway crackerjacks – Ginger Chicken with Udon Noodles. Continue reading “Penang chicken and sweet potato curry – Thaitastic!”