Beef Massaman Curry


Beef massaman curry

At times, lockdown has sent us all a little crazy. Ann-Marie’s moment of madness came when she decided to order a 25kg bag of potatoes from a farm store to ensure we didn’t run out. Now that’s a serious amount of carbs right there! Undeterred, I began furiously fanning my recipe books for meals with potatoes and came across Beef Massaman Curry from Justine Pattison’s excellent ‘Takeaway Favourites’ book.

The recipe requires 500g of potatoes, not 25kg, but hey it’s a start. But what about the taste? Pretty good actually, although I was unable to get my hands on any kaffir lime leaves so swapped in some lime zest. I also didn’t bother with the chilli peanuts suggestion – in hindsight a mistake as I definitely would have preferred more heat in this.

But with all of the proper ingredients I’ll definitely make this Thai curry again as I’m in no danger of running out of spuds! Speaking of spuds, you don’t need rice or naan in this recipe which despite the lengthy cooking time is a doddle to make as it just does its thing in the oven. Continue reading “Beef Massaman Curry”

Lamb Tagine – thank goodness for lockdown


Lamb Tagine

Thank goodness for Lamb Tagine from the Hairy Dieters and thank goodness for lockdown – if I didn’t have a spare couple of hours I would never have got around to making this brilliant recipe. Before I put you off, yes it can take between 1 hour 45 mins and 2 hours to make this, but prep time is about 15 minutes and then it’s just a case of banging it in the oven and giving it a stir after an hour.

The tenderness of the lamb, the lovely flavours of the spices and the sweetness of the honey and apricots combine so well together. I was greedy and served this with couscous. But the serving, bulked out by the chunks of sweet potato, is ample on its own. Enjoy, and if you love Moroccan-based recipes, check out Moroccan-style Chicken with Vegetable Couscous. Continue reading “Lamb Tagine – thank goodness for lockdown”

Five-Minute Pizza – it only takes 5 minutes!


Five-Minute Pizza

Five-Minute Pizza from the Hairy Dieters really does only take five minutes to make, and by using a large flour tortilla wrap instead of a pizza base it comes in at only 250 calories per portion. Pizza traditionalists might turn their noses up at this, but let’s face it, if you’re regularly ordering from Dominos or Papa Johns you’re less likely to be watching your weight.

My teenage son loves this recipe and it makes for a quick weekend lunch – I definitely recommend garnishing it with some rocket, a drizzle of balsamic and/or a few olives for additional flavour. My wife had the audacity to claim that my pizza in the picture above was ‘burnt’. I politely told her it was ‘rustic’ ;-). Although she did correctly label my attempts to cut the pizza as ‘shite’. “Why didn’t you use the pizza cutter?” she said. “I did” was my reply. Continue reading “Five-Minute Pizza – it only takes 5 minutes!”

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon – don’t forget the chives!


Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs

There’s something luxurious about having smoked salmon for breakfast or brunch, it’s super quick to prepare and won’t set you back £10 or more from a café if you make it at home. Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon from the Hairy Dieters recommends serving it with half an English muffin to keep the calories to 354 per portion. Personally, I can’t see the point and think the eggs and smoked salmon are sufficient on their own for less calories.

But one thing I don’t think should be optional is serving this meal with freshly snipped chives. I love them, even if I invariably end up wasting half the packet. While this recipe is good, my favourite remains Poached egg, smoked salmon and spinach – truly the breakfast of kings! Continue reading “Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon – don’t forget the chives!”

Pea and Prosciutto Pasta – forget unhealthy supermarket versions


Pea & prosicuitto pasta

My son Will loves pasta but supermarket varieties with sauce can come in at over 500 calories for just half a pack. So, I embarked on a mission to find healthier, yummier alternatives and Pea and Prosciutto Pasta from Justine Pattison has become his favourite.

The calorie count for this recipe is 329 per serving, however the addition of the butter and a splash of single cream still makes it feel sufficiently naughty and Will regards this as a proper treat. If you’re a big pasta fan, Justine’s book Without the Calories – pasta and rice, will be right up your street. You can also find more pasta dishes on this blog here.  Continue reading “Pea and Prosciutto Pasta – forget unhealthy supermarket versions”

Speedy Turkey Chilli – just 252 calories per serving!


Speedy turkey chilli

Aside from feeling obligated to eat it at Christmas, I never used to bother with turkey except for using the leftovers from the joint to make a pissed-up turkey curry on Boxing Day. But I’ve come to appreciate that this super-healthy meat (often containing just 2% fat) is a fantastic alternative to chicken and should be a regular fixture in my diet.

Speedy Turkey Chilli from the Hairy Dieters’ Make it Easy book is both speedy and easy to throw together, and just 252 calories per serving (without rice, I used a small portion here). This recipe only requires 300g of turkey mince as you get plenty of additional protein and fibre from the black beans and sweetcorn. Surprisingly, it doesn’t actually contain any chilli – instead you get the heat from the chipotle paste which I absolutely love!

If you’re wondering what to do with any remaining turkey mince, Turkey Lettuce Wraps and Turkey Burgers and Chips are brilliant options to stretch your budget further. Continue reading “Speedy Turkey Chilli – just 252 calories per serving!”

Thai Green Chicken Curry – Tom Kerridge style


Thai green chicken curry

I’m a fan of Tom Kerridge, but on occasion I do think he makes his recipes unnecessarily faffy or ‘cheffy’. After a day at work I almost sacked off making his Thai Green Chicken Curry when looking at the long list of ingredients and method to make it. In the end, I used chicken breasts (which I diced and stir-fried for a couple of minutes first) instead of pissing about poaching a chicken crown and cutting off the meat. This saved some precious time in the kitchen.

As for the end result, well fair play to Tom, like most of his meals this did taste very good and the serving size was huge. I did make the mistake of substituting the 100ml full-fat coconut milk for 200ml half-fat coconut milk, mainly because I had a half-tin lurking in my cupboard and couldn’t see the point in opening a regular sized tin to only use 100ml. But this did make the curry runnier and as a consequence of having to simmer for longer some of the vege went soft. Would I eat this meal again? Yes, definitely. Would I make it again? Pass.

If you’re wanting a Thai curry fix, the Hairy Dieters do a simpler version for approx 150 calories less here. Continue reading “Thai Green Chicken Curry – Tom Kerridge style”

Turkey Lettuce Wraps – 158 calories per serving!


Turkey lettuce wraps

Turkey Lettuce Wraps from Justine Pattison reminds me of going to a Chinese restaurant with my parents as a kid. I loved spare ribs, prawn toast and seaweed but they took a back seat when I discovered mince meat wrapped in lettuce leaves – it was even yummier with the added advantage that it didn’t leave me with barbecue sauce smeared all over my chops, fingers and shirt.

As a replica dish, this recipe is superb and only 158 calories per serving. So quick, so easy and so scrumptious it has been one of my favourite lunches of lockdown. I can serve and enjoy it hot with my wife and son at the table where we can pick at the food and help ourselves. Enjoy. Continue reading “Turkey Lettuce Wraps – 158 calories per serving!”

Cauliflower, Paneer and Pea curry


Cauliflower, paneer and pea curry

It’s a long and not particularly interesting story, but I recently ended up with three cauliflowers in my fridge with little clue as to what to do with them. My initial get ‘out of jail’ idea was to use them to make a batch of cauliflower rice, but actually I can’t stand cauliflower rice and feel rage every time I try to make it. Cauliflower is supposed to have crunch, so when I stumbled across Cauliflower, Paneer and Pea Curry from BBC Good Food I was sold.

This turned out to be an excellent vege meal. Paneer is similar in texture to halloumi and is used in a lot of curries – both are really useful options to have in your fridge. The recipe states to use ‘rapeseed’ oil, but bog standard vegetable oil will do. You can serve this with rice (but not cauliflower rice, eh) or naan bread but don’t forget to account for the extra calories.

If you share my loathing of cauliflower rice and insist on using the humble cauli how it should be, check out ‘the best’ cauliflower & broccoli cheese. Continue reading “Cauliflower, Paneer and Pea curry”

Simple Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Salad


Simple Tuna pasta salad

I’m sure everyone reading will identify with this…there are some days when you just can’t be ARSED to make a healthy meal but still want to stay on track with your diet. It can be all too tempting to make a carb-loaded sandwich, or buy a calorific meal from a supermarket. Simple Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Salad from the Hairy Dieters was created for such occasions.

By definition it’s simple and quick to pull together, it’s filling yet still under 200 calories, and, well, that’s about it. Of course, part of the motivation for maintaining our diets is creating appetising, visually appealing recipes. But sometimes when willpower is severely lacking you’ve just got to stay on track, either with a bog-standard pasta salad or with a humble jacket potato. As for this salad, it tastes pretty good, but I would recommend bulking it out with some gem or romaine lettuce to stretch the servings to four. Continue reading “Simple Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Salad”

Chilli Lemon Tuna and Broccoli Spaghetti


Chilli lemon tuna

I’m actively trying to meat more fish – my wife Ann-Marie prefers it to meat, and there are obvious health benefits to varying our diets. The added bonus is that many fish-based dishes are quick to make and so perfect when you’re pushed for time. Chilli Lemon Tuna and Broccoli Spaghetti from the Hairy Dieters is one of our favourites – get all the equipment and ingredients out on your working top, and it can be ready in under 20 minutes.

Tuna steaks are relatively expensive, but frozen varieties as I highlighted in Seared Sesame Tuna are more affordable. But to reduce the costs further for this particular recipe, swap the tuna steaks for tuna flakes or (better still) salmon fillets and ditch the tenderstem broccoli for just a regular head of broccoli as I did. Continue reading “Chilli Lemon Tuna and Broccoli Spaghetti”

Halloumi and Smoky Bacon Hash


Halloumi and smoky bacon hash

I’m somewhat reluctant to try recipes that require the use of small quantities of several ingredients because I end up procrastinating over what to do with half a pepper, or two-thirds of a bag of spinach in this case. However, I decided to try Halloumi and Smoky Bacon Hash from Pinch of Nom, as due to COVID-19, I’m doing bigger online grocery shops because I don’t want to physically enter a store.

As a consequence, I had the majority of items in to make this, and I’m glad I did. It’s a versatile dish – I had it for lunch, but you could enjoy it for breakfast or brunch. I can’t get enough of halloumi, bacon and mushrooms, and the rest of the ingredients made for a really enjoyable meal topped with a fried egg!

If, like me, you’re wondering what to do with leftover produce – use the halloumi and pepper in Warm Griddled Vegetables, the bacon and mushrooms can go towards Tagliatelle Carbonara, while the spinach, cherry tomatoes and eggs can be used to rustle up Spinach, Tomato and Feta Scrambled Eggs. And hey presto, no food wastage! Continue reading “Halloumi and Smoky Bacon Hash”

Beef kofta curry – gorgeous meatballs in a butternut squash sauce


Beef kofta curry

Most people love a good meatball and by using extra lean mince you can easily incorporate them into your healthy eating plan. There are lots of reduced calorie meatball recipes around, but Beef Kofta Curry from Pinch of Nom has recently become one of my favourites.

The jewel in this recipe’s crown is the butternut squash based sauce. It adds a real depth of sweetness to the curry which also includes regular curry powder, tomato puree and garlic. You can enjoy this meal with or without rice, but don’t forget to add on the additional calories if you do and only have a small portion – a 125g serving of rice will set you back a whopping 173 calories! As I can take it or leave it, my portions of rice are typically 35g to 50g max.

Butternut squash is a fantastic vegetable which can keep for ages in your fridge. You only need 225g for this recipe, so you’ll have plenty leftover. If so, why not give Home-made Butternut Squash Tortellini or Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup a try? Continue reading “Beef kofta curry – gorgeous meatballs in a butternut squash sauce”

Couscous with roasted roots, honey and goat’s cheese


Couscous with roasted roots

I previously believed that parsnips and carrots only belong with a Sunday roast. But after sampling Justine Pattison’s delightful Couscous with Roasted Roots, Honey and Goat’s Cheese salad that opinion has firmly been revised.

Drizzling olive oil and honey over the veg makes them taste divine, and you get extra flavour from the chicken or vegetable stock and the chilli flakes, plus a contrast in texture from the beetroot and goat’s cheese. This one-pot dish really takes you on a culinary journey and the end result is a colourful and filling plate of food that tastes superb for both vegetarians and obstinate meat eaters. Continue reading “Couscous with roasted roots, honey and goat’s cheese”

Seared Sesame Tuna with crunchy green veg


Seared Sesame Tuna

The key to successful dieting, apart from focus and willpower, is being able to make easy, tasty and healthy meals in a few minutes with only a handful of ingredients. Seared Sesame Tuna from Jamie Oliver fulfils this brief brilliantly and is lip-smackingly good to eat!

The tuna steaks literally only need to be cooked for 1½ minutes on either side, or longer if you don’t like seeing any pink bits. Similarly, you want the sugar snap peas and spring onions to have some crunch, so don’t cook them for longer than 2 minutes otherwise you’ll cremate them. Fresh tuna steaks are expensive, but frozen varieties (I got mine from Iceland in the above pic) are much cheaper and ideal for producing quick weeknight winners.

You’ll find this recipe, and others like it, in Jamie’s ‘5 ingredients’ book. Ironically, this recipe requires 8 ingredients but Jamie classes salt, olive oil and red wine vinegar as core base ingredients. Ok, I’ll agree on salt and cooking oil, but red wine vinegar….. hmm. If you want to save a few calories, be less frivolous with the sesame seeds. Continue reading “Seared Sesame Tuna with crunchy green veg”

Beef Stroganoff – a great way to use up leftover meat from a Sunday roast


Beef stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff from the Hairy Dieters ticks so many boxes. Any meal with steak feels like a treat, you can have this on the table in under 20 minutes and for less than 300 calories per portion if you enjoy it on its own without rice.

Personally, if serving this between 3 people I don’t think you need to add a rice or mash accompaniment, but if serving between 4 you will need something else to bulk it out with – I’ve had it with some mashed carrots before which did the job. If you’re looking to save on costs (as I was in this instance), why not make this with leftover meat from a joint of beef after a Sunday dinner. It’s a great way to make your budget stretch further and will still taste the business. Continue reading “Beef Stroganoff – a great way to use up leftover meat from a Sunday roast”

Yeung Chow Fried Rice – fantastic ‘fakeaway’


Yeung Chow Fried rice

Although luscious, Yeung Chow Fried Rice from my local Chinese takeaway will set me back £6 and is rich in calories. In contrast, this slimming, wallet friendly version from Pinch of Nom tastes arguably as good – the only giveaway that this is ‘home-made’ is my shite attempt at julienning a carrot.

There may be a few ingredients to initially buy-in, but most of them you’ll use consistently if following a healthy-eating plan. I had an unused pork steak from a pack after making Creamy Pork, Apples and Cabbage, so this seemed like a good way of ensuring nothing went to waste. Continue reading “Yeung Chow Fried Rice – fantastic ‘fakeaway’”

Creamy pork, apples and cabbage


Creamy pork and apples

Creamy pork, apples and cabbage is a sumptuous one-pot dish from Justine Pattison that is packed with flavour but for only 346 calories per serving. The ingredients that make up the sauce just beg to be mopped up by the meat, potatoes and veg.

Although some people might turn their noses up at them, canned potatoes are an excellent and budget-friendly store cupboard stand-by. Savoy cabbage also lasts a number of days in the fridge. If you’ve got any leftover, give Hotdog Hotpot a go in which you can also use another valuable store cupboard stand-by in tinned or jarred frankfurters to make another cheap and nourishing meal. Continue reading “Creamy pork, apples and cabbage”

Warm Griddled Vegetables – delicious with halloumi


Warmed griddled vegetables

Warm Griddled Vegetables from the Hairy Dieters has made me a MFMC – ‘meat-free Monday converter’ – no, I doubt the acronym will catch on either. I have been trying to introduce more vegetable / vegan based dishes into my diet, at times under duress, and others with pleasure. This particular meal definitely falls into the latter category – it’s delicious!

If you think warm griddled vegetables sounds dull, think again. The chilli and olive oil dressing really bring them to life and adding halloumi on top makes everything taste even more divine. I love halloumi – the texture, the flavour, even the scraping sound it makes against my teeth when I’m eating it. I think I’m developing a halloumi fetish!

Anyway, I digress. The Hairy Dieters suggest drizzling some balsamic vinegar over the vege if you don’t like / can’t get halloumi which would work equally well. This is ideal for lunch or dinner, the portion size is huge! Continue reading “Warm Griddled Vegetables – delicious with halloumi”

One-pot Creamy Leek & Sausage Bake


Sausages and leeks

In a similar fashion to Pinch of Nom, Two Chubby Cubs (James Anderson and Paul Anderson) have burst onto the slimming recipes scene in the last year and built-up a huge social media following. One-pot Creamy Leek & Sausage Bake features in their debut publication – Two Chubby Cubs, The Cookbook, and is a really comforting dish which originates from Switzerland.

Leeks and sausages go well together, and the extra-light cream cheese provides a luxurious texture without the need to include rice. Comforting and filling, this is going to become a regular evening meal in my household. The ‘Cubs’ inaugural book contains lots of quirky recipes, written in an engaging and irreverent style, which will have you in stitches. But jokes aside, it features some cracking ideas and the guys, between them, have lost over 250lbs in the last year. Proof and pudding that dieting can be fun! Continue reading “One-pot Creamy Leek & Sausage Bake”