Coconut Prawn Curry – prepped and cooked in under 20 mins!


Perfect for a quick, weeknight curry fix

Coconut Prawn Curry from the Hairy Dieters is a such a simple dish and perfect for a weeknight meal when you’re tired and just want something good to eat that’s quick to cook. From start to finish, you can be tucking into this in less than 20 minutes. Perfect.

The photo doesn’t do the flavours in this recipe justice, and despite using two teaspoons of cornflour the sauce was a little runny, so don’t be tempted to use more than the recommended 200ml of half-fat coconut milk. But all that matters is that it tastes great, and for just 254 calories it will satisfy your hunger cravings so that you don’t need to add any rice to go with it.

If you’re in need of a curry fix, check out the ‘Fakeaways’ section on this blog.

Continue reading “Coconut Prawn Curry – prepped and cooked in under 20 mins!”

Pork Medallions in BBQ Sauce


Serve with mash, sweetcorn and/or green vege

The sauce within the Hairy Dieters’ Pork Medallions in BBQ Sauce recipe is gorgeous – red wine vinegar, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and orange juice – creating that lovely barbecue flavour effect. In fact, it was so nice that I was worried about reducing it down too much and in the end my sauce (as the photo indicates) was a tad too runny.

I don’t think this recipe represents a meal on its down, and as per the Hairy Dieters’ recommendation I bulked this out with some sweet potato mash and sweetcorn. My teenage son Will is a big fan of this dish and it’s an easy way to get him to eat vege when he’s ‘distracted’ by the meat and sauce ;-).

If you love BBQ related coatings, check out Sticky Chicken with Coleslaw – another big hit with the kids!

Continue reading “Pork Medallions in BBQ Sauce”

Baked haddock, spinach and egg pots


Ideal for a lazy Sunday brunch

Baked haddock, spinach and egg pots from the Hairy Dieters has been a recipe I’ve never got round to making. It doesn’t work as a weekday breakfast for me, and if buying fresh haddock from a supermarket I never know what to do with any leftovers.

However, I recently purchased packs of frozen fish on offer from Iceland (cod, haddock and tuna steaks) and one lazy Sunday brunch later this meal was back on the agenda because I could take out of the freezer what I needed. Smoked haddock can be an acquired taste, but I enjoyed this and would have it again. I do prefer the Hairy Dieters’ other baked recipes though – Baked Eggs with Mushroom Filling and Baked Eggs with Chorizo Filling.

Continue reading “Baked haddock, spinach and egg pots”

Poulet au Vinaigre – oooh la la!


This is my fave recipe of June, bar none

Poulet au Vinaigre from Pinch of Nom is absolutely gorgeous and has become one of my favourite meals of lockdown. The recipe is a low-cal version of a French classic dish, yet despite tasting beautifully creamy, is only 197 calories per serving due to using low-fat cream cheese (without vege and/or mash). Aren’t they clever?

I served this with some savoy cabbage, but any green vege will do. Chicken, tarragon and white wine is such a fab combination. If you can’t get enough of it, check out Creamy Chicken and Tarragon Pots with Rosemary Potato Wedges from the Hairy Dieters – another one of my favourites.

Continue reading “Poulet au Vinaigre – oooh la la!”

Spaghetti on FIRE


This is the only thing that’s ‘on fire’ about me

Hot as a fever, rattle of bones. I could just taste it, taste it. Yooooouuuuu. Your Spaghetti is on FIRE. Ok, so I doubt Kings of Leon will be adapting the lyrics of ‘Sex on Fire’, but I did chuckle to myself while prepping Spaghetti on Fire from Justine Pattison.

This is a belter of a pasta dish, packed with good stuff (vege), and full of flavour from the smoked bacon and chilli flakes. Adding Parmesan and basil leaves is optional but I’d wholeheartedly recommend doing so to enhance the taste. This frugal recipe is right up there with my favourite pasta dishes, but numero uno for me remains Pasta Puttanesca. Which one is yours?

Continue reading “Spaghetti on FIRE”

Home-Made (smoky bacon) Baked Beans


I think I’ll stick to using regular cans of baked beans

Supermarket shopping during the pandemic has been challenging, particularly if you don’t feel comfortable stepping foot into stores. Getting hold of your favourite brands can also be problematic and my son Will has particularly missed his barbecue baked beans. I’ve tried to explain to him that some things are more important, but he’s a teenager ;-).

So, to avoid a household ‘crisis’ I decided to try making Home-Made Baked Beans from the Hairy Dieters. They suggest using dried haricot beans and soaking them overnight, or using 2 400g cans of cooked beans. I chose the latter because spending up to 2 hours to prep beans when I could just open a regular can, even in lockdown, seemed ridiculous. If you opt for using canned beans, in total it will take you about 40 minutes to make this.

Will’s verdict on my smoky bacon beans was soul destroying. “They don’t really taste of barbecue Dad”. “Thanks son”. But the cheeky youth had a point – they were a little bland. The following day I was more liberal with the paprika and black treacle and the leftovers did taste more authentic. But, for the time and effort devoted to make them, I think the ungrateful boy is just going to have to wait until things return to normal.

Continue reading “Home-Made (smoky bacon) Baked Beans”

Roasted Cod with Parma Ham and peppers – just 224 calories!


A great way to introduce children to eating fish

I absolutely love Roasted Cod with Parma Ham and Peppers from the Hairy Dieters. It’s a meal you can enjoy at any time of year and requires minimal effort as it’s cooked in two stages in the oven. This allows you to get on with something else, such as quaffing down a glass of wine or a gin and tonic 😉 as this filling recipe is only 224 calories.

It’s also a good recipe to introduce children to eating fish, as proved by my sceptical teenage son, Will. Roasted fish and vege didn’t float his boat, however wrapping the cod with a piece of parma ham suddenly made it socially acceptable for him and he scoffed it without protest. Result.

Continue reading “Roasted Cod with Parma Ham and peppers – just 224 calories!”

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!”

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!”

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”

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”

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”

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”

Pan-fried Cod with Asian dressing – just 199 calories!


Pan fried cod and asian dressing

If you’re looking to introduce more fish into your diet, Pan-fried Cod with Asian Dressing from Justine Pattison is an excellent place to start. At only 199 calories per serving, it’s so healthy and this meal is a cinch to knock together.

The Thai dressing provides some welcome punch when poured over the fish and vegetables and this recipe is perfect for spring and summer midweek evenings, when you want to rustle something up in 10 minutes and then chill. The vege literally only needs 2 minutes in the pan as you want it crunchy, so don’t be tempted to over boil it. Continue reading “Pan-fried Cod with Asian dressing – just 199 calories!”

Cauliflower (and chicken) Pilaf


Cauliflower pilaf

Some dishes don’t turn out as well as they look in a book and sadly Cauliflower (and chicken) Pilaf from the Hairy Dieters was a disappointment to me. Undoubtedly, some of this was down to ‘user error’. I used a stick blender rather than the recommended food processor to blend my cauliflower rice which was a complete disaster. Pomegranate seeds, which you can buy in packs from supermarkets, were a poor substitute for an actual pomegranate, and my son couldn’t get to grips with removing some of the whole spices in the dish which aren’t supposed to be eaten.

Overall, both cooking and eating this after a day at work proved stressful, partly due to my own incompetence and also a lack of patience – it proved far too faffy and the suggested 30 minute time to have this on the table seems unrealistic. I wouldn’t write this recipe off entirely, there are a lot of powerful flavours within it, so perhaps you’ll fair better than me if you try it. Continue reading “Cauliflower (and chicken) Pilaf”

Rich and Meaty Bolognese – ‘spag bol’ for less than 200 calories


Rich and Meaty bolognese

Rich and Meaty Bolognese, a low-cal take on ‘spag bol’ from the Hairy Dieters, is a brilliant dish which is only 200 calories per portion IF you swap pasta for cabbage. ‘Why would I want to do that?’ you may ask. Well, it depends how serious you are taking your diet and furthermore, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might struggle to get your hands on some pasta right now!

I made this with some well-seasoned cabbage recently and it wasn’t that bad. In fact, I’ll go a step further, I enjoyed it, even if cabbage does make you fart ;-). But it’s a small sacrifice to make to eat something as good and as healthy as this. If you’re wondering what to do with leftover cabbage, give Sticky Chicken a go and use the cabbage to make some home-made coleslaw. You won’t look back! Continue reading “Rich and Meaty Bolognese – ‘spag bol’ for less than 200 calories”

The best cauliflower & broccoli cheese


Cauli broccoli cheese

The Best Cauliflower & Broccoli Cheese from Jamie Oliver, his words not mine, might actually be the best cauliflower and broccoli cheese that you can enjoy when watching your weight! Although I’ll concede, this isn’t a recipe I’ve made very often. But this really is a lovely dish, which is given some additional TLC with the crunchy almond breadcrumb topping (not essential if you want to cut down on calories, but recommended).

Jamie suggests this could be a side dish which can serve 8 people. Personally, I think it lends itself better to serving 4 and my wife and I devoured this for dinner and lunch the next day. If you can’t get your hands on fresh produce, don’t worry, as you can use frozen broccoli and cauliflower which are great alternatives to have as back-ups in your freezer when supermarket shelves are bare. Continue reading “The best cauliflower & broccoli cheese”

Hash Brown Breakfast Bake – ‘so boring yet so amazing’


Breakfast bake

I have Pinch of Nom to thank for coming up with this brilliant brunch dish which is so easy and cheap to make for only 189 calories per serving! Hash Brown Breakfast Bake includes potatoes, beans and bacon in one-pan, which is sure to be a big hit with the kids, even if this isn’t conventional ‘hash browns’ from McDonalds. The addition of the onion and garlic granules make this really tasty – my only slight faux pas was that I should have baked it for a little longer to make the potatoes on top go golden and crispier.

My teenage son Will,  normally loathed to try anything other than a bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast, absolutely loved this. “Dad, can we have this again please? The ingredients are so boring yet it tastes so amazing”. Thanks Will, I think!

Actually, I’ve done the boy a disservice. He also loves Breakfast Omelette Burritos from the Hairy Dieters, but that recipe requires eggs which are harder to come by right now. So it’s fair to assume that he’ll be tucking into Hash Brown Breakfast Bake more often in the coming weeks. Continue reading “Hash Brown Breakfast Bake – ‘so boring yet so amazing’”

Asparagus, Broad Bean and Bacon Salad


Asparagus, bacon and broad beans

We’re coming into British asparagus season (typically 23rd April to 21st June),  so why not take advantage by making Asparagus, Broad Bean and Bacon Salad from the dieters’ phenomenon that is Pinch of Nom. You can rustle this up quickly, or you can spend a few minutes ‘de-podding’ the broad beans to make it look prettier and taste even nicer (which I didn’t have time to do on this occasion).

Asparagus and bacon go well together, making this low calorie salad ideal for spring or summer lunchtimes. If you’re looking for more asparagus inspired recipes, check out Pasta with Summer Vegetables and Parma Ham from the Hairy Dieters. Continue reading “Asparagus, Broad Bean and Bacon Salad”

Spicy pork and aubergine curry


Pork and aubergine curry

My recent farm shop delivery was well received but it did throw up some surprises. A green cabbage was substituted for a courgette and butternut squash was swapped for an aubergine. With my OCD-esque food planning menu in tatters, I trawled through my library of cookbooks for inspiration and discovered Spicy Pork and Aubergine Curry courtesy of BBC Good Food.

I’m not a fan of aubergine and would normally use it in a vege curry, or perhaps a moussaka. But there was no way I was going to let it go to waste in times like now. The journey to get to this meal was arduous, but eating it was largely forgettable. It lacked flavour and punch, however the addition of a small portion of basmati rice made it bearable. Unless I’m the recipient of any stray aubergines any time soon this dish is unlikely to feature on my dinner table again. Continue reading “Spicy pork and aubergine curry”