(Low-cal) Eggs Benedict


These are genuine chives out of my garden and not blades of grass that I’ve put on my plate to try and impress you 😉

I’m a serial food menu planner and waste copious amounts of time writing out my weekly meal plans only to change them again, and again, and again. Eggs Benedict from Justine Pattison has been on my list since lockdown, but it kept getting bumped due to me having a lack of confidence in myself to pull it off. That, and also because I get in a proper flap in the kitchen when more than one pan is on the go.

There’s a lot going on with this recipe, your kitchen will resemble a bombsite afterwards, and it does require some TLC to ensure the eggs don’t scramble and nothing sticks to the pan. But…. give it a try, I was delighted with the end result and the low-cal hollandaise sauce was gorgeous! This is a perfect Sunday brunch dish and a real treat!

I haven’t had eggs benedict since being dragged into a phone booth style café when sight-seeing in Covent Garden ten years ago. Two portions set me back about £20 and I’m guessing the calorie count was significantly higher than the 320 per serving in Justine’s slimming friendly version, which only costs about £2.45 per portion in comparison!

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Mexican Breakfast


Answers on a postcard – what makes this dish ‘Mexican’?

You may notice a few more Mexican recipes finding their way onto this blog in the coming days. That’s because I was supposed to go on holiday to Cancun this summer before the world imploded due to Covid. In an attempt to cushion the blow, I thought it would be quirky to have a complete week dedicated to Mexican food. Well, it seemed a good idea at the time….

Kicking the week off was Mexican Breakfast from Justine Pattison. I’m not entirely sure what makes this ‘Mexican’, surely it needs more than the introduction of a tortilla wrap (which I didn’t bother with)? But anyway, for less than £1 per portion this was a decent brunch fix, although not as authentic as all-day Mexican breakfast from Jamie Oliver, which in truth I didn’t enjoy as much.

If you like the concept of cooking eggs in a pan, then personally menemen (a Turkish recipe) from the Hairy Dieters gets my vote all-day long.

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All-Day Mexican Breakfast


If you like neat and tidy meals, this probably isn’t for you

True but pointless story. In my younger student days, I was once removed from a public house establishment over a row about an ‘all-day breakfast’. It was 8pm, I’d had a couple of beverages and fancied a good old-fashioned ‘fry-up’. “We stopped selling the all-day breakfast sir at 12pm,” said a patronising waiter. He may not have been, I was pissed. “An all-day breakfast should be all day, it’s 8 o’clock, I want an all-day breakfast,” I insisted. It didn’t end well.

Anyway, I digress, but the point of this pointless story is that you can enjoy this All-Day Mexican Breakfast from Jamie Oliver whenever you like, and you only need 5 base ingredients to rustle it up. Eggs and avocado together can be a messy job, as the photo below indicates. My wife likes soft eggs, I like hard, as I was making this I got my wish but I do think this recipe lends itself better to soft / medium cooked eggs. We opted for 2 chillies which made this really hot! So, if you’re not a heat freak, maybe opt for 1 chilli instead.

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Smoked Ham and Courgette Tortilla


Tortilla is just a fashionable word for quiche

The concept of “cook once, eat twice” is worth bearing in mind when you’re following a diet, as invariably making fresh meals from scratch day-in, day-out can take its toll. Smoked Ham and Courgette Tortilla from Tom Kerridge fulfils this brief perfectly as it can be enjoyed hot or cold, and keeps well in the fridge.

This meal fed my wife and I over consecutive days and is ideal to have for brunch or lunch, depending on your schedule. Like me, Tom Kerridge loves a courgette and you’ll find various recipes featuring this underrated vegetable in his Lose Weight for Good book. But if you need a courgette fix now, check out tagliatelle carbonara, warm griddled vegetables and courgette caponata pasta.

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Cheesy Leeks on Toast


This is way better than bog-standard cheese on toast IMO

Leeks? Tick. Cheese? Tick. Cheesy Leeks On Toast from Pinch of Nom…….? Massive tick! I had my reservations before making this, but what a simple and lip-smacking brunch / lunch meal it turned out to be with some mustard dolloped on top.

Providing you use appropriate Parmesan and Cheddar cheese, this meal is suitable for vegetarians. I must confess, I wasn’t familiar with what xanthan gum is, but it’s a thickening agent most typically used in baking that you can buy in some supermarkets – I got mine from Tesco. You could use cornflour as a substitute, but it won’t thicken and bind the ingredients as well.

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Monte Cristo Sandwich


Just make a ham and cheese toasty and be done with it

Monte Cristo Sandwich is Pinch of Nom’s lower-calorie take on the French classic, croque monsieur. Or, in my attempt, a crap cheese and ham toastie with a few extra ingredients. I like the fact that sandwiches don’t have to be off limits when you’re on a ‘diet’, but I don’t like the potential food wastage making this involves – 3 spinach leaves, 1 cherry tomato, ½ a spring onion. It was enough to get my knickers in a twist wondering about what to do with the leftovers!

I don’t think it helped that I burnt it and singed my hand when trying to flip the sandwich over, but then again I am clumsy personified at times in the kitchen. Pinch of Nom suggest having this for breakfast, I think it’s better suited to brunch or lunch.

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One-pan cooked breakfast


A healthy ‘fry-up’ for 87p per serving

I love the concept behind Justine Pattison’s One-Pan Cooked Breakfast. A traditional ‘fry-up’, made healthier by cooking the ingredients in the oven, for less than a quid per portion with minimal washing up.

But in reality this recipe is a bit of a faff to make, and I nearly made Will late for school and me late for work by not reading the cooking method properly. When I put food in the oven I don’t want to worry about it until it’s ready to bring out. However, my patience was tested with this meal because it involves about 5 different stages – stir this, turn that, do the hokey cokey and you turn around….

Maybe I’m being pedantic (said no one to me, ever) but I prefer Scrambled Egg with Bacon and Mushrooms or Pan-fried Bacon with Poached Egg and Balsamic Tomatoes for speed and simplicity.

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Grilled mushrooms with scrambled eggs on toast


Useless fact: did you know there are only 18 calories per Portobello mushroom?

People love or hate mushrooms but I’m definitely in the former camp! Grilled Mushrooms with Scrambled Eggs on Toast in DK’s Cook Healthy & Quick book uses the Portobello variety, which are coated with chopped parsley and olive oil and then baked in the oven.

They are the perfect accompaniment to a slice of toasted wholemeal bread and some scrambled egg and chives. If you share my adulation of ‘shrooms, check out Mushrooms on Toast by Jamie Oliver which is equally simplistic to make.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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”

Boiled eggs with asparagus soldiers


Asparagus soldiers

As a self-confessed ‘bacon and egg man’, I scoffed at Justine Pattison’s Boiled Eggs with Asparagus Soldiers recipe for breakfast or brunch. But when my wife Ann-Marie, who had bought a load of asparagus in and then did nothing with it, said she was fancying this for a change I duly became the dutiful husband.

And….although it seemed slightly pretentious on my dining room table, there’s no denying this is an enjoyable meal (with or without toast), choose whatever time of day you have it. But personally, I prefer Poached Egg, Smoked Salmon and Spinach when I fancy a more luxurious treat. Continue reading “Boiled eggs with asparagus soldiers”

Pan-fried bacon with poached egg and balsamic tomatoes


Poached egg balsamic tomaoes

There are many things I’m willing to give up when dieting – booze (ouch), chocolate (ok, if I must), crisps (fine, just fine), sweets (oh for f***s sake!), but bacon and eggs isn’t one of them. Pan-fried bacon with poached egg and balsamic tomatoes from the Hairy Dieters is a world away from a traditional British fry-up, but at only 264 calories per serving it’s a pretty good substitute!

I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes, but drizzling balsamic vinegar over them makes them much more edible, in my opinion. As for adding watercress (as the Hairy Dieters suggest) as an accompaniment, no, that just seems like a bridge too far. Continue reading “Pan-fried bacon with poached egg and balsamic tomatoes”

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’”

Spinach, tomato and feta scrambled eggs


Ramsay eggs

I’ve recently fallen in love with Gordon Ramsay’s Spinach, Tomato and Feta Scrambled Eggs. It tastes unbelievably good, costs under a £1 per portion to make and can be ready in under 10 minutes, requiring just 4 base ingredients.

The ingredients in this recipe are a great combination, but do cook the tomatoes slowly so that they start to caramelise. The added bonus with this breakfast is that it comes in at only 239 calories and provides a great start to your day, with minimum fuss required in the kitchen. If you love eggs in the morning like me, check out Menemen (Turkish Eggs) from the Hairy Dieters and Scrambled Cajun Eggs with Spinach and Kale from Tom Kerridge. Continue reading “Spinach, tomato and feta scrambled eggs”

Scrambled Cajun eggs with spinach and kale – great with hot sauce!


Cajun eggs

If you like to (literally) kickstart your day with a bang, Scrambled Cajun Eggs with Spinach and Kale from Tom Kerridge offers a great spicy wake-up call. I’d never previously been a fan of kale having used it as an accompaniment for soups, but it works brilliantly with eggs and adding a dollop of hot sauce (optional) at the end takes this to a whole new level!

I’m not entirely sure what Tom means when referring to using a ‘light single cream alternative’. So I included some half-fat crème fraiche when making mine, though I’m not sure it needs it. Tom isn’t shy with using bold flavours in his books so I’m looking forward to working my way through his diet friendly recipes. Continue reading “Scrambled Cajun eggs with spinach and kale – great with hot sauce!”

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’”

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!”