Prawns with Tomato & Feta


Prawns and feta – can you think of a more random combo?

Prawns with tomato & feta from BBC Good Food sounds totally random, and it is. But I decided to give this a go as it was about the only meal I could make with what I had left in the fridge. I love prawns and I love feta, but together? Hmm, I’m not sure.

As a quick meal though it did the job, although it’s an expensive snack if serving between 2 people. For cheaper, arguably tastier alternatives, I’d opt for warm green bean and feta salad, prawn pasta salad and quinoa, prawn and mango salad.

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Chicken and Leeks in Blue Cheese Sauce


I have a leek fetish. I could literally eat them every day of the week

Chicken and Leeks in Blue Cheese Sauce is a brilliant weeknight meal from Pinch of Nom, requiring only 5 base ingredients and just 5 minutes prep time. Just what you need after a long day at work.

Chicken and leeks are an excellent combination and this recipe will only set you back 214 calories, meaning you have plenty of leeway to add some mash / new potatoes and/or vege as an accompaniment. If you like this, then try creamy chicken and tarragon pots with rosemary potato wedges which is equally divine.

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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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Cobb Salad with blue cheese dressing


NO ONE is going hungry after eating this

Cobb Salad from Justine Pattison is an amazing, belly-busting US salad which will provide a filling lunch as well as a main evening meal. It’s great with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or a blue cheese dressing which you can make in a couple of minutes using light mayo, buttermilk or fat-free natural yoghurt, white wine vinegar, Roquefort cheese (or any blue cheese will do) and a dash of salt and pepper.

Struggling to remember the ingredients? As Justine says, just think ‘Eat Cobb’ – egg, avocado, tomato, chicken, onion, bacon and beetroot. My mouth is watering just typing this! One of the most satisfying, healthy salads you’re likely to have.

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Steak Pizzaiola


The steak is really on there, somewhere

If I was a prisoner on death row (disclaimer: I have no plans to be) then I’d choose steak, chips, mushrooms, onion rings with an accompanying peppercorn sauce for my last meal. Except I’m not on death row, and I can’t have steak when on a ‘diet’, or so I thought.

It turns out you can have steak in moderation, providing that you serve it with a low-cal sauce or a side salad. I’m not convinced that’s a fair compromise, but I decided to give Steak Pizzaiola a try from the Hairy Dieters. I figured the ‘pizzaiola’, tomato based sauce would be a hit with my son, who just like his old man, loves his steaks.

Actually, this did turn out quite well, although I decided early on that a few supporting salad leaves just wasn’t going to cut it so I added some naughty chips on the side. The diet police can lock me up and throw away the key. The quantity of hard cheese, just 25g, didn’t really add that much flavour for the extra cooking time, so you may wish to leave it out and save a whole 23 calories and 5 minutes of your life. I’m actually getting grumpy as I’m typing this because I want a proper steak dinner!

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Chicken and Ham Wok Lasagne


This did look like a lasagne until I came to serve it up, honest

Although I don’t mind washing up (it keeps my hands soft!), I do get irritable when having to use lots of pots and pans at the same time in the kitchen, particularly when I’m unfamiliar with a recipe. So the concept of Justine Pattison’s ‘Without the Calories – easy one pot’ book was appealing.

Chicken and Ham Wok Lasagne caught my eye within it because I was intrigued as to how realistic it could be to create a ‘lasagne’ using one pan. It was refreshingly simple, even if there’s a few ingredients to prep and get out on the working top before you start cooking. But above all this recipe tastes great too and while it might not be conventional, it’s effective when you can’t be arsed to make a proper lasagne. Actually, I can never be arsed to make a proper lasagne.

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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?

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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!”

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”

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”

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”

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”

Chilli Salad Bowls – ‘pick and mix’ with tacos


Chilli salad bowls

I’ve recently started buying 750g packs of minced beef from a butcher to make the likes of Rich and Meaty Bolognese, Chilli Con Carne and Enchiladas for my family. The quality of the produce (in comparison to supermarkets) is superior, but it invariably leaves me with a quandary over to what to do with any remaining mince. Sure, I could freeze it, but instead I decided to have a bash at making Chilli Salad Bowls from the Hairy Dieters for an alternative ‘pick-and-mix’ lunch.

The recipe states that you can use taco shells which are less in calories rather than tortillas, which is exactly the route I took to save on…. prep time, not calories. That would be a crazy idea, right? ;-). To my delight, these went down really well with my wife and teenage son, who loves anything that tastes like Doritos. If you have kids that are similar, then Tortilla Chilli Pie might be the recipe for you. Continue reading “Chilli Salad Bowls – ‘pick and mix’ with tacos”

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”

Warm green bean and feta salad


Feta with peppers and green beans

Warm Green Bean and Feta Salad from Pinch of Nom might sound like a fairly run of the mill lunch, but don’t dismiss it because of its simplicity. This is a banging low-calorie budget meal, full of flavour with the added kick of the chilli flakes which takes just 10 minutes to make. It’s so yummy.

My only criticism is that the quantities are supposed to stretch to 4 people leaving a very small portion. You’re better off ‘doubling up’ and making this for 2 people instead. The calorie count would still only be 222 per serving. Continue reading “Warm green bean and feta salad”

Enchiladas – Tex-Mex treat on a diet


Enchilladas

With my summer holiday to Mexico looking increasingly unlikely, I decided to console myself by making Enchiladas from the Hairy Dieters. Did it cheer me up during lockdown? Well, no, not really, but did it taste lovely? Hell yes.

In essence, this is an adapted chilli con carne recipe, pimped up by placing it in tortillas which you can top with whatever goodies you like, within reason, as we’re supposedly watching our calories right now (wahahaha). I’m a bit heavy-handed with salsa and jalapenos, but you can top yours with crème fraiche, guacamole and/or sour cream. Fill your boots, I mean tortilla. Continue reading “Enchiladas – Tex-Mex treat on a diet”

Chicken and Mushroom Risotto


Chicken and mushroom rissotto

If you’re on a tight budget, or simply want to make your ingredients go further, then Chicken and Mushroom Risotto from the Hairy Dieters is an excellent recipe to try. It requires just 2 chicken breasts, half a pack of chestnut mushrooms and the normally calorific creamy risotto rice is made slimming friendly by stirring in a couple of tablespoons of crème fraiche. I’ve never typically gone for traditional risotto-based dishes so I can’t tell the difference, except to the benefit of my waistline!

Reducing the chicken stock is quite a laborious task, but personally I didn’t mind as all you need to do is keep an eye on the pan and it’s not as if you have to faff around doing extra chopping or prep work. A word of warning, the portion is quite small so you might want to bulk it out by adding some green vege. I opted for peas in this instance. Oh, and if you can’t / don’t want to get any expensive wild mushrooms, don’t worry. They do add an extra ‘earthiness’ to the dish but frankly you can take them or leave them.

If you’re wondering what to do with any spare chicken breasts or mushrooms, give Pollo Pasta with Pesto from Justine Pattison a go. Continue reading “Chicken and Mushroom Risotto”

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!”

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”