I thought my 200th blog post would be more imaginative than Skinny Potato Salad from Justine Pattison. But this is a wonderful, simplistic meal in its own right and costs less than 75p per serving to put on your table despite being packed with new potatoes, celery, apple and spring onion with a low-fat mayo dressing.
And when I think about it, that’s what this blog is all about. Giving people access to straightforward, tasty recipes that they can make easily and cheaply at home to keep on track with their diet. Enjoy and thanks to everyone who drops by.
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.
Ok, so there’s a few ingredients and a fair bit of prep work to do in advance, but Fresh Fruit Compote with Home-Made Granola from the Hairy Dieters offers such a healthy and brilliant start to the day. As most people know by now, granola and muesli supermarket cereals are loaded with sugar, but this home-made version topped with fresh fruit and a dollop of yoghurt is infinitely more satisfying.
It will easily provide 6 servings and the cost, at £1.43 per portion, would be considerably more expensive if you bought this from a coffee / café outlet. If you’re going to embark on a healthy eating plan, why deprive yourself when you can enjoy fresh food as luxurious as this?
Grapefruit, Avocado and Bacon Salad from the Hairy Dieters is best enjoyed immediately after you’ve made it, as the ingredients can go soggy if you leave them in a lunch box. The tangy flavours and the contrast in textures make this really interesting but be warned, prepping the grapefruit and avocado can be a messy job!
You can buy pre-prepped grapefruit segments in cans or cartons, which I might opt for if making this again. It’s not that I’m bone idle (honest), my knife skills are just crap and the grapefruit was butchered by the time I’d finished with it.
Tandoori Salmon with Mango Salsa from Pinch of Nom is just perfect for summer evenings when you want to tuck into something healthy and fresh without stuffing your face. You only have to look at your plate to know that this is a well balanced meal, bursting with flavour from the spices which coat the salmon and the tangy salsa.
I had some broccoli leftover in my fridge which I used to bulk this out, but you can use any small serving of steamed veg if you’re feeling peckish. This is a great salmon-based dish but my personal favourite is still Salmon with Chilli Ginger Sauce. Both would make excellent additions to your healthy eating plan.
Good-quality chipolatas, made from unspiced pork, are cheap but pack in loads of flavour so are a handy option to keep in your fridge or freezer. Sausage and Apple Bake, from Jamie Oliver’s 5 ingredients book, utilises chipolatas brilliantly in this one-pan dish with honeyed parsnips and caramelised onions. It will seem like a LOT of parsnipsbut the strips do reduce down.
I recently had this with gin on a balmy spring evening outside, and while it might be better suited to a cold autumn evening, I love recipes that I can just bang in the oven to do their thing while I sit back and relax. The fat content in this recipe is quite high if you’re watching your weight but still comes in at under 500 calories.
From re-creating your favourite curry to making lower calorie burgers, healthy cookbooks are awash with ‘fakeaways’ these days. And don’t get me wrong, these recipes are welcome and have their place. But try as they might, some of them still don’t hit the ‘spot’, particularly with curries which omit staple restaurant ingredients like ghee to keep the fat content to a minimum. My philosophy is if you’re in need of a blow-out and want to be naughty, then treat yourself to a takeaway, PROVIDING you get back on your diet the next day.
But there are ‘fakeaway’ exceptions which do genuinely (in my opinion) taste like the ‘real thing’. Sweet and Sour Chicken from the Hairy Dieters is one of the more authentic fakeaways I’ve made – I think Chinese takeaways in general are easier to recreate at home based on the required ingredients. This recipe requires only two chicken breasts and will comfortably serve 4 people for less than £2 a head, without rice. The sweet and sour sauce with the pineapple and ginger is to die for!
Serve this in a takeaway carton to your nearest and dearest and see if they notice the difference. Or just serve it them anyway. If you’re interested in fakeways, check out the relevant section on this blog here, and if Chinese floats your boat, Yeung Chow Fried Rice, is another excellent recipe to try, courtesy of Pinch of Nom.
Ham & Pineapple Pasta Bake from Two Chubby Cubs is a proper feast – pasta, bacon, ham, pineapple, mozzarella and (optional) cheddar cheese in one-pot! It’s a cinch to throw together and will comfortably make 6 portions – perfect for feeding the kids over a couple of days or so.
Speaking of kids, this recipe threw up one of my life’s little mysteries. My son Will, who loves Hawaiian pizzas, curiously wouldn’t entertain having pineapple in this pasta bake. Go figure. The Cubs, whose fab debut book is wonderfully entertaining, suggest serving this with a light salad on the side to ‘pointedly ignore’, which I did :-).
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”→
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”→
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!
If you’re following a ‘5:2’ diet plan, you’ll know how difficult it can be to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner within a limit of 600 calories on a ‘2’ day. So what are your options? Skip breakfast and struggle through until lunchtime, invariably reaching for the snack jar around 11am, or try and get something light and healthy inside you first-thing?
A piece of fruit is always an option but if, like me, you love yoghurts why not combine both options by having Crushed Berry Layered Yoghurt from Justine Pattison? You can pick up cheap bags of frozen mixed fruit from supermarkets which are great to have on stand-by for busy mornings and it means you’re not wasting any fresh produce either – just take out what you need. Of course, you could just buy some ready-made yoghurts, but some can be higher in sugar and calories than you think so I prefer to make my own.
I like to use ramekins for these fruit-topped yoghurts and keep them in the fridge, where they’ll last for 3 days. If you’re a fan of this simplistic health-kick, check out Justine’s Without the Calories – Quick and Easy book where you’ll also find a recipe for Cherry and Chocolate Chip Muesli. Continue reading “Crushed Berry Layered Yoghurt – perfect on a ‘5:2’ day”→
Hardened foodies, or other sceptics (like my wife ha ha!) may turn their noses up at Hotdog Hotpot from the Hairy Dieters’ latest book, ‘Make it Easy’, but let me tell you they are missing out on an absolute treat!
I love making dishes which utilise cheaper cuts of meat, and you can pick up a pack of frankfurters for around £2 in most supermarkets. This is just a brilliant easy-to-make, budget friendly and tasty winter warmer of a dish which is surprisingly satisfying. The frankfurters, potatoes, apples and cabbage go together brilliantly, along with the sage, stock and cider. Fantastic, and even more so because a serving of this is less than 300 calories!
Sticky chicken drumsticks from the Hairy Dieters are a fab weekend lunch dish and ridiculously cheap to make at a cost of about 60p per serving! My only slight bone of contention (excuse the pun) is that I don’t believe this meal is particularly ‘fast’ to make, as per the Hairy Dieters’ billing in their ‘Fast Food‘ book that most of the recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less. I’m not exactly lightening quick in the kitchen though so perhaps so you can rustle this up in no time.
When I was a lad, a smart fitting suit and a dollop of decent aftershave was enough to impress the ladies. But times have changed. So boys, if you want to woo the woman of your dreams, get yourself down to the supermarket, pick up some avocados and rustle up this Avocado on Toast recipe from the Hairy Dieters’ ‘Go Veggie’ book.
Joking aside, it’s become really fashionable to eat avocado for both men and women and celebrity chefs, such as Jamie Oliver, have produced endless recipes for this increasingly popular fruit (avocado is a fruit, not a vegetable, by the way). The Hairy Dieters’ take on avocado on toast is really tasty with the cherry tomatoes mixed with lemon zest and vinegar (I used balsamic) topped with a dash of hot sauce and sprinklings of paprika. Yum.