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”

Mediterranean Beef Burgers – get the BBQ / ‘barbie’ on now!


Meditteranean beef burger

There’s a definite knack to making Mediterranean Beef Burgers by the Hairy Dieters, but once you master it you’ll never return to supermarket burgers again. Firstly, follow the recipe carefully and only use a small courgette otherwise your burger will be overpowered by too much of the green stuff! Secondly, after you’ve mixed the ingredients in a bowl, use a stick blender to blend everything together and then form your burgers with wet hands so nothing sticks.

Use good quality reduced-fat mozzarella rather than Cheddar or any other cheese for your topping, and don’t forget to include the sliced tomato, basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar which really enhances the flavour. Finally, cook your burgers gently and slowly in a frying pan, griddle pan or, like me, on your gas barbecue. If you’ve got time, pop them in the fridge to ‘firm up’ before you cook them. If you follow these instructions you’ll be left with a juicy, tasty and, above all, much healthier burger to savour.

Feel free to omit the ciabatta roll to save on calories and replace it with home-made chips if you like. Get the ‘barbie’/ ‘BBQ’ on now!! Continue reading “Mediterranean Beef Burgers – get the BBQ / ‘barbie’ on now!”

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”

Lean lamb hot pot


Lean lamb hotpot

There are now over 50 recipes on this blog so it was high time that I featured one containing lamb. Lean Lamb Hot Pot from the Hairy Dieters is a comforting meal that is simple to put together, and although cooking this takes up to 1 hour and 45 minutes (do keep an eye on your pan so it doesn’t stick!), the oven does most of the work.

Given the relatively high cost of good quality lamb, and the time it takes to braise the meat, outside of a traditional Sunday dinner lamb rarely features on my menu. But the benefits of being on ‘lockdown’ (if I can label it in this way!) mean that l can make stews like this now that daily life as we know it is less chaotic.

Though naturally higher in calories compared to beef and chicken, it is possible to eat a nourishing meal including lamb for under 500 calories so you can stay on track with your diet. Both the Hairy Dieters and Justine Pattison in her ‘Without the Calories’ series of books feature a variety of lamb recipes so check them out. I’ll try and get round to featuring some of them on here eventually. Continue reading “Lean lamb hot pot”

Moroccan-style chicken with vegetable couscous


Moroccan chicken

If you like a bit of ‘punch’ to your food you’ll love Moroccan-style Chicken with Vegetable Couscous from the Hairy Dieters. The harissa paste, spices, honey and yoghurt really bring it to life, and accompanied by the vegetables and couscous makes for a delicious lunch or Spring evening meal.

The calorie count for this meal is just 305 per portion and it really fills you up too. Do take the time to marinate the chicken in the fridge (the book says 30 minutes, but try and leave it for longer if you can) and you’ll be delighted with the end result. Continue reading “Moroccan-style chicken with vegetable couscous”

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”

All-In-One Spicy Pork and Rice


All in One spicy pork

All-In-One Spicy Pork and Rice used to be my favourite Hairy Dieters dish, until my youngest son protested that he didn’t like peppers so it’s slipped off the menu in recent times. But through a combination of cravings and tough parental love, this recipe has made a comeback with my trade-off to Will being that I’ll cut the peppers into smaller pieces ;-). The truce is working so far.

This is such a tasty meal. Pork, chorizo, lots of vege and rice with some lovely spices mixed through. Heaven. Try and use pork tenderloin if you can get it as it’s leaner than pork steaks. But the latter is fine – just carefully trim the fat off them.

If you’re looking for another brilliant one-pan pork dish from the Hairy Dieters, try Pork and Black Bean Stew with Salsa. Sooo good! Continue reading “All-In-One Spicy Pork and Rice”

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”

Cranberry and Almond ‘Muesli’


Cranberry and almond muesli

The shortage of products on supermarket shelves during coronavirus lockdown is influencing people to make some of their favourite foods from scratch, such as bread, pasta, baked beans and cakes. I decided to jump on the bandwagon and make a healthy breakfast cereal after seeing Cranberry and Almond Muesli in the Hairy Dieters’ first book.

The verdict…. well, this isn’t as tasty as popular supermarket cereals, but as this recipe isn’t loaded with sugar it’s much, much healthier. The Hairy Dieters suggest adding some fresh fruit, I didn’t have any to hand, but it would have given this a lift. I opted for a dollop of fat-free natural yoghurt on mine rather than milk. Continue reading “Cranberry and Almond ‘Muesli’”

Chicken stir-fry – 20 ingredients for under 200 calories


Chicken stir-fry

A LOT goes into Chicken Stir-Fry from the Hairy Dieters, 20 ingredients in fact, yet surprisingly this comes in at just 196 calories per portion. That’s because it’s full of the good stuff (vegetables) and other stuff which helps to bulk the meal out (water chestnuts and beansprouts) but doesn’t necessarily add a lot of flavour.

The addition of the soy sauce, rice wine, chicken stock, curry powder and sesame oil did up the ante somewhat for my critical tastebuds, but it still didn’t run my local takeaway close in terms of flavour. However to add perspective, if you want a healthy, filling weeknight dinner for under 200 calories then this is one to try. Continue reading “Chicken stir-fry – 20 ingredients for under 200 calories”

Sticky Chicken with Coleslaw – a big hit with the kids!


Sticky chicken

I can’t believe its taken me this long to feature Sticky Chicken with (homemade) Coleslaw from the Hairy Dieters on my blog as it’s a regular meal in my house. Coating the chicken thighs by combining ketchup, red/white wine vinegar, honey and Worcestershire sauce creates a wonderful BBQ sauce effect which adults and kids love in equal measure.

The other star of the show in this recipe is the coleslaw. Of course, you can save time by getting reduced calorie coleslaw from a supermarket, but for the little additional effort that is required I much prefer this homemade version. Any leftovers can do for accompanying a jacket potato for lunch the next day. Waste not, want not, folks.

You’ll find various ‘sticky’ diet-friendly recipes when browsing online or skimming healthy eating cookbooks. Check out Sticky Chicken Drumsticks and Sticky Pork Steaks on this blog. Continue reading “Sticky Chicken with Coleslaw – a big hit with the kids!”

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’”

Curried butternut squash and apple soup


Butternut squash soup

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”

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!”

Quinoa, prawn and mango salad – seductive treat!


Mango prawn salad

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!

You might be tempted to ‘double up’ as this is only 200 calories per serving, however I recommend you don’t as one portion is more than filling enough. Diet or no diet, this colourful, flavoursome lunch packs a brilliant punch. Continue reading “Quinoa, prawn and mango salad – seductive treat!”

Mushroom, feta and tomato baked peppers


Stuffed peppers

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I previously considered vegetarian-based dishes to be bland and, well, just for vegetarians. But my ignorance has slowly subsided, helped by brilliant recipes like mushroom, feta and tomato baked peppers from the Hairy Dieters. This really was a bit of a game changer for me when it came to reducing my over-reliance on meat.

I love mushrooms and feta is probably my favourite cheese. And although I’m not a massive fan of peppers, roasting them in the oven makes them taste sweeter and the accompanying filling is plentiful and sublime. You should have enough of the filling left to make another portion of this which you can either freeze or enjoy the next day.

Don’t forget to cover the surface of the stuffing with some foil, otherwise trust me, they will burn! Continue reading “Mushroom, feta and tomato baked peppers”

Pasta with summer vegetables and parma ham


Pasta with summer vegetables and parma ham

You don’t have to wait until Summer to enjoy this fab pasta dish from the Hairy Dieters, or perhaps you will unless shoppers stop going Coronavirus crazy and emptying supermarket shelves! There are a lot of ingredients in this pasta with summer vegetables and parma ham recipe, but the combination of the veg, herbs and parma ham sing together beautifully with the stock, white wine and crème fraiche. It makes for a filling, guilt-free lunch at just 305 calories per portion.

If you’re not sure what to do with any remaining broad beans, try broad bean or chicken and broad bean pilaf which you’ll find in the Hairy Dieters’ Good Eating book. Their fourth instalment, Fast Food, also contains a minted lamb and broad bean recipe which I must get round to making again soon. Check it out. Continue reading “Pasta with summer vegetables and parma ham”

Home-made Butternut Squash Tortellini for under a £1 per portion!


Butternut squash tortellini

Stuffed pasta on a diet? Absolutely, according to the Hairy Dieters, whose Home-made Butternut Squash Tortellini recipe offers an excellent healthy vegetarian option for under a £1 per portion. However, you will need to devote up to 3 hours in the kitchen and have a reasonable amount of skill to ensure the filling doesn’t escape from the tortellini shells! Lazy Sunday, anyone?

Disclaimer: My wife Ann-Marie made this recipe, so all I did was rock up and tuck in when it was ready! I have to say the buttery squash pasta filling, accompanied by the spinach tasted fantastic, and I wanted more. According to Annie, this wasn’t too tricky to pull together and it would be quicker to make next time now she’s got the knack of folding the pasta and sealing the filling. Off you go then, love ;-).

If, like me, you lack patience and are time-pressured, then why not check out the Super Speedy section of this blog which provides a selection of tasty, diet-friendly recipes which can be rustled up in about 20 minutes. Continue reading “Home-made Butternut Squash Tortellini for under a £1 per portion!”

(Healthy) Corned beef hash – budget winter comfort food for under £1


Corned beef hash

Traditional Corned Beef Hash recipes are often high in fat but this clever alternative from the Hairy Dieters comes in at less than 250 calories per serving! Celeriac is used instead of potatoes and only 200g of corned beef is required instead of the larger 340g cans.

Will you notice a difference compared to the more traditional version? Well, yes, probably. Does it still taste great regardless? Yes, absolutely, and at less than a quid per portion to make what’s not to like?

The Hairy Dieters suggest having this for brunch, but it will work equally well as a nourishing evening meal on those cold winter evenings. If you love this dish, why not try another of their comfort food classics – Pan Haggerty Lite. Continue reading “(Healthy) Corned beef hash – budget winter comfort food for under £1”

Pasta with clams and bacon


Clams

I’ve never been a huge fan of Italian food. I can take or leave pizza and I’ve never understood how some restaurants justify charging upwards of £15 for a bowl of pasta. It’s ironic then that going on a healthy eating plan has enabled me to fall in love with simple, tasty Italian pasta dishes that are quick and economical to cook.

Pasta with clams and bacon from the third instalment of the Hairy Dieters series has become one of my favourites. The photo above might not scream ‘eat me now!’, but don’t let that put you off, the flavour combinations in this recipe are divine and I’d urge you to try it.

Disclaimer: my local supermarkets aren’t posh enough to stock clams so I substituted them for cockles which worked a treat. Clams, cockles or even mussels – see what works for you. But whatever you use, don’t forget to save 50ml of the liquor when draining them as adding this back into the pan makes this sumptuous dish even more yummy.

Can’t get enough of healthy pasta dishes? Check out Pollo Pasta with Pesto, Smashed Up Chicken, Pasta Puttanesca and Tagliatelle Carbonara. Continue reading “Pasta with clams and bacon”