Life’s too short to scoop out the insides of a jacket potato and put a mixture of ingredients back in. So in a startling show of sexism I got my wife to make Chilli Cheese Jacket Potatoes from Two Chubby Cubs instead. Wait, wait….. I can explain. I tend to do most of the cooking during the week in our home. That, combined with my heavy-handed nature around the kitchen, called for her dulcet culinary skills on this occasion.
This recipe isn’t a messy job per se, but it does require a more delicate touch, so you don’t destroy your jackets when scooping out the potato and putting the mixture of bacon, grated cheese, soft cheese and chillies back in to finish off in the oven. Unsurprisingly, the addition of the siracha sauce into the potato mixture gives this meal quite a punch!
Personally, I loved it. But the high calorie count (500 per serving), length of cooking time (although you could do the jackets in the microwave) and faff means this is unlikely to be a regular on our menu. However, if I was served this in a café it’s something I’d definitely enjoy.
Ploughman’s is a pub classic and if you follow Pinch of Nom’s Ploughman’s Platter with Homemade Chutney recipe you can have a lunchtime feast for under 400 calories, which includes a wholemeal roll for the carb fanatics out there.
Nom’s home-made chutney is delectable, but if you want to save yourself 20 minutes shop-bought chutney will suffice. There really is something in this platter for everyone – ham, salad, cheese, fruit, bread – just dig in and this is perfect if you’re someone who prefers buffet style food.
My wife has recently bought a couple of afternoon tea sets from local cafes comprising finger sandwiches and cakes. They’ve been fine, but apart from being dieting busting they’ve cost in the region of £15 a head! In contrast, this home-made platter costs around £2.65 per portion and is kinder to your waistline.
Justine Pattison has provided a slimming friendly version of the classic French Onion Soup recipe which will feed 6 people for less than 50p a head! There is something really comforting about this soup and the extra cooking time to slowly cook the onions (don’t let them burn!) is worth the wait.
Justine recommends using the nuttiness of Gruyere cheese to put on the thin baguette slices, but any hard cheese will do. And if you can’t get your mits on a baguette as I couldn’t, then thin slices of garlic bread are a good substitute but do factor in the extra calories.
Coronation Chicken, if bought from a supermarket, can be really unhealthy. But this alternative sandwich filling suggestion from Two Chubby Cubs is much kinder to your waistline and tastes sensational.
Once your chicken is cooked, it’s just a case of mixing together light mayo, mango chutney and a dash of curry powder together and sprinkling over a few sultanas. Yummy! For more fast sandwich and wraps ideas, check out the relevant section on this blog here.
It’s really easy to bring plain chicken to life with some spices or a marinade. Cajun Spiced Chicken with Potato Wedges and Chive Dip from the Hairy Dieters is a healthy, flavoursome twist on boring chicken and chips.
Note, you can have this dish with a few home-made chips, the emphasis being here on a few to keep the calorie count low. The suggested portion size isn’t the biggest (boooooo!), so I’d recommend serving this with a green salad on the side, or some home-made coleslaw as I did – see sticky pork ‘ribs’ in barbecue sauce for the recipe.
Hunter’s Chicken is a British pub classic – chicken wrapped in bacon, cooked in a tomato-based sauce and finished off with melted cheese on top. Mmmmm. Pinch of Nom have created a lighter version using bacon medallions and reduced-fat cheddar and it tastes as good as anything you’ll enjoy in your local boozer.
PON’s recipe comes in at 343 calories, but this doesn’t include any accompaniments. So, in the interests of following UK government advice and turning this into a ‘substantial meal’ (I shouldn’t even joke), I served mine with a few peas and naughty chips. But to keep the calories down, I suggest having it with some green veg and/or a very small portion of healthy mash (using low-fat crème fraiche).
If you’re currently stuck in a tier 3 or tier 4 area and are missing some classic British home-cooked food, check out the pub classics section on this blog here. The only downside is you’ll have to cook them yourself ;-).
Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip is a cheap and very cheerful American bar snack from Justine Pattison, which creates the sticky, smoky flavours you know and love for a fraction of the calories (under 400 in this case, with dip).
You can save yourself some time (and hassle) by not attempting to cut each wing into two meaty pieces. Unless you’ve got a really sharp knife, you might find this tricky, so why not just bake the wings hole and allocate 200g to each person, per serving. I enjoyed these wings with a few naughty chippies and the blue cheese dip. I just forgot to include it when taking the photo, but I’d definitely recommend it with some celery sticks to accompany.
Itried every possible excuse to put off having Cottage Pie from the Hairy Dieters, but after an overexuberant supermarket shop I happened to have every ingredient in to make this. So, what was the problem? I dunno, it just didn’t excite me, plus the notion that this would serve 6 to 8 people seemed somewhat fanciful. 6 is a stretch, but 8 is just not funny when you’re hungry.
“You’ve turned into a food snob,” said my wife. “It’s not that, I just can’t be arsed spending up to two hours in the kitchen,” was my retort. Ok, 2 hours is me being flippant as most of the cooking time is done on the hob and finished off in the oven.
But what about the taste? Do you know what, this is actually a really good, hearty meal. If someone served me this, I’d be delighted, however the prep and length of cooking time is a bit of a slog so I won’t be in a hurry to endure this again. If you’re looking for healthier alternatives on ‘traditional’ pub classics, I’d opt for Rich and Meaty Bolognese, Chilli Con Carne or Sausages and Rich Onion Gravy which require less fuss to rustle up and offer more generous portion sizes.
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!
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”→
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’ take on a lighter Chicken caesar salad recipe is one of my ‘go to’ lunches, it can be rustled up in under 20 minutes and tastes fantastic, warm or cold. This dish is traditionally regarded as being quite unhealthy but if you follow the method below you can have a filling, nutritional meal on the table for under 300 calories!
A word of warning. Well, perhaps ‘warning’ is a little dramatic. The caesar salad dressing is lovely (you only need half of it) but it does taste quite strongly of garlic, so you may wish to use only a small clove if you’re taking it into work. Although personally, I couldn’t care less and nothing will compare to the stick I got when I brought in a smoked haddock chowder one balmy afternoon a couple of years ago.
The photo above is actually only of one chicken breast (the recipe states you can have two) but it was more than sufficient for me. The ciabatta ‘croutons’ are a nice touch, but not essential, so don’t go out of your way to buy a ciabatta loaf if you don’t have one in. Hail Caesar! Enjoy! Continue reading “Chicken caesar salad (light) – hail Caesar!”→
It’s funny. Given a choice, I wouldn’t ordinarily choose to eat ‘bangers and mash’ for tea. But now I’m watching my weight I love this Sausages and Rich Onion Gravy equivalent from The Hairy Dieters for three reasons.
1. I didn’t know you could eat sausages on a ‘diet’. 2. With a small accompaniment of mashed potato and/or vege the cost per portion comes in at under a £1 and 3. the ‘rich onion gravy’ sauce made with beef stock, tomato ketchup and Worcestershire sauce is bloody lovely!
Who doesn’t love a chilli as the evenings start to draw in? Chilli Con Carne from the Hairy Dieters’ first book is tasty and a doddle to throw together. The high number of required ingredients may be off-putting to some, particularly if you’re not used to cooking from scratch, however if you’re committed to eating healthy, fresh food then most of the items will become store-cupboard staples which you’ll regularly use in other recipes.
Do be mindful that the calorie count is 302 per serving WITHOUT rice, which can easily add another 100-150 calories depending on how generous you are. Personally, about three tablespoons of rice is sufficient for me as I’m not a big fan. I’m also happy to just have the chilli with a side salad and a low-fat dressing.
The recipe does serve five at a push, with your chosen accompaniment. For me, it made x2 chilli and small portions of rice, x2 jacket potatoes with filling and leftover chilli with a side salad for lunch. If you’re a bit ‘chillied’ out, then why not freeze individual portions and save them for days when you have less time to cook? Continue reading “Chilli con carne – healthy pub comfort food”→