Beachside Paella


A standard frying pan won’t do for this, it’s time to bring the ‘big boy’ out

Let’s face it, with tightening restrictions around Covid there’s not a lot to smile about right now. As the nights draw in sun, sand and sea seems a distant memory but food can have a positive effect in lifting your spirits, even if it’s just for an hour or so. I needed a focus to perk me up and Beachside Paella from the Hairy Dieters was just the ticket, washed down with copious amounts of vino (not recommended for the diet). It didn’t trick me into thinking I was in Spain, but it was a welcome distraction from being locked down in Cheshire!

A word of caution, you do need a f***ing huuuuugggggeeee pan to fit all of the ingredients in this mammoth dish. I was a geek and purchased my own paella pan – I got a good one from Amazon for £40, but you can get them cheaper. But why skimp on price? It’s not as if you’re going to Spain anytime soon, right?

As for the taste, I absolutely loved this dish. It says it serves 6 at 358 calories per portion. But I think the reality is that if there’s less than 6 of you the pan is getting cleaned out because it tastes so good. My ears are still ringing from the bollocking I received off my wife for picking the chorizo and chicken leftovers out of the pan and leaving just the rice. Was it worth it? Absolutely! If you want a dumbed-down, non-paella, but equally mighty fine one-pan dish, I’d recommend southern-style jambalaya, also from the Hairy Dieters.

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Chicken & Chorizo Risnotto


This isn’t a risotto but it’s a risotto

Chicken & Chorizo Risnotto from Two Chubby Cubs creates those wonderful, creamy risotto flavours without you having to laboriously stand in front of the cooker waiting for the stock to be absorbed. Don’t let my crap photo fool you, this is a banging evening meal which tastes wonderful and will fill you up.

Importantly, you will need a pan with a lid so you can trundle off for 20 mins while this cooks. I didn’t trust myself to leave this unattended on a medium-low heat without occasionally checking that my food hadn’t stuck, so it did take me a bit longer. Also, if you’re making this for any fussy family members, or a teenage boy, in my case, you may want to serve them it without the addition of the cream cheese. It turns out that while my boy loves cheese, he inexplicably doesn’t like cream cheese! For everyone else, just stir the cream cheese through at the very end as per the recipe’s instructions, then dish up and hey presto, we’re all happy.

If you love risotto type meals, check out chicken and mushroom risotto and sea bass and miso risotto which are awesome low-cal recipes. Or, if you’re wondering what to do with any leftover chorizo, I’d recommend all-in-one spicy pork and rice and southern-style jambalaya which are similarly wonderful.

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Tex Mex Toad-in-the-Hole


What would Speedy Gonzalez make of this?

Tex Mex Toad-in-the-Hole from Justine Pattison is about as Mexican as me growing a tash and donning a sombrero. But let’s just go with it because it’s a quirky little recipe and a funky twist on the traditional toad-in-the-hole.

If you can’t get hold of spicy pork sausages (and I couldn’t find any supermarkets that stock them), improvise by lobbing in a generous sprinkling of chilli flakes over regular sausages in your roasting tin. And don’t be tempted to open your oven door once the tin is in there otherwise your batter won’t rise!

Andale andale arriba arriba, which translates (loosely) to hurry up and give this recipe a try!

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Smoky Sausage and Beans


Nowt fancy, but bloody lovely

Smoky Sausage and Beans from Justine Pattison’s Without the Calories – Comfort Food is indeed the epitome of comfort food – rich in flavour, so easy to put together in one pan and cheap to make. The ‘smoky’ flavour comes from the smoked paprika, cumin and coriander which I tend to chuck into the pan with reckless abandon. But remember, there are no calories in spices!

My teenage lad isn’t a fan of sausages unless the skins are removed and shaped into patties. But he much prefers the daintier chipolatas, which suits me fine because they are better for your waistline. This filling meal comes in at 412 calories per serving is perfect for a weeknight evening which is best enjoyed when the weather is cold or crappy. Love chipolatas? Then check out sausage and apple bake which is another brilliantly comforting recipe.

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Sausage and Apple Bake


Super, simple, scrumptious

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 parsnips but 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.

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Sausage Casserole – Hairy Dieter style


I couldn’t be arsed to wipe the plate

Sausage Casserole, in summer? Wait, I can explain. I’ve been taking full advantage of the glorious English weather recently and my barbecue has rarely been off. My local butcher does a great selection of British bangers and let’s just say I got a little over exuberant and ordered way too many.

When the weather predictably turned, I decided to make Sausage Casserole from the Hairy Dieters, in hindsight a recipe far better suited to winter than a barmy spring evening. Apart from it being a convenient excuse to open another bottle of wine my heart just wasn’t into this. I couldn’t even be arsed to wipe the plate properly when taking a photo. The plus points are that you can use full-fat sausages with a high meat content – I used Cumberland and the Hairy Dieters make other suggestions in their book.

But at the end of the day I don’t think this meal is a patch on some of their other low-cal classics, Sausages and Rich Onion Gravy and Hotdog Hotpot.

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One-pot Creamy Leek & Sausage Bake


Sausages and leeks

In a similar fashion to Pinch of Nom, Two Chubby Cubs (James Anderson and Paul Anderson) have burst onto the slimming recipes scene in the last year and built-up a huge social media following. One-pot Creamy Leek & Sausage Bake features in their debut publication – Two Chubby Cubs, The Cookbook, and is a really comforting dish which originates from Switzerland.

Leeks and sausages go well together, and the extra-light cream cheese provides a luxurious texture without the need to include rice. Comforting and filling, this is going to become a regular evening meal in my household. The ‘Cubs’ inaugural book contains lots of quirky recipes, written in an engaging and irreverent style, which will have you in stitches. But jokes aside, it features some cracking ideas and the guys, between them, have lost over 250lbs in the last year. Proof and pudding that dieting can be fun! Continue reading “One-pot Creamy Leek & Sausage Bake”

Southern-Style Jambalaya – a one-pan feast from Louisiana


Southern style jambalaya

Southern-Style Jambalaya, heralding from Louisiana USA, not Essex, is a proper feast from the Hairy Dieters that combines loads of protein and vegetables in one-pan. It contains some of my favourite food – chicken, chorizo and prawns, and pays homage to some lesser regarded items such as celery and green peppers which help to bulk this filling meal out.

While there a lot of ingredients in this, a number of them are spices, which you’ll use over and over again if following a healthy eating plan. And even if you’re not, just make this anyway because it tastes absolutely fantastic. Continue reading “Southern-Style Jambalaya – a one-pan feast from Louisiana”

Baked cod with beans, courgettes and chorizo


Cod Tom Kerridge

Tom Kerridge loves filling portions, even when on a diet, but I found his Baked Cod with Beans, Courgettes and Chorizo somewhat overbearing. Two chunky cod fillets, 3 courgettes, a tin of butter beans, a punnet of cherry vine tomatoes with olives and chorizo, for two people, wow. I ended up making this for three but it still felt like a big meal that was lacking in flavour, despite the cod being left for 2 hours to marinate with the sea salt and the smoked paprika.

There were plenty of leftovers, however interestingly the beans, courgettes, tomatoes and chorizo were so much more tastier the day after. Hmm, maybe the flavour juices intensified after being cooked with the fish. Even so, at a hefty cost of over £6 per portion, it’s a recipe I’m unlikely to return to as I believe these ingredients can be put to better and more frugal use. Continue reading “Baked cod with beans, courgettes and chorizo”

Spanish-style chicken bake


Spanish chicken

The Hairy Dieters’ Spanish-style chicken bake may take over an hour to prep and cook but the flavoursome juices from the chicken thighs, chorizo, tomatoes and garlic, combined with the smoked paprika and oregano, make this a joy to devour once ready.

Do take the time to ensure the chicken and new potatoes are cooked through and tender, and it’s also worth taking the trouble to drizzle the chorizo juices over the chicken as part of the final stage of cooking. The end result is a fabulous, colourful plate of food that doesn’t resemble being on a ‘diet’ at all.

But you might want to leave consuming the whole pieces of garlic if you’re going on a ‘hot date’, or better still, cook this for your ‘date’ and get them to scoff the garlic with you. Sharing is caring ha ha! Continue reading “Spanish-style chicken bake”

Baked eggs with chorizo filling – brunch treat for 73p per serving!


Baked eggs with chorizo

How do you like your eggs? Poached, scrambled or fried? Have you ever tried them baked? If not, you should try baked eggs with chorizo filling from the Hairy Dieters for a tasty brunch treat for under a quid per serving! You only need a small amount of chorizo and basil to generate some really delicious flavours, topped with the egg and a sprinkling of cheese.

The only problem I have with this recipe is that one serving is not enough, so invariably I end up skipping breakfast and indulging in two of these pots of delight for just shy of 400 calories. Hey, who’s counting? ;-).

You’ll find this recipe in the Hairy Dieters third health eating cookbook – Good Eating, where they also provide an additional baked eggs recipe featuring spinach and mushrooms. Check it out, but do take care when lifting the ramekins out of the oven as they will be very hot! Continue reading “Baked eggs with chorizo filling – brunch treat for 73p per serving!”

Pork and black bean stew with salsa


Pork and black bean stew

Pork and black bean stew from the Hairy Dieters’ ‘Fast Food’ book is an absolute low-cal triumph on a traditional fatty Brazilian dish. But even more so because it manages to get my fussy teenage son to eat polish (kabanos) sausage and salsa, despite him ‘hating’ peppers, tomato and coriander. And yet he’ll wolf down this meal for fun – what a result!

The Hairy Dieters do a cracking spicy pork with chorizo one-pan dish in their second book which I haven’t got round to featuring yet on this blog, but I think I slightly prefer this pork bonanza as it tastes sublime, particularly with the salsa accompaniment, bulked out with the fibre from the black beans.

If you get the pork, bacon, onion and sausage chopped in advance you can rustle this up in about 20 minutes. What are you waiting for?? Continue reading “Pork and black bean stew with salsa”

Breakfast Omelette Burritos – burriliant!


Breakfast burrito

I haven’t got round to sampling many dishes from the Hairy Dieters’ most recent book, Make it Easy, but Breakfast Omelette Burritos caught my eye and has become a regular which my son Will absolutely loves.

At 447 calories per serving you might be better off having this as an occasional treat, or perhaps as a weekend brunch dish. Mustard with sausages and bacon? Well, why the hell not, it will certainly give your morning a bit of a kick!

As the instructions below outline, patience is definitely a virtue so do cook the egg very slowly otherwise your wrap will disintegrate when you come to lift it out of the pan. I’ve just about got the knack down to a tee now – perhaps I’ve made this too often? Continue reading “Breakfast Omelette Burritos – burriliant!”

Hotdog hotpot – budget winter warmer


hotdog

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!

The cooking time is over an hour but there’s very little prep involved or much to do once everything is in the pan. Continue reading “Hotdog hotpot – budget winter warmer”

Chorizo with butter beans – just 88p per portion


Chorizo

Chorizo with butter beans is a simple dish that can be knocked together from store cupboard staples to make an ideal lunch or a main meal with a few new potatoes. You’ll find this recipe in Justine Pattison’s Without the Calories series of books, which I thoroughly recommend you get your mits on as they’re just as good as the Hairy Dieters’ ones.

Beans are a dieter’s best friend, so it’s worth stocking up on various varieties such as baked, kidney, butter, cannelloni, black eye and black beans as they’re handy to have around, keep for a long time and are cheap to buy. This recipe comes in at a budget-friendly 88p per portion. The serving size (for two people) isn’t massive, but rather than be tempted to help yourself to seconds why not accompany it with a green salad and a healthy dressing for a filling lunch?

This dish is great for using up spare ingredients lurking in your fridge (I’ve always got onions and chorizo left over) and you’ll have a half a tin of chopped tomatoes kicking around if you’ve made Menemen (Turkish Eggs) in the morning. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, TRY MENEMEN! Continue reading “Chorizo with butter beans – just 88p per portion”

Sausages and rich onion gravy – let the bangers see the mash!


Sausages

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!

If you’ve got some ‘bangers’ leftover, why not give ‘Biker Breakfast Muffins’ a whirl which is another budget-friendly breakfast winner. Continue reading “Sausages and rich onion gravy – let the bangers see the mash!”

Biker Breakfast Muffins – a lighter spin on a McDonalds favourite


Biker breakfast muffins

My 12 year-old son loves Biker Breakfast Muffins and regularly requests them on lazy Sundays, where I tend to make them for a ‘brunch’ treat as the calorie count is on the high side if you’re watching your weight. Think sausage and egg muffins from McDonalds, but not quite as good although healthier and cheaper.

The Hairy Dieters suggest making a lighter version using lean chicken or turkey mince and some smoked back bacon. It will knock around 60 calories off and you’ll find the recipe in their Fast Food book. For the cost and additional faff, I haven’t got around to trying them as the sausage-based version goes down a storm in my house. Continue reading “Biker Breakfast Muffins – a lighter spin on a McDonalds favourite”