Smoky Steak Fajitas


You don’t need to buy expensive steak to make this work – frying steak will do the job

Smoky Steak Fajitas from Justine Pattison is a good choice for a fast midweek meal, or especially on a Friday evening after a week at work when you don’t have the energy to cook something which requires any effort. Key to getting this recipe right is heat. Make sure your griddle pan is piping hot before cooking your steak, and it only needs about 1 ½ minutes on each side.

Again, with heat in mind, make sure you cover the cooked steak with a piece of foil, wrapped in a clean towel to keep it warm while you stir-fry the peppers and spring onions. Finally, don’t forget to warm your tortillas through – cold tortillas are yukky!!

Personally, I would have been a bit more brazen with this recipe and chucked in some jalapenos and a spicier variety of salsa, but it’s easy to switch a few ingredients around to meet your preferences! If you like the idea of this, check out fast chicken fajitas which is also a super-quick meal to throw together.

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Soft Fish Tacos


Jamie Oliver has an alternative fish tacos recipe, check it out online

I once saw a recipe by Jamie Oliver called ‘tasty fish tacos with game-changing kiwi, lime and chill salsa’. It looked great in his book, but too great though to suggest I could pull it off and be arsed to slave away with the mass of ingredients required for the recipe. I liked the concept though, and when I saw Soft Fish Tacos from Pinch of Nom, I was eager to try this much simpler version.

Sadly, this is one PON recipe that I won’t be in a hurry to make again. It just seemed to be lacking in flavour and a tad bland, and for me adding a ¼ tsp of various spices seems pointless. You may think differently though, so give it a whirl if it takes your fancy.

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Minted Pea and Feta Omelette


Omelettes are a dieter’s best friend

Omelettes are brilliant for a quick meal and this version from the Hairy Dieters with minted peas and feta cheese is surprisingly tasty with a salad on the side. Prepped and ready in under 10 minutes, under a quid per portion and 382 calories per serving. Job done.

Wondering what to do with any leftover feta? Try mushroom, feta and tomato baked peppers, spinach, tomato and feta scrambled eggs or menemen.

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Satay Burger


Best burger, ever. And ready in under 20 minutes

Satay Burger from Two Chubby Cubs is, quite possibly, the best burger I’ve ever tasted – and that includes the unhealthy ones I’ve demolished from takeaways and pubs over the years. But this home-made burger is only 390 calories and will cost approx £1.36 per portion to send you into food heaven / porn – delete as appropriate.

Normally you associate satay with chicken, so having this with beef made for a welcome surprise. And it tasted even nicer because my wife made it :-). This is proof that you can still enjoy a burger on a diet, but if you’re going to have a treat I recommend you get top-quality beef mince from a butcher instead of from a supermarket.

Most low-fat burgers require you to bulk out the filling with onions and courgettes, and while they taste good, I love the fact that this amazing burger from ‘the Cubs’ requires zero pissing about. Just mix together the soy sauces, peanut butter and lime juice with the beef mince, form into a burger and pop them in a frying pan or griddle pan. From start to finish, you can be savouring this in less than 20 minutes. Why are you still here? Go, go, go!!!

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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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Gammon and Pineapple Stir Fry


Gammon in a stir fry? Wonders never cease

I had some gammon leftover after making campfire stew and was scratching my head as to what to do with it. After doing some digging online, I stumbled across Gammon and Pineapple Stir Fry on the Diabetes UK website.

I wouldn’t associate gammon with a stir-fry, or being suitable for people with diabetes, but at only 174 calories per serving, and 6.4g of fat, 8.3g of sugars and 1.80g of salt, this fits the brief for a quick and healthy meal that is suitable for all. As for the taste, I loved it, mainly because I’m OCD about food waste and we had all of the ingredients to hand. On the other hand my wife was non-plussed, which I guess means we’re not having it again ;-).

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Smoky Pancetta Cod


One pan, ready in 15 minutes

Smoky Pancetta Cod from Jamie Oliver might not be cheap, but it only uses 5 base ingredients and is one of the best midweek dinners I’ve made that can be ready in just 15 minutes. Seriously, when’s the last time you rustled up a meal as quick and as good as this, for less than 350 calories per portion?

I used prosciutto instead of pancetta based on what I had in my fridge, but you could also use smoked bacon or parma ham. Any white fish will also do, so just use whatever you can get your hands on. If you like the concept of cod being wrapped in something, check out roasted cod with parma ham and peppers which takes a bit longer to cook but is equally a brilliant evening meal.

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Prawn Foo Yung


This is why Chinese takeaways will never go out of business

“Can I have Prawn Foo Yung?” said no one, ever, when ordering from a Chinese takeaway. But this low-calorie version from the Hairy Dieters is one of the healthiest ‘fakeaways’ you can have at just 264 calories per serving. I can’t vouch for its authenticity, but nor can anyone else because no one chooses prawn foo yung, right?

I apologise if I’ve offended any “foo yungers” reading this. What is this recipe like and how did it find itself on my table? Well, it was Friday evening, there wasn’t a lot in my fridge and I was fancying something quick and easy to rustle up. I had some leftover cabbage after making home-made coleslaw to accompany Sticky Chicken earlier in the week, and as part of my ‘no food waste’ crusade I was determined to make it go further. I’ve usually got some eggs, carrots and prawns in the fridge and hey presto, possibly the dullest Chinese fakeaway was created in less than 20 minutes.

On the positive side, this takes less than 5 minutes to cook once you’ve done the required bit of prep work. It tastes pretty ok as prawn and eggs go, and you can have it on the table in a flash. An imperfectly perfect Friday night meal so you can stay on track with your diet and not resort to calling Just Eat.

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Grapefruit, Avocado and Bacon Salad


154 calories, just 5 base ingredients, ready in under 20 minutes

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.

If you love zingy salads like this, I’d whole-heartedly recommend quinoa, prawn and mango salad, also from the Hairy Dieters.

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Turkish Turkey Flatbreads


Turking the piss – ready in under 20 mins and less than £1 per portion (if serving 4)

Turkish Turkey Flatbreads from the Hairy Dieters is a quirky and deceptively filling snack / lunch. It’s a bit like a spicy Turkish slice of pizza, not that I’ve ever tried Turkish pizza before but hopefully you know what I mean! Even if you don’t, give this a go because it’s really scrumptious and ready in a flash.

Pine nuts are very expensive for what they are, so I don’t they are essential for this recipe. But if you’re wondering what to do with the rest, try making Baked Sea Bass with Peppers and Pine Nuts which is a gorgeous dinner. As for any leftover turkey mince, then Speedy Turkey Chilli or Turkey Lettuce Wraps are great options.

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Tuna Nicoise Wrap (surprise)


Who needs wraps anyway?

Even Ray Charles would be able to spot my deliberate mistake when making Tuna Nicoise Wrap from the Hairy Dieters – I left out the wrap and just had this as a salad. I know, what a rebel. Not because I was having a “I’m being good” day, I’m just not a fan of bread and didn’t feel up to messing about trying to cram the ingredients into a wrap – for me, they never hold together or look as neat and tidy as the cookbooks show.

But as a salad, I absolutely love this. It’s really tasty, the ingredients will stretch to two people as a light lunch, or you could add another tin of tuna and spring water and it would still be a lighter alternative to having a wrap. So, that’s a wrap.

If you like simple salads, check out tuna and butterbean salad, simple tuna and sweetcorn pasta salad or chicken caesar salad. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous or creative check out the salad section on this blog for some banging suggestions.

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Coconut Prawn Curry – prepped and cooked in under 20 mins!


Perfect for a quick, weeknight curry fix

Coconut Prawn Curry from the Hairy Dieters is a such a simple dish and perfect for a weeknight meal when you’re tired and just want something good to eat that’s quick to cook. From start to finish, you can be tucking into this in less than 20 minutes. Perfect.

The photo doesn’t do the flavours in this recipe justice, and despite using two teaspoons of cornflour the sauce was a little runny, so don’t be tempted to use more than the recommended 200ml of half-fat coconut milk. But all that matters is that it tastes great, and for just 254 calories it will satisfy your hunger cravings so that you don’t need to add any rice to go with it.

If you’re in need of a curry fix, check out the ‘Fakeaways’ section on this blog.

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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!”

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon – don’t forget the chives!


Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs

There’s something luxurious about having smoked salmon for breakfast or brunch, it’s super quick to prepare and won’t set you back £10 or more from a café if you make it at home. Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon from the Hairy Dieters recommends serving it with half an English muffin to keep the calories to 354 per portion. Personally, I can’t see the point and think the eggs and smoked salmon are sufficient on their own for less calories.

But one thing I don’t think should be optional is serving this meal with freshly snipped chives. I love them, even if I invariably end up wasting half the packet. While this recipe is good, my favourite remains Poached egg, smoked salmon and spinach – truly the breakfast of kings! Continue reading “Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon – don’t forget the chives!”

Pea and Prosciutto Pasta – forget unhealthy supermarket versions


Pea & prosicuitto pasta

My son Will loves pasta but supermarket varieties with sauce can come in at over 500 calories for just half a pack. So, I embarked on a mission to find healthier, yummier alternatives and Pea and Prosciutto Pasta from Justine Pattison has become his favourite.

The calorie count for this recipe is 329 per serving, however the addition of the butter and a splash of single cream still makes it feel sufficiently naughty and Will regards this as a proper treat. If you’re a big pasta fan, Justine’s book Without the Calories – pasta and rice, will be right up your street. You can also find more pasta dishes on this blog here.  Continue reading “Pea and Prosciutto Pasta – forget unhealthy supermarket versions”

Speedy Turkey Chilli – just 252 calories per serving!


Speedy turkey chilli

Aside from feeling obligated to eat it at Christmas, I never used to bother with turkey except for using the leftovers from the joint to make a pissed-up turkey curry on Boxing Day. But I’ve come to appreciate that this super-healthy meat (often containing just 2% fat) is a fantastic alternative to chicken and should be a regular fixture in my diet.

Speedy Turkey Chilli from the Hairy Dieters’ Make it Easy book is both speedy and easy to throw together, and just 252 calories per serving (without rice, I used a small portion here). This recipe only requires 300g of turkey mince as you get plenty of additional protein and fibre from the black beans and sweetcorn. Surprisingly, it doesn’t actually contain any chilli – instead you get the heat from the chipotle paste which I absolutely love!

If you’re wondering what to do with any remaining turkey mince, Turkey Lettuce Wraps and Turkey Burgers and Chips are brilliant options to stretch your budget further. Continue reading “Speedy Turkey Chilli – just 252 calories per serving!”

Turkey Lettuce Wraps – 158 calories per serving!


Turkey lettuce wraps

Turkey Lettuce Wraps from Justine Pattison reminds me of going to a Chinese restaurant with my parents as a kid. I loved spare ribs, prawn toast and seaweed but they took a back seat when I discovered mince meat wrapped in lettuce leaves – it was even yummier with the added advantage that it didn’t leave me with barbecue sauce smeared all over my chops, fingers and shirt.

As a replica dish, this recipe is superb and only 158 calories per serving. So quick, so easy and so scrumptious it has been one of my favourite lunches of lockdown. I can serve and enjoy it hot with my wife and son at the table where we can pick at the food and help ourselves. Enjoy. Continue reading “Turkey Lettuce Wraps – 158 calories per serving!”

Simple Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Salad


Simple Tuna pasta salad

I’m sure everyone reading will identify with this…there are some days when you just can’t be ARSED to make a healthy meal but still want to stay on track with your diet. It can be all too tempting to make a carb-loaded sandwich, or buy a calorific meal from a supermarket. Simple Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Salad from the Hairy Dieters was created for such occasions.

By definition it’s simple and quick to pull together, it’s filling yet still under 200 calories, and, well, that’s about it. Of course, part of the motivation for maintaining our diets is creating appetising, visually appealing recipes. But sometimes when willpower is severely lacking you’ve just got to stay on track, either with a bog-standard pasta salad or with a humble jacket potato. As for this salad, it tastes pretty good, but I would recommend bulking it out with some gem or romaine lettuce to stretch the servings to four. Continue reading “Simple Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Salad”

Chilli Lemon Tuna and Broccoli Spaghetti


Chilli lemon tuna

I’m actively trying to meat more fish – my wife Ann-Marie prefers it to meat, and there are obvious health benefits to varying our diets. The added bonus is that many fish-based dishes are quick to make and so perfect when you’re pushed for time. Chilli Lemon Tuna and Broccoli Spaghetti from the Hairy Dieters is one of our favourites – get all the equipment and ingredients out on your working top, and it can be ready in under 20 minutes.

Tuna steaks are relatively expensive, but frozen varieties as I highlighted in Seared Sesame Tuna are more affordable. But to reduce the costs further for this particular recipe, swap the tuna steaks for tuna flakes or (better still) salmon fillets and ditch the tenderstem broccoli for just a regular head of broccoli as I did. Continue reading “Chilli Lemon Tuna and Broccoli Spaghetti”

Seared Sesame Tuna with crunchy green veg


Seared Sesame Tuna

The key to successful dieting, apart from focus and willpower, is being able to make easy, tasty and healthy meals in a few minutes with only a handful of ingredients. Seared Sesame Tuna from Jamie Oliver fulfils this brief brilliantly and is lip-smackingly good to eat!

The tuna steaks literally only need to be cooked for 1½ minutes on either side, or longer if you don’t like seeing any pink bits. Similarly, you want the sugar snap peas and spring onions to have some crunch, so don’t cook them for longer than 2 minutes otherwise you’ll cremate them. Fresh tuna steaks are expensive, but frozen varieties (I got mine from Iceland in the above pic) are much cheaper and ideal for producing quick weeknight winners.

You’ll find this recipe, and others like it, in Jamie’s ‘5 ingredients’ book. Ironically, this recipe requires 8 ingredients but Jamie classes salt, olive oil and red wine vinegar as core base ingredients. Ok, I’ll agree on salt and cooking oil, but red wine vinegar….. hmm. If you want to save a few calories, be less frivolous with the sesame seeds. Continue reading “Seared Sesame Tuna with crunchy green veg”