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”

Beef Stroganoff – a great way to use up leftover meat from a Sunday roast


Beef stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff from the Hairy Dieters ticks so many boxes. Any meal with steak feels like a treat, you can have this on the table in under 20 minutes and for less than 300 calories per portion if you enjoy it on its own without rice.

Personally, if serving this between 3 people I don’t think you need to add a rice or mash accompaniment, but if serving between 4 you will need something else to bulk it out with – I’ve had it with some mashed carrots before which did the job. If you’re looking to save on costs (as I was in this instance), why not make this with leftover meat from a joint of beef after a Sunday dinner. It’s a great way to make your budget stretch further and will still taste the business. Continue reading “Beef Stroganoff – a great way to use up leftover meat from a Sunday roast”

Pan-fried Cod with Asian dressing – just 199 calories!


Pan fried cod and asian dressing

If you’re looking to introduce more fish into your diet, Pan-fried Cod with Asian Dressing from Justine Pattison is an excellent place to start. At only 199 calories per serving, it’s so healthy and this meal is a cinch to knock together.

The Thai dressing provides some welcome punch when poured over the fish and vegetables and this recipe is perfect for spring and summer midweek evenings, when you want to rustle something up in 10 minutes and then chill. The vege literally only needs 2 minutes in the pan as you want it crunchy, so don’t be tempted to over boil it. Continue reading “Pan-fried Cod with Asian dressing – just 199 calories!”

Boiled eggs with asparagus soldiers


Asparagus soldiers

As a self-confessed ‘bacon and egg man’, I scoffed at Justine Pattison’s Boiled Eggs with Asparagus Soldiers recipe for breakfast or brunch. But when my wife Ann-Marie, who had bought a load of asparagus in and then did nothing with it, said she was fancying this for a change I duly became the dutiful husband.

And….although it seemed slightly pretentious on my dining room table, there’s no denying this is an enjoyable meal (with or without toast), choose whatever time of day you have it. But personally, I prefer Poached Egg, Smoked Salmon and Spinach when I fancy a more luxurious treat. Continue reading “Boiled eggs with asparagus soldiers”

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”

Warm green bean and feta salad


Feta with peppers and green beans

Warm Green Bean and Feta Salad from Pinch of Nom might sound like a fairly run of the mill lunch, but don’t dismiss it because of its simplicity. This is a banging low-calorie budget meal, full of flavour with the added kick of the chilli flakes which takes just 10 minutes to make. It’s so yummy.

My only criticism is that the quantities are supposed to stretch to 4 people leaving a very small portion. You’re better off ‘doubling up’ and making this for 2 people instead. The calorie count would still only be 222 per serving. Continue reading “Warm green bean and feta salad”

Spinach, tomato and feta scrambled eggs


Ramsay eggs

I’ve recently fallen in love with Gordon Ramsay’s Spinach, Tomato and Feta Scrambled Eggs. It tastes unbelievably good, costs under a £1 per portion to make and can be ready in under 10 minutes, requiring just 4 base ingredients.

The ingredients in this recipe are a great combination, but do cook the tomatoes slowly so that they start to caramelise. The added bonus with this breakfast is that it comes in at only 239 calories and provides a great start to your day, with minimum fuss required in the kitchen. If you love eggs in the morning like me, check out Menemen (Turkish Eggs) from the Hairy Dieters and Scrambled Cajun Eggs with Spinach and Kale from Tom Kerridge. Continue reading “Spinach, tomato and feta scrambled eggs”

Scrambled Cajun eggs with spinach and kale – great with hot sauce!


Cajun eggs

If you like to (literally) kickstart your day with a bang, Scrambled Cajun Eggs with Spinach and Kale from Tom Kerridge offers a great spicy wake-up call. I’d never previously been a fan of kale having used it as an accompaniment for soups, but it works brilliantly with eggs and adding a dollop of hot sauce (optional) at the end takes this to a whole new level!

I’m not entirely sure what Tom means when referring to using a ‘light single cream alternative’. So I included some half-fat crème fraiche when making mine, though I’m not sure it needs it. Tom isn’t shy with using bold flavours in his books so I’m looking forward to working my way through his diet friendly recipes. Continue reading “Scrambled Cajun eggs with spinach and kale – great with hot sauce!”

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’”

Mushrooms on toast – pimped up Jamie Oliver style


Mushrooms on toast

No matter how much selfish British shoppers stockpile, they’ll never see off the humble mushroom. Old habits die hard, and for me I have to have a ‘hot’ meal for breakfast which has become more problematic recently due to the shortage of bacon, egg and sausages. Thankfully, Mushrooms on Toast from Jamie Oliver has come to my rescue as a comforting, vegetarian alternative.

The addition of the garlic, butter, thyme (I used dried herbs as I couldn’t get any thyme leaves) and balsamic vinegar perfectly pimps this modest meal up. Enjoy it with some decent bread (sadly I couldn’t get any) and it’s happy days. Incidentally, this recipe is tucked at the back of Jamie Oliver’s ‘Save with Jamie’, a book packed with lots of frugal culinary ideas (including a cracking vegetarian section) which have never been more relevant in present times. Continue reading “Mushrooms on toast – pimped up Jamie Oliver style”

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’”

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”

Prawn pasta salad


Prawwwwns

Quick pasta salad dishes are perfect for mid-week lunchboxes to take to work and are a healthier and cheaper alternative to caloric supermarket equivalents. This Prawn Pasta Salad recipe is tucked away towards the back of the Hairy Dieters’ second book and is one of my favourites.

It’s so simple to put together and you can have it ready in under 20 minutes. Do remember to use ‘light’ mayonnaise as using full fat versions will bump the calories up. Fancying something more up-market to show off to your work colleagues? Then Posh Prawn Cocktail is for you, my friends. Continue reading “Prawn pasta salad”

Crushed Berry Layered Yoghurt – perfect on a ‘5:2’ day


berry yoghurt

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”

Avocado on toast for under £1 per portion!


file-32

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.

This is a perfect breakfast or brunch dish which is very quick to make. Get yourself some good quality bread, sourdough is perfect, and tuck in. This is a real treat to eat for yourself, or better still, make it for someone you love.
Continue reading “Avocado on toast for under £1 per portion!”

Poached egg, smoked salmon and spinach – the breakfast of kings!


Smoked salmon and spinach

Poached egg, smoked salmon and spinach from the Hairy Dieters is truly the breakfast of kings! Whether you’re on a diet or not, this recipe is a proper treat and is super healthy at just over 200 calories.

Be generous with the nutmeg and black pepper, don’t overcook the spinach (it only needs about a minute in the pan) or your egg as the runny yolk into the salmon and spinach is pure heaven in your mouth.

Good quality smoked salmon can be expensive, but Sainsbury’s are currently selling 100g of Harbour Smokehouse Salmon for only £2 per pack. Fill your boots and make Posh Prawn Cocktail while you’re at it! Continue reading “Poached egg, smoked salmon and spinach – the breakfast of kings!”

Braised peas with lettuce and bacon


Braised peas

Braised peas with lettuce and bacon from Justine Pattison is one of my fall-back lunches when I’m pushed for time, bereft of inspiration and running low on ingredients. The combination of the smoked bacon, chicken stock, gem lettuce and peas is surprisingly tasty and can be knocked up in 10 minutes.

On its own, this recipe is only 239 calories per serving and Justine suggests you can serve it with some thin slices of French bread or ciabatta or some plain grilled chicken. I don’t think it needs it but it’s up to you. Continue reading “Braised peas with lettuce and bacon”

Chicken caesar salad (light) – hail Caesar!


caesar

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!”