Grilled mushrooms with scrambled eggs on toast


Useless fact: did you know there are only 18 calories per Portobello mushroom?

People love or hate mushrooms but I’m definitely in the former camp! Grilled Mushrooms with Scrambled Eggs on Toast in DK’s Cook Healthy & Quick book uses the Portobello variety, which are coated with chopped parsley and olive oil and then baked in the oven.

They are the perfect accompaniment to a slice of toasted wholemeal bread and some scrambled egg and chives. If you share my adulation of ‘shrooms, check out Mushrooms on Toast by Jamie Oliver which is equally simplistic to make.

Continue reading “Grilled mushrooms with scrambled eggs on toast”

Home-Made (smoky bacon) Baked Beans


I think I’ll stick to using regular cans of baked beans

Supermarket shopping during the pandemic has been challenging, particularly if you don’t feel comfortable stepping foot into stores. Getting hold of your favourite brands can also be problematic and my son Will has particularly missed his barbecue baked beans. I’ve tried to explain to him that some things are more important, but he’s a teenager ;-).

So, to avoid a household ‘crisis’ I decided to try making Home-Made Baked Beans from the Hairy Dieters. They suggest using dried haricot beans and soaking them overnight, or using 2 400g cans of cooked beans. I chose the latter because spending up to 2 hours to prep beans when I could just open a regular can, even in lockdown, seemed ridiculous. If you opt for using canned beans, in total it will take you about 40 minutes to make this.

Will’s verdict on my smoky bacon beans was soul destroying. “They don’t really taste of barbecue Dad”. “Thanks son”. But the cheeky youth had a point – they were a little bland. The following day I was more liberal with the paprika and black treacle and the leftovers did taste more authentic. But, for the time and effort devoted to make them, I think the ungrateful boy is just going to have to wait until things return to normal.

Continue reading “Home-Made (smoky bacon) Baked Beans”

Butternut Squash Pilaf – just 87p per serving


Just 87p per portion – you’re having a pilaf!

Butternut squash is a brilliant vegetable to have in your fridge – it keeps for ages and it’s really versatile. You can roast it for tray bakes, mash it to include as a filling when making fresh pasta or ‘squash’ bruschetta, blend it to make a tasty, buttery sauce or dice it and chuck it in a wok to include in curries.

Butternut Squash Pilaf from BBC Good Food came to my rescue recently when my fridge was bare. I’ve always got some ginger, garlic and rice knocking about and when I found some fruit and nut mix leftover from Christmas I was sorted. I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to buy these ingredients to make this especially, but it was an enjoyable vege curry that had a nice mix of sweet and savoury flavours, plus the heat from the harissa paste. And all this for just 87p – you’re having a pilaf!

If you’re a non-vegan or vegetarian and wondering what to do with any leftover squash, make Beef Kofta Curry – it’s delicious and my favourite recipe of May 2020.

Continue reading “Butternut Squash Pilaf – just 87p per serving”

Cauliflower, Paneer and Pea curry


Cauliflower, paneer and pea curry

It’s a long and not particularly interesting story, but I recently ended up with three cauliflowers in my fridge with little clue as to what to do with them. My initial get ‘out of jail’ idea was to use them to make a batch of cauliflower rice, but actually I can’t stand cauliflower rice and feel rage every time I try to make it. Cauliflower is supposed to have crunch, so when I stumbled across Cauliflower, Paneer and Pea Curry from BBC Good Food I was sold.

This turned out to be an excellent vege meal. Paneer is similar in texture to halloumi and is used in a lot of curries – both are really useful options to have in your fridge. The recipe states to use ‘rapeseed’ oil, but bog standard vegetable oil will do. You can serve this with rice (but not cauliflower rice, eh) or naan bread but don’t forget to account for the extra calories.

If you share my loathing of cauliflower rice and insist on using the humble cauli how it should be, check out ‘the best’ cauliflower & broccoli cheese. Continue reading “Cauliflower, Paneer and Pea curry”

Couscous with roasted roots, honey and goat’s cheese


Couscous with roasted roots

I previously believed that parsnips and carrots only belong with a Sunday roast. But after sampling Justine Pattison’s delightful Couscous with Roasted Roots, Honey and Goat’s Cheese salad that opinion has firmly been revised.

Drizzling olive oil and honey over the veg makes them taste divine, and you get extra flavour from the chicken or vegetable stock and the chilli flakes, plus a contrast in texture from the beetroot and goat’s cheese. This one-pot dish really takes you on a culinary journey and the end result is a colourful and filling plate of food that tastes superb for both vegetarians and obstinate meat eaters. Continue reading “Couscous with roasted roots, honey and goat’s cheese”

Warm Griddled Vegetables – delicious with halloumi


Warmed griddled vegetables

Warm Griddled Vegetables from the Hairy Dieters has made me a MFMC – ‘meat-free Monday converter’ – no, I doubt the acronym will catch on either. I have been trying to introduce more vegetable / vegan based dishes into my diet, at times under duress, and others with pleasure. This particular meal definitely falls into the latter category – it’s delicious!

If you think warm griddled vegetables sounds dull, think again. The chilli and olive oil dressing really bring them to life and adding halloumi on top makes everything taste even more divine. I love halloumi – the texture, the flavour, even the scraping sound it makes against my teeth when I’m eating it. I think I’m developing a halloumi fetish!

Anyway, I digress. The Hairy Dieters suggest drizzling some balsamic vinegar over the vege if you don’t like / can’t get halloumi which would work equally well. This is ideal for lunch or dinner, the portion size is huge! Continue reading “Warm Griddled Vegetables – delicious with halloumi”

The best cauliflower & broccoli cheese


Cauli broccoli cheese

The Best Cauliflower & Broccoli Cheese from Jamie Oliver, his words not mine, might actually be the best cauliflower and broccoli cheese that you can enjoy when watching your weight! Although I’ll concede, this isn’t a recipe I’ve made very often. But this really is a lovely dish, which is given some additional TLC with the crunchy almond breadcrumb topping (not essential if you want to cut down on calories, but recommended).

Jamie suggests this could be a side dish which can serve 8 people. Personally, I think it lends itself better to serving 4 and my wife and I devoured this for dinner and lunch the next day. If you can’t get your hands on fresh produce, don’t worry, as you can use frozen broccoli and cauliflower which are great alternatives to have as back-ups in your freezer when supermarket shelves are bare. Continue reading “The best cauliflower & broccoli cheese”

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”

Carrot, sweet potato and coriander soup


carrot and coriander soup

Having struggled to get a supermarket delivery due to the current COVID-19 challenges, I was very grateful to receive a mixed vegetable box from a local farm shop. Within it was a whopping 2kg of carrots and I was determined not to waste a single one of them. Step forward, Carrot, Coriander and Sweet Potato Soup from Justine Pattison.

One pan of this made 6 portions for only 108 calories per serving. It tasted lovely and is so cheap to make – perfect for our budgetary constraints right now. I bet you’re desperate to know what I used the remaining carrots for? No? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway. Pan Haggerty Lite, Lean Lamb Hot Pot, a lighter Spaghetti Bolognese by the Hairy Dieters and Prawn Pasta Salad. Continue reading “Carrot, sweet potato and coriander soup”

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”

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!”

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”

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!”

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”

Black-eyed peas and greens from the US!


Spring greens

Introducing more vegetarian based dishes is an excellent way to add balance to your diet and reduce your calorie intake. I’d happily eat meat seven days a week and the thought of eating more ‘greens’ seemed initially alien to me. However, there are lots of excellent vegetarian and vegan meals so I’d urge even the most passionate meat eaters to give them a try.

Black-eyes peas and greens from the Hairy Dieters was a good starting point for me. I love all types of beans, and pulses are a nutritious and cheap way to bulk out meals and fill you up. This dish apparently originates from the southern regions of the United States, so I’d be interested if any American readers can vouch for its authenticity.

I was amazed by how much I could eat for only 207 calories per portion, and while there are more imaginative vege-based dishes out there, as a week-night meal this fulfilled the brief perfectly. The Hairy Dieters recommend accompanying this meal with some corn bread – you’ll find the recipe in their ‘Fast Food’ book. Continue reading “Black-eyed peas and greens from the US!”

Chicken and broad bean pilaf


Broad beans

Chicken and broad bean pilaf from the Hairy Dieters contains a wonderful mix of flavours – chicken, vegetables, rice, spices and herbs which combine together to form a really satisfying dish for just 310 calories. And despite the long list of ingredients it’s very cheap and simple to make in just one pan.

This meal can be rustled up in under half an hour but definitely plan ahead by getting the chicken thighs marinating and ‘double-podding’ the broad beans, which can be a labour of love. If you’re vegetarian, or planning to have a ‘meat-free Monday’, you can leave out the chicken and still enjoy a brilliant recipe for only 218 calories. Continue reading “Chicken and broad bean pilaf”

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!”

Menemen – Turkish eggs delight for 61p per portion!


Turkish eggs

The biggest compliment I can pay to ‘Menemen’ is that it has become my ‘go to’ breakfast, replacing bacon, sausage and eggs, for an incredible 61p per portion. This tasty Turkish recipe from the Hairy Dieters’ fourth book is very easy to make – it’s just a case of lobbing everything into one pan and doing a bit of stirring. The flavours are brilliant, and if you like a bit of a kick to your mornings you can be generous with the chilli powder!

Leave out the feta if you’re seeking a vegetarian version (or can’t be arsed buying cheese), or if you’re being strict on your calorie count and shopping budget. To save time,  prep the onions and peppers the night before and place them in an air-tight container and get all of your ingredients out ready before you start.

If you’re wondering what to do with the 200g of chopped tomatoes leftover why not try  making Chorizo with Butter Beans for a healthy, low-cal lunch? Continue reading “Menemen – Turkish eggs delight for 61p per portion!”