After falling off the wagon and continually eating my weight in sweet foods, I knew something had to give. I need sweet treats like flowers need the sun. Don’t judge. I was trying to think of a dessert I could make with things I have in the cupboards that was not only low in calories but would feel naughty. Let’s be honest, a good pudding is a naughty pudding. My daughter came up to me asking for a biscuit. The “biscuits” we give her are the Heinz Baby Biscotti. The pack I grabbed today was chocolate, which she doesn’t have often. She offered me a bite, and to my surprise it was really good and turned quite creamy whilst eating. I thought they would make a great pie base. Mainly because they taste good but also because 3 biscottis are only 63 calories.
Queue lightbulb above my head. Cheesecake! I had exactly what I needed for a skinny no bake version for under 200 calories. My version uses light cream cheese and Greek yogurt to create a creamy cheesecake. Toss in a few other cupboard staples with the biscotti and you’ve got yourself a healthier cheesecake! Rather than making a standard size cheesecake and risk eating too much, because I would, I made individual ones. I used good sized ramekins which yield a big portion. Benefits of being low calorie, you can have a bigger portion. Thank you Naomi, credit goes to you for asking for a biscuit.
One of my favourite pies is steak and ale. Unfortunately, its really not healthy eating friendly. A pub version of steak and ale pie with mash and peas can have you eating around 1,000 calories. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not waste my calories on a pie! I was having a flick through my recipe books and got an idea for my own beef pie from the Hairy Bikers. They use pizza base mix instead of pastry – genius! I wasn’t too keen on their ingredients, so I switched it up for my own version of a skinny beef pie. I know, shocker isn’t it?
I already had some Quorn mince in the freezer, so I tossed out the beef from this beef pie. By all means, use extra lean beef mince or even turkey mince if you like. I also didn’t want to use any sort of potato as the pizza base was going to make this quite a carby meal. So I swapped the ale for a flavourful thick beef stock and potatoes for cannellini beans. Each pie only clocks in at 318 calories and a massive 15g of protein. This can make up for the fact that this is a bit high in carbs. Every now and then you can allow an indulgent carby meal! Before attempting to make this dish I should let you know this is based off of 6 individual pies and you will need individual pie dishes. This is a time consuming dish due to making up the pizza base dough, so this may be best kept as a weekend meal or on a day where you have a free afternoon. Likewise, the pie filling can be made up in advance and put in the fridge.
Usually when I think up a new recipe it’s because I’ve craved something I shouldn’t really be eating. I then mess around with ingredients and cooking methods to come up with a healthier version. This time, my husband came to me with a request. He mentioned that his boss at work made a really good beef stew and he wanted Ian to try it. I had a look at the recipe and I have to admit, it sounded amazing. The original recipe came in at around 550 calories, so not too bad considering. I could have just made it straight from the recipe I was given, but there were a few bits I already knew I wouldn’t be using. The original stew called for loads of black olives and a tin of sardines. I love black olives, but I am the only person within a 10 mile radius of my house that does. I knew I needed to scrap these from the dish. The hubs and I are also not fans of sardines. Okay I say we aren’t fans, but to be honest we never tried them. I just couldn’t wrap my head around fish in beef stew, so out these went. The recipe also called for 1kg of beef – a whole kilo! That is a lot of beef to me, even for 6 servings.
So queue me mixing it up a bit and making this my own. I knocked the beef down to 400g and added in sweet potato, butter beans and spinach. I’ll touch on the hazelnut picada briefly here. I had to Google what picada was because this was foreign territory for me. Now I was expecting some time of sauce after reading Wikipedia. This baffled me a little considering this was going with stew. This picada is actually more like a crunchy topping and really adds a whole other dimension to the dish. I wish I could take credit for thinking this up on my own, but I can’t. I did change it slightly though. Hello decadent beef stew for under 450 calories! Now mind, this is a lengthy dish. I would suggest making this on the weekend. It also is a bit fancy for me, but sometimes you need to eat something out of your comfort zone to change things up a bit.
You can have pizza that isn’t dinner? Oh yes you can! The first time I tried fruit pizza was when I was a kid and it was a very sweet, high calorie and decadent dessert. The base was made from pre-made sugar cookie dough, topped with full fat cream cheese, covered in fruits and sprinkled with sugar. Absolutely delicious but oh my days not good for the waist line. I decided to adapt this treat and make it my own after trying to think up a dish for a pot luck dinner party we were hosting. I was making a main but it was more so to use up ingredients in the fridge. I wanted something that I know my friends hadn’t had before and would blow their socks off. It did. At one point I thought two of my friends were going to batter each other over who was having it to themselves!
My indulgent fruit pizza has a chocolate oat base and a Greek yogurt and sweet cheese frosting. Each slice is under 350 calories and feels so much naughtier than it is. You can even make your inner child happy by eating this for breakfast. This recipe is easily adaptable to suit your preferences as well. You can use any of your favourite fresh or tinned fruits, however if using tinned fruit ensure that they are drained and dried. I love deep dish pizza, so I made my base deep dish. If you prefer thin and crispy, simply cut down the base ingredients or make a bigger sized base – hey bigger slices! I kept the frosting slightly runny so it could double as a sauce for those who wanted extra, however cut back on the yogurt if you want it nice and thick.
Asian dishes are still very new to me and common dishes to you are probably super special for me. I can count the different Asian dishes I have had on one hand. I was having a good scroll through the old interwebs to come up with a different dish to just a curry. Lentils, or dal caught my eye. Before searching further, I asked one of my close colleagues, who happens to be Asian, what lentils were like. My only experience with lentils was from The Young Ones with Neil’s failed attempts at cooking them. I genuinely expected to look at my husband in the process of cooking and say, “but I just looked at them and they blew up!” My colleague told me they were creamy and absorbed whatever flavours you added to them at the end. I went away and did some research and decided on tarka dal.
If you’re looking for an authentic tarka dal, you better jog on. I don’t do authentic and frankly, I’d rather leave that to the more skilled cooks of where this dish originates. Last thing I want to do is offend people calling this authentic and its anything but! Instead, this is my take on the dish which came out pretty dang good! I sent a photo of it to my colleague who gave it his seal of approval, so I can’t be too far off. My recipe for tarka dal is under 400 calories and has a hefty 10g of protein per serving. Low carb conscious people be advised, this is in the higher end of the spectrum. Do not fear, as with anything I cook, it is full of good complex carbs. This will yield you a family sized pot of dal which can either be enjoyed that night or pop it in the freezer and enjoy later on! If you do plan to freeze a portion or two, just remember to stir the tarka into the dal before you freeze it.
Tater tots where a common side dish growing up in America. Imagine it as the child equivalent of mush peas with fish and chips. I would normally have these in school with a side of ketchup for dipping. Classically, these are potato based and fried so that you have a crunchy outside and soft inside. Not like a chip mind you, as they are cylindrical and I suppose a bit like a hash brown. As you can imagine, not waist line friendly. Definitely not the worst offender in the world and can be had in their own right as an occasional treat. I got a random craving for them yesterday afternoon and I know from past experience, they aren’t easy to come by in the UK. It got me thinking if I could come up with a healthier version that I could make at home.
The first thing that came to mind was cauliflower. I swear I’m not obsessed with this vegetable, it’s simply a fantastic low carb substitute such as tortillas or a pizza base. I had a look at some basic homemade tot recipes and got to work on creating my own low calorie and low carb version. My take uses cauliflower, bread crumbs and cheese to create these skinny tots. Each serving, which is about 5 tots, comes in at only 67 calories! Tack on a few more if you’re using a dip, but to be honest I ate a few straight from the oven and they were divine. A batch will yield around 30 tots, depending on how big you make them. This recipe is quite time consuming and forming the tots can be a little tricky, but it is hands on fun and well worth the time spent.
Who doesn’t love pizza? If you don’t love pizza then I want to give you a sympathetic hug. I know for a lot of people, pizza is one of the foods they would put up on a list of something they could eat and calories not count. I can completely agree with this. Pizza is doughy, cheesy and packed full of flavour. Unfortunately, it’s also packed full of grease, calories and carbs galore. As a very occasional treat, there is no problem with having a few slices. However, if you’re like me, you could happily eat pizza every week. Doing this with your basic pizza from the takeaway, freezer or supermarket will quickly pack on the pounds. How dare you stab us in the back, you delicious pie.
There are loads of cauliflower pizza base recipes floating around. It is a great replacement to pizza dough and with the right flavours, you can hardly notice. The catch is, it tastes like cauliflower, duh. If you don’t like cauliflower I would be careful about trying this. Even though it doesn’t taste like you’re eating a boiled cauliflower floret, the taste does still come through. Making this pizza completely from scratch is a little time consuming, but I found the time flew by as I really enjoyed making it. There is something liberating about building the base of a meal on your own. Ha, base, do you see what I did there? Any, bad puns aside, this cauliflower chicken pizza comes in at 388 calories per serving. How many servings I hear you ask? 2 servings per pizza. You read that right, 388 calories for half a pizza! Yeah okay, it is quite a bit of food, but I promise you wont feel gobbed and greasy as you would if you ate half of a regular pizza. Also, the carb content in this is much lower than its doughy cousin and is all complex. Come here good carbs, get in my belly.
Chili can be a bit of a naughty dish sometimes. Order this in a restaurant and you’re looking at a calorie overload from cheese, sour cream and crisps to dip in. The other half and I really love chili so ages back I changed up my recipe to be super healthy, tasty and healthy. I swapped beef mince for turkey mince, kidney beans for chickpeas and packed full of veggies. To be honest with you, I prefer the healthier version to the traditional version! Fiver says I can convert you as well.
I saw a recipe advertised by MyFitnessPal for chili cheese courgette boats. The idea really intrigued me and I wanted to test it out. I read through their ingredients and groaned a bit. I know what I like and decided I would stick to that. The only things I have taken on board from their recipe is the courgette boats and I decided to split the kidney beans and chickpeas. Call me big headed, but I couldn’t give up my chili recipe for another one. My take on this recipe clocks in under 400 calories and that includes some cheeky salted tortilla crisps crumbled on the top. It is a little carb heavy, but its all complex carbs (bar the tortilla crisps). If you’re at all worried, just be easy on the carbs that day and you’ll be fine – balance! By all means, ditch the tortilla crisps to bring down the calories and carbs even lower. This is also a protein power house, so it will keep you full for the rest of the evening.
I did get caught up in dancing and singing while I was cooking, so I forgot photos. I will update this recipe with photos the next time I make it.
A few days ago I saw a post on Instagram from @hayleys.world where she made a recipe for a Slimming World friendly Spicy Sausage Pasta. I’m still not 100% comfortable with Slimming World recipes as, from my knowledge, they aren’t calorie controlled and more based on syns. I don’t even know how syns are calculated! Her recipe looked amazing and made me really want to try it. I’m still in the early stages of my weight loss management and even though I don’t actively calorie count, I am still very aware of roughly how many I’m having a day. So, the good ole dusty wheels up in my noggin starting twirling on how to make this a low calorie meal. Not just low calorie either, but healthy and using good carbs. Lets face it, pasta dishes can be frightening in their own right because a lot of people see pasta as a dangerous high carb food. Indeed, it is high carb, however by making an educated swap you can lower the calories and make the carbs complex.
From the inspiration by Hayley, I came up with my Spicy Sausage Pasta bake. Each portion of this recipe comes in under 400 calories and a whopping 22g of protein. The fat content is low as well since there is no added fats (such as oils or butter) and is jam packed full of veggies. Now mind, being pasta, it does have 53g of carbs per serving. Before you freak out and close the browser, keep the following in mind. This recipe calls for wholewheat fusilli which instantly turns the carbs in the pasta from bad to good. Any wholewheat pasta will do, but I chose fusilli as it has a lower calorie count than your typical pasta bake staple, penne. You can check out my vlog about good carbs vs bad carbs and why it is good to eat them. This is one meal that feels extremely naughty but is actually good for you. This can be adapted to fit in with different weight plans such as Cambridge, Weight Watchers and Slimming World. Check the ingredients and quantities and adjust them accordingly to work best for you.
I would like to thank one of my followers, @maplepancake14 , for my first recipe request! I have posted homemade banana ice cream on Instagram a few times as part of my food diary. I originally got the idea from a lovely girl I follow called @madsgetsfit . She posts nearly daily her banana “nice” cream which she has stated uses frozen banana and milk which is blended until an ice cream like consistency is achieved. She always makes it look so nice with loads of toppings! I haven’t quite ventured this far as I typically have my ice cream late at night and just want to eat it and go to bed.
I gave the banana ice cream a go and it is amazing! Definitely feels like a naughty treat even though its practically just fruit. I couldn’t help but think that something was missing. Okay yes I know, toppings, but something other than that. After having a good think, I adapted the basic banana ice cream recipe to come up with something a little creamier and incorporate frozen fruit pieces. Where my recipe differs is the use of Greek yogurt. This makes the ice cream creamy and adds a slight tang. I also added strawberries to the mix to create one of my favourite flavour combinations. You can’t go wrong with a bit of strawberry and banana! My recipe makes a LOT of ice cream and each serving comes in at under 100 calories. Yep, ice cream for under 100 calories. Mind you, this is a high carb dessert at 21.2g. Hold on don’t go running for the hills, these are good carbs!
Raise your hand if you love muffins! Keep your hand up if you hate how bad they can be for you! Seriously, these things can be lethal for your diet if you aren’t careful. For instance, Starbucks Blueberry Muffin comes in at 350 calories, which isn’t too bad, but also packs in 29g of sugar! Ouch. It’s easy to just look at caloric content of food and forget to take notice of sugars. Granted, in some foods sugars are naturally occurring and aren’t as bad. Still though, we have to be careful to keep the sugar intake in check whether it is natural or not. Now don’t feel like I am picking on poor Starbucks here, you know I love them. I only used them as an example as I really had to channel my self control over a blueberry muffin the last time I was in store grabbing a latte.
Since then I have been craving blueberry muffins. I tweaked my trusted basic muffin recipe to cut back on the calories and sugar. Okay, there is a catch in that these aren’t the massive muffins you get from most high street bakers. However, they are moist and delicious. The fresh blueberries add a lovely tang and sweetness, not to mention gorgeous colour! These can be eaten as a dessert or a breakfast with a dollop of Greek yogurt. I mean, I consider muffins as more of a cake but it has fruit so treat yourself! These bad boys clock in at only 127 calories and 3.3g of sugar. Go on, get your mixing bowl out and get baking!