Eating tips

Breakfast recipes



Traditional porridge

Wholegrain foods (like porridge) are low in calories and can help you to stay a healthy weight! They help you feel fuller for longer, and you’ll be less likely to over-eat during the day. If you haven’t tried porridge in years, try it again using this tasty recipe.

Ingredients (serves one):

  • ½ cup (or ¼ mug) of dry porridge oats
  • 1 cup (or ½ mug) of low-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar or honey, or fruit to sweeten
  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds

Method:

Put everything into a saucepan (non-stick if possible) and gradually bring to the boil. Take care that it does not boil over the edge of the saucepan. Once it has come to the boil, turn the heat down. Let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how tender you like your oats. Stir it occasionally. If it gets too thick for you, just add an extra drop of milk. If you want to microwave the porridge, just follow the instructions on the pack and add the sunflower seeds at the end.

Healthy variations

Add:

  • Banana and cinnamon
  • Stewed fruit such as apples or summer berries
  • Dried fruit such as dates, apricots or raisins
  • Your favourite nuts, for example hazelnuts or almonds

Continental-style breakfast

You can make this satisfying and healthy breakfast easily but it will keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

Ingredients (serves two):

  • 2 x 150ml glasses of unsweetened or freshly squeezed fruit juice
  • 4 slices wholegrain bread
  • Jam or marmalade
  • 1 cup (or ½ a mug) of natural yoghurt
  • 2 cups (or 1 mug) of muesli
  • Some washed grapes and pieces of melon

Method:

Mix and match from the above to create a healthy and satisfying breakfast. Try some jam on wholegrain bread, yoghurt and muesli, your favourite fruit juice and some fresh fruit pieces.


Banana oaty smoothie

This filling smoothie will keep you going all morning as well as giving you a healthy start to the day. It’s perfect for trying to reach your healthy weight. If you are short on time in the mornings, make this smoothie the night before and store it in the fridge.

Ingredients (serves one):

  • 150mls low-fat milk
  • 1 banana
  • 3 tablespoons oats
  • Honey (optional)

Method:

Put all the ingredients into a blender and whiz for about 30 seconds. Pour into a glass and enjoy!


Scrambled eggs on toast

Scrambled eggs are an old breakfast favourite that everyone enjoys. Turn this dish into a truly healthy breakfast by serving it with wholegrain bread and tomatoes.

Ingredients (serves two):

  • 3 eggs
  • Olive oil
  • Black pepper
  • 4 dessertspoons low-fat milk
  • 4 slices wholemeal bread
  • 2 tomatoes

Method:

Wash and halve the tomatoes. Place them on some tinfoil under the grill. Break the eggs into a shallow bowl and beat well with a fork. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the low-fat milk and pepper. Add the beaten eggs. Stir them over a moderate heat until the mixture is thick and creamy (Do not cook for too long or it will curdle).

Serve on hot toast, with the grilled tomatoes on the side.


Weekend cooked breakfast

Enjoy a cooked breakfast from time to time, without feeling guilty! Just watch your portion sizes and remember to use as little fat as possible in cooking.

Ingredients (serves two):

  • 2 tomatoes
  • 6 mushrooms
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • Small tin of baked beans (optional)
  • 4 slices wholemeal bread
  • Low-fat milk to drink

Method:

Wash and halve 2 tomatoes. Wash 6 mushrooms and remove their stalks. Place the tomatoes and the mushrooms on some tinfoil under the grill, and place the bacon on the grill. Grill for 5-10 minutes, or until cooked, turning occasionally.

Empty the tin of beans into a microwave-safe dish and heat in the microwave. Or cook them in a saucepan on the hob. Serve the breakfast on warmed plates with 2 slices of wholemeal toast and a glass of low-fat milk.

Lunch recipes



Red pepper and chickpea soup

This soup is very easy to make and tastes delicious. It is quite filling as it contains chickpeas - a great source of protein - but is still low in fat.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 1 Spanish onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 red peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1½ pints vegetable stock
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion to the oil and fry gently for 5 minutes. The pan should be hot enough to let the onion soften, but not so hot that the onion starts to go brown.

Add the chopped red pepper and fry for 3 minutes.

Then add the chopped/crushed clove of garlic and as much red chilli as you like. Leave the seeds out unless you like things very hot! Fry for 2 minutes.

Add the coriander, turmeric and cumin, and fry for 1 minute.

Then drain the tin of chickpeas and add the chickpeas to the soup along with the vegetable stock. Bring it all to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Liquidise the soup using a handheld blender or normal liquidiser.

Squeeze the lime and add the juice to the soup. Taste the soup to see if it needs any salt or pepper.

Serve with pita bread that has been warmed in the toaster.


Tuna pasta salad

You might not assume it, but pasta is a great salad ingredient, even when it’s cold. Pasta salads are perfect as a tasty, low-fat work lunch because they can be prepared the night before and brought to work in a plastic container the next day.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 225g of short pasta shapes (wholewheat pasta is even better)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 peppers, 1 red and 1 green
  • 225g mushrooms
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 large can of tuna
  • Black pepper and lemon juice to taste

Method:

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until it’s cooked through but still firm. Drain it and rinse it in cold water.

Prepare the vegetables by washing and slicing them into small pieces.

Soften the vegetables in a pan with a little olive oil.

Drain the tuna from the can and add to the pan along with the pasta.

Cool and spoon into a plastic container that you can bring with you to lunch.


Beef and horseradish sandwich

There is huge scope for variety with lunchtime sandwiches. There are endless combinations of lean meats and salad vegetables that can be put together in wholegrain breads to create a delicious, nutritious lunch.

Ingredients (serves one):

  • 2 slices of wholegrain or granary bread
  • 2 slices of lean, cooked beef
  • Some onion, sliced thinly
  • Some iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • Horseradish sauce

Method:

Make up a tasty beef and onion sandwich using a dollop of horseradish sauce in place of butter. Add raw onions and iceberg lettuce to the sandwich for extra bite. Enjoy this sandwich with a low-fat yoghurt and a piece of fruit. A truly satisfying, balanced and healthy lunch.


Green chicken salad

Like most green salads, this one is great when watching your weight. And it’s packed with nutrition too. But this salad is slightly unusual as it doesn’t have any lettuce. Give it a go and see how great it tastes!

Ingredients (serves 1-2):

  • 1 breast of chicken, grilled and sliced (or use any leftover chicken you might have from a roast)
  • 1/3 of a head of broccoli (steamed if desired)
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 2 spring onions/scallions
  • 1 green apple (preferably Granny Smith’s)
  • 1 teaspoon mixed fresh thyme and rosemary, well chopped (optional)
  • French dressing

Method:

Get a large salad bowl and add the chopped chicken.

Break the broccoli into bite-size florets and add to the bowl with the sliced celery, chopped apple and finely sliced spring onions/scallions.

Sprinkle over the fresh herbs and pour over any French salad dressing. You can also top this salad with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or pine nuts for extra crunch.


French bread pizza

Most of us love our pizza, and it can be a healthy meal choice. When buying pizzas, go for those with thinner bases and vegetable toppings more often. These are normally lower in fat. And watch your portion size. Better still, make your own pizzas! A tangy salad of chopped tomato, onion and fresh basil is perfect with this.

Ingredients (serves two):

  • 1 wholemeal baguette, cut in half
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 dessertspoons of tinned sweetcorn
  • 2 dessertspoons of tomato puree
  • 2oz/50g grated low-fat cheese

Method:

Preheat the grill. Spread the tomato puree over the cut surfaces of the baguette.

Top with slices of tomato and sweetcorn and season with black pepper.

Sprinkle the cheese on top of this.

Grill for about 2 minutes until the cheese has melted and is beginning to bubble.

Healthy alternatives

Choose any number of your favourite vegetables instead of tomato and sweetcorn. For example, mushrooms, peppers, pineapple, courgette, broccoli, aubergine, onion all work well.

Dinner recipes



Pasta with olive oil, garlic and chilli

This simple dish is tasty but light. It’s perfect for a quick and easy evening meal. It’s ideal with a fresh side salad.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 225g (8oz) fresh or dried pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • Sprig of fresh parsley
  • Ground black pepper and salt to taste

Method:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a little salt and slowly add the pasta to the water. Stir occasionally to stop the pasta from sticking. Follow the instructions on the pasta packet for cooking time, then strain and pour into a serving bowl. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and add the garlic, chilli and black pepper. Cook at moderately high heat for about two minutes to get the flavours into the oil.

Mix into the pasta, add a little salt and pepper if you like. Put the parsley on top and serve immediately.


Garlic chicken with parmesan

This is a tasty way to marinate chicken breasts. A low-fat hard cheese would work well instead of Parmesan if you wanted to reduce the calorie content further. Best served with plenty of lightly steamed vegetables.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 boneless chicken breast fillets
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup of low-fat milk
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 55g (2oz) fresh Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Remove the skin from the chicken and arrange the fillets in a shallow dish.

Add the garlic, salt and pepper to the low-fat milk and pour over the chicken. Cover the dish with cling film and store it in the fridge for at least four hours. Turn the fillets over at least once after two hours.

Once the chicken is marinated, pre-heat the oven to 220ºC.

Mix up the parsley, Parmesan and a little salt and pepper on a plate. Dab the chicken fillets onto a piece of absorbent kitchen paper and place in the bottom of a shallow, lightly greased oven-proof dish. It is not necessary to remove the garlic pieces. Brush the fillets lightly with olive oil. Cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture and bake them for 30 minutes until they are golden brown. It may be necessary to reduce the heat about halfway through. Serve immediately.


Traditional shepherd’s pie

An old family favourite, shepherd’s pie makes a hearty, healthy meal. When you make some, why not cut it up into individual pieces to store in your freezer? To reduce calories with this one, use less meat and more vegetables.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 lb (500 g) lean minced beef – replacing some meat with vegetables is even better
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 carrot
  • 200g frozen peas
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 4 large potatoes
  • Knob of polyunsaturated margarine
  • Pepper

Method:

Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks. Put them in a pot and cover them with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are well cooked.

Chop the carrots and cook them in a small amount of water with the lid off.

Put the mince into a large saucepan. Gently fry the mince until it is completely brown and almost all of the water has evaporated (this can take about 10 minutes and you need to keep stirring to stop it from sticking).

Add the chopped onions and cook them until they start to go clear.

Add the flour to the mince and mix it well. Barely cover the mince with boiling water from a kettle and add the beef stock cube. Stir the mince until the stock cube has dissolved then turn down the heat and let it cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring it from time to time.

Add the cooked carrots and 4 tablespoons of the water the carrots were cooked in.

Add the frozen peas and transfer the mince mixture to a large oven proof dish.

Drain and mash the potatoes, adding a little margarine and some pepper. Top the mince with the mashed potato and put the pie in the oven for 20 minutes. When it is cooked, cut into portions and serve.


Grilled darne of salmon with broccoli and baby potatoes

Salmon is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. This meal is tasty, good for you and for your weight (because it has no sauce).

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 salmon steaks
  • 1 large head broccoli
  • 12-16 baby potatoes
  • Some lemon juice
  • Black pepper

Method:

Put on 2 saucepans of water to boil (or set up the steamer if you have one).

Wash the potatoes and broccoli. When the water is boiling, put them on to cook (potatoes in one saucepan and broccoli in the other).

Pre-heat the grill for 10 minutes on a medium heat, and line the grill pan with tinfoil. Place the salmon under the grill for 3-4 minutes each side.

When cooked, serve the salmon on warmed plates with the broccoli and baby potatoes. Squeeze some lemon juice and sprinkle some black pepper over the salmon to taste.


Vegetable stir-fry with cashew nuts

This dish is light and packed full of nutritious veggies.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • 100g (4oz) broccoli florets
  • 175g (6oz) baby sweetcorn, halved
  • 2 courgettes, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light vegetable stock
  • 5cm (2in) piece fresh root ginger, grated with juice squeezed out
  • 50g (2oz) cashew nuts, lightly toasted

Method:

Heat the oil in a wok. Fry the onion and garlic for 3 minutes.

Add the peppers and fry for 3 more minutes.

Add the broccoli florets, sweetcorn and courgettes and continue to fry for a further 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, light stock and ginger juice.

Using a wooden spoon, make a space in the centre of the stir fried vegetables so that the base of the wok is visible. Pour in the sauce and bring to the boil, stirring all the time until it starts to thicken.

Toss the vegetables to coat them with the sauce.

Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the cashew nuts.

Fruity light bites



Strawberry smoothies

This healthy dessert drink takes only a few minutes to make. It’s also a tasty way of getting one of your daily fruit requirements. For a thicker smoothie, use less milk.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 225g (8oz) fresh strawberries
  • 140ml (5fl oz) low-fat milk
  • 140ml (5fl oz) low-fat yoghurt (plain or strawberry)

Method:

Wash the strawberries. Slice them in half. Put them into the blender.

Pour in the low-fat milk and yoghurt, and mix until smooth.

Serve immediately in two chilled glasses.


Summer berries with yoghurt

This is a simple but highly nutritious little dish. It works well as either a snack or a healthy dessert.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • ½ cup of berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.)
  • ½ cup of low-fat yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • Fresh mint leaves (optional)

Method:

Place the berries into a dessert bowl. Spoon out the yoghurt over the berries. If serving as a dessert, impress your friends by adding a drizzle of honey and a sprig of fresh mint to the yoghurt.


Fresh fruit salad

This is an old family favourite, and you can play around with the recipe to include any fruits you may have. As well as being the perfect light dessert, fresh fruit salad makes a really refreshing start to the day.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 12 grapes, sliced in half with any seeds removed
  • 1 small can of mandarin oranges, drained (but keep the juice)
  • 1 plum, cut into wedges
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 lime

Method:

Prepare and mix all the fruit in a bowl.

Fill ¼ cup with the mandarin orange juice, squeeze the juice of the lime into the cup and stir in the sugar. Pour this over the fruit.

Refrigerate for one hour or until chilled.

Serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt. Sprinkle some pumpkin seeds over the yoghurt to get even more goodness into this dessert.

Tips for cooking your own meals

Cooking your own meals is a great way to reach your healthy weight. It gives you the chance to use fresh ingredients and to control how much fat you use in cooking. Out of habit, many of us cook using more fat than we really need. Or we use the less healthy types of fat in cooking. Refresh your memory as to how best to cook for health:

Choosing which fat to cook with

When you use fats in cooking, try to choose vegetable oils like olive, rapeseed or sunflower oil instead of animal fats like butter or lard. Use margarine instead of butter when you are baking

Choosing which way to cook

Baking

As well as breads and cakes, we can bake poultry, fish, lean meat and some vegetables like potatoes. Baking means that you are cooking the food in the dry, hot air of the oven so there is normally no need for you to add any fat. But when you are cooking meats in this way, you may want to brush a small bit of vegetable oil over them to keep them from drying out.

Grilling

Grilling works best with fairly thin pieces of meat, fish or vegetables. Just set them on a grill rack and expose them directly to the heat. Again, this is a very healthy way to cook because there is no need to add any fat to the foods. Better still, grilling allows fat to drip out of some foods and into a collecting tray underneath.

Poaching

Poaching means gently simmering food in a liquid until it is cooked through and tender. We are probably most familiar with poaching eggs in simmering water. Cooking eggs like this is ideal. You don’t need any added fat but your finished product is very like a soft fried egg.

Roasting

Roasting is like baking, but you normally do it at higher temperatures and you do need some oil for the meat or vegetables that you are roasting. Use a basting brush to add a little oil, and choose a vegetable oil, like olive, rapeseed or sunflower oil, rather than lard or butter. When roasting meat, you could place the meat on a rack above the roasting tin so that the fat has a chance to drip out.

Sautéing

Sautéing is a way of cooking thin pieces of food in a little fat until they are tender, such as sautéed onions. If you have a good-quality non-stick pan, you should be able to sauté without using any fat. If you do use fat, try to use the healthier vegetable oils, like olive, rapeseed or sunflower oil, instead of lard or butter. You could also use a cooking spray to sauté. And if more oil needs to be added, try a drop of water instead.

Steaming

This is a really healthy way of cooking. Food (like vegetables or fish) cooks in a perforated basket above simmering hot water. It is healthier to steam vegetables that to boil them as they cannot lose any of their nutrients to the water during steaming. It is also quicker. Steamed foods taste great too as they have retained all of their flavour!

Stir-frying

Stir-frying is a traditional Asian way of cooking. You cook small pieces of food in a wok or a non-stick frying pan while you stir them. Remember that you only need a small amount of oil or cooking spray to stir fry. When you cook with oil, choose the healthier vegetable oils, like olive, rapeseed or sunflower oil. You could also get adventurous with nut or seed oils, such as peanut oil or sesame oil for your Asian cooking. If you feel you need to add more oil to the pan, try adding a drop of water first instead.

Using herbs and spices

Using herbs and spices in foods is a great way for you to add taste and aroma to foods without adding any extra salt or fat. There are endless ways to experiment with herbs and spices. Here are some ideas:

  • Try adding some black pepper instead of salt
  • Add fresh herbs towards the end of cooking e.g. throw some washed basil leaves into a pasta and tomato sauce dish
  • Add a pinch of curry powder to stir-fried vegetables for flavour
  • Add dried herbs in the earlier stages of cooking. They are stronger in flavour, so you can use less of them

Preparing foods

Remember that you need to prepare your foods in such a way that they are as low as possible in fat.

Meat

  • Remove any visible fat or skin from raw meat before cooking
  • Grill meats rather than fry them
  • Don’t add extra oil when cooking meat where possible
  • Don’t forget that meat can be substituted with beans in many meals (e.g. – in chilli con carne)

Fruit and vegetables

  • Steaming or microwaving vegetables locks in more of their goodness than boiling does; stir-frying is great too!
  • Don’t add much fat to vegetables and fruit (e.g. by roasting vegetables, adding sauces to vegetables or adding cream to fresh fruit)