Timbale of Spicy Tuna, Avocado and Smoked Salmon

My food artistry skills are limited, but I do think that making a meal look attractive actually makes it easier to accept the fact that it’s diet-conscious. Although oily fish like tuna and oily fruit like avocado are relatively high in calories, they contain lots of things that are good for you, and this dish makes for a very pretty dinner plate that, and with accompanying green salad, comes to just 320 calories by my calculation.

INGREDIENTS

For each person:

  • 120g tuna
  • 50g smoked salmon
  • ½ medium avocado
  • 1 spring onion
  • (Optional) 1 dessertspoon capers
  • Juice of ½ lime (or lemon)

For the marinade:

  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) light soy sauce (or fish sauce)
  • 1cm squeeze ginger puree (from a tube)
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 3-4 drops Tabasco sauce

METHOD

  1. Chop the tuna into small pieces (e.g.
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Chicken Afghani Kebab

This recipe was inspired by my favourite Indian restaurant in Mumbai, Gaylord. It’s not that it is a particularly good restaurant, but it’s rare in being the only one in the centre of town that has three things I like – an outside terrace (Indians crave air-con!), they have non-veg food and they sell alcohol. I’m trying to stay off the latter now I’m dieting, and in the case of Gaylord it’s easy as I’m not going to Mumbai so often any more.

But back to food. Like so many, I love curries. Unfortunately, they (well, restaurant curries) can be around the unhealthiest food you can eat.… Keep reading...

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Diet-conscious Spare Ribs

It’s barbecue season, and even if it weren’t, you might, like me, find yourself craving ribs now and again. On the face of it, this should be a complete no-no for those conscious of their diet. Pork meat may be relatively low in calories compared to other meats, but ribs have lots of fat (bad) and are usually marinaded, and then eaten, with barbecue sauce (sugar, so arguably worse).

So this is not a recipe that “helps weight loss” as such. Of course it doesn’t. But if, like me, you succumb to temptation, by following this recipe you are at least doing so in the most diet-conscious way possible.… Keep reading...

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Superfood Salad

The simplest and quickest of all diet-conscious meals, requiring no culinary skills at all, but utterly delicious, and psychologically satisfying as it ticks all the boxes! The Asian-influenced dressing spices it up.

It feels a bit silly including this as a recipe, as it doesn’t involve any cooking at all, and the ingredients are imprecise and infinitely variable – but it’s become a favourite and has been important to me in helping resist my carnivorous tendencies. For the quantities here, it makes a meal on its own, but it can, of course, be served as a side salad, perhaps omitting the prawns or adding other veg ingredients.… Keep reading...

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Duck with Blackberries

Duck is fatty and bad for you, right? Wrong – if you’re very careful about the preparation. A duck breast with skin is over 400 calories, but without skin and fat is just about 200 calories – no more (and according to some listings, less) than skinless chicken breast. And, unlike chicken breast, it’s much more tasty and can be served rare or pink, so doesn’t get dried out and tough. I cooked this last week with fresh blackberries that I picked in the alleyway at the back of my London house – but you could substitute blueberries, raspberries, kiwi fruit (chopped small), kumquat or perhaps other fruit….… Keep reading...

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Diet-conscious Salad Dressings

I love salad but only if it has dressing! All my life I used vinaigrette made with olive oil – and 1 tablespoon (about 15ml) has 120 calories. Similarly mayonnaise – always home made with oil. Commercial low-calorie mayonnaise is, to my taste, disgusting – but I found that it makes a wonderful base for dressings and mayonnaise when mixed with other things – and, at 11 calories for 15ml, it’s a saving of 100 calories every time!

INGREDIENTS

This is for “green goddess” herb dressing, I’ve put other variants at the end of this recipe.

  • 15ml “lighter than light” mayonnaise
  • Juice of ½ lime or lemon (or white wine vinegar or white spirit vinegar if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) of chopped herbs (basil, parsley, chives or any mixture)
  • ½ teaspoon mustard
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce (optional)

METHOD

  1. Chop the herbs and stir to combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
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Roast Stuffed Monkfish

INGREDIENTS

Quantities are approximate and per person

  • 120-150g monkfish tail, cut from the wide end
  • 40g Quark (if you can’t find it, substitute another soft white cheese such as ricotta)
  • Generous teaspoon of chopped fresh herbs – I use parsley and dill
  • Grated rind of ¼ lemon
  • 1 thin slice Serrano or Parma ham (or similar)
  • 1 shallot (or ½ small onion)
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Black olives (pitted)
  • 75ml dry white wine

METHOD

  1. First prepare the base vegetable ingredients. Wash the tomatoes and cut in halves. Peel the shallot and slice thinly. Fry the shallot slices in as little oil as possible until they are just coloured (about 2 minutes) then remove and lay on kitchen paper to soak up most of the oil.
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Beef Stroganoff

The Diet Keys here are reducing the fat used and substituting a small quantity of yogurt for the usual soured cream. Compared to recipes I checked online, this version has at least 100 fewer calories per portion as a result. It’s not as creamy, of course, but quite acceptable

INGREDIENTS

Quantities are approximate and per person – multiply as necessary if cooking for more than one!

  • 150g Fillet or Sirloin steak (ask at the butchery counter for fillet “tails”, they’re ideal for this and much cheaper)
  • 100g mushrooms (I used a mix of button and wild mushrooms, but any variety works
  • 10g butter
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 50ml whisky, brandy, vodka or cachaça (or any spirit that doesn’t taste of anis!)
  • 1 tbsp thick yogurt (Lancashire Farm, Greek or similar)
  • 1 generous teaspoon of crushed/ground black peppercorns or, if you have them, crushed green peppercorns
  • Pinch of salt (to taste)

METHOD

  1. Remove any fat, skin or cartilage that the butcher may have left on the steak.
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