I realise that there is a certain irony in my choice of recipe book to write about this close to Christmas, but that’s how things have turned out ^^
I was recently alerted to the fact that it was medically necessary for me to lose a bit of weight; being a fan of the Hairy Bikers, and having their diet recipe books in my possession, I took the most obvious course of action.
The book starts off with a short introduction, where Si and Dave talk about their histories with food and weight, and what they did when they realised that dieting had become a medical necessity. They also give a few general tips on losing weight and starting (and sticking to!) a diet. Most of this is pretty common-sense stuff — consume fewer calories than you use, exercise portion control, don’t cheat, stuff like that.
Beyond the introduction, the book is divided into sections corresponding roughly to the sequence of meals in the day — Breakfast and Brunch, One-pan Dishes, Grills and Roasts, Pies, Stews, Vegetables and Salads, Fakeaways (all the flavour — or better — of takeaways, with far fewer calories!), Pasta and Rice, Puddings and Cakes (yes, there are ways to enjoy sweet treats, even on a diet ^^), Lunchboxes and Snacks, and some sample menus for the first week of dieting, to be used as a guideline and source of ideas. Each section is preceded with some helpful weight-loss tips related to the content of that part of the book. Every recipe is illustrated with a glorious colour photograph of the finished product. This increases the visual appeal of the book, but has the potentially counterproductive side effect of making the reader very hungry!
The basic philosophy behind these recipes is that flavour doesn’t have to be high-calorie, and that diet food doesn’t have to be boring. The results I’ve had so far certainly bear this out! The very first recipe I made from this book was the pan-fried bacon with poached egg and balsamic tomatoes — yes, you did read that correctly, the words ‘fried’ and ‘bacon’ really are there! The idea with the bacon is to use a minimal amount of oil — 1 teaspoon or less — so that you’re essentially dry-frying it. This makes it very flavoursome while reducing the grease content and therefore the calories. Poached eggs can require a little finesse, but I have found via experimentation that putting a generous slug of malt vinegar (50-60 drops) into the poaching water before you boil it and stirring the water hard enough that it’s swirling around the saucepan when you crack the egg(s) in can produce very pleasing results.
I’ve had slightly less success with the omelettes; this is not due to any fault in the book, but is a consequence of the fact that I apparently cannot make an omelette that refrains from sticking to the pan or falling apart on serving. The results were still tasty, though — I love the minted pea and feta omelette! The idea with the feta is to have a very small quantity of a strongly flavoured ingredient, which makes the dish tasty while keeping the calorie content down.
There is one happy discovery that I made while omelette-wrestling: it is in fact possible to make scrambled eggs with next to no fat (butter/oil). Coupled with the discovery I made at university, that one can make a very acceptable scramble without any milk at all, and I can say that I’m definitely looking forward to supper this evening! Hehehe…
In conclusion, I can say that this book is well worth getting, whether you need to lose weight or not. It contains the Hairy Bikers’ usual traits of talking good sense about food and respecting their ingredients, while also providing a good deal of guidance and inspiration for sensible eating. Bon appetit!