Wednesday 29 August 2012

The Hairy Dieters Review and a £40 Groupon Voucher Giveaway

Now, being the food obsessive that I am, I don’t suppose it’s much of a surprise that I spend some of my life trying to get myself slimmer after too much cake or chocolate! On a personal level I’ve been thin and didn’t really get any thrill getting into small clothes, so I chose food over being thin. Time moves on though, and like the hairies, I am of an age where if I want to live a good life for many years to come, I’m going to have to rethink and change how I eat, at least some of the time. I really do need to take the little of what you fancy does you good more literally.

The book I’m posting about here is The Hairy Dieters by Si King and Dave Myers 2012 Weidenfeld &Nicolson. The boys have cast aside their erstwhile big appetites to pursue 3 months of eating with the purpose of shifting a bit of weight and in turn tipping the health scales back into their favour. There was a TV series in the UK that accompanied the boys as they tried (and succeeded) to lose some weight. I thought it was well done, it wasn’t always easy, but they kept at it.

So, what do people who love food eat when counting their calories? Answer: the same kind of food they eat normally but with some tweaks to make them more in line with their calorie counts for the day. The recipe chapters are: Breakfast & Brunch, One-Pan Dishes, Grills & Roasts, Pies, Stews, Vegetables & Salads, Fakeaways, Pasta & Rice, Puddings & Cakes and Lunch Boxes & Snacks. There are a good number of pictures and they do make me want to cook them up (something that I’ve not always found in this kind of cookbook in the past). The layout is good, recipes are easy to follow, and the calorie count is given for each recipe per portion.

Many of the dishes have a comforting feel which I love, because if I’m eating less I want comforted more, I’m assuming that isn’t peculiar to me! Some are light and salad-y, and there are a number of fab sounding, gorgeous looking curries. Some of the dishes I have marked to try are: Salmon with chilli Ginger Sauce, Peppered Steak with Mushrooms, Lemon and Thyme Roast Chicken, Cajun Spiced Chicken with Potato Wedges and Chive Dip, Lean Lamb Hotpot, Lamb Tagine, Chilli Salad Bowl, Chilli Con Carne, Summer Fruit Meringues and Chewy Cranberry and Apricot Bites.

If you are looking for some recipe inspiration to reduce your calories a bit it’s a good book to add to your collection.

Chicken and Mushroom Risotto
We made the portions a bit bigger, so it served 3 instead of 4, but still came in at under 500 calories. Wasn’t as great as a full fat risotto, but it was good as a lower cal supper.

Chicken Paprika
A very nice balance of flavours, and a really lovely supper.

Gammon and Parsley Sauce
This one I didn’t like at all. The sauce was just too lacking to be ok. I’d rather have a pineapple ring!

Thai Chicken Curry
This didn’t taste diet at all. I’d halve the Thai spice paste next time, it was very spicy indeed.

Sweet and Sour Chicken
Loved this one, worth making even if you were not counting your calories!

Now to the giveaway (which is totally unrelated to the above book)! I was asked if I would like to either spend some vouchers and review what I’d experienced or host a giveaway of a voucher for Groupon. I chose the second. So I have one £40 voucher from Groupon to giveaway to a reader who leaves a comment saying you would like to be entered on this post before the 5th September 2012 at 12 noon. The winner will be chosen at random, and I will post who the lucky winner is the following day. With thanks to Groupon for the voucher. NOTE THIS IS NOW CLOSED!

The winner is the first commenter Miss C Flash, congratulations and hope you have fun with your voucher. Please get in touch with me and I'll get the voucher code to you :)

Next Up: Lorriane Pascale’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food

Thursday 2 August 2012

Forever Summer

It won’t be a surprise to regular readers that I’ve been a big fan of Nigella Lawson’s books for a long time now. I thought it would be good to visit one of my much cooked from books of Nigella’s.

I tend to blog about new books more than old favourites, but I’m hoping to redress this over the next while, and post about both. I’ve never posted about Nigel Slater or Rick Stein (yet), omissions that definitely need rectified as they are two of my favourite food writers! I digress though…

Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson published by Chatto and Windus in 2002. It was released as ‘Nigella Fresh: Delicious Flavors on Your Plate All Year Round’in the US with a different cover picture. Canada has the Forever Summer title with the US versions cover picture, as does the paperback one here. I cooked single minded-ly from it for months after its release. This was pre blogging days, pre digital camera even for most of it. I can hardly believe it has been 10 years since it was first released.

Forever Summer is a fairly healthy cookbook, well certainly for the savoury foods. Its chapters are pretty conventional for Nigella: First Course, Second Course, Puddings and Finally Drinks; though these are subdivided into pasta, salads etc. There are bright and colourful pictures of many of the dishes, and also (I think) really stunning and beautiful chapter heading scenic shots.

There are so many lovely recipes in this book that I’ve cooked, The Ultimate Greek Salad is wonderful, as is the Kerelan Fish Curry with Lemon Rice, the four chicken salads (my favourite is below), and Chicken and Cashew Nut Curry. On the sweet side there is Caramelised Pineapple with Hot Chocolate Sauce, Anglo Italian Trifle – a blackberry and Limoncello delight, Cheesecake Ice Cream and White Chocolate Ice Cream with Hot Blackberry Sauce.

I have blogged about some other dishes from this book see here if you like for Mint Chocolate Mousse, White Chocolate and Passion Fruit Mousse, Courgette Fritters, Rhubarb Fool, Vanilla Shortbread, Slut Red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly and Dime Bar Ice Cream.

Caesar Cleopatra
I do think this is my favourite ever chicken salad. It is simple but always so good. Mind you it was a close run for first with the Golden Jubilee Chicken - a mango and chicken salad, which I’ve also made a lot.

(Water) Melon and Feta Salad
I used a different melon here, and have tried all sorts of melons beside the watermelon which I’m not so keen on. Everything seems to go. This one is refreshing.

Lemon CupcakesI have loved these since the very first time I made them, yummy!

Seared Mustard-Coated Salmon with Beetroot, Dill and Mustard Seed Salad and Hasselback Potatoes
I adore this main course, the salmon is made special with a sprinkle of mustard powder and sugar. The beetroot salad is gorgeous, it should be raw, but sometimes I use cooked (not in vinegar here though!) and these potatoes just finish everything off beautifully.

Za’atar Chicken with Fattoush
Unusual, but good!

Raspberry and Strawberry Chocolate Pavlova
This chocolate flavoured pav should be served with just raspberries. I prefer it with either just strawberries or a mix of raspberries and strawberries.

Chicken Pilaf
This is another favourite I think it is at its best with a little yoghurt ‘sauce’ to go with it, either plain Greek or minty natural.

Strawberry Ice Cream
A classic.

Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream
Another classic and another one I just go mad for. Nigella adds in a bit of balsamic vinegar to the raspberry puree with works. I sometimes use raspberry liqueur instead of the vinegar too.

Next Up: Hairy Dieters by the Hairy Bikers