Sunday, 15 July 2012

Cooking the books

Most people own a celebrity chef cook book of some sort. It's the kind of thing which gets bought at Christmas and then lies languishing, unused and unloved on the book shelf. I do have a few lesser used books, but generally i use all of mine from time to time, and my favourite books take a special slot in my kitchen. There are a couple of Nigella Lawson books there, a few of Jamie Oliver's and a couple of others too (Economy Gastronomy, Fabulous Baker Brothers). I only have space for a few in that kitchen slot, and the rest live in my under the stairs cupboard. This forces me to occasionally put them away, so some are rotated. The downside is that they are out of sight, and sometimes that means out if mind. It's easy to forget which books you have and which recipes you love.

On any other diet I've been on these books have been resigned to the no-go pile, after all on what diet can you eat the kinds of foods Nigella and Jamie put out? Turns out, Slimming World! With a few changes almost all the recipes from my favourite books are back on the menu, plus a whole load more. The best part is that this opens up a whole new world of diet friendly recipes. Whilst the recipe section of the Slimming World website, the Slimming World magazine and all their books are undeniably great, for me it's a little restrictive. One of my great pleasures is browsing a new or rediscovered recipe book and pulling out ideas for our family dinners or special occasions. These books aren't just for dinner parties in my world.

In a lot of cases just swapping the oil/butter for frylight is all you have to do. Take for example the two dishes I have made today. Bubbling away on the stove as we speak is Jamie O's Chilli con Jamie (from Jamie's America). It is made with a whole piece of brisket rather than the ordinary minced beef but as I am not a huge fan of mince like that it suits me down to the ground (although it is a touch more expensive this way). Other than the oil swap there are no other changes and there isn't a single syn in the whole pot. That will do me and Richy three dinners (batch cooking for the freezer, another favourite of mine!) served with Greek yoghurt and plain rice. Tonight's dinner with the girls was broccoli orecchiette, another Jamie O recipe, this time from 30 Minute Meals. This is a small shell pasta dish in which you make a paste of anchovies, broccoli, capers, chilli and parmesan to create your sauce. This again requires only an oil sub to bring it down to only half a syn per portion (assuming you are using your A choice for the required 30g Parmesan), and that's in the anchovies. Another delicious hearty, healthy dinner brought to you the SW way by Mama Bee in connection with Jamie O! Other things to watch out for are things like cream, which can be subbed for yoghurt or fromage frais.

Ok, fair enough - I suspect purists and the Chefs themselves may argue that it's not the same without the olive oil or butter, and to an extent they are right. There is a slight loss of taste without the oil and butter so many recipes call for, but for me right now it's a compromise I have to make.

That said, there are some things I would rather go without entirely - pastry and pizzas spring straight to mind. There are a lot of Slimming Worlders who make a Smash pizza base using the instant mashed potato. A quick google should get you the recipe should you be interested, but I can't bring myself to. I'd rather go without. Similarly replacing a puff pastry pie top with a pitta bread - maybe it would be great, but my heart tells me not to do it. I can't go without my books though. For me, staying on this plan is about not getting bored, making sure what we are eating tastes interesting, looks interesting, and also ensuring that I'm not bored out of my brain week on week cooking the same things. I have now started going through my books, and I now have a note in my phone of some of the recipes I want to get to which can be made SW friendly.

After all, who wants the same 5 meals every week for their whole life? I sure don't, and with some careful substitutions I won't have to either.


  1. See, I'm not a big pasta/bread/rice eater, but since being told low-fat super noodles are free, I've used them a few times this week, as they are a complete guilty pleasure. Just hope I still lose weight! But pizza? I could live off it. I love making it, eating it, thinking about it, smelling it...I might crave when I get a pizza craving!

    1. I treated myself to a Dominos for my 3st award - it was awesome. We used to eat quite a bit of pizza really (homemade) but its just a no-go now for me. I make it with and for Heather though, she enjoys helping out (my mini chef). I might treat us for my 5.5st award (5 is going to be £2 tapas at a place in EK).