Category Archives: Main course

Raw-food steak and mash


Here’s a recipe you don’t have to be a good cook to prepare, simply because it needs no cooking: Raw-food steak and mash….

We’ve been doing some experimenting over the last few months in our house – largely as a result of my MSc course in Nutrition Therapy.

One of the recipes we’ve tried that stood out more than any other was this for raw food steak and mash – where the steak is actually from mushrooms and the mash from cauliflower… and not one bit of it is actually cooked!

It’s borrowed and adapated from the website that is dedicated to the growing movement for eating food in as raw a state as possible. Try it, it just might change your mind on eating uncooked food!


For the ‘steak’:

2 portobello mushroom cups
1 pack oyster mushrooms
1/3 cup Shoyu sauce
1/3 cup Shoyu ginger sauce
2/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp agave nectar

For the mash:
1 head cauliflower
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp filtered water
1 tsp chopped rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Sprouted seed mix


Thinly slice the mushrooms and create two marinades, each with 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 tbsp agave and 1/3 cup of either the shoyu or shoyu ginger sauces.

Place the mushrooms into two sealable bags and cover the Portobello slices with the shoyu recipe, the oysters with the ginger shoyu. Leave to marinade for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

Thinly slice the cauliflower head and place in a dehydrator or oven for two hours at 70C.

Add the cauliflower and other mash ingredients to a blender or Nutribullet and blast until smooth.
Divide the mash on to two plates and place the mushrooms on top. Use a teaspoon of marinade as ‘gravy’. Top with sprouted seeds for decoration.

James’ egg muffins


done pan

These egg muffins are light, healthy, protein packed and take less than 30 minutes to make.

When you’re working out and need some extra protein to aid muscle recovery, it can be hard to find something to snack on – and chowing down on chicken all the time can be a chore.


So here’s a great alternative: egg muffins. I can rustle up a batch of these in around 30 minutes and, although they last about a week in the fridge in an air-tight box, they never last that long.

Delicious hot or cold, you can have them for breakfast, with a side salad for a light lunch or pop them in yours or the kids’ lunch box.

Each one is just 60 or so calories but contain 10 g of protein, which will help you feel fuller longer, as will the fibre in the veggies.


8 large eggs
8-10 button mushrooms
handful of spinach leaves
1/2 red pepper
30g (about quarter of a block) feta cheese
12 sprays of low-cal oil

Pre-heat your oven to 200C
Fine chop all the vegetables
Cut the feta into 12 equal pieces
Spray a muffin tray (make sure it’s well covered to avoid sticking)
Divide the veggies and the feta between the trays
Whisk the eggs and divide between the trays
Give each one a little stir
Bake for 20 mins or until set and golden brown




Minnesota winter chili


Looking for a good, low-calorie, tasty dish? Try this vegan Minnesota winter chili – or chili non-carne as I call it. 

We were at a music festival last weekend. Inevitably, the food was all super-carb heavy, packed with gluten and there were few healthy options on offer – hey, perhaps that’s a business idea, healthy street food.

Anyway, on our return on Monday, we were all crying out for a big portion of veggies – step forward by favourite vegan runner Scott Jurek and his excellent Eat & Run book.

Jurek’s been trouncing ultramarathon runners the world over for the last decade or more, fuelled purely on a vegan diet.

His major concern when going vegan was to ensure he got enough protein – and this chili recipe certainly does that, with 9g and just a couple of hundred calories per portion.
Other benefits are it costs peanuts to make – and you can feed the family for two days on it. An excellent, healthy meal in times of austerity.


2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves Garlic, raw
1 cup Onion Raw Chopped
0.50 cups, Carrots
1 cup frozen sweet corn
1 cup mushrooms
1 cup red peppers chopped
1 cup green peppers chopped
400g canned tomatoes (1 can)
200 g tomato paste
400g kidney beans (1 can)
400g harricot beans (1 can)
400g black beans (1 can)
2.5 cups water
0.5 cups bulgur wheat
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp sea salt


Fine chop all the veggies and saute in the olive oil
After 5 minutes, add all the beans, the water, the tomato paste and the tomatoes
Bring to the boil and add all spices and the bulgur wheat
Turn the heat down and simmer for 45 mins or so until the carrots are done to your liking.
Serve with low-fat yoghurt, cottage cheese or vegan sour cream

To link the to recipe on My Fitness Pal, click here (must be logged in to view)

Greek butter bean stew (fasolada)


Try this Greek butterbean stew – fasolada – for a vegetarian protein-packed punch.

“One of the things I’ve found hardest is getting a lot of protein in my diet”… it’s something I get from a lot of clients when I recommend they lower their carb intake and increase protein in an effort to lose weight and tone up.

I find it hard too – while I love chicken, fish, meat and nuts (all great protein sources), sometimes you need a change and find a veggie option can be tough. Which is why this Greek dish is so good.

Fasolada is a staple of the Greek diet, a healthy, filling and cheap-to-make stew. Like many Greek dishes, it was born from harder times where a few basic ingredients had to  be put together to create a tasty dish.

In Greece, they use ‘gigantes’ (or “giant”) beans – but they’re almost impossible to get in Britain, so I substitute butter beans instead.

You can take the easy option if in a rush by using the canned type, but I prefer it with proper dried beans (they’re in the same section as things like couscous in most supermarkets) that you have to first soak overnight.

You also get the best results using a slow cooker – but equally you could do a baked version or simply boil the dish slowly in a pan.

A portion of this is only 300 calories – and there’s 17g of protein in it.
Try adding some feta cheese too if you want to up both the calorie count and protein. Cut some into cubes, drizzle with olive oil and dip into the stew like croutons.


500g dried butter beans
1 onion
1 green pepper
2 carrots
1 tbsp garlic paste
100g tomato paste
1tsp salt
6 pepper corns
1tsp oregano
1tsp paprika
2 bay leaves
1tbsp agave nectar (optional)


Empty the dried beans into a large bowl, cover with water and leave to soak overnight.

The next morning, drain, empty into a pan and bring to boil. After 10 mins, turn the heat down and allow to simmer.

Chop all the veg and fry in a little olive oil with the garlic.

Drain and rinse the beans (they will still be hard-ish at this point) and empty into a slow cooker. Add the veg, the tomato paste and top up with water.

Add the bay leaves to the slow cooker and put the other spices into a pestle and mortar and grind. Add to the stew.

Add the optional agave nectar for a slightly sweeter taste.

Cook until the beans are soft.

If you’d like to link to the recipe on myfitnesspal, click here (must be logged in to view)

Courgetti bolognese


Hankering for spaghetti but want to keep the carbs down? Try this courgetti bolognese with Turkey mince for a super low-cal option.

Like most men, I absolutely adore a new gadget – and my new favourite just came through the post this week… it’s called a sprializer and allows you to make spaghetti-style strips from vegetables.

Courgetti (courgette spaghetti) is all the rage at the moment in veggie, low-carb, low-fat and low-calorie circles. You can make it with a Julienne peeler, but that takes ages and can get a bit messy… enter the spiralizer.

They require no electricity and are quite fun to use – a bit like a cross between a Playdoh contraption and a medieval torture chamber!


You attach one of the funky blades to the front, stick your vegetable (in this case courgette) on the rack and then turn the handle to create long thin strips. The watery heart of the veg, is left behind!

It took me a while to find the best way to cook the courgetti. I tried blanching in a bowl of boiling water and steaming – but even without the core, courgette can still be watery, and the last thing you want is a spaghetti dish drowning in water.

Sautéing in the wok produced the best results – a tablespoon of olive oil, a dash of garlic paste, some salt and pepper, and it was delicious before I even added the sauce.

For extra protein points and low-calorie results, I used turkey mince instead of lean beaf in my bolognese sauce.

The result was better than I expected all round – even getting our daughters’s approval. Martha and Gracie loved the extra long strips, and it didn’t even cross their mind it wasn’t real spaghetti!

Protein-wise, a portion packs a whopping 17 g and there’s just 246 calories a portion.

If you like cheese on your spaghetti, you can add a few shavings of parmesan. I stayed on the low-calorie kick my substituting nutritional yeast flakes – deactivated yeast with a cheesy taste that is a staple of many vegan dishes. It’s packed with vitamin B and Folic acid and 10g adds about 38 calories to the dish.

Recipe serves 6


400g turkey mince
1 onion
1 bell pepper
2 cups stock or bone broth
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp agave nectas
2 tbsp olive oil
100g tomato paste
6 black peppercorns (or 1 tsp ground black pepper)
8 medium courgettes


Finely chop the onions and peppers and sauté in 1 tbsp olive oil with the garlic paste.

In a separate pan, fry the turkey mince until browned (the browner it is, the more flavour you will get).

Add the turkey mince to the onion mix and deglaze the frying pan with a couple of spoons of the stock. Add this and the rest of the stock to the mix and stir in the tomato paste.

Crush all the spices in a pestle and mortar and also add to the mix.

Add the agave nectar if you like a slightly sweeter sauce, and a tsp of instant coffee if you want the sauce to be browner, like a more traditional beef bolognese.

Leave to simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes until the liquid thickens.

In the meantime, spiralize the courgettes.

When the sauce is ready, quickly sauté the courgetti (about 3 mins) in 1 tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper and a squeeze of garlic paste.

Add the bolognese sauce 1 ladle at a time to the courgettes and stir through to a desired mix of courgetti and sauce. Reserve any leftover sauce for another meal (it’s delicious with baked sweet potatoes).
Serve piping hot and top with parmesan or nutritional yeast.

If you use myfitnesspal, you can see the recipe here (you need to be logged in to view)

Protein-packed tricolour scrambled egg

tricolour omelette

Eggs used to get such a bad wrap but are now considered a health-conscious dream. Try this protein-packed tricolour scrambled egg for breakfast or elevenses. 

I absolutely love eggs – they’re such a great way of getting protein in your diet, which is essential for people who are exercising and want to lose weight.

Protein not only helps keep you full for longer but is also essential for rebuilding muscle that breaks down with exercise, meaning you come back fitter and stronger.

On the West Coast of the USA, it’s all about the egg white – it have most of the protein and less of the fat that’s in a yolk. But I can find whites only a little on the bland side, which is why I make this scrambled egg with four egg whites and one whole egg. There’s a whopping 12g of protein in a serving.

The addition of peppers, onions and spinach adds vital antioxidants and ups the vitamin C and A count giving more than your recommended daily allowance – and at 207 calories, it won’t be too consuming if you’re calorie counting either.

5 large eggs
1 clove garlic
1/2 medium red pepper
1/2 medium yellow pepper
1 onion
1 cup spinach
1 tbsp olive oil


Finely chop your onion, garlic and peppers and add to a  frying pan with the olive oil. Put on a medium heat and allow to sweat until the onions become see-through.

In the meantime, separate the yolks from four of the eggs. To do this, get two bowls,  take one of the and crack it in half. Pour the white from one half, catching the yolk in the other, allowing the white to drop into one bowl. Keep tipping the egg yolk from one half to the other until all the white has been removed. Put the egg yolk in the other bowl.

Repeat the above for four eggs and put the separated yolks to one side (they can be used in an egg custard or a carbonara).

Add the final egg to the mix along with its yolk and whisk all together.

Remove the veg mix from the pan and turn the heat up slightly. After a minute, pour in the egg mix and swirl around with a wooden spoon.

Leave until almost set, then use the wooden spoon to chop up and add in the vegetable mix and stir to mix it all up.

Add the spinach and stir in until it wilts. Serve while still hot.

If you’re using My Fitness Pal, you can link to the recipe here (you need to be logged in to view)

Light Greek meatballs with sweet potatoes


Great for kids and adults alike, try out these light Greek meatballs

With  family in Greece, one of the first things I usually do when I return is head straight to a taverna for all the food I’ve missed.

One of my favourite dishes since I was a kid was Greek meatballs – there are two types: biftekia and keftedes.

The latter are usually smaller, rolled in flour and flash fried – great for picnics and the like – but biftekia are my favourite.  Made simply using great minced beaf with a couple of binding agents and simple seasoning and then charcoal grilled.

Some tavernas grate some hard cheese like kefalotyri into the mix. It adds more calories than it does flavour though. I tried my version of them with cottage cheese for a while, but that added little flavour at all, so I went back to basics.

In lieu of a grill, I oven-bake mine – and instead of roast potatoes, I use sweet potatoes as a substitute. They provide less calories, more Vitamin A and C, more fibre and less carbs.

Make sure you get the leanest beef possible too – 5 per cent. And get it from a local butcher using regional meat for more flavour and to reduce food miles.

1 onion
10g Gluten Free Breadcrumbs
1 tsp Oregano, dried
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
2 tbsp fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic
5 large sweet potatoes
500g lean beef
1 egg


Pre-heat your oven to 220C.

Bind the meat, breadcrumbs (you can use normal ones if you don’t want to be gluten-free), egg, oregano and salt and pepper for taste. You could add a tsp of mustard powder for a bit more zing.

Separate in half, half again and half again to get eight equally sized meatballs.

Peel and cube the sweet potatoes.

Drizzle the olive oil onto a baking tray and place the potatoes, crushed garlic (just skin it and give it a bash with a pestle), thyme and rosemary on the tray. Roll it around so the potatoes get a light covering of oil.

Push the potatoes outwards to make enough room in the middle for the meat balls – add them to the space. Make sure the potatoes are not touching each other – sweet potatoes contain a lot of moisture and if it transfers from one to another, they won’t crisp up.

Place in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the potatoes are soft in the middle with a light crisp. Turn the meatballs half way and, every so often, open the oven door to release moisture (to keep the spuds crispier).

Serve with Greek salad, tzatziki and Greek-style spinach.

If you’re using My Fitness Pal, you can link to the recipe here (you need to be logged in to view)

Mediterranean garlic and lemon chicken


This Mediterranean garlic and lemon chicken is nice, simple and low-fat way to cook a great protein source. Serve with my Greek-style spinach and Cauliflower rice.

Chicken breast is one of the best ways to get protein: relatively low-fat, low calorie and packed with the p-word.

Avoid the pre-packed rubbish from the supermarket that’s full of water and look for free-range and corn fed to get some real flavour. Better still, support your local butcher by buying from him.

If you’re on a weight-loss programme, most will advocate you steam it. But that just makes it rubbery and tasteless. This Mediterranean-style dish takes seconds to knock up, is ready in 20 minutes, is packed with flavour and keeps the chicken moist.

Our kids love it too…

500g chicken breast (or four fillets)
Zest of one lemon
1 clove of garlic
1tsp oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil.

Pre-heat the oven to 200c
Grate the lemon zest into a baking tray
Crush the garlic and add to the tray along with the olive oil and spices. Stir to form a paste
Cut the chicken into strips and roll in the paste. Make sure they get good and covered. Add a little extra olive oil if needed.
Put in the oven for 15-20 minutes, turning half way.

If you’re using My Fitness Pal, you can link to the recipe here (you need to be logged in to view)

One-pot Mediterranean-style haddock and colourful vegetables

haddock in oven

This haddock dish is not only simple to make but full of good, colourful vegetables.

I love a one-pot dish, like my take on this Mediterranean-style fish dish with lots of colourful veggies. It’s something so simple to make, you can just bung everything in the oven at the same time and let the food do its work.

The key is not to overspice, but let the natural flavours kick in. I’ve done this when I’ve been skint using frozen fish and veg and it still tastes great. But if you can afford a nice piece of fish from a proper fishmongers and orgnic veg, so much the better.

When it comes to the fish, it needs something meaty and a relatively thick piece – here I’ve used haddock, which I prefer to cod, but you could equally use salmon or another sustainable fish such as hake or pollock or sustainably fished swordfish (check packaging for a blue-tick ecolabel. Tuna, I think, needs to be cooked more delicately and hence is not a good choice, unless you’re happy for it to be on the dry side.

From a vegetable point of view, I love to traffic-light or rainbow my food. That is, get a good selection of different colours in – as they all have different health benefits.

Red foods  are packed with lycopene that helps your body rid itself of damaging free radicals, and protect against prostate cancer, as well as heart and lung disease. They’re also loaded with antioxidants.

Orange and yellow foods contain beta-carotene which is good for night vision and the skin, as well as alpha carotene, which also protects against cancer.

Green foods help inhibit carcinogens and the high chlorophyll content helps purify the body.

Another key to this dish, is to cut your cloth according to size! It takes about 45 minutes to cook once in the oven, so you need to chop your veg sizes accordingly so everything is ready at the same time.

Mushrooms, for instance, that cook relatively quickly should be whole, harved or quartered – not sliced.  Sweet potatoes and carrots can be cubed or cut into rings. Onions and peppers can just be sliced – again they cook quickly.

I’ve used sweet potatoes here, but if you were using normal potatoes that take longer to cook, I’d pre-boil them for about 10-15 minutes to soften them up, or cut them into tiny cubes.

Which veg you use is up to you. I wouldn’t recommend spinach as it wilts so quickly, but aside from those here, you could add cauliflower, butternut squash, swede, turnip or whatever… just try and mix up the colours and make sure you cube and cut sizes according to cooking times: the longer the cooking time of the veg, the smaller the piece.

The good thing is that the dish is pretty forgiving… 45 minutes is the ideal time but if some veg are not quite done, you could add another 10-15 minutes easily to that.

Other good nutritional info? It packs 20g of protein per serving – and each serving is just 315 calories.

300g, haddock
300g, mushrooms
2 sticks celery
1 large onion
3 carrots
4 cloves garlic
4 sweet potatoes
160g broccoli
1 yellow pepper
2 tbsps olive oil
1 lemon
A couple of sprigs of thyme and rosemary
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper (recommended) or foil. Leave enough overhang at either edge so you can pull together at the top to create an envelope.

Lay the fish out flat in one corner.

Cut/cube all the veg and lay it around the fish. Drizzle with olive oil.

Spread the garlic around the tray, slice the lemons and place on the fish to help keep it moist, and lay the rosemary and thyme around the tray. Sprinkle with the oregano.

Fold the edges of the paper/foil over to create an envelope and bake at 200C for 45 minutes.

If you’re using My Fitness Pal, you can link to the recipe here (you need to be logged in to view)