So, you want to recycle last year’s Christmas party dress this festive season, but you’ve put on a few pounds over the past year. You can’t afford to fork out for a new outfit, you don’t want to risk cutting off your circulation by squeezing into the dress, but you also don’t want to have to spend the next month eating salad – there are few sadder prospects than tucking into a plate of lettuce on a cold winter’s night. But this isn’t your only option.
You can cut back on the calories and eat a little healthier but still tuck into winter-warmer meals. Cooking can be the last thing you want to do when you get home late, it’s cold and you just want to put your pyjamas on and watch TV, so use a Cook4Me to prepare your meals for you.
Have your ActiFry at the ready too, so you’ve always got healthy sides at hand and aren’t ever tempted to go out for chip-shop chips – you’ll only get cold walking there and back, and your ActiFry chips are far healthier! And get a food planner to stick on your fridge so you always know what’s for dinner so your mind can’t go wandering to thoughts of pizza and takeaway sweet and sour. Stop it. Now.
Instead, turn your mind to these healthy but tasty recipes that will warm you from the inside out:
Slimmers' shepherd's pie
Shepherd’s pie is the ultimate stodgy food. Piles of creamy mashed potato atop meat and thick gravy can’t be good for you, surely? Well it certainly can with a few small tweaks.
Look for the leanest cuts of meat you can or mince with a low fat percentage – it’ll say on the packet. You shouldn’t need any oil to fry it in as any fat in the meat will stop it from sticking to your pan. Add onion, peas, carrots and beef stock (replace the meat with lentils and use vegetable stock if you’re making a veggie version).
Once the mixture is cooked, add it to your pie dish and top with mashed sweet potato, which is regarded as a superfood, where normal potatoes are not. We like the sound of SuperPotato, zooming around the world, rescuing fellow vegetables from perilous situations … anyway, add a little milk to your mash if you need to. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or so, or until SuperPotato is starting to look a little tanned.
You could also top the pie with mashed carrot or swede for even more goodness. Serve with more vegetables on the side and that’s a tasty, nutritious, winter-warmer meal that won’t see you piling on the pounds.
Stew and roasties
Hearty beef stew and crispy-on-the-outside-but-fluffy-in-the-middle roast potatoes are the winter food of dreams. But if you’re using gravy granules from a packet, fatty cuts of meat and covering your roasties in fat, it’s not going to be kind to your waistline.
Try out Sweet Phi’s recipe for slow cooker beef and sweet potato stew in your Cook4Me. You won’t need any extra roasties as our old friend SuperPotato will make it pretty filling by itself. You probably don’t really need to add the butter either, as the chopped tomatoes will be enough moisture.
But if you’d rather have something on the side and leave out the sweet potato, make roast potatoes in your ActiFry instead. You could even use butternut squash instead of potato to reduce the calories further.
Whether you’re team ‘macaroni cheese’ or team ‘mac’n’cheese’, it’s all the same at the end of the day: gorgeously creamy, melty, cheesy pasta with a few golden crispy bits on top. And it’s amazing, we can all agree on that.
All that cream and cheese is not going to help you squeeze into that Christmas dress though. We’re not just being mean though by filling your mind with thoughts of yummy mac’n’cheese (sorry, we had to pick a side). You CAN have a healthy version of this comfort food favourite.
Boil up some macaroni (any pasta shape will do though, penne is often the cheapest if money is tight!), for about ten minutes. Drain and stir through fat-free creme fraiche or some quark, which is a type of fat-free soft cheese. Add some spinach or kale or any other vegetables you fancy – you could even add some SuperPotato.
Top with reduced fat cheese and bake in the oven until golden on top. We give you permission to tuck in with a spoon straight from the dish. So good that you’ll forget you’re meant to be on a health-kick.
Tempting savoury traybakes
What could be easier than chucking some meat or fish and a load of veggies in a roasting tin, covering it in a tasty sauce and leaving it to cook? Very little, that’s what.
This is a really healthy way to cook that’s so much more exciting than a salad and you can use pretty much anything you like or have at the bottom of your fridge that needs using up.
The English Kitchen has a super simple recipe for a roasted chicken and vegetable traybake, but you can use any ingredient combinations you like, really.
Chicken, chorizo and butternut squash covered in a marinade made from passata, a little stock and chilli flakes will provide your taste buds with a spicy kick. Or leave out the chorizo, add a few more vegetables and cover them in homemade ‘sticky barbecue sauce’ made from honey and worcester sauce.
For a veggie version, use chickpeas, green vegetables and potatoes covered in a herby sauce. For pescetarians, add salmon. So many trays, so many possibilities.
You can of course adapt all of these recipes to suit your own tastes. Add curry powder to the stew recipe to make a healthy curry, or swap the beef for mince and add chilli powder for a hearty chilli con carne. We promise you don’t just have to eat rabbit food to slim down in time for Christmas – why would you when you can still have roast potatoes, chips and pasta?!