Life

Tom Kerridge's Lose Weight For Good packed with healthy recipes that taste good

Sticking to healthy eating is much easier if you actually enjoy what's on the menu. Lauren Taylor speaks to Tom Kerridge about dieting the delicious way.

Lose Weight For Good, the new cookbook from English chef Tom Kerridge, which accompanies his BBC series of the same name

Diet food has a bad rep. It conjures up images of chewing on cardboard-like rice cakes and low-fat packet soups packed with preservatives, while you dream of a comforting bowl of pasta and battle cravings for anything that so much as resembles dessert.

Enter Tom Kerridge. He not only runs the UK's only pub with two Michelin stars (The Hand And Flowers in Marlow, Buckinghamshire), but he knows a thing or two about weight loss, having shed 12 stone himself. Now back with a second diet book, Lose Weight For Good, and accompanying BBC programme, he's determined to demonstrate that calorie-controlled meals can be delicious – and easy to whip up at home.

"I looked at lower-calorie recipes and I found them incredibly depressing, boring and flavourless," Kerridge (44) explains. "I thought, 'Well no wonder so many people yo-yo on diets – they're not enjoying what they're eating'."

He describes his new book as a "celebration of great-tasting food", with an emphasis on recipes that use everyday ingredients and come in portions big enough to fill you up. It's full of nutritious but hearty recipes, and some that might surprise you, like spicy lamb burgers, pork samosa pie, pizza with Parma ham and mozzarella, and coffee and chocolate custard pots. Pastry, red meat and puddings might not be classic health-book fodder, but pub grub is what he's famous for.

The accompanying TV show, currently on BBC Two, follows a group of 13 dieters on their mission to achieve steady but lasting weight loss with Tom's recipes.

"Seeing them actually enjoying what they're eating has been the biggest thing for me," says the chef.

Alongside a typically hectic lifestyle, being in the restaurant business and constantly around food saw Tom's weight creep up to 30 stone. "I worked very hard, I spent a lot of time in other people's restaurants, a lot of time labouring in the kitchen. I'd go home late and have cheese on toast," he recalls. "It was the same trap everyone else falls into, but I suppose my lifestyle made it even more extreme."

Approaching 40 made him evaluate his health. "I thought, 'I've achieved where I am in life, but where am I going moving forward?'"

It was January 2013 when the dad-of-one gave up booze and devised his own weight-loss plan. It took him to just under 18 stone, mainly by cutting down on carbohydrates.

He recognised that a low-carb diet isn't for everybody, however: "When I told people I lost weight by having no alcohol, no pasta, no bread... there was a massive look of disappointment on their faces!" So he set out to create a "broader reaching" diet, in line with the NHS 12-week weight-loss plan.

The recipes in Lose Weight For Good really are meant to fit into busy lives – the steps are clear and simple, and you don't need a long list of ingredients.

"If you come home from work at seven o'clock in the evening, you want to rustle something up in under 20 minutes and you want to know how to do it," Tom says.

While changing your diet does involve some self-control, it doesn't have to mean missing out on all 'treats', or enjoying food less.

It's all about using some clever tricks. Some of the recipes include veg-masquerading-as-carb alternatives.

"They make you feel like you're not missing out on anything," Tom says. "They hold flavour, they taste nice, they're mind tricks."

But the best way to ensure dieters enjoy their food is to pack in the flavour – something Tom's using his 26 years of experience as a chef to do. "Don't be scared [of using spice]. Use hot spice gently, have a go with salt, pepper and paprika and fresh herbs – there's no such thing as too many fresh herbs."

:: Lose Weight For Good: Full-Flavour Cooking For A Low-Calorie Diet by Tom Kerridge – whose accompanying series continues on BBC Two on Wednesdays – is published by Absolute, priced £22. Below are two recipes from the book for you to try.

SHAKSHUKA BREAKFAST EGGS

(Serves 2)

1tsp light olive oil

1 red onion, finely sliced

1 large red pepper, cored, deseeded and diced

1 large green pepper, cored, deseeded and diced

4 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1tsp ground cumin

1/2tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp hot smoked paprika

A pinch of flaky sea salt

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

4 medium free-range eggs

50g half-fat feta

A handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a medium non-stick frying pan (that has a lid) over a high heat. Add the onion and cook for two minutes, then add the peppers and garlic and cook for a further four minutes. If the veg begin to stick, add a splash of water to the pan. Stir in the cumin, cinnamon, paprika and salt and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, until the spices become fragrant. Tip in the tinned tomatoes, stir to combine and lower the heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.

Make four small wells in the tomato sauce for your eggs. Crack an egg into each well and place a lid on top of the frying pan. Leave the eggs to cook for five minutes or until the whites are just set. Crumble the feta over the surface and finish with the chopped coriander and a grinding of pepper. Serve straight from the pan.

Calories per serving: 375

COURGETTE AND CARDAMOM CAKE

(Serves 8)

Sunflower oil spray

250g half-fat margarine

100g caster sugar

4tbsp granulated sweetener

3 large free-range eggs

250g self-raising flour

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

1tsp ground cardamom

1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped

Finely grated zest of 2 limes

200g courgettes, grated

For the icing:

100g icing sugar

1tbsp light cream cheese

1tbsp lime juice

To finish:

Grated zest of 1 lime

Preheat the oven to fan 180C/gas 4. Spray a 900g (2lb) non-stick loaf tin with a few sprays of oil. Using a stand mixer or electric hand whisk and large bowl, cream together the margarine, caster sugar and sweetener until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground cardamom together over the mixture, add the vanilla seeds and lime zest and fold in gently, using a spatula, until just combined. Lastly, fold in the grated courgettes.

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and gently level the surface. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 50-60 minutes. To test, insert a skewer into the middle of the cake: it should come out clean; if not give it a little longer. Once cooked, leave the cake to cool in the tin for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, in a bowl, whisk the icing sugar, cream cheese and lime juice together until smoothly combined. Spread the icing on top of the cake and sprinkle with the lime zest. Cut into eight thick slices to serve.

Calories per serving: 365

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