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The Cook Has Gained Weight

It’s inevitable and it’s happened again, my love of cooking and baking has meant that the pounds have once again piled on, despite my low fat, high fibre, low Gi, five plus a day of fruit and vegetables approach to health and cooking.

My love of great food has always meant that I was never a great fan of diets, which to meant being of being deprived of ingredients and foods that I enjoy. Yes, I would calculate the calories or points for food in my head and genuinely believe I knew exactly what I had eaten, it’s more likely I was eating twice the amount of calories. It’s been a bit like measuring time without a watch, nothing more than guesswork. Now on enforced rest following surgery and no exercise for 6 -8 weeks, it’s time for action, and it’s not only me that’s affected, the chunky Mr G badly needs to shed a few stones.

It’s a common problem I discovered when I listened to Dave Myers and Si King, the Hairy BIkers as their latest television series ‘The Hairy Dieters’ hit our screens last week accompanied by a new cook book, incidentally gifted to me as a post surgery present from my mother! These guys have been giving us great food for years and the new book like previous books is full of great recipes, each one includes the calorie content and all designed to ensure we eat the right amount of food to help with weight loss; it really doesn’t seem like a diet book.

Cooking healthy and filling dinners is something I’m passionate about; the 3 men in my life have huge appetites and love their food, especially meat, so dishes like hearty casseroles and curries are a regular part of my weekly cooking.The recipes in ‘the Hairy Dieters’ will fit well with my style of cooking and it’s easy to see how I can also adapt my own recipes to help us lose weight.

Apart from the recipes, there are some great tips in the book to help with weight loss. For instance, 1gram of fat has 9 calories, regardless of whether it’s a solid fat like butter or margarine, or healthy oils like olive or rapeseed, and it’s information like this that will help with making sensible choices about the type of food to eat and I’ve always been a great believer in ‘you are what you eat’

It is worth remembering that despite the calorie content of fat, our bodies do need a certain amount of fat and choosing oil over butter or lard is one of my choices. I would much rather a have small amount of good olive or rapeseed oil to dip a chunk of bread into than spread it with butter, although I’ll need to rethink the olives, Parma ham and Parmesan shavings I usually have along with it.

Having watched ‘The Hairy Dieters’ and read the book Its easy to see why I’ve gained weight and now with Dave and Si as my virtual diet partners and along with the other inspiring people who have joined them on the show, Mr G and I are giving it a go.

One of my favourites dishes is a Tagine and this recipe is one I make regularly and it’s my own take on a chicken tagine after trying various different recipe. All my recipes serve 5 …..I hope you enjoy….Bon Appetit.

Chicken Tagine
This can be cooked either in the traditional Morrocan Tagine or in a large casserole.

Heat oven to 190oC/fan170oC/Gas5
10 Chicken Thighs- Bone in and skin removed
2 tbsp Oil…Olive or rapeseed- Optional
1 Large onion – Finely chopped
Thumb size piece of ginger- finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves

Spices for roasting and grinding
1&1/2 tbsp Corriander Seed
1 tbsp Cumin seed
1 tbsp Black peppercorns

2 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Ras el Hanout
2 tsp turmeric
Jar of preserved lemons. Usually 4 -6 is enough although the sizes of the lemon can vary.
Handful of olives
500 -750 ml of chicken stock
Small bunch of Corriander and flat leaf parsley

My favourites for a Tagine are butternut squash, carrots, and sweet potato but use whatever you prefer. I usually use 4 medium sized carrots along with either a small butternut squash or a large sweet potato- cut into approximately 1 inch chunks.
In a large non stick Brown the chicken on both sides and set aside.
Reduce the heat slightly, add the onion and cook for a few minutes and then add ginger and garlic. Cook gently for a minute, being careful not to burn the garlic.
Add then remaining spices and continue cooking gently for a minute before adding the preserved lemons and vegetables.

At this stage I transfer the ingredients to a large heat proof casserole, add the stock and the chicken thighs and bring to a gentle simmer before covering and transferring to the oven.

Cook for 1 hour, remove from the oven and add the olives and continue cooking for approximately 20 mins.I like the chicken to falling off the bone.

To serve.
Sprinkle with the parsley and corriander and serve either with a simple flavoured couscous, rice or even crusty bread and a green salad. Depending on the choice of vegetables for the dish, steamed carrots with lemon and coriander works well with the tagine.

Although there is a good mix of spices in this recipe, I include Ras el Hanout which is a blend of spices used in Moroccan and North African cooking. Al’Fez is a nice blend as it includes rose petals and lavender flowers and enhances the flavour of the dish.


2 responses »

  1. Thanks for introducing me to this…
    I’m in the similar position of loving everything to do with food; growing, rearing, producing, preparing, cooking and, of course, eating (often washed down with a high calorie drink!)
    As I usually cook from scratch without recipes it is just not convenient to have pen, paper, calorie guide & calculator to hand for every meal.

    It’s encouraging to know I’m not the only one facing this challenge and I must drop that phrase ‘Never trust a thin cook’…

    Looking forward to us finding a win-win way through!


    • I feel the same, if you love food there are lots of ways to enjoy great flavours and dishes without compromising on taste. Being aware of portion size definitely helps and also realising that you can swap high fat ingredients for low fat alternatives. In this together :-))


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