Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

I lost more than three stone... and here’s secret to my success

Nadia Sawalha puts her own spin on dieting

Celebrity MasterChef champ Nadia Sawalha reveals some of the mouthwatering recipes which helped her win battle of the bulge.

In an ideal world, Nadia Sawalha would have banished the word ‘diet' from the cover of her latest cookbook. But, says the author of Greedy Girl's Diet, there are certain rules that must be followed for marketing purposes.

“You need that word so people can find the book,” explains the presenter, who won Celebrity Masterchef in 2007.

“But I really believe that if you think you are on a diet, you are going to stuff your face at some point. Unless you can feel like a normal person who sometimes eats a pudding and has a bit too much to drink, you will not succeed.”

The 48-year-old says a constant state of “dieting and denial” resulted in her being obese.

Eventually, she decided to eat as normally as possible (breakfast and pudding are key components of her

day) and simply shave off the hidden calories here and there, as well as eating enough to fuel an active lifestyle. As a result, Sawalha shed three-and-a-half stone and is now a healthy size 12.

“The cookbook is literally about what I ate when I lost weight, and hopefully you can't tell the difference with the recipes. Even my husband lost two stone and we didn't even know he was overweight!”

And Sawalha has shared a few of her favourite recipes to try at home.

BEAUTIFUL BERRY PANCAKES

(Serves 4 — makes 8 pancakes)

125g self-raising flour

2tsp caster sugar

tsp baking powder

Small pinch of salt

1 egg, separated

150ml skimmed milk

1tsp vanilla extract

Vegetable oil spray

50g blueberries or raspberries

To serve:

1 tbsp icing sugar

Agave syrup

Put the flour, caster sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Combine the egg yolk with the milk and vanilla extract in a jug and whisk into the dry ingredients until you have a smooth batter. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until soft peaks form and carefully fold into the batter.

Heat a non-stick frying pan and spray with a thin film of oil. Put a spoonful of the pancake mixture into the pan and sprinkle a few blueberries or raspberries on top. Once you see bubbles forming, flip the pancake and cook on the other side.

Transfer to a warm plate while you finish cooking the rest. To serve, dust with icing sugar and accompany with agave syrup.

SINLESS SPAGHETTI BOLOGNAISE

(Serves 4)

1tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 celery sticks, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

400g minced turkey or lean minced beef

1tbsp tomato puree

2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

200g mushrooms, chopped

2 bay leaves

200g wholewheat spaghetti

2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pan and fry the onion and garlic over a low heat until soft but not coloured. Add the celery and carrots, reduce the heat and cook until soft.

Remove the veg from the pan, put in the minced turkey or beef and fry over a medium heat until lightly browned.

Return the vegetables to the pan, add the tomato puree and stir for about a minute. Pour in the tomatoes, bring up to the bubble, season with salt and pepper and stir in the chopped mushrooms and bay leaves. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions. Drain the spaghetti, toss it with the sauce and grate over the Parmesan.

SUNSHINE SALAD

(Serves 4)

180g yellow lentils

tsp ground turmeric

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt

Seeds of pomegranate

75g diced pineapple

4 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

4 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint

Put the lentils into a saucepan with 700ml water and the turmeric, bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes until tender. Keep an eye on them after 10 minutes to make sure they don't turn into a mush. Drain and turn into a bowl.

While the lentils are still warm, stir in the lemon juice and oil, adding a little salt. Set aside to cool. To assemble the salad, stir in the rest of the ingredients and serve.

FUNKY FISH AND CHIPS

(Serves 4)

4x200g haddock fillets

100g fine polenta

1 egg, beaten

10 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

tsp chilli flakes

Zest of unwaxed lemon

A splash of milk

Plain flour, for dusting

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the chips:

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges

Olive oil spray

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Put your potato wedges onto a large baking tray, spray with oil and season with salt, pepper and a light sprinkling of cayenne. Cook for about 20 minutes, at which point the fish will join them.

To make the coating for the fish, combine the polenta, egg, basil, chilli and lemon zest in a bowl and mix well. If necessary, you may need to add a splash of milk to give a fairly thick batter. Dust the fish with a little flour seasoned with salt and pepper, and dip it into the batter, ensuring it's thoroughly coated. Pop the fish onto a baking tray and bake in the oven alongside the potatoes for about 20 minutes. Serve with mushy peas.

RASPBERRY AND CHOCOLATE MOUSSE POTS

(Serves 4)

75g dark chocolate

2 large organic egg whites

1 tbsp caster sugar

4 tbsp reduced-fat creme fraiche

350g raspberries

Break up the chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, ensuring the water doesn't touch the bowl. Stir the chocolate until it melts. Once it has melted, set aside to cool. Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Slowly add the sugar and whisk again until stiff.

Place the creme fraiche in a bowl and stir in the cooled chocolate. Gently fold in the egg white mixture. Divide the raspberries between four pots and top with the chocolate mousse. Pop into the fridge for four hours to set.

Greedy Girl's Diet by Nadia Sawalha is out now, £14.99

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