The Wee Fat Lawyer’s A – Z of Food: Part 3 – E to L

After a couple of weeks of depressing you with lots of foodstuffs best avoided, there's some more positive news this week. A lot of people say they give up on diets because the food is boring. You just have to look at your fridge or store cupboard from a slightly different angle to realise that your food should never be dull. Eat well and lose weight at the same time. What's not to like?



The dieter’s friend, provided you avoid cooking them with fat. At about 78 calories apiece, they will keep you full for ages, while leaving you lots of calories to play with. Try a couple poached at breakfast, or two boiled for lunch. You can even throw in a slice of toast and that’s a good meal under 300 cals. While eggs are high in cholesterol, recent studies suggest that they don’t seem to raise cholesterol levels in the way that other cholesterol-containing foods do.


Before you throw up your hands in horror, pause a minute. Slapping a centimetre or two of oil in a pan to fry fish is definitely not recommended, but there’s more to frying than that. Look instead at your technique. Stir frying, where the heat is on at max and the food is kept moving constantly, uses virtually no oil. You can get these little aerosols which dispense one calorie worth per skoosh. If you are making a soup or a stew, you do need to soften veg, and this needs some oil. You will find that you can achieve this with less than you used to use. You just have to pay a little more attention, and keep an eye on the pan to make sure things aren’t burning.

Greens /Veg in General

It’s very easy for diet books to say eat less, or change to smaller plates. Our food brains are not that easily fooled, but here is one simple way to make a difference. Produce a plate that’s full, but in a different way. Instead of a lot of high calorie protein, have a smaller portion of, say, meat or fish, and load up with two or three different veg. Think veg are dull without a dollop of butter? Think again. Season with lemon juice or zest. Try a range of spices, from cumin to caraway to curry paste. Asian type flavours such as soy are great, or raita like dressings, ie low fat plain yoghurts with cucumber and mint. For salads try a splash of balsamic vinegar alone, or an Asian style one with fish sauce, citrus and chilli. If you made dressings based on mayonnaise, try them with a base of fat free yoghurt instead.


Considering how heavy beef is on the calorie front, I was astonished by how light ham is. Yes, I am referring to stuff you can buy in a supermarket, but not the really cheap, water injected stuff. Read the label. A slice sufficient for an open sandwich may be as little as 35 cals.

Ice Cream

Sorry guys. Over the last few years I’ve taken to making ice cream from time to time, and am always horrified by the amount of sugar. And if you’re being authentic and using cream it gets much much worse. Even the ready made stuff is fairly horrendous. 100g of Mackies vanilla contains 204 cals. Sorbets will be better. If you’ve been very good and deserve a treat, then fine, but not on your regular menu please.


For decades, unsweetened fruit juice was the darling of the nutritionist’s world. Certainly orange juice is full of vitamin C; however, it’s also full of sugar. A 250ml glass of Tropicana, one of the brand leaders, is over 100 cals. Consume with caution.

Ketchup/Mustard/Wasabi/Soy etc

Let’s start with the bad news. A big bottle of Heinz tomato contains 563 calories. If you’re making a sweet and sour sauce, you do use quite a bit. The good news is that according to Mr Heinz that bottle contains 58 servings, slightly under 10 cals a time. One problem encountered by slimmers is lack of flavour. The good news is that even small amounts of many condiments can make a big difference. Spread a layer of mustard on bread in place of butter, and use it to liven up bland meat or fish. Splashes of soy or balsamic or Worcester sauce can make a difference to anything, and for a bit of heat, Tabasco is good. I hate wasabi with a vengeance, but I list it in the interests of balance. Always read the label, and be very careful with anything which is mayonnaise based.


Lemon juice can liven up all sorts of food, fish or shellfish being the obvious examples. Use the zest to flavour green veg in place of butter, or combine it with parsley for plain potatoes. Gremolata combines lemon zest, chopped parsley and garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper. Good with fish or chicken. For obvious reasons, be frugal with the oil.

You'll be delighted to hear that The Wee Fat Lawyer is taking a week off. Normal service next week.

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