This is the penultimate in the A - Z series. Some of this may be no more than stating the obvious, but there may be a few surprises.
Lean meat is better for dieters, but if your meat has fat it on it, don’t remove it before cooking. Just don’t eat it. Beef is quite high in calories and we all tend to eat bigger steaks than we did previously. Share the steak with your other half and top up on veg. The leanest meats are venison, available all year round, and game in season, as they are virtually fat free. A 150g venison steak is 215 cals: a beef steak of a similar size is about 30% more. Beware burgers and sausages, as you don’t necessarily know how much fat they contain.
Another reason to be leery of the health lobby. Nuts are full of nutrients and may be invaluable, especially for vegans. Again, however, they are full of calories. 30g of walnuts or hazelnuts each has in the region of 150 – 170 cals. Salted peanuts are even worse, over the 180 mark. Once again we’re not saying don’t eat them – no forbidden fruit remember – but be aware.
Olive oil. 1 tablespoon = 120 calories. Need one say more? See the Frying section above.
Think of the shape of a typical Italian man, and consider what he eats every day. Then remember the pasta isn’t even his main course! 100g of spaghetti contain about 350 calories and that’s before you add the knob of butter or even think about the sauce. Instead try Spiralised Courgettes All’Amatriciana. Close to the full spaghetti experience for a tiny proportion of the cals.
Pasta bad, pizza worse. Depending on the topping, a 12” Domino’s pizza can be in the range of 1200 – 1800 calories. Pining for your takeaway? Try the Portobello Mushroom Pizza instead.
Well, there’s rice and then there’s rice. 100g of boiled rice is grand at just 90 cals, but this is another reason to be wary of takeaway food. Fried rice can easily have three times that number, and with takeaways, we tend to get (and eat) far more than we need. I was recently introduced to the delights of cauliflower rice. One day I made
with no high expectations. It turned out to be delicious and has become a household favourite.
Stewing and Steaming
Stewing can be fine. The problem is often the oil that’s used to soften the veg to start. Get used to cooking with just a squeeze from an aerosol. You need to take more care when starting off, but you will find that you need less oil than you may have thought.
Steaming veg is great even if you’re not on a diet. When you boil, most of the nutrients leech into the water and are thrown away when you drain them. Veg such as broccoli or cauliflower tend to retain moisture in the florets, resulting in an unpleasant puddle around the plate. Do you think of steamed veg as dull? See under the heading Greens.
It’s also a great way of cooking chicken. Slice a chicken breast to avoid it drying out. Top it with grated ginger and soy, and you get a lovely end result with no added fat.
Next week will be the last in the series, but Tom Cooks! may from time to time feature tasty lower calorie dishes. If you have any favourites you'd like to share, get in touch.