Now we’re old enough and ugly enough to know that extreme diets don’t work, and neither to those nutty ‘Eat One Apple A Day Standing On Your Head’ regimes. But the one thing that is widely-recognised by many health professionals as being the fastest and healthiest route to losing weight and keeping it off is following a High Protein Low Carb diet. We don’t mean cutting out the carbs entirely, anything too extreme like that you won’t be able to keep up past a week or so and of course, neither is this nutritionally-recommended. And, anyway, why subject yourself to more misery, in what is officially the most depressing week of the year?
Which is why we rather liked this new book by writer Annie Bell, Low Carb Revolution, £16.99, kylebooks.com, out today. From spag bol to fish and chips and creamy mash (albeit veggie versions), this cookbook is packed with over 140 low carb comfort food dishes everyone craves in January; the kind of hearty, satisfying dishes we all want to eat when it's cold and blowing a gale outside, snuggled up in our jimjams of infront of The Bridge on a Saturday night. Tempted? Here’s a sneak peek…
COTTAGE PIE WITH LEEK AND CAULIFLOWER MASH
This delicate pale green mash has that wholesome silky texture that is exclusive to leek soups and purées. Smothered with cherry tomatoes and spring onions before being baked the pie is every bit as lavish as the original. Don’t worry too much about the ratio of leeks to cauli – you want more or less 1.2kg in total but it doesn’t matter too much how you weight them. Serves 6
50g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 slim carrots, trimmed, peeled and thinly sliced
2 sticks celery heart, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano or marjoram leaves, or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1kg lean minced beef
200ml red wine
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato purée
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
sea salt, black pepper
600g leeks (trimmed weight),
600g small cauliflower florets
freshly grated nutmeg
a bunch of slim spring onions
(about 75g trimmed weight),sliced
150g small cherry tomatoes, halved
- Heat half the butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat, add the sliced and chopped vegetables and herbs, and fry for
- 5–8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly coloured. Add the meat, turn up the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until it changes colour.
- Add the red wine, chopped tomatoes and purée, Worcestershire sauce and some seasoning. Bring to a simmer then cook over a very low heat for 50–60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nearly all the juices have been absorbed. Keep a careful eye on it towards the end to prevent it from burning. Tilt the pan and skim off any surface fat, then taste for seasoning.
- While the mince cooks, start making the mash. Place the leeks and cauliflower in a large saucepan with 150ml water, dot with the remaining 25g butter, add a tablespoon of olive oil and some salt. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover and cook over a low heat for 15–25 minutes, stirring halfway through, until very tender. Tip the contents of the pan into a food processor and reduce to a purée, seasoning it with nutmeg and more salt if necessary. You tend to get the best results if you do this in a couple of batches.
- Transfer the mince to a shallow ovenproof dish or roasting tin (about 20 x 30cm), pressing down to level the surface. Spread the mash on top. You can make the pie in advance, in which case leave to cool, cover and chill.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C electric/gas 6. Toss the spring onions and cherry tomatoes with the remaining tablespoon of oil and scatter over the surface. Bake for 40 45 minutes until the vegetables on top are golden.
Carbohydrate 13.3g Protein 43.8g
COURGETTE AND PUMPKIN CHIPS
1 medium egg
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
800g courgettes, ends trimmed, and cut into chips 1cm diameter and 5–7cm long
Whisk the egg with the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of still or fizzy water, some salt and paprika in a large bowl. Toss the courgette chips with the egg mixture to very lightly coat them. On removing them from the bowl, use a slotted utensil so that any excess egg mixture is left behind.
Before dipping the courgettes, preheat the oven to 230°C fan/250°C electric/ gas 9 and use a pastry brush to lightly coat the base of a couple of roasting dishes with a thin film of olive oil. Scatter the dipped chips over the base of the dishes in a single layer, and roast for 25–30 minutes until golden, turning them with a sptaula halfway through. A lower tray will probably take longer than one on top.
Carbohydrate 3.7g Protein 5.2g
Heat about 1cm of vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat until a drop of the egg mixture sizzles when added. Fry the chips in batches for a few minutes, turning them halfway, until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper; stack in a bowl, scrunching over some sea salt.
Carbohydrate 3.7g Protein 5.2g.
THICK-CUT PUMPKIN CHIPS
600g pumpkin flesh, (about 1kg whole)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling
2 tablespoons fresh lemon thyme leaves sea salt
Preheat the oven to 190°C fan/210°C electric/gas 7. Cut the pumpkin into chunky chips roughly 3cm in diameter and toss in a large bowl with the olive oil and thyme.
Brush the base of a large roasting tin with oil and spread the chips out in a crowded single layer. Roast for 40–45 minutes, carefully turning them halfway through using a spatula. Scrunch over some sea salt, and carefully turn to season them on the other side, then transfer to a bowl to serve.
Carbohydrate 3.7g Protein 1.1g
Taken From: The Low Carb Revolution Cookbook by Annie Bell, produced by Kyle Books, priced at: £16.99. Photography by Dan Jones