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    The mouthwatering meat-free dishes that will help you lose weight during lockdown

    Make veg the main event: Creamy mushroom stroganoff, aubergine steaks and charred corn with crispy kale… the mouthwatering meat-free dishes for all the family that will help you lose weight during lockdown

    Picture a hearty dish of squash, lentils and Dolcelatte or a warming bowl of mushroom stroganoff. Or how about a delectable salad with mozzarella cheese, peach and tomato?

    Not only do these delicious vegetarian recipes pack a mighty punch, taste-wise, they also provide fibre and beneficial vitamins and minerals, not to mention being good for your waistline.

    Eating meals based on fruit, vegetables, pulses, pasta and herbs can be a great way to ensure you have a wide and varied diet, which experts agree is important for keeping our immune systems in good order, helping your body to fight off the coronavirus and other diseases this winter.

    ‘There’s a big interest in cooking and preparing meat-free dishes these days — and not just among vegetarians and vegans,’ says dietitian Carolyn Pallister, nutrition and health policy manager at Slimming World. 

    Eating meals based on fruit, vegetables, pulses, pasta and herbs can be a great way to ensure you have a wide and varied diet, which experts agree is important for keeping our immune systems in good order, helping your body to fight off the coronavirus and other diseases this winter [File photo]

    ‘More and more of us are reducing the amount of meat we eat, with some people citing ethical as well as health reasons.

    ‘This can open up a huge range of meals based on a variety of pulses, grains, legumes and vegetables, which are all important for ensuring you have a balanced, nutritious diet.

    ‘The flexibility of the Slimming World programme makes it particularly well-suited to people who want to lose weight without eating meat, because pasta, potatoes, vegetables, legumes and most fruit all class as Free Food, meaning you can base your meals on them and eat them without counting or weighing.

    ‘This is because these foods contain relatively few calories per gram, enabling you to eat more of them and, therefore, feel fuller.

    ‘At Slimming World we empower members to eat to ther own appetite and Free Foods allows them to do this and still lose weight,’ says Carolyn. Meanwhile, increasing numbers of us are simply opting for vegetarian or vegan recipes because we love the variety of taste and texture on offer.

    ‘Members sometimes tell us they didn’t like vegetables until they joined Slimming World, often because of unhappy memories of overcooked carrots and mushy peas at school,’ adds Carolyn. ‘But with so many inspiring combinations of vegetables, herbs, spices and pulses to choose from, they’ve become much more adventurous with their food choices.

    ‘Long gone are the days when a vegetarian option used to mean a bland portion of something stodgy with cheese on top!’

    That’s why today — as we continue our exclusive new Slimming World healthy eating series to help you deal with the challenges of a new lockdown while still enjoying comforting winter food — we’re focusing on delicious meals that don’t require meat.

    Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell, who was inspired to create a programme based on moderation rather than restriction 51 years ago after struggling with punishing weight-loss diets herself.

    It gave her a deep insight into the psychological, emotional and physical burden of struggling with your weight — with the result that Slimming World is unashamedly a programme for slimmers who love their food.

    Now hundreds of thousands of members are getting support from its community groups and online programme and benefiting from its ethos of losing weight while enjoying sustaining and mouthwatering meals.

    And as you can see, with tempting suggestions such as watermelon and feta, and aubergine steak with curried yoghurt on the menu, today’s inspiring meat-free recipe selection is no exception. There are enticing recipes for vegans too: charred corn with crispy kale or a satisfying tofu and mushroom soup both make tasty choices.

    Enjoyed as part of the overall, balanced Slimming World healthy-eating plan, delicious meat-free meals such as these can help you banish extra weight for good, as well as giving you the energy to deal with the challenges of this winter.

    Never feel hungry

    Slimming World’s healthy eating plan, called Food Optimising, is based on the science of satiety (feeling ‘full’) and energy density. This means eating foods that satisfy your appetite and have the fewest calories per gram.

    Food Optimising encourages you to fill up on ‘Free Food’, which you can eat without weighing. You can also enjoy measured amounts of ‘Healthy Extras’ and a few treats.

    Free Food includes poultry, lean meat, fish, plain tofu, Quorn, eggs, pasta, grains, fruit and vegetables. Base your meals and snacks around Free Food.

    Healthy Extras include foods such as milk and cheese, cereals and wholemeal bread that provide you with calcium, fibre, minerals and healthy oils.

    And so you never feel deprived, you can enjoy limited amounts of treats, including chocolate, crisps and alcohol.

    Making small changes to the way you shop and cook can help you to enjoy meals while watching your waistline shrink.

    For best results, join a Slimming World community group or online programme.

    For more information visit slimmingworld.co.uk or call 0344 897 8000.

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    Squash, lentils and Dolcelatte

    Ready in 40 minutes

    Serves 4

    • 2 medium butternut squashes
    • 200g dried Puy lentils
    • Grated zest and juice of ½ large unwaxed lemon
    • 75 g Dolcelatte cheese, broken into small chunks
    • A handful of chopped fresh parsley, to serve

    From the store-cupboard: 

    • Low-calorie cooking spray

    Preheat your oven to 220 c/fan 200 c/gas 7.

    Halve the squashes lengthways, scoop out and discard the seeds and carefully slice off the peel with a knife (or leave it on if you prefer). 

    Cut the flesh into thick slices, put them in a non-stick roasting tin and spray with low-calorie cooking spray. 

    Season lightly and roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender, turning halfway. Meanwhile, cook the lentils according to the pack instructions.

    Drain well, return to the pan and stir in the lemon juice and most of the lemon zest. Season to taste.

    Divide the lentils and squash between plates. Evenly scatter over the cheese, parsley and remaining lemon zest to serve.

    Tip: You can swap Puy lentils for canned green lentils.

    Squash, lentils and Dolcelatte

    Squash, lentils and Dolcelatte

    Creamy mushroom stroganoff

    Ready in 30 minutes

    Serves 4

    • 1 large onion, halved and sliced or chopped
    • 1 kg mushrooms, sliced
    • 2 tsp paprika, plus extra to serve
    • 1 tbsp vegetable liquid stock concentrate
    • 250g plain quark

    Put the onion and 3 tbsp water in a large, deep, lidded non-stick frying pan. Cover and cook over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until soft. 

    Uncover, increase the heat to medium-high and cook until all the liquid has gone and the onions are lightly golden, stirring often.

    Increase the heat to high, add as many mushrooms as you can fit in the pan and stir-fry over a high heat. As they start to soften, add another large handful of mushrooms and continue like this until they are all cooked. This should take 5-6 minutes.

    Sprinkle over the paprika and stir-fry for 1 minute, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the stock concentrate, three-quarters of the quark and some salt and pepper to taste. 

    Swirl in the rest of the quark, sprinkle with a little extra paprika and serve hot with boiled dried tagliatelle and a salad.

    Tip: You can use any mushroom variety you like for this delicious recipe!

    Creamy mushroom stroganoff

    Peach, tomato and mozzarella salad

    Ready in 10 minutes

    Serves 4

    • 2 ripe and juicy peaches
    • A bag of rocket leaves
    • 400 g cherry tomatoes and/or baby plum tomatoes
    • 125 g reduced-fat mozzarella cheese (suitable for vegetarians), drained
    • 4 tsp balsamic vinegar (suitable for vegetarians)

    Halve the peaches, remove the stones and cut the flesh into wedges. Put the rocket in a large bowl and tuck in the peach wedges and tomatoes.

    Tear or chop the mozzarella into chunks and add to the salad. Season to taste and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar to serve.

    Peach, tomato and mozzarella salad

    Peach, tomato and mozzarella salad

    Charred corn with crispy kale

    Ready in 50 minutes

    Serves 4

    • 2 large red peppers, deseeded and cut into small chunks
    • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
    • 200g curly kale, large stalks discarded, leaves torn into small pieces
    • 4 sweetcorn ears, husks discarded
    • 2-3 tbsp lime juice

    From the store-cupboard:

    • Low-calorie cooking spray

    Preheat oven to 220c/fan 200c/gas 7. Put the peppers and sweet potatoes in a large non-stick roasting tin and spray with low-calorie cooking spray. 

    Toss well, season lightly and roast for 20 minutes, turning halfway. Leave to cool.

    Reduce the oven temperature to 200c/fan 180c/gas 6.

    Put the kale in another large roasting tin, spray with low-calorie cooking spray and season lightly. Toss well and roast for 15 minutes. Leave to cool.

    Meanwhile, drop the sweetcorn into a pan of boiling water. Return to the boil and cook for 4 minutes. Drain.

    Heat a non-stick griddle pan over a high heat. Spray the sweetcorn with low-calorie cooking spray and griddle for 8-10 minutes, turning now and then.

    Cool, then hold each sweetcorn ear on its end on a plate and slice away the kernels.

    Mix the peppers, sweet potatoes and lime juice together and divide between bowls. Top with the kale and sweetcorn to serve.

    Charred corn with crispy kale

    Charred corn with crispy kale

    Tofu and mushroom soup

    Ready in 20 minutes

    Serves 4

    • 350g plain/naturally smoked firm tofu, drained
    • 1 litre boiling vegetable stock, suitable for vegans
    • 300g exotic mushrooms, finely sliced
    • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
    • 4 spring onions, sliced diagonally

    Sandwich the tofu between a few sheets of kitchen paper, place something heavy on top and leave to drain for 5 minutes – to help the tofu firm up a little. 

    Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil in a medium-size saucepan over a high heat. Add the mushrooms, cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. 

    Simmer for 3-4 minutes or until tender.

    Cut the tofu into chunks and add to the pan. Cover and simmer for 1 minute or until the tofu has heated through.

    Stir in the vinegar and simmer for 1 minute. Ladle the soup into 4 bowls and scatter over the spring onions. Serve with 4 x 60g wholemeal rolls.

    Tip: If you fancy a bit of heat, add 1 tsp dried chilli flakes with the mushrooms.

    Tofu and mushroom soup

    Tofu and mushroom soup

    Aubergine steaks with curried yoghurt

    Ready in 40 minutes

    Serves 4

    • 4 large aubergines
    • 150 g fat-free natural Greek yoghurt
    • 1 level tbsp korma curry paste
    • 450 g baby spinach
    • 4 tbsp pomegranate seeds

    From the storecupboard:

    • Low-calorie cooking spray

    Preheat your oven to 200c/fan 180c/gas 6. Slice the aubergines into 3cm-thick rounds. 

    Season lightly, spray with low-calorie cooking spray and arrange side by side in a large non-stick roasting tin. Cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until tender and golden.

    Meanwhile, mix the yoghurt with the curry paste and add salt and pepper to taste.

    Just before the aubergines are ready, put a splash of water in a large saucepan over a high heat. Add a large handful of spinach and cook for 1 minute or until wilted down before adding another handful. Carry on like this until all the spinach has wilted, then tip it into a colander and press out the excess liquid.

    Divide the aubergines and spinach between plates and spoon over the curried yoghurt. Scatter over the pomegranate seeds to serve.

    Aubergine steaks with curried yoghurt

    Aubergine steaks with curried yoghurt

    Watermelon and feta barley bowl

    Ready in 1 hour

    Serves 4

    • 250 g dried pearl barley
    • 400 g frozen soya (edamame) beans
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 500 g watermelon, skinned and cut into small chunks
    • 110 g reduced-fat feta cheese, broken into small chunks

    Cook the pearl barley according to the pack instructions.

    When the pearl barley is almost ready, drop the soya beans (edamame) into a saucepan of boiling water over a high heat, bring back to the boil and cook for 2 minutes. 

    Drain the pearl barley and soya beans, tip both into a large bowl and leave to cool.

    Stir the lemon juice into the pearl barley and soya beans and gently stir in the watermelon.

    Divide between bowls, evenly scatter over the feta and season with salt and pepper to serve.

    Watermelon and feta barley bowl

    Watermelon and feta barley bowl

    All recipes are taken from Slimming World’s Take 5, Second Helpings recipe book.

    © Slimming World 2020. Slimming World recipe books are available to buy in Slimming World groups or online. You can find your nearest group at www.slimmingworld.co.uk or by calling 0344 897 8000.

    Please contact your local Consultant to book in before your first Slimming World group and to find out how your local group is running safely in line with national and regional guidance.

    Mel’s reversed her diabetes losing 5st 5lb

    Mel Allaway, 40, lost 5st 5lb and reversed her type 2 diabetes in 10 months, going from 15st 8lb and a dress size 20-22 to 10st 3lb and a dress size 10-12. 

    Mel, who works in a pharmacy, lives with her 34-year-old fiancé Jon, in Witham, Essex. She says:

    Finding out I had type 2 diabetes after a routine blood test in June 2016 was devastating. I’d always thought diabetes was linked to eating sweet stuff and I was more of a savoury girl.

    Crisps were my biggest weakness. But now I know that it’s often linked to being overweight, and my weight had crept up over the years. I was upset to be put on medication — two tablets of metformin four times a day — which had the side-effect of upsetting my stomach.

    I was also diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, but rather than taking medication for that, I told my GP I would try to lose weight to see if that would help and I joined a local Slimming World group straight away.

    Mel Allaway, 40, lost 5st 5lb and reversed her type 2 diabetes in 10 months

    She went from 15st 8lb and a dress size 20-22 to 10st 3lb and a dress size 10-12

    Mel Allaway, 40, lost 5st 5lb and reversed her type 2 diabetes in 10 months, going from 15st 8lb and a dress size 20-22 to 10st 3lb and a dress size 10-12

    I assumed I’d feel hungry and miserable and have to eat salads, but was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t like that. Instead, it was more like learning a new lifestyle, cutting out the ready meals I had relied on and cooking healthily. 

    For instance, using a low-calorie spray instead of oil to cook and trimming excess fat off meat.

    I’ve prepared home-made soups and dishes like chicken and chorizo paella, which my fiancé loves, too. I don’t feel I am missing out at all. I also took up walking. I’d never really done any exercise before, but I soon found it gave me lots more energy and also cleared my head.

    Within a year, I reversed my type 2 diabetes and was drug-free. The GP was astounded at how much weight I lost. I was so proud of myself and relieved that I didn’t have to take any more tablets.

    I recently started working in a pharmacy and although I wear PPE I know my risk of Covid-19 is probably higher than average. But I’ve got peace of mind knowing that if I do get it I’ve lowered my risk of complications now that I’m no longer overweight.

    Jon and I have organised our wedding for April 2021 and at first, I was dreading shopping for a dress, but now I am so proud of how I look I can’t wait.’

    Mel’s story features in the current edition of Slimming World Magazine which is out now.

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