Monday, June 19, 2017

Herby chicken traybake

Serves: 4
Cook time: Ready in about 50 minutes
Ready in: 30-60 Minutes
Syns per serving:  FREE

This fuss-free chicken recipe will be a huge hit with the whole family.


  •     Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •     8 skinless chicken thighs
  •     Low-calorie cooking spray
  •     600g baby new potatoes, halved
  •     500g vine tomatoes, halved
  •     3 onions, quartered
  •     200g baby courgettes, halved
  •     1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
  •     4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  •     A small handful of fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
  •     A large handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  •     ½ tsp dried oregano
  •     1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  •     Finely grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
  •     150ml chicken stock


    Preheat your oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Season the chicken and spray it with low-calorie cooking spray. Place a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the chicken and brown for 4-5 minutes, turning once or twice. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

    Boil the potatoes for 2-3 minutes, then drain well and transfer them to a roasting tin. Add the tomatoes, onions, courgettes and red pepper and spray with low-calorie cooking spray. Top with the chicken and sprinkle over the garlic, fresh and dried herbs, chilli flakes and  lemon zest and juice. Pour over the stock and cover with foil.

    Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and the chicken is cooked through.

Serve immediately



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ploughmans on a stick

Serves: 4
Cook time: Ready in 10 minutes
Ready in: Less than 30 Minutes
SP Perfect for Extra Easy SP
Syns per serving: FREE

Put a bite-size twist on a picnic classic with these Ploughman's sticks!


  •     4 thin slices of lean ham, visible fat removed
  •     4 bottled silverskin pickled onions, drained
  •     1 apple


    Cut each slice of ham into three long strips and roll up each strip tightly.

    Thread the rolled-up ham strips on to four skewers or cocktail sticks along with the pickled onions.

    Add a chunk of apple to any stick you are eating straight away. Keep the rest in the fridge for up to 2 days and add the apple chunks when you are ready to eat.

Tip: You could add your favourite cheese to these ploughman's stick by using a Healthy Extra 'A' choice


Houmous dip

Serves: 2
Prep time: 20 minutes
Ready in: Less than 30 Minutes
Suitable for vegetarians
SP Perfect for Extra Easy SP
Syns per serving:  FREE

Anne-Marie Williams from Wrexham, North Wales found a fantastically Free way of making houmous. “Ready-made houmous contains tahini and oil which means it has a Syn value.” Ann-Marie says. “I’ve adapted the recipe to make a delicious homemade houmous that’s Free.


  •     1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
  •     Low calorie cooking spray
  •     400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  •     20-50ml water
  •     2 cloves garlic, crushed
  •     1 tbsp lemon juice
  •     Salt to taste


    Place the sliced red pepper on a baking tray sprayed with low calorie cooking spray and roast until softened.

    Once the pepper is cooked and cooled, place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend, adding more water if necessary to create a smooth paste.

    Add salt to taste and serve with lots of delicious Speed crudités to make this perfect for SP days. 


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Chickpea Patties

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Ready in: Less than 30 Minutes
Suitable for vegetarians
Freezer friendly
Syns per serving: FREE

Usually fried this Indian street food snack is baked here for a healthy, delicious starter.


  •     400g can chickpeas, drained
  •     1 onion, peeled and very finely chopped
  •     200g freshly mashed potato
  •     2 tsp mild chilli powder
  •     ¼ tsp turmeric
  •     1 small egg, lightly beaten
  •     1 tsp roasted coriander seeds, crushed
  •     2 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
  •     2 tsp roasted cumin seeds crushed
  •     2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  •     Salt
  •     Low calorie cooking spray


    Place the chickpeas and onion in a food processor and blend for 1-2 minutes or until roughly mashed. 

Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the potatoes, chilli powder, turmeric, egg, roasted coriander and cumin seeds and the chopped herbs. Season well with salt, cover and chill in the fridge for 5-6 hours or overnight.

    Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas 6. Divide the chickpea mixture into 12 portions and shape each one into a flat cake or patty.

    Place the patties on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Spray with low calorie cooking spray and bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through. Serve immediately with cucumber.


Toffee apple brulees

Serves: 4
Ready in: Less than 30 Minutes
Syns per serving: 3½

Bonfire Night sweetness comes early. Can you resist?


  •     1 vanilla pod
  •     1 tbsp sweetener
  •     2 medium dessert apples, such as Cox’s, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
  •     400g Total 0% Fat Greek yogurt
  •     1 tsp vanilla extract
  •     2 level tbsp dark muscovado sugar


    Split the vanilla pod in half and scrape the seeds into a small saucepan. Add 100ml water and half the sweetener, then bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to low and simmer gently for 5-6 minutes, or until reduced to a thin syrup. Remove from the heat and stir in the apples, then toss well and leave to cool slightly.

    Preheat your grill to high. Mix together the yogurt, vanilla extract and remaining sweetener. Divide the apple mixture between 4 ramekins and top with the yogurt mixture. Sprinkle each with ½ level tbsp sugar.

    Put the ramekins under the hot grill for 10-15 seconds (or use a cook’s blowtorch for a few seconds), until the tops are golden and slightly caramelised. Leave to cool before serving.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Cajun chicken with spicy potato wedges and coleslaw

Serves: 4
Ready in: 30-60 Minutes
Syns per serving:  2

This one is set to become a Friday night Food Optimising favourite. Who needs a takeaway when comfort food tastes this good?


  •     4 chicken drumsticks, skinned
  •     4 chicken thighs, skinned
  •     900g large new potatoes, quartered into wedges
  •     30g sachet fajita seasoning mix
  •     8 mini corn on the cobs
  •     A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to garnish

For the coleslaw:

  •     200g summer cabbage, quartered, cored and shredded
  •     2 carrots, coarsley grated
  •     Salt
  •     4 level tbsp extra-light mayonnaise
  •     4 spring onions, finely shredded


    Preheat your oven to 200°C/180°Fan/Gas 6. Cut a few slits into the chicken drumsticks and thighs and put them in a large roasting tin with the wedges. Sprinkle over the Cajun seasoning and toss everything together.

    Roast in the oven for 50 minutes, mixing occasionally. Add the corn cobs halfway through the cooking time.

    For the coleslaw, put the cabbage in a colander. Pour over a kettle full of just-boiled water, letting it drain, to soften the cabbage slightly. Cool it quickly with cold water and let it drain again.

    Add the carrot to the colander. Sprinkle over a good pinch of salt and mix well (this both seasons the veg and draws out some of the moisture). Leave to drain for 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and mix together well with the mayonnaise and shredded spring onions.

    Divide the spicy chicken, potatoes and corn cobs between four plates, garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley and serve with the coleslaw on the side.


Marshmallow pops

Serves: 10
Cook time: Ready in about 15 minutes
Ready in: Less than 30 Minutes
Syns per serving:   2

A sweet, squidgy marshmallow drizzled with rich, melted chocolate? Yes please, don't mind if we do!


  •     35g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
  •     10 marshmallows


    Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (or melt it in the microwave on a low heat for 30 seconds). Leave to cool for 3-4 minutes.

    Thread the marshmallows onto long lollipop sticks or wooden skewers and arrange in a jug. Drizzle each with chocolate, then grab yours before it's gone.