Everyone enjoys a takeaway — it’s a chance to explore different culinary flavours, but you’d rarely think of them as a healthy option.
As a classically trained chef, Kate has always looked at recipes and then worked out how to improve or recreate them.
Together, we’ve transformed some of our favourite dishes into healthy indulgences — that includes turning high-calorie takeaways into ‘fakeaways’ that are even tastier than their calorific counterparts.
Switching out a few key ingredients has a massive impact on the calorie, fat or sugar content of food.
To make our recipes healthier, we simply make small ingredient swaps and add flavour with low-calorie ingredients such as spices or stock cubes, rather than relying on fatty ingredients such as cheese and butter.
Pinch of Nom authors Kate Allinson & Kay Featherstone (pictured) have transformed some of our favourite dishes into healthy indulgences
People are often under the illusion that eating healthier means having a smoothie and a salad every day. We try to give people more options so they don’t feel they’re missing out, which can be so demotivating.
We started our Pinch of Nom recipe website in 2016 as somewhere to offer inspiration to slimmers wanting to lose weight without feeling deprived.
Since then, Pinch of Nom has grown into a community of 1.5 million users. Having asked them what recipes they want to see, we set about creating healthier versions.
Our dishes look exactly like the photos, and all of the recipes in our new book, Pinch Of Nom Everyday Light, come in at under 400 calories.
Today, we’re sharing some of our favourite ‘fakeaway’ recipes with you . . .
This cheeseburger pizza takes 15 minutes to cook and is 343 calories per serving
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Cals: 343 per serving
Pizza can sometimes seem like the enemy when you’re trying to follow a healthy diet, but by swapping a dense, carb-laden pizza base for a tortilla wrap, you can eat it with a good conscience.
Using some clever ingredients creates a classic cheeseburger taste, which feels like a real treat.
- Pinch of dried oregano, plus extra for sprinkling
- Pinch of onion granules
- Pinch of garlic granules
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ red pepper, finely diced
- 1 low-calorie tortilla wrap
- 1 small pickled gherkin, thinly sliced
- 20g reduced-fat Cheddar, grated
Preheat the oven to 220c/fan 200c/gas 7. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Put the minced beef in a bowl with the oregano, onion granules and garlic granules. Season with salt and pepper, then mix well and divide into 15 equal pieces, then roll them into meatballs. (You can freeze the meatballs at this point for cooking on another day.)
Place the meatballs on the baking tray along with the diced onion and pepper. Cook in the oven for 5 minutes, then remove and set aside. Turn the oven temperature down to 200c/fan 180c/gas 6 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Mix the tomato puree with the balsamic vinegar and spread it over the wrap. Place the wrap on the lined tray. Spread the cooked meatballs, onion and pepper over the wrap, then sprinkle with the gherkin slices.
Cover with the grated Cheddar, then tear the mozzarella into pieces and arrange on top. Sprinkle with oregano.
Bake for 7 minutes or until the wrap is crisp and the cheese is melted and golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve.
Chicken And Black Bean Sauce
This classic Chinese takeaway dish has been given the Pinch of Nom treatment and takes ten minutes to cook
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Cals: 267 per serving
We’ve given this classic Chinese takeaway dish the Pinch of Nom treatment, reducing the typical quantity of oil and calorific ingredients, while not sacrificing those authentic tastes of soy, miso and the depth of that spicy, black bean sauce.
A perfect Friday night craving sorted!
- Low-calorie cooking spray
- 500g chicken breast (skin and visible fat removed), cut into strips
- 6 spring onions, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2cm (¾in) piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- ½ tsp Chinese five-spice
- ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
- 100g baby corn, each cut into three
- ½ red pepper, deseeded and sliced
- ½ green pepper, deseeded and sliced
- 1 x 400g tin black beans, drained, rinsed and roughly mashed
- 1 tbsp white rice vinegar
Spray a wok or frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a high heat. Add the chicken strips and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes until lightly browned, then add the spring onions, garlic, ginger, five-spice and chilli flakes and stir well.
Add the vegetables and stir-fry for another 3–4 minutes.
Stir in the miso paste and the crushed beans, followed by the soy sauce, rice vinegar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Check the chicken is cooked through and serve with rice or noodles.
Yeung Chow Fried Rice
The yeung chow fried rice takes 20 minutes to prepare and is 400 calories per serving
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Cals: 400 per serving
We love a Chinese takeaway, but we don’t love how unhealthy they can be. This Yeung Chow Fried Rice tastes as good as the real thing but comes in at 400 calories per serving.
- 150g pork loin steaks, cut into strips
- Low-calorie cooking spray
- Bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
For the marinade
- Pinch of Chinese five-spice
Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, add the pork loin strips and mix until well coated. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Substitute 100g of chicken for the prawns, if you wish
Cook the rice according to packet instructions, fluff up with a fork, then allow to cool.
Heat a wok over a medium heat and scramble the egg. Place on a plate and put to one side.
Wipe the wok, spray with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a high heat. Add the marinated pork strips and stir-fry for 5 minutes, until the pork is cooked through.
Add the peas, onions, ham, carrot and prawns and stir-fry for another minute.
Add the cooked rice, cooked egg and a tablespoon of soy sauce. Continue to stir-fry, until ingredients are well combined and the rice is thoroughly heated, then serve with chilli sauce if liked.
This flavoursome balti means you get that authentic takeaway flavour, while keeping a handle on the calories
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Cals: 373 per serving
Using fresh ingredients for this flavoursome balti means you get that authentic takeaway flavour, while keeping a handle on the calories. Scale up the ingredients for the balti paste and portion it off for freezing, so you have an easy curry base on hand for whenever the takeaway craving pops up.
For the balti paste
- Low-calorie cooking spray
- 2 large onions, roughly chopped
- 1.2 cm (½ in) piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp smoked sweet paprika
- 2 tsp each ground cumin and coriander
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken
- 4 skinless chicken breasts, diced
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- 150ml chicken stock using ½ stock cube
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 gluten-free chicken stock cube
- 1 red, yellow, orange pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
- Handful coriander leaves
Start by making the balti paste. Spray a frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a medium heat. Add the onions, ginger and garlic to the pan and fry for 3-4 minutes until the onion is golden brown.
Put the contents of the pan and the rest of the paste ingredients in a food processor or blender and blitz until it forms a paste. Transfer to a bowl, allow to cool and put in the fridge, or – if you’re making ahead – freeze it in an ice-cube tray.
Place the chicken in a freezer bag or bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of the paste, mix well and place in the fridge to marinate for an hour or so.
Spray a large frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a medium heat.
Add the cinnamon and chilli flakes and cook for 2 minutes, then spray the pan with more cooking spray, add 4 tablespoons of the balti paste and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the stock, tinned tomatoes and stock cube, stir well and bring to the boil.
Turn the heat down to medium, add the marinated chicken and pepper strips and cook for 15 minutes.
Taste the curry and add more salt if you like, and check that the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the garam masala, cook for another 3 minutes and serve garnished with the coriander, if using.
The softfish tacos take ten minutes to cook and are just 190 calories per serving
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Cals: 190 per serving
A beautifully light dish, this recipe treats white fish with the delicacy it deserves, while delivering wonderfully fresh flavours with the chilli and spring onion.
These tacos are perfect for all occasions — ideal for kids who’ll love stacking their own, and adults for a quick evening meal.
- 2 small fillets of white fish (about 280g), preferably skin on, cut into strips about 3cm (1¼in) wide
- ¼ tsp (quarter) mild chilli powder
- ¼ tsp ground coriander
- Low-calorie cooking spray
- Small handful of watercress or rocket
- A few sprigs of fresh coriander
- 1 spring onion, trimmed and chopped
- 2 low-calorie tortilla wraps, halved (or 4 small ones)
- 4 tsp fat-free Greek-style yoghurt, plus extra to serve (optional)
- Pinch of dried chilli flakes
Place the strips of fish – you should have about eight – skin side up on a board and sprinkle with the chilli powder, garlic granules and ground coriander.
Stay on track
Stick reminders on the fridge and enlist friends and family to continually spur you on.
You will need all your resolve to keep to your goals and stay focused.
Spray a frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a high heat. Add the fish to the pan, skin side down, and cook for 4 minutes — do not be tempted to flip the fillets or move them, you want the skin to be crisp!
Spray the fillets with low-calorie cooking spray, then flip the fish over. Sprinkle over the salt and cook for 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, place your choice of leaves, the fresh coriander and some chopped spring onion onto each half wrap.
When the fish is cooked, place a couple of strips onto each prepared wrap. Squeeze over a little lime juice, dollop a blob of fat-free yoghurt and give each taco a little pinch of chilli flakes, then serve.
Store cupboard staples
Sometimes you don’t have time to do a big shop. But by making sure your store cupboard is always stocked with a few key items, you’ll be able to make a healthy, tasty meal any time.
From stock pots to tinned beans, here are our staple ingredients . . .
Lean meats are a great source of protein, providing essential nutrients and fantastic ﬁlling power. In all recipes with meat as an ingredient, make sure you use the leanest cuts and trim off all visible fat.
Fish is another great source of protein and is naturally low in fat. One of our favourite phrases is: ‘If it swims, it slims!’ Fish provides nutrients that the body struggles to produce naturally, making it perfect for some of Pinch of Nom’s super-slimming recipes.
Just under half of the recipes in our new book are veggie, but you can always use vegetarian protein options instead of meat in our recipes (though this will affect the calorie count).
HERBS AND SPICES
One of the best ways to keep your food interesting is to season it well with herbs and spices
We loves a bit of spice. When you’re changing ingredients for lower fat, sugar or calorie versions, one of the best ways to keep your food interesting is to season it well with herbs and spices.
In particular, mixed spice blends are perfect for lots of our recipes. Don’t be shy with spices — not all of them burn your mouth off.
We use garlic granules in a lot of our recipes because they are a convenient and cheaper alternative to fresh garlic, and in slow cooks and stews, for example, you won’t be able to tell the difference.
STOCKS AND SAUCES
One of Pinch of Nom’s favourite ingredients is the lowly stock pot. It adds instant flavour and is so versatile.
We use various flavoured pots in our book, but they are all interchangeable.
Wine stock pots are an ingenious invention — flavour without the calories. We also love soy, fish and Worcestershire sauces for big splashes of flavour. Swap with reduced-salt varieties if you prefer.
Protein-rich, filling, tasty and versatile, eggs are the ultimate slimming, yet satisfying, ingredient. Start your day with a filling, protein-rich Egg-in-the hole Breakfast Bagel, where you put a fried egg in the centre, or try them on top of a comforting Ramen bowl. You’ll always want a half dozen in the house.
Pinch of Nom recipes are synonymous with creating magic with wraps
Pinch of Nom recipes are synonymous with creating magic with wraps. You’ll be surprised at the dishes you can make using a lowly wrap — you can even use it in place of pastry.
Wholewheat or wholegrain wraps provide fibre and ﬁlling power.
TINS AND FROZEN FOOD
Don’t be afraid to bulk-buy tinned essentials for your store cupboard. Beans, tomatoes, sweetcorn — you’ll ﬁnd you can add many of these ingredients to Pinch of Nom stews and salads.
They keep the cost of dishes down and, compared with fresh ingredients, will make little or no difference to the ﬂavour.
Similarly, frozen veggies bulk out dishes and are great low-cost alternatives for stews, where fresh options aren’t necessarily required.
We use gluten-free rolls in some of our recipes. Generally lower in calories, they have a high fibre-density, which is a perfect way to balance a low-calorie diet. We also use some wholemeal bread — another great source of fibre providing that all-important ﬁlling power.
Swapping in alternatives for high-fat dairy products instantly make a dish healthier. We substitute low-fat soft cheese or yoghurt for higher-fat ingredients.
One of the best ways to cut down on cooking with oils and fats is to use a low-calorie cooking spray.
It makes little difference to the way that most ingredients are cooked, but it has a huge impact on the calories because you need so much less than you would when pouring oil into a pan. You can also use olive oil spray — just be careful how much you’re spraying to save calories.
When you remove fat from a recipe, flavours can dwindle. Adding vinegar can bring rich, deep balance to flavours.
LEMONS AND LIMES
Citrus fruits pack a punch when it comes to ﬂavour, adding to recipes which need that extra bit of ‘zing’.
PULSES, RICE, BEANS
High in protein and fibre, tins of beans and pulses are perfect staples. Rice is satisfying and, when ﬂavoured with spices, is a great accompaniment to many of our recipes.
We’ve lost weight and saved money
Lynne Winwood, 51, a recently retired nurse, became a Pinch of Nom devotee 12 months ago when she discovered Kay and Kate’s online blog.
Since then, she’s lost three quarters of a stone and says she enjoys more quality time with her family as they now plan, cook and eat more of their Pinch of Nom meals together.
She lives in Swindon with her husband, Steve, a 52-year-old warehouse manager. Her daughter Jess, 22, lives close by. Lynne says:
Lynne Winwood (pictured with husband Steve and daughter Jess), from Swindon, became a Pinch of Nom devotee 12 months ago when she discovered Kay and Kate’s online blog
Our dining room table has never seen so much action as in the past 12 months. Jess is cabin crew for an airline and when she’s home she rings up and asks what we’re having for dinner.
She’ll then say, ‘that sounds so much nicer than what I was having’, before heading over to join us.
I’ve always cooked, but it never felt a particularly relaxing thing to do, until now. Each weekend, Steve and I go through the cookbooks and plan the menu — sometimes Jess gets involved with that, too.
Cooking no longer feels like another chore to tick off. It’s become something pleasurable that we enjoy doing together — but I’m also happy following the recipes on my own, because they’re so simple, don’t take ages and the results have never let me down.
Where once we’d treat ourselves to a takeaway at least once a week, now we think: ‘What do we fancy, and is there a Pinch of Nom fakeaway that we could make instead?’
Garlic- I always have several bulbs in the cupboard- we never run out. It adds depth of flavour and is an ingredient in all the dishes we like best
Cajun spice- Cajun bean soup is my favourite Pinch of Nom dish, and this is the key ingredient. I use it at least twice a week.
Sweet peppers- You’ll always find a bag of these in our fridge. I chuck them into loads of recipes and we eat them raw too.
If we fancy Chinese, we might make Kate and Kay’s Chicken and Mushroom stir-fry — and their Chicken Balti and Onion Bhajis are as good as anything we might bring home from our local Indian restaurant.
I’ve lost weight, and of course we’ve saved money because we’ve cut takeaways back to just one a month. But we’ve also gained something more valuable in the way meal times have become such a bonding experience.
They’re a time to chat about the day with a strong sense that the kitchen and dining room table are now positioned at the very heart of our home.
We’ve even got our own Pinch of Nom fan club among family and friends. We send each other pictures of who’s cooked what. At a big get-together for a friend’s birthday recently, favourite Pinch of Nom recipes became the main topic of conversation.
Tonight, I’m cooking a first — Pizza Loaded Fries from the new book. I’ll serve it as a side to go with Cuban Beef out of the first cookbook. I love that I can combine old stalwarts with new dishes. I might even find a recipe that trumps my all-time favourite — Cajun Bean soup.