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The hot 400! These everyday light meals are all less than 400 calories

As chefs on a mission to lose weight and eat healthily, we’re all about getting people back into the kitchen and cooking for all the family, while also giving you healthy, calorie-friendly swaps.

You don’t need to be cooking two different meals each evening in order to keep everyone happy. And you certainly don’t need to be eating alone.

Our recipes are designed to be enjoyed by everyone. When we ask the 1.5 million users who visit our website what they would like to see more of, family recipes are always high on the list.

Pinch of Nom authors Kate Allinson & Kay Featherstone are pictured above. Pinch of Nom recipes are synonymous with creating magic with wraps — wholewheat or wholegrain wraps provide fibre and filling power, too

And so that’s what we deliver — recipes that you can make and then share with family, friends and flatmates without anyone feeling like they are missing out.

We include gluten-free recipes, while nearly half the recipes in Pinch Of Nom Everyday Light are veggie.

We’ve made sure the recipes in both our cookbooks follow simple methods and work whatever your cooking ability.

Based on the feedback we got from our panel of testers — 200 ordinary members of the public — we’re confident that even a novice cook can tackle these recipes and end up with a decent meal without spending hours in the kitchen.

Indeed, you can prepare most of the Everyday Light recipes in under 30 minutes. In the new book, every recipe comes in at under 400 calories per portion. We do this by making the most of key ingredients and clever swaps.

Lean meats are a great source of protein, providing essential nutrients and fantastic filling power. 

Fish is another excellent provider of protein and is naturally low in fat. One of our favourite phrases is: ‘If it swims, it slims!’ 

Secret helpers 

One of Pinch of Nom’s favourite ingredients is the lowly stockpot. These are condensed, ready-made stocks that add instant flavour — they are so versatile. Wine stockpots are a genius invention — flavour without the calories!

Cooking family meals from scratch is another key tip — and it can be economical, too. 

Don’t be afraid to bulk-buy some tinned essentials: beans, tomatoes and 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, it makes little or no difference to the flavour. Similarly, frozen veggies bulk out dishes and are great low-cost alternatives for recipes like stews.

High in both protein and fibre, tins of beans and pulses are perfect cupboard staples, too. 

Rice is really satisfying and, when flavoured with spices and/or seasoning, it’s a great accompaniment to many of our recipes.

Our recipe icons

V  

Suitable for vegetarians

Suitable for freezing. For all freezer friendly recipes, we recommend defrosting completely before heating until piping hot.

GF 

Suitable for those on a gluten free diet.

We often substitute low-fat soft cheese or yoghurt for higher-fat ingredients, while using a low-calorie cooking spray makes little difference to the way that most ingredients are cooked, but dramatically reduces calories because you’re not pouring oil into a pan. 

Low fat, full flavour 

When you remove fat from a recipe, flavours can dwindle. Carefully adding vinegar can restore a rich, deep balance.

Pinch of Nom love a bit of spice! One of the best ways to keep your food interesting is to season it well with herbs and spices.

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.

Protein-rich, filling, tasty and versatile, eggs are the ultimate slimming yet satisfying ingredient — you’ll always want a box in the house.

Pinch of Nom recipes are synonymous with creating magic with wraps — wholewheat or wholegrain wraps provide fibre and filling power, too. 

We also 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 sometimes use wholemeal bread, too — filling and another great source of fibre.

Lemons and limes are perfect for adding to recipes that need an extra bit of ‘zing’.

Today, we’ll show you how to make some of our best-loved healthy family recipes, including veggie spag bol and salmon risotto.

Chicken & ham pie

Prep time 5 mins 

Cook time 30 mins

Cals per portion 301 (Recipe icons: F)

With a few simple swaps, a pie is a wonderful way to create a treat meal on a Friday night without going crazy on the calories. 

Using filo pastry instead of dense, calorie-laden shortcrust pastry, you can recreate the flavour and texture of a classic pie. 

The low-fat cream cheese blends with the other ingredients to create a gorgeous, creamy sauce, perfect for this dish. 

Serve with a green salad or some seasonal steamed vegetables.

Serves 4

  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • 1 large leek, trimmed, washed and sliced
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 500g chicken breast (skin and visible fat removed), diced
  • 2 tsp English mustard powder
  • 350ml chicken stock (1 chicken stock pot dissolved in 350ml boiling water)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 75g low-fat cream cheese
  • 150g cooked ham, fat removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Leaves from 1 sprig of thyme, chopped
  • 50g filo pastry (roughly 2½ small sheets)

Preheat the oven to 200c/fan 180c/gas 6.

Spray a saucepan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a low heat. Add the sliced leek and onion and sauté for 6-8 minutes until soft, then add the chicken to the pan and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the mustard powder and chicken stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Mix the cornflour with the water, add it to the pan and stir quickly to thicken the sauce, then stir in the cream cheese, ham and thyme and transfer the mixture to a medium pie dish.

Cut the filo pastry into 12 pieces. Spray each piece with low-calorie cooking spray then scrunch it lightly. Arrange the scrunched pieces on top of the chicken mixture so the whole dish is covered.

Place the dish on a baking tray, to catch any filling that may bubble over, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the pastry is golden-brown. Serve immediately. 

With a few simple swaps, a pie is a wonderful way to create a treat meal on a Friday night without going crazy on the calories

With a few simple swaps, a pie is a wonderful way to create a treat meal on a Friday night without going crazy on the calories

Veggie spag bowl 

Prep time 5 mins

Cook time 30 mins

Cals per portion 386 (Recipe icons: F, V)

Whether you are a vegetarian or just looking for a meat-free recipe, this veggie spaghetti bolognese is perfect for the whole family. 

It’s packed with wholesome vegetables and filling lentils. Serve with Parmesan if you don’t mind the calories.

Serves: 4

  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 small courgette, finely diced
  • 1 x 400g tin green lentils, drained
  • 100g mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 500g carton passata
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 red wine stock pot
  • 1 vegetable stock pot
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 240g spaghetti

Spray a large frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray, place on a medium heat, add the onion, garlic, carrot and courgette and cook for 5 minutes until starting to soften. 

Add all of the other ingredients, stir, and simmer over a medium heat for 25 minutes, until the sauce has reduced slightly and the vegetables are soft.

While the bolognese is cooking, cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. Serve as soon as the pasta is cooked.

How to batch: 

Cool within 2 hours of cooking, then divide the bolognese sauce into individual servings (minus the spaghetti accompaniment) and freeze immediately. 

Defrost fully, before reheating.

Whether you are a vegetarian or just looking for a meat-free recipe, this veggie spaghetti bolognese is perfect for the whole family

Whether you are a vegetarian or just looking for a meat-free recipe, this veggie spaghetti bolognese is perfect for the whole family

Salmon Risotto

Prep time 5 mins

Cook time 30 mins

Cals per portion 366 (Recipe icons: F, GF)

Stove-cooked risotto can be time-consuming due to all the stirring and gradual adding of stock. 

We’ve created a nifty oven-baked version that cuts out all the standing and stirring repeatedly. So much better!

Serves: 4

  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • ½ onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock (2 gluten-free vegetable or chicken stock cubes dissolved in 1 litre boiling water)
  • 150g frozen peas
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 100g smoked salmon, sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180c/fan 160c/gas 4.

Spray a casserole dish suitable for hob and oven with low-calorie cooking spray. 

Add the finely diced onion and sauté over a medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes, until soft and translucent.

Add the rice to the pan, stir and sauté for another minute. Pour in the white wine vinegar and stock, stir and increase the heat. 

Bring to the boil, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and place in the oven.

After 20 minutes, remove from oven and stir in the peas, spring onions, smoked salmon and lemon juice. 

Return to the oven for 5 more minutes. When cooked, season with salt and pepper and serve.

How to batch:

Cool within 1 hour of cooking, then divide into individual portions and freeze immediately. 

Defrost fully, before reheating.

We’ve created a nifty oven-baked version that cuts out all the standing and stirring repeatedly. So much better!

We’ve created a nifty oven-baked version that cuts out all the standing and stirring repeatedly. So much better!

Loaded potato skins 

Prep time 10 mins

Cook time 40 mins

Cals per portion 263 (Recipe icons: F, GF)

When you think of loaded potato skins, it’s easy to assume they’re laden with The Bad Things. 

But with a few simple substitutes, you can recreate all the flavour for a cheesy, indulgent treat, but without all the calories.

Serves: 4

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 6 bacon medallions
  • 5 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 200g fat-free cottage cheese
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 30g Parmesan, grated

Scrub the potatoes, pierce them with the prongs of a fork and microwave them until they are cooked. 

(If you don’t have a microwave, preheat the oven to 200c/fan 180c/gas 6 and bake the potatoes for 1¼-1½ hours until golden brown and cooked through.)

With a few simple substitutes, you can recreate all the flavour for a cheesy, indulgent treat, but without all the calories

With a few simple substitutes, you can recreate all the flavour for a cheesy, indulgent treat, but without all the calories

Cook the bacon medallions under the grill, in the oven or in a dry frying pan on the hob, then set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200c/fan 180c/gas 6. Allow the cooked potatoes to cool slightly (just enough so you can handle them without burning yourself) then cut them in half lengthways and scoop out the potato into a bowl. Chop the bacon into small pieces.

Mash the potato roughly with a fork, then stir in the spring onions and cottage cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Spoon the mixture back into the empty potato shells, pressing it in slightly. Top each potato with the chopped bacon and an even sprinkle of Parmesan.

Place the filled potato shells on a baking tray and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the Parmesan is melted and golden brown, then serve.

Cherry cola pulled pork

Prep time 15 mins

Cook time 2hrs 35 mins

Cals per portion 356 (Recipe icons: F, GF)

Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of this pop, the final result is a tasty BBQ sauce and you’d never guess how it was made!

Serves: 6

  • 1.5kg pork shoulder joint (weight including fat)
  • 4 white onions, peeled and roughly sliced
  • 660ml diet cherry cola (or Dr Pepper)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce or Henderson’s Relish
  • 1 gluten-free pork stock cube, crumbled
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp onion granules
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • To serve: 80g steamed veg (add 38 kcal per serving)

Preheat oven to 170c (150c/gas 3). Remove visible fat from the pork, cut the meat into chunks (matchbox size), then put in an ovenproof dish. 

Add the onions, cherry cola, Worcestershire sauce, stock cube, paprika, garlic granules, onion granules and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Place the dish, lid on, in the oven for 2½ hours. Once meat is ready it will be tender and falling apart when you push your fork into it. 

There may be some fat that has risen to the top of the stock. Skim fat off and discard. Remove meat and place in a separate bowl.

If your casserole dish can be used on the hob, remove from the oven and place over a medium heat. If it can’t, transfer onions and stock into a saucepan. 

Stir in tomato puree and balsamic vinegar and simmer the onions and remaining stock for 5 minutes. Use a stick blender to blend the onions and stock. You should be left with a thick BBQ sauce. 

If it’s too thin, reduce further over a medium heat. While the sauce is reducing, shred the pork using two forks. 

Pour the sauce over the pork — just enough to coat it well. Serve hot. The dish can also be frozen once cooled. Defrost fully then reheat until piping hot.

Tip: Freeze any leftover sauce; you can use it as a BBQ sauce with other dishes.

Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of this pop, the final result is a tasty BBQ sauce and you’d never guess how it was made!

Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of this pop, the final result is a tasty BBQ sauce and you’d never guess how it was made!

Learn to batch cook

Our community often requests batch-cooking ideas. It’s a very effective way of helping busy families eat good food together because all you have to do is get the dish you prepared earlier out of the freezer. 

Some notes to think about when batch cooking:

  • It’s always important to store food safely, so in this list we have included the latest NHS food-safety guidelines (correct at the time of writing). 
  • Divide food into individual portions to refrigerate or freeze. This means you can just reheat one portion. It also ensures they cool and freeze quicker. 
  • Make sure you’ve got enough space in your fridge or freezer for your meals before you get cooking!
  • Use refrigerated foods within two days.
  • When freezing food, make sure you use airtight containers or freezer bags. Invest in some decent, freezer and microwave-proof storage containers. If not, your containers may crack or melt. Make sure containers are sealed properly to avoid ‘freezer burn’, when the food has been damaged by oxidization from air getting inside.
  • Always label food. Use freezer-proof stickers, adding the date you made it. Meals can be kept frozen for around 3-6 months. Beyond 6 months is still safe, but the food may not taste as good.
  • Always make sure food is defrosted thoroughly before reheating it, either in the fridge or microwave.
  • Only reheat food once.
  • When food has defrosted completely, it should be reheated and eaten within 24 hours. NHS guidelines state you should reheat food until it reaches 70c/130f and holds that temperature for 2 minutes. Make sure it is piping hot all the way through. Stir during reheating to ensure this.
  • You need to cook rice and pasta at the time you want to eat it as they either cannot be reheated, or they’re a lot nicer cooked fresh.
  • If you are batch-cooking rice, it’s important to store it correctly before you reheat it. Cool it as quickly as possible, ideally within an hour. Put rice in a wide, shallow container, which will help it cool. There is a risk of bacteria growing the longer it is left at room temperature. Cooked rice should only be kept in the fridge for 1 day before reheating. When you reheat rice, make sure it is piping hot all the way through. Never reheat rice more than once.

The twins lost their mum, so I taught them how to cook

Lee Cripps, a 40-year-old IT manager from Berkshire, discovered Pinch of Nom last June. 

A friend suggested it as inspiration for fun and healthy meals he could make with his twin daughters, Sophie and Lauren, aged nine, after their mum, Alex, died from cancer aged 40 last January. 

He says:

After their mum died, I wanted the girls to learn to cook so we’d have something positive and enjoyable to do together each evening.

The first Pinch of Nom recipe we tried was Creamy Garlic Chicken, and it’s remained a firm favourite. At the weekend we made sausage and egg muffins out of the new book, and they went down a storm, too.

Lee Cripps, a 40-year-old IT manager from Berkshire, discovered Pinch of Nom last June. He is pictured with daughters Sophie and Lauren

Lee Cripps, a 40-year-old IT manager from Berkshire, discovered Pinch of Nom last June. He is pictured with daughters Sophie and Lauren

They were like a healthier, tastier version of what you’d get from McDonald’s. The girls loved making them almost as much as eating them — they sit down at the table with a real sense of pride.

Although I try to keep an eye on my weight, the girls are still growing so need plenty of calories — that’s easy to achieve simply by using full-fat versions of everything.

For example, we slosh in olive oil where the recipe says to use a low-calorie spray and use whatever cheese we have in the fridge instead of buying low-fat versions.

The girls are learning great life skills: not just mastering cooking healthily from scratch, but also how to organise themselves.

It’s reassuring for me to know that when they eventually go off to university, they won’t be relying on Pot Noodles and takeaways but will be able to cook for themselves. That’s what Alex would have wanted for them.

For us, Pinch of Nom is about having a choice of nutritious recipes for fun food using fresh ingredients that are easy to cook and within realistic time frames.

We know that whatever we choose to have for tea, if the book says we can have it on the table in 25 minutes then that really will be the case.

It’s no good if a recipe says it’ll take half an hour, but it ends up being so complicated that you’re still faffing about 90 minutes later and the kids have stormed off in frustration.

I always make sure we’ve got a decent supply of fresh food and store cupboard ingredients, and thanks to the way the cookbook works, we can usually pull something together from what we have in.

For example, last night we had minced beef and peppers in the fridge — we found a recipe for Kate and Kay’s version of Sloppy Joes, peppers stuffed with mince and topped with cheese, and it was a great success.

Other times the girls will go through the two recipe books and pick out either old favourites or new things to try. 

They’ll look in the cupboards and the fridge to see what we’ve already got, and then make a list of what else we need to add to the next supermarket shop.

It’s changed the way we eat for the better.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk