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I love vast bowls of pasta and risotto and that’s probably why I’d managed to stack on an extra 10 kilos. I needed to lose weight for health reasons if nothing else. But I wasn’t prepared to give up delicious food or wine. And I refused to count POINTS, go low fat, Dukan or any other other stupid diet. Instead I changed the way I eat forever. I haven’t given up a thing but if I do have pasta it’s for lunch and the portion size has shrunk. For dinner we cook interesting food but with the rice, pasta, bread and potatoes subtracted most nights. Over the course of about a year and a half I’ve lost the ten kilos. I fit every single item in my wardrobe. I had to buy new jeans as the old ones were falling down.

So here are my tips if you want to shed a few kilos. Work out what you’re doing wrong and change it. Take it slowly, don’t always be trying to lose weight, have maintenance phases. Eat real food rather than processed rubbish. Have a good breakfast. If you eat chocolate or cake don’t feel as if you’ve ruined your diet and start a splurge…continue to eat normally for the rest of the day instead.

 This spiced fish stew is one of my favourite easy healthy meals. You can make it with any white fish or seafood.  You will need: 2 large fillets white fish chopped into pieces, 6 prawns, 1 onion, two tins Italian finely chopped tomatoes, 2 cloves garlic, 1 red chilli pepper, 1 teaspoon cumin, 2 teaspoons garam masala, salt, lime, oil.

Fry onion until translucent. Add garlic and chilli and fry for a couple of minutes…don’t let the garlic brown. Add cumin and garam masala and stir through. Add  tomatoes and salt and simmer for 15 minutes (you can add a little water or fish stock if it’s looking dry). Add prawns and fish and cook through. Turn off the heat and add the juice of one lime. You could scatter a few coriander leaves on the top if you were feeling a bit fancy. Serves two…would stretch to three with a little rice but I only allow one handful of dried rice per person these days.



Every autumn I plant a crop of broad beans and, aside from staking the plants, pretty much ignore them through winter and then in spring they reward me with a bumper crop. We eat them in salads although preparing them is fiddly – you have to pod and blanch the beans, then pull off the grey skin from each one to get to the glorious green beneath. For this pasta recipe I don’t bother to shuck my broad beans from their skins. Actually this dish is meant to be made with peas and you do get a nuttier flavour…but I’m rubbish at growing peas.

You will need: about a kilo of broad beans in pods, one bunch spring onions (scallions), 300g bacon, 150 to 200g spaghetti, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper.

Pod the broad beans.  Put a pasta pot full of salted water on to boil. Chop bacon and spring onions roughly and fry together gently in olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Break spaghetti into smaller lengths and cook in pasta pot once water is boiling. Add broad beans to the bacon and spring onion mixture, fry for a minute then ladle in water from the pasta pot until they are just covered. Simmer until tender at which point the spaghetti should be cooked al dente. Chuck the pasta in a sieve to drain and then put it in with the broad beans and mix.

The result should be a light soupy mixture to serve in bowls with a little black pepper and some grated Parmesan. Don’t be tempted to go adding stuff like garlic as this is meant to have a clean flavour. And if you are good at growing peas then by all means make it with them!


Over the winter months I can’t be doing with wimpy lettuce salads so instead we eat a lot of red cabbage slaw…it tastes good and is more satisfying too.

You will need: half a small red cabbage, half a red onion, 1 apple, a handful of sesame seeds, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, a lemon or lime, salt, black pepper

Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, chop out the core and put them in the compost. Slice the rest up finely. The best way is with a mandolin but I’m banned from sharp implements so I stick with a kitchen knife. Chop apple. Peel and finely slice red onion. Put it all in a bowl with the sunflower seeds. Now mix a vinaigrette. The rule is four tablespoons of olive oil to one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and one teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a pinch of salt and freshly  ground pepper. I like to add the juice of a lemon or lime and a couple of dashes of hot chilli sauce too. Dress the slaw a good 20 minutes before serving and toss well.

You can play around with this slaw for variety – so add walnuts or toasted peanuts instead of the seeds, crumble over feta, add a big mound of finely chopped Italian parsley, make a yoghurt based dressing or use a red wine vinegar instead of balsamic.

My favourite way to eat this cabbage slaw is with roast chicken and mashed potato or a slow-cooked, red wine soaked beef stew. The freshness and crunch provide great contrast to richer flavours. It’s also good with barbecued meats and oily fish like salmon.

Red cabbage is better for you than green. It’s crammed with antioxidants as well as vitamins and potassium. I reckon it has more flavour too.


It’s spring vegetable time here in New Zealand – always my favourite eating season. When I found this artichoke at my local food market I snapped it up and prepared it the way my father taught me. Here’s how:

You will need: a globe artichoke, olive oil, garlic, Italian parsley, salt, black pepper, butter and balsamic vinegar (optional), water.

Slice off the stalk and loosen the leaves. Put artichoke in a saucepan – it should fit fairly snugly. Stuff a little chopped garlic and Italian parsley in between the leaves, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle over half a teaspoon of salt and some ground black pepper. You can also add a dash of balsamic vinegar and/or a knob of butter. Now add a small amount of water – no more than a finger deep –  to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour with the lid on so that it steams. You can add more water if it starts looking dry but it shouldn’t. It’s cooked when you can pull off an outer leaf and the lower part is tender.

 Serve in a bowl with the cooking juices poured over the top. You eat the artichoke by scraping the  lower part of the leaf with your teeth. It looks greeny/grey and unappetising but tastes delicious (at least I think so). I dunk each leaf into the cooking juices for extra flavour. When you get to the tiny centre leaves they’re not worth bothering with so pull them off, remove the stuff that looks like the head of a shaving brush and you’ll find the real treasure beneath. Again it may not look as if it’s going to  taste that wonderful but in my house we fight over who has the biggest bit. Soak up the last of the juices with some crusty bread.

Artichokes are rich in antioxidants and a source of folate, magnesium, vitamin C and fibre. They grow like weeds in warm climates.  They’re good served as a starter or as a side dish with meat, pasta, fish or risotto.