Learn to make each meal under 400 calories to help shift lockdown pounds with these recipes – The Sun

WE started lockdown with dreams of cooking healthy meals and finally doing a Joe Wicks online workout.

But as the inevitable boredom with social distancing has crept in, many of us have turned to comfort food. And that’s where food bloggers Pinch Of Nom come to the rescue.

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With thousands of us confessing to gaining weight while stuck inside, it didn’t take long for the phrase “quarantine 15” — the predicted number of pounds you will gain during lockdown — to begin trending online.

But lockdown does not mean that piling on the pounds is inevitable.

To help you nip unhealthy habits in the bud and slim down in isolation, we’ve teamed up with the Pinch Of Nom ladies.

The healthy cooking duo, who gained a huge following online by posting their nutritious take on classic recipes, broke records last year with the fastest selling non-fiction book, Pinch Of Nom: 100 Slimming Home-Style Recipes.

Now they are giving Sun readers a taste of their favourites — from low-calorie breakfasts to filling “fakeaway” recipes.

The Pinch Of Nom stars — Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone — say: “We are chefs on a mission to lose weight and eat healthily.

“The aim is to provide delicious, light recipes that don’t feel like diet food.

“All these meals come in at under 400 calories but we’ve made sure to use the right ingredients so you are still getting decent portions."

“We don’t create recipes where you only get a teaspoon of food.

“We want to give the same hearty Pinch Of Nom food you’ve come to love.

“We’re all about giving you healthy, calorie-friendly swaps.”

  • Recipes from Pinch of Nom: 100 Slimming Home-Style Recipes, and Pinch of Nom Everyday Light, by Kay Featherstone and Kate Allinson (Pan Macmillan).


Breakfast: Creamy mushroom bruschetta

(Serves 2, 164 cals per portion, V GF)


  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 gluten-free ciabattas
  • 25g low-fat cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives, snipped

METHOD: Spray a frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a low-medium heat.

Add the mushrooms and cook gently for a couple of minutes until they start to soften, then add the garlic and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and the garlic is soft.

Meanwhile, cut the ciabattas in half lengthways and toast until golden.

Place them on two serving plates.

Add the cream cheese to the frying pan and mix it through the mushrooms over a low heat, then add the basil and season with salt and pepper.

Top the toasted ciabatta with the creamy mushroom mix, scatter with the chives and enjoy.

Lunch: Pizza-stuffed chicken

(Serves 4, 388 cals per serving, F GF)


  • 4 chicken breasts (skin and visible fat removed)
  • 20 thin slices of large mushrooms
  • ½ red pepper, deseeded and cut into 20 thin slices
  • 4 bacon medallions, each cut into 5 strips
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 slices of tomato
  • 80g reduced-fat Cheddar, grated
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • Low-calorie cooking spray

METHOD: Preheat the oven to 220C (fan 200C/ gas mark 7).

Take each chicken breast and make five cuts widthways across the breast, three-quarters of the way through from top to bottom.

Be careful not to cut all the way through.

In each cut place the following: One slice of mushroom, one slice of pepper, one strip of bacon and a couple of slices of onion.

Place on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

When cooked, arrange two tomato slices on each breast and top each with 20g of grated cheese and a pinch of the Italian herbs.

Return to the oven and cook for another 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and serve.

Dinner: Doner kebab fakeaway

(Serves 4, 170 cals per serving, F)


  • Low-calorie cooking spray (if cooking in the oven)
  • 500g 5% fat minced beef
  • ½ tsp onion granules
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp garlic granules
  • ¼ tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp sea saIt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper To serve (optional)
  • Brown pitta bread
  • Green salad
  • Low-fat natural yoghurt mixed with mint sauce

METHOD: Preheat the oven to 180C (fan 160C, gas mark 4).

Spray a 900g (2Ib) non-stick loaf tin with a little low-calorie cooking spray.

Place the remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor and blitz until fairly smooth.

Remove from the blender and place the mixture into the tin, pressing it down into the corners firmly.

Cover the tin with foil and cook for 80 minutes, then remove the foil and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.

Leave to rest for 10-15 minutes, then remove from the tin, slice thinly and serve with the bread, salad and yoghurt.


PINCH Of Nom’s Kate and Kay have worked with a registered ­nutritionist, but all of their calculations and dietary i­ndicators are only given for ­guidance to make life easy, and not to be taken as fact.Make sure you check the ingredients and food labels yourself. The duo say:
CALORIES PER SERVING: All of our recipes have been worked out as complete meals, using ­standardised portion sizes for any accompaniments as advised by the British Nutrition Foundation.
VEGETARIAN: Nearly half of the recipes in Pinch Of Nom Everyday Light are veggie and you can make more recipes meat-free by swapping out the non-veggie ingredients.
TASTE TESTED: Each recipe has been tested by 20 Pinch Of Nom fans, to ensure we are not the only ones who love them. This has been essential in the ­creation of our book and we want to extend a huge thank you to these fans.
V: Suitable for vegetarians
F: Suitable for freezing
GF: Suitable for those following a gluten-free diet


Breakfast: Waffle with asparagus & poached egg

(Serves 2, 281 cals per serving, V GF)


  • 400g potato, peeled
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • 100g asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 2 eggs
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD: Coarsely grate the potato and place it in a clean tea towel.

Wrap the tea towel around the potato and squeeze to remove as much of the moisture as you can.

When it’s as dry as possible, place the potato in a bowl.

Add the spring onions and garlic salt. Mix well and form the mixture into a ball.

Turn on your waffle maker, spray the plates with some low­-calorie cooking spray, place the potato ball in the middle, then close the lid tightly.

Cook on a medium heat for 20 minutes or until cooked and golden brown.

While you’re waiting for the waffle, cook the asparagus in a pan of boiling salted water for 5 minutes, then drain and keep the asparagus warm.

Poach the eggs in a pan of simmering salted water for 4 minutes (or longer if you prefer a harder yolk).

For easy poached eggs, we like to place a piece of cling film in a ramekin.

Crack in an egg, then season before twisting the cling film to make a “package”.

Place the wrapped egg in a pan of simmering water for 4-6 minutes, then open the cling film carefully and remove the cooked egg with a spoon.

When the rosti waffle is cooked, remove from the waffle maker, cut into four and arrange two quarters on plates.

Place the cooked asparagus and poached egg on top.

The waffle can also be frozen on its own once cooled.

Defrost thoroughly and reheat in the oven to serve.

Lunch: Cajun dirty rice

(Serves 4, 291 cals per serving, F GF)


  • 200g basmati rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • 400g 5% fat minced beef
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 4 bacon medallions, diced
  • 2 tsp Cajun seasoning (or more, to taste)
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • ½ yellow pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • ½ green pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 200ml beef stock (1 beef stock pot dissolved in 200ml boiling water) – use a gluten-free stock cube to make recipe gluten-free
  • Small bunch of spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced

METHOD: Cook the rice according to packet instructions, adding the bay leaf and chicken stock cube to the water before cooking.

Set the rice aside once cooked.

In a frying pan, add some low-calorie cooking spray and over a medium heat cook the minced beef, onion and bacon for 3-4 minutes, stirring, until brown.

Add the Cajun seasoning and Worcestershire sauce and stir, then add the carrot, mushrooms, peppers and beef stock.

Cook for 3-4 minutes until the peppers start to soften.

Add the rice and spring onions then stir over a medium heat until all the rice is warmed through.

Taste and add some more Cajun seasoning if you prefer it spicier, then serve.

Dinner: Veggie burgers fakeaway

(Serves 4, 118 cals per serving, V F GF)


  • 220g medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 50g green beans, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 50g cauliflower florets, finely chopped
  • 50g broccoli florets, finely chopped
  • 50g frozen peas
  • 50g sweetcorn (tinned and drained, or frozen)
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 30g Parmesan (or veggie hard cheese)
  • To serve: 4 wholemeal burger buns (use suitable buns to make the recipe gluten-free)
  • Lettuce leaves

METHOD: Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water until soft, then drain well and mash.

Spray a large frying pan with some low-calorie cooking spray and place over a medium heat.

Add the garlic and all the vegetables (except the peas and sweetcorn) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring so they don’t start to colour.

Add the peas and sweetcorn and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Mix the mashed potato and vegetables together in a bowl, then stir in the chopped parsley and Parmesan.

Divide the mixture into four equal pieces, and form each piece into a burger shape.

(You can freeze the burgers at this point for cooking on another day. Be sure to thoroughly defrost the burgers before cooking.)


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Spray a frying pan with some low-calorie cooking spray and place over a medium heat.

Add the burgers and cook for 5 minutes or until they are golden brown on the bottom, then turn them carefully and cook for another few minutes.

When the other side is golden brown, remove from the heat and serve the burgers on their own in a wholemeal roll packed with salad.

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