Diet Friendly Sausage Pasta Bake

This super simple and quick sausage pasta bake tastes like it should be full of calories, but it really isn’t. Perfect for a midweek dinner for the whole family.

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This Sausage Pasta Bake is such a creamy, cheesy bowl of deliciousness, you’ll never believe it’s diet friendly!

Sausage Pasta Bake - This super simple and quick pasta dish tastes like it should be full of calories, but it really isn't. Perfect for a midweek dinner | thehecticcook.com

I’m such a cliche. It’s the new year and I’ve joined a diet club. This is not a new thing. I’m back at Slimming World having joined and rejoined on at least a half dozen occasions. But I’m determined this time. This time I’m going to stick with it. Really. No, really. So at the moment, meals in the HC household are of the healthier persuasion. Well, ok, I’m still feeding the kids macaroni cheese and cheese & bean pastry pie on a fairly regular schedule. But generally we’re eating stuff that can be made SW friendly like spaghetti carbonara (yes really) and pork chow mien.

Sausage Pasta Bake - This super simple and quick pasta dish tastes like it should be full of calories, but it really isn't. Perfect for a midweek dinner | thehecticcook.com

To make this process a little more interesting, I’ve also discovered a couple of really good food blogs that are dedicated to Slimming World recipes. One of which is Two Chubby Cubs. Their site is full of really good recipes that not only sound tasty, but are tasty. They’re also bloody hysterical. As long as you’ve got a sense of humour and aren’t easily offended, I’d highly recommend checking them out, if only for the witty repartee. This recipe for Sausage Pasta Bake is a take on their One Pot Sausage Gnocchi Bake. I like gnocchi, but it’s easier for me to substitute it with pasta so the kids will eat it.

Now, if you’re at all familiar with the Slimming World diet, you’ll most likely have heard of Quark. It’s hailed somewhat like a food from the gods. I never quite got it. Until I added it to a pasta sauce. It gives a creaminess you’d get from adding cream cheese, but without the raised eyebrows at SW class. It’s added in this recipe, but if you’re not fussed about the calories, just use cream cheese.

Sausage Pasta Bake - This super simple and quick pasta dish tastes like it should be full of calories, but it really isn't. Perfect for a midweek dinner | thehecticcook.com

The sausages are your call. If you’re trying to be healthy, there are plenty of fat-reduced sausages on the market. Personally I’ve found I like Porky Lights (again, if you know anything about SW, you’ll know what a cliche that is). But use whatever sausage you like. I’ve also made this recipe with tuna and chicken, so you can be even more saintly.

This pasta bake has become a staple now in our house. It stays inline with my effort to shift the second belly, and the kids like it. If I’m ever going to succeed in cutting the flab, I need meals like this, that the whole family can eat. But even if you’re born with a metabolism faster than Usain Bolt and couldn’t give two hoots about eating healthier (I hate you, I really do), this is a really tasty dish that is well worth a go, especially for a midweek quick and simple dinner.

Ingredients

400g uncooked pasta
6 sausages, meat removed from casings
Spray oil (or a tbsp of oil if you’re feeling decadent)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed (or 2 tsp garlic puree)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tsp basil (I use frozen chopped basil, it has all the flavour and is so convenient – dried basil is a bit of a waste of time to be honest)
salt & pepper 
75g quark
75g grated cheese to sprinkle on top (I cheat and buy a mozzarella/cheddar mix from the supermarket which is brilliant for melting on pasta bakes)

1. Boil a large pan of (well) salted water and add your pasta. Cook until soft (I don’t like my pasta al dente, so cook it however you like it).
2. Meanwhile, spray a pan with oil over a medium heat, and add the sausage meat, breaking it up as it cooks. Cook until browned through.
3. Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes, then add the tomatoes, basil and seasoning. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, to let the flavours evolve a wee bit. Taste, and add more seasoning if required.
4. Stir through the quark.
5. Once the pasta has cooked, drain it, and then add it to the meat sauce. Stir through.
6. Pour the pasta into an ovenproof dish and top with the cheese. Pop under a hot grill until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
7. Serve.

This will serve a large family. Simply alter how much pasta you cook, depending on the amount of people you’re cooking for. Hopefully this will appeal to most folk, whether you need to lose some poundage or are just looking for a tasty midweek supper. Give it a go this week for dinner. I promise you won’t be disappointed 🙂

Happy cooking!

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles

Teriyaki chicken noodles are a delicious mix of salt and sweet, simple to make and healthy to boot.

It’s the summer holidays. Yay. I do actually (mostly) mean that. Regardless of the fact that I have seven weeks with my four children. Twenty-four/seven. No breaks. No get outs. No ‘me-time’. Because I also don’t have the school run. Halle-bloody-lujah. We can sit in our pyjamas till lunchtime and it doesn’t matter (and believe me when I tell you that we’ve most definitely done this – a lot). I can roll over in bed at 7am and not worry. The kids can watch as much YouTube crap till their eyes bleed and I finally crawl out of bed to give them breakfast. Oh yes, the holidays rock.

It also means I’m back to enjoying cooking again. There was a time back there, that last summer term when it all gets stupidly manic and you’re trying to recall whether you’ve remembered to put pants on that day, let alone whether you’re missing some vital end-of-term event, that cooking became an afterthought. There certainly wasn’t any enjoyment in cooking, it was just a case of necessity. Or not, as I threw more fish fingers at the Kinder and ordered the Husband and I another curry.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles - Slightly salty, slightly sweet, these chicken noodles are full of goodness and taste delicious | thehecticcook.com

I’m also back on Pinterest with a vengeance. Bloody love it. So guess where this recipe came from? It’s actually another Damn Delicious recipe that I’ve changed slightly to suit us. I just reduced the sugar slightly and simplified the cooking method. It’s a really nice recipe and I’ve been making it quite a lot. I even took the plunge and played the Dinner Lottery i.e. fed it to the kids. Henry ate it all, Alice ate the noodles, Hannah and Lucy ate the chicken and carrots. Comme si, comme sa.


Ingredients (Serves 4 adults)

1-2 carrots, cut into batons
small head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 small courgette, cut into batons
mushrooms, sliced (use however many you fancy)
4 chicken breasts (about 550g), diced
250g dried egg noodles
1 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp water
100ml soy sauce
200ml water
4 tbsp honey
3 cloves garlic (or 3 tsp of garlic paste)
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tbsp oil

1. I pre-cooked the carrots and broccoli in the microwave to soften them slightly as the kids will only eat them like this. I gave the dish about 3 minutes on full power. If you don’t mind your veg crunchy you can skip this step.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

2. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions (i.e. bring to boil then simmer for about 4-5 minutes until soft) then sieve and set aside.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles - Slightly salty, slightly sweet, these chicken noodles are full of goodness and taste delicious | thehecticcook.com

3. In a small bowl mix together the cornstarch and water, then set aside for a moment.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles - Slightly salty, slightly sweet, these chicken noodles are full of goodness and taste delicious | thehecticcook.com

4. In a small pan add the soy sauce, water, honey, garlic and ginger. Whisk together whilst bringing the mixture to a simmer.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

5. Once the pan is simmering add the cornstarch mixture (give it a quick stir before adding as the cornstarch tends to solidify at the bottom of the bowl). Simmer gently until the sauce has thickened slightly (a couple of minutes). It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat and set this aside.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

6. In a wok (or large frying pan) add the oil and warm over a medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook until cooked through.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

7. Once the chicken is cooked through, pour off any water before adding the veg – any water from the chicken will thin the sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the mushrooms and courgette have softened slightly.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

8. Add the noodles and the sauce to the wok, stir through and serve.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles - Slightly salty, slightly sweet, these chicken noodles are full of goodness and taste delicious | thehecticcook.com

This dish has the extra step of making the sauce separately before adding it to the wok, but it’s honestly worth it and really doesn’t take that long. It’s fairly quick, really simple, and bloody tasty. It’s fast becoming a HC Household favourite.

Happy cooking!

Healthy Crustless Quiche

This crustless quiche is absolutely full of flavour, and super filling. You won’t miss the pastry but will save a tonne of calories!

I’m all about balance. For every half dozen recipes I give you containing a gazzilion calories, I’ll give you one with a more modest amount. That’s balance right? It’s how I live my life anyway. Can’t understand why I’m not losing any weight…

Healthy Crustless Quiche - A delicious quiche style dish without the crust and thus the calories, but all the taste! | thehecticcook.com

This Crustless Quiche recipe is based on an age-old Slimming World recipe that I’ve seen do the rounds in a manner of guises. It uses cottage cheese to bulk it out, where you’d be using milk or cream in a normal quiche. Luckily I love cottage cheese. I genuinely do. I eat it on toast even when I’m not ‘trying to be good’. But I know a lot of folk are a bit wary of the stuff. If that’s you, you can always blend the cottage cheese before adding it to smooth it down. I think it adds texture and extra cheesy flavour, so you definitely should shove it in.

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

Obviously this doesn’t have a crust either. Pastry and healthy eating don’t tend to go hand-in-hand. But you actually don’t miss it. Honest. You can fill it with whatever you like too – bacon, sausage, onion, peppers, tomatoes etc – whatever takes your fancy. Below is just what I fancied at the time. This is a really filling dish, with lots of flavour, and well worth giving a go even if you’re not watching the waistline.

Ingredients

4 large / 5 medium eggs
approx. 60 g cheddar cheese, grated
1 tub (300g) cottage cheese (full or low fat, it’s your call)
seasoning

Filling:

4 rashers of smoked bacon, diced
vegetables of choice (I used mushrooms and some frozen chargrilled veg I picked up in the freezer section of Sainsburys)

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C (fan).

2. Either add a tsp of oil to your frying pan, or spray it with oil. Add the bacon and begin to fry over a medium heat.

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

3. After about 5 minutes of frying the bacon, add the veg and cook until soft.

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

4. In a bowl add the eggs, the cottage cheese and the grated cheddar. Season well.

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

5. Mix this all together really well (I use a whisk to get it all really mixed up and break down the cottage cheese slightly).

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

6. Place the cooked bacon and veg mixture into a medium casserole dish. I don’t tend to bother greasing this at all.

 

7. Pour over the egg mixture and give it a wee shake to even the mixture out (don’t worry about mixing it in or anything).

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

8. Pop this in the oven for about 40-45 minutes, until it is fully set and the top is golden.

Healthy Crustless Quiche - A delicious quiche style dish without the crust and thus the calories, but all the taste! | thehecticcook.com

9. Take it out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Then slice and serve.

Healthy Crustless Quiche - A delicious quiche style dish without the crust and thus the calories, but all the taste! | thehecticcook.com

This is lovely warm, straight out of the oven, but it’s also really nice cold from the fridge. So if you have leftovers, you have a tasty healthy snack on-hand too. My intentions are always good…

Happy cooking!

If you’re looking for healthy dishes you might also like my Spaghetti Carbonara and Pork Chow Mein.

Healthy Pork Chow Mein

This Pork Chow Mein is not only healthy, the gorgeous fusion of flavours make it super tasty too.

I’ve already ‘Face-bragged’ so now I’m going to ‘Blog-brag’ – I’m just back from a weekend away. A whole weekend sans children (trumpets, fanfare). The Husband did the necessary childcare letting me escape for 2 whole nights (he’s a keeper). I went to see one of my best friends in the whole world – she knows way too much about me to piss off now. We drank copious amounts of alcohol, ate diet-unfriendly food, and spent an afternoon wandering around Ikea. We know how to live. It was awesome. So now I’m home feeling refreshed, and ready to take on the world – well my kids at least. I’ve already broken a couple of nails trying to scrape stickers off the new rug thanks to Lucy. But even still, I am a happy-mother-of-four-including-triplets.

So this recipe is a really old Slimming World recipe I came across yonks ago. I’ve followed Slimming World intermittently for the past 6 years. I really rate it as a diet-plan, I just can’t seem to follow it. Oh well. But this is a recipe I make a lot. It has a nice lightness to it, but is still really filling. You can use any meat you like. I often use chicken, but on this occasion had pork in the freezer. Beef would also work really well.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

8 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp white wine vinegar
4 garlic cloves, crushed / 4 tsp garlic paste
1 heaped tsp ginger paste
1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
600g pork loin steaks, thinly sliced
4 dry egg noodle nests
1 tbsp oil (I used groundnut, but use whatever you have in the cupboard; vegetable, sunflower etc)
stir-fry veg of choice
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

It looks like quite a few ingredients, but it honestly takes no time to make, so don’t be put off.

1. Mix the light soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and 5 spice in a bowl.

Pork Chow Mein | thehecticcook.com

2. Add the pork and leave to marinate for around 20 minutes (use the time to chop your veg).

Pork Chow Mein | thehecticcook.com

3. Cook the egg noodles according to the packet instructions. I’ve stated a quantity, but use as many noodles as you think you need, depending on the appetites you’re feeding.

Pork Chow Mein | thehecticcook.com

4. Heat the 1 tbsp of oil in a large wok. Add the pork (including the sauce) and cook over a medium high heat until almost cooked through (about 5 minutes).

Note:

The only thing I’ve changed from the original recipe is the 1 tbsp oil. Slimming World use the spray oils you get, which are ‘syn’ free, to reduce calories . Use whatever you’d rather – 1 tbsp oil is 6 syns. 

Pork Chow Mein | thehecticcook.com

5. Add your veg – I used carrots, courgette, pepper and mushrooms – and cook for a further 5 minutes (or until the veg is as cooked as you like it).

Pork Chow Mein | thehecticcook.com

6. Add the cooked noodles to the wok, plus the oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and sesame oil (this was in the original SW recipe and counts as 2 syns, so 1/2 syn per person). Stir through (2 forks are good for this) and cook for a further few minutes until everything is piping hot.

Pork Chow Mein | thehecticcook.com

Pork Chow Mein | thehecticcook.com

7. Serve straight away.

Pork Chow Mein - Gorgeous flavours make this healthy pork dish a dinner favourite | thehecticcook.com

This is a really good dish to make on those weeknights when you don’t have much time, but fancy something healthy. You can change the quantities of meat and noodles to satisfy any size of appetite, and still keep it pretty healthy.

Pork Chow Mein - Gorgeous flavours make this healthy pork dish a dinner favourite | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

 

Pork Chow Mein - Gorgeous flavours make this healthy pork dish a dinner favourite | thehecticcook.com

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:42]

Sugar-Free Banana Cake

Sugar-Free Banana Cake – with no added sugar, just the sweetness of bananas and sultanas, this is a healthy treat the kids will love.

Something I never expected about becoming a parent was just how emotional it would make me. Prior to kids, I was fairly unemotional. Indeed the Husband referred to me as ‘the Ice Queen’ (he’s a charmer). However now, I have actually cried at an advert. And a music video. It’s just wrong.

One of the strongest emotions you feel as a parent though, which I really wasn’t expecting, is the GUILT. It’s worthy of capitals. I think our generation has it fairly tough. We’re bombarded from the media about how we should be parenting. Internet; News; TV; even social media. We’ve all seen the Facebook posts about how little Johnny could write his name at one year old. Or how Betsy Sue was potty trained at six weeks. Or all the articles floating around about how we shouldn’t sleep with our kids. And the ones about how we should sleep with our kids etc etc.

No Added Sugar Banana Cake - with no added sugar, just the sweetness of bananas and sultanas, this is a healthy treat the kids will love | thehecticcook.com

I try not to get too caught up in most of it (I tryI don’t always succeed), but the one area that does seem to get under my skin is food. What we should, and shouldn’t be feeding the kids. Recently I’ve been getting fairly paranoid about sugar. It’s definitely becoming the demon ingredient. I’m not about to get into the ins and outs of why sugar is (potentially) so bad for us – I’m trying not to add another layer of guilt onto you parents out there – but I have been looking at recipes that I can interchange with my usual recipes, sneaking ‘slightly healthier’ snacks into the kids. Don’t get me wrong, they still get those crappy little cheap yogurts from Asda (42p for six don’t you know?!), ice-cream on a Saturday, pudding on a Sunday etc. I’m not about to win Parent of the Year here. But I’m easily assuaged, and this makes me sleep better at night.

So this banana cake recipe comes from a BBC Good Food recipe, and I haven’t actually made any drastic changes to it. Bear in mind, this is not my Banana & Sultana Cake – it’s not as sweet; it’s a good bit denser; it has an almost ‘healthy taste’. But it’s actually really quite tasty, and the kids love it. Oh and I appreciate that it isn’t actually ‘sugar-free’, but it is processed sugar free, which is a winner in my eyes 🙂

Ingredients

50g unsalted butter, melted
3 bananas, mashed (the older the better)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
125g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
75g sultanas

1. Melt the butter in a large, microwavable bowl (it takes about a minute, but do it in 30 second intervals). Then mash the bananas into the melted butter.

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

2. Add the egg, vanilla and milk, and give it all a good whisk.

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

3. To this mixture add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sultanas. Give the mixture a good stir.

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

The original recipe calls for wholemeal flour, which is what I used, but only because I had it in the cupboard. I’ve also made it with white self-raising flour, and it made very little difference. It just depends exactly how ‘healthy’ you want to be.

I also don’t pre-mix my dry ingredients. Just make sure that when you add them to the bowl, you spread the baking powder and cinnamon out a bit, so there’s no risk of getting a clump of either.

4. Pour the mixture into a lined loaf tin (I use liners, which are an absolute godsend) and pop into a preheated oven at 160ºC (fan)/320ºF/Gas Mark 3 for around 35-45 minutes.

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

I have a love/hate relationship with loaf cakes, because I always find they take longer to cook than any recipe ever says. Mine took at least 45 minutes, but check after about 35 minutes as all ovens vary. It should turn lightly golden on top, and a skewer/knife should come out clean. Chuck some foil on top to cover if it looks like its starting to brown too much.

Sugar-Free Banana Cake - with no added sugar, just the sweetness of bananas and sultanas, this is a healthy treat the kids will love. | thehecticcook.com

5. Take the cake out of the oven, and leave to cool (out of the tin) on a rack.

I’m not about to have an argument about whether this cake is ‘sugar free’ – it clearly isn’t; there’s natural sugar in the bananas, and the sultanas. But its a damn sight healthier than some of the cakes and snacks I feed the kids (not mentioning Nutella Magic Bars at all here). Give this a go, especially if you’re trying to allay some parental guilt.

Happy cooking!