Is it possible to entertain and have a social life while on a diet?  Yes!  Dieting does not have to consist of grilled fish, leafy vegetables and early nights! You can cook and produce delicious food, which ticks all the boxes for weight loss, you just need to be slightly more creative. The aim is for your dinner guests to not even to realise that they are eating a ‘light’ meal……!

As for what to serve?  Think light, fresh, tasty and exciting.  Being clever with your ingredients involves introducing plenty of flavour in the form of fresh herbs and spices, which add taste without the calories. Using fats wisely also helps to keep the calorie count down.  A small amount of fat however helps to create the impression of luxury, taste and satisfaction. Keep the portions that you serve small and allow your dinner guests to help themselves to rice and bread which you yourself can cleverly avoid.  Make sure that there are huge bowls of vegetables and salad for you to fill up on.

For pre dinner drinks, avoid the temptation of crisps, and serve instead vegetable crudites with a yoghurt dip and small bowls of raw unsalted nuts (it’s difficult to eat too many of these!)

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Do be aware of your alcohol intake.  The average glass of wine contains 120 calories as does a glass of fruit juice. Jugs of water, flavoured with lemon slices and fresh mint make a fantastic zero calorie centre piece for your dinner table.

Starters

Soups are always a good choice as a starter.  We’ve always known that soups help to ‘fill you up’ and recent research has found out why.  Soups delay gastric emptying which means that they make you feel full quickly – the perfect food for a dieter!

Roasted Butter Nut Squash and Red Pepper soup (serves 6-8) 

150 calories per small bowl.

Ingredients:

1 small butter nut squash

2 red peppers

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 sticks of celery, finely chopped

1 l of vegetable stock

1 glug of white wine

1 tbsp olive oil plus extra for drizzling

seasoning

Creme fraiche to serve

Chopped fresh chives

Heat the oven to 200 degrees.  Wash the butter nut squash and then cut into chunks of about 3cm.  Remove the seeds, but leave the skin on.  Place on a baking tray. Drizzle over a little olive oil and season.  Roast in the oven until tender and lightly browned (approximately 40 minutes)

Deseed and chop the red peppers.  Add to the butter nut squash for the last 20 minutes of the cooking time.

In a large casserole heat the olive oil and fry the onion for 5 minutes until soft.  Add the celery and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Add the squash and red peppers by tipping all the contents of the baking tray into the casserole (all those delicious juices add flavour!).  Add the stock, a glug of wine and then let the soup simmer for 20 minutes.  Season to taste and then blend until smooth.  (This can be made in advance and then warmed through when you are ready to eat).

Serve in small bowls garnished with a swirl of creme fraiche, a scattering of fresh chives and some     bread for your guests.

Spanish Cold Vegetable Soup Called Gazpacho - a stress free dinner recipe idea

Main courses

Chicken or fish are obvious choices as they are a naturally low in fat.  Protein is an essential food for dieters as it has a low glycaemic index and therefore help to keep you feeling full longer.  The added advance of chicken is that it is a rich source of trytophan which is used to produce the mood optimising neurotransmitter serotonin.  The bottom line – eating chicken will keep you feeling happy and full!

Grandmere Bain’s Mustard Chicken – approximately 300 calories per serving 

This needs to be marinated, ideally overnight.  It can then simply be cooked in the oven once you are ready to eat it.

Serve 4

8 skinless and bone less chicken thighs

500g mushrooms, wiped and sliced

Marinade:

2 tbs seeded mustard

2 tbs dijon mustard

1 tbs brown sugar

2 tbs tomato ketchup

1 tbs olive oil

1 tbs worcester sauce

1 tbs wine vinegar

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Place the chicken in a baking dish (with a lid – Le Cruset is ideal!) Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour over the chicken.  Leave to marinate over night.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200 degrees, add the mushrooms to the dish and cook for 45-50 minutes.

Serve with brown basmati rice and a green leafy salad

Fried chicken fillet with mushrooms

Desserts

Desserts are usually a dieter’s nightmare – laden with sugar and fat they can easily add 500-600 good choice.  Berries are a good dessert choice for a dinner party as they add a touch of luxury while having one of the lowest sugar contents out of all the fruits.  They are also a rich source of the antioxidant catechins, which some research studies link to better fat oxidation and increased metabolic rate.

Merry Berry Sundaes

Serves 4

1 box of raspberries

1 box of blueberries

1 box of strawberries

500ml greek yoghurt

1 ripe mango

fresh mint, chopped

Wash and chop berries and divide between 4 serving dishes.  Peel and chop the mango and blend with the greek yoghurt.  Spoon over the berries and garnish with chopped fresh mint.

Serve with short bread biscuits for your guests.

 

 

 

 

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