It’s a little known fact I am a bone fide Geordie. Thanks to my consistent accent confusion, this is something that is generally only evident if I’ve been chatting to my parents or friends on the telephone or I’ve consumed upwards of six amaretto sours. Armed with this information and the knowledge that I credit the skilled cooks and bakers that are my Mam and Nana for stirring my passion for all things food, it should come as no surprise that the Hairy Bikers are two of my favourite TV chefs and that many of their books adorn my food porn shelves.
When I got wind of their last BBC series ‘The Hairy Dieters’ I must admit that I rather selfishly feared that the guys’ newly svelte but equally hairy appearance might mean that their food had moved away from the flavoursome comfort food that reminds me of home (Mum’s Know Best is one of my most-thumbed cookbooks). Luckily, when I was sent a copy of the cookbook accompanying the series, I was relieved to find that Dave and Si weren’t recommending we all live on salads and water 24/7 (though there are plenty of yummy salad suggestions in the book).
The main messages of the book are some age-old dieting mantras – eat less, move more, curb carbs where you can. All very solid messages, which seem to have worked well for the bearded ones. The book itself is – like the lad’s other books – full of easy to follow messages, with appealing but simple pictures and there are a few motivational words from the guys thrown into the mix.
As it happens, the impending wedding of a friend has spurred me on to lose a bit of weight myself, so I’ve found myself dipping into the book more than I had anticipated. So far I’ve cooked the delicious minestrone soup and the cumin-roasted veg, which is now a favourite side dish. One thing I would have liked to see more of within the book was more carb-avoiding side dishes like this that fill you up good and proper without reaching for the rice.
What I do like about the book is it’s unpretentious nature. Too often diet books talk in jargon and give realistic indicators of just how bloody hungry you are going to be! Another great thing about the book is the fact it’s published in paperback (by Orion, priced £14.99), which means it’s more affordable than some of the other Hairy Biker books and should be accessible to everyone who is looking to change their diet but still wants to spend time being creative in the kitchen.
Speaking of creativity, being consistently bombarded with images of cake thanks to the Great British Bake Off, I decided to cave and bake some cakes. Because I didn’t want to ditch the diet completely, I decided to tweak the Hairy Dieter’s Skinny Lemon Cupcake recipe to make it cow-milk free. Unfortunately I didn’t have a muffin pan handy so they didn’t turn out as light as fluffy as those in the book, but they were still tasty, here are the results (blog post with recipe tweaks to follow):