The Michelin-star chef spills the beans on how a few healthy changes here and there can really make a difference to your cooking
Variety is the spice of life
I use a lot of fresh herbs, spices, garlic and chilli as they provide huge ﬂavour for hardly any calories. I also sometimes include a small amount of high-ﬂavour, high-calorie ingredients in my cooking, such as smoked salmon or cheese. You don’t need much of these to make an impact.
Take time to try texture
Texture is also important. Chefs use fats to add both ﬂavour and texture to their cooking, but if you’re cutting out fats you need to ﬁnd other ways of getting ﬂavour and texture onto your plate. Try to balance crunchy ingredients like fresh veg with something creamy. Pair spicy heat with salty or cooling ﬂavours, and acidity with sweetness. If you can get the right balance, it doesn’t matter how few calories the dish contains as it will still taste great.
Control your snacking
Often, convenience foods aren’t healthy. Keeping in control of what you are eating when you’re out of the house can be a problem, but planning ahead and being prepared is key. Most of the time we’re not even hungry when we reach for a snack, it’s just a habit we’ve got into, so learn to recognise if you are actually hungry or if you’ve just gotten used to that chocolate biscuit with your afternoon cup of tea. I heard about something called ‘the broccoli test’ recently: if you had to replace your snack of choice with a piece of broccoli, would you still eat it? If not, then you don’t need it! And if you do need a snack to keep you going, get used to eating fruit. My go-to snack is cold grapes straight from the fridge.
Something as simple as using a smaller plate can help trick your mind into thinking you’ve eaten more – the plates we use nowadays are huge compared to those our grandparents ate from. It’s no wonder our portion sizes have got a bit out of control!
Try to stick to three meals a day. Snacking is where it often goes wrong. That’s why it’s important to keep portion sizes reasonably big, without going overboard. If you don’t go ﬁlling your house with crisps, chocolate bars and ice cream, then you’ll be less likely to eat them. It can really be as simple as that!
Tom’s store cupboard staples
You can buy this in packets, but it’s also easy to make your own by grating cauliflower or putting it in a food processor. Use it in place of regular rice (or mix the two together) and you’ll be full from the extra fibre.
Chickpeas and beans
High in protein and fibre, these are handy to have in the cupboard for instantly bulking up soups, stews and curries. I like black beans, butter beans, kidney beans and mixed beans.
Fish and seafood
This is a great source of low-fat protein. Fresh is best, so get to know your fishmonger and find out when the fish is delivered. Salmon and other oily fish may be higher in calories than white fish, but they’re a good source of valuable omega-3s and really good for you. Keep a bag of frozen prawns in the freezer and a tin of quality tuna in the cupboard for meals that can be assembled in minutes.
Find out more…
Lose Weight for Good by Tom Kerridge is published by Absolute and is out now, £22. Photography by Cristian Barnett.