Chunky tomato sauce for pasta

This is a delicious sauce for mixing through pasta, or using as a base for other dishes such as bolognese. I usually make a huge batch with 2 or 3 tins of chopped tomatoes. You can even make is spicy by adding a chopped red chilli or a sprinkle of chilli flakes during cooking.


Low calorie cooking spray
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
400g can chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato purée
10g fresh basil, chopped
A splash of balsamic vinegar 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sweetener (optional)

Spray a large non-stick frying pan with low calorie cooking spray and place over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for 10 minutes, adding a little water if it starts to stick.

Stir in the garlic, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, balsamic vinegar and 100ml water, and simmer for 15 minutes or until thickened.

Stir through the basil and season to taste, adding a little sweetener if you like.

Tip: I usually remove the skins from a couple of low fat sausages and sizzle the broken up sausage meat along with some chopped bacon before adding the sauce and stirring through cooked pasta, delicious hot or cold in a lunchbox !


Mixed bean salad

A quick and simple syn free salad that can be used for lunches on the go or just as a tasty syn free fridge snack !

Just pour a tin of mixed bean salad (in water, rinsed and drained) into a bowl, add a big handful chopped fresh coriander (or parsley if you prefer). Add a glug of balsamic vinegar, give it a mix and enjoy !

Chicken pie bowls with crunchy pastry crowns

Recipe serves 4

Ready in about 40 minutes


450g Celeriac, peeled and cut into small chunks

3 Leeks, sliced

1 medium potato, peeled and grated

2 level tsp whole grain mustard

1 level teaspoon mustard powder

4 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks

750ml chicken stock

2 x 45g jus-rol filo pastry sheets

Low cal cooking spray

2 level tsp poppy seeds

100g fat free fromage frais

1 Preheat your oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Boil the celeriac for 3 minutes then drain.

2 Place a non stick casserole dish or frying pan over a medium heat. Add the leeks with a mug of water and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the potato, mustard, mustard powder and chicken and cook until the chicken is sealed. Add the stock and celeriac then bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.

3 Meanwhile, spray the pastry sheets with low-calorie cooking spray and scrunch up in your hands to make ruffled pie tops. Place on a non-stick baking tray, sprinkle with poppy seeds and bake for 8-10 minutes until crisp and golden.

4 Remove the chicken stew from the heat and stir in the fromage frais. Divide between 4 bowls and top each with a filo pastry ruffle. Serve with boiled veg of your choice on the side.

Syns per serving 4

Fish, chips & Mushy peas

img_0339SERVES 4




1kg floury potatoes, such as King Edward or Maris Piper, peeled and cut into chips
Low calorie cooking spray
4 thick skinless cod or haddock fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, separated
1 level tbsp self raising flour (can be omitted if you like)
a pinch or so of paprika
Lemon wedges, to serve


1 Preheat the oven to 200°C, Gas 6. Boil the chips in lightly salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Drain well, pat dry with kitchen towel, return to the pan and cover. Leave to cool slightly then shake the pan to roughen the edges.

2 Line a baking tray with non-stick baking parchment and arrange the chips in a single layer. Spray well with low calorie cooking spray, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

3 Meanwhile, line another baking tray with more non-stick baking parchment. Arrange the fish on the tray and season well.

4 Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until they form soft peaks. Whisk the yolks in another bowl with the flour (if using) and fold into the egg whites along with a pinch of salt and the paprika. Stir to mix well and spoon the mixture over the fish.

5 Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the egg is lightly browned and the fish is cooked through.

6 Serve the fish with the chips, canned or frozen mushy peas, 1 level tbsp tomato ketchup and a lemon wedge for squeezing over.

Pea and Mint soup

This delicious soup is quick and easy to make, and cheap as chips !


1 large onion, chopped
200g potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1.3 litres boiling vegetable stock
400g frozen peas
10g fresh mint
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the onion into a large pan with the potatoes, garlic and stock. Bring to the boil over a high heat, turn the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are very soft.
Add the peas to the soup, simmer for a couple of minutes and stir in the mint. Take off the heat, cool slightly then pour into a food processor or liquidiser and whizz until smooth.
Season to taste and serve with a swirl of natural yoghurt.


Baked Cannelloni

A quick and easy vegetarian dish using dried cannelloni tubes stuffed with spinach and cottage cheese, smothered in a delicious tomato sauce… It’s enough to turn me into a tree hugger and go off meat for life !.


8 cannelloni tubes
A few basil leaves, torn
2 level tbsps grated vegetarian Parmesan style cheese (Syn or hex A)
for the Filling

225g fresh spinach, washed and trimmed
225g fat-free natural cottage cheese
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg yolk
Salt and ground black pepper
for the Sauce:

425ml passata
Pinch of sweetener
1 or two garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and ground black pepper

To make the filling put the spinach in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water. Cover with a lid and cook very gently over a low heat for about 5 minutes, until the leaves are limp and bright green. Drain in a colander, pressing down on top of the spinach with a saucer to squeeze out all the liquid.
Chop the spinach and mix with the cottage cheese, nutmeg, egg yolk and seasoning. Spoon the filling into the cannelloni tubes and arrange them in an ovenproof dish.
Mix the passata, sugar, garlic and seasoning together and pour over the cannelloni. Sprinkle with snipped/torn basil and Parmesan cheese and bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6 for about 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown.

Serve with a crisp green salad.

Cod with Lemon and Parsley crust

Serves 2, prob about 1.5 syns per serving if you Syn the bread between the two.


1 slice wholemeal bread from a 400g loaf (2.5 syns)
large bunch parsley
zest  from 1 lemon
Fry light spray
2 cod fillets, about 175g/6oz each


Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Tear the bread into pieces and put in a food processor with the parsley and lemon zest. Blitz to make rough crumbs.
Line a baking dish with baking parchment and spray with fry light, then add the cod in one layer. Spray with fry light, then press on the crumbs. Bake for 10-12 mins.

serve with vegetables of your choice.

Ours was served with Paula’s delicious roasted veg …





Paprika Pork

Syn free, Serves 4


Low calorie cooking spray
2 large Spanish onions, cut into thin wedges
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
500g lean pork fillet (pork tenderloin), cut into chunks
2 tbsp paprika 300ml chicken or vegetable stock
6 tbsp fat free natural fromage frais
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful of roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Spray a large frying pan with low calorie cooking spray. Add the onions and pepper and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the pork and cook for 4 minutes or until browned. Sprinkle over the paprika and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock to the pan and bring to the boil, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 30 minutes.
Stir most of the fromage frais into the pork mixture and heat gently for 2 minutes. Season to taste, garnish with the remaining fromage frais and parsley, and serve with boiled rice and vegetables of your choice.

Tip: Button mushrooms would work well in this dish…. Maybe even a Wee splash of Brandy if no one is looking !

*This dish is suitable for freezing, you can freeze this dish for up to 4 months just omit the fromage frais



Sausage & Mustard lunch pasta

I’ve been trying to think of new ideas for pasta lunches that I can make and keep in the fridge, and thought sausage, Wholegrain mustard and basil would be a nice mix – so I experimented a little this evening. Tonight we are having bangers and mash using Syn free pork and Apple sausages from Joe’s butchers (online), I pinched the two spare ones before they were cooked to use them in my pasta dish. I didn’t have Wholegrain mustard or basil so used Dijon mustard and parsley instead – the result was very pleasing but will try it with the other ingredients next time.

Here’s what I did ……. I’ll omit the amounts of the ingredients, just adjust accordingly to how ever much you want to make and your own taste.

penne pasta, or other pasta shapes
2 (or as many as you like) Syn free sausages
A red onion, sliced
Dijon or Wholegrain mustard (as much or as little as you like, it’s half a Syn per teaspoon, I used about a tablespoon)
Fat free natural yoghurt (you could use fat free fromage Frais)
fresh basil or parsley
a little salt

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, rinse, drain and allow to cool. Meanwhile spray a pan or wok with frylight and cook the sliced onion over a med-low heat until softened. Take the skin off the sausages and break into little chunks and toss or gently stir into the onions until cooked, remove the pan from the heat and sir in the mustard, then the yoghurt and add the herbs and season to taste.

Experiment with other veg, i.e. Diced red pepper, sweetcorn etc.


… John's Slimming Blog