I am not one for impulse purchases. But, on this one sunny morning, I made an exception. I happened to be on the way back from the school run and tuned into the Chris Moyles radio show when one of Britain’s foodie heroes came on – Si King of the Hairy Bikers. King was plugging the Hairy Bikers’ new cookbook, The Hairy Dieters: Simple Healthy Food.
While thumbing through a copy of the book, Moyles had to question just how the Geordie duo managed to get calories so low (most dishes serve 4) for new and old favourites like sausage rolls (160 calories), chicken shawarma (363 calories), black-eyed beans with halloumi (400), kimchi omelette baguette (480) and Louisiana- style vegetable kebabs (170).
The more I learned about the book’s mouth-watering and low-calorie recipes, the more I told myself that my waistline and health couldn’t wait another day to get this book.
I beelined to the local bookshop and bought it.
“The Hairy Dieters’ new cookbook? I’ll have to go out back and find you a copy since it only came in last night,” the store manager told me.
It wasn’t even on the shelves yet!
Why healthy? Why now?
King spoke to Moyles of how he and fellow Geordie and Hairy Biker, Dave Myers, who couldn’t make the show because he is undergoing cancer treatment, wanted to prove that healthy food can be delicious.
“He’s not very well at the moment,” said King. “But you know what Dave’s like, Chris. He’s as tough as an old boot.”
He added: “He’s just pretty focused and concentrating on his treatment.”
I wasn’t aware of Dave’s cancer diagnosis. That news and the book’s purpose struck a cord (or two), having been recently prescribed a life-changing/saving diet, so I thought my days of food joy were over.
While still a newbie to the Hairy Dieters I have found that I can replace some recipe ingredients, but only if absolutely necessary, when my diet dictates it (replace sugar for stevia or milk-based yoghurt with a plant-based option) or my picky eater does (“Can we leave the cinnamon out, Mummy?”).
If after you and your family tuck into one of the savoury options and you still have room for something sweet, you might want to whip up the honey and buttermilk panna cotta (124 calories), mojito fruit salad (97 calories), or custard tartlets (118 calories) to name just a few of the book’s 80 recipes.
There’s also a section dedicated to breakfasts, like Turkish eggs, Syrniki pancakes and sausage and bacon root veg hash. There’s also a snacks section, so you’re not grabbing unhealthy options between meals.
But there are some great calorie-kicking tips in the book, too, care of Professor Roy Taylor, a diet and diabetes specialist, and Si and Dave themselves. I won’t reveal what they are, that would just spoil having your own A-Ha moments as I did.
In the meantime, I am sending good vibes to Dave and his family. The nation can’t get enough of his cheerful banter and want nothing more than for him to keep strong, healthy, and enjoy life to the full. We wouldn’t mind seeing him cooking up a storm and back on his bike, too, as soon as he’s up to it.