Reidbury's Kitchen

Food thoughts, recipes and billowing smoke from a home cook's kitchen in London

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Lightweight Cottage Pie

Lightweight Cottage Pie, The Fast Diet Recipe Book

Lightweight Cottage Pie, The Fast Diet Recipe Book

So I posted my Classic Cottage Pie recipe yesterday (you can view that post here), and it reminded me of a lightweight version of this dish I cooked a month or so ago. This recipe came from the 5:2 diet book, ‘The Fast Diet Recipe Book‘, and it’s a lower calorie version of the classic. The main way this Cottage Pie sheds calories is by switching out the usual potato mash topping with a lighter version of celeriac and leeks, which I thought sounded interesting. And it was! I didn’t really have massive expectations about this dish before cooking it, but it really did impress me when it got to the eating part! So much so that I would happily eat this version instead of the full Classic Cottage Pie if I was in the right mood! The topping was a really nice replacement for the potato (and that’s pretty impressive from me given that I bloody love a potato), and the meat was full of flavour. So, this recipe is tasty AND virtuous. Good stuff!

PS. I apologise for the fact that I don’t have a proper photo of the cottage pie – I forgot to take one, so this is a photo from the book!

KB rating 8/10. PR rating 8/10.

Calorie Count: 243 per person

Lightweight Cottage Pie (serves 4)


  • Oil for spraying
  • 250g extra-lean minced beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 300ml boiling water
  • 2 OXO cubes
  • 500g celeriac, peeled and cubed
  • 100g half-fat creme fraiche
  • 1 tsp groundnut oil
  • 2 young leeks, trimmed and sliced (into about pound coin width)


Preheat the oven to 200C/400F

Spray a large pan with oil and brown the minced beef. Add the diced onion, celery and carrot and allow to soften for 10 minutes.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper, water and OXO cubes. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, boil the celeriac until very tender, drain and mash with creme fraiche until as smooth as as you wish.

Heat the oil in a pan and gently saute the leeks, then add them to the celeriac mash; season well.

Pour the beef into a shallow ovenproof dish, and top with the celeriac mixture. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown


Smoked Haddock with Spinach and Poached Egg

Smoked Haddock with Spinach and Poached Egg, The Fast Diet Recipe Book

Smoked Haddock with Spinach and Poached Egg, The Fast Diet Recipe Book

When my boyfriend was little he used to love what he called ‘yellow fish’ – smoked haddock. So when I was looking for a suitable 5:2 starve day recipe my eye was immediately drawn to Smoked Haddock with Spinach and Poached Egg in The Fast Diet Recipe Book (buy the book here). It’s all classic flavours, very comforting and super quick to make. And it’s very low calorie too – bonus!

Not much else to say – other than, good luck on poaching eggs. Unless I use my silicone poaching pods, I cannot poach an egg. There, I’ve said it.

KB rating 7/10. PR rating 7/10.

Calorie count: 211 per person

Smoked Haddock with Spinach and Poached Egg (serves 1)


  • 100g baby spinach leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 75g skinless smoked haddock fillet, undyed
  • 240ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp half-fat creme fraiche
  • Half a spring onion, finely chopped
  • Squeeze of lemon


Wilt the spinach leaves in a little salted boiling water and drain well. Stir in a pinch of nutmeg and season.

Poach the fish for 10 minutes in milk (or microwave for 3 minutes in a covered dish). Meanwhile poach the egg.

Serve the fish and spinach topped with egg and creme fraiche mixed with spring onion and a squeeze of lemon.

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Lo-Lo Meatballs with Cavolo Nero

Lo Lo Meatballs with Cavolo Nero, The Fast Diet Recipe Book

Lo Lo Meatballs with Cavolo Nero, The Fast Diet Recipe Book

Another starve day, another recipe from The Fast Diet Recipe book. And the more recipes I try from this book (available to buy here), the more impressed I am. And thankfully the 5:2 diet is starting to show results now – not really on the scales, but definitely on my waist line. I found some old jeans last week that I put on in a rush that fit perfectly – and all day I actually thought they were my ‘fat’ jeans. Turns out they are the ones I bought when I lost weight last year and have been a little snug since…until now! So there you are, a little ‘win’ in the Reidbury Kitchen!

So the recipe is Lo Lo Meatballs with Cavolo Nero and all I can comment on is the end taste…because, for once, I didn’t cook. The boy did! And he did so without causing himself, or anyone else, any damage which suggests that the recipe was relatively straightforward. Anyway, the taste – oooooh it was good! There’s something about meatballs that feels like a treat, and not diet food anyway. But this recipe was  full of flavour and really didn’t feel like a skinny option in any way. And I didn’t even miss the carbs – the cavolo nero was hearty enough that it worked nicely as a substitute.

I would definitely recommend using cavolo nero if you can find it (rather than another cabbagey type thing) because the texture and flavour are both quite robust and blend well with the sauce. But if you cant get it, then cabbage or kale would work OK.

I’m actually planning on doing this recipe again – even if it’s not a starve day!

KB rating 8.5/10. PR rating 7.5/10

Calorie Count: 264 per person

Lo Lo Meatballs with Cavolo Nero (serves 2)


For the meatballs:

  • 200g lean pork mince (or turkey mince)
  • Half a medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • Pinch of oregano
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil for spraying

For the tomato sauce:

  • Oil for spraying
  • Half a medium red onion, chopped
  • Half a garlic clove, peeled and chopped
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 50g fresh tomatoes, skinned and deseeded, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 200ml water
  • Chilli flakes, to taste
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

For the cavolo nero:

  • 200g cavolo nero, steamed
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Sea salt


Place the mince in the bowl with the onion, garlic, carrot, oregano, egg and salt and pepper. Mix well and shape into 12 small meatballs.

Spray a large pan with oil and fry over a medium heat until gently browned (around 4 mins) and set aside.

For the sauce, spray the same pan with oil and fry the onion until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes. Then add the tomatoes (tinned and fresh), puree, sugar and water along with the chilli flakes and Worcestershire sauce to taste. Simmer til reduced and glossy.

Add the meatballs and oregano, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve with the steamed cavolo nero, dressed with a light squeeze of lemon and a scatter of flaked sea salt.

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Lime Chicken Salad, Szechuan Style

Lime Chicken Salad, Szechuan Style, 'The Fast Diet Recipe Book'

Lime Chicken Salad, Szechuan Style, ‘The Fast Diet Recipe Book’

So as you will probably know by now, I’ve been half-doing WeightWatchers for a while and lost half a stone. But since my trips away to Spain, New York and Scotland, I got firmly out of the habit of point counting. And now I can’t be bothered with it. Meanwhile Paul has been on the 5:2 (or Intermittent Fasting) diet for about 3-4 months and has lost over a stone. So I decided to convert. And I think I must be the only person who seems to have put weight on doing this. It’s only my third week though, so hopefully my body will catch up soon!

There’s so much media attention on the 5:2 at the moment, with magazines, newspapers and websites dedicating space to appropriate ‘5:2’ meals. But really it’s just a super low calorie diet – women reduce their calorie intake to 500 calories a day for 2 days out of 7, and men have 600 calories. There’s some dishes already in this blog that would work really well on the diet – notably the Thai-Style Steamed Fish recipe here and I thought it’d be pretty easy to find recipes through the normal channels. But then I found myself in Waterstones, and one thing led to another, and I left the shop somehow with The Fast Diet Recipe Book which is the official 5:2 diet recipe book. And it’s absolutely brilliant – I thought it’d be a bit of a compromise somehow, but I found myself flicking through in the shop and actually wanting to try recipes on my non-starve days! Buy the book here

One of the first recipes I tried was Lime Chicken Salad, Szechuan Style and it was excellent. It actually ends up being quite a plateful, so psychologically I felt like I was getting a good deal. Lots of flavour, and only 195 calories. Definitely a dish I’ll do again, on both my fast days AND my feast days!

Finally this recipe requires Szechuan pepper, and it’s a pretty key component. But Waitrose let me down and were out of stock. Instead I bought Wayanad pepper which sounded interesting – “intensely spicy with a slight citrus flavour” – and I thought it’d work well. It did, but I would like to try this again with Szechuan peppercorns should I find them.

KB rating 8/10. PR rating 8/10.

Calorie Count: 195 per person

Lime Chicken Salad, Szechuan Style (serves 1)


  • 1 small chicken breast, skin on (approx 110g)
  • A little olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Half a cucumber, sliced lengthways, deseeded and cut on the diagonal into crescents
  • Handful of coriander, including finely chopped stalks
  • Handful of mint leaves
  • Half a teaspoon of ground Szechuan peppercorns, crushed (see comment above)
  • 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced diagonally
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce (80g)
  • Lime wedges to serve


Preheat oven to 190C/375F.

Oil the chicken breast lightly before seasoning with salt and pepper (skin to be removed after cooking). Bake, covered, in oven until cooked through and juices run clear – about 20 mins. Allow to cool.

Tear chicken into shreds and place into a bowl with cucumber, most of the coriander and mint.

Make the dressing from the Szechuan pepper, fish sauce, sesame oil, spring onion, lime juice and seasoning. Combine with chicken mixture and serve on shredded iceberg lettuce.

Garnish with lime wedges and remaining coriander leaves.