5 quick diet recipes for the New Year

After the festive food-eating marathon, most of us embark on a fresh start, come January. If you want to indulge in some tasty, light meals in 2019 in an attempt to undo the month-long holiday gluttony, check out the five healthy diet recipes below.

Each dish is low in fat, while still keeping you nourished and full of energy over the cold winter months. So, here’s to enjoying nutritious, delicious food in 2019!

  1. 15-Minute Spinach Pesto Quinoa Bowl

Who doesn’t love a quick, healthy dinner? Crammed with some of the tastiest ingredients around, this nutritious meal is a filling blend of quinoa and wilted spinach leaves, all mixed up with a dash of pesto – and finished with parmesan cheese.

Quinoa has many benefits, including being gluten-free, high in protein, and one of the few plant foods that comprise all nine amino acids.


  • 360g multi-coloured quinoa, uncooked
  • 1350g baby spinach
  • 4 tbsp basil pesto
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 75g freshly grated parmesan cheese


  • Cook the quinoa as per packet instructions. (For more flavour, consider using chicken/vegetable stock rather than water.)
  • Once the quinoa is cooked, heat the spinach, pesto, salt and Parmesan cheese in a pan.
  • Stir to combine and warm through until spinach has wilted, the pesto is evenly mixed in, and the parmesan cheese has melted.
  • Serve immediately with extra parmesan cheese.
  1. Healthier Burger and Chips

Not a lot beats tucking into a mouth-watering meal of burger and chips, right? Just because you’re dieting, doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in this much-loved classic.

Making your own version at home means you know exactly what you’re eating, and can control what you put in. Or if you really don’t have the time, skip making the chips from scratch and try McCain home chips light instead – a brilliant, lower-fat option than regular chips.

This dish takes no more than 40 minutes to prepare (even less if you decide not to make the chips yourself).

For the Chips

  • 4 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1cm strips (or make it easier on yourself and use McCain home chips light)
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • Low-calorie cooking spray

For the Salsa

  • 3 ripe plum tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp artificial sweetener
  • 57ml water
  • 1-2tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 drops Tabasco sauce

For the Burgers

  • 794g extra lean minced beef
  • 8 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 4 wholemeal rolls

To serve:

  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 4 slices of tomato
  • Grated carrot
  • Shredded red cabbage


For the Chips

  • Preheat oven to 240ºC/gas 9.
  • Pop the chips in a pan of lightly-salted boiling water for a few minutes. Drain well on a kitchen towel and set aside for roughly 10 minutes.
  • Next, place the chips back in dry pan, covering with a lid. Give the pan a little shake to separate the chips.
  • Now move the chips to a non-stick roasting tin, spritzing with low-calorie cooking spray, and bake for 20-25 minutes, turning intermittently.
  • While the chips are cooking, put all the salsa ingredients in a small saucepan.
  • Bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to low, and cook gently for a few minutes. Take off the heat and leave to cool.

For the Burgers

  • In a bowl, mix the minced beef, shallots, Worcestershire sauce and garlic using your hands.
  • Season well, then shape into four flat burger patties.
  • Spritz the burgers with low-calorie cooking spray, then place under a hot grill. Cook for 5-6 mins on each side. Remove and keep warm.

How to Put the Burgers Together

  • Split the rolls in half then on each base, layer with a lettuce leaf and a tomato slice.
  • Top with a burger and some of the salsa.
  • Serve straightaway with the chips and some grated carrot and shredded red cabbage.
  1. Low-Calorie Thai Green Curry

Easy to make and coming in at just 245 calories, this Thai green curry will be a big hit with all the family. And since the dish is so low in calories, you could even slip in some garlic naan on the side!


Serves 6

  • 450g chicken breasts, skinless
  • 200g new potatoes
  • 100g green beans
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp Thai green curry paste
  • 2 tsp Thai fish sauce
  • 3 Kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp caster sugar


  • Slice the new potatoes into chunks.
  • Cut the ends off the green beans and slice into halves.
  • Boil the potatoes for a few minutes and then add the green beans, cooking for an additional three minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a wok until piping hot, then throw in some Thai Green Curry paste and the crushed garlic. Cook for a few seconds.
  • Reduce heat to low, pour in your coconut milk and let simmer.
  • Stir in the fish sauce, caster sugar and chicken breast. Cover and let this bubble gently for roughly eight minutes until it’s nice and tender.
  • Return potatoes and green beans to the curry to heat through.
  • Meanwhile, finely grate your Kaffir lime leaves and basil, putting some aside for decorating the finished dish.
  • Take the potatoes and beans off the heat and sprinkle with the remaining leaves.
  1. Low-Fat Chicken Tikka Masala

Almost as good as one you’d order from a takeaway, this dish is absolutely delicious – and very low in fat. It’s a cinch to make, too, since most of the work is done using a food processor.


For the curry paste

  • 3 green chillies, stems removed
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon aniseed
  • 2 teaspoons dry coriander

For the Curry

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 450g chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper or chilli powder
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • Salt
  • 4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • Water, as required
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Fresh coriander, for serving


For the Curry Paste:

  • Blitz the chillies, ginger, garlic, aniseed and dry coriander in a food processor until it becomes a paste.

For the Curry:

  • Over a medium heat, warm the oil in a frying pan.
  • Add the onions and mix for roughly four minutes, until soft.
  • Stir in the curry paste, chilli powder, garam masala and turmeric. Mix for another couple of minutes.
  • Combine the chicken and tomatoes so they’re covered in the paste. Add a splash of water, if needed. Simmer for 20 minutes, then season to taste with salt, sugar and lemon juice. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander.
  • Serve it hot, with rice and naan.
  1. Skinny Spaghetti Meatballs

Meatballs and spaghetti is one of the best dishes around. But it’s not so great if you’re watching your waistline. Thankfully, we’ve found this delicious diet version of the Italian classic, which includes lean turkey meatballs. It’s served with a smooth, tangy tomato sauce, with fresh green herbs adding another dimension to the hot pasta. This dish is literally exploding with colour and texture.

Serves: 8

  • 450g lean minced turkey
  • 15 mini peppers
  • 2 large eggs
  • 40g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 100g Italian seasoned whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus extra salt and pepper
  • 900g spaghetti sauce
  • 500g uncooked spaghetti
  • Fresh minced parsley and additional cheese for topping


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • De-seed the peppers and whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Combine the Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, stirring until thick and gluey.
  • Add the bell peppers, turkey and salt. Using your hands, mix until the ingredients are well combined.
  • Roll the mixture into meatballs and place on a greased baking sheet.
  • Dust the meatballs liberally with salt and pepper. Cook for 20 minutes, then take off baking sheet and put to one side.
  • Cook the spaghetti as per package instructions. Warm the spaghetti sauce in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
  • Pour the meatballs in, plus some fresh parsley. Stir gently and cover.
  • Leave the mixture to simmer until the noodles are ready and the sauce is heated through.
  • Place the sauce and noodles straight in the pan. Scatter with a little cheese. Et voila!

If you’re trying to “eat clean” this month, we hope the recipes above will inspire you. They’re perfect for almost every New Year’s resolution diet. Enjoy!

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