WHEN you’re trying to lose weight, it can often feel as though all of the good foods are banned.
Yet, those moreish takeaway delights like pizza, burgers and chips, don’t necessarily have to be thrown on the no-go pile.
Rob Hobson is a registered nutritionist who firmly believes that no food should be banned, but there are ways to make your go-to takeaway meals kinder to the waistline.
Whether you make your own fakeaways or not, he notes if you’re trying to drop calories, it’s worth remembering that portion control still needs to be taken into consideration.
Give these calorie-saving hacks a try…
1. Fish and chips
Racking up a minimum of 800 calories, a piece of crispy battered fish on a bed of thick, greasy chips is what many dreams are made of.
Throw in a side of mushy peas and this seaside dinner is golden.
Yet, with the high calorie and fat count – from the oil and batter involved – it’s no wonder eating this too regularly could cause some serious damage to the waistline.
Rob says to make your own healthier version at home, try replacing the classic batter (flour, baking powder, milk, egg and oil) with a crust made using crushed almonds and herbs.
He says: “The fish can be grilled rather than fried. To replace the deep fat fryer chips, serve your fish with either baked potato wedges or roasted new potatoes.”
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2. Chicken korma
Coming in at 850 calories per serve, Rob says this classic Indian dish is loaded with saturated fat as it’s typically made using coconut milk.
“You could easily make your chicken korma healthier by making an at-home version using a korma paste and low fat Greek yoghurt.
“Serve this with brown rice instead of white too for a fibre high, which supports healthy digestion,” says Rob.
3. Large margherita pizza
There’s no getting away from the fact a large takeout pizza can easily provide around 2,000 or more calories, and that’s without added sides such as garlic bread and wedges.
It’s a serious calorie bomb!
Rob says you could simply eat less pizza, “but this isn’t necessarily any healthier as this pizza will be absolutely loaded with salt”.
Making your own pizza at home can allow you to play around with the base as well as the toppings.
“Explore different ways of making the pizza crust – there are some really inventive ones, such as cauliflower and quinoa.
“You could also make smaller mini pizzas using pitta breads and top them with less cheese or even half fat cheese, as well as veggies like peppers, olives and capers.”
Try adding some form of lean protein to your pitta pizza too; try shredded chicken or turkey strips.
4. Beef burger and chips
Factor in the beef burger itself, the sauces, the bun and the chips, and a takeaway meal can very easily tip 1,000 calorie mark.
“Burgers vary massively depending on where you buy them from, so making them yourself gives you more control,” says Rob.
“It’s really easy to make a beef burger, so start by choosing the lowest fat beef mince to make yours with.
“Next, watch what you top them with, so maybe a nice homemade spicy tomato salsa, fresh guacamole and salad.
“You can go topless and just have the bottom of the bun.”
Rob also suggests swapping the chips for homemade sweet potato wedges, spiced up with cayenne pepper, chilli powder or smoked paprika.
5. Chicken chow mein
Although it might be on the lower end of the calorie count, clocking up around 500 to 600 calories, Rob says this dish tends to have a lot of salt and is often cooked with quite a bit of oil.
“You can make this a little healthier by using reduced sodium soy sauce and switching the amount of oil you use.
“Try cooking in a non-stick pan as this means you need hardly any oil at all.
“I would also try adding more veggies to the dish, as traditionally it tends to be limited on the veggie front.”
Packing in more vegetables could also replace some of the noodles, lowering the calorie count further and ensuring your meal is more nutrient-dense, filled with vitamins and minerals.
6. Doner kebab
Coming in at up to 1,800 calories, this staple post-night out meal is made up of spit roasted meat (usually lamb) loaded onto a thick wrap.
Although it might not sound too bad, the meat is often packed with fat.
You can enjoy a healthier homemade version by making a few simple tweaks, according to Rob.
Try swapping lamb for leaner cuts such as chicken, turkey or lean beef.
Cook these in a non-stick pan, or grill the meat instead.
Top with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and sliced onion, and use a thin pitta bread as the base.