The festive season is over, well almost, and now it’s time to think about all that over eating you did over Christmas. Counting calories doesn’t have to be a chore and there are some really good recipes about that are healthy and tasty.

The main thing when you’re trying to lose weight is to eat a balanced diet and don’t cut out meals. Increasing your intake of high-fibre food, lowering your intake of fats and eating less carbohydrates along with regular exercise is the best way to shift those pounds. Below are just a few recipes of tasty food that wouldn’t leave you feeling hungry.

The paté can be made with other fish like salmon or tuna if you don’t like mackerel. The stew is great with the red wine which gives it a rich full flavor, but if you’re really on a strict calorie count, just leave this out.

Buen Apetito

Smoked Mackerel Pate

2 large smoked mackerel fillets
1 thin slice of onion
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
225g soft cheese (cottage cheese is not suitable)
Salt and Pepper to taste and lettuce leaves to serve
Black olives and lemon slices to serve.
Flake and bone the mackerel. Mix the mackerel with the chopped onion and lemon rind and juice. Work the soft cheese until thoroughly combined, then add salt and pepper to taste. Fork into one dish or four individual ones and chill until ready serve. Garnish with black olives and lemon slices

Beef Stew in Red Wine

1.4kg rump or chuck steak
150ml red wine
1 onion
2 parsnips
2 carrots
3 garlic gloves
3 parsley stalks
8 black peppercorns
30ml olive oil
150ml beef stock
Cut the beef into chunks and place in a bowl. Pour in the wine and add the chopped onion and crushed garlic, thyme, peppercorns and parsley stalks. Leave in the fridge to marinate for 5-6 hours or overnight. Strain and retain the marinate liquid separately. Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the beef and onion mixture. Add the chopped carrots and parsnips to the pan and cook for a further ten minutes. Pour in the beef stock and add the wine marinate and bring to the boil. Pour into a casserole dish and cook in an oven at 150º for 2 – 3 hours checking the liquid does not need topping up with water or stock.

Fish Cakes

350g salmon
175g haddock
300ml milk
3 bay leaves
450g potatoes
25g butter
1 tbsp tarragon and dill
Pinch of nutmeg
50g flour
2 eggs
75g breadcrumbs
2 tbsp sunflower oil
Put the fish in a pan with the milk and bay leaves. Bring to boil and simmer until flaky. Peel and chop potatoes. Cook in boiling water until tender. Drain and mash with butter. Mix in herbs and nutmeg. Skin fish and break into large flakes. Mix with mash and shape into patties (makes around 8). Coat each one first with flour then egg and finally dip in breadcrumbs. Cook fishcakes for 3 minutes on each side in oil until golden.

Chick-Peas with Noodles

225g dried chick-peas
900ml of vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tomato puree
100g fresh spinach
1 bunch flat parsley
1 bunch spring onions
1 clove garlic
75g egg noodles
Fresh mint
Salt and pepper
Soak the chick-peas in cold water for 12 hours. Drain and place in a large pan of water and bring to the boil then simmer for 1 ¼ hours. Drain and return to the pan, pour over stock and add bay leaf and tomato puree. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes adding more stock if needed. Peel and chop garlic and add to pan. Wash and chop spinach, parsley and spring onions and add to pan along with the noodles. Cook for a further 5 minutes or until the noodles are soft. Finally add the chopped mint and season to taste and simmer for a few more minutes before serving.

Brown Rice Risotto

200g Brown Rice
400ml water
1 medium onion
½ red pepper (optional)
200g sunflower seeds
Mixed herbs
Pinch salt
100g sweetcorn or frozen peas
Soya sauce to taste
1 rounded tsp Marmite
Cook the chopped onion in the oil until soft. Wash rice and drain, add to the onions and cook for a couple of minutes turning all the time. Boil the water and add Marmite, soya sauce and herbs to the water and stir. Pour into the rice mixture and bring to the boil and simmer gently. After 15 mins add the chopped mushrooms and sweetcorn and peas and simmer for a further 20 minutes. Season to taste and mix in the red peppers. Serve with toasted sunflower seeds.