Comfort food without the calories

Everyone has a unique metabolic rate, which is the rate at which you burn calories (units of energy). Things like gender, age, muscle mass, height, activity level and pregnancy each play a role in determining how many calories your body needs to maintain both its fat and muscle mass.

This is why one-size-fits-all diets aren’t always the best option

Many believe that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to the food you eat, but if you’re trying to lose weight then you need to be aware of how many calories you’re taking in too.

Even the healthiest body-loving foods (think nuts, avocados and dates) will up your calorie intake if you eat them in excess. But don’t be fooled into thinking that a diet that tells you to eat no more than 1,200 calories a day is actually good for you.

All this will do is zap your energy levels and slow down your metabolism. Starving your body and soul by following a restrictive diet is not sustainable or healthy in the long-term; you need vitamins and nutrients from foods to perform to your best.

However, what does work is cooking, eating and enjoying a large variety of nutrient-dense foods that also happen to be lower in calories than your usual go-to comfort dish. Luckily, the smallest substitutions in ingredients can make the biggest difference to your waistline. And by doing this you can enjoy your favorite foods without feeling guilty.

Now go flex your culinary muscles and give these two tasty recipes a go.

Whole grain or zoodle pasta with turkey bolognese and mushrooms

1 serving (350-430 calories)


  • ½ cup (75g) of whole wheat or brown rice noodles or 1 cup (150g) of zoodles (spiralized zucchini noodles)
  • 3 ounces (85g) ground turkey
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • ¼ cup (40g) of chopped onion
  • ½ cup (40g) of sliced mushrooms
  • ½ cup (120ml) of red pasta sauce (fewer than 4g of sugar per serving)
  • Italian herbs
  • Cooking spray rather than pouring cooking oils
  • Parmesan cheese (go for a sprinkle rather than covering the whole dish!)


Prepare the pasta as directed. If you’re making the zoodles, spiralize a cup of zucchini and sauté them over the stovetop with the spray cooking oil.

Season lightly with some salt.

Sauté the ground turkey, onions and garlic together on the stovetop adding cooking spray and a dash of salt.

Add the red sauce and mushrooms and leave to simmer until the mushrooms are soft.

Season with Italian herbs to taste.

Immediately serve the turkey bolognese over pasta or zoodles, top with a small sprinkle of parmesan cheese and enjoy.

Chocolate chia pudding with raspberries

4 servings (200 calories each)


  • ⅓ cup (50g) chia seeds
  • 12 ounces (350ml) low-fat coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Handful of raspberries


Combine all the ingredients together in a large jar; tightly seal with a lid, and shake to mix.

Remove the lid and scrape the sides of the jar with a spoon, and stir to break up any clumps.

Place the lid back onto the jar and give it another good shake.

Put the jar in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours but preferably overnight.

Once set, spoon some pudding into your favorite bowl, top with the raspberries, and enjoy!

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