Make brightly coloured and flavourful meals that harness the benefits of exotic spices


Make brightly coloured and flavourful meals that harness the benefits of exotic spices.

What is life without a little spice? Former head of production at BBC Bristol, Kalpna Woolf lives by this mantra, having grown up in Southall, London, on a diet of Indian spices and wholesome, home- cooked food. However, like so many others, she strayed away from healthy eating after leaving home.‘When I moved out, I moved away from my “food roots” too. and was tempted by the growing proliferation of fast food,’ says Woolf. Choosing to learn more about what she wanted from food led to Woolf’s discovery of spices that help slim the body. ‘I wanted to eat food with lots of flavour. I discovered that when I balanced spices with healthy foods, my weight reduced and then stayed down.’Recent studies confirm her experience. Some spices can curb appetite and speed up your metabolism, helping burn body fat.

Make brightly coloured and flavourful meals that harness the benefits of exotic spices Photo Gallery

Others make you feel full faster, or heat the body from within, increasing your metabolism to help you burn more calories.Woolf’s new book Spice Yourself Slim (Pavilion, £16.99) introduces a tried-and-tested diet that guarantees weight loss while allowing you to enjoy tasty food throughout the day. ‘We all love eating food, but. at the same time, we also want to be slim and healthy,’ says Woolf. ‘It’s always seemed that we can’t have it both ways, but this book is about how we can have it all – eat delicious food and lose weight healthily at the same time.’From exploring her Indian roots to enjoying traditional British cooking. Woolf has a recipe for every occasion. Each meal uses simple, natural ingredients combined with one or more healthy spices to create a low-fat dish. Treat yourself on Sunday morning with A And A bourgee (Indian-style eggs with garlic, chili, ground coriander and turmeric) or pimp your winter veg with cumin-infused caramelised pumpkin, goat’s cheese and winter fruit salad. Or whip up a warming fruity oat crumble with cinnamon for a cosy late-night dessert? Embrace the flavours!


Serves: 4

Per serving: 244 calories, 7g protein, 8g carbohydrate (7g sugar). 19g fat (6g saturated fat), 5g fibre, 1.5g salt

2 large aubergines

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

Vi small red chilli, finely chopped (optional)

2 tbsp Mediterranean spice rub (see opposite page, top)

1 tsp salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8-10 sun-kissed tomatoes (or sun-dried), roughly chopped

Large handful of fresh basil leaves, torn

70g black pitted Kalamata olives

120g Greek feta cheese, cut into small cubes

1.Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4. Cut each ‘ aubergine in half lengthways. Score the aubergine flesh with some deep cuts a few times but don’t cut them all the way through.

2. Place the aubergines on a baking tray and drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until almost soft. Leave the oven on. Allow the aubergines to cool, then scoop out the flesh

3.Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add the ’’ remaining olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and. as soon as they start to sizzle, add onion, garlic and chilli, and cook for four to five minutes or until the onion is soft.

4. Sprinkle in the Mediterranean spice rub and mix the aubergine flesh. Season with salt and pepper and sautö over a high heat for three to four minutes. Add the tomatoes and basil leaves, mix. then take the pan off the heat and fold in the olives and feta.

5.Divide the mixture between the aubergine skins and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes until the stuffing and the skins are cooked.

Make brightly coloured and  flavourful meals that harness  the benefits of exotic spices


Makes approx 25g/4 tbsp

2 tbsp Szechuan peppers

3 star anise

2 tbsp fennel seeds

5 cloves

Yz tbsp black peppercorns

2.5cm cinnamon stick

Yz tsp salt

Add all the ingredients except the salt to a warm frying pan and fry gently for 3-5 minutes. Grind to a fine powder. Mix in the salt and store in a jar.


Serves: 2

Per serving: 207 calories, 5g protein. 20g carbohydrate (17g sugar), 10g fat (2g saturated fat), 9g fibre, 0.7g salt

Dressing ingredients

1 tsp finely diced fresh ginger

1/4 tsp salt

A small handful of fresh coriander

3 tbsp lime juice

Yz tsp Szechuan-Style Spice Rub (above)

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp runny honey

1 small red chilli, finely chopped

Salad ingredients

3 medium carrots, peeled and grated

1/2 red (bell) pepper, thinly sliced

3 celery stalks, finely diced

½ small red onion, finely sliced

Small bunch of coriander leaves

20g cup raw unsalted cashew nuts

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1.To make the dressing, pound the ginger with the salt and coriander stems using a pestle and mortar to make a smooth paste. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and mix thoroughly.

2.In a large bowl, combine all the— salad ingredients, except the cashew nuts and sesame seeds. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss together carefully.

3.Check the seasoning, then sprinkle over the cashew nuts and sesame seeds and serve.


Makes approx 30g/4tbsp

3 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp ground turmeric

1 whole cinnamon stick

Roast the cumin and coriander seeds in a pan for 3-5 minutes, or until the aromas are released, then grind into a fine powder. Mix in the paprika and turmeric, then place in a jar. Add the whole cinnamon stick. Shake well and store in an airtight jar.


Serves: 4

Per serving: 244 calories, 35g protein 1.5g carbohydrate (1.5g sugar). 11g fat (2g saturated fat), 1g fibre, 1.6g salt

3 tbsp Moroccan spice rub (see above

2 small lemons, 1 sliced into thin rings and 1 juiced

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

4 whole red snapper fish (or sea bass or sea bream), washed

1 white onion, peeled and thinly sliced

½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

10-12 Sungold cherry tomatoes

Large handful of coriander, chopped Small bunch of basil leaves, torn

1.Preheat the grill to medium. Combine two tablespoons Moroccan spice rub. one tablespoon lemon juice, one should tablespoon olive oil and teaspoon salt

2.Score the skin of each fish a few times on both sides. Push the spice mixture well into the cuts and rub over the inside. Line the inside of each fish with the lemon slices. Cover and chill for 30 mins.

3.Heat the remaining olive oil in a pan • > over a medium heat. Add the onions, fennel and garlic, and cook for three to four minutes until soft. Add the remaining Moroccan spice rub and some salt, mix for two minutes, then add the tomatoes and 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice.

4.Check the seasoning and add more salt if needed. Mix in the coriander leaves. Divide the vegetable mixture equally and stuff into the fish cavity. _ Place the fish on a baking tray and grill on both sides until cooked. This one should take about seven to nine minutes for each side. The fish should be slightly charred. Squeeze over a little lemon, to taste, before serving.


Q Cinnamon has many health properties: it’s high in antioxidants, is an antiseptic and keeps your digestion working well.

Q Chilli will get your metabolism moving after lunch and is packed with vitamins and minerals, while garlic will help with blood circulation

Q If you’re gluten intolerant, you can buy gluten-free couscous made from millet, or use quinoa.

Q Ginger has a warming, or thermogenic, effect on the body, which means it can boost metabolism. Drinking a glass of warm water infused with sliced ginger is a great way of staying healthy and keeping bugs away.

Q Roasted and ground, cumin is fragrant and earthy. It’s delicious in salads and is a lovely addition to an average dish, for example, roast beetroot sprinkled with roast cumin is magnificent!

Make brightly coloured and  flavourful meals that harness  the benefits of exotic spices

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