Rice and pasta, as well as other grains such as couscous, are staples for many of us. But keep an eye on what you are having as the portions can be so deceiving. Here’s a chart to help you:

Always remember 28g/1oz dry weight = 84g/3oz cooked weight and approx 100 calories.

**It is recommended that you use Basmati rice and wholemeal pasta as they are both low G.I. and you will find satisfy you much longer.

Here are some tips for you too –

  • When cooking rice and pasta for the family always prepare extra and freeze into 168g/6oz portions (approx 180 cals). You’ll find it really convenient when making a quick meal. I find adding a tablespoon of water when defrosting really keeps the rice nice and fluffy.
  • While cooking rice it helps add a few drops of lemon juice – you’ll find it keeps the rice really white.
  • Have you tried the Egg Fried Rice on page 54 of your Lifestyle Plan? Served with Slimtone curry sauce and stir fry vegetables, you’ll have a gourmet low fat meal in minutes!
  • Did you know that Uncle Ben’s have a Light version on their Sweet & Sour sauce? It’s one of my favourites and almost half the calories of the original.
  • I find the 65g packets of individual rice, again by Uncle Ben’s, are really convenient. They are portion controlled and sold in boxes of eight packets taking only 10 minutes to cook and only 212 cals per packet. These are also available in 125g packets – please be careful as these are over 400 calories per packet and are two portion sizes………….

This week we have some tasty recipes using pasta and rice – they’re all family-friendly and quick and easy to prepare.          

Rice Salad
Serves 1 – approx. 300 cals

168g/6oz cooked weight rice             Wafer thin ham, chopped
Frozen peas, cooked                           Sweetcorn, cooked
Cherry tomatoes                                  Cucumber
Peppers                                                Celery

Add chopped wafer thin ham, peas, sweetcorn, chopped cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, pepper and celery to the cooked rice. This is a really convenient packed lunch with a tasty green salad.

Philly, Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Bake
Serves 4 – approx 300 cals per portion

225g/8oz wholemeal penne pasta (dry weight)      1 tub (200g) of Philadelphia Extra Light
200ml vegetable stock                                                 1 can of tuna in brine
112g/4oz cooked frozen sweet corn                       28g/1oz medium fat grated cheddar cheese

Cook pasta in large pan of boiling water according to pack instructions. Whilst the pasta is cooking, put the Philly Light in a saucepan with the stock and heat gently until the Philly has melted. Add the tuna and sweetcorn and heat through. Season to taste. Drain the pasta and toss together with Philly and tuna mixture.  Spoon into a warmed oven proof dish and sprinkle with the grated cheese.  Place under a preheated grill for a few minutes until golden. Serve immediately with lots of green salad, roasted or stir fried vegetables.

Chilli Philly Stir Fry with Chicken & Rice
Serves 4 – approx 300 cals per serving

Cook 200g/7oz rice. Meanwhile mist a wok or heavy based frying pan with one cal cooking spray. Add 280g/10oz chicken and fry until thoroughly cooked. Add a drizzle of soy sauce, sliced spring onions, a diced red pepper and finely grated zest of a lemon and cook over a high heat for a further 1-2 minutes. Pour in approx 80ml chicken stock and add a 150g serving of Philly with sweet chilli. Stir until the Philly has melted. Serve immediately accompanied by the boiled rice.

Chicken and Tomato Pasta Bake
Serves 4 – approx 340 Cals

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped               336g/12oz skinless chicken breast fillet, cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed                400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree                                         Salt and black pepper
56g/2oz mature medium fat cheese              224g/8oz dried pasta shapes
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil                              one cal cooking spray

Mist a large frying pan with one cal cooking spray and fry the onion and garlic for 5 mins until just softened. Add the chicken and fry until browned all over. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and basil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and simmer gently for 15 mins. Meanwhile, boil the pasta shapes in a large pan of lightly salted water according to the packet instructions. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Fan 200°C/Gas 7. Drain the pasta shapes and stir into the chicken and tomato sauce. Transfer to a shallow heatproof dish and sprinkle over the grated cheese. Bake for 15-20 mins until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Serve garnished with basil leaves and a sprinkling of ground black pepper.

I hope you enjoy these tasty meals – I’d love to hear what your favourites are.

Keep smiling,
Marie x

P.S. Our Sainsbury classes have moved! These classes are now held at The Caeffatri on Coity Road on a Tuesday evening at 5.00 – 6.30pm and on Friday morning at 10.00 – 11.30am. You are welcome to come along. Click here, for details of all our classes.