your book questions answered: Fast & Filling

First things first (I only put that in because Paul hates the phrase), an announcement!

Forgive the big advert, but we’ve been asked a lot if there’s gonna be a bundle – this isn’t a bundle so much as it is both books dropping in price to an elegant £18 for the two! Go for it. Click the link to open in a new window!

It’s certainly been a busy few days since book launch! A huge thank you to everyone for buying our book and making it a Sunday Times Best-Seller! That’s the second time we’ve done this and it’s mind-blowing. Remember, it’s just me and Paul here. Bloody love you guys! Anyway, the book launch means we find ourselves answering the same questions a lot from people who are on the fence about the book – so this blog is all about answering those questions! Hope this helps! And if you have already bought the book, please consider leaving us a review on Amazon – it really helps us.

Where can we pick up the book?

An easy one to start! Fast & Filling is available on Amazon via the link above, and is currently priced at a very attractive £10. If you aren’t a fan of Amazon, you can also pick it up online via WH Smith, Waterstones, The Works or many other independent bookstores. If you are abroad it is a little trickier, but we recommend The Book Depository if you are having trouble getting it shipped. Of course, all of the books are also available on Kindle, if you want to go electronic. If you’re old school, you’ll find it in WH Smith and Waterstones on the high street, plus we’re in all major supermarkets. There has been an absolute rush on, which may mean stock issues offline for a couple of weeks, but our publishers are working on that!

What sort of recipes are in the book?

Exactly the same type of recipes as the blog: easy to cook breakfasts, lunches and dinners that taste good, don’t cost a bomb to make and will fill you up. We don’t do diet food, never have, we do proper food with a few healthy swaps. Listen, we’re two chunky lads who can put away a good meal – we know you’re going to be miserable if you’re given rabbit portions because we would be. Unless it’s one of those rabbits that come in plain packaging from lovehoney, and hey, if it is, think of the weight loss from a bit of self-love. These are recipes that you will cook for the family and everyone will eat: not cooking something for yourself and then cooking something delicious for those not on a diet. Put simply: this is good food, done right. You deserve it!

Where can I find the syns for the recipes?

Unfortunately, at the time of writing, we cannot provide the syn values for the recipes ourselves. Syns is a term that belongs to Slimming World and, understandably, they would not like us to use it in our cookbooks. Slimming World have been amazing with us throughout our blog and we absolutely don’t begrudge them this. They allow us to use syns on the blog and social media, and we are very grateful for that! I’ll say this though: all of our recipes are simple enough with no wacky ingredients and as a consequence, they’re easy to work out for yourselves using SW’s online tools. They’re all under 500 calories too.

Have you included cooking times / dietary restrictions / portion sizes?

Yep. After forgetting some of that information in the last book (it was our first time, be kind!), we have made sure it’s in here. All recipes are below 500 calories (that’s per portion) and most, unless clearly indicated, serve four. Where possible, we have made sure to show where recipes are suitable for gluten free too!

Why don’t you use sweetener / Quark / Frylight in your recipes?

Same reason we don’t on the blog. We believe in the philosophy of using good ingredients to make your food the best it can be. That’s not knocking Quark, mind, it has its place, but sweetener is a big bugbear of ours. Yeah, you might save a syn or two replacing say, brown sugar with sweetener, but why? It makes it taste so sweet and artificial! We don’t believe in having to be ‘syn-free’, and it works, because the feedback we get from our recipes is how tasty they are. So if our recipes use a bit of butter, or some honey, or a drop of maple syrup, get it in there. You’ll thank us afterwards! That said, if you’re absolutely set on using Frylight or Quark, shoot for the moon. Do what works for you!

Are there many recipes suitable for vegetarians?

Yes! And I know this because I’ve been asking! It’s no secret we like meat here at Chubby Towers – I’m never happier than when I’m packed with sausage – but at the same time, we’ve made a special effort with this book to up our vegetarian recipes. Not just ‘swap the chicken for Quorn’, either, but using Quorn or tofu or the vegetables themselves as the main ingredient and making them sing. From memory, there’s over 60+ veggie friendly recipes in there. We always welcome feedback too, so if you think we can do better, let us know.

Are the recipes easy to follow?

Absolutely. These recipes are meant to save one thing – time now or time later. So this means the recipes are either easy to cook, quick to put together, easy to scale up or suitable for batch-cooking and freezing. There’s no fancy cooking techniques – I mean, look, it’s us – and if you’re not a confident cook then you will be right at home. We aren’t chefs ourselves you know, and we know there’s nothing more daunting than a huge list of ingredients or steps for cooking. You’ll find neither in here. Also, if you get really stuck, send us a message on Instagram (see below) and we will try and help. One thing we keep seeing over and over in our comments and reviews is that the meals are perfect for family cooking, or those just starting out.

Let me finish this question with a plea: if you struggle to cook, please, just start! The best thing you can do is to start cooking – it’s rare the meal will go absolutely wrong and you can always salvage it. But cooking is all about confidence and that only builds with exposure! So go for it!

How easy is it to make substitutes for difficult ingredients?

We genuinely don’t think there’s any especially difficult ingredients in there – we shop at Aldi and Tesco, and if you can’t get it there, it’s not in our book! One thing we’ve always disliked about other books is where you buy an ingredient, use it once and never again. None of that with us. Perhaps the two unusual ingredients to feature are (and lord, imagine my sigh here) panko and mirin. Panko is easy to find in most major supermarkets – it’s a dried breadcrumb and is usually in the world foods bit. It’s cheap as chips. Mirin might be a little bit trickier – they sell it all over up here, it’s a sweet rice wine, and you’ll find it where you find the panko. You can swap it for a white cooking wine if you like. A plea if you’re just starting out, too – get to know your local speciality supermarkets – so much cheaper than buying in the major supermarkets.

Are the recipes suitable for those on a lower budget?

Yes! We rarely use ‘expensive’ cuts of meat, for example, and look – we aren’t big spenders here. It goes back to the ingredients thing – we use proper stuff you’re likely to have in the cupboard anyway, and if not, we take the cheap ingredients and make them so much more because we cook them properly.

Will the release of the book change anything for the blog?

Nope. This is an important one for us! Our blog was set up in 2014 (crikey!) as an antithesis to the awful diet food that was being circulated at the time. Now, almost seven years later, we’ve got over 700 recipes and, this bit I love, a record of our lives! Our followers all came from this blog and we have zero intention of stopping now. I’m committing to a new recipe every week where I can. We will never charge you to access recipes or try and monetise the fuck out of the blog. There’s a few adverts, yeah, but aside from that, it’s all free all the time. When you stop reading, I’ll stop writing!

How do we follow you on social media?

Ah we’re everywhere!

A note on our Facebook group. One of my favourite acts that I’ve seen blossom is the ‘pay it forward’ scheme operating, where those who are struggling to buy the book are being gifted it by those in a position to help. It was completely unexpected, but speaks so much to the good in our group. There’s a reason you don’t see much negativity in our group: because it’s full of terrific people. I confess myself ridiculously proud of it. A reminder though: if you’re struggling for money, please, don’t be buying our cookbook – save that for when you have some cash! There’s over 700 recipes now in our index and although they don’t look quite so professional in the photos, the food recipes themselves are exactly the same calibre as you get in the book – and for free.

I think that is everything! If you have any questions or you want to show off your food, come show us in the group or on Instagram. If you tag us in, we will do our best to spot you!

Ah actually one final thing.

Thanks guys. I know I’ve said it so many times over the years, but it bears repeating. We would be nothing without you lot buying our books, sharing our recipes and telling everyone about those two fat blokes on the Internet who cook good food. Reading everyone’s nice comments, seeing people actually happy with the food, seeing old cooks and new cooks and everyone in between having a go. Well. You’ll never truly know what that means to us, because, despite being a gobshite who can waffle for days about absolutely nothing, I’ve never quite found the words. Thank you.

Happy cooking!

J&P

recipe: beef, spinach and mango curry

Well hello! Are you here for the beef, spinach and mango curry, you poor unfortunate soul? I’d expect nothing less, given how fabulous it is, and in a rare bit of brevity, I won’t keep you for 1500 words until we get to it. That said, if you’re itching for the beef, spinach and mango curry and can’t wait a moment more, you impolite cow, then scroll down to the pictures where you will be rewarded with everything you need.

Before we start anything, THANK YOU to everyone who is buying our new book. The reviews are superb, the comments on social media are amazing and I am loving seeing so many of you recommending us. It means the world! Please do continue to drop your photos into slimming groups on FB, or copying us in on your Instagram posts. If you haven’t already left a review, we’d love you forever if you did. And finally, if you’re still on the fence…

Anyway. I want to give you some advice. Take a seat, preferably on a chair but if you’ve got good pelvic floor muscles, you can grip onto a bannister or a fence like a limpet. If you’re not one for reading lots of words, that’s fine, we have a handy Instagram summa of the main points right here:

See, one of the main things about running a diet / slimming blog and social media thingamajig is that we get asked a lot of questions, and because I was brought up in a house where I’d get my fingers smacked with a wooden spoon for rudeness, I always try and answer them. The key question we get is ‘how to lose weight’ or variants thereon, and nevermoreso than this time of the year when everyone has put away all the Christmas pudding and turned slightly more spherical than they perhaps would like. I reassure and cajole and try and give the best advice I can, but for years I’ve been saying the wrong thing – go to slimming classes, keep the end in sight, all that tush.

Now, before I go into the main advice, a note of reassurance: I’m not going to tell you not to go to slimming classes. I’m a firm believer that they work – I know they do – for a lot of people, and if you find that way a comfort or it helps with your weight loss, you crack on. We’re Slimming World through and through and that won’t change. But, that said, I encourage you to tinker with your thought process if you do.

We think you should try to lose 1lb a week if you’re losing weight. No more. Don’t get me wrong, if you lose more than a pound a week, great, but your target should be a pound. Every week until the end of the year.

Our reasoning is sound, too. One thing we always used to hear at slimming classes was ‘what’s your target for next week – 3lb? 4lb’ – and then if you have a poor week, or something comes up, or if you have a birthday or a funeral or a stressful visit to the clap clinic, you might not hit that target. What comes next: disappointment. You’re sad because you lost 3lb, and it wasn’t 4lb, rather than being chuffed you’ve lost 3lb. It’s a negative reinforcement that you can do without. Whereas, if you were always aiming to lose a pound, you’d feel brilliant when at the end of the week you can tick it off your list. You’ll create a positive feedback loop in yourself – less stressed about dieting because you’re not ‘trying’ so hard, weight loss at the scales, results showing – and you’re far more inclined to keep going.

Think about it: how many times have you stood on the scales after a week of hard graft and exercise and been gutted because you’ve only lost a pound, or stayed the same? Then if you’re anything like us, you’ll fuck the whole thing off out of frustration, eat a tonne of food to feel better and then the shame circle starts again. It’s why I think we’ve failed so many times at losing weight – slim, sadness, binge, repeat.

This way, there’s far less pressure on you. You’re more likely to succeed. And it gets better: think how many weeks you’ll have where you lose more than a pound, given how quickly weight can fall off when you are sticking to things. By all means tot the total up as you go along, keep the end in sight, but don’t give it your full attention. Stick to your 1lb a week: get it? Got it? Good.

Oh and celebrate your victories. Don’t be dashing down to the chip shop every week, though we always say no food is banned because it bloody well shouldn’t be. But a bit of self-love for your accomplishments is no bad thing, whether it’s a book or a trip out or buying something outrageous from lovehoney.com that makes your neighbours’ lights dim when you’re going full strum.

It all boils down to positivity. Get that nailed, and you’ve got this year sorted. Good luck!

And look at that! We’re done, and only 800 words. I’m getting leaner even in words! Shall we do the beef, spinach and mango curry?

recipe: beef, spinach and mango curry

How’s this bowl of beef, spinach and mango curry for comfort food? Amazing, that’s what.

beef, spinach and mango curry

recipe: beef, spinach and mango curry

Fancy this beef, spinach and mango curry – then get it made!

beef, spinach and mango curry

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

We're still in our evil lair and still on the Hello Fresh boxes for convenience! We've lifted another banger straight from them - lovely comforting stodge with a spicy (but not too spicy!) tinge! If you want to take the faff out of shopping we can't rate them highly enough. A box arrives once a week (or however often you want it to) with all the ingredients pre-portioned out for you, and handy recipe cards so you can just crack on with none of the pissfarting about. If you want to give them a shout follow this link and you'll get £20 off, and also send £20 our way too! 

Ingredients

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 2 onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 300g basmati rice
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 4 tbsp rogan josh paste (4 syns) (see notes)
  • 100g dried red split lentils
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • 100g baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp mango chutney (4 syns)

Instructions

  • halve, peel and thinly slice the onions and grate the garlic
  • heat a large frying pan over a high heat and spray a little oil
  • add the beef mince to the pan and cook until browned
  • meanwhile, heat 600ml water in a large saucepan with a bit of salt and bring to the boil
  • add the rice, stir, reduce the heat to medium and cover with a lid
  • cook the rice for ten minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside for a further ten minutes
  • add the onion to the minute and cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes, stirring now and again
  • add the garlic, tomato puree and rogan josh paste to the pan and stir together, and cook for one minute
  • dissolve the stock cubes in 700ml of boiling water, and pour into the pan with the mince
  • add the lentils to the same pan and stir well
  • reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • once the lentils are tender, add the spinach to the pan in handfuls, stirring into the mixture until wilted, then stir in the mango chutney (add a splash of water if needed)
  • fluff up the rice with a fork and spoon into bowls, and top with the curry

Notes

Recipe

  • fancy it meat free? Quorn works just as well!
  • Sainsbury's own brand rogan josh paste is only 1 syn per tablespoon - other brands are around the 2 syn per tablespoon mark, so be sure to check!

Books

  • OUR BRAND NEW COOKBOOK IS OUT NOW! You thought the last one was good? It was, but this sequel is even better! Order yours here! 
  • our first slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 5000 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedbacks

Tools

Courses dinner

Cuisine Indian

Wasn’t that easy?

If you’re after more easy meals, why not have a look over our older stuff? And just for sheer retroness, let’s get these buttons out one last time!

poultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmallfakeawayssmall lunchsmallpastasmall

Crikey.

J&P

well, welcome to 2021, everyone!

Hello all!

I hope you’re all keeping well – if you’re anything like us, you’re still clutching your belly and wondering whether or not you’re going to need a new lavatory to cope with all the Christmas excess. I do hope so, because Christmas is meant to be about spoiling yourself and after the previous year, we absolutely all needed it. And no – I don’t know why I’m typing this little blog post as though I’m your mad Auntie writing her yearly round-robin from her villa in Benidorm, but fuck it, we’re here now so let’s keep going. I am well, having spent most of the festive period picking Christmas dinner out of my beard and sulking because I couldn’t open my presents early. Paul remains pallid and smelling of soil, but confesses himself reasonably happy. The kids are quiet, but that’s more than likely because we’ve never had them.

Enough of that though. This is just a very quick post to celebrate the launch of our new book, and the excellent reviews it has already received. You can buy it in all supermarkets right now, or otherwise, nip onto Amazon where it is (at the time of writing) £12 delivered. If you paid extra on Amazon, please be reassured the difference will be refunded back to your card! Click the banner to be taken straight there (in a new window, mind, I’m not finished with you yet). It’s a best-seller already, and feedback has been utterly glorious – if you liked the first book, you’re absolutely gonna love this. We genuinely could not be happier with how people have received it – thank you!

If you have it, and you love it, please consider leaving us a review: it makes all the difference! And, please, if you’re a member of any facebook groups, do share us! Spread the word. It’s just me and Paul here and there’s only so much we can do!

Also, if you haven’t already, our first cookbook is currently only £8 on Amazon too! You can click here to buy it – it’s out of stock at the moment but they’ve ordered a tonne more, so it’ll dispatch soon! That plus the new cookbook means over 220 recipes for £20 delivered! Give the gift of cubs!

And finally: well, it all goes without saying at this point. So, because it’s me, let me say it by video. If you’re a fan, I really want you to hear this!

We love you all, very much. Have an amazing New Year!

J

twochubbycubs: 2020 – it is what is

Well, hello there! A slightly different post to wrap up the year, as we are likely to be super busy next week. I will try and squeeze one more recipe before we head into 2021, but hey, I haven’t had a chance to write in a long while and I wanted to sum up our year. 2020 has been our annus horribilis, and not just due to the state of Paul’s anus. Apologies if you saw that joke earlier in the week, but we only have so much in the tank. Let’s talk 2020!

Our year started with the release of our first cookbook, twochubbycubs: the cookbook (it’ll still make an amazing Christmas present for a loved one, just saying) which we loved though didn’t expect to do that well. It did amazingly: we went to the top of Amazon, we broke our own records, and best of all, you all absolutely loved it. That was the biggest success of all, that our dowdy little blog full of swearing and nonsense was welcomed into your homes and you all took the time to tell us you were chuffed with it. That made our year. The publicity machine started, and we were off!

We were thoroughly enjoying the book-signings, the media stuff, appearing on Brexit Radio (no I don’t know either) and dealing with the very occasional person stopping us in the street. Yes, they were asking us for a pound for the bus, but I could tell from the twinkle / conjunctivitis-crackle in their eyes that they knew who we were and were simply too shy to ask us to dance.  We appeared on James Martin where Paul cocked up making a salad and I failed to convince James that I’d make a terrific wife, something I remain sore about to this day, though perhaps not as sore as I’d like.

The first three months were truly a whirlwind – we became Sunday Times Bestsellers, we turned up in (and equally, knocked back) newspapers and magazines. It was all going so well. Then guess what happened to stop all that? That tricksy little thing called coronavirus. Suddenly we were all afraid to cough, shake hands and get up to dickens. For us, all the fun stuff stopped and we fell into line along with everyone else.

Now, we were lucky – I have a job with a terrific business who were already indulging my working from home requests anyway, so not much changed for me. Paul is NHS and as such, had it much worse, having to suffer the indignity of a big rubber mask and blushing when the neighbours start clapping. All was shite, but like everyone else, you struggle on. Luckily, the neighbours issue didn’t continue for long because, in what was a big steamy sweetcorn kernel sat atop the turd that was 2020, our house burned down.

Yes, Chubby Towers went up like a box of knock-off fireworks. Readers from earlier in the year will notice we’ve been staying in a hotel and that’s why. Waking up in the night and noticing that the end of the world seemed to be occurring outside will stay with me forever, as will the giant handprint on Paul’s buttocks from where I slapped him as hard as I could to tell him the house was on fire. He went from fast asleep to swearing at me and then shitting himself within 1.5 seconds.

Whilst I’d often fantasised about having a fireman smashing my back door in and flooding my passage, it was never like this, and certainly never six of them. It’s all very surreal now. I remember sitting in the front garden, cradled by Paul, and crying my eyes out as our house burned. One of the firemen went inside and grabbed a duvet to keep me warm and even through my tears I was mortified to spot the streaks of dried jism splattered across the one he chose. Paul was absolutely incredible – he had the same fright I did and was watching our things go up in smoke, but was there keeping me calm and safe. Never thanked him for that, because I’m me, but he is really is the most remarkable of treasures.

The house was fucked, but thankfully, our insurance were utterly golden and they moved us into the hotel where I’m currently writing this from. It’s a really lovely place, even if only have two rooms have meant Paul and I exist in a permanent state of being one un-picked-up sock from caving each other’s faces in. The house is being rebuild, delayed perpetually by COVID mischief, and the cats are fine (albeit housebound), currently residing with a friend up the road. It’s them I miss more than anything: a bath doesn’t feel complete unless I spend most of it staring into Sola’s bumhole whilst she fusses around the edge of the bath and tries to hide the smell of petrol on her fur.

Living in a hotel has presented another issue though: health anxiety is bad enough when there’s a global pandemic, it’s made even worse when you’re traipsing past strangers in a hallway and getting into lifts with guests who think personal hygiene is wiping their lips with a KFC wetwipe once a year. The resulting anxiety has been a constant low-level thrum, like living near a substation, and it can be exhausting. I’ve had three bad episodes, each more exciting and doctor-filled than the last, and I’ve only recently got on top of the last one. For all I waffle endlessly via twochubbycubs, I keep that side of me far more discreet than most realise, sometimes to my credit and sometimes to my dismay. All I’ll say on that, if you’re reading this in the midst of your own health anxiety, just know that it eases.

We managed to get away to Scarborough for a long overdue filthy weekend back in September. Very excited we were, it being the first time Paul was able to get some time off and me returning, slightly creaky of jaw, back from many weeks in self-isolation (Paul first, me second). We had no sooner received the key and made small-talk with the farmer whose farm we were staying on when Paul received a text message to say he’d been around someone with COVID. A test then revealed he was positive, and I was negative, and we were forced to spend another two weeks apart. I, somewhat inexplicably, didn’t get it, but having him poorly next door was an absolute nightmare: he was calm and collected and although it wasn’t great for him, he didn’t die. I naturally assumed he had died every time he didn’t reply to his Whatsapp of a morning or I heard a cough through the walls. Still, we got through, and it didn’t half show me exactly how much that little ball of butter does for me.

Then, the last couple of months, also been meh. I hate not being able to plan anything, explore anywhere or make any concrete plans because, as we’ve just seen with Boris the Dancing Clown fucking all the tiers up again. I’m not exactly a social butterfly, but I miss spontaneous trips out, holidays away, absolute nonsense. I want to spend Christmas with my family – not with Paul’s, because presumably his mother will resting from scaring the children away at hallowe’en – but everything just feels risky. My parents are fairly old and my mother is 86% pure nicotine at the moment. We’ll see.

So yah: crap year. We’ve all had it, to some degree, but I wanted to put ours down because frankly, I’m a massive egotist and wanted to scratch a writing itch.

But, you know what. It wasn’t a shit year. It wasn’t a shit year at all.

It’s so easy to look back and think what could have been if COVID hadn’t kicked off or if our house hadn’t burned down, but those things happened and that’s that. Take COVID: it’s been a stress, it’s been awful, but we’re lucky in that no-one close to us has been killed by it – hell, I only really know Paul who had it. That can’t be said for so many families around the world and whilst doubtless it’ll hit us in some way at some point, we can be grateful it hasn’t wreaked havoc with us. Cancelling book-signings is fuck all compared to having to bury a loved one.

And anyway: we’ve still managed to have fun, whether together or apart. Evenings with nothing to do have forced us to talk to each other, and I’m reminded why I married him in the first place. We’ve had nights just driving and singing. Paul’s worrying addiction to Lego which I nurtured, allowed to flourish and then knocked on the head when it threatened to bankrupt us. We’ve cooked new things, told new stories and brawled over whose turn it was to go downstairs and ask for more dishwasher tablets. And then, separately, I’ve personally had some amazing, breath-taking adventures with my mates which are the best they’ve ever been. I’ve travelled when I can, with the restrictions meaning nothing being taken for granted. It’s been an incredible journey of its very own.

And the house? Absolute kick in the bollocks, but as I said, our insurance have been amazing: nothing has been a trouble and at the end of it all, our house will look gorgeous and so much more us. Naturally, we’re going to sell it and move to pastures new the second we realise that we can’t fall asleep there without panicking and fretting, but we’ll cross that bridge / Atlantic Ocean when we come to it. The hotel that they put us up in is also used by all the local engineering companies which means my days have been awash with men in dirty hi-vis that I’d cheerfully push Paul into a thresher for. Being away from the house has made us realised that we’ve been putting off doing all manner of things which we’re immediately putting right when we get back there with getting a dog being right at the top of that list. We’ve already decide: it’ll be a Boxer, it’ll be a slobbery little bugger and it’ll be called Goomba. I absolutely can’t wait.

Finally, the best thing of all: twochubbycubs. At the end of this year, our second cookbook will be released, with us using the time together in the hotel to create a beast even better than the first. and we’re off again with plans for 2021. That means that this year we’ve had three published books, deftly handled by the same publisher who Stephen King, my favourite author no less, rings up when he’s got a 50,000 word novel on haunted milk bottles or something. It’s utterly bewildering when we think of it. Even now, we’re a two-man affair (makes a change for me): Paul does the cooking, we do the eating and I do the writing. The success of the first book has meant for the first time in our entire lives we are ‘comfortable’, and fuck knows that’s a decent position to end the year on. We never set out to monetise twochubbycubs: it’s why our website is so old-fashioned that you’ll probably get prompted to install ICQ if you go back far enough. The fact our hobby turned into such an incredible success is still so baffling that even now I doubt it’s ever going to go anywhere.

That’s not meant as braggy, either, and I hope it doesn’t come across as that. But when I sit and mope about what could have been if only we’d done that, or if this hadn’t happened, or if we’d played this a little differently, this is what gives me comfort.

And look, we couldn’t have done this without you. I know we say it a lot in the group, or the dedications in our book, but fuck me f it wasn’t for you lot reading the recipes, sharing our stories, telling your friends or just taking part, this whole thing would just be me writing into my diary and wondering why Clippy never calls me back. We may have made twochubbycubs possible, but you made it happen.

So, this brings me to the final thing I want to say: thank you. Our year may have had some hurdles, but hell if it hasn’t all been worthwhile to get to the end, with you lot following behind with your thighs burning and chests panting. Please don’t ever lose sight of the fact that we love you, each and all, so very dearly, and we will continue to try and give you what brought you all here in the first place: free, decent recipes with a 2,000 word pre-amble where I mercilessly take the piss out of my husband or tell you about the time I farted in a cupboard.

I did want to finish on a nice quote, but the one I had in mind I’m slightly mortified to have since found out came from the Twilight books and I just can’t bring myself to finish on that level of schlock. So, instead, from Francis Bacon – ‘hope is a good breakfast, but it is a poor supper‘ (and he’d know about good breakfasts, being a Bacon). Hope is a wonderful thing to spur you on when you need it, but nights spent in a sea of what-ifs and could-be-ism gets you nowhere other than sitting at 5am with a sad heart and eyebags you travel the world on. Things aren’t as good as they could be, but you’re reading this somewhere warm and safe as opposed to in a hospital bed with Johnny 5 making your lungs work.

Things could always be worse – one to remember!

Have a safe and pleasant Christmas, doing the best you can, and we will doubtless see you all in the New Year.

With endless love and constant pride,

J, and I suppose, P

x

PS: I resisted the urge all the way through, but please, if you do love us, pre-order our new book. We’ve got new cat toys to buy! Click the banner below!

recipe: spinach and chickpea stew

Sometimes you need something that is quick to throw together and sticks to your belly like muck on a lavatory, and honestly, despite that unsavoury opening, this recipe for spinach and chickpea will do the trick. Doesn’t sound like the most exciting in the world, but it’s grand – nicely spicy, no meat and just yessss.

Before we get to the razzmatazz of the recipe, a note about our new book which is available to pre-order on Amazon and WH Smith now. There’s only a couple of weeks to go before this colourful little bugger is in your hands. If you pre-order now by clicking the banner below, if the price drops between then and now, you’ll pay the lower price! We get asked a lot why we didn’t release at Christmas and I would have thought the answer obvious: if someone bought me a ‘lose weight’ cookbook for Christmas, they’d have it pushed up their fundament. So that’s the reason, plus you know, we need time to write these and get the swearwords past our publishers. So! Don’t delay, do order today. If you loved our last book, and so many did, you’ll find even more of us in here!

Anyway, enough admin. Can we discuss hotel breakfasts? For me, the best part of staying in a hotel, aside from leisurely scattering bodily fluids all over someone else’s duvet and stealing everything that isn’t welded down, is the hotel breakfast. Long-time readers will also know that a Premier Inn breakfast is, to me, the pinnacle of good eating: as you’ve seen from both my waistline and my marital indiscretions I believe in quantity over quality, and being able to graze at a trough of heat-lamp solidified Costco fare is an absolute treasure. As it happens, I had cause to find myself in a Premier Inn a while ago (post first lockdown, so shush, snitches get stitches from bitches) and aside from my room being so far from the reception that going out for a cigarette meant crossing two tier levels, it was grand. I live for moments cast in electric magenta. My friend Tall Paul, of similar heft and capacity for eating, was joining me for breakfast.

How can it be possible to get every single item on a breakfast wrong? It was like a Dali interpretation of what a good cooked breakfast should be. Case in point: the toast. When we have previously breakfasted together it is my job to fetch enough toast that the shareholders of Warburtons can book themselves another week in St Moritz. That’s fine: I’m the master of working two rotary toasters at once and make skipping between the two into an elegant polyester ballet. It’s not a taxing affair, yet somehow in the haste to deny us all pleasures in life thanks to COVID, they’ve taken away that responsibility from the customer. You now have to owlishly ask for toast, tempering the amount you want lest the waiting staff wrinkle their noses in disgust and refer to you as Bacon-Tits in the kitchen.

Still, toast isn’t hard to get right, no? After forty minutes, Schrödinger’s Toast appeared: a sheet of midnight carbon on one side, totally uncooked on the other. It explained the wait at least, given they’d clearly prepared the toast by standing outside and holding it up to the December sun for thirty-five minutes like some sacrifice to the Yeast Gods before finishing it off in the blast zone of a nuclear atrocity. To make things worse, they had brought four tiny pats of butter for six slices of toast and everyone ought to know by now that this simply won’t do: we both spread our butter like a whore applies lipstick and we had to pester the waiter for more. He slapped it down on the table with a finality that suggested we weren’t to ask for anything else and a moment later, our breakfast was hurled onto the table with similar venom.

Well.

The bacon was one good vet away from resurrection, the hash-browns had all the structural integrity of an envelope full of custard and they even managed to bodge the beans up. Breakfast beans should be put into a saucepan and gently heated for approximately four days before being served, so the sauce goes as thick as a welder’s apron and leaves little red kisses in the corner of your mouth. This is especially pertinent with my dining companion as looking at the food smeared into his beard is my only reassurance he’s eating properly. Instead, we were given beans that suggested that the cook had parcelled them out individually moments earlier, perhaps wearisome of oncoming rationing measures. Not usually a disaster but when beans serve as the only moisture available on the plate, it becomes far more consequential. I’d have had a wetter mouth if I’d tucked into a plate of those silica balls that come with my boots.

They had made an attempt to gussy up the tomato by cutting it with pinking shears but frankly, if it didn’t work for my circumcision, it’ll do nothing for an ice-cold tomato. And the sausages: a good sausage is either (a) pink, cylindrical and devoid of any identifiable meat bar an eyelash or valve or (b) made with care and attention from animals that get tucked in at night by a kindly nanny. The middle ground is a waterbed of meh and it was in that meh that the sausages bobbed like turds in the sea.

But honestly, it was the egg that finished us off. A fried egg should be white and firm on the outside, with a sealed yolk that you can excitedly dip your toast into. Salt should be liberally applied either via the vessel on the table or your own thankful tears. What we were served was almost a magician’s trick: the perfect looking fried egg indeed, but one that you couldn’t dip your toast into even if you applied it to the sharp end of a wish.com pneumatic drill. I’ve never known an egg fight back – it was as though they had cast it from plaster. My friend likened it to those plastic facsimiles of food you get in the windows of restaurants in Tokyo and I was minded to agree, though disagreeing with him is never truly an option anyway, unless you like to be told why you’re wrong over the course of fifteen minutes, three slideshows and a ‘discussion’ that ends with him looking at you with a sage expression, resting his hand on your shoulder and shaking his head sadly whilst you boil with barely-masked incredulity.

Naturally, as we are British and fat, we ate everything put in front of us and were fully prepared to reassure the waiting staff how delightful the food was had they bothered to check in.

With the main plate finished, my mate nipped outside to smoke, such as he does treat eating as an interruption to his smoking regime rather than the other way around, and I was left alone to my own devices. Of course this is where the waiter took a moment to come over and whether he could get us anything else. I resisted the urge to ask for a pre-emptive air ambulance ride to the nearest gastrointestinal unit and instead requested, somewhat tremulously, some yoghurt. He met my gaze and said ‘cumpit‘ with a raised eyebrow. I confess, I was shocked and at once wondered how he knew – perhaps house-keeping had let him know the state of my room in advance – before realising he was actually saying compote in that gloriously bewildering accent where every syllable is murdered twice over before arriving at the lips. I agreed with him that it would be a sensible addition and he returned moments later with a bowl of yoghurt and a tiny bowl of berries which, rather like the toast, managed to exist in two states at once. I’ve never had my lips frozen and burned at the same time, and I’ve kissed Paul’s mother.

Breakfast finished, we both agreed to never speak of it again, chalk it down as an anomaly and, should the moment take us later, leave a snotty review on Twitter or suchlike. However, neither of us are petty enough to remember the detail, so I’ve simply and reasonably settled for a 1,200 word bitchfit on my blog instead.

Speaking of poorly presented food, here’s the spinach and chickpea stew, actually looking bloody beautiful!

spinach and chickpea stew

How’s that for a plate full of stodge? But it’s so damn fine! Try our spinach and chickpea stew, or shush.

spinach and chickpea stew

Only one syn, and you can leave the apricots out of the spinach and chickpea stew to make it syn-free!

spinach and chickpea stew

It’s like a super quick tagine, this spinach and chickpea stew!

spinach and chickpea stew

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

Warming, slightly spicy, mixed with a tonne of feta - this spinach and chickpea stew is bloody fine!

We've adapted another of Hello Fresh's recipes to make it a bit easier on the waistline and the pocket. This spinach and chickpea moroccan style stew combines a few of our most favourite things and is so rich, you'll love it. If you want to give Hello Fresh a go you can use this magic link to get £20 off, and also send £20 our way n'all. Cheers!

By the way, we ain't on a kickback from Hello Fresh, but until we're out of Chubby Towers Adjacent, it's all we have!

Ingredients

  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 dried apricots, roughly chopped (4 syns)
  • 2 tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 240g couscous
  • 500ml passata
  • 500g baby spinach
  • 160g reduced fat feta cheese (HEA x4)
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Instructions

  • crumble half of the stock cube over the couscous and pour over 480ml of boiling water, and stir well
  • cover and set aside
  • spray a large frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium-high heat
  • add the onion to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, until softened
  • add the garlic, paprika, tomato puree, chilli flakes, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, pepper and cinnamon to the pan along with the dried apricots and cook for one minute
  • stir in the passata and 100ml of water along with the remaining half of the stock cube and bring to a simmer
  • add the chickpeas to the pan and continue to simmer for another 4-5 minutes
  • stir in the baby spinach in handfuls and cook until fully wilted
  • fluff up the couscous and add half of the parsley
  • serve the couscous in bowls and top with the stew, crumbled feta and the remaining parsley

Notes

Recipe

  • the original recipe uses 'tagine paste' which we've never come across in the supermarket, but the spices in this are almost identical. If you can find tagine paste however feel free to use that instead - you'll need about 2 tbsp
  • if you aren't a fan of feta a bit of natural yoghurt with a bit of salt added will add a nice alternative tang

Books

  • OUR BRAND NEW COOKBOOK IS COMING OUT SOON! You thought the last one was good? It was, but this sequel is even better - it'll be coming out just in time for the new year! Preorder yours here! 
  • our first slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 3000 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out now and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedbacks

Tools

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Cuisine twochubbycubs

Delicious right? Want more vegetarian recipes? Have a gander at these:

Mwah!

J

free digital sample of our new book is here to download!

The wait is nearly over – our next marvellous cookbook, FAST AND FILLING, comes out on New Years Eve! If you want a sneaky peek at what we’re offering, you can download a FREE, exclusive preview with FIVE recipes from the book from Amazon, here. It won’t cost you a penny. All you need is the Kindle app on your phone, laptop, computer, tablet, or whatever the hell you’re reading this on. I say that, I don’t doubt there’s more than a dozen of you trying to read this in that awful curly font on a knock-off carboot tablet that runs scorching hot from the moment you turn it on until it finally bursts into electric flame trying to load up your fourth bingo site of the day. We love you really.

We’re so bloody chuffed with it, the recipes are absolutely amazing. We reckon we really stepped it up for this second book, and if you liked the first one you will LOVE this one! More of the stuff you can’t wait to get into your belly, with all of ’em under 500 calories, AND quick and easy to prep, cook or both. We haven’t messed about with this one, it’s stunning. It’ll sit like a neon rainbow on your shelf. 100 recipes spread over 8 chapters (Bangin’ Breakfasts, Minute Meals, Low & Slow, One Pan, Fakeaways, Tighten the Belt, Veggie Delights and Sweets & Treats). Preorder yours now from Amazon (and don’t forget there’s a guarantee so if the price drops, you’ll only pay the lowest one). We sold out pretty quickly last time so preorder yours now to make sure you have one waiting for you to make a fresh start with all the rest of us on the 1st of Jan! All profits go towards finally getting Paul that dog I promised him after the last book.

Hope you all enjoy!

J

recipe: syn free leek and blue cheese soup

Syn free leek and blue cheese soup: if you can get past the gipping and the heaving as you open the packet of cheese and you smell that uniquely manky honk, then a delicious soup awaits you.

You know, if I may, do try and persevere with blue cheese, and indeed any food that leaves you cold. Tastes change as you mature. and you only have to look at me as proof of that maxim: I used to believe that the best look I ever had was my shoulder-length black and blue hair, whereas truthfully I looked like something an insane person would draw crawling from a well in their nightmares. Samara? I barely trapped her!

Anyway, today’s recipe for leek and blue cheese soup is a quickie, and so I won’t keep you for too long with the blog post only to tell you my idea for a movie. We’ve all seen Speed and decreed it amazing, and Speed 2 is an enjoyable bit of popcorn fluff, even if Jason Patric has all the acting range of a greased doorknob. In fact, this idea only came about because I was listening to the excellent Speed 2 score on a drive home lately, which always adds a frisson of excitement to navigating the central motorway.

So: Speed 3. Obviously they’ve done a bus, a subway train, a boat and Willem Dafoe, a man whose face would frighten toothpaste back into its tube. You’d think the possibilities are exhausted, but no. Aeroplane. It seems so obvious when you think of it but the fact it hasn’t been done already leads me to think I’m Alfred Hitchcock reincarnated, and not just because I’m fat and look good with a cigar. Where were we?

It’s a ‘smart plane’ with lots of fancy technology but oh no – the pilots are no longer needed to fly them, they’re that safe. But what do you know? A disgruntled ex-pilot sabotages the first passenger-carrying flight because he’s got a tittylip about being put out of a job. The plane climbs to 33,000ft and then suddenly boom – the inflight entertainment displays a message to everyone saying that if the plane descends below 15, 000ft, it’ll blow up. It’s an altitude bomb. Heavens! Lots of panicking and shrieking and heavens-to-betsy but what do you know? Sandra Bullock has retrained as a flight stewardess. That’s right: she had so much fun driving that bus that she swapped it for a trolley full of perfume and cigarettes.

Now I can’t work out for the life of me why Sandra Bullock would end up trying to control the plane but that’s what scriptwriters are for. I’m also not a certified pilot, or indeed any pilot at all, so I’m not 100% it would work, but a couple of the set-pieces would be a fire which necessitated one of the doors being blown off in order to suck the oxygen out and starve the fire. But then that creates a new problem because there’s only limited oxygen in those wee tanks everyone gets. WHAT A CALAMITY. There’d be a scene where they’re all trying to fight the plane but it’s throwing them around and all it’s all terrifically exciting.

Anyway the end would involve the plane flying upside down to trick the altitude bomb and Sandra Bullock parachuting out the back. No, I don’t know where she got a parachute but haway, it’s Sandra Bullock, she flew through space with a fire extinguisher and an anguished grimace, she can do this. Oh and the passengers? Dunno. SHIT NO yes I do: they climbed inside the terrorist-proof cargo hold with a tonne of pillows and when the plane went kaboom at the end they were fine.

Best part? It’s called Speed 3: Bad Altitude and the tagline for every poster would be ‘Fear Takes Off’. Admit it, you’d watch the shit out of that. Hollywood? Call me!

That’s enough of that nonsense anyway, young lady. Let’s do this SYN FREE leek and blue cheese soup, shall we? SHALL WE?

leek and blue cheese

You try making a leek and blue cheese soup look good. Go on, I dare you. Mind it does look a bit like the opening of Heroes but in soup form.

`leek and blue cheese

syn free leek and blue cheese soup

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 bowls

Leek and blue cheese soup. It's quick, it's syn free, it's tasty, it smells like death. Try it, you may just like it!

Ingredients

  • half a white onion, chopped
  • two large leeks, chopped - you want the greens 
  • one large potato, cubed and peeled 
  • 500ml of beef stock
  • 80g of roquefort
  • black pepper

Instructions

  • everything into a pan, saving a wee bit of the roquefort to go on the top
  • after the potato is softened, blend it
  • smatter with black pepper
  • yeah that's all there is to it
  • what of it
  • got a problem

Notes

Books

  • Our FAST AND FILLING COOKBOOK is coming out this year - 100 more recipes designed to tickle your pickle and help you lose weight - Preorder yours here! 
  • AND our first cookbook with over 3500+ 5* reviews of its 100+ slimming recipes is still available to buy! You can click here to order
  • looking to track your weight loss - try our diet planner - you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedback!

Tools

Courses soup

Cuisine soup

I love blue cheese, and it works for this leek and blue cheese soup, but you can’t look at that and not feel revulsion.

There you go! More soup recipes needed? Nee bother!

JX

recipe: rigatoni caprese pasta

Howdo! This rigatoni caprese pasta is a treasure, not least because it’s perfect for when you can’t be arsed to fuss about in the kitchen for very long because your ankles hurt and you’ve got a touch of sweaty boob rash and your husband is an unhelpful clot. Just me? The recipe can be found if you just scroll straight on down to the photos, as ever, but also, as ever, we have all our self-indulgent ramblings to get through. Only a quick one though! Before I do, one note on the rigatoni caprese pasta – you can reduce the syns entirely by leaving out the pine nuts, honey and olives, but honestly, they add so much.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, Paul did indeed come down with the ‘rona and had to be put away in another room, like one might do with best china when you have rough relatives around. Only in this case, Paul is the rough relative. After a long period of wondering whether he was going to get worse (he didn’t) or I was going to catch it (I didn’t) we are reunited and it feels so good. Well, it feels as good as it can do, we’ve been together fourteen years. Reuniting was like pulling an old jumper from the wardrobe before winter comes.

He’s still not 100% – getting breathless very easily being his main bugbear – but given he gets out of breath sucking a Polo mint at the best of times, it’s hard to know what is what. He’s also entirely lost his sense of taste which I’m sure in no way goes towards explaining why he’s started cutting about town in a little yellow woollen hat. Actually to be fair, he does look cute in it so we can let him off. His sense of smell is returning which I’m absolutely raging about because I was in the middle of arranging for the gas taps at home to be uncapped so he could have a terrible accident.

But let’s be honest: Paul got lucky here. He’s a lad of heft, after all, and I confess that as soon as he told me he was positive I was eyeing up my black shirts and wondering whether I had the legs to carry off a set of widow’s weeds. Other people haven’t been so lucky and whilst a vaccine may be incoming, it’s going to be a rough winter.

It’s not my place to hold forth on the legitimacy of the virus or whether it’s all a big conspiracy, although, clue, it isn’t.  But I do just want to make one plea: be considerate. Having Paul go under with it made it all very real for me, and I honestly think that’s what it’ll take for all those people not bothering with masks or washing their hands. The mask thing I genuinely don’t understand: absolutely fair enough if you can’t wear one for medical reasons, but those people who make a big show of not wearing them because it’s ‘state control’ or ‘following the sheep’ – nonsense.

It’s just decent behaviour. Even if you don’t think it’ll make much difference, where’s the harm in popping one on when you speak to people in retail, for example? By not doing so, you’re forcing them in a difficult position where they have to be civil despite you not giving a jot what they think. But if you wear one, no-one loses out!

Anyway, shan’t keep you. Let’s do the rigatoni caprese pasta and then you can get back to being filthy.

rigatoni caprese pasta

This rigatoni caprese pasta is perfect for a quick lunch, and remember you can knock out a few syns by leaving out the pine nuts. But you mustn’t!

rigatoni caprese pasta

You can add chilli to this rigatoni caprese pasta if you want it a bit spicier.

rigatoni caprese pasta

It keeps well in the freezer too, though the tomatoes may burst.

rigatoni caprese pasta

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 2 servings

This recipe for rigatoni caprese pasta makes enough for two big servings.

You'll know this by now - we're huge fans of Hello Fresh. We took out a subscription while we had to lockdown in a hotel after a Pasta 'n' Sauce went rogue and made Cub Towers uninhabitable for a bit. We've only got a tiny kitchen here and it just made sense, and plus I couldn't be chewed on with queueing outside of the Morrison's. We've stuck with it while we're still here and we're hoping if we big them up enough they'll not get a cob on about us pinching their recipes. If you want a taste of the action, just click here to get £20 off your first box, and also send a pretty £20 note our way too. Thanking you! Now, if you'll excuse me I'm gonna ride this big rigatoni into the sky. 

Ingredients

  • 2 shallots
  • 400g rigatoni
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 16 black olives (3 syns)
  • 250g baby plum tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts (2x HeB, or 6 syns)
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 bunch of chives
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 80g reduced fat mozzarella (2x HEA)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)

Instructions

  • bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil
  • meanwhile, peel and thinly slice the shallot and roughly chop the olives
  • halve the baby plum tomatoes and roughly chop the parsley
  • place the baby plum tomatoes and parsley in a bowl and season with a pinch of salt
  • when the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to the instructions, then drain
  • meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the pine nuts, and toast until golden (this will take about 2-3 minutes, be sure to stir them frequently), then tip into a bowl
  • place the frying pan back over the heat and spray with a little oil
  • add the shallots to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, then add the garlic and tomato puree and give a good stir
  • add the chopped tomatoes and olives and crumble in the stock cube and stir again
  • bring to a simmer and cook for about ten minutes (until reduced by about half)
  • meanwhile, finely chop the chives and drain the mozzarella
  • tear the mozzarella into small pieces
  • gently stir the balsamic vinegar and honey into the baby plum tomatoes
  • when the sauce is cooked, add the drained pasta to the frying pan and stir until well coated
  • add half the chives and half of the mozzarella and stir again, and serve onto plates or bowls
  • top with the baby plum tomatoes, remaining chives and mozzarella, and pine nuts

Notes

Recipe

  • any pasta you have will do!
  • the pine nuts are absolutely optional, if you can't be arsed to find them then you can leave them out. Roasted chickpeas work really well in this too!
  • if you want to add a bit of zing, feta works really well instead of mozzarella 

Books

  • OUR BRAND NEW COOKBOOK IS COMING OUT SOON! Loved the first one? You'll love this one even more, we promise. It's bloody amazing. Get it in time for your New Years Resolution! Preorder yours here! 
  • our first slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 3000 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out now and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedbacks

Tools

Courses twochubbycubs

Cuisine pasta

Love having your hole stretched?  The rigatoni caprese will do that, and you can find more pasta ideas from your tasty cubs below!

recipe: pumpkin and bacon soup

Remember last week when I gave you a quick recipe for soup? Well! Here we go again – this time it’s for pumpkin and bacon soup. Big fan of soup here at Chubby Towers Adjacent and this series of soups is all about recipes where you can buy the stuff pre-chopped and hoy it all in a pan or soup-maker and crack on!

Now had we been one of those super organised blogs we would have had this soup up around the hallowe’en time so that people had spare pumpkin around, but we’re not. We’ve only just got round to updating Realplayer and we can’t wait to bring you some video recipes soon.

Mind, I used to love hallowe’en, even if trick or treating in my family meant putting on a barely cleaned bag that had blown in from the farm next door, hollowing out a turnip, sticking a candle in it and schlepping around the village knocking on locked doors. No wonder they didn’t answer: nothing says ‘trick or treat’ than a ‘ghost’ emblazoned with ICI Chemicals mincing down your path smelling like a carvery.

They didn’t bother dressing Paul up to go trick-or-treating either, though I presume when he rocked up on a doorstep with his fragrant mother by his side, they assumed it was just Fester and Grandmama from the Addams Family.  The realism!

Anyway, I said this would be a quick recipe, didn’t I? So we must crack on! To the pumpkin and bacon soup!

pumpkin and bacon soup

This spicy pumpkin and bacon soup is gorgeous, but if you have a sensitive nipsy, leave the spice out!

pumpkin and bacon soup

If you can’t find pumpkin, then swap it out for butternut squash! Right, let’s get this pumpkin and bacon soup on the go!

spicy pumpkin and bacon soup

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 bowls

Now then, this spicy pumpkin and bacon soup doesn't need to be spicy, you can always leave that bit out at the end if you so desire. As before, we made ours in a Tefal Easy Soup but you can just chuck it all in a pan and blend it after half an hour. You don't need anything fancy here! But they are good, mind.

Ingredients

  • 500g of finely chopped pumpkin
  • 100g of chopped white onion
  • 75g of chopped cooked bacon
  • 1tsp each of garlic and ginger paste
  • 500ml of chicken stock
  • 1 tsp of chilli flakes

Instructions

  • if using a pan, chuck everything in (save for some of the bacon) and simmer for about twenty minutes or until the pumpkin is soft
  • blend and top with chilli sauce and bacon bits

Of course, if you're using the Tefal Easy Soup - chuck it in, press the soup button, it'll blend when it's ready!

Notes

Recipe

  • as I mentioned, you can swap pumpkin for butternut squash, and I dare say it will be easier to peel
  • you can buy pre-chopped pumpkin and butternut squash in most supermarkets, you lazy cow

Books

  • LOVE THIS RECIPE? You should see some of the amazing recipes in our new cookbook - out December 31! Preorder yours here! 
  • our first slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 3000 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out now and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedbacks

Tools

Courses soup

Cuisine twochubbycubs

There you go! More soup recipes needed? Nee bother!

J

recipe: warming beef and chickpea loaded naans

Oh yoohoo! Come for the beef and chickpea loaded naans, stay for the writing and adverts! No, I jest, but listen, I’ve been through the archives and my drafts folder tidying up and I’ve come across a blog-post that I didn’t publish – and it just commands attention!

So, without a moment of pause and certainly before we get to the beef and chickpea loaded naans, let me take you back to February this year, when circumstance saw me in terrible pain. I know, hankies at the ready.


If this was a Youtube video, I’d be opening it with a dramatic sigh and dabbing fake tears from my eyes as some mournful music – let’s say a trap remix of Radiohead’s Creep – played in the background. I’d pick up the cat and blow my nose on its fur. Paul would come into shot, put his spammy hands on my shoulders and say ‘there there’ in that meaningless way people use to provide comfort, as though I was a horse startled by a van.

See, I’m poorly. Now I’m not one for exaggeration so I shan’t tell you that I’ve been at death’s door and really you ought to buy as many cookbooks as you possibly can to pay for my fancy funeral (unlikely to happen: I expect DEFRA will turn up at my corpse in bleach-soaked-shoes, set me on fire and set up a three mile hot-zone) but I can’t deny it isn’t tempting. See, more than a few days ago, I was driving home from a Marquis de Sade homage when I noticed what felt like a tiny mouth ulcer on my jawline. Naturally I spent the next hundred miles or so poking it enthusiastically with my tongue as though I was trying to rim a Rubik’s Cube to orgasm. By the time I got to Ferrybridge services, it was knacking to the point where I couldn’t have my customary Haribo, Burger King and Ukrainian lorry-driver combo. Gutted? I was foaming: as my cheek had swollen up so much I couldn’t spit properly.

I checked into a hotel to feel sorry for myself and the next day, drove home with a face quite literally like a smacked arse. I tried to brazen it out until the point where the swelling was so bad it was pushing on all my teeth and gums and making me look like Rocky Dennis chewing a toffee penny.  To put this in perspective – I do have a high pain threshold, tested regularly and thoroughly at what I’m convinced isn’t a BUPA hospital at all – but I was actually crying because it hurt that much. Paul insisted I call 111, though I think that was predominately to hear me trying to speak to the operator through a mush of cheek and spittle. The charming chappy at the end of the phone demurred at my insistence they send the air ambulance and instead sent me to the walk-in centre. We stumbled in at ten to midnight and I was seen within fifteen minutes by the friendliest, most Geordie nurse I’ve ever met. I had to resist the urge to ask her to adopt me, though admittedly that may have been my eyes falling upon the strong painkillers that was colouring my view.

She declared a salivary blockage – mmm – and told me to take antibiotics and suck lemon sherbets. Even through my significant dolor I tried to crack a joke and asked if I could have one of the Fruit Pastilles that I could see poking out of her handbag. She pushed said bag under the desk with thin lips indeed and we departed awkwardly. Paul drove me home – me pressing my cheek against the window of his Smart car and wailing all the while – and then tucked me up in bed and fussed the living hell out of me. What has then followed has been over a week of me eating soup, gazpacho and the softest of scrambled eggs, washing them down with as many sour sweets as possible and me watching Vera furiously as I pressed my face so hard against a hot water bottle that I’ve got ‘COMFORT RUBBER’ imprinted on my face. I mean, it kinda works. For the first few days I could barely talk or open my jaw – Paul offered to make me a curry until I snapped at him that he’d need to freeze it into a paper-thin slab and post it through my jaw like a court summons. To make things worse, no-one knows what it is. The doctor says go to the dentist, the dentist says go to the doctor. I’m tempted to go the vets as a wildcard and see what happens, though they’ll probably just melt me down for glue.

ANYWAY. The swelling has gone down leaving a lovely hard lump in my cheek which shows no signs of going away. The urge to poke at it with a pin is my main focus right now, and honestly, if I didn’t think I’d end up with some awful blood related side-effect that’s precisely what I’d be doing. It doesn’t hurt unless I really stretch my jaw open (so you can imagine how this is upsetting other key parts of my life) but it is bloody annoying. If anyone is reading this and has any hot ideas, do get in touch. Meanwhile, I’ll stumble ever onwards, only reminded of its presence by the occasional mishap – my barber put his full weight on my jaw before to trim my beard and I almost passed out. To be fair, he’s used to that, as soon as he gets close with his rough hands and a blade at my neck, all the blood rushes to one point. Ah Farzad, my love, I would be yours at the drop of a hat. Wish me luck, everyone.


You’re back with me in present time now. The lump went away but it took two weeks and I was sick of my life by the end of it. Also, seems like so long ago that you could go into a services and nosh off a lorry driver without having to worry about catching something that couldn’t be cured with a simple course of antibiotics and another stamp on your GUM clinic loyalty card. It’s the little things in life I miss most, I tell you.

beef and chickpea loaded naans

Look at those beef and chickpea loaded naans man!

beef and chickpea loaded naans

You don’t just need the topping for beef and chickpea loaded naans – stick it on a jacket tattie if you prefer!

beef and chickpea loaded naans

We sprinkle a bit of zahtar powder on our beef and chickpea loaded naans because we’re fancy. Black pepper will do the same.

curry beef and chickpea loaded naans

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 naans

I love the idea of a loaded naan, not least because my own nan shuffled off in her Aldi slippers far from loaded, much to my chagrin. We got very little in the way of inheritance but that's fine: I'd still swap everything I have for another chance to listen to her four same stories and her loud remonstrations whenever I used to mouth 'vacuum' at Paul from across the room. Ah, sweet times.

This recipe really is ridiculously easy - note that we haven't counted the syns for the naan breads though because it changes all the time. Check with your SW consultant for the best naan breads to have as your healthy extra!

As our exciting life in a hotel continues, we're still using Hello Fresh - not getting paid to promote them, mind, and making changes to their recipes to bring them in line with the blog. That said, because we've been asked, we tend to go for the low-calorie options or the rapid options if you were thinking about having a go. It works for us because we don't have a big kitchen to store ingredients and we're actually saving money because no food waste. If you do want to try it, you can use this link to get £20 off your first box, and we'll get £20 too.

Ingredients

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • one tin of chickpeas
  • one beef stock cube
  • two tsp of curry powder
  • salt and pepper
  • two tbsp of tomato puree
  • one clove of garlic minced
  • four mini naans
  • one iceberg lettuce
  • natural yoghurt to drizzle all over the top

Instructions

  • drain and rinse your chickpeas, keeping half in a bowl and mashing the rest with a fork
  • in a frying pan, fry off your beef mince until cooked through
  • add a pinch of salt and pepper as it cooks
  • reduce to a medium heat and then add the curry powder, tomato puree and garlic, stirring through for a moment or two
  • add 100ml of water along with the chickpeas - mashed and whole - and the stock cube
  • allow to burble away for a few minutes to thicken up
  • whilst that's happening, toast your naan breads and chop up your lettuce
  • when you're ready to serve, top the naan with lettuce, then the beef mix, then a drizzle of yoghurt on the top if you can be arsed

Notes

Recipe

  • if you don't want to use your healthy extra on naan breads, this mixture does very well indeed on a jacket potato
  • add peppers and onion to bulk it out, but honestly, the recipe sings with its simplicity

Books

  • you know what has over 100 recipes designed to help you lose weight - our new cookbook! More curries, burgers, exciting dinners and all that excitement - Preorder yours here! 
  • of course, our first cookbook was a treat too - click here to order
  • we even have a fabulous diet planner - you can order it here 

Tools

  • I was going to recommend a potato masher for the chickpeas but honestly, use the underside of a cup if you can't do it with a fork - save your money
  • give the pan a good coating of oil with a mister – this is what we use

Courses dinner

Cuisine who can say

How’s that for a perfect quick dinner? You want some more beef mince ideas? Naturally – try these:

JX