asteful Camp: A Review of Ainsley Harriott’s Low Fat Meals in Minutes

Every recipe I tried worked well, and took me less than an hour, plus, with the exception of the spinach soup (which was delicious but a very suspicious green for preschoolers), my children ate everything – no mean feat. There are more sophisticated cookbooks out there, and certainly there are chefs with more decorum, but I don’t mind Harriott’s flamboyant antics, and I like his easy, no fuss and egalitarian approach to cooking. Much as I love the gourmet experience, I have to keep things simple these days to survive (plus my children don’t appreciate fancy efforts). If you are in the same boat, Harriott’s cookbooks are just right – colourful, easy to follow, and fun to read. Prepare to laugh heartily along with him.


Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Low Fat Meals in Minutes
by Ainsley Harriott
BBC Worldwide Ltd
(dist Random House Aust)
April 2002, hardcover
ISBN 0 563 53480X
RRP A$39.95

Ainsley Harriott is no ordinary celebrity chef. Though some find his campy, over the top enthusiasm irritating, there is no denying that once you’ve seen this rather tall, large, loud and widely smiling man perform, you won’t forget him. Harriott’s style is eclectic, and borrows from his extensive travels. It is also rather down to earth, and his recipes are simple, healthy and full of flavour. The book follows on from his very successful Meals in Minutes, and also pulls in recipes from Harriott’s popular televison series Ready Steady Cook, and contains 80 recipes each with its own colour photograph. In addition to the recipes there are some basic fat facts, tips for low fat eating (eat more fruit, vegetables and salads…use tina in brine, etc), low fat cooking methods and a special section devoted to salsas, dressings and gravies. From there the book is divided into the tradition sections of Soups, starters and snacks, fish, chicken, mains, vegetarian dishes, salads and accompaniments, and healthy puddings (desserts).

All of the recipes are quick to prepare and cook, and most of the dishes are reasonably innovative, including things like “Minty spinach, garlic and nutmeg soup” (my boys wouldn’t touch it, but the grownups ate the lot), “no-need-to-cook hoisin spring rolls”, “Baked Cantonese cod corners”, “char grilled pineapple chicken pockets”, “Harissa lamb with low-fat hummus”, “Smoked aubergine and vegetable curry” and “Charred honey mustard-glazed potatoes”, to name a few of my favourites. There are also plenty of old familiar recipes with a low fat take, including things like french onion soup, low fat home made oven chips, falafels, chicken curry with pilau rice, cassoulet (rarely found in a low fat version), Shepherd’s pie, tacos, pizza, Tirimisu (also not known for being low fat) and rice pudding. Other desserts are primarily fruit based, and include things like grilled peaches with pistachio brittle, rhubarb souffle, iced caffe latte cups and a range of smoothies.

Every recipe I tried worked well, and took me less than an hour, plus, with the exception of the spinach soup (which was delicious but a very suspicious green for preschoolers), my children ate everything – no mean feat. There are more sophisticated cookbooks out there, and certainly there are chefs with more decorum, but I don’t mind Harriott’s flamboyant antics, and I like his easy, no fuss and egalitarian approach to cooking. Much as I love the gourmet experience, I have to keep things simple these days to survive (plus my children don’t appreciate fancy efforts). If you are in the same boat, Harriott’s cookbooks are just right – colourful, easy to follow, and fun to read. Prepare to laugh heartily along with him.

For more information on Low Fat meals in Minutes visit: Ainsley Harriott’s Low Fat Meals in…

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