Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

New Seven Day Weight Loss Plan

Our Seven Day Eating Plan has been hugely popular over the past year, so I've devised an entirely new plan. Bursting with nutrients and full of the delicious produce just coming into the shops, it's ideal for those of you planning to lose a few pounds in time for the summer holidays.

You may want to lose a few pounds, but remember we're all targets for the multi-million pound slimming business which is more concerned with extracting pounds from pockets than it is with the nation's health. Most dietary advice includes worthless pills, unhealthy meal substitutes or extreme diets based on pseudoscience and hocus pocus. This week I'll be giving you a simple, healthy, seven day eating plan that provides good nutrition, happy eating and real food. You won't be hungry, you will be healthy and you will lose pounds if you need to.

This week's eating provides you with all you need of most nutrients, but to make sure that you don't miss out on any of the essential vitamins or minerals it's a good idea to take a simple one-a-day vitamin and mineral supplement which you can get from any chemist, health food store and even off your supermarket shelf.

No-one will stick to a 'diet' which is full of dreary food lacking eye appeal or taste, so this brand new eating plan contains mouthwatering recipes that not only look good but do you good as well.

Healthy eating is the only sane way to shed the surplus pounds so, start with these simple changes:

Choose leaner cuts of meat and eat more fish and poultry. Choose semi-skimmed or skimmed milk (not for the under 5's) and look for lower fat cheeses and yogurts. Eat much more fresh fruit and vegetables - around a third of your food - a minimum of five helpings a day. Eat plenty of potatoes, pasta, rice and beans but without cream or fatty meat sauces.

Normally you should eat good breakfast cereals like porridge, muesli or Shredded Wheat, and at least five slices a day of whole meal bread - be very mean with the butter - but this is slightly different in this Eating Plan. Avoid all sugar if possible and watch out for the hidden fat in biscuits, cakes and meat products.

More often it's what you do to your food, rather than the food itself, that piles on the weight. Don't fry, but grill, steam or bake instead. Roast meat or poultry on a rack in the pan - so it won't soak up the fat. Never eat chicken or duck skin - they're oozing with fat. Avoid all thickened or creamy sauces. Use low fat yogurt or fromage frais instead of cream. Try using a smaller plate - it looks like you've got more in front of you - and take plenty of time over your meals so they're more satisfying.

Never miss breakfast and don't go for long periods without food. If you're making a conscious effort to cut down your consumption, then keep your vitamin and mineral levels up to the mark with a good daily supplement. Women need some extra calcium too.

Breakfasts like sliced blood oranges, pink grapefruit segments with yogurt, nuts and honey; hot whole meal rolls with butter and a banana; or dried apricots cooked with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg served with yogurt. Light meals of baked potato with ricotta cheese, fresh herbs, a salad of tomatoes, red peppers, radishes, radicchio and sour cream dressing, or a tossed green salad and scrambled eggs with ricotta cheese and green beans sprinkled with parmesan. Main meals of sliced fennel with dressing, mustard marinated salmon, pureed spinach followed by stewed apples and ginger; or aubergine and tomato salad, followed by grilled lamb chop with tarragon and cucumber, and steamed broccoli, followed by an orange soufflé omelet, or even rabbit cooked with prunes.

Not exactly a starvation level existence, is it? And all the other meals are just as good. It is possible to eat well and lose weight if you need to. But it's also essential that your new regime should be satisfying and enjoyable. Most diets fail because you give up in despair or disgust at the thought of one more crisp bread and cottage cheese. Don't forget to drink at least 3-4 pints of fluid each day.

Try my new plan, increase your calorie output by a little more exercise - a brisk 20 minute walk each day will do - and if you need to lose weight you could.

I hope you'll enjoy this new eating plan - adapted from my cookbook 'The Superfoods Diet Book'.


Sliced blood oranges and pink grapefruit. A helping of creamy yogurt, with nuts and honey if liked.

Light meal or snack:
Scrambled eggs with mushrooms

250g/8oz mushrooms
2-3 spring onions
1 bunch fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic
6 eggs
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper

Clean the mushrooms and chop into fairly small pieces. Clean and finely chop the onion and the garlic. Heat the oil in a frying pan with a little butter, and fry the onions and garlic gently until they begin to take on colour. Remove, and add the mushrooms to the pan. Season them and fry briskly for 10-15 minutes, turning them over often. Beat the eggs. Season. Add the chopped chives and pour over the mushrooms. Stir lightly with a wooden spoon or spatula until the eggs are set. Serve with tossed green salad.

Dried Fruit Compôte (make enough for 2 meals)

250g/8oz prunes
600ml/1pt water
125g/4oz dried apricots
1 rosehip teabag
125g/4oz dried figs
2tbs honey
50g/2oz raisins
3-4 cloves
25g/1oz flaked almonds, to decorate

Wash the fruit carefully. Boil the water, pour over the rosehip teabag in a china bowl and leave to steep for 10 minutes. Remove the teabag. Pour the liquid into a pan, add the dried fruit, honey, and cloves, and simmer for 15 minutes. Leave to cool for several hours or overnight. Serve sprinkled with the flaked almonds.

Main meal:
Peppers Stuffed with Rice

4 large red, yellow, orange or green peppers, or 1 of each
175g/6oz long-grain brown rice
1tbs chopped fresh parsley
400ml/just under three-quarters pint water
1tbs finely chopped mint
1 medium onion
1tbs pine nuts
1tbs oil
1tbs currants or raisins
1tbs oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5. The cooked rice should still be warm and moist when you stuff the peppers with it, so plan accordingly. First prepare the peppers. Wash them thoroughly and at the stalk end slice off a lid which you should keep to replace during cooking. It also helps to take a sliver off the other end, so that they don't overbalance during cooking - but take care not to make a hole when you do so. Carefully scoop out the fleshy ribs and all the seeds.

Cook the well-washed rice. Put it in a heavy pan and add the water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover tightly, and cook for 30-40 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, uncover it, and let the rice dry out a little.

Slice the onion, heat the oil, and fry the onions until just translucent. Add the pine nuts and currants or raisins and turn them in the hot oil. Add the onion mixture and the fresh herbs to the rice. Season to taste and stuff the peppers. Replace their lids, and put them in a baking tin with boiling water to come about halfway up. Pour 1tbs oil over them, cover with foil, and bake for 30-40 minutes. This dish is delicious hot or cold. Serve with peas and sticks of celery.

Follow with dates and figs.


Dried Fruit Compôte. An orange. Yogurt.

Light meal or snack:
Gratin of mushrooms and potatoes.

500g/1lb potatoes
250g/8oz mushrooms
50g/20z butter
150ml/5 fluid ozs half water and half single cream
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Wash, peel, and slice the potatoes thinly. Wipe and finely slice the mushrooms. Use half the butter to grease a fairly shallow, ovenproof casserole. Arrange the potatoes and mushrooms in alternating layers, finishing with a layer of potatoes. Lightly season each layer and scatter over it a little of the garlic. Dot the rest of the butter over the top, cover with foil, and bake in the oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes

When the casserole has been cooking for about an hour, remove the foil so that the top browns a little, and push a sharp knife into a potato slice to see how the cooking is progressing. Leave for a further 15 minutes to finish cooking, if necessary.

Serve with a lettuce and watercress salad, followed by a ripe sweet pear.

Main meal:
Mustard Marinated Salmon
For the marinade:
4tbs olive oil
2tbs onion, finely chopped
4tbs dry white wine
salt and pepper
2tbs Dijon mustard
4 salmon steaks, each about 175g/6oz

To garnish: slices of lemon and sprigs of watercress

Shake the marinade ingredients in a screw-top jar. Pour into a large, shallow dish. Add the salmon steaks and turn so that they are well coated with the marinade. Put in the refrigerator or a cool place for about 3 hours, turning them over once.

Heat the grill. Grease the grill rack with a little oil, then put the salmon steaks on it. Brush each steak with some of the marinade, and grill for about 4 minutes on each side.
Serve with spinach pureed with nutmeg to season

Apricot and Almond crumble

500g/1lb apricots - fresh, ready to eat or dried (if using dried these need to be soaked first)
2tsp sugar
2tbs water
1tbs runny honey
125g/4oz porridge oats
2tbs flaked almonds
125g/4oz ground almonds
50g/2oz butter, cut into tiny pieces

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Lightly grease a pie dish. Put in the fruit - washed, and peeled or cut up if necessary. Add the sugar and the water. Mix the oats and ground almonds together and spread over the top of the fruit - there should be enough to make an inch thick coating. Drizzle the honey over the top. Scatter over the flaked almonds. Dot with the butter and put in the oven for 20 minutes.


Hot whole-wheat rolls with butter. A banana.

Light meal or snack:
Risotto con Salsa Cruda

250g/8oz long-grain brown rice
3-4 medium sized ripe red tomatoes, or 8-10 cherry tomatoes
Half a cucumber
4 spring onions
2 cloves garlic
4 young carrots
125ml/4fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
4 radishes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tiny new courgettes
a bunch of chives, chopped small
1tbs fresh baby peas
a big bunch of parsley, finely chopped

Wash the rice quickly in a sieve under running water. Cook it in twice its own volume of boiling water, with a little salt added, for about 40 minutes; do this either in a slow oven, or on top of the cooker, over the lowest possible heat, in a tightly sealed pan. Check once or twice to see how it's progressing - but don't stir it. When it is cooked, turn off the oven or remove from the heat, and leave uncovered for about 10 minutes. The rice should be dry and well separated by this time.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Wash the tomatoes, peel them (just dunk into boiling water for a few minutes so that the skins peel off easily), and chop them very finely. Peel and finely dice the cucumber; clean and chop the spring onions, carrots, radishes, and courgettes, all into the smallest possible pieces. Put them all in a bowl with the peas. Finely chop the garlic, and add it to the bowl, then pour in the olive oil. Season - with great restraint! Leave to marinade in a cool place for a good half hour, so that the oil absorbs some of the fresh delicate flavours.

While the rice is still tepid, put in a china bowl, and pour over the vegetable-flavoured oil sauce. Sprinkle with the green herbs and serve with a tossed green salad.

Follow with raisins and nuts.

Main meal:
Aubergine Caviar with crudités - carrot, celery, cucumber, fennel, sprigs of cauliflower.

2 large aubergines
2tbs plain yogurt
juice of 1 large lemon
3tbs extra-virgin olive oil
5-6 coriander seeds
1 fat clove garlic
salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 200°C/400°/gas 6. Bake the aubergines until soft. Cut them open, scrape the flesh out into a bowl, add the lemon juice, and beat in the oil, drop by drop, until you have a fine smooth cream. Crush the garlic and stir it in. Stir in the yogurt. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and sea salt. Crush the coriander seeds and add. Stir once more, then cover the bowl, and chill for at least an hour.

Meat balls in tomato sauce

500g/1lb minced beef
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 egg
2tbs chopped fresh mint and parsley
2tbs olive oil
salt and black pepper

For tomato sauce:

400g/14oz can of chopped tomatoes
1 large onions, very finely chopped
1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
2tbs olive oil
2 tbs white wine
1 fresh red or green chilli, deseeded and chopped

Put the tomatoes and their juice in the wok with the crumbled stock cube, wine, onion, olive oil, and chili. Bring to simmering point, cover and let it bubble away for 5-10 minutes. Add the herbs and stir. Check seasoning.

To make the meatballs, mix together the mincemeat, garlic, fresh herbs, and salt and pepper. Break the egg into it, and mix it up with your hands. Form the mixture into meatballs the size of table-tennis ball. Heat the oil in a frying pan, and fry the meatballs gently for 7-10 minutes. When they are cooked through, add them to the tomato sauce and serve with green beans and sticks of celery.


An orange. Half a pink grapefruit. Yogurt with honey and nuts.

Light meal or snack:
Baked potato with butter or sour cream, and plenty of chopped fresh herbs served with:

Red Salad on lettuce leaves.

3 tomatoes
1 small head of red radicchio
1 ripe red pepper
Sour cream dressing (see below)
1 bunch of radishes
1tbs fresh chopped parsley, with chives or basil if possible

Wash and slice the tomatoes. Wash, halve and slice the pepper, removing the small seeds and the woolly inner ribs. Clean and slice the radishes - use the green tops too if they are still fresh. Arrange the tomatoes, pepper, and radishes on a bed of shredded lettuce. Drizzle over the dressing, and garnish with the chopped fresh herbs.

If you have a small, uncooked beetroot, peel it, and shred it over the salad at the last moment.

Sour cream dressing:
150 ml/5oz sour cream
1tsp lemon juice
1tbs tomato juice
a sprinkling of paprika

Combine all the ingredients and stir well.

Follow with a ripe sweet pear.

Main meal:
Rosalind's Rabbit with Prunes

1 rabbit, cut into serving pieces
300ml/half a pint red wine, for marinade
2tbs butter
4 carrots, cleaned and sliced
2tbs olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
200g/7oz dried prunes
2 bay leaves
1-2tbs redcurrant jelly
salt and pepper

Wash the rabbit pieces, blot dry, and put into a china bowl with the red wine, carrots, onions, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Marinate for 24 hours. Wash the prunes and put them to soak in 300ml/ half a pint boiling water.

Drain rabbit, and pat dry, reserving the marinade. Heat the oil and butter in a pan, and saute the pieces until coloured. Add the marinade liquid: there should be enough to cover, but top up with more wine if necessary, or some of the prune juice. Add the soaked prunes, bring to the boil, skim, and simmer until tender - about 45 minutes. Arrange the rabbit pieces and prunes on a serving dish. Reduce the sauce over a high heat, correct the seasoning and blend the jelly into the sauce. Pour over the rabbit pieces and serve with young cabbage cooked al dente.

Follow with Dried Fruit Compôte (make enough for 2 meals)


Dried Fruit Compote with yogurt, or a little single cream.

Light meal or snack:
Half an avocado pear, sliced, with cress, tomatoes, cucumber, on lettuce with a little oil and a drop or two of lemon dressing. Crusty whole-wheat roll and a little butter.

Main meal:
Beetroot and apple soup

500g/1lb uncooked beetroot
1tsp lemon juice
1 onion
600ml/1pt unsweetened apple juice
150ml/5 fluid oz sour or single cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel and grate the raw beetroot. Peel and finely chop the onion. Put both in blender or food processor with a cupful of the apple juice, puree until smooth, and stir in the rest of the juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and chill.

Serve in individual bowls, glass ones if possible, for this good looking dish. Swirl in the cream.

Fish in a Fiery Sauce

4 steaks of firm-fleshed white fish like coly.
olive oil
salt and pepper
juice of 1 lemon
For the sauce:

2tbs olive oil
3 or 4 fat cloves garlic, finely chopped
a pinch of dried oregano
425g/14oz can tomatoes
a pinch of dried thyme
a little red or white wine, or water
chilli powder or flakes
salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash the fish, remove the skin, pat dry, and paint with oil and the juice of a lemon. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a pan, and fry the garlic until just translucent. Add the can of tomatoes, chop them up a bit, and allow to cook gently for a few minutes. Then add the wine, the seasoning, the herbs, and as much chilli as you desire (remember - a little goes a long way). Heat together gently, and let the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes. The sauce can be made in advance and reheated when you're ready.

Heat the grill, put the fish steaks under it, and grill until they are cooked right through.

Serve with the hot sauce on the side and steamed broccoli.


An orange. An apple. A banana. Yogurt.

Light meal or snack:
Salad Nicoise

1 head of crisp lettuce
12 black olives
2 hard-boiled eggs
2 cloves garlic
4 firm red tomatoes
3tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red pepper
1tbs tarragon wine vinegar
Half a cucumber
a pinch of herbes de provence
4 anchovy fillets (soaked in milk for half an hour to remove excess saltiness)
salt and pepper

Wash the lettuce, dry, and arrange in a salad bowl. Arrange attractively on top the eggs, peeled and quartered; the tomatoes, washed and quartered; the pepper, washed, cleaned of its seeds and flesh ribs, and sliced; the cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks; the anchovies, cut into smaller pieces and the black olives. At this point, put a damp cloth over the bowl and place in a cool place until you are ready to serve the dish.

Make a dressing with the finely chopped garlic, oil, vinegar and seasoning. Pour it over the salad at the last minute.

Serve with sticks of celery and rye crispbread with a little cream cheese.

Main meal:
Chicken with Onions

1 medium chicken
2 leaves of sage
500g/1lb onions
a sprig of rosemary
3tbs olive oil
1 glass dry white wine
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper

Clean and wipe the chicken. Chop the onions finely. Heat the oil in a fireproof casserole big enough to take the chicken with room to spare, add the garlic, sage, and rosemary, and let them heat gently in the oil to release their aromatic flavours. Put in the chicken and brown lightly on all sides, for about 30 minutes. Remove the rosemary, sage, and garlic. Add the onions to the casserole and, as soon as they start to change colour, pour in the white wine. Allow to bubble and reduce a little. Turn down the heat, and cover the casserole. Cook until the chicken is done. (Golden juices should run clear when you pierce a thigh with a skewer.)

Serve with steamed spring greens and a tossed green salad.

Spiced Apricots (Make enough for 2 meals)
250g/8oz dried apricots
4 cloves
400ml/three-quarters pint apple juice, white wine, or a fruit herbal tea
Half tsp allspice
peel of 1 well-scrubbed orange
1 small stick of cinnamon
1tbs honey
Half tsp ground nutmeg

Wash the apricots thoroughly. Put them in a pan with the apple juice, wine or herbal tea, the spices, orange peel, and honey. Bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, and simmer over a very low heat until the apricots are tender. Fresh apricots can be cooked in the same way.


Orange or grapefruit juice. Cold Spiced Apricots. Yogurt.

Light meal or snack:
Courgette Pasta or Black Olive Paté with toasted rye bread. Cucumber, lettuce and watercress salad.

Courgette Pasta (serves 1)
1 small fresh courgette
a little vegetable oil
a knob of butter
1tbs salt
1tbs freshly grated Parmesan cheese
100g/3.5oz pasta - preferably spaghettini
freshly ground black pepper

Put a large pan of water on to boil. Have ready to hand the courgette, washed and dried, the butter, the Parmesan and a grater. When the water boils, add a little oil, the salt, and the pasta. Grate the courgette using the finest side of the grater. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, and quickly tip it into the hot dish. Add the courgette immediately to the pasta, stir in the butter and Parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper and toss. Eat at once.

Black Olive Paté
150g/5oz black olives
half tsp dried thyme
1 very small onion
50g/2oz butter
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Stone the olives, quarter the onion, and finely chop the garlic. Put them all in a food processor with the thyme and process to a paste. Add the slightly softened butter, cut up into dice, a little at a time, and whizz again to create a creamy paste. Check the seasoning, then pack into a small china pot, cover with a piece of foil, and chill for 24 hours.

Main meal:

Lamb Chop with Tarragon and Cucumber

Half a medium cucumber, peeled, cut in half and deseeded
2 egg yolks
150ml/5oz single cream
50g/2oz butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2tbs fresh tarragon, chopped
8 noisettes of lamb or neck cutlets
sprigs of fresh tarragon to garnish

Cut the cucumber into 8 sticks, sprinkle with salt, and leave in a colander for about 15 minutes, then rinse and drain. Heat the grill. Season the chops and grill for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove and keep hot.

Beat together the cream and egg yolks, then add the tarragon. Melt half the butter in a medium-sized pan, and cook the cucumber gently for about 5 minutes. Remove the cucumber (keep it warm). Add the cream and egg-yolk mixture to the buttery juices in the pan. Heat through gently but don't let the mixture boil.

Arrange the chops and the cucumber on a warm dish, garnish with the tarragon sprigs, and serve the sauce separately. Serve with steamed broccoli.

Orange Souffle Omelet

This recipe serves 2 people and I wouldn't advise attempting it for more!

4 eggs
2tsp brown sugar
juice and grated rind of 1 orange
a nut of unsalted butter

Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Beat the yolks in a small bowl, then stir in the orange juice and grated rind, and the sugar. Whisk the egg whites until they stand in peaks, then carefully fold in the yolk mixture.

Heat the grill. Melt the butter in a pan. When it is hot, make the omelette in the usual way. When it starts to bubble, slide the pan under the grill and let the omelette puff up and turn golden-brown on top.

Serve at once.

Most of the above recipes serve 4 but can usually be adapted for less.


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