‘We were at high risk of EVERYTHING’: Hairy Bikers Si King and Dave Myres

There are all sorts of diet and fitness gurus, but some are more glossy than others. 

‘We’ve never been asked to do a GQ cover,’ says Si King, one half of the Hairy Bikers, cheerily.

‘Nor would we want to be.’ They’ve no hankering either, it seems, to be Joe Wicks, the current darling of the washboard stomach wannabe set. 

‘I don’t have a Joe Wicks lifestyle, far from it,’ says Si. ‘I’m an ordinary Geordie bloke.’

When they started their TV career, in what seems like a very different era now, Si and his Hairy Biker cohort Dave Myers were exactly that: two blokey blokes determined to just step on the throttle of life. 

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Hairy Bikers Si King, 52, and Dave Myres, 62, lost three stone each in 2012. Their new book, Eat To Beat Type 2 Diabetes, tries to get the nation into shape by eating well

Hairy Bikers Si King, 52, and Dave Myres, 62, lost three stone each in 2012. Their new book, Eat To Beat Type 2 Diabetes, tries to get the nation into shape by eating well

Hairy Bikers Si King, 52, and Dave Myres, 62, lost three stone each in 2012. Their new book, Eat To Beat Type 2 Diabetes, tries to get the nation into shape by eating well 

They loved their food. They loved their travel. They cooked and bantered on our screens and how we loved their laissez-faire attitude to everything – waistlines included.

Where would they be now though, had they continued thus? ‘I dread to think,’ says a now-very-slimline Dave Myers.

‘I was already dangerously close to diabetes. We were those middle-aged men who were at high risk of everything.’

Shocked into action by Dave’s borderline blood sugar levels, a sign of pre-diabetes, they took action they knew would lessen the chances of their lifestyle heading straight to diabetes, strokes, heart attacks and who knows what else. 

In 2012, as part of a TV programme that forced them to get on the scales (‘In our pants, on the telly!’ says a still-horrified Si) and confront the results of a barrage of scary health tests, they started on a journey that saw them lose more than six stone between them. 

Pictured on The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Still Lose Weight

Pictured on The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Still Lose Weight

Pictured on The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Still Lose Weight

On that journey they tweaked and rewrote their recipes, and indeed their whole approach to food. In time they overhauled not just their own health but their careers too. Diet gurus were born (although they both cringe at that one, since no self-respecting Geordie bloke ever uses the word guru).

In the current coronavirus climate, one could forgive them for feeling smug that they aren’t in the bracket of those obese men who are ticking timebombs. 

None of us is sleeping easy these days, but had they still been heavily overweight surely things would have been even worse? 

‘I’m very glad I lost the weight when I did,’ admits Dave, who’s now 62. ‘The whole situation at the moment is horrendous enough.’

Si, 52, points out that, technically, he’s still overweight. He’s carrying about a stone more than he was in his slimline days. 

Other health hiccups (he famously nearly died after suffering a brain aneurysm in 2014) led to him taking his eye off the ball a little diet-wise, and he admits he’s the more emotional eater of the two. 

‘I struggle with it more, and always have. I lose a bit, gain a bit. I don’t mind saying it. It’s hard.’

Their new book, Eat To Beat Type 2 Diabetes, makes no apology for trying to get us all into shape though. Specifically targeted towards beating the preventable type of diabetes, it was conceived way before the current crisis, and it is packed full of recipes, tips and advice, all delivered in trademark, straight-talking Hairy Biker style.

Actually, it’s the perfect companion for our times, when we’re all bored at home and fighting another national battle – with the biscuit tin.

‘It’s specifically about what we learned from Professor Roy Taylor, the diabetes expert who first helped us,’ says Dave. 

‘He was the one who told me that I could reverse my own pre-diabetes. From that point on I worshipped at the altar of Professor Taylor and he’s written the foreword to the book.’

Professor Taylor says he can’t think of any food writers who are more qualified to produce a book like this. 

The new book is partly a lifestyle overhaul manual, but it’s mostly just recipes, and dishes you will eat rather than just flick through thinking “not more kale”

The new book is partly a lifestyle overhaul manual, but it’s mostly just recipes, and dishes you will eat rather than just flick through thinking “not more kale”

The new book is partly a lifestyle overhaul manual, but it’s mostly just recipes, and dishes you will eat rather than just flick through thinking ‘not more kale’

After parachuting into his life in 2012, he writes, they ‘rolled up their sleeves and agreed to try to lose the amount of weight that most people with Type 2 diabetes need to lose – around two and a half stone each. 

And they were to lose this in 12 weeks. They worked with my team to devise low-calorie recipes for delicious meals. 

Then they cooked themselves into losing over three stone each. As qualifications for writing this book, that is pretty impressive.’

What makes this book unexpectedly timely too is the emphasis on home cooking. Since lockdown more of us are hunkering down and actually producing meals ourselves at home every night. 

HONESTY IS THE KEY TO EVERYTHING 

The Hairy Biker diet approach was the first to tackle the fact that men can have just as complex relationships with food as women do, but don’t admit it. 

‘It is the case, generally, that women have a different vocabulary when talking about weight,’ says Si. 

‘They’ll talk about the way they look, how they are feeling. Whereas men will say, ‘S** it. I’ll have another pie and a pint.’ 

‘Men don’t tend to say, ‘I’m not feeling great about myself today.’

Si does though, at least now. ‘I think that’s what the secret was with us. We opened up that dialogue and said to men, ‘If we can, so can you.’ 

‘The floodgates just opened. People would come up to us in the street saying they had lost 8st or 4st. It was a remarkable thing.’

He points out that the key is acknowledging the struggle, and being honest with yourself. 

‘Honesty is the key to it. I know who I am. 

‘I’m a Geordie bloke and I know I’m going to be drinking a bit more if I’m feeling a bit rubbish. 

‘And if you’re happy and celebrating, you might have three nights on the razz, but you have to then say to yourself, ‘OK so now I’m not going to do that for the next seven nights.’ 

‘It’s not easy, but it’s about moderation, and knowing yourself. 

‘Lying to yourself is not sustainable. 

‘Accept that you are going to have a pie and a pint occasionally. 

‘If you set yourself unrealistic targets, that’s where the problems will come.’

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Now, says Dave, the challenge is to marry this with an understanding of what you are cooking – and how you can tweak it to reap the health benefits. ‘No one is saying it’s easy,’ he admits. 

‘But if anyone looked at these recipes and felt they were being denied anything, I’d be disappointed. 

The whole point is to show that you can still eat very well while seeing the needle go down on the scales.’

Too often, they both say, there is a dangerous divide between the food industry and the health industry. 

‘We’ve lived with a legacy of profit over people for a long time now,’ Si points out. ‘The health industry cares little about food, and the food industry cares little about health. 

The reason obesity is such an issue is because of hidden ingredients, things that give us an emotional reaction. 

Happy days for the people who are making these processed foods, but it’s why you get people saying, ‘Flipping ‘eck. I’m nearly 20 stone. How did that happen?’ 

We know because we were those fat blokes, getting a shock.’

The new book is partly a lifestyle overhaul manual, but it’s mostly just recipes, and dishes you will eat rather than just flick through thinking ‘not more kale’. 

There is some cauliflower rice in there, but overall it’s quite doable. Not for them pretentious lifestyle advice, or recipes that involve 73 specialist ingredients. 

Indeed, there is much advice here on using tinned and frozen produce.

‘What we’re trying to do is make it straightforward, showing that, with a bit of effort, you can make delicious meals, and with ordinary ingredients too,’ says Dave.

The Hairies themselves are on top form today, chatting away about their lives and loves (food is top of the list, naturally), but there is something discombobulating about catching up with the two separately. 

I’ve interviewed them before, several times, and like salt and pepper they come as a pair.

It turns out they’re feeling the pain of the separation too. ‘It’s the longest time we’ve ever gone without seeing each other,’ admits Si. 

‘And it’s dead weird. Obviously, we chat on the phone. I speak to Dave most days. And we Zoom too, and twice a week we link up on Instagram for our fans. I never imagined a time where we would be apart like this though. We’d normally be off filming, or planning a trip.’

Unprecedented times, and particularly so for Si. In the past few years he’s been quite the globetrotter. 

After his marriage broke down (his ex-wife lives with his youngest son Dylan ‘just up the hill’), he struck up a relationship with a new partner, chef Michele Cranston, in Australia. He was travelling back and forth to Oz with little let-up.

Sadly he’s single again now. He’s hoping that his eldest son James (he has three boys) will be coming to live with him after he completes a period of self-isolation, ‘which will be company for both of us, but this is the longest I’ve been static, in one place, for as far back as I can remember. 

It’s quite nice, really. I’m getting the chance to get into routines, which I’ve never really had before. I’m doing stuff in the garden.’

He’s also shopping for his ex-wife and his son, who both have the ‘other’ diabetes, Type 1, which cannot be reversed by diet.

‘I can only see them at the bottom of the garden though.’ He’s also cooking for families in need locally. 

‘I joined this group, and every Tuesday I deliver some meals. It’s nice, this community aspect, isn’t it?’

Dave, meanwhile, has a full house. His mother-in-law happened to be visiting from Romania when lockdown kicked in, and so hasn’t been able to leave.

‘She’s a dressmaker and she’s been busy making scrubs and masks. The place is like a factory with boxes piled up. It’s amazing really.’

Who’s cooking? They all seem to be vying for that one, with Dave, his wife Liliana and her mum all pitching in. 

‘There is some experimenting with recipes going on, which is lovely,’ he says. Perhaps some lockdown cookery books will emerge? If so there may be a Romanian flavour to Dave’s. ‘She does a great polenta,’ he agrees.

Like Si, Dave admits that the struggle to maintain weight loss has been more intense during lockdown. 

While he hasn’t put on significant weight recently, he did have a shock to discover that his blood sugar levels had started to creep back up.

As far back as 2009 he had been on medication to reduce his levels, but had been able to stop taking this completely after his big weight loss. 

In December of last year though, those levels veered upwards again. ‘We were filming in America and maybe I did get a bit complacent because I gained about half a stone. 

‘I’d been starting to have a bit more chocolate than before, maybe a few more puddings. Oh and fruit juice, which I knew was really bad but I really fancied it.’

He keeps track of his blood sugar levels himself, and also has a proper test twice a year. 

‘At its highest it was at nine, but the ideal is to keep it around 6.5 or 6.8. Last year, I’d gone up to seven again. It was a lesson in how you can’t take your eye off the ball.’

While it was always Dave who had issues with pre-diabetes, of the pair it is Si who seems to struggle more with weight. Is that a physical or mental struggle? 

‘Both, probably,’ he says. ‘I’ve struggled with my weight most of my life, and I have a propensity to put weight on. That is part of my genetic make-up. Carbohydrates are not my friend.’

They both have the air of men who are lucky to be alive, and have no intention of putting their health on the line again. 

‘It’s what we keep saying to other men who are in the position we were – losing weight is the biggest investment you can make in yourself,’ says Si. 

‘Most of us would do anything for our families – we’ve got to the point where we’ve spent three-quarters, maybe more, of our lives providing for them. 

‘Why would you squander that to spend the last quarter fighting illness, or recovering from it, or worse? Just do it now, while you can.’ 

The Hairy Bikers help you eat well, lose weight and live longer: Scrummy, healthy recipes from their new cookbook to help you shed the pounds and tackle Type 2 diabetes 

Breakfast smoothies 

You can’t say us Bikers don’t move with the times – we’re well up with smoothies. These make a proper get-up-and-go breakfast.

Apple and oat smoothie, green smoothie and a banana, strawberry and blueberry smoothie

Apple and oat smoothie, green smoothie and a banana, strawberry and blueberry smoothie

Apple and oat smoothie, green smoothie and a banana, strawberry and blueberry smoothie

Apple and oat smoothie

Serves 2 l 275 calories per serving

  • 2 eating apples, cored and roughly chopped
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2tbsp porridge oats
  • 200ml (7fl oz) fat-free yoghurt
  • 300ml (10fl oz) semi-skimmed milk
  • ¼tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp honey

Put the apples and lemon juice in a blender. Add the remaining ingredients and blitz until smooth. Divide between 2 glasses and serve. 

Green smoothie

Serves 2 l 70 calories per serving

  • 50g (1¾oz) spinach
  • 1 celery stick, roughly chopped 
  • 1 apple, roughly chopped 
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼tsp grated fresh root ginger
  • A handful of ice cubes

Wash the spinach leaves and place in a blender with the rest of the ingredients. Blitz until smooth, then divide between 2 glasses and serve at once.

Banana, strawberry and blueberry smoothie

Serves 2 l 103 calories per serving

  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 100g (3½oz) strawberries, hulled
  • 100g (3½oz) blueberries
  • 50ml (2fl oz) low-fat natural yoghurt
  • A handful of ice cubes

Put all the ingredients together in a blender. Blitz until smooth, then pour the mixture evenly between 2 glasses and serve at once. 

Spicy avo on toast 

We’ve been enjoying this for years – sometimes with a poached egg on top too. The avocado is poshed up with extra flavours to make it super special. 

Za’atar is a beautifully fragrant Middle Eastern spice, available from supermarkets.

Spicy avocado on toast. The avocado is poshed up with extra flavours to make it super special

Spicy avocado on toast. The avocado is poshed up with extra flavours to make it super special

Spicy avocado on toast. The avocado is poshed up with extra flavours to make it super special

Serves 4 l 272 calories per serving

  • 4 slices of wholemeal bread
  • Flesh of 2 avocados
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1tsp olive oil
  • A few dashes of mild vinegar (brown rice vinegar, from some supermarkets, is good)
  • A few dashes of hot sauce
  • A small bunch of coriander or parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinches of smoked paprika
  • Pinches of za’atar (optional)
  • ½tsp sesame seeds

Toast the bread. Roughly mash up the avocado flesh in a bowl with the lemon juice, and then spread the mixture over the slices of toasted bread.

Toss the cherry tomatoes with the lemon zest, olive oil, vinegar and hot sauce. Tear the coriander or parsley leaves and mix them with the tomatoes. Season with black pepper, then divide them between the avocado-covered toast.

Sprinkle with pinches of paprika, za’atar, if using, and sesame seeds and serve.

 

Quick Mexican eggs 

This Mexican feast – known as huevos rancheros or ranchers’ eggs – is one of our favourite dishes for breakfast, brunch, or any time of day! 

Proper refried beans take a while, but our super-quick version is ready in minutes.

This Mexican feast – known as huevos rancheros or ranchers’ eggs – is one of our favourite dishes for breakfast, brunch, or any time of day!

This Mexican feast – known as huevos rancheros or ranchers’ eggs – is one of our favourite dishes for breakfast, brunch, or any time of day!

This Mexican feast – known as huevos rancheros or ranchers’ eggs – is one of our favourite dishes for breakfast, brunch, or any time of day!

Serves 4 l 356 calories per serving

For the beans

  • 1tsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1tsp oregano
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g tin of black beans, drained but not rinsed
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 avocado, flesh diced

To serve

  • 4 corn tortillas
  • Low-calorie olive oil spray
  • ½tsp smoked chilli powder
  • A small bunch of coriander, chopped

First prepare the beans. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and add the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the oregano, cumin and tomato purée.

Continue to cook until the purée starts to separate, then add the black beans and 100ml of water. 

Season with black pepper and leave to simmer gently while you get everything else ready.

For the salsa, put the lime juice in a bowl, add the avocado and stir together well to combine.

Now, warm the tortillas. Sprinkle each tortilla with water and place it in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for 10-15 seconds, then flip and repeat.

Wrap the tortillas in a clean tea towel to keep them warm.

Spritz a frying pan with oil spray. Add the eggs and fry them gently until they are cooked as you like them. Sprinkle each one with a little chilli powder.

Divide the beans between 4 plates and top with the eggs. Serve with the tortillas and salsa and garnish with plenty of chopped coriander. That’s it!  

Vegetable frittata 

A frittata is simply the Italian version of an omelette. It’s finished off under the grill and it’s mega good. 

We like to roast most of the vegetables for some extra flavour, and you can even cook them the night before if you want a quicker brunch the next day.

A frittata is simply the Italian version of an omelette. It’s finished off under the grill and it’s mega good

A frittata is simply the Italian version of an omelette. It’s finished off under the grill and it’s mega good

A frittata is simply the Italian version of an omelette. It’s finished off under the grill and it’s mega good

Serves 4 l 230 calories per serving

  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges
  • 1 courgette, cut into rounds
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
  • 200g (7oz) butternut squash, peeled and diced 
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • Half a head of broccoli, broken into small florets
  • 50g (1¾oz) green beans, cut in half
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Low-calorie olive oil spray
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/ gas 6. Line a baking tray or roasting dish with non-stick baking paper and spread the onions, courgette, red pepper and butternut squash over it.

Drizzle with the olive oil, then turn the vegetables over with your hands to coat them all lightly. 

Sprinkle with the oregano. Put the tray in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, then set aside.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch the broccoli and green beans for 2 minutes, then drain. Season the beaten eggs with black pepper.

Heat your grill to its highest setting. Lightly spray a large non-stick frying pan with the olive oil spray and place over a medium heat. 

Tip the roasted vegetables into the pan and spread them all out evenly, so each quarter gets a good balance of the different vegetables. 

Add the broccoli, green beans and cherry tomatoes, then sprinkle with the torn basil.

Pour the beaten eggs all over the vegetables. Cook over a medium heat until the base of the frittata has set – you’ll see the edges turning brown. 

Place the pan under the grill and cook for a few minutes, until the eggs have set and the top of the frittata has started to puff up.

Remove carefully – the handle will be hot – quarter the frittata and serve. It’s good cold, too.

Salmon and broccoli tray bake

The beauty of a tray bake is that all the flavours work together and you get lots of lovely little caramelised bits to enjoy. The honey and vinegar add little touches of sweetness and tartness, which go perfectly with the salmon. 

This dish is higher in calories than some in our book, but it is a well-balanced and nutritious meal.

The beauty of a tray bake is that all the flavours work together and you get lots of lovely little caramelised bits to enjoy

The beauty of a tray bake is that all the flavours work together and you get lots of lovely little caramelised bits to enjoy

The beauty of a tray bake is that all the flavours work together and you get lots of lovely little caramelised bits to enjoy

Serves 4 l 446 calories per serving

  • ½tsp honey
  • 2tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 x 150g (5½oz) salmon fillets, skinned
  • 1 large head of broccoli, broken into florets
  • 200g (7oz) baby salad potatoes, halved lengthways
  • 1 red pepper, thickly sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced into thin wedges
  • Low-calorie olive oil spray
  • 250g (9oz) white cup mushrooms, left whole
  • A small bunch of basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. To make the marinade for the salmon, mix the honey, balsamic vinegar and garlic in a bowl and season with pepper. 

Brush this mixture over both sides of the salmon and leave it to marinate while you start cooking the vegetables.

Wash the broccoli and, without brushing off too much of the water, put it in a roasting tin. 

Add the potatoes, red pepper and onion, then spritz with some oil. Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes.

Add the salmon and white cup mushrooms to the tin and roast for another 12 minutes until the salmon is just cooked through.Remove the tin from the oven and add a few basil leaves, then serve the tray bake immediately.

Caribbean chicken curry 

This is a proper carnival of a dish and has everything you need in one scrumptious pot full of Caribbean flavours. You can buy Caribbean curry powder in most supermarkets.

This is a proper carnival of a dish and has everything you need in one scrumptious pot full of Caribbean flavours

This is a proper carnival of a dish and has everything you need in one scrumptious pot full of Caribbean flavours

This is a proper carnival of a dish and has everything you need in one scrumptious pot full of Caribbean flavours

Serves 4 l 290 calories per serving

  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned and trimmed of fat
  • 1tbsp vegetable oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 300ml (10fl oz) chicken stock or water
  • 1 large thyme sprig
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200g (7oz) piece of pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 100g (3½oz) pineapple, diced
  • 1tsp rum (optional)
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

For the curry paste 

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved  
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped 
  •  15g (½oz) chunk of fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped 
  • 2 scotch bonnet chillies (or to taste), deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2tbsp medium curry powder, preferably Caribbean
  • ½tsp ground allspice

Put the chicken thighs in a bowl and add the juice of 1 lime and about 100ml of water. Rub the lime juice over the chicken and leave for a few minutes while you make the paste.

For the paste, put the onion, garlic, ginger, scotch bonnets, curry powder and ground allspice in a food processor or blender and add a tablespoon of water. Blitz until the mixture is fairly smooth. 

Heat the vegetable oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the paste and cook, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes. Now add the chicken and season with pepper. 

Stir so the chicken is coated with the paste, then pour in the chicken stock or water and add the thyme and bay leaves. 

Bring the mixture to the boil, then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer and cover. 

Cook for about 45 minutes, before adding the pumpkin, potato and pineapple. Cook for another 30 minutes, covered, then take off the lid. 

Add the juice of the remaining half a lime and, if you like, a teaspoon of rum, then cook, uncovered, for another 10 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce a little. 

Sprinkle the spring onions and parsley over the top of the curry and serve.

Pork kebabs with light salsa verde 

Just so you know, the sauce contains raw egg, something that children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with a compromised immune system may wish to avoid.

Pork kebabs with light salsa verde serve four and are 270 calories per serving. However the sauce contains raw egg, something that children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with a compromised immune system may wish to avoid

Pork kebabs with light salsa verde serve four and are 270 calories per serving. However the sauce contains raw egg, something that children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with a compromised immune system may wish to avoid

Pork kebabs with light salsa verde serve four and are 270 calories per serving. However the sauce contains raw egg, something that children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with a compromised immune system may wish to avoid

Serves 4-6 l 270 calories per serving (4)

  • 180 calories per serving (6)
  • 700g (1lb 9oz) lean pork, diced into 3cm chunks

For the marinade

  • 1tsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1tsp dried mint
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the light salsa verde

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 anchovies, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
  • A large bunch of flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • A small bunch of basil, finely chopped
  • A small bunch of mint, finely chopped

Mix the marinade ingredients in a large non-metallic bowl. Add the pork and stir until covered, then leave to marinate in the fridge for at least half an hour, or overnight.

For the light salsa verde, put the egg yolk in a bowl with the mustard. Whisk, then add the olive oil, a few drops at a time, so the mixture emulsifies. 

Whisk in the lemon juice, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. If you want a very smooth sauce, blitz it briefly in a blender. You can add 1tbsp water if you prefer the sauce to be slightly thinner. 

If you’re using bamboo skewers, soak in water for half an hour first, to stop them burning. 

Thread the pork chunks on to 8 skewers. Cook the skewers on a hot barbecue, on a griddle pan on the hob (perhaps in batches) or under a hot grill, for 12-15 minutes. 

Turn regularly, until the meat is charred and cooked through. Serve on or off the skewers, with the sauce on the side and a simple salad, if you like. 

Socca and salsa 

This sounds like a new dance! These chickpea flour flatbreads, known as socca, are addictive.

These chickpea flour flatbreads, known as socca, are addictive and serve four at 262 calories per serving

These chickpea flour flatbreads, known as socca, are addictive and serve four at 262 calories per serving

These chickpea flour flatbreads, known as socca, are addictive and serve four at 262 calories per serving 

Serves 4 l 262 calories per serving

2tbsp olive oil

  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced into wedges
  • 150g (5½oz) chickpea (gram) flour
  • Low-calorie olive oil spray
  • 1tsp finely chopped rosemary

For the salsa

  • 4 tomatoes, cored and diced
  • ½ a small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • Zest of ½ a lemon
  • 1tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1tsp olive oil
  • A small bunch of basil, finely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan and add the sliced red onions. Fry them over a medium heat for at least 10 minutes, or until they have softened and have started to caramelise.

Set aside for later. Put the chickpea flour in a bowl and whisk to remove any lumps. Gradually pour in 250ml of water and continue to whisk until you have a smooth batter that has the consistency of thick double cream. 

Stir the remaining olive oil in and whisk to emulsify.

Set the batter aside. To make the salsa, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and season well with freshly ground black pepper. 

You can cook 2 large socca, one after another, using a 25cm diameter non-stick pan, or 4 in a smaller pan. If you’re making 2 large ones, heat the pan and spritz with oil spray.

Pour half the batter into the pan and swirl to cover the base. Sprinkle with half the red onions and half the rosemary, then cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, until browned and crisping round the edges. 

Flip the socca over to cook the other side or put the pan under a medium grill to finish the cooking. 

Transfer it to a board or a large plate. Repeat.

If you are cooking 4 socca, split the batter into 4 and proceed as above, using a quarter of the red onions and rosemary each time.

Cut the socca into wedges or serve whole, with the salsa on the side. 

Chilli prawn pasta 

With chilli, garlic and lime, this dish is brimming with bold flavours and makes a proper filling dinner. If you have some vodka handy, we recommend adding a dash – it brings a touch of magic.

With chilli, garlic and lime, this dish is brimming with bold flavours and makes a proper filling dinner

With chilli, garlic and lime, this dish is brimming with bold flavours and makes a proper filling dinner

With chilli, garlic and lime, this dish is brimming with bold flavours and makes a proper filling dinner

Serves 4 l 341 calories per serving

  • 200g (7oz) wholewheat spaghetti
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1tsp chilli flakes
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 100ml (3½fl oz) hot fish or vegetable stock
  • 250ml (9fl oz) tomato passata
  • 50ml (2fl oz) vodka (optional)
  • 400g (14oz) shelled raw prawns (defrosted if frozen)
  • A small bunch of basil or coriander, to garnish
  • Lime wedges, to serve

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta until tender but still with a little bite to it, then drain.

Heat the olive oil in a large, lidded frying pan, then add the onion and red pepper along with a splash of water. 

Cover the pan and cook over a medium heat until the veg are starting to soften. Add the garlic, chilli flakes and lime zest, then season with black pepper.

Pour the stock into the pan, put the lid back on and cook the sauce for another 5 minutes. Pour in the passata and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Add the vodka, if using, then simmer for a minute or so more. Throw in the prawns and cook until they have just turned pink and opaque – they should be quite bouncy.Serve the sauce with the pasta and a sprinkling of coriander or basil leaves to garnish. Add lime wedges for everyone to squeeze over their helping.

Sensational summer pudding

There’s virtually no fat in this traditional British dessert, and if you use good ripe fruit then you don’t need much sweetener either.

A large white sandwich loaf works a treat for the bread casing.

There’s virtually no fat in this traditional British dessert, and if you use good ripe fruit then you don’t need much sweetener either

There’s virtually no fat in this traditional British dessert, and if you use good ripe fruit then you don’t need much sweetener either

There’s virtually no fat in this traditional British dessert, and if you use good ripe fruit then you don’t need much sweetener either

Serves 6 l 131 calories per serving

  • Low-calorie olive oil spray
  • 6 slices of white bread, crusts removed
  • 300g (10½oz) strawberries, hulled and cut up if large
  • 200g (7oz) raspberries
  • 200g (7oz) blueberries
  • 100g (3½oz) redcurrants, stalks removed, plus extra to garnish
  • Sugar-free sweetener, to taste

Lightly spritz a 900ml pudding basin with oil, and line with cling film.

Take a slice of bread and cut it into a round that will fit the bottom of the basin. Cut the rest of the slices into thirds widthways and use most of these to line the sides. 

Overlap them very slightly with one another and the base to ensure there are no gaps and press the bread down as much as possible. You should have a couple of slices left over for later.

Put all the fruit in a saucepan and add 3tbsp of water. Simmer very gently until the fruit is lightly cooked and has given out a lot of juice. 

The liquid should be a deep reddish purple. Stir as little as possible to avoid breaking up the fruit too much. 

You’ll find most of the raspberries will break up anyway but that’s fine, as they will provide juice for the pudding.

Taste for sweetness and add a little sweetener to get the flavour you like.

Ladle some of the juice into the bottom of the basin and allow to soak into the bread.

With a slotted spoon, transfer all the fruit into the pudding basin. Pour in as much of the juice as possible, without it overflowing, then top with the remaining bread slices. 

Put a saucer on top of the pudding and weight it down with something heavy, such as a tin of tomatoes. 

Put the pudding in the fridge and leave it for several hours, preferably overnight. Save any leftover juice for covering any white patches and serving with the pudding.

When you are ready to serve, place a serving plate upside-down on top of the basin and turn the basin over to unmould the pudding.

Carefully peel off the cling film. Cover any white patches with some of the leftover juice you kept aside and garnish with the extra redcurrants. 

You can serve with dollops of low-fat crème fraîche if you like, but don’t forget to bear in mind the extra calories. 

Baked bananas with chocolate rum sauce 

Well – chocolate rum sauce is not something you expect to find in a diet book, but we like to look after you all, and we do love something sweet from time to time. 

In fact, the sauce is made with only a small amount of dark chocolate and isn’t as calorific as it sounds, although it still tastes wicked!

Baked bananas with chocolate rum sauce. In fact, the sauce is made with only a small amount of dark chocolate and isn’t as calorific as it sounds

Baked bananas with chocolate rum sauce. In fact, the sauce is made with only a small amount of dark chocolate and isn’t as calorific as it sounds

Baked bananas with chocolate rum sauce. In fact, the sauce is made with only a small amount of dark chocolate and isn’t as calorific as it sounds

Serves 4 l 194 calories per serving

  • 1tsp butter
  • 1tsp demerara sugar

For the chocolate rum sauce

  • 50g (1¾oz) dark chocolate
  • 50ml (2fl oz) milk
  • 1tsp soft light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/gas 6. Line a baking tray with a piece of foil that’s big enough to overlap the edges of the tray slightly. Rub the foil with half the butter.

Peel the bananas and cut each one in half lengthways. Arrange the bananas on the foil and sprinkle the sugar and rum over.

Take another piece of foil and rub it with the rest of the butter. Place the foil, buttered side down, over the bananas and crimp the edges of the pieces of foil together. Put the bananas in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Break up the chocolate and put it in a pan with the milk, sugar and rum. 

Heat gently until the chocolate has melted, then whisk the sauce quite vigorously to make sure everything is combined properly.

Remove the pan from the heat – the sauce will thicken slightly as it cools. Take the bananas out of the oven and drizzle with spoonfuls of the chocolate sauce, then serve at once

Aztec chocolate avocado mousse 

Dave first came across this treat in California – sounds weird but it really is good. 

It’s quick to make but success depends on using very ripe, creamy, non-fibrous avocados. Good Hass avocados are probably best.

The chocolate avocado mousse depends on using very ripe, creamy, non-fibrous avocados. Good Hass avocados are probably best

The chocolate avocado mousse depends on using very ripe, creamy, non-fibrous avocados. Good Hass avocados are probably best

The chocolate avocado mousse depends on using very ripe, creamy, non-fibrous avocados. Good Hass avocados are probably best

Serves 6-8 l 247 calories per serving (6)

  • 185 calories per serving (8)
  • 2 avocados, peeled and roughly mashed
  • Zest and juice of ½ a lime
  • 1 ball of stem ginger from a jar, roughly chopped
  • 100g (3½oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 50g (1¾oz) honey (or syrup from the stem ginger jar)
  • 100ml (3½fl oz) reduced-fat coconut milk
  • 30g (1oz) cocoa
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • ¼tsp ground allspice
  • ¼tsp ground cayenne

To serve

1 ball of stem ginger, finely sliced (optional)

Put the avocado, lime zest and juice and the stem ginger in a food processor and blitz until fairly smooth – there might be a little texture from the stem ginger or lime zest but that’s OK.

Put the chocolate, honey or syrup, coconut milk, cocoa and spices in a small saucepan. 

Place the pan over a very gentle heat and whisk constantly until the chocolate has melted and you have a rich, dark mixture.

Scrape the chocolate mixture into the food processor with the avocado, lime and ginger and continue to blitz until everything is well combined and smooth.

Divide the mousse between 6 or 8 small glasses, espresso cups or bowls and chill until needed. Serve topped with some thin strips of stem ginger, if you like. 

Extracted from The Hairy Bikers Eat To Beat Type 2 Diabetes, published by Seven Dials on 11 June in paperback, priced £12.99. 

Also available in ebook format. Text © Byte Brook Limited and Sharp Letter Limited 2020. Available on amazon.co.uk  

 

  • The Hairy Bikers Eat To Beat Type 2 Diabetes is published by Seven Dials on 11 June, priced £12.99 in paperback.