Davina’s Kitchen Favourites: Brilliant sugar-free, no-fuss recipes to enjoy together

Hello everyone, and welcome to my kitchen – my fave place. A place of chat, laughter, heart-to-heartsl and lots and lots of cooking!

I’ve got to a stage in life now where I want to concentrate on the things that really matter. For me, that’s being with the ones I love and feeding them satisfying and healthy food.

My new recipe collection comes from the heart. It’s about family cooking and that can include everyone, and anyone we love – relatives, friends or a neighbour who lives on their own and may be fed up with cooking meals for one. These recipes are the ones I make because they’re simple. They don’t have lots of ingredients or cooking stages – and there’s as little washing up as possible, honest!

Elisabeth Hoff

Now the healthy bit… It’s a tricky word, ‘healthy’, but if you tune out the nonsense and the fad diets and pseudo-science, there are clear nutritional rules that will help us all live longer and better. From giving our kids the best start in life to making sure our beloved grannies and grandpas are getting the nutrients they need to stay strong and trim, the message is the same. And that message is clear: no refined sugar and fewer processed foods.

So that is what Davina’s Kitchen Favourites is all about: great food for any age. Food that will feed our bodies, minds and souls and won’t take too long or much effort to cook. Share the love, show you care and get ready to do some cooking. #sharethelove

Davina’s kitchen rules

You know me – I’m not a nutritionist, but I have talked to the experts and I want to share what they’ve taught me. Along with my exercise routines, their rules have worked to keep me trim and happy and helped me feed everyone great food. I’ve discovered some cheats along the way, too, that mean I don’t dread the chore of cooking – I love it! This is what I’ve learnt in a nutshell and the way my family eats now. I promise you there is no compromise in taste or satisfaction.

  • We’ve stopped adding refined sugar to drinks and food.
  • We avoid processed foods and foods with ‘hidden sugar’.
  • We’ve cut out refined white carbohydrates such as white flour, white rice and white pasta.
  • We eat loads of fresh vegetables and fruit, pulses, eggs, some meat and fish and some dairy.
  • We opt for brown rice, brown pasta and wholemeal or spelt flour.
  • We make puddings and cakes with naturally sweet ingredients such as fruit and veg, or, for a treat, we add some maple syrup or honey.
Elisabeth Hoff

A few cooking notes

  • Peel garlic, onions and other vegetables unless otherwise specified. The weights given in the ingredients lists are the peeled weight.
  • Stock is easy and cheap to make and you will find recipes for vegetable and chicken versions in the book. But if you run out or don’t have time, use the good readymade fresh stocks you can buy in supermarkets now. Heat the stock first before adding it to your other ingredients – it saves lots of time.
  • I like to use free-range chicken and eggs whenever I can, but that’s your call.
  • In the book I’ve flagged up vegetarian and vegan recipes and noted where others can be made vegetarian by leaving out certain ingredients. Where cheese is included in a vegetarian recipe, be aware that some cheeses such as Parmesan are not suitable for vegetarians, but there are plenty of vegetarian alternatives available in supermarkets now.

Savoury French toast

I’ve always loved French toast but I tend to avoid the sweet version with maple syrup these days. So I’m thrilled to share this savoury variation which is unbelievably yummy. A great Sunday brunch.

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Debby Lewis-Harrison

My carbonara

This is my go-to dish when everyone is starving and I need to get something filling and fabulous on the table fast. I’ve always loved a carbonara and this variation on the classic uses wholewheat pasta for plenty of fibre and includes some veg as well. Quick and super comforting.

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Debby Lewis-Harrison

Chicken drumsticks and coleslaw

These two recipes make perfect partners for a packed lunch. Really sticky chicken drumsticks are notoriously messy, but this version is much easier for lunches on the go and still super yum. There are more than ten ingredients here but there are two recipes, which can be used separately.

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Debby Lewis-Harrison

Chickpea and chard curry

Quick and delicious, this one ticks all the boxes for my family. Sometimes I love a recipe that contains mostly store cupboard ingredients with just a few extras to pick up from the shops. Nice served with some brown rice or just a lovely crunchy salad.

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Debby Lewis-Harrison

Chicken harira

Harira is a traditional Moroccan soup and makes a really lovely comforting supper. It’s often made with lamb but my family prefer this lighter chicken version. It’s mouthwateringly good! I sometimes serve it with some brown rice on the side for everyone to add to their bowlful if they like. A 50g serving of brown rice will add about 180 calories.

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Debby Lewis-Harrison

Vegan baked beans

I’m cooking more and more vegan dishes and liking this way of eating. This recipe makes a lovely big pot of beans and you can freeze any leftovers. Baked beans are always the most comforting of suppers and this version contains plenty of vegetables as well. Yummiest of the yummiest.

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Debby Lewis-Harrison

Marinated salmon with brown rice

We al know we should be eating oily fish, such as salmon, and this is just the easiest way to cook it. You do need to allow it to marinate, though, so this is a good recipe for the weekend or when you have a little more time. I love to serve this with mint and yoghurt sauce (see below right). Remember that almonds are really good for you – they’re not just decoration here.

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Debby Lewis-Harrison

Mediterranean shoulder of lamb

What I like on a Sunday is to have something cooking gently in the oven and smelling wonderful while I get on with other things. This dish is perfect. It needs very little attention and it tastes incredible. If you do have any leftover meat, you can use it to make the Keema Peas recipe in the book.

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Debby Lewis-Harrison

Spinach and ricotta lasagne

Lasagne makes such a great one-pot supper – something you can bring to the table, serve up and keep everyone happy with. My friends purr with pleasure when they see this. You do need to make the delish tomato sauce (see below) but if you have a batch ready in the freezer you can put this together in no time. If you’re making this for vegetarians, check that the cheese you’re using is suitable.

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Elisabeth Hoff

Penne and sausage bake

It took my family a little while to get used to wholewheat pasta but now we have it all the time and we love it. Lots of veggies and little balls of sausage makes this an A-M-A-ZING one-pot supper that leaves everyone smiling. And if you have the tomato sauce already made it’s quick, too.

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Davina McCall's penne and sausage bake recipe
Debby Lewis-Harrison

Tomato sauce

A good tomato sauce is one of the most useful things to have in your fridge or freezer. I know you can buy sauces in jars but making your own saves you loads of money – and having sauce available for quick suppers saves you precious time as well. And obvs, homemade is way better. Use this sauce over pasta, for lasagne, bean dishes, whatever you fancy.

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Debby Lewis-Harrison

Banana and peanut butter ice cream

This is the easiest ice cream you can imagine – you just whiz up frozen bananas with nut butter and a hint of lime and you have something totally divine. It’s excellent just on its own but if you really want to go mad, try this dark choc sauce. Just an occasional treat, mind!

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Debby Lewis-Harrison

Lime sandwich cake

Ahem – this is one for special occasions as it is quite calorific, but I think it is so good it’s worth it. And you only need a small slice – good practice for your willpower! Spelt flour does work better than regular wholemeal here so do get hold of some if you can. Supermarkets sell it.

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Debby Lewis-Harrison

Spiced banana bread

This banana bread recipe is just the thing to have around when anyone fancies a little something in the afternoon – as members of my family often do! It’s good on its own or extra yummy spread with butter and I really like it toasted. Just make sure you get soft figs or dates so they purée easily.

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Debby Lewis-Harrison


SAVE 20 PER CENT ON DAVINA’S NEW BOOK

Davina’s Kitchen Favourites will be published by Seven Dials, price £20. As well as loads of nutrition advice and useful info, chapters include: breakfast and brunch; lunch on the run; family suppers; save time, save money; slow down, and puddings and bakes, plus essential basics and a
5-week plan to help you lose weight. To order a copy for £16 until 4 March, visit you-bookshop.co.uk or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15.