The Multicourse Dinner You Don’t Have to Feel Guilty About

Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures and doing things properly with a good three-course meal and fabulous company can be unmatched, but sadly it’s not always great for the waistline.


We’ve come up with some of the best ways to go easy on the calories and ensure that you and all your friends still fit around the dining room table. It’s all about the food that looks indulgent but secretly isn’t.

1) The Starter

Cantaloupe and honeydew melon were served as a starter at every wedding breakfast between 1998 and 2004, but now its rival – the watermelon – is in town, shaking things up a bit. The water content in this fruit makes it extra good for you, keeping you nice and hydrated. Chefs up and down the country have been boiling it, blending it, even mixing it with feta cheese and mint, it’s a new dawn for this delightful and exotic fruit.

2) The Main

It might be that we really are listening to the media scaremongering, pushing us to try the new fad diet, or it may be that people are just bored with the average bowl of pasta or rice, but whatever the reason, spiralizing vegetables is the new culinary craze. Blended cauliflower, well-seasoned, can make a great side to a curry and courgette spaghetti, or should I say courgetti, can complement any bolognese or carbonara. They are even available in the supermarkets, vacuumed packed, spiralized, ready to go (although we aren’t quite sure that’s the point).

3) The Dessert

Saying no to dessert can be a thing of the past and instead, another way of getting that infamous five a day – promise. Carrot cake has been around for a while, but now beetroot and avocado are also making their way into these baked goodies. Natural yogurt is in place of frosting and even the ice-cream can be made from peas, it’s veg like you’ve never seen it before.

4) The Snack

Put that rice cake down because healthy snacks have just gotten a bit more interesting. Banana chips, dried mango, dates, infused raisins and apple crisps have transformed the standard pick n’ mix while, sweet potato, beetroot and parsnips have taken the place of those usually-golden-crisps and if you’re looking for chocolate then raw cocoa-bites can give you the hit you need. Confectionery is changing and we are happily now spoiled for choice.

5) The Drink

It’s been drilled into us that drinking vast amounts of alcohol isn’t that great and apparently one glass of wine can be the equivalent of eating four whole chocolate cakes, a multipack of mars bars and a family size bag of crisps. So the next morning when you’re nursing your sore head, slung over the bathroom sink, you can be safe in the knowledge that those ‘skinny’ jeans in the back of the wardrobe are just going to stay put for a while. Or so we thought! Now there is an alternative way to have a tipple. Sugar-free Limonbello from Nancy Dell’Olio is her secret family recipe and a reinvention of the Italian classic, sweetened with natural agave syrup. It’s guilt free and gives you less of a hangover, brilliant news. Cheers Nancy!