After a hard week of work we often turn to unhealthy foods to reward ourselves, then instantly regret our choices once the weekend is over and our health goals have re-emerged.
We all know that takeaways are full of fat and calories, but do we really know how bad they are for us? According to a study by consumer survey group Which?, an average Indian takeaway containing chicken tikka masala, a naan bread and a portion of pilau rice contains around 1,338 calories - more than half of the recommended daily calorie allowance for men and women. Indian takeaways aren’t the only guilty parties, of course. Which? tested our favourite takeaways and found that while Indian takeaway dishes had the highest levels of fat (26g), Chinese takeaways harboured the most sugar, as one portion contained around 19 teaspoons.
This terrible cycle of fatty fast foods is weighing down more than just our scales. Not only are takeaway foods notoriously unhealthy, they often don’t come cheap. If the average family spends around £20 on a takeaway every week it quickly adds up to nearly £1,000 a year, while collectively our food fix is costing the nation an eye-watering sum estimated at nearly £30 million a year.
After reading all of the evidence, you might be thinking the only way forward is to give up your beloved takeaway dishes. But there is a solution to this that has been sweeping the UK, which has been uniting the frugal and the health conscious as one unstoppable force - and it’s called the fakeaway.
The fakeaway phenomenon
The fakeaway is becoming increasingly popular with households all over the country.
People have realised that they can cook a dish just as delicious as their favourite takeaway staples at home, without spending a fortune or consuming an extortionate amount of calories and fat.
You don’t have to be an expert chef to rustle up a fantastic fakeaway. There are a number of exotic ingredients you can buy from the supermarket, and as you are making a healthier alternative with lots of fresh ingredients you can even get away with using a few ready-made pastes and sauces from jars. While it may seem like a huge list of ingredients when you first buy them, the quantities required in each dish are fairly small, so once you’ve stocked up they should last you a long time.
Fakeaway cooking time is incredibly speedy and you could even prepare your takeaway food on a different day and freeze it, so all you need to do is pop it in the microwave whenever you fancy it. This is much faster than dialling a number and waiting over an hour for a takeaway to arrive on a busy Friday night.
To get you started, we have recreated three of our favourite dishes, fakeaway style!
Thai Green Curry
Spray of low-calorie cooking oil
2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
1 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
1-2 thick stalks lemongrass
Skinless, boneless chicken, cut into chunks
The grated zest of 1 lime
400ml/14fl oz coconut milk
Good shake of Thai fish sauce or light soy sauce
Small handful of coriander, roughly chopped
½-1 lime, juice only
Preparation time:15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 - 40 minutes
Warm the wok to a high heat and spray in the oil. Add the curry paste and sugar to cook for around 1 minute and stir in the lemongrass. Reduce the heat and add in the chicken pieces, the green peppers and the lime zest until fully cooked. Next, add in the coconut milk and the fish/soy sauce and reduce the heat so that it is simmering. Stir in the coriander and lime juice and season to taste. You can add more vegetables if you wish and give the dish an English flavour with veg such as peas or broccoli. Serve with boiled rice.
Chinese Stir Fry (instead of a takeaway Chow Mein)
Skinless, boneless chicken fillet cut into chunks
Large spring onion, sliced
Large red onion, finely chopped
Coloured peppers, thinly sliced
Diced chilli (optional)
Dash of soy sauce
Low-calorie spray oil
Egg noodles (or use rice for a low-calorie option)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Spray a large wok with the low-cal oil and heat up. Add in the chicken and cook through. Then, add in your chopped vegetables until crispy. Next, throw in the noodles and the cashew nuts and the dash of chilli. Finally, add the plum sauce in and mix thoroughly so everything is coated.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Skinless, boneless chicken
4 teaspoons of ready-made tandoori paste
2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt
1 cinnamon stick
8 cardamom pods
1 large onion, finely chopped
Dash of powdered ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
Half a teaspoon of turmeric
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
150ml of chicken stock
Half a tablespoon of garam masala
Half of a lemon, juice only
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional depending on spice level)
Shop-bought chapattis (instead of naan bread)
Prep time: 2 hours
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Mix the cut chicken with the natural yoghurt and masala paste and leave to soak in a bowl for at least 2 hours (you could do this the night before). Heat a large pan and spray in a low calorie oil, when very hot add in the cinnamon, cardamon pods and the onion until browned, then add the ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander, ginger and cayenne pepper. After a minute, add the chicken with the marinade to the spices and also add in the chopped tomatoes, lemon juice and the garam masala. Bring the curry to a simmer and cook on a low heat for around 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Serve with warmed chapati and rice.
There you have it, three healthy and easy-to-make fakeaway dishes packed full of vegetables and good nutritional value. We challenge you to try it out and see how much better you’ll feel without any takeaway food remorse. Of course, you can also attempt to make home-made lamb kofte kebabs in place of your weekly donner and instead of gorging on french fries, try some long-roasted parsnips or salted kale crisps. You’ll be surprised just how tasty these are.
If you want more healthy food inspiration, why not speak to one of our personal trainers? Creating a healthy body is what they do best, so they’ll be able to provide you with loads of expert nutritional advice that fits it in with your fitness plan. Book your session today.