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Nadia's recipe for smiling while you slim

After trying and failing at every fad diet under the sun, presenter Nadia Sawalha is finally happy with her weight - and determined to enjoy her food. She discusses the philosophy behind her latest cookbook, The Greedy Girl's Diet, and shares some mouth-watering recipes.

In an ideal world, Nadia Sawalha would have banished the word 'diet' from the cover of her latest cookbook. But, says the author of Greedy Girl's Diet, there are certain rules that must be followed for marketing purposes. "You need that word so people can find the book," explains the presenter, who won Celebrity Masterchef in 2007. "But I really believe that if you think you are on a diet, you are going to stuff your face at some point. Unless you can feel like a normal person who sometimes eats a pudding and has a bit too much to drink, you will not succeed."

The 48-year-old says a constant state of "dieting and denial" resulted in her being obese. "I did every single diet out there. The Atkins was the worst experience of my life. I call the Dukan diet 'Du-can't' because I don't believe anyone can do it. It was horrendous.

Eventually, she decided to eat as normally as possible (breakfast and pudding are key components of her day) and simply shave off the hidden calories here and there, as well as eating enough to fuel an active lifestyle. As a result, Sawalha shed three and a half stone and is now a healthy size 12. "The cookbook is literally about what I ate when I lost weight, and hopefully you can't tell the difference with the recipes. Even my husband lost two stone and we didn't even know he was overweight! With spaghetti bolognaise for instance, I wouldn't glug the olive oil to fry the onions in, I would just pour in a tablespoon of olive oil. Most diet books would use a teaspoon of oil. No thank you! I am going to be depressed if I only use a teaspoon of oil."

She declares she is now "very happy" with her size, and determined not to pass an unhealthy mindset about food onto her two daughters. "I go so far as to say I used to be a total slave. If I added up the years I have lost in time and talking about my weight and thinking about what I should and shouldn't eat, I could have watched every movie ever made and I could have read a thousand books."

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pan and fry the onion and garlic over a low heat until soft but not coloured. Add the celery and carrots, reduce the heat and cook until soft.

Remove the veg from the pan, put in the minced turkey or beef and fry over a medium heat until lightly browned.

Return the vegetables to the pan, add the tomato puree and stir for about a minute. Pour in the tomatoes, bring up to the bubble, season with salt and pepper and stir in the chopped mushrooms and bay leaves. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions. Drain the spaghetti, toss it with the sauce and grate over the Parmesan.

12 Life Begins

Sinless spaghetti bolognaise

1tbsp olive oil 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 2 celery sticks, finely chopped 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped 400g minced turkey or lean minced beef 1tbsp tomato puree 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes salt and freshly ground black pepper 200g mushrooms, chopped 2 bay leaves 200g wholewheat spaghetti 2tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

(Serves 4)

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