Home-made baked beans are a great fasting-day food. They need a bit of forward planning, as you have to put the beans in to soak the day before you make the dish, but they’re low in calories (as long as you don’t add bacon!) and satisfyingly filling. With a thin slice of toasted wholemeal bread, a serving of these beans comes to a modest 380 calories: not bad for a main meal!

Low calorie baked beans

Recipe for Low calorie Baked Beans (serves 6)

300g/2½ cups  dry haricot/navy beans
400ml/1⅔ cups crushed tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes, blended and boiled down until reduced by half)
2 small onions, diced
2 tablespoons molasses/black treacle
¼ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (just leave this out if you are vegetarian or vegan)
1 teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
salt & pepper

Total calories per serving: 230

Method: Soak dried beans in water overnight. Discard water and boil the beans in fresh water for around an hour, until soft. Put the beans, and the water they’ve been cooking in, into a pot with a lid and add the tomatoes, onion, molasses, vinegar and seasonings. Bake at 325°F/165°C for 2-3 hours (or in a slow-cooker). Remove the lid after an hour or so and stir the beans every 15 minutes in the last hour of cooking to make sure that they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and that the consistency of the liquid is OK – add more water or cook for longer to get it just right.

Here’s the recipe I used for the bread we had with this. Making your own bread means you can be careful about the amount of fat and salt that gets added to it. Oats, as mentioned earlier, are an excellent addition to your diet and with this quantity you can’t tell the difference between this bread and bread made with just wheat flour.

Recipe for Oat-laced bread (makes 3 two-pound loaves or 36 bread rolls)

2 tablespoons dried yeast
2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon sugar
50 fluid ounces/1.4 litres hand-hot water
900g/7 cups  white bread flour
770g/6 cups wholewheat flour
130g/1 cup rolled oats (blended to a powder)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Total calories per loaf: 2,290 (190 per slice or per roll)

[This is the point where I realised I’d been kidding myself about how many calories my bread slices contain. How depressing. :-(]

Method: combine yeast with 10 fluid ounces/300ml of warm water and a teaspoon of sugar and leave to get frothy. Meanwhile, pour the other 40 fluid ounces/1.1 litres of water into a mixer bowl with a dough hook attachment and then add the oats, salt, oil and wholewheat flour. Mix in the frothy yeast mixture and the white bread flour. Knead for five minutes. Shape the dough into loaves or rolls and leave to prove for 45 minutes to an hour. Loaves need to be baked for 40 minutes at 365°F/185°C. For rolls, 15-20 minutes should be enough.

Three loaves of bread