Is Diet Chef the best recipe for getting the weight conscious and reluctant exercisers into their bikinis this summer?

It's certainly got the numbers - with over 75,000 people trying the diet so far - the well-known followers and some impressive success stories. Sir Alan Sugar's right hand woman Karen Brady lost a stone and a half using Diet Chef and you only have to log onto dietchef.co.uk to see happy healthy people like 'Sarah,' smiling from the website screen and declaring: "It’s like having your own personal chef. It didn’t feel like a diet. I was never hungry."

Pick from a range of portioned, pre-packaged meals and snacks that are delivered to your door. All you have to do is stick them in the microwave and add fresh veg, fruit and dairy and hey presto, you're consuming a limited daily calorie intake of around 1,200, which should equal two pounds of weight loss a week. What could be easier?

diet chef

I'm naturally suspicious of food that doesn't have to be refrigerated. I understand that they're probably pasteurised and preserved like astronaut fodder, but when I've had a chicken curry in my cereal cupboard for a few weeks I don't tend to feel that enthusiastic about eating it.

I realised after a few days that in reality Diet Chef's dishes vary wildly between deliciously tasty and repugnantly foul. My first day of an Oliver Twist sized portion of porridge with cocoa nibs followed by what looked liked cat sick but called itself tuna and rice salad, I was left thinking that that was Diet Chef's weight-loss secret: you can't actually eat the food!

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  • Apple & Cinnamon Porridge

    Diet Chef's version

  • Apple & Cinnamon Porridge

    My version

  • Tuna & Rice salad

    Diet Chef's version

  • Tuna & Rice salad

    My version

  • Spelt Risotto

  • Chocolate Flavour Protein Bar

However, once you're used to the baby breakfasts, singular snacks and sometimes questionable dinners, it's clear that that here are some tasty options in the diet and enough variety to keep you interested and satisfied.

That's not to say that this diet isn't restrictive. Most of the lunch options are soups and when the barometer hit 30 degrees in July I was craving fresh salads and sushi, not a steaming bowl of oxtail soup followed by a Lancashire hotpot.

spag bol

The bottom line is that Diet Chef works, which is what people most want to hear, and I know for a fact that my bottom line was feeling noticeably trimmer after two weeks of baby bowls of granola and 200-calorie curries.

I can't help but wonder what happens when you come off the diet. Without the controlled portions and pre-cooked meals do people ballon back to their pre-diet shapes or does Diet Chef curb your appetite and eating habits enough to control any future binges? Let's face it, the products aren't the cheapest with the four week plan at £61.25 per week - that's £8.75 per day per person, plus the cost of your fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy.

snack

I personally couldn't wait to get back to my normal, freshly-cooked eating habits and am not entirely convinced that you couldn't get the same results with the old, bog standard diet method that's been around forever: Eat less, eat healthier and move more.

There's no denying that this diet gets results and if you're time poor, sick of fad dieting and detoxes want something uncomplicated, varied and temptation-free that can be cooked up in two minutes flat every time, then this could be the one for you.

For more information, visit the Diet Chef website.

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  • Flatbread with garlicky tomato sauce and anchovies

    224 calories Serves 1 Preparation time: 5 minutes Cook time: about 8 minutes ½ tsp extra-virgin olive oil (14 cals) 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped (3 cals) 1 tbsp tomato purée (paste) (30 cals) 4 anchovy fillets, drained (24 cals) Heat the olive oil gently in a small frying pan (skillet), add the garlic and fry for 1–2 minutes until just starting to go brown. Stir in the tomato purée (paste) and 2 tablespoons water, then fry gently for another 4–5 minutes. Spread the tomato sauce over a warm flatbread and arrange the anchovies over the top. Slice into quarters and eat straight away. Recipe courtesy of <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-5-2-Bikini-Diet/dp/0007237650 " target="_hplink">The 5:2 Bikini Diet</a>

  • Classic Baked Apple

    185 calories <em>Make sure to score a line round the middle of the apple before filling, otherwise the apple may split during cooking.</em> Serves 1 Preparation time: 10 minutes Cook time: 35–40 minutes 1 large Bramley (cooking) apple (54 cal) 1 tsp (5g/1/8oz) butter (37 cals) 1 tsp (5g) flaked (slivered) almonds (32 cals) 2 tsp (10g/1/3oz) soft dark brown sugar (36 cals) ½ tsp ground mixed spice 10g (1 heaping tsp) raisins (27 cals) grated zest of ½ orange Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5. Use an apple corer to remove the core from the apple, then score round the middle of the apple with a sharp knife, cutting to a depth of about 5mm (1/4in) all round. Place the apple in a small serving dish. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl and use to stuff the filling into the centre, rubbing a little round the apple as well. If there is any filling left over, pile it on the top. Cook in the oven for 35–40 minutes until golden and soft. Recipe courtesy of <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-5-2-Bikini-Diet/dp/0007237650 " target="_hplink">The 5:2 Bikini Diet</a>

  • Chicken Satay

    244 calories <em>This chicken satay can be either barbecued or grilled (broiled). They taste delicious served on a bed of spinach with some lime juice squeezed over, adding on the appropriate calories, if you are on a fast day. If using wooden skewers, make sure they are soaked in a bowl of water for at least 30 minutes before using to prevent them burning during cooking.</em> Serves 2 Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus 3–4 hours marinating Cook time: 10 minutes 250g (9oz) skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes, about 2.5cm (1in) square (265 cals) 1 shallot, peeled and diced (5 cals) 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed (3 cals) 2 tsp curry powder 1 level tbsp peanut butter (182 cals) 1 tsp runny honey (23 cals) 2 tbsp soy sauce (9 cals) To make the marinade, mix the shallot, garlic, curry powder, peanut butter, honey and soy sauce together in a bowl. Add the chicken and toss until the chicken is coated all over in the marinade. Leave to marinade in the refrigerator for 3–4 hours. Preheat the grill (broiler) to medium or light the barbecue. Thread the chicken cubes onto 2–4 skewers, leaving room between the chicken pieces to allow them to cook thoroughly. Grill (broil) for about 10 minutes, turning regularly, until cooked through. Serve immediately. Recipe courtesy of <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-5-2-Bikini-Diet/dp/0007237650 " target="_hplink">The 5:2 Bikini Diet</a>

  • Raspberry Frozen Yogurt

    146 calories <em>A great fat-free dessert, it is made without the use of an ice-cream machine. Remember to take the frozen yogurt out of the freezer 10 minutes before serving to allow it to soften slightly. Feel free to experiment with other fruits using a similar method, or try adding a few drops of vanilla extract to make vanilla frozen yogurt</em>. Serves 6 Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus 3–4 hours freezing 200g (scant 12/3 cups) raspberries (50 cals) ½ x 405g (14oz) can light condensed milk (541 cals) 500g (generous 2 cups) pot 0% fat Greek yogurt (285 cals) Roughly chop half the raspberries and set aside. Place the remaining raspberries in a food processor and whiz to a smooth purée. Alternatively, purée the raspberries with a fork. <em>Place the puréed raspberries in a large bowl and stir in the condensed milk and Greek yogurt until well everything is mixed, then fold in the remaining chopped raspberries. Transfer the mixture to a freezerproof container and freeze until solid.</em> Recipe courtesy of <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-5-2-Bikini-Diet/dp/0007237650 " target="_hplink">The 5:2 Bikini Diet</a>

  • Halloumi Salad

    215 calories Serves 1 Preparation time: 5 minutes Cook time: 8 minutes, plus 10 minutes cooling 2 vine ripened tomatoes, sliced (26 cals) ½ red (bell) pepper, deseeded and cut into strips (25 cals) 50g (13/4oz) light halloumi, drained and sliced into thin squares (122 cals) 75g (3oz) Italian mixed salad leaves (greens) (10 cals) For the marinade ½ garlic clove, peeled and crushed (2 cals) juice of 1 lime (3 cals) 1 tsp chopped fresh parsley ½ tsp chilli flakes (red pepper flakes) freshly ground black pepper 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil (27 cals) To make the marinade, combine the garlic, lime juice, parsley, chilli flakes (red pepper flakes), pepper, 1 tablespoon water and the olive oil in a wide bowl. Add the sliced tomatoes to the marinade. Heat a large frying pan (skillet) and dry-fry the red (bell) pepper strips for about 5 minutes until slightly blackened, then put them with the tomatoes in the marinade. Fry the halloumi slices in the same pan until golden on both sides, they will only take a minute in a hot pan. When they are cooked add them to the marinade and turn until the halloumi is coated all over. Leave the halloumi to cool for about 10 minutes. Arrange the salad leaves (greens) on a wide serving plate and put the halloumi, pepper strips and tomatoes on top. Drizzle over the remaining marinade and serve. Recipe courtesy of <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-5-2-Bikini-Diet/dp/0007237650 " target="_hplink">The 5:2 Bikini Diet</a>