GUEST BLOG #5 - by Parveen Ashraf, aka The Spice Queen SaveCo Online Ltd

Losing My Lockdown Love Handles

By Parveen - The Spice Queen

Part 2 of 3 blogs about healthy nutritious food that is Inclusive, whether you want gluten-free, vegan, low-fat or low-carb dishes

One of the best things about lockdown and working from home is that the biscuit tin is only a stone's throw away. One of the worst things about lockdown and working from home is that the biscuit tin is only a stone's throw away!

In the last few months, I have definitely put on a few pounds. It doesn't help that I am wearing casual clothes which consist of loose tops and elasticated trousers which frankly need to banned or come with a warning 'beware - danger of over-eating!' So, in a bid to reduce my newly acquired and unwanted love handles I have decided to 'eat clean', or cleaner at least and give intermittent fasting a go. Both these terms are trending at the moment and you can do one or the other or try the two together which is what I am doing. Try being the optimum word as it can be quite trying. Well, that's ok, as my husband often calls me quite trying J.

Clean eating is diet based on the belief that eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods laden with too much salt, sugar and preservatives offers certain health benefits. Whole-grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats  and millet can be eaten as they are relatively unprocessed. I am not a nutritionist and don't claim to have all the answers in terms of  clean eating, intermittent fasting or weight loss. However, I AM passionate about cooking good food from scratch. I know my food and I know my flavours -  and as 'The Spice Queen' I feel duty-bound to show you how to enhance the flavour of food using fresh herbs and aromatic spices. Sometimes you can take the humblest of ingredients like couscous, bulgur wheat or millet and transform it into an amazing salad that can be eaten with grilled meat or fish. Fresh clean eating at its best, flavoursome, healthy and tasty -  what's not to love?

In addition to eating fresh wholesome food, I am fasting for 16 hours a day. Typically in a day, I drink my lemon water first thing, then at 11am I have my cinnamon oat pancakes topped with banana, honey and pecans. A late lunch of a red onion, feta and vine tomato omelette with a rocket salad is welcomed by my hungry tummy at about 2pm. I then snack on fruit and have a couple of cuppas until dinner at around 7, when my fasts begins. To be honest it hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be. I think its mind over matter and I have set my mind to do this. So, after 2 weeks intermittent fasting and avoiding my biscuit tin, how much do you think I have lost?...It's actually a grand total of 1 pound!..Lol.

Anyway, back to this week's healthy, low-fat recipe, LEMON AND CORIANDER COUSCOUS. I used to buy ready-made couscous but then I realised just how easy it is to make. There is hardly any cooking involved. You just add boiling water which re-hydrates it then add some flavours. If you are a meat-eater like my youngest son Cyrus, then you can use chicken or lamb stock to re-hydrate your couscous and you will find that it soaks up the flavour beautifully. If you are a veggie like my daughter, Sherine then there is a whole myriad of vegetables and herbs you can add to give it some taste. Luckily SaveCo Online stock a huge range of fresh vegetables, herbs and spices that can be delivered to your door.  Couscous is a very humble ingredient and will take on any flavour you deem fit to bestow upon it.

On its own - it's not very good (it definitely wouldn't like to self-isolate J ) it needs to be with others to come alive. Sounds a bit like me, anyway I digress - the point is that couscous has no real flavour nor taste. So don’t be shy, be bold and go for big flavours and you will be amazed at just how good it tastes -  in fact it's so nice that they named it twice.

Parveen Ashraf



This recipe works just as well with millet, quinoa or bulgur wheat just remember to cook in boil, then simmer for 10 to 15 mins in salted water first. I love this recipe as the sharpness of the lime works so well with the tartness of the pomegranate and the sweetness of the red pepper. Once made it lasts for at least 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge.


For extra flavour add 1 tsp of chilli flakes. Do not use chilli powder as it doesn't work as well.

Serves 2 to 4 people

Cooking Time: 10mins




  1. In a large bowl, add the couscous with salt and pepper, gently mix with your hands.
  1. Pour 1½ cups of boiling water over the couscous. Cover with cling film and allow it to soak up the water for 10 minutes.
  1. Remove the clingfilm and add the lime juice, olive oil, coriander, pomegranate and peppers. Gently stir in and taste. If you need more flavour add another half juice of lime and a sprinkle of salt.

For more recipe, please follow Parveen on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube

Watch Parveen on ITV Tues 3am PARVEEN'S INDIAN KITCHEN.

Set you TV's to record as it is not available on catch up as yet.

Thank you to for the beautiful photographs

CouscousParveen ashraf - the spice queenRecipe

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