It's the UK’s most-visited food blog and its debut cookbook rivalled Joe Wicks for sales. Now it's making goal tracking easier with a motivational food journal. Here's what you need to know about the Pinch of Nom phenomenon

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Joe Wicks  started his multi-million pound Lean in 15  business by peddling his expertise from the back of a wheelbarrow in Richmond (innovative kit transportation when you’re low on funds), and Pinch of Nom  founders’ Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone’s business beginnings were equally humble. They started their “diet blog for people who don’t like diets, created by cooks who love their food” over a cup of tea at a kitchen table at home near Liverpool and the site has gone on the be the UK’s most visited food blog, with an Instagram following of nigh on 450k and a closed Pinch of Nom Facebook group that’s so far amassed more than 830,000 members.

The pre-sale figures for their first book were Wicks' level too:   Pinch of Nom: 100 Slimming Home-Style Recipes  soared to the top of the Amazon charts six months before release generating a surge of interest that’s not been seen since the first Lean in 15  edition hit the shelves. When it was finally released in March 2019, it broke publishing records, clocking up the highest non-fiction single week of sales ever.

In response to demand from the PoN community, the founders have come up with a Pinch of Nom Food Planner, £4.99  a fill-in weekly motivational diary covering six months and featuring 26 new hearty but low-calorie recipes from 'Pigs in Potatoes' (as opposed to blankets), to Pavlova and Tomato and Chilli Risotto. There's space to write down your meals, snacks, treat and all-important water intake plus obligatory motivational quotes.

Yet to discover the PoN phenomenon? (Where have you been?). Here's your cheat sheet.

It was started by two chefs

Unlike many a healthy food cookbook or blog, Pinch of Nom (PoN from now on) is headed up by pro foodies, so taste comes first, and their former life of long shifts in hectic kitchens means that they’re fully aware of the temptation to dial in a takeaway when you’re knackered, because they’ve been there. Kate and Kay came up with PoN when their high-pressured jobs lead to weight gain and an unhealthy lifestyle, as a way to enjoy food and prepare quick meals while also gradually losing the weight they needed to. They’d tried weight loss groups and their unimaginative recipe repertoire or low-cal ready meal recommendations and weren’t about that life, so instead started testing their homemade creations on fellow members of their slimming group. It’s fair to say that the likes of cheesecake stuffed strawberries went down a treat, and so PoN became a website and healthy, tasty recipe directory to replace dull diet food while still allowing fans to lead a balanced lifestyle and achieve their weight loss aims. Basically, the definition of ‘the best of both worlds’.

It’s comfort food but not as you know it

Kate and Kay promise that all PoN recipes will fill you up and satisfy both your hunger and tastebuds while being also lighter in calories than your average plate of comfort grub. There’s chicken balti and Mexican chilli to be had, along with numerous other ‘fakeaway’ ideas that remove Deliveroo temptation from your evening equation and switch out high sugar and saturated fat content for altogether healthier and more nutritious recipes.

The meal ideas are unpretentious

Kate and Kay are realists and don’t want you fiddling about with alfalfa sprouts at dawn. Hence, recipes are accessible for all in terms of budget and availability and can, for the most part, go from fridge to table in half an hour. If there is a fancier ingredient in the mix they’ve ensured that it’s used in multiple recipes throughout the book to reduce food waste and up the convenience factor.

It’s community-led

Both in terms of weight loss motivation and recipe testing. The recipes in the book have been tried and tested in the kitchens of 200 members of a top-secret PoN Facebook group (you’ll find their names at the back if you’re curious), with authentic photography and feedback rather than stock photos of salad and measurement glitches. Each recipe has been evaluated by at least 20 people, which is reassuring when you’ve forked out for a cookbook and need it to take the strain where family cooking is concerned.

As for health gains, thousands of PoN devotees report losing weight (or maintaining a healthy weight) without the need to follow any specific diet or cut out food groups. PoN follower Nicole from Sunderland explains how the recipes helped her to improve her all-round fitness and wellbeing:

“I started cooking Pinch of Nom recipes on the 1st of January last year as a size 18/20 and in the obese category. I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue , was back on my inhalers and felt really unhealthy.

“I used the Pinch of Nom website and Facebook group for recipes and support and found a love of fitness. By September 2018 I was down to a size 12 and ran the Great North Run half marathon at a healthy weight. I am now a size 10 and over seven stone lighter than I was in January. In April I will be running the London Marathon. I am no longer on any of my medication, and am so much healthier and happier.”

Clearly the transition wasn’t simply brought about by a PoN tuna pasta bake, but you get the idea.

There are 80 new recipes

Alongside 22 PoN favourites the bulk of the book is fresh recipe ideas, with ‘everyday light’ options, ‘weekly indulgence’ and ‘special occasion’ ideas. There are calorie counts per serving (by all means ignore if you're not bothered), plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options and many meals are freezer friendly to cater for rushed weekday dinners. Highlighted tips throughout help you to get the best results from every recipe and switch things up to avoid boredom. Not that that’s likely - there’s something for every taste going on here, whether you love a Full English or are partial to an onion bhaji. You’ll never sob into a dry Ryvita for dinner again - so-called “slimming” food has a rebrand, not that you need to be on a weight loss mission to enjoy PoN meals - they’re mainly just well-structured recipes that don’t go to extremes.