Focus on Flavour has moved to it’s own site!

I’m getting the hang of wordpress a bit now and keen to get control of the look of my site, so I’ve got my own domain name and am now self hosting Focus on Flavour

Future posts will be at

http://focusonflavour.com/

so please come over and bookmark my site/subscribe/follow me there!

Thanks,

Belinda

5:2 Fast Day / Any Day Watercress Soup – only 60 calories

I just love the big bunches of watercress that you can buy in French markets. Watercress is rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and folic acid. A bunch like this makes an easy and delicious soup in under 30 minutes. Just the thing to break your fast with.

watercress

Watercress Soup

Serves 4, only 60 kcals per serving

  • I large bunch watercress (450g)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 10g unsalted butter
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock, made with 10g Marigold Bouillon powder
  • 10g potato flakes
  • a grating of nutmeg

_MG_3264Discard any really coarse stalks from the watercress, as they can be too peppery.

Wash, drain and chop the remainder of the bunch, reserving a few tips for decoration.

Heat the butter in a large pan and gently sauté the onions, stirring from time to time, until softened but not coloured.

Add the chopped watercress, stock, nutmeg and the potato flakes, then simmer gently for about 10 minutes.

Blend until smooth.

Serve with a garnish of watercress leaves, or a swirl of crème fraîche.

Watercress is rich in vitamin C, calcium, iron and folic acid.

5:2 Meal Plan Mar 2 – 9

Week 8: I’ve been reading Alain Ducasse “Nature” so I’m inspired by that this week. His recipes are new to me, with some interesting ideas and combinations and slightly different techniques, so it will be interesting to see how my ideas evolve. None of the recipes are calorie counted though, so I may need to modify them as I tot up the ingredients.

Thinking about encouraging our shift to more plant-based proteins, I am going to try some Quinoa and see if I can make it in a way that we enjoy, as I think our first experience of it was a bit off-putting.

Seasonal produce from my shopping in Lauzerte market today: broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, rocket, watercress, spring onions, radishes, pears and clementines. I think I have a few parsnips, some beetroot and some salsify left in the garden too. They need to be used soon so that I can prepare the ground for the summer crops.

We eat very well on limited calories: portion sizes are small, but there is plenty of variety – normal days are 1200 kcals for me, 1800 for my husband. If we want to eat or drink more than that, we exercise! I try and include fresh fruit and raw vegetables every day, as well as lots of cooked veggies. Many of our normal meals could equally be used on a fast day.

No snacking for me now at all and I don’t miss it!

This meal plan is intended to support weight loss of 1 – 2lbs a week for us.

Breakfasts not shown except on fast days. Usually we have either porridge or toast, occasionally a boiled egg. We get through one wholewheat loaf of bread in a week, mostly as toast for breakfast, plus some crackers and crispbread with soup. We’ll have some wine over the weekend and a chocolate or two if we want! Luxury!

Saturday

  • lunch: Home-made Pizza – 320 kcal for a half portion for me
    Mixed Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette – 50 kcal
    Satsuma – 30 kcal
  • supper: Spicy Pumpkin Soup (made on Fri)
 120 kcal
    Tuna and Bean Salad with Feta (still using up the feta from Thursday)
    
Home made Vanilla Custard, 120 kcal  (I need egg white for tomorrow), served with a small amaretti biscuit or two

Sunday

  • lunch: Herby Roast Chicken (Alain Ducasse) with seasonal vegetables
    
Chocolate Pear Crispstill needs working on, last weeks was lovely but too calorific at 190kcals. Just using a little cocoa powder really satisfied my chocolate craving and I didn’t even want one of my Belgian chocolates later! Aiming for 120 kcals…
  • supper: Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower & Almond soup (BBC Good Food –  but using less olive oil and almonds) -160 kcals
    we have leftover Pizza to finish up
    Mocha Fromage Blanc – 50 kcal (add a little coffee essence and sprinkle with grated dark chocolate. Use a little sweetener if you need to)

Monday – FAST day

Tuesday

  • lunch: Guacamole (85 kcal) with a few Taco Chips

    Turkey and Bean Chilli
 with brown rice
    Fruit Filo Cups
  • supper: Lentil, Coconut and Spinach Soup (Alain Ducasse)
    Broad Bean and Goats Cheese Tartines (Alain Ducasse) – the Spanish broad beans in the supermarket were flabby, but I have some peeled ones in the freezer to use, along with the lovely fresh goats cheese I bought in the market today
    Spiced Glazed Pineapple with Cinnamon Fromage Frais (BBC Good Food, but with less honey and no sugar, 115 kcals)

Wednesday

Thursday – FAST day

  • breakfast: Porridge with blackberries (110 kcals)
  • dinner: Simple Vegetable Soup(70 kcals)
    Haddock with Poached Egg and Spinach
    (200/300 kcals)
    Satsuma (30 kcals)

Friday

  • lunch: Quinoa, Crispy Vegetables and Herb Pesto (Alain Ducasse)
    fresh fruit salad
  • Butter Bean Goulash Soup
 (from Healthy Eating for Lower Blood Pressure – 150 kcals)
    Chocolate Mousse (The Raymond Blanc recipe that I use is nearly all egg white. I reckon I can do this at under 220 kcals a serving)

Some of the calorie values won’t be worked out until I cook them. I’ll be busy taking photos of everything too. It takes me time to write up the recipes and post them here, so if you have any questions about anything, please don’t hesitate to comment, or contact me through the Facebook 5:2 Intermittent Fasting group, where you’ll find me – Belinda Berry or on twitter @bp_berry

Wholewheat Pitta

Following on from a discussion with Karen Booth, who this week presented us with wonderful looking low calorie Cajun Chicken Kebabs, I had been thinking about making my own wholewheat pitta bread, as it is impossible to buy locally in SW France and the long life packs of white pitta are rather too stodgy for my liking. Looking to see if there was a way to make them light, I got inspired by looking at The Little Loaf‘s Wholemeal Pitta Bread page.

Wholewheat Pitta - 100kcals each

So having some cubes of lamb left over from yesterday’s Lean Lamb Stir-Fry with Feta, I decided to make them into kebabs to go with pitta bread. Looking in the recipe book for my Panasonic Bread Maker, I was delighted to find that their recipe was for wholewheat flour and had no added fat

  • 250g strong wholewheat flour, preferably organic stone-ground
  • 1/2 tsp baking yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 150ml water

You can’t get much simpler than that.

I left the bread-maker to do it’s Pizza Dough programme and went off for a cycle ride.

When I came back, the dough was ready. I decided to divide the mix into 8 (the recipe said 4), making each pitta just 100 kcals.

Making Wholewheat Pitta       _MG_3361

Rolled out and left to prove on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes, then baked in a hot oven (240c, I might do a little lower next time) for about 8 minutes, until puffed up and starting to colour.

Perfect!

5:2 Fast Day Dinner – Greek Night! Low Fat Hummus, Lean Lamb Stir-Fry with Feta

For a change I thought of having lamb for our last fast day dinner in February. One thing led to another, and our meal became greek inspired….

Low fat Hummus and Crudités

I’ve been making hummus since my sister showed me how when I was a teenager. Usually I would be more generous with the tahini paste and olive oil, but when it came to eating it, I don’t think either of us noticed anything missing! If you left out the tahini altogether, it would save 20kcals per serving – personally I love that sesame flavour that it adds, which sets apart home made from so many of the shop bought ones.

Low-fat Hummus

Makes 8 servings of 70kcals each. With crudités – 100kcals.

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained (265g drained weight)
  • 25g tahini (about 2 level tblsp)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • cold water
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, plus a sprinkle to garnish
  • a drizzle of olive oil (1/2 tsp max)
  • optional garnish: finely chopped mint or coriander

Put the chick peas, lemon juice and garlic into a blender and process until almost smooth, adding water as necessary to keep the blender going and to get the consistency the way you like it – firm is good for scooping up with crudités, then you can make it slightly more sloppy for a normal day when you can dip toasted pita bread into it! Mix in the cayenne pepper and season to taste. I rarely use salt when cooking these days, but on a fast day it feels like a need a bit to help with hydration.

This amount makes 8 fast day sized helpings of 50grams weight (approx 2 tbsp).

Serve in individual dishes (to avoid fighting!) and sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper and a tiny drizzle of olive oil (remembering that 1 tsp of olive oil = 40 kcals….)

Serve with crudités. I used 100g celery, 50g carrot, 30g radish, 50g cucumber and 50g fennel between the 2 of us – 30kcal each.

(Leftovers will go with some wholewheat pitta bread tomorrow and be followed by lamb kebas…)

Lean Lamb Stir-Fry with Feta

I had 3 lean leg steaks in the freezer. After trimming them to remove all separable fat, I had enough meat for our main fast day dish, plus a slightly larger amount for kebabs the following day. (Saves £s as well as lbs, this way of eating!)

Lean Lamb Stir-Fry with Feta

Serves 2, His and Hers portions – 340/240 kcals

  • 165g lean leg of lamb, cubed
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground (I usually have a jar of these two spices mixed together, which I use often!)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 50g carrots (3 small)
  • 100g celery (3 sticks)
  • 120g cauliflower florets
  • 180g tomatoes (2 large)
  • 80g mushrooms (2 large)
  • 135g spinach
  • 80g savoy cabbage (about a 1/4 of a whole head)
  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • seasoning to taste
  • 25g feta cheese

Rub the spices over the lamb and set aside while you prepare the vegetables.

If the spinach has large leaves, discard the stalks and tear the leaves into a few pieces. Halve the tomatoes and cut each half into 4. Slice the mushrooms. Slice the carrots diagonally. Cut the celery into diagonal chunks. Cut the cabbage into wide strips.Lean Lamb Stir-Fry with Feta

Heat half the olive oil in a wok over medium heat. Cook the lamb until nicely browned on all sides. Remove and set aside. Add the onions and garlic and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Next add the carrots, celery and cauliflower and cook a few more minutes. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes. Continue to stir fry as the tomatoes break down and start to release their liquid. You may need to add a little water if they are not particularly juicy, but try not to dilute the luscious flavours too much! Next add the cabbage and give that a minute or so before you add the spinach. Before the spinach has completely wilted down, return the lamb to the pan and mix together well.

Divide into two (unequal!) portions and add sliced or crumbled feta to the top. This makes such a difference to the overall enjoyment of the dish, don’t be tempted to omit it!

His portion

340 kcal portion

We would really have relished a bit more of the cheese on top, but no calories to spare, as we finished our meal with a small helping of 0% fat fromage blanc, topped with a sprinkling of toasted almonds. Maybe it was lacking a drizzle of honey, but hey, it’s a fast day, and you know what?

Her portion

240 kcal portion

We were both happily satiated by our greek inspired dinner.

After a breakfast of porridge with blackberries for me and porridge with prunes for him, that came in for the day just under our targets of 500/600 kcals.

These recipes can be used as part of any weight loss programme or as part of a normal healthy diet. A little carbohydrate in the form of pitta bread and rice, or even oven baked jacket fries, would go well with this meal on a non-fasting day.

These recipes use seasonal ingredients for Februrary :  Cauliflower,  Cabbage and Carrots

If you try these recipes and have any suggestions for improvements, or any comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Jerusalem Artichoke and Goat’s Cheese Gratin

This is what we had for lunch today – totally delicious and lovely textures. This makes a great feature of Jerusalem Artichokes, which are in season now.  Not entirely plant-based proteins, because of the goat’s cheese….

_MG_3253 Jerusalem Artichoke and Goat's Cheese Gratin _MG_3309 Jerusalem Artichoke and Goat's Cheese Gratin

Jerusalem Artichoke and Goat’s Cheese Gratin

for 2 people (but we couldn’t finish it!). 490 kcals, 12.6g protein per serving

  • 450 grams peeled or scrubbed artichokes (keep under water to stop them going brown)
  • 3 small leeks
  • a grating of fresh nutmeg and black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 40g shelled walnut pieces
  • 2 rounds of fresh young goat’s cheese (called Cabecou here)
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme

Heat oven to 200C.

Slice the artichokes into rounds, about 5mm (1/4″) thick. Cook in boiling lightly salted water for about 3 minutes, until slightly soft. Drain.

Toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan until slightly coloured, then chop finely.

Trim, wash and slice the leeks finely. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the leeks and spices, stir fry for a minute or two, then add about 100ml of water. Put the lid on and lower the heat to minimum and cook for about 10 minutes until soft and luscious.

Put the leeks in the bottom of an ovenproof dish. If they have dried out, add a couple of tablespoons of water, then layer the artichokes on top. Sprinkle the nuts over and then crumble the goats cheese on top. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.

Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until the cheese is starting to brown.

Serve with a rocket and orange salad (half an orange), dressed with the squeezed orange juice and a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar.

_MG_3307

We finished our meal with Vanilla Soya Custard with Banana.

Vanila Soya Custard with Banana

Entered in At Home with Mrs M’s Recipe Link PartyMade with Love Mondays hosted by javelin warrior and Simple and in Season which is hosted this month by Caroline at Cake, Crumbs and Cooking

Are we eating too much protein?

Not a subject I usually think about, but in relation to the 5:2 way of eating, I was reading that Prof. Longo recommended to Michael Mosely that we should eat no more than 8g per kg body weight of protein from largely plant-based sources.

So how much protein do we eat, and where does it come from?

Since I’ve been logging everything I eat for the last 2 months (on MyFitnessPal), I now have some data to observe. On our 5:2 Fast Days, even when we have a protein rich breakfast and a protein and veggie dinner, I am well within the guidelines. But on normal days, even though my overall intake is usually no more than 1200 calories (perhaps because I am not having so much carbohydrate and fat), the amount of protein varies from around 40g to 60g or more. The majority of the protein I eat comes from meat, fish, eggs and dairy produce. Legumes (lentils, beans) and nuts also account for some  – and a surprising additional amount is contained in many vegetables and grains.

A little digging soon revealed that it is not just Prog. Longo recommending a lower intake.  The UK recommended daily allowance for women is 46g /day and for men 55g/day. The WHO recommended RDA of protein is just 35 grams a day (and that has an added safety margin included).

Most of us think of protein as healthy, filling, and useful to the body, supporting growth and keeping the immune system strong. So what’s the problem?

I dug out my copy of Patrick Holford’s Optimum Nutrition Bible: He says “Most people are in more danger of eating too much protein than too little. Excess protein is a contributor to osteoporosis, over-acidity and many other common health problems”.

Then on livestrong.com I read the following:

Protein and Kidney Disease

..”high-protein diets may be associated with kidney function decline in women who already have mildly reduced kidney function. On further analysis, the risk was only significant for animal proteins, indicating that the source of protein may be an important factor.” .. The American Diabetes Association suggests that people with diabetes — the number one cause of kidney disease — consume no more than 20 percent of their calories from protein.

 

Protein and Coronary Artery Disease

The American Heart Association, or AHA, notes that high-protein diets de-emphasize high-fiber, plant-based carbohydrates that help your body block the absorption of cholesterol…. It is possible to follow a high-protein diet and not increase your risk of heart disease if your protein comes from plant-based sources such as legumes, soy and nuts…

 

Other Dangers

Other health concerns are associated with a high-protein diet, including an increase in blood pressure and a risk of fractures due to osteoporosis. In addition.. “eating a diet high in protein and sodium but low in fiber” increases your risk of kidney stones. ..

What seems clear to me is that I – and probably most other people –  am unwittingly eating far more than the RDA of protein and that may be contributing to increased and avoidable health risks.

I’ve already started “bulking out” many of our main meals with beans, lentils and vegetables, so now I’m definitely going to be looking at replacing more of our animal protein with plant-based proteins and see how that affects our overall numbers. Intermittent Fasting is at least giving us some days of lower protein intake, but there is more that we can do.

For those who eat a purely vegan or largely vegetarian diet, the issue of balancing amino acids is important, as many plant based proteins are incomplete. I came across this handy looking app that will help you to find the complementary foods to complete the amino acids and create a high quality protein meal.

Fascinating stuff, getting healthy!

Where’s that recipe for nut loaf?