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.

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

5:2 Fast Day Dinner: Salmon Teriyaki with steamed vegetables

_MG_3207  This Salmon dish is baked in the oven on a bed of shredded leeks. Ideal for a Fast Day dinner, served with some steamed vegetables.

Total Calories < 250 (for 80g portion of fish) including steamed veg.

Salmon Teriyaki

I’m going to bake this in paper in the oven, to avoid using any extra fat (and calories)!

For two people:

_MG_3209

  • 1 leek, washed, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 2 salmon fillets (80g for me, 100 g for him)
  • 1 tbsp teriyaki sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 slices of lime, halved
  • a little chopped coriander leaf or parsley
  • I also added a couple of sliced mushrooms and 4 tomatoes, to cook along with the fish inside the parcel

Heat oven to 180c. Put the leeks in the centre of a piece of baking parchment with the salmon on top. Spoon over the teriyaki sauce and sprinkle with spices.  Top with the slices of lime. Bake for 20 minutes. Unwrap and sprinkle with herbs. Serve with a nice heap of steamed vegetables (e.g. broccoli, carrots, spinach, celeriac, mange tout).

Teriyaki Sauce

For 4 people

  • 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Hoisin or Plum Sauce (if not available, add 1tsp honey or maple syrup and a little Chinese five spice powder)
  • 2.5cm root ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 4 tbsp water

Mix all ingredients together and simmer in a small pan until the garlic and ginger have softened.

Leftovers can be stored for a few days in a covered container in the fridge. You can use this as a marinade for chicken, fish or tofu, or as a sauce in a vegetable stir-fry.

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This recipe submitted to At Home with Mrs M! Mrs M’s Recipe Link Party – February

5:2 Fast Day dinner: Asian Poached Chicken with Vegetable Salad and Vietnamese Dressing

Asian Poached Chicken

_MG_3152

Asian Poached Chicken with Vegetable Salad and Vietnamese Dressing

I discovered the joys of poached chicken when one of our Images of France photography course guests introduced me to the work of a New Zealand cook, Annabel Langbein. Her book, Cooking to Impress without Stress not only has a fabulous title, it also contains some excellent ideas, of which this is one.

I love the fact that this is an easy and low fat way to prepare chicken. The flesh is moist and full of flavour. Then there is the added bonus of having tasty stock made at the same time, which makes home made soups even better.

The slightly spicy aromatic flavour of this goes particularly well with Asian Vegetable Salad and a Vietnamese style dressing. Leftovers could be used for No-Carb Caesar Salad and a Chicken Noodle Soup.

You could use the same idea and cook just a single chicken breast, or a joint or two.

Calorie count for chicken poached in this way : 165kcals for 100 grams

  • 1 whole organic or free range chicken
  • 2 dried chillies
  • 3 star anise
  • 2.5cm of root ginger, cut into fine slices (no need to peel)
  • 2 or 3 spring onions, or leek trimmings
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 12 whole mixed peppercorns

Cold water, to cover.

Put the whole chicken into a large pan with the spices and flavourings and cover completely with cold water. Bring to the boil. Simmer very gently for 25 minutes, removing any scum that forms on the top. Then remove from the heat, cover with a lid and leave to cool in the liquid.

Lift out the chicken when completely cool and store in the fridge until ready to use.

Remove the flavourings from the stock with a slotted spoon and discard. Bring the stock to the boil and reduce to about half the volume. Then strain and refrigerate.

Use the stock for soups such as Piquant Leek Soup or Chicken Noodle Soup.

As an alternative to the Asian flavourings, you could poach the chicken with bay leaves, thyme, parsley, and onion.

Raw Vegetable Salad

Vegetable Salad with Vietnamese Dressing

Raw Vegetable Salad with Vietnamese Dressing

per person – 65 kcals

  • Handful of Rocket
  • 25g Celeriac, grated or cut in julienne strips
  • 1/4 Red sweet pepper, cut in strips
  • 1/4 Cucumber, sliced diagonally
  • 1 Celery stick, sliced diagonally
  • 1/2 Carrot, sliced into ribbons
  • 25g Broccoli, small florets
  • 1 tsp Sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • Thai Basil or Coriander leaves, to garnish

Lay all the prepared vegetables on a platter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serve with the white meat from Asian Poached Chicken, sliced.

Pour the dressing over the chicken and garnish with basil or coriander.

Other veggies you could use: bean shoots, finely sliced spring onions, raw beetroot strips, courgette ribbons, cauliflower florets, shredded cabbage.

Vietnamese Style Dressing

per person – 45 kcals

  • Juice and grated zest of 1/2 lime
  • a few drops of sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Chilli Dipping Sauce

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients.

Total for this dish, with 80g chicken: 240 kcals, with 100g chicken : 290 kcals

Before the Chicken, we had Simple Vegetable Soup (67 kcals). For dessert we had 30g of fromage blanc with a few cherries and a fine dusting of 100% chocolate (40 kcals). Total meal count : 350kcals for me, 400 kcals for my husband.

These recipes are taken from my book “Focus on Flavour – recipes inspired by living in South West France”

This recipe submitted to At Home with Mrs M! Mrs M’s Recipe Linky Party

Roast Pork with Couscous and Ginger Yogurt, Baked Pear

Came across this interesting recipe on BBC Good Food

Roast Pork with Couscous and Ginger Yogurt

To go with it I made braised red cabbage with bacon, braised parsnips and steamed broccoli. Whole plateful < 350 kcals

Roast Pork with cous cous and ginger yogurt, served with braised red cabbage, parsnips and broccoli
All the flavours were lovely – but I couldn’t finish it!

I saved a bit of room for dessert :-

Easy Baked Pear with Amaretti. Half a pear each was plenty (100 kcals)

Pears with Amaretti

Pears with Amaretti

I replaced the ricotta cheese with a tablespoonful of fromage blanc (between two halves) and reduced the amount of honey to less than 1 teaspoonful in total.