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 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.

A colourful weekly shop on a chilly Sunday

Market - February 24 Brrrhh, it was chilly in the local market this morning, with snow flurries. Very few stallholders and not many more customers – most of them were crowded into the café (thank goodness it is non-smoking these days).

IMG_1307So with the freezing temperatures there wasn’t much sign of spring, apart from some cheerful sprigs of mimosa on the charcuterie stall.

I still managed to come back with several goodies though :-

  • a lovely huge bunch of watercress
  • two rounds of fresh cabecou goats cheese
  • A huge slice of pumpkin for less than 1 euro
  • rich red and orange carrots, bought directly from the organic grower
  • a delicate bunch of slim leeks
  • a brimming bag-full of spinach leaves
  • an interesting collection of knobbly jerusalem artichokes

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Added to the celery, cauliflower, fennel and mushrooms from the grocery store, this gives us a good range of colourful, nutritious veggies for this week.

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For fruit this week I have local French Braeburn apples, Comice pears, pomegranate and kiwi fruit, together with some imported sunshine – a pineapple from Africa, bananas from the Windward Islands, satsumas from Spain and pink grapefruit from Florida.

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All I have to do now is prepare all the meals for our 5:2 way of eating and enjoy!