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!

5:2 Meal Plan Feb 23 – Mar 1

Week 7 of fasting coming up. Definitely thinner. Loving this 5:2 as it’s so easy to follow. Yes we are eating sensibly every day, with few ‘treats’, but nothing is forbidden, so there is nothing to feel guilty about, nothing to really miss. Really I’m finding that I don’t want so much to eat and we have got right out of the habit of snacking before our evening meals. I think a lot of that it is to do with not drinking alcohol most of the week.

We went out one evening last week, so I changed things around a bit with my meal plan and still have at least one menu which I didn’t use.

I’ll be going to the local market on Sunday morning and hoping to find local and seasonal watercress, cauliflower, carrots, leeks, pomegranate. Maybe some mushrooms?

I used to eat half a banana every day, for the potassium, but I discovered that mushrooms are also a good source and much lower in calories. I’ll also buy some luscious Prunes d’Agen – although all dried fruit is relatively high in calories, one of the problems with fasting for some people is that it can upset your regular bowel habit, perhaps due to reduced volume. 2 prunes is only 50 calories, so they can easily fit into a normal day.

I’m not showing breakfast except on fast day, or if I plan to try something new.

Here’s the plan:-

Saturday – a day to relax and have some of our favourites – but still with an eye on total intake!

  • lunch: Home made Chorizo, Sundried Tomato and Mozzarella Pizza
    Mixed Leaf Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
    Satsuma
  • supper: Chicken and Vegetable Curry with a flame-grilled poppadum and a small helping of brown rice, served with chutney, pickle and mint raita
    Apple and Ginger dessert
  • extras: yes, wine and chocolates, if we feel like it – at this rate my box of Christmas chocolates are going to last right to my birthday in May (by which time I hope to have achieved my target weight)

Sunday – looks like it will be chilly, a brisk walk after lunch may be called for….

  • lunch: Baked Guinea Fowl with a Pomegranate Jus and Seasonal Vegetables I still have red cabbage, a little butternut squash, some green cabbage and a couple of parsnips to use up. Guinea Fowl is in season, but I may have to settle for a chicken or a couple of quail. I need just a little leftover meat for the soup tomorrow and I do like to make my own stock from a carcass.
    Chocolate Pear Crisp – 140 kcal (I couldn’t make this last week as I suddenly realised I hadn’t got any ground almonds)
  • dinner: Watercress Soup
    Mushrooms and Grilled Back Bacon on Wholewheat Toast, green salad with balsamic dressing
    fresh fruit
  • extras: wine and dark Belgian chocolate (that’s it for treats until next weekend…)

Monday – FAST day

  • breakfast: Scrambled Egg with Lean Ham – 120 kcal
  • dinner: Tom Yum Gai (Thai style chicken broth) – 75 kcal
    Superhealthy Salmon BurgersI turn this recipe into small asian style fish cakes, served with pickled ribbons of carrot and cucumber245 kcal
    spiced fruit and fromage blanc – 55 kcal

Tuesday –

  • lunch: Toulouse Sausage with Cauliflower Mash and Roasted Red Onions – These sausages are very meaty with no added cereal. Cauliflower makes a great mash with far less calories than spuds! 
    Filo cups with Apple and Blackberry
  • supper: Indian Chickpea and Vegetable Soup with naan bread
    Figs Poached with Stem Ginger

Wednesday

Thursday – FAST day

  • breakfast: Bircher Muesli with Apple (soak oats overnight, add grated apple in the morning)
  • dinner: Simple Vegetable Soup
    Smoked Haddock with Poached Egg and Wilted Spinach
    Mocha Fromage Blanc

Friday

  • lunch: Hummus and Crudités
    Stir fry Lamb with Feta, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes
    Yogurt with toasted Almonds and a drizzle of honey
  • supper: Wholewheat Penne Pasta with Duck Ragu
    fresh fruit

I’m lucky to have some home grown produce in the freezer – cherries, figs, blackberries, mange tout, courgettes and green beans at least and also my own sun-dried tomatoes – to bring a taste of summer into my otherwise seasonal menu.

I’m looking forward to it, and will try and photograph and write up my recipes. I’m a bit behind in getting all the information onto here – not enough hours in the day. But if you have any questions about anything here, don’t hesitate to either comment, or contact me through the Facebook 5:2 Intermittent Fasting group, where you’ll find me – Belinda Berry

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:

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  • 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

Eat sustainable, eat real food

My head is buzzing with food activisim this morning.

Last night I watched “Hugh’s Fish Fight” on Channel 4 – a revelation about what’s happening in the oceans around Antarctica as the mega manufacturing ship hoovers up and processes thousands of tons of krill every day – to feed farmed salmon, to make food for farm animals and our pets, to make chic omega 3 fish oil capsules and increasingly, to make food to feed humans. Krill? That’s for whales – that’s for penguins –  that’s for the whole food chain in the ocean! How can krill, and the species that depend upon it, possibly withstand the onslaught of this wholesale pillaging?

Join Hugh in his Fish Fight campaign to stop the feeding frenzy and bring some sense into fishing policies world-wide.

Then this morning I read the NYTimes article The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

Terrifying and illuminating.

The fact is, if you eat manufactured, packaged food or drink, then you are consuming an engineered product. Don’t for one moment believe that the product is created to give you the best possible nutritional value.  No, it is designed to increase the manufacturer’s “stomach share” of the market.  If you eat anything that comes in a packet, or drink soft drinks with a bit of fizz – read it. It just might open your eyes and encourage you to make more foods from scratch.

What can we do?

Let supermarkets and manufacturers know that we want real food, we want sustainable food and we want food that is good for us! Our buying choices influence them more than you might think. The power of the purse!

Looking at the statistics on the 5:2 Fast Diet Forum is fascinating – showing how the obese are slimming down to be overweight, and the overweight are achieving normal weight.

Of course if the 5:2 lifestyle becomes even more popular and is maintained, it is going to hit the food manufacturers and suppliers hard. Appetites reduced, cravings banished, less food being bought, more food being freshly prepared….

Expect a backlash – and it won’t be pretty. They will use all kinds of tactics to try and win us back to their packaged products.

Eat sustainable food. Eat real food. Support your local fisherman and your local growers and producers. Buy wisely. Sign petitions and get your voice heard!

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

Asian Poached Chicken

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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

Sweet nothings…..

I’m finding that portion sizes of recipes are usually way too large and there seems to be a complete obsession with adding sweetness to things in recipes, even on the BBC Good Food Healthy recipes section.

Case in point: yesterday I cooked braised red cabbage. The recipe called for a tablespoon of brown sugar! It didn’t need it, a drop of aged balsamic brought out the sweetness. I made a parsnip dish, the recipe called for a tablespoon of honey! Parsnips are naturally sweet, they don’t need any extra! I made a pear dessert, the recipe called for a tablespoon of honey per person! Again, pears already have natural sugars, but I did add a teaspoonful between us. No wonder so many people are struggling with their weight!

If I had followed the recipes without thinking, we each would have consumed 1/2 a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoonful of honey. I don’t think the food would have tasted any better for it.

If you can stop having sweeteners in drinks like tea and coffee, then it becomes possible to appreciate the innate sweetness of fruits and vegetables and then the amount of sugar that you need everywhere else in your diet can be dramatically reduced.

Sweet nothings…. Black coffee, herb tea, mineral water, lemon and ginger tea, rooibosh tea – that’s what I’m looking forward to today. Try and leave out the artificial sweeteners altogether, they don’t do your body any favours. Sugar-free does not mean impact-free, your body can still respond as if it was having sugar. Leave the diet coke on the shelf.

Try and make fast day a day of sweet nothings.

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.