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

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?

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

_MG_3238-2 _MG_3243 _MG_3249 _MG_3253

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.

_MG_3241

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.

_MG_3258

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

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!

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.