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.

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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

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 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

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.

5:2 Meal Plan Feb 16 – 22

We’re on to week 6 of our 5:2 lifestyle and I’m delighted to have got below a virtual milestone this week. On to my next goal!

So my plan for the week ahead. I still have some food left in the fridge – it’s amazing how much less we are eating. So I have to think about how to use up the odds and ends as well as making the most of whatever local seasonal produce I can find and also to keep things simple – I’m not going to be spending much time in the kitchen this week.

My choice of seasonal and locally grown foods for this week include: red cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, leeks, celeriac, parsnips, apples, kiwi fruit, pears, plus clementines from Spain.

I am working on a target of 450 – 500 calories on a fast day and 1200 calories on a feed day – any more than that has to be earned by exercise. The numbers are based on my calculations for losing 1lb a week according to my BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate), as a largely sedentary person of my age, height and current weight. You can calculate your BMR here.

My husband has a target of 600 calories on a Fast Day and 1800 on a feed day. He gets larger portions and tends to eat crackers with soup as well.

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

Here’s the plan:-

Saturday

  • lunch: Home made pizza – 320 kcal for my portion
    Mixed Leaf Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette – 50 kcal
    Satsuma – 30 kcal
  • supper: Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower & Almond soup – 160 kcals (for 200 ml BBC Good Food version – mine is lighter)
    Mushrooms and Grilled Back Bacon on Wholewheat Toast, green salad with balsamic dressing
    Glazed Pineapple with Cinnamon Fromage Frais 160 kcal ( BBC Good Food again, my version is lighter, but I haven’t had time to write it up yet!)
  • extras: yes, wine and chocolates, why not?
    I make the pizza dough in my bread maker. I split one batch to make 2 thin crust pizzas, which cuts the calories down enormously.

Sunday

  • lunch: Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower & Almond soup – 160 kcals
    Farmhouse Paté with crispbread, light cole slaw and green salad – 260 kcals
    small piece of cheddar cheese – 10g – 40 kcals
    Fresh fruit salad (apple, pear, blood orange, banana)- 80 kcals
  • dinner: Roast Pork with Seasonal Vegetables – going to try a variation of my healthy Sunday roast this week, using a lean pork fillet joint. I may base it on this recipe (290 kcals) and I’ll add some seasonal veg, like parsnips and red cabbage.
    Chocolate Pear Crisp – 140 kcal (I made this last week and it was yummy, but I think I can improve on it)
  • extras: wine and dark Belgian chocolate (that’s it for treats until next weekend…)
    I’ll make a couple of wholewheat loaves today and freeze one. I’m trying to make sure that the majority of our staple carbs are wholegrain.

Monday – FAST day

  • breakfast: Scrambled Egg with Lean Ham – 120 kcal
  • dinner: Simple Vegetable Soup70 kcal
    Asian Poached Chicken
    Vegetable Salad (red pepper, celeriac, carrot, broccoli, spring onion)
    Vietnamese Style Dressing
    Cherry Choc dessert (0% fat fromage blanc, cherries and grated dark chocolate; no sweetener)

Tuesday

  • lunch: Stir-fry pork and vegetables (using leftover from roast)
    Light apple and blackberry crumble
  • supper: Caribbean Butternut Squash Soup
    No-Carb Caesar Salad with Crispy Parma Ham (this is a suggestion in The Fast Diet book, it is a really good idea. I’ll use leftover poached chicken in this).
    fresh fruit and fromage blanc

Wednesday

  • lunch: Leek Risotto with Parmesan Crisps (Nigel Slater recipe) – 250 kcal
    I’ll use the chicken stock from the Asian Poached Chicken for this
    Frozen Cherry Choc dessert
  • supper : Caribbean Butternut Squash Soup
    Farmhouse Paté with light cole slaw and mixed salad – 260 kcals
    light apple and blackberry crumble

Thursday – FAST day

  • breakfast: Porridge with blackberries
  • dinner: Carrot and coriander soup
    Teriyaki Salmon with steamed vegetables
    Clementine

Friday

  • breakfast: Swiss style muesli with grated apple (soak oats overnight, add grated apple in the morning)
  • lunch: Wholewheat Penne Pasta with Duck Ragu (from the freezer)
    fresh fruit salad
  • Carrot and coriander soup
    Tuna and Bean Salad with Feta Cheese
    fromage blanc topped with chopped kiwi and dried cherries

There should be enough tasty variety of food there to keep us both happy – and keep the weight off. I’ll try and add the recipes as I have the time. I’ve got plenty more ideas!

Body Mass Index – BMI

I weigh myself in kilos, which I can understand for bags of flour and portions of fish or piles of vegetables, but they mean nothing to me in terms of body weight – maybe one of the reasons why mine crept up so steadily the last few years! It was a shock when I realised that my 68.4 kilos was about 10 stone 10 lbs – a healthy weight for me is a good way under 9 stone!

How do you know what a healthy weight is for you? Well apart from your own sense of what weight you should be to look good and feel good, you can use a BMI calculator. This will give you an estimate of your body mass. There are some new weighing machines on the market that will calculate percentage body fat, but I think unless you have a lot of money to spend, these are unreliable. BMI will only give you a range of healthy weights for your age and height, it’s up to you to decide where you need to be in that range for your body frame.

My BMI today

My BMI today

My starting BMI was 29.45 – right towards the top end of overweight  – and would have been set to continue into obese unless I had taken action.

We started on 2nd January on cutting out alcohol for the month, reducing our calorie intake and increasing our activity levels . Then fortuitously my husband saw Michael Mosley talking about the 5:2 diet on TV, as his The Fast Diet book was about to be launched. After doing some researching we both agreed it would be a fantastic way to change our lifestyles and something that we are both enthusiastic about for the long term health benefits. Being in my early 60s I am optimistic that it is not too late to reverse the trend towards diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure and whatever other ailments I was heading for.

The first thing though is to get rid of this excess weight  – and the 5:2 way of eating is really helping with that. I’m still calorie counting as I need to re-educate myself about portion size, which foods have hidden or surprise calories and to know that even when I am eating on a non-fast day that I am not going overboard in adding calories that my body can’t burn off.  I’m really enjoying the challenge of finding interesting, flavourful food that is filling but not fattening.

I know this is a popular diet with foodies, as it can give you the leeway to indulge yourself a little and still maintain a healthy weight. But whilst I don’t want to exclude anything in particular long term, in the short term it is worth saying NO to the wonderful French patisserie, the rich buttery pastry, the rich creamy sauces and so on, while I am working on getting to a maintenance weight.  So I am being careful, but not entirely restrictive. Weekends and the occasional night out can still include a couple of glasses of wine and something sweet. If I have burned calories by cycling or Zumba, then that gives me some spare calories that I could use. But I don’t want guzzle a whole handful of chocolates and ruin everything I have achieved so far –  and thanks to the changes that are happening to my body and brain, I don’t want to! How brilliant is that?

Yes there is some willpower required to keep going on a fast day, to wait another 15 minutes before having something to eat, to say NO to a cream cake or whatever is your weakness – but the goals of being healthy, looking good, and best of all, feeling good – well those are worth working for, worth a little short-term discomfort.

The act of fasting twice a week helps to reduce your stomach size, reduce your appetite and reduce your cravings. It makes you more mindful about what and when you eat and to not mind being a little hungry occasionally.   If you combine this with steps towards avoiding junk food, cutting back on snacking and sweetened soft drinks and replacing processed and refined foods with home-made and wholefoods wherever you can, then you will be well on the way to a really healthy lifestyle, even if you don’t take any more exercise.  It’s a journey, not an instant fix. I’m lucky to already have a lot of knowledge about food and I enjoy planning meals and preparing things from scratch, but I’m still learning about nutrition. I’m happy to share to help others to get healthy and it  encourages me too.

So keep at it. If you have read this far – I hope you will find some useful and inspiring ideas here to help you to keep going with 5:2 in the long term, along with me and my husband.

My current BMI is 27.04 – I still have a further 5 kgs to lose to get me into the healthy zone and my target is to get a little under that, to allow for a little fluctuation.

Let’s all get to a healthy BMI and keep the cost of medical care down!

You can calculate your BMI here on the NHS website.