Maintaining and Improving!

If a fortune teller had told me 2 years ago that I would comfortably be able to wear clothes that I had for my honeymoon in 1996, I would have said they were giving me false hope. If they had gone on to say that I would wake up in the morning looking forward to going for a 5km run* dressed in lycra, I would have said they were a charlatan, or had got me confused with someone else!

IMG_1802

But the truth of the matter is that thanks to 5:2, both of the above are true! 

I also now have blood sugar level that is normal rather than pre-diabetic, low triglycerides, improved cholesterol and healthy blood pressure. I feel more energetic and thanks to having less weight to carry around, I am lighter on my feet and have much less pain in my joints.

I have easily maintained my weight around my target of 55kg without having to count calories or even particularly to watch what I eat. However, I have found that my tastes have changed, if I don’t have fresh vegetables and fruit I miss them. I eat far less in the way of starchy carbs than I used to. I rarely think of chocolate. My portion sizes are smaller and I seldom have a second helping of anything.

I do usually continue to do 2 fast days a week unless we are away on holiday. I find that allows me to not have to worry about the other 5 days at all plus I get the long term health benefits of the two days of going for 24 hours without eating and then having just 500 calories. It’s really not an effort now and is very much a part of our life.

Being fit and healthy and able to wear what I like in my mid sixties is very enjoyable!

So, if you are contemplating following this way of eating, I would encourage you to get started – you have nothing to lose except weight and poor health!

*If you are interested in how I managed to go from being a real couch potato to someone who enjoys brisk walking and running, then I highly recommend the Couch to 5k programme – I followed the podcasts created by the NHS and they really do work. 

Love Crispy Chinese Duck? Try Crispy Chinese Pork!

Since we have been in France, one of the things we occasionally miss is going to the local Chinese restaurant for crispy duck with pancakes. I have been unable to find anywhere to buy the pancakes, though I think that doing crispy duck would be really easy, if you start with duck confit. 

But this isn’t about duck, it is about pork. Over the last year or so I have heard a lot about Pulled Pork, but had never tried it. Then last week, there was a special pork promotion on and I bought a pack of two boned and rolled pork shoulders for a bargain price. 

Chinese Pancakes with Pulled Pork Chinese Pancakes with Pulled Pork

Turning to my frequent source of good ideas and inspiration, the 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Diet Recipes from Around the World group on Facebook, I found a recommended recipe for Pulled Pork. I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter, with a little less sugar, although I was really worried that it was going to be too much smoky paprika flavour (it wasn’t).

I marinaded the pork overnight in spices. The next day I baked both the joints for 5 hours. Then I finished one of them off on the BBQ.

That first night we had it in a baguette (a treat in itself for us these days), with home made cole slaw alongside. It was really lovely. Graham said “this is very much like Crispy Duck, can we have it again but with pancakes, cucumber and spring onions?”.

So the next step was to see if I could find a good straightforward recipe for the pancakes. I had always imagined that they were made from rice flour, but no, just a very simple recipe using plain flour, water and a small amount of vegetable oil. The master stroke was in rolling two at a time, with a coating of sesame oil between them, then dry frying them as one and separating after cooking. It worked really well. A final steam for 10 minutes before serving. Here’s the recipe and method for Chinese Pancakes.

The Hoisin Sauce was based on some Black Bean and Garlic paste that needed using up (if you want to find ingredients like that in South West France, try Paris Store in Toulouse). I started with this recipe (but note I didn’t use that recipe for the pancakes and I used a lot less sugar in the sauce).

So our Saturday night Strictly supper on our laps, was Crispy Pork Pancakes. So good, we did it all again on Sunday….. :-)

Seasonal lusciousness – Walnut and Chestnut Tart, with Figs

IMG_1849

I was reminded of my alternative to Pecan Pie recently, but when I looked at the recipe I had included in my first book, Focus on Flavour, I realised that it was very calorific and much richer than we have become used to. So here is my (somewhat) reduced calorie version. It is still at least 300 calories per portion, so not something for a fast day….

I used ready rolled brisée pastry for mine, but you could use a basic shortcrust or sweet shortcrust pastry.  I have noted the ingredients in order to get the calorie count to match what the packet told me… 

Because we have so many fabulous figs in the garden this year, I have added two, which gave a really lovely flavour and texture for variety, but it would be equally good without them.  I served it with a fromage blanc and walnut ice cream. A lovely seasonal weekend treat.

Walnut and Chestnut Tart, with Figs
Serves 12
A lighter alternative to a pecan pie, using walnuts and chestnut cream
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Print
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
303 calories
18 g
65 g
24 g
5 g
9 g
97 g
18 g
3 g
0 g
14 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
97g
Servings
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 303
Calories from Fat 204
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 24g
36%
Saturated Fat 9g
44%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 9g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 65mg
22%
Sodium 18mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 18g
6%
Dietary Fiber 2g
8%
Sugars 3g
Protein 5g
Vitamin A
9%
Vitamin C
4%
Calcium
4%
Iron
5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
For the brisée pastry
  1. 140g flour
  2. 55g butter
  3. 6g sugar
  4. water
For the filling
  1. 70g unsalted butter
  2. 100g sweetened Chestnut Cream
  3. 125ml single cream
  4. 2 tbsp rum
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 200g walnut pieces (including 13 halves)
  7. 2 fresh figs, each cut into 6 wedges.230g brisée pastry, ready rolled
Instructions
  1. Line a 24cm flan dish with baking parchment and pastry and prick the bottom with a fork.
  2. Chill for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180c (fan)
  4. Cover the pastry with another layer of baking parchment and baking beans or rice and bake blind for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, warm the butter, chestnut cream, cream and rum in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until well integrated, but not hot.
  7. Beat the eggs lightly then stir into the mixture.
  8. Add the chopped walnuts, reserving some halves for decoration, and mix together.
  9. Pour the mixture into the pastry case and decorate with the figs and walnut halves.
  10. Baked for 40 minutes until golden brown.
  11. Leave to cool and serve with creme fraiche, fromage blanc or ice cream.
Notes
  1. You can buy sweetened chestnut cream in tubes or cans. Alternatively, you may find the unsweetened variety, in which case you could add honey or maple syrup to taste.
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calories
303
fat
24g
protein
5g
carbs
18g
more
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/

Smoked Haddock and Cauliflower Gratin – 350 calories

Smoked Haddock and Cauliflower GratinWe really enjoy tasty smoked haddock on a fast day, but were getting just a tad bored with the same old simple wilted spinach, smoked haddock and poached egg that we have had so often.

IMG_1810IMG_1815So I looked online for some inspiration and found an interesting recipe on BBC Good Food, from which I developed this fast day friendly version.  Using cauliflower on top of the spinach and fish turns this into a complete meal.

Choosing a strongly flavoured cheese like parmesan means that you can use a lot less but get a fantastic flavour. 

This got the thumbs up from us both and I will definitely be making it again!

For a vegetarian version, you could use smoked tofu, which would have a similar balance of flavours. But I also think that it would be lovely with a couple of big mushrooms each and maybe some chopped walnuts in the topping and some extra cheese. 

 

 

 

Smoked Haddock and Cauliflower Gratin
Serves 2
A fast day friendly fish gratin! Totally delicious and satisfying, a one-dish meal. the cauliflower makes an excellent alternative to potatoes.
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Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
350 calories
44 g
71 g
7 g
33 g
3 g
788 g
632 g
25 g
0 g
3 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
788g
Servings
2
Amount Per Serving
Calories 350
Calories from Fat 61
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
11%
Saturated Fat 3g
17%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 71mg
24%
Sodium 632mg
26%
Total Carbohydrates 44g
15%
Dietary Fiber 10g
40%
Sugars 25g
Protein 33g
Vitamin A
207%
Vitamin C
310%
Calcium
39%
Iron
27%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 200g leaf spinach
  2. 2g butter (a trace)
  3. 170g smoked haddock, skinned and cut into 2 portions
  4. 1 large tomato, cut into 8 wedges
  5. ¼ cauliflower, cut into florets
For the topping
  1. 100ml creme fraiche
  2. juice ½ lemon
  3. 20g parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  4. ½ red onion, finely sliced
  5. a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  6. 1 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c Fan.
  2. Lightly grease a shallow oven proof dish.
  3. Put the cauliflower florets in a saucepan of boiling water to cover and simmer until just tender.
  4. Put the spinach in a colander and gently pour over hot water from a kettle to wilt it.
  5. Freshen under cold water and then squeeze out as much water as possible.
  6. Roughly chop the spinach and spread over the bottom of the oven dish.
  7. Lay the haddock fillets over the top and tuck the tomato pieces around them.
  8. Drain the cauliflower florets and distribute evenly over the top.
  9. Season well with black pepper.
  10. Mix together the cream, lemon juice, parmesan and onion with some freshly grated nutmeg.
  11. Spread over the top of the cauliflower.
  12. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
  13. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until the topping starts to turn golden.
  14. Serve at once.
Adapted from BBC Good Food
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calories
350
fat
7g
protein
33g
carbs
44g
more
Adapted from BBC Good Food
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/

Kefta kebabs – 135 kcals each

Kofte kebabskefta, kofta, kufta, keftedes, albondigas, meatballs…. I put a recipe for Scandinavian meatballs in my book 5:2 Healthy Eating for Life, with a number of variations. This summer I have been making it as kefta kebabs, with Moroccan-inspired spices, which have proved to be hugely popular. Combining beef and pork helps to keep the cost down and they taste delicious. I find that one is enough for me on a fast day.  Really good served with a tomato and cucumber salad topped with toasted cumin seeds, or stuffed into pita bread with chopped lettuce, some luscious sliced tomatoes, sliced onions and tsatsiki.

I love basic recipes like this which can be easily varied to suit different styles of cooking –

  • Italian meatballs – oregano, lemon rind, black pepper;
    serve with a tomato and basil sauce on a pile of spaghetti or courgette ‘noodles’
  • Greek keftedes – garlic, chopped fresh mint, coriander seed;
    serve as part of a meze, or stuffed into pita with tsatsiki and salad
  • Swedish meatballs – cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg;
    serve with a sauce made with butter, flour, cream, pepper and parsley with mash
  • Moroccan kefta – garlic, cumin, paprika, ras al hanout, coriander seed;
    serve with ginger yogurt dip, tomato, cucumber and cumin salad and couscous
  • Spanish albondigas – garlic, nutmeg;
    serve with a chunky onion, green pepper and tomato sauce and saffron rice
  • Indian kofta – curry spices, garlic, ginger;
    serve with raita and chappati or a spicy sauce with basmati rice
  • Lebanese kefta – parsley, allspice, pepper, salt;
    serve with flatbread and herby green salad – or cook and then top with onion, tomato and potato, sprinkle with spices and bake in the oven

The kefta or meatballs can be frozen uncooked.

Makes about 18 kefta (75 grams each) or 40 meatballs  (30 grams each)

  • 600g minced beef 1115 kcals
  • 400g minced pork 572 kcals
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped 88 kcals
  • 2 large eggs 143 kcals
  • 1 cup of flour or fresh breadcrumbs 427 kcals ( I use wholewheat breadcrumbs)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • spices and herbs to taste

Whizz the onions and eggs in a blender (with garlic if using) and then add the flour/breadcrumbs, seasoning and spices.

Put this mixture with the meat in a large bowl and work it with your hands, adding water if needed to get a firm mixture that holds together.

Let it rest for at least 15 minutes in the fridge.

For the kefta I weigh into 75 gram amounts and form into rolls. Use a walnut sized portion for meatballs. Either can be prepared ahead and refrigerated or frozen (defrost before cooking).

For kefta, put a metal skewer through the middle and BBQ over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, turning regularly.

For meatballs, fry in a little butter or oil until well browned all over (add 40 calories per tsp of oil)

Per kefta (75 grams): 135 kcal
Per meatball (30 grams): 60 kcal

 

Family-friendly dairy and soya free 5:2 meal plan

So excited to have our son and his family coming to stay! With our little grand-daughter having allergies to dairy and soya, I need to think ahead to make sure I have some tasty ideas for all of us to enjoy together. We are planning to continue with two fast days too. 

Thanks so much to everyone on the 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Recipes from Around the World group who have contributed ideas!

It’s a fabulous time for fruit here, plus of course the summer vegetables which are beginning to be abundant.

Sunday:  family lunch for 8
Melon with charcuterie (air-dried ham, saucisson, coarse paté) and sun-dried tomatoes
Duck Confit pie, topped with sliced potato
Tomato and Cucumber salad, Carrot and Cumin salad
Strawberry Lavender Sorbet with fresh Peaches

dinner for 6
Baba Ganoush / Hummus / Crudites / Seedy Flatbread
Baked whole Salmon, with potatoes, green beans and garlicky courgettes. This will give us leftovers to make into fish cakes.
Creme Catalan au Lavande, made with almond or oat milk

Monday – fast day 
apple and peanut butter slices, Scrambled egg on toast for those that are having lunch

Chunky Vegetable Soup
Fish Cakes with Carrot and Courgette ribbons
Melon and Ginger Sorbet

Tuesday – picnic up at the lake where there is a beach
Sausage Rolls, Cole Slaw, Sweet Potato crisps, Ants on a Log
Rasberries and hopefully fresh Apricots from the garden
Forking Foodie: Chocolate Pecan Fudge and Cocoa Dusted Truffles

Onion Bhaji
Chicken Curry, Lentil Dhal, Chapatti (by special request)
Raspberry Marshmallow Mousse

Wednesday
lunch – out in Cahors (market day, carousel, little train, toy shop….)

Pulled Pork with an assortment of veggies
Apricot Frangipane Tart

Thursday – fast day
for those eating lunch: Pulled Pork wraps 
Frozen Banania lollies

Dips and breadsticks
BBQ Chicken Skewers/Sausages/ Sweetcorn/Courgettes with Boston Baked Beans 
Apple and Blackcurrant Compote with Nutty Crumble Topping

Friday
Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad with Garlic Breadsticks
Nectarines, Raspberries and Melon

Pasta with Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
Chocolate Mousse with raspberry wafers

Saturday 
Citrus Roast Chicken with Peppers and Sweet Potato
Garden Fruit Salad

Making the most of a shoulder of lamb

I am getting a bit concerned about the price of meat here in France, and it certainly makes me consider more veggie based meals. If I do splash out and buy a nice joint, I want to make sure that we get the best out of it. As a birthday treat for Graham, we decided on a shoulder of lamb.

I made a wonderful marinaded and slow roasted Lamb Kleftiko, with a recipe from Andrea Lee’s excellent blog Forking Foodie. It was really delicious, soft and falling off the bone. We enjoyed it with a greek style salad with feta cheese and some lemon and olive oil roasted potatoes.  

On our next non-fast day, I stuffed some homemade wholewheat pita with leftover salad and chunks of lamb, drizzled it with a harissa sauce and topped it with some home made tsatsiki.

Finally, I minced what was left and mixed it with cooked onion and garlic, toasted pine nuts, a handful of raisins and a good teaspoonful of ground cinnamon. I then wrapped this into filo pastry rolls, brushed them with olive oil and baked them in a hot oven until golden. Really delicious! We had 2 (or 3) each as a main dish and there were still a couple left which we had as a starter the following day.

So we got 3 good meals and a starter from our shoulder of lamb, and while it was most definitely a treat for our non-fast days, it wasn’t as expensive as it at first seemed. 

Sorry – no photos!

Anniversary 5:2 Meal Plan

Anniversary? Yes, I’ve been maintaining my weight on 5:2 for a year today!

Scotch Eggs with Light Coleslaw Griddled Courgette Salad _MG_2492

 

 

 

 

 

I was so thrilled to achieve my healthy weight target (55kgs for me, which is somewhere in the middle of the normal BMI range for my height and age) let June, but I am even more delighted to have been able to stay there. I gave myself a 2 kg range to stay within (53 – 55) and in the last year I have not gone below the bottom, and only temporarily very slightly over (like when I have been away on holiday and not fasted for a week).

So I thought it would be of interest to show you a typical menu plan for a week, bearing in mind that I have a TDEE of about 1300 without exercise, so I don’t have a lot of calories to play with, but I certainly eat well and pretty much what I want.

_MG_3346

 

 

 

 

 

Ok here’s my meal plan for the next week. It’s BBQ weather! I still have lots of strawberries, the cherries are ripening, artichokes are ready and the shops are starting to be full of summer fruits. Recipes for dishes in bold text are included in  5:2 Healthy Eating for Life, those in italics are in Focus on Flavour. Some recipes are new and once I have cooked them again and calorie counted them, I will share them with you.

  1. Friday
    • Ham, Egg and Chips
    • fresh fruit
    • Spanakopitta – spinach and feta filo triangles (recipe here)
    • Lemony Lamb Kebabs with Wholewheat Pita  (recipe here) and Greek Salad with Feta and Olives 
    • Homemade Strawberry ice cream drizzled with strawberry coulis and sprinkled with strawberry dust from my latest thing, dehydrated strawberries
  2. Saturday
    • Thin Crust Wholewheat Ham and Chorizo Pizza with Green Salad with Seeds
    • fresh fruit
    • Spring Rolls (if I am able to buy fresh beanshoots, I will make them myself)
    • Chicken Satay with Satay Sauce, cucumber, spring onion and carrot ribbons and Beanshoot Salad. Maybe a little rice to go with it
    • Cheesecake in Chocolate Cups with Strawberries
  3. Sunday
    • Globe Artichoke hearts with lemon juice and melted butter
    • Leftover pizza and salad
    • fresh fruit
    •  Out for dinner
  4. Monday – Fast Day
    • Harira style Soup (vegetables in a spicy tomato based broth) 125
    • Harissa-rubbed Chicken breast with vegetable accompaniments  250
    • Poached Spiced Cherries with Fromage Frais – 100
  5. Tuesday
    • Peppered Mackerel with Avocado, Cherry and Walnut Salad and Minted Beetroot Salad
    • fresh fruit
    • BBQ Sweetcorn
    • Moroccan style Chicken Kebabs with Kachumber Salad drizzled with argan oil, Wholewheat Maneesh (seedy flatbread) and yogurt with ginger
    • Poached Spiced Cherries with filo sesame wafers
  6. Wednesday 
    • A picnic of Oven Baked Scotch Eggs,  Black Pepper Chicken Sticks with Spicy Tomato Dipping Sauce and Light Coleslaw with Cherries
    • Strawberry Marshmallow Mousse
    • Chargrilled Courgette Salad (recipe here)
    • BBQ Toulouse Sausage with spicy Puy Lentil Salad
    • Cherry and Choc Chip Gelato
  7. Thursday – Fast Day
    • Italian Vegetable Soup – 124
    • Haddock in Saffron Sauce – 205 with cauliflower rice (recipe here)
    • Mocha Dessert – 87 with a few blueberries (recipe here)

Pizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I usually start my day with two cups of tea (with soya milk as I don’t like dairy milk).
  • Breakfast on non-fast days is a plain yogurt with a few berries and one slice of wholewheat toast with almond butter and marmite; or two slices of toast. Black coffee. I don’t eat breakfast on fast days.
  • Mid morning on non-fast days I have a small capuccino made with soya milk. On fast days I have espresso.
  • Mid afternoon I have a herbal or ordinary tea.
  • While preparing dinner I have a glass of water kefir.
  • On non-fast days I do usually have wine.  As we often don’t eat dinner until 8pm or so, if I have a glass of wine before dinner, I will also have some nuts. At the weekend I enjoy having one or two pieces of dark chocolate after dinner, but I rarely think of chocolate these days!
  • I drink plenty of water and occasionally a glass of unsweetened lemon squash

I hope you have a great week! I’m looking forward to it…. :-)

A Fast Day Menu for June

Lots of people ask what they should eat on Fast Days.

There are no restrictions as such, but it is helpful to stick to low-GI foods and avoid refined carbohydrates. Protein is great for making you feel full and keeping you satisfied and veggies provide lots of bulk without a lot of calories. So most of our fast days are based on that. I prefer to save all my calories for an evening meal – skipping breakfast seems to make no difference to how hungry I feel during the day, and I get the added benefits of an overall fasting time of about 24 hours without eating – more cell repair time and more fat-burning time!

I get into a bit of a rut sometimes, eating more or less the same things which are quick to prepare and I know work – but I have lots of ideas in my recipe book and a lot of strawberries to use, so here’s what I’m planning for tomorrow.

  • Spring Minestrone – 150 kcals 
  • Masala Baked Haddock – 162 kcals
  • Kachumber Salad – 45 kcals
  • Strawberries with a spoonful of creme fraiche – 60 kcals

Spring Minestrone SoupMasala Baked HaddockKachumber Salad

 

 

There’s enough calories left for a cup of tea to start the day and a cup of hot bouillon somewhere around lunchtime.  I may add a drizzle of argan oil to the salad, since I brought some back from Morocco, it is a great addition to this. Recipes below, which can also be found in my book 5:2 Healthy Eating for Life.

Spring Minestrone

For me, broad beans and asparagus are star ingredients when they are in season.  Just a spoonful of crème fraîche and some basil oil gives this soup some extra va va voom and transforms a simple vegetable soup into something luxurious.

Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil 120 kcals
  • 1 leek, chopped quite small 56 kcals
  • 1 litre vegetable stock, made with 2 tsp vegetable bouillon 24 kcals
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 4 kcals
  • 250g green asparagus, trimmed, cut in 1cm slices 52 kcals
  • 250g shelled broad beans 212 kcals
  • 1 tbsp half fat crème fraîche 24 kcals
  • 1 tsp basil oil (or pesto) 16 kcals

To garnish

  • 25g freshly grated Parmesan 80 kcals

Heat olive oil and cook leek gently until soft.

Add stock and garlic and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add remaining vegetables and simmer for a further 5 – 7 minutes.

Stir in crème fraîche and pesto.

Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

Per serving: kcals 150
Carbs 14g Fat 7g Protein 10g

Masala Baked Haddock

I came across this idea when watching Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey. The first time I tried it I found it far too mustardy and bitter, but the idea of coating a piece of white fish with a masala paste and topping it with onions, then wrapping it in foil or baking paper to cook in the oven won me over. So I have now adapted it and am much happier with the result.

You can make the masala paste in a blender or you can pound it in a pestle and mortar.

This will be good with any firm white fish.

Serves 2

  • 250g haddock or cod fillets 200 kcals
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • Some red or green chilli, sliced (optional)

For the Masala

  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds 16 kcals
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds 4 kcals
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder 2 kcals
  • 2 tsp sunflower oil 80 kcals
  • 1/2 onion, sliced 22 kcals
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric 4 kcals
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed 4 kcals
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 180c (fan)

Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry all the masala ingredients until the onions soften and start to colour, adding a splash of water if needed to stop it sticking.

Blend into a paste, using a food processor or pestle and mortar.

Put the fish in the centre of a piece of foil or baking paper and smother with the paste.

Top with some slices of red onion and maybe a few slices of red or green chilli.

Wrap the parcels and fold over the edges securely.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets, until just cooked through.

Per serving: kcals 162
Carbs 4g Fat 5g Protein 24g

Kachumber Salad

This is the perfect salad to go with spicy Indian style food and introduces the idea of adding spice seeds to enhance everyday ingredients. This goes perfectly with the Masala Baked Haddock (page 94).

Serves 2

  • 100g baby plum tomatoes, halved or quartered 22 kcals
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced 22 kcals
  • 1/2 small cucumber, peeled and sliced 22 kcals
  • 1/2 lime, juice only 5 kcals
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seed 4 kcals
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • sea salt

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan, shaking frequently, until they become fragrant but before they burn.

While the seeds cool, arrange the vegetables on a serving dish.

Crumble a little sea salt over the top and scatter the seeds and coriander leaf over.

Per serving: kcals 45
Carbs 11g Fat 0g Protein 1g

Lemony Yogurt Cheesecake – with Strawberries

Lemon Yogurt Cheesecake with Strawberries

It’s been a bit of a strawberry fest over the last couple of weeks, it has been a really prolific harvest this year and we haven’t been able to keep up with eating them fresh.

So far I have made Strawberry and Lavender sorbet (very good), Strawberry Fromage Blanc Ice Cream (lovely), Strawberry and Rhubarb with Meringue Topping (delish), gently cooked alongside Spiced Pineapple and we’ve eaten them plain with and without cream, as Eton Mess – mixed with meringues and vanilla ice cream – and as a savoury dish, combined with avocado in a salad (very complementary).

Still there are more!

So I decided to try drying some in the oven. I made a coulis. I cooked some gently as a compote. Then I made my low calorie, greek yogurt based, New York style cheesecake with lemon and topped it with fresh strawberries.

This makes a great treat for the weekend, but doesn’t leave you feeling over-stuffed. Of course with just the two of us we didn’t want to waste it, so we had a tiny sliver each for dessert on our fast day too….

Lemon Yogurt Cheesecake with Strawberries

Lemony Yogurt Cheesecake with an Oatcake Base

Using oats instead of digestive biscuits (Graham crackers) for the crust and delicious Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese for the filling, makes this a much lighter but still delicious alternative to a classic New York Cheesecake. 

Serves 8

  • 7 oatcakes, crumbled 408 kcals
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted 359 kcals
  • 70g raw cane sugar 280 kcals
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 6 kcals
  • 600g low fat Greek yogurt 450 kcals
  • 2 large eggs 143 kcals
  • 2 large egg yolks 108 kcals
  • 1 tbsp cornflour 26 kcals
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon 17 kcals

Preheat oven to 140°C (fan).

Mix oatcake crumbs and melted butter, then turn out into a 20cm (8-inch) loose-bottomed cake tin pan and press mixture into an even crust across the bottom, with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until firm and dry, then remove from oven and put on a wire rack.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and egg yolks on low speed, then add sugar, cornflour, salt, vanilla, and yogurt and continue to beat on low speed until light and slightly bubbly.

Add lemon juice and lemon zest and beat briefly to incorporate.

Pour mixture into prepared crust and place in the centre of the oven.

Start checking cheesecake after 50 minutes and then every 5-10 minutes after that, by shaking the pan gently – the filling should look creamy but firm at the edges, and still appear slightly jiggly in the centre (it will firm up as it cools).

Remove from oven and set on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight) before serving.

Per serving: kcals 225
Carbs 20g Fat 11g Protein 11g

I didn’t calculate the calories for the strawberry topping, I would  guess no more than 20 calories per serving, including the ‘nappage’ (can’t think what that’s called in English!).

Strawberry Coulis

Perfect to top a simple dessert of fromage blanc or Greek yogurt, to drizzle over ice cream or to top a cheesecake.

Serves 2

  • 100g strawberry pieces 34 kcals
  • 2 tsp golden granulated sugar 33 kcals
  • a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar 1 kcal

Wash the strawberries and put in a small plan with the sugar and vinegar.

Cook gently for about 5 minutes until soft enough to pass through a sieve.

Per serving: kcals 34
Carbs 8g Fat 0g Protein 0g

 These recipes are taken from my book “5:2 Healthy Eating for Life” which is available on Amazon in print and kindle formats.