Turmeric is my latest go-to spice

Did I mention Turmeric yet? Perhaps not. Since watching a recent ‘Trust Me I’m a Doctor‘ episode, I have been inspired to include more turmeric in our diet. In a really interesting piece of research, it was discovered that eating turmeric has effects on the methylation of DNA that are not achieved by taking supplements. It is hoped that this helps to unravel some of the negative changes that may occur, and in particular may help reduce our risk of cancer.


The use of heat, and the addition of oil and black pepper helps to increase the bio-availability of turmeric, so the ideal way of adding it to our diet is to make a curry! But actually, you can use turmeric in many different kinds of dishes and even in desserts. An easy way to increase your use of it is to make Golden Paste – you cook turmeric powder in hot water and then add in coconut oil (or olive oil) and freshly ground black pepper. 

I’ve been experimenting with ways of using this. I’ve added it to bolognese sauce, stir fries, braised vegetables, in fact almost anything savoury can take the addition of some. We often start the day with some greek style yoghurt, with half a tsp of golden paste added in, some chopped fresh figs (which are abundant at the moment in our garden) and topped with chopped toasted hazelnuts. I also discovered that banana fried in butter with golden paste, honey and lime juice is amazing! For added spice benefits, I served it with fromage blanc mixed with ground cinnamon and decorated with lime zest.

Turmeric is often used as an inexpensive substitute for saffron, as it gives a strong yellow colour – the flavour is quite different, but it does tend to work agreeably with the same food partners. Here is my variation of an Ottolenghi dish. Roast Chicken with Turmeric, Hazlenuts and Honey.

Roast Chicken with Turmeric, Hazelnuts and Honey

Roast Chicken with Turmeric, Hazelnuts and Honey
Serves 4
A comforting family meal or an exotic dinner party dish, the delicate spicy flavours and tantalisingly crunchy topping make this easy dish a winner.
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
  1. 4 chicken legs, divided into thighs and drumsticks
  2. 2 onions, chopped
  3. 2 tbsp olive oil
  4. 1 tsp ground ginger
  5. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  6. 2 tsp golden paste
  7. juice of 1 lemon
  8. 4 tbsp cold water
  9. sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  10. 100g shelled hazelnuts
  11. 35g honey
  12. 2 tbsp orange flower water
  1. In an ovenproof dish, mix the onion, spices, oil, lemon juice, water and seasoning.
  2. Marinade the chicken pieces in the mix for at least an hour, or overnight in the fridge.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190c.
  4. Bake the chicken for 35 minutes on a middle shelf.
  5. While the chicken is cooking, spread the hazelnuts onto a baking tray and toast in the oven on a top shelf for about 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly golden.
  6. Allow the nuts to cool for a little, then rub in a clean cloth to remove the skins.
  7. Chop the nuts roughly and mix with the honey and flower water to make a rough paste.
  8. Remove the chicken and spread with the nut paste.
  9. Cook for a further 5 - 10 minutes, until the nuts are nicely browned.
  1. See the link on this page for the method for making golden paste.
  2. Alternatively you can use a good pinch of saffron strands.
  3. I used orange flower water, but rosewater would be more authentic.
  4. I served this with Green Beans with Hazelnuts and Orange (from The Cookbook by Ottolenghi) and Orzo (langues des oiseaux) pasta with vegetables.
  5. The calorie count is per serving: 450 kcals, 35g Carbs, 30g Fat, 18g Protein
Adapted from Ottolenghi
Adapted from Ottolenghi
Focus on Flavour https://www.focusonflavour.com/

Kate Harrison’s 5:2 Podcast features Foodie Fasting in France

Much excitement chez Berry today, as my interview with Kate Harrison is released.


If you haven’t already come across them, do subscribe to these podcasts, or listen online – Kate has a lively, engaging series of chats with all kinds of useful hints and tips to keep you inspired.

The thumbnail photo for this edition features my lemony yogurt cheesecake with strawberries – a perfect seasonal treat.

Lemon Yogurt Cheesecake with Strawberries


Kate Harrison is the author of The 5:2 Diet Book, The Ultimate 5:2 Recipe Book (featuring my Raw Vegetable Salad with a Zingy, Spicy Dressing), 5:2 Your Life, and The 5:2 Good Food Kitchen, as well as several delightful novels. We share a passion for eating well and following 5:2 and I was delighted to have been chosen to share some of my story and enthusiasm for the 5:2 way of life with Kate’s many listeners.

We took the opportunity of having some other photographers here to get a photo taken of us both wearing the ridiculously large Hawaiian shirt that prompted us to take weight loss seriously. For your amusement, here we are..


Decluttering the Spice Shelf – mmm, tasty!


Over the last few weeks I have worked my way through my fridge, freezer and store cupboards, figuring out what I have and putting together a plan each week to use up some of the things that have been in store for the longest. It’s working well and I’m saving lots of money (at least in the short term) – and trying out some new ideas.

Next, I approached the spice and herb shelf. Oh dear, it is groaning. I have over 50 jars! 


An article by Marie Kondo, Japanese tidiness expert, led me to approach my spice shelf with a new perspective. See 10 steps to make you more tidy now.

Each jar was looked at – do I love it? Does it bring me joy?

Out went anything that was really old, flavourless or unappealing, including some dried rosemary – I have fresh growing in the garden, all year round, so why bother?

Of the remaining spices, mixes and herbs, there were only two that I wasn’t sure about, juniper and fenugreek seeds.

The juniper must have been bought for something specific, but I have forgotten what. I tried using some at Christmas with cranberries, but the flavour was far too strong.

The fenugreek seeds are something that I occasionally use for sprouting; they have a bitterness and a distinct curry aroma, that can make an interesting addition to a salad or as a garnish.

I got some wonderful suggestions from the lovely members of the 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Recipes from Around the World group (a real mouthful in more ways than one!)

  • Juniper as a partner for game with the , such as venison or the league system.
  • mmmmmmm a chopped shallot soup with thyme, juniper, garlic and bay leaf…
  • a rub for pork, using salt, dried rosemary and juniper (damn! retrieve the dried rosemary 🙂 )
  • Juniper berries for braised red cabbage

and I found some interesting recipes on line:

I am encouraged to try growing my own, as fenugreek, also known as ‘methi’, is used widely as a herb in Indian recipes. An interesting addition to my micro leaves selection!

So, with spices in mind, what am I cooking this week?

I bought a whole free range chicken, which I jointed. I made the breasts into Butter Chicken, following a Rick Stein recipe, which was succulent and absolutely delicious. The joints are marinading in spices and yogurt. I will dry bake them in a hot oven for our fast day dinner, with leftovers for lunch another day. 

Having thrown out my old garam masala, I had no alternative but to make my own. In a hot dry pan, I roasted some cumin, cardamom and coriander seeds with cinnamon bark. I added peppercorns, fenugreek, salt and chilli powder and pounded all together in my pestle and mortar. Mmmm, wonderful aromas! This became an ingredient in the sauce for the Butter Chicken as well as a garnish for the dhal. It should keep well for at least a month.

The chicken carcass has made a lovely asian-flavoured stock, with star anise, chillies, peppercorns and lime leaves, and the tops of some fresh leeks – I have retrieved a surprising amount of meat from the bones, and with the stock this will make a wonderful soup, with the addition of some finely sliced mushrooms.

Hot and Sour Chicken and Mushroom Soup

My ‘treat’ purchases this week – a small whole camembert: bake until melted, then dip into with toasted pita bread; and a basket of small pears.

Sat lunch: Pizza and Salad; fresh fruit
Dinner: Butter Chicken with Naan and Red Lentil Dhal; Ice Cream

Sun lunch: leftover Pizza with Salad; fresh fruit
Dinner: Roast Rib of Beef, Dauphinoise Potatoes, Yorkshire Pudding, Carrots and Peas; Cinnamon-spiced Cherries topped with an Oat Crumble with chopped Hazelnuts

Mon Fast Day: Spicy Chicken and Mushroom Broth; Tandoori Chicken with Cauliflower Rice and Dhal; sliced Oranges with Dates and Pistachios

Tue lunch: Thai Style Roast Beef Salad with roasted Peanuts and a vietnamese dressing; fresh fruit
Dinner: Toulouse Sausages with Potato and Celeriac Bake; Fig Frangipani tart with custard

Wed lunch: French Onion Soup; Coronation Chicken Salad; fresh fruit
Dinner: Black Bean and Sausage Burritos; leftover Fig Frangipani tart with yogurt


Thurs, fast day: Morrocan Cauliflower Soup; Salmon Teriyaki with Leeks and Mushrooms; Spiced Poached Cherries with Yogurt

Teriyaki Salmon

Fri lunch: Egg Mayonnaise Salad; fresh fruit
dinner: Baked Camembert with Pitta crisps;  Red Mullet with Coconut-Lime sauce, spiced puy lentil salad, Pears with Chocolate Meringue topping

Pear with Chocolate Meringue   

 Plenty of lovely meals to look forward to, and a spice cupboard in which I can almost find what I am looking for… still over-crowded, but at least I know what’s in there.

Anyone got any ideas for using dried rosebuds?


Best possible start to your 5:2 journey….

Thousands of people like me have successfully taken up 5:2 Intermittent Fasting and succeeded in reaching a healthy weight, improving their health and reducing their risk of life shortening diseases.

But what if you are a little intimidated by the idea and not sure how best to get started?

Unlike other weight loss and diet programs, up to now 5:2 has been very much a thing for self-starters and there are a various websites, blogs, Facebook groups and forums where those following this way of eating have been discussing it and sharing their hints and tips. There is a lot of information and support, but it can be bewildering and confusing, especially if you are not accustomed to using social media.

Maybe you haven’t started yet or are ready to re-start after a lapse?

Now the people over at the FastDay forum have launched an exciting new online program designed to give you the best possible start and give you the resources that you need to help you succeed.

FastStart Program6 week FastStart program, beginning on January 15th

I observed the trial that was run before Christmas and was very impressed by the well-organised material and the resources made available to the participants.

If you would like to know more, pop on over to the FastDay site and visit The FastStart Program where you can read about it and reserve a place.

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!


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. 

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.







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)








  • 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…. 🙂

First Anniversary Fast Day – Leek and Crunchy Carrot Gratin

It is now a year since we started following 5:2 Intermittent Fasting. Wow. I remember how strange it felt that first day, going without lunch. Well nowadays, more often than not, I go without breakfast too and find it makes no difference to how hungry I feel in the afternoon. I still tend to get a dip, and a rumble or two mid-afternoon, but it doesn’t interfere with whatever else I want to do. I just have another cup of something and carry on.

For my first anniversary fast day dinner, I’m going to use up some ingredients that I have in the fridge, which includes fresh leeks and carrots and an assortment of cheese. I also have piles of gorgeous nuts, which I love to have around the house at Christmas time. Some of these are walnuts from our own garden, which was a good crop this year. It is worth buying caraway seeds to use in this, they add a great flavour to the dish. They are handy to have with all kinds of cabbage dishes as well, they reputedly help with reducing flatulence!

Leek and Crunchy Carrot GratinThe recipe in my book serves 5, so I’ll probably freeze a couple of portions for another time (before cooking), as it’s just me for this meal. But I won’t mind eating leftovers!

I have a lovely basket of small satsumas from Corsica that caught my eye when I went shopping, so dessert will be one of those, together with some of my first batch of home-made kefir yogurt. More about that another day.

This is one of the recipes that I have included in 5:2 Healthy Eating for Life which is now available in print and kindle editions from Amazon.

Leek and Crunchy Carrot Gratin

Leek and Crunchy Carrot Gratin

This is a very flavourful vegetarian main which is low enough in calories to have on a 5:2 Fast Day or as part of a calorie-counted healthy eating plan. It would also work well to serve as a side dish with sausages (baked in the oven at the same time)

With the vegetables, milk, cheese, breadcrumbs and nuts, this has a good balance of ingredients. I used oddments of cheese that I had left – a little cheddar, some Comté and some crumbled blue sheep’s cheese, which worked fine, but you can use any hard cheese really. The caraway seeds add a really interesting flavour.

Serves 5

  • 500g leeks, cut into chunks 155 kcals
  • 150ml vegetable stock or water 12 kcals
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds 7 kcals
  • 250ml semi-skimmed milk 113 kcals
  • 10g unsalted butter 70 kcals
  • 1 tbsp plain flour 52 kcals
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the topping

  • 60g fresh wholewheat breadcrumbs 127 kcals
  • 2 medium carrots, grated 50 kcals
  • 75g grated hard cheese 312 kcals
  • 15g chopped walnuts 98 kcals

Preheat the oven to 180c (fan).

Put the leeks in a saucepan with the stock or water and seeds.

Bring to the boil, cover and then simmer for 7 to 10 minutes, until the leeks are softened.

Remove the leeks with a slotted draining spoon and transfer to a baking dish.

Pour the remaining liquid into a jug and make up to 300ml with milk.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.

When it starts to froth, add the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon to make a roux.

Remove from the heat and gradually add the liquid, beating well after each addition, to make a smooth sauce.

Return to the heat and simmer the sauce for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time, to make sure that it doesn’t burn and there are no lumps.

Check the seasoning.

Pour over the leeks.

Mix all the topping ingredients together and sprinkle over the top.

Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden.

Serve with some fresh green vegetables, such as steamed broccoli.

Per serving: kcals 199
Carbs 20g Fat 10g Protein 7g

Leek and Crunchy Carrot Gratin

Woohoo! New 5:2 Recipe book launched today on kindle!


5:2 Healthy Eating for Life is now available on kindle!

in North America 
in the UK 
in Australia 
in France

 All sales include a donation to the support fund for my dear friend’s granddaughter, Lexi Sky Rowland Tickner, a life-limited baby with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and epilepsy. 

Please note: This is at a special introductory price – fantastic value for 170 recipes. The print edition will also be available soon.

This book has so many yummy recipes, you will probably have the need to go walking with your kids in the BabyTrend Expedition-Jogger stroller everyday, just to do some exercise.

5:2 healthy eating for life – Available soon!

It’s nearly ready – I’m just waiting for my proof copy to arrive, then it will be published and available to buy from Amazon (print and kindle versions).



Belinda Berry’s love of fresh, seasonal foods shines through in this book of delicious calorie-counted recipes for Fast Days, Family Meals and Entertaining.

Whether you are following the 5:2 Intermittent Fasting way of eating or simply looking for inspiration for light and healthy meals, these flavourful and easy to prepare recipes will fill your plate with food that tastes as good as it looks. 

Fully illustrated with over 200 full colour photographs, there are 170 recipes for Dips and Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Light Meals, Main Meals, Breads, Desserts and Drinks.  Many of the recipes are designed to be prepared for one person, but are easily scaleable. 

There is no need to feel deprived when you can eat such delicious food as this – even small portions will leave you feeling satisfied. The recipes cater for vegetarians as well as meat and fish eaters and tend to be low in sugar and carbohydrates, with an emphasis on the use of unrefined foods.

Throughout, the emphasis is on simple but tasty meals, using herbs and spices to bring basic ingredients to life and to create vibrant dishes. Be inspired with new ideas using fresh ingredients and modern styles as well lower-calorie versions of old favorites.

As a home cook with experience of catering to guests who come from all over the world to learn photography with her husband Graham Berry, Belinda covers many different cuisines and techniques, exploring the flavors of the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean and Mexico as well as classic European combinations.

Using these recipes you can eat well every day of the week and Belinda has delighted in rising to the challenge of creating wonderful 3 course meals for less than 500 or 600 calories. Each of the recipes have the ingredients individually calorie counted and give the Nutritional breakdown of Carbs, Fats and Proteins.

Since Belinda and Graham started 5:2 Intermittent Fasting, they have lost 35 kilos (77 pounds or 5 and a half stone) between them,  both reaching a healthy Body Mass Index. They have been maintaining a healthy weight since June 2013.

Every book sold will help to raise funds for Lexi Sky Rowland Tickner, a life-limited baby with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and epilepsy.