Sunday, 25 October 2015

5:2 Fast Day Menu Planner (including full Vegetarian options and Gluten Free) - never have a boring fast day menu again!

A tasty selection of fully calorie-counted ideas and recipes for fast days - ideal meal inspiration for fasters old and new!

Whether you're new to the 5:2 diet or intermittent fasting, or you're a veteran in search of new ideas (in which case, you can probably scroll down past all the tips to the menu plans and skip this bit!), I hope this selection of fast day menu ideas helps you out.


There are eight menus for fast days with three meals (including breakfast) and eight more menus for fast days with two meals (no breakfasts) - all with full vegetarian options (and gluten free notes in the recipes)... and then there are a bonus further eight fast day dinner suggestions for those who like to save most of their calories for dinners (or men, who have an extra 100 calories to 'spend' on a fast day, the lucky so-and-so's!).

I've been developing calorie-counted recipes suitable for the 5:2 diet for my Facebook recipe group members for over two years now (you're very welcome to join us!), so I'm actually surprised myself, that I've not put something like this together before! [Edit: Now I know why... it took days!!!]

Retro Chasseur Sauce

A rich tomato, white wine and tarragon sauce with sliced mushrooms in it.


This sauce may be a bit of a blast from the past, for those of us frequenting British Pubs and Restaurants a couple of decades ago! 


However, this version is made from natural and fresh ingredients, and packed full of flavour. This sauce goes equally well with steak, chicken or pork fillets/steaks (just substitute chicken boullion/stock), or fish (use vegetable or fish boullion/stock). 

Makes 4 servings at 120 calories each (if you're counting. If not, feel free to increase the oil if you need to.), freezes well.

Muttar Paneer - Pea and Indian Cheese Curry

A classic vegetarian Indian curry that's not too hot and can be served as a main dish, or a side.


Muttar Paneer is one of my favourite vegetarian Indian dishes. I think it's maybe because it has cheese in it which makes it one of those vegetarian dishes where you really don't miss meat.


You can even make the paneer cheese yourself the night before, if you fancy (see the separate paneer cheese blog here - paneer is a very mild Indian cheese, which is easy to make yourself at home and no special equipment is needed). I think this dish is lovely as part of a variety of Indian dishes to share with friends.

Serves six (or more if served as a side dish), easily halved. Freezes well.

Calories per serving: 248 calories for a full portion (a sixth) of the 'skinny' version where you either grill the cheese, or just add it as it is without frying. If shallow frying the paneer first, you will need to add around 70-100 extra calories a portion.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

How to Make Homemade Paneer Cheese (Indian Cheese)

Make your own paneer cheese - it's really easy!



You just need two ingredients (milk and lemon juice), it only needs to go into the fridge overnight and no special equipment necessary! 


So without further ado, here's how!

Courgette and Aubergine Curry (Zucchini and Eggplant)

Delicious on its own, or as an accompaniment to other curries.


This is a simple but tasty curry, delicately spiced and lovely as a main, or an accompaniment to other curries. You can play around and substitute whatever vegetables you have available ( it’s very versatile – peppers, cauliflower, squash, okra, sliced carrots, green beans are all good – or you could make it with just aubergine, or a mixture of vegetables.



I usually like to serve this as part of a selection of Indian dishes to cater for all palates, but it is excellent as a low calorie vegetarian main dish.

Serves 4-8 depending on whether served as a main dish, or a side dish.

Calories per serving: 120 calories if served between four people as a main, 60 calories if served between eight as a side.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Moroccan Spiced Roast Vegetable and Lentil Soup

Warning: This soup will fill the house with gorgeous smells whilst cooking!


This delicious (and healthy!) soup came about for two reasons: Firstly, I wanted to create a vegetarian soup with Moroccan flavours which didn't contain chickpeas, and secondly, there's a jar of ras el hanout in my spice cupboard which was crying out to be used in something!


So here it is, I'm very pleased with it, and everyone else really loved it too! Feel free to shake up the flavours by substituting a different spice mix, or adding cooked pulses after blending it to make a heartier soup.

Yields 10 portions (recipe easily halved) of approximately 250g each, at only 99 calories per serving!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Spicy Prawn and Avocado Salad

The classic combination of prawns and avocado... with a kick!


Just a quick flash in the pan for the prawns, and you’ve got a tasty, spicy salad with a lovely lemony zing – fantastic fast food!


Serves one (easily doubled or quadrupled!), 272 calories per serving.

Saag Paneer (Paneer Cheese and Spinach Curry)

A delicious Indian curry, not just for vegetarians!


This is a really comforting and tasty curry - fantastic on its own, or as part of a selections of Indian dishes.




Traditionally the paneer cheese is fried before adding to the curry, giving it a tasty golden crust on the outside and a soft, fluffy texture on the inside. A similar effect (with less calories, if you're counting) can be achieved by placing the cheese on some greaseproof paper on a tray, and placing under a hot grill to brown it a little on the outside, or if preferred you could just stir the cheese in at the end and heat it through to keep the calories down.

Serves three to four light portions (or more if served as a side dish), easily halved or doubled. Paneer is a very mild Indian cheese, which is easy to make yourself at home if you wish (although this needs to be done the day before), and no special equipment is needed.

Calories per serving if not frying paneer cheese: 204 for a quarter (if split into four portions), 272 per serving, if split between three portions.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Retro-tastic Prawn Cocktail Salad

Prawn cocktail doesn't really need much introduction, does it?


Here’s a blast from the past – and incredibly simple to make, too – just chop and mix! A quick light salad perfect for a starter before Sunday dinner (or Christmas dinner!) with 'the olds', if you’re so inclined - or even a light, packed lunch to take to work!



Somewhat tenuous as a festive dish, I know, but when I got home one afternoon, I discovered someone had left the last handful of frozen prawns on the side, which were all but defrosted, so I had to use them up... what better dish, than the retro-tastic prawn cocktail salad - starter from the 80s, and still present on many a pub menu, especially Christmas ones!

Serves 2, easily halved or doubled. 152 calories per serving.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Tom Yum Gai (Hot and Sour Chicken Soup) or Goong (Prawns) with Vegetables

This fragrant and healthy, hot and sour Thai soup is deliciously simple and tasty, and what's more you can make it into a filling meal with the addition of rice or noodles


This is a really tasty Thai soup, which you can make a healthy meal of by adding a few optional vegetables, and even some rice or noodles in the bottom of the bowl before you ladle on your soup, if you want something really hearty (if a little inauthentic)! Keep it minimal for a great starter to a Thai meal.


You can make this with prawns instead of chicken if you prefer, adding them right at the end to make Tom Yum Goong, the popular prawn version of the dish (you can even make the stock up from the prawn shells, cooking them in a little oil until pink, then adding a litre of water and simmering for 20 minutes before straining), or make a vegetarian version with vegetable stock and add tofu to it for the protein element.

A more recent version of the soup, Tom Yum Nam Khon involves adding some coconut milk to the finished broth (usually when making with prawns), and a small amount of toasted dried chillies, if you fancy something a bit creamier - just splash some in at the end - you could also use 100g creamed coconut, or to taste, whizzed into the stock.

For the Thermomix instructions for this recipe, see here.

Serves four to six, from 211 calories per serving for a quarter portion (served between four), or 141 calories for a sixth portion, made with home made curry paste and skinless chicken breast and vegetables as stated.  

With prawns - 181 calories per serving for a quarter portion.

With tofu - 177 calories per serving for a quarter portion.

Add on 165 calories per portion, per 50g raw rice, or if you want a filling soup without the extra calories, you could use konjac / magic / slim noodles for only a few extra calories. Rice or beanthread noodles would be delicious with this too. [Calories in square brackets]

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Rich Red Lentil Ragu - A Tasty, Skinny, Lentil Bolognese Sauce

Make a change from meat with a truly tasty alternative to the traditional ragu sauce for spaghetti bolognese!


Dare I say it, this one is a dish to keep both the veggies and the meat-eaters happy! It's packed full of vegetables, with lentils for protein, and makes a great winter warmer. You can serve with pasta, or with vegetable 'spaghetti' for a lower calorie / carb meal, or even make it into a lasagne.


If you're not vegetarian, and not serving it to vegetarians there are a couple of optional ingredients in there to pack in the flavour you'd get from a traditional meat-based ragu (a little pancetta/bacon, because it goes so well with lentils, and some beef stock), and if you are vegetarian, skip the pancetta and use vegetable stock and an extra pinch of salt at the end if you think it needs it! I've added a couple of non-traditional ingredients to give it plenty of umami flavour, as well. For vegans, just check your vegetable stock cube doesn't contain dairy.

Spicy Chicken Salad - Yo Sushi Style

I do love a bit of sushi and sashimi - and yet if I go to Yo Sushi!, I can't resist a bowl of their spicy chicken salad whilst I'm there!


So, one not-so-fine Saturday afternoon, after a discussion about edible seaweed, I was craving a bit of Japanese food and got it into my head that I really fancied a Yo Sushi! style chicken salad. Not living in the vicinity of a Yo Sushi!, I did a bit of scouting around the internet for a recipe... and a bit more... and for once, it really wasn't very successful, so I had to make up my own!


Apparently, they have a cookbook (which I don't have), and I was able to find the ingredients (minus quantities) online on Eat My Books - however... maybe it's an old book, or they've changed things now, as they just didn't seem quite right compared with the colour and flavour of the chicken I was used to eating at Yo Sushi, and the other ingredients in the salad. I'm accustomed to a spicy, orange-coloured, highly-flavoured chicken on a bed of lettuce, julienned carrot, edamame beans and a few bean sprouts etc., but I couldn't find anything that convinced me it would recreate this. I couldn't even find a Japanese name for the salad - although I'm quite familiar with Japanese food - and to be honest, although delicious, the flavours of the chicken had always seemed a little out of sorts with my experience of Japanese food.

Turns out there's a reason for that! 

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