For the last month or so I, like several of my fellow food bloggers, have been following the 5:2 diet. In a nutshell this diet allows you to eat normally five days a week (yes that does mean you can have cake!) whilst on the other two days (termed fast days), you restrict yourself to 500 calories. Or 600 calories for men. If you want more detailed information on the diet, I suggest looking at this post by Jac over at Tinned Tomatoes who has described the science bits more eloquently than I ever could.
Whilst the 5:2 diet is meant to have a whole host of health benefits, I have principally been following it in the hope that it would help me to lose the weight that has crept on since starting this blog. So far I have only lost 3lbs. I was hoping it would have been more but seeing as my target is only 14lbs, I am not too disappointed with my progress. The OH, however, has lost a whopping 12lbs in the same time period so it goes to show that the results can be pretty dramatic.
I must admit that I REALLY struggled with the fast days at first. Mostly because 500 calories doesn’t leave much room for carbohydrates so I was starving and more than a little grumpy. However, having persisted with the diet the fast days are definitely becoming easier and dare I say it, even slightly pleasurable. I definitely feel I have more energy and my IBS is better on calorie restricted days.
The thing that has surprised me most is just how well you can eat on a mere 500 calories. Carbs may be a no-no but 500 calories adds up to a surprising amount of lean protein, fruit and veg.
I have found the BBC Good Food website a godsend during this diet as it displays the calorie content of all their recipes. Low calorie certainly doesn’t have to mean low on taste as these flavour packed recipes prove:
- Miso chicken and rice soup (274 calories)
- Quick pork roast with fennel, mustard and cabbage (272 calories)
- Chicken in a miso and mustard dressing (a quarter of the recipe is 207 calories – serve with lots of veggies stir fried in a drop of sesame oil)
Another of my favourites is this simple sweet and sour fish recipe which I found on a tatty piece of paper in my files. Ripped from the pages of Sainsbury’s Magazine way back in February 2006, it makes for a rather tiny portion but is so full of flavour that you do feel you have eaten something more substantial. (I have taken to serving it in a soup bowl though as it looks a bit lonely on a plate!) The original recipe was for cod but I like to use hake. Or use whatever white fish you fancy. One portion works out at approximately 250 calories.
Sweet and sour fish (adapted from Sainsbury’s Magazine)
- 300g cod, hake or other white fish fillet
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 1/2 mild fresh chilli, chopped or a small pinch dried chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp clear honey
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 small red or yellow pepper, finely diced
- 4 baby sweetcorn, halved lengthways
- 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
- fresh coriander and soy sauce to serve
1. Season the fish with a little salt and steam for 20 minutes (I use a Chinese bamboo steamer.)
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil and fry the garlic, ginger and chilli for a couple of minutes then add the honey, vinegar, peppers and sweetcorn. Cook for 4-5 minutes until just tender then add the tomatoes to heat through.
3. Spoon the sauce and vegetables over the steamed fish and serve with some fresh coriander leaves and a drizzle of soy sauce.