bean corn and cottage cheese salad

Cottage cheese, corn and black bean salad (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
½ cup cottage cheese 102
½ cup cooked black beans 114
½ cup cooked sweetcorn kernels 62
1 red chilli, sliced 8
salt & pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 285

A very simple but filling salad. If you don’t fancy eating a whole raw chilli, you could replace it with some cayenne pepper or chilli flakes to sprinkle over the top. It would be a bit bland without anything else, I think. And according to a 2011 study, “consuming red pepper can help manage appetite and burn more calories after a meal” – which is an added incentive on a fasting day!

salmon and cauliflower rice

I served this with noodles for the non-fasting members of the family.

Salmon with spiced cauliflower rice (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
4 112g/quarter pound fillets of salmon 149
1 medium head of cauliflower 36
2 tbsps oil 60
1 onion, diced 11
1 tbsp turmeric 2
1 tbsp ground cumin 2
1 tbsp allspice 1
salt & pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 260

Method: Use a food processor to blitz the cauliflower into tiny pieces. Heat the oil in a wide frying pan and cook the onion until translucent. Stir in the cauliflower, spices and seasoning and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes. Meanwhile, cook the salmon separately in the remaining tablespoon of oil.

Mediterranean chickpeas

Mediterranean chickpeas (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
100g/½ cup dried or 140g cooked chickpeas 230
30g sundried tomatoes in oil 90
90g crushed tomatoes/tomato sauce 16
2 olives, sliced 27
salt & pepper, dried or fresh herbs, to taste 5

Total calories per serving: 358

Method: Soak chickpeas overnight if using dried ones and cook them (this takes about 12 minutes in a pressure cooker, an hour or so in a regular pan). Mix the cooked peas with the other ingredients (I used dried oregano to flavour the dish). This can be served warm or cold.

Egg saladA very simple lunch dish.

Egg salad (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 egg, hard-boiled 63
25g iceberg lettuce, shredded 3
25g carrot, grated 10
2 tsps sliced sundried tomatoes in oil 54

Total calories per serving: 130

Baked pinto beans

Something that can be challenging when you’re living with non-fasting people is making meals that everyone in the household will also enjoy on a fasting day. This baked bean recipe is something that can be used as the basis of a simple meal for the people who are fasting, with additions like grated cheese or sour cream (or cornbread!) for those who aren’t. I served this with baked potatoes and a bowl of grated cheese (which I then tried to ignore). A small baked potato (weighing 125g) will add around 100 calories, while a large one (300g) would add 230.

Baked pinto beans (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1½ cups dry pinto beans 251
1 onion, peeled and diced 20
1 tsp mustard powder 6
1 tsp smoked paprika 2
1 tbsp molasses/black treacle 15
2 tbsp tomato ketchup 7
salt and pepper to taste 0

Total calories per serving: 300

Method: Soak the beans in water for at least four hours and then discard the soaking water. Cook them with two cups of water until tender (about 6 minutes in a pressure cooker, an hour or so in a regular pan). Put the remaining ingredients into an ovenproof dish with a lid and add the beans with their cooking liquid. Cover with the lid and bake at 350°F/180°C for two or three hours, or until the sauce around the beans has thickened to a creamy consistency. You can see by the photo how much the liquid level in the pot drops over the cooking time. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

I’d stopped posting here because I’d mostly stopped fasting, believing that just not eating breakfast and eating sensibly was going to be enough to maintain my post-fasting-diet weight.

Turns out I was wrong about that, and my weight and waistline have been gradually increasing, to the point where I have to be honest with myself and get back to ‘proper’ fasting. I notice from the stats on this blog that a lot of other people are in the same situation after the festive season, so welcome if this is your first visit here and I wish you good luck in your fasting!

So, back to it. I plan on making egg fried rice for supper, and I need something light for lunch just to keep me going. This lentil dal should do the trick. There are two portions here, so I’ll keep one in the fridge for my second fasting day of the week. It’s not the most exciting-looking dish, but it’s warming and comforting on a cold winter’s day like this one (-22°C with the windchill right now!).

Lentil dal

Lentil dal (serves 2)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 tsp oil 20
1 onion, diced 22
1 clove garlic, crushed 2
1 red chilli pepper, sliced 1
¼cup red lentils 85
1 tsp ground ginger 3
1 tsp ground cumin 4
salt and pepper to taste 0

Total calories per serving: 137

Method: Heat the oil in a saucepan, then stir in the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic and chilli, cook briefly, then stir in the spices. Add the lentils and a cup of water, then bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for about half an hour to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Toward the end of the cooking time, remove the lid and stir, raising the heat if necessary to thicken the dal to your desired texture. Season to taste, allow to cool a little, then serve.

DSC01705-001

A simple, delicious, lunch or supper dish.

Asparagus and Parmesan omelette (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
5g butter 36
200g fresh asparagus spears, sliced into short lengths 40
2 eggs, beaten 126
15g Parmesan cheese, grated 48
salt and pepper to taste 0

Total calories per serving: 250

Method: Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the sliced asparagus spears. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until tender, then pour over the beaten eggs. Sprinkle the grated parmesan over the eggs and add salt and pepper. Cook the omelette until the top is set (about 3 minutes). Fold the omelette in half and serve.

Chickpea, chorizo, pepper and tomato stewChickpea, chorizo, pepper and tomato stew (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
½ cup cooked chickpeas 134
35g chorizo sausage 87
1 large red pepper (160g), diced 50
25g sundried tomatoes, sliced 65
1 cup crushed tinned tomatoes 32
1 tsp smoked paprika 6
salt and pepper to taste 0

Total calories per serving: 380

Method: If you’re using dried chickpeas, soak them overnight and cook them until tender (this takes about an hour in a regular pan, or 15 minutes in a pressure cooker). Slice the chorizo and then cut the slices into quarters. Cook the chorizo pieces in a small pan until they exude some fat, then add the diced red pepper and cook for a few minutes. (For a vegetarian/vegan version, just use a teaspoon of olive oil instead of the chorizo.) Stir in the sliced sundried tomatoes, then add the crushed tomatoes, paprika and seasoning. Stir in the cooked chick peas (if you are using canned chick peas, heat until the chick peas are warmed through).

Chickpea and pepper raita

This is a good (very easy) side dish for an Indian meal – but also makes an excellent lunch or supper on a fasting day (or indeed both, if you can save half of it for later on). The spices listed here are just suggestions – put in whatever you like or have to hand.

Chickpea and pepper raita (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 cup cooked chickpeas 269
1 sweet red pepper, deseeded and diced 37
½ tsp cumin seeds 4
½ tsp fenugreek seeds 6
½tsp mustard seeds 8
½ cup yoghurt (2% fat) 87
2 tsps lemon juice 2
salt and pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 415

Method: Toast the whole spices over a medium heat until they are fragrant, then coarsely grind them with a mortar and pestle. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and chill for an hour or two before eating (the dish that is – but you could, too!).

In my ‘Does it work?’ page on this blog, I explained that I hadn’t had my blood tested, so couldn’t comment on the way that a fasting diet would affect my cholesterol levels. Recently I changed doctors and the new one sent me for blood tests. Yesterday he discussed the result with me and told me that my cholesterol levels were too high and that I should be thinking about my food choices and my exercise levels.

I felt, well, incredulous. I am now at the lower end of the ideal weight range for my height and build, my blood pressure is where it should be, I’m eating more healthily than ever, I don’t touch junk food, my exercise levels are above average and I have to sit and listen to a lecture about my lifestyle choices? Armed with my ‘too high’ numbers, I came home seething and spent an hour or two on the Internet, trying to work out what the numbers I’d been given really meant.

So, here are the figures he gave me – the ones we should all be aiming for in the first column (more detailed explanation of the numbers here), and my totals in the second:

Goal Yours
Total cholesterol <5.2 6.1
HDL (good cholesterol) >0.8 2.0
LDL (bad cholesterol) <2.5 3.8
Triglycerides <2.0 0.7
Ratio [Total cholesterol/HDL] <5.0 3.0
Fasting glucose <6.5 5.6

On the face of it, the high total cholesterol doesn’t look good. And what about all that ‘bad cholesterol’?!

Except… when I started reading about LDL, it became clear that calling it ‘bad’ is misleading, because there are two different types of LDL. The bad type is the small dense variety which infiltrates the walls of blood vessels and deposits gunk in them. The other type is larger and often described as ‘fluffy': it doesn’t cause the same damage to the blood vessels.

So how do you know which type you have? There are tests which can tell you, but a simple way of determining the type of LDL in your blood is to look at the measurements of HDL and triglycerides. If your HDL number is low and your triglycerides one high, then your LDL is likely to be the dangerous, small dense type. If HDL is high and triglycerides low (as mine are), then your LDL is likely to be the benign kind. And high levels of HDL actually have a protective effect. Turns out, it’s the HDL and triglyceride numbers that are the best predictor of cardiovascular disease – not the LDL one.

Having done this research, I’m now happy with my numbers. What bothers me is that my doctor doesn’t seem to understand them and that I had to listen to his standard lecture on healthy eating. Not impressed…

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