shrimp aspragus and bok choi noodlesYes, more asparagus!

Shrimp, asparagus and bok choi noodles (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
210g dry egg noodles 72
145g asparagus 7
120g bok choi 4
1 tbsp sesame oil 30
1 tbsp sunflower oil 31
400g raw, peeled shrimp 119
1 tbsp soy sauce 2
1 tsp fish sauce 1
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar 3
1 tsp ground ginger 2
1 tbsp cornflour 7
1 clove garlic, finely chopped 1

Total calories per serving: 280

Method: Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions and set aside. Slice the asparagus spears into 1cm lengths and separate the tips. Slice the bok choi into similar sized pieces and separate out the more stalky parts from the more leafy ones. Place the shrimp into a small bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients.

Now put a wok or large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the sesame and sunflower oils. When the oil is good and hot, stir in the shrimp and all of the asparagus except the tips. Stir fry for about three minutes, or until the shrimp is cooked through. Then add the asparagus tips and the stalkier parts of the bok choi. Cook for another minute or so, then finally stir in the leafy parts of the bok choi and the reserved noodles. Continue to stir over a highish heat until the noodles are warmed through.

Serve immediately, with a little more soy sauce to taste.

Asparagus mimosa

It’s that time of year when my lunches often contain some combination of asparagus and egg. I’ve had asparagus with poached egg and asparagus omelette of late, so was looking for something different. This dish makes an interesting change from my standard asparagus-and-egg combos. I had some hard-boiled eggs to use up, so used two in this. If you just use one, you can bring the calorie count down to 215.

Asparagus mimosa (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
110g asparagus 22
2 hard-boiled eggs 126
1½ tsp lemon juice 2
1 tbsp olive oil 120
1 tsp wholegrain Dijon mustard 5
Chopped herbs to taste 2

Total calories per serving: 275 (215 with one egg)

Method: Steam the asparagus for about 8 minutes, or until tender. Dice the egg(s) or grate finely. Beat the oil, mustard and lemon juice together and stir in the herbs (I used garlic chives). Rinse the asparagus under cold water to stop the spears from cooking, then pat dry and arrange on a plate. Pour the vinaigrette over the asparagus and then sprinkle the egg over the top.

Spring omelette

Egyptian walking onionsThe first vegetable I get from my garden in the Spring is the intriguingly-named Egyptian Walking Onion. This plant was given to me by a neighbour about six years ago and it (or its offspring) has been a permanent feature of my front garden bed ever since. (Indeed, I think it is one of those plants that is quite difficult to get rid of, once established – but I’m not complaining!)

Here I’ve used my first harvest of the year to make a very easy omelette. I had two leftover egg whites to use up, so this one has two eggs and two whites, bringing it to 220 calories in all. If I’d just used two eggs it would have been 185 calories. I suppose I could have just used the egg whites and brought the whole dish down to under 100 calories – but there’s something a bit too Hollywood about egg white omelettes, somehow!

Spring omelette (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
5g butter 36
5 spring onions/scallions, trimmed of roots and sliced into short lengths 24
2 eggs, beaten 126
2 egg whites (optional) 34
salt and pepper to taste 0

Total calories per serving: 220 (185 without the egg whites)

Method: Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the sliced onions. Cook for a minute, then pour over the eggs. Season with salt and pepper, to your taste and continue cooking until the top of the omelette is set. Fold in half and serve.

Green lentil and tomato salad

I had an over-indulgent day yesterday which resulted in me waking up with indigestion at 4am. Not nice, so I resolved to have a fasting day today to give my system a break. This salad is about as simple a meal as you can get, but it was an easy, filling lunch and soothed my guilty conscience about abusing my body yesterday!

Green lentil and tomato salad (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
100g/½ cup cooked green lentils 116
40g (5) cherry tomatoes, halved 7
60g iceberg lettuce leaves 8
1 tsp olive oil 40
2 tsp balsamic vinegar 2
salt & pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 175

Method: Arrange lettuce leaves on a plate, then mix the remaining ingredients together and pile on top. If you have some fresh herbs available, it would be good to add some to this dish. Still winter here, so unfortunately not an option for me!

Pork and Pinto curry

I had some leftover pork from a Sunday roast to use up, so it went into this curry with some pinto beans, carrot and onions to make a filling meal for a fasting day. You could easily replace the pork with more beans or with another vegetable to make this a vegetarian or vegan dish. I served it with a cup of brown rice, which adds 140 calories per portion. I also served naan bread for the non-fasters. This is a very mild, child-friendly curry – for a bit more kick you could add chilli powder or a fresh red chilli pepper.

Pork and pinto curry (serves 5)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 cup uncooked pinto beans 134
200g cold roast pork, diced 117
1 tbsp oil 25
1 onion, diced 9
1 tsp ground ginger 1
1 tsp ground cumin 2
1 tsp smoked paprika 1
1 tsp turmeric 2
200g carrot, diced 16
100ml coconut milk 47
salt & pepper 0
1 tbsp cornflour 5

Total calories per serving: 355

Method: Soak the pinto beans in cold water for at least five hours (or cover the beans with just-boiled water to speed up the soaking time to one hour). I cooked mine in the pressure cooker with the diced pork for ten minutes in three cups of water. You’d have to simmer them for an hour if you’re not using a pressure cooker (and I probably wouldn’t put them in with the pork if I was doing it that way). Reserve the cooking water.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, cooking until it is translucent. Add the spices and then the carrot and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, the beans and the pork, adding as much of the beans’ cooking water as needed to make the sauce. Cover and simmer for half an hour, or until the carrots are tender. Stir the cornflour into a few tablespoons of cold water and then add it to the curry, stirring until the sauce thickens up.

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.

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