Archives for the month of: January, 2013

Egg Fried Rice

Brown rice takes longer to cook than white, but on a fasting day it’s so much better than white for filling you up. It’s better any day really, because it has a lot more nutritional value than the more processed white version. It doesn’t keep so well, though, with a shelf life of six months compared to white rice’s potential shelf life of 25 to 30 years!.

Recipe for Egg Fried Rice (serves 4)

Ingredients for Egg Fried Rice200g brown basmati rice
165g broccoli, cut small
2 tsp sunflower oil
1 tsp sesame oil
4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
290g lean beef or mushrooms, cut into thin strips
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp soy sauce

Total calories per serving: 400 (with beef) or 285 (with mushrooms)

Method: Cook the rice in two cups (500ml) of water for 20 minutes, or until tender. Steam the broccoli for a few minutes (you can do this by sitting the broccoli atop the almost-cooked rice). Heat a wok or large frying pan and add the oil when it’s good and hot. Cook the beef or mushrooms for a minute or two (if you’re using mushrooms, you might want to use more oil (a tablespoon is about 30 calories)), then add the sliced spring onions, broccoli and rice, stirring for a minute. Push the rice mixture to the side of the pan and add the eggs, then stir the eggs into the rice until they are cooked. Turn off the heat and add soy sauce to the rice before serving. I topped this off with some alfalfa sprouts (negligible in calories!).


Two-squash and shiitake bake

This flavoursome, filling, and frugal dish takes a while to put together, although most of that is unattended cooking time and doesn’t involve much effort. You can also make it in advance, so this might be something you could construct on a day off and reheat on a fasting day for a main meal. I used two different squashes but you could just use one type if you have a big one (our dry summer last year meant that mine are on the bijou side).

Recipe for Two-squash and shiitake bake (serves 4)

Ingredients for two-squash and shiitake bake50g dried (250g fresh) shiitake mushrooms
1 small butternut squash (360g cooked weight)
1 small spaghetti squash (360g cooked weight)
100g shallots
1 head of garlic (about 8 cloves)
90g/½ cup brown basmati rice
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper

Total calories per serving:  220

Method: Bake the whole squash at 350°F/180°C for one and a half hours, or until fully cooked. Put the whole shallots and head of garlic in the oven for the last half-hour of the squashes’ cooking time. Cover the mushrooms in hot water and soak them for about an hour until they have rehydrated. Keep the soaking liquid. Once the squashes and shallots are cooked, allow them to cool down enough to handle (around 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, cook the rice in one cup of the mushrooms’ soaking liquid for 20 minutes, or until done. Stir the soy sauce into the cooked rice and slice the mushrooms (you can discard the stems if they seem tough). Cut the squashes open and remove the seeds, then scrape the flesh into two separate bowls, one for each squash. Mash the smoked paprika (or whatever spices you like best) into the butternut squash with a little salt and pepper. Peel and slice the cooked shallots and stir them into the spaghetti squash. Squeeze out the soft garlic from inside the cloves of the garlic head and add that with some seasoning to the spaghetti squash, too.

Now all you need to do is assemble the dish. Line a one-pound loaf tin with parchment paper and layer in the ingredients. I did mine in this order: butternut, mushrooms, rice, mushrooms, spaghetti squash. Cover the top of the loaf tin with a layer of foil. When you’re ready to eat, bake the loaf for 30-40 minutes at 350°F/180°C, until piping hot. Remove the foil and carefully turn the loaf out on to a plate. Hopefully to exclamations of appreciation from your audience. (Although be warned that it will collapse as you cut into it…). I served this with some lime and mango pickle on the side to add some extra kick for another 25 calories.

Coconut chicken and mushroom curryRecipe for Coconut chicken and mushroom curry (serves 6)

650g boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp oil
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tsp curry powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 whole red chilli, chopped (or 1 tsp chilli powder)
salt and pepper
250 ml coconut milk
200g chestnut mushrooms, halved or quartered
1½ cups brown rice

Total calories per serving: 490

Method: Heat the oven to 160°C/325°F. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds over a medium heat, then grind to a powder with a pestle and mortar (or you can just use ready-ground spices and add them with the other spices later). Heat the oil in a pan and brown the chicken breasts on all sides at a high heat. Remove the chicken to a plate, add the onions and cook over a lower heat until soft. Stir in the garlic, ginger, spices and chilli, cook briefly and then add the coconut milk. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer for 40 minutes until the chicken is cooked. When the chicken has been cooking for 15 minutes, put the rice in a pan with 3 cups of water and bring to a simmer. The rice will take 20 minutes to cook from that point. Add the mushrooms to the chicken ten minutes before the end of the cooking time. When the chicken has finished cooking, serve the curry over the rice.

Garlic lemon fish and chips

This meal can be thrown together pretty quickly, which is ideal on a fasting day. I do like to soak the chipped potatoes in water for a couple of hours before cooking them, but you can skip that step if you’re in a hurry. This is also a meal that kids like: it’s good to have something that everyone, fasters and non-fasters, can enjoy together (makes the fasters feel a bit less weird). And, for what it’s worth, my son’s verdict on these chips was “These fries don’t need ketchup!”. Which, I think you will agree, is praise indeed.

Recipe for Garlic and lemon fish and chips (serves 4)

840g (4 medium) potatoes
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper
450g/1 lb fresh or frozen tilapia or sole fillets
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp butter
275g broccoli

Total calories per serving: 300

Method: Cut the potatoes into chips (I don’t peel them) and soak them for an hour or two in a pan of cold water. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F and while it’s warming up, heat the pan of chips until the water is boiling, then take it off the heat and drain the chips. Let them stand for a few minutes to cool down and dry out. Toss the dry chips in the oil and season them with paprika, salt and pepper. Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and put into the oven for around 30 minutes, giving them an occasional stir to ensure that they cook evenly.

Lay the tilapia fillets in a single layer in an ovenproof dish, then melt the butter, mix it with the lemon juice and drizzle it over the fish. Scatter the garlic over the top and add some freshly-ground black pepper. The fish will take around 12-15 minutes to cook in the oven if the fish fillets were still frozen, or 8-10 minutes if fresh. Steam the broccoli while the fish and chips finish cooking and then serve the meal, pouring the juices from the fish pan over the fillets.


Home-made stock is a very different beast from stock made from a cube or sachet, which makes it difficult to count calories. I made this chicken stock by slow-cooking two chicken legs for three hours (the meat went into the stir-fry I made the other day). The end result, once refrigerated, is a thick, gelatinous stock with a thin layer of fat on the top. I’m guessing this is about 80 calories per serving, but that is just a guess! If you use a packet stock, it will be a lot lower in calories.

Recipe for Chicken noodle soup (serves 2)

Chicken noodle soup ingredients1 tsp oil
75g onions, diced
55g carrots, sliced
500ml home-made chicken stock
55g dry egg noodles

Total calories per serving: 240 (or 190 if you make the stock from a cube/powder)

Method: Warm the oil over a lowish heat and add the onion and carrot, cooking until the onions are soft. Stir in the stock and simmer for 20 minutes, until the carrots are cooked. Break the noodles into small pieces (the easiest/least messy way to do this by putting them in a sturdy plastic bag and bashing them with a rolling pin) and add to the soup, cooking for a further minute until they are soft.

Chicken and Vegetable Stir-fryRecipe for Chicken and vegetable stir-fry (serves 3)

1 tbsp oil
230g red cabbage, sliced
65g onions, sliced
285g cooked chicken leg meat, diced
170g dried egg noodles
2 tbsps soy sauce

Total calories per serving: 470

Method: Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions and drain them. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the red cabbage, cooking over a medium heat until wilted. Add the onions and cook until they have softened. Stir in the chicken pieces and the noodles and cook over a high heat until heated through. Stir in soy sauce and serve.

Cabbage and Sunchoke currysunchokesIt’s about as wintry as it gets here now, so there isn’t much to be harvested from the garden. When the ground warms up enough to be able to get a fork in it, it is still possible to dig up the Jerusalem artichoke (aka sunchoke) tubers. Once you plant sunchokes, you will have them forever. But they’re pretty when they flower and give you free food when there’s not much else to eat, so if you’ve got space for them, they’re worth planting. Here I’ve paired them with white cabbage for a filling, warming, vegan curry.

Recipe for Cabbage and sunchoke curry (serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
100g onion
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 cloves
6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 tsp coriander seeds
3 tsp cumin seeds
Ingredients for Cabbage and sunchoke curry1 dried red chilli (or 1 tsp chilli powder)
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground turmeric
280g Jerusalem artichokes, cleaned and cut into chunks
420g cabbage, sliced
415g tomatoes (fresh or canned), blended
½ cup/100ml coconut milk
salt & pepper
1 cup/175g brown rice

Total calories per serving: 400

Method: Fry the sliced onions in the oil until soft. Dry-roast the whole spices in a pan until fragrant, then grind them up with the dried chilli (if using). Add the garlic and all the spices to the onions, then stir in the cabbage and artichoke pieces until they are all coated with the spices. Add the tomatoes and coconut milk and enough water to almost cover the cabbage (bearing in mind that the cabbages will wilt down into the liquid as they cook).

Simmer on a low heat for about an hour. The brown rice will take 20 minutes to cook in 2 cups of water. Taste the curry and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over the rice and sprinkle with a little chopped parsley.

2013-01-06-127This is a really easy soup which can be dressed up for omnivores with a bacon garnish or dressed down for vegans by leaving out the cheese.

Recipe for Cauliflower, potato and Cheddar soup (serves 4)

1 litre vegetable stock
400g potato, peeled and cut into small pieces
500g cauliflower, cut into florets
salt and pepper
100g Cheddar, grated or diced
100g bacon (optional), cut into small strips and fried

Calories per serving: 300 (or 160 without the bacon and 120 without the bacon or cheese)

Method: Heat the stock to simmering point and add the diced potato and cauliflower. Cook for around 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and blitz in a blender until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Stir in the grated cheese, if using, and return to the heat until it has melted into the soup.

Dish up into bowls and top with the fried bacon strips (or some cheese if vegetarian, or a little chopped parsley if vegan). If I were just making this for vegans, I’d be tempted to add a can of drained white beans before blending the soup to provide a bit more protein and creaminess. That would bring the calories up to 190 per serving.