Archives for the month of: April, 2013

Almond and Lemon CouscousThis is a very easy side dish for a fasting day: filling and tasty, too! It would serve four as a main course (at around 240 calories).

Recipe for Almond and lemon couscous (serves 5)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 cup wholemeal couscous 130
½ cup flaked almonds 54
1½ cups stock 3
zest and juice of half a lemon 2

Total calories per serving: 190

Method: Dry-roast the almond slices in a frying pan over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown. Heat the stock to boiling point and pour over the dry couscous. Stir and leave to rest until the water has all been absorbed, then stir in the almonds and lemon.


Realistically, you probably won’t want to use up 240 of your fasting-day calories on a dessert. But I’m including this here because it proves that not all delicious desserts have to be dripping with calories.

Maple Vanilla Gelato

Recipe for Maple vanilla gelato (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 litre/4 cups milk (2% fat) 129
1 vanilla pod (or 1 tsp vanilla extract) 0 (3)
¼ cup maple syrup (or sugar) 51 (48)
4 eggs 63

Total calories per serving: 240

Method: Split the vanilla pod (if using) with a knife and put in a pan with the milk and maple syrup/sugar. Heat the milk to boiling point and then leave to infuse for ten minutes or so. Break the eggs into a blender and whizz until smooth (this avoids having lumps of egg white in the finished desert). Reheat the milk until hot and pour over the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan and heat over a medium flame, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl over some ice cubes to cool it down before freezing according to your ice cream maker’s instructions (add vanilla extract at this point, if that’s what you’re using).

Smoked Mackerel PateRecipe for Smoked mackerel paté (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
80g smoked mackerel fillets 62
100g cream cheese 87
3 tbsp plain yoghurt (2% fat) 35
2 tbsp lemon juice 2
Small bunch of dill 2
Freshly ground pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 190

Method: Remove any skin from the mackerel fillets and put them in a food processor with the other ingredients. Blend to a slightly lumpy consistency. I served these with the home made tortilla chips I’ve made before (one tortilla brushed with butter and sprinkled with poppy seeds is about 180 calories).

Shrimp Chow Mein
Recipe for Shrimp chow mein (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
3 tbsps soy sauce 6
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 2
1 lb/454g raw peeled shrimp/prawns 135
170g dry noodles 140
1 tbsp oil 30
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced 11
160g broccoli, cut into florets 11

Total calories per serving: 335

Method: Combine the shrimp/prawns with two tablespoons of the soy sauce and the crushed garlic and leave on one side to marinate. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions and steam the broccoli. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and then cook the onion. Stir in the prawns/shrimp and broccoli and when the seafood is cooked through, add the drained noodles and the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce. Stir until warmed through and then serve.

Poached Egg on Wilted Greens

Bloody Dock and KaleAt this time of year I’m just starting to get some fresh green leaves from our greenhouse. In this recipe I’ve used blood-veined sorrel (also called Bloody Dock), parsley and a shoot of young garlic, but you could use spinach, kale, chard or any other dark green leaf. The sorrel is a very hardy plant and the young leaves have a tart, lemony flavour which I think goes particularly well with the rich creaminess of the egg.

Recipe for Poached egg and wilted greens on toast (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 slice wholemeal bread 81
1 very fresh egg 63
1 tsp butter 34
20g (a handful) of sorrel or spinach leaves 4
a few sprigs of parsley 5
1 green garlic shoot or a spring onion, finely sliced 5
salt and pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 195

Method: Toast the bread while you bring a small pan of water to a gentle simmer. Poach the egg for two minutes and, in the meantime, heat the butter in another pan and gently cook the green ingredients until the leaves have just wilted. Then assemble and enjoy!

Pork, Mushroom and Broccoli Egg Fried Rice

I know I’ve done a recipe for Egg Fried Rice already on this blog, but it didn’t have the calorie breakdown in it, so I thought it was worth repeating myself with this one. Also, this photo was really hard to take with two teenagers begging to be allowed to take their portions away, so I’d hate not to use it!

Recipe for Pork, mushroom and broccoli egg fried rice (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 cup brown basmati rice 169
230g broccoli, cut into florets 16
1 tsp sesame oil 10
2 tbsp soy sauce 4
1 tsp fish sauce (or Worcestershire sauce) 1
1 tsp ground ginger 2
1 tsp ground allspice 1
100g lean pork, thinly sliced 36
1 tbsp peanut oil 30
60g (1 medium) onion, halved and sliced 6
100g mushrooms, sliced or quartered 5
2 eggs, beaten 31

Total calories per serving: 310

Method: Cook the rice in two cups of water and allow to cool. Steam the broccoli for five minutes. Meanwhile, mix the sesame oil, one tablespoon of the soy sauce, ginger, allspice and fish sauce together and use them as a marinade for the strips of pork.

Heat the peanut oil in a large frying pan or wok and then cook the pork, onion and mushrooms for five minutes or so over a fairly high heat. When the meat is browned, stir in the rice, the broccoli and the remaining soy sauce. Stir for a minute or two and then clear a space in the centre of the pan. Pour in the beaten eggs and turn the heat down to medium for two or three minutes, or until the egg is set. Then mix the cooked egg into the other ingredients and serve.

Summer Fruit SmoothieRecipe for Summer fruit smoothie (serves 2)

Ingredient Calories per serving
400ml/1⅔ cups 2% milk 103
1 banana 53
100g/4oz mixed summer fruit (fresh or frozen) 16
2 tsp sugar/honey/maple syrup 16
60g/2 tbsps plain yoghurt 11

Total calories per serving: 200

Method: Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

Vegetable samoseRecipe for Vegetable samose (serves 6)

Ingredient Calories per serving
340g (3 small) potatoes, cut into small dice 59
1 tsp oil or butter 10
60g (1 medium) onion, diced 12
2 cloves garlic, crushed 2
1 tsp ground coriander 1
1 tsp turmeric 2
1 tsp ground ginger 1
100g peas (fresh or frozen) 20
salt and pepper 0
12 sheets filo/phyllo pastry 219
24 sprays oil 30
1 egg 16

Total calories per serving: 250 (62 calories per samosa)

Method: Cook the diced potato for 10 minutes in simmering water, adding the peas for the last two minutes of cooking time. Heat the butter or oil and gently fry the diced onion until softened. Add the spices and garlic and cook for a further minute or two. Drain the potatoes and peas and add to the onion mixture, stirring well (off the heat) to combine. Season to your taste.

Spread one of the filo sheets on a work surface and lightly spray with oil. Lay another sheet on top and cut the sheets into four equal strips. Put a tablespoon full of the samosa filling onto the bottom of each strip and then fold them into triangle shapes, starting at the bottom and working up to the top:

Samose filling

Repeat this process until you have 24 samose, keeping the unused filo sheets covered with a damp cloth to stop them from drying out.

Preheat your oven to 375°F/190°C. Arrange the samose on baking sheets and brush them with beaten egg. Bake them for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Black Bean and Feta Salad

Canned beans are a great store-cupboard staple for fasting days. Dried beans are cheaper to buy but need a bit more forward planning as you have to soak them overnight and boil them for an hour. They do keep well in the fridge, once cooked, and I find that I prefer the texture of home-cooked beans to canned ones. Either way, they are filling and nutritious and ideal for fasting days!

This is a very simple salad which should keep you full for a few hours.

Recipe for Black bean and feta salad (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
100g cooked black beans 132
50g cherry tomatoes, halved 9
40g feta cheese 106

Total calories per serving: 245

I heard about the Live Below the Line challenge today and thought it sounded interesting. The premise is that you sign up and undertake to spend less than $1.50 (US), $1.75 (CA), $2.00 (AUS) or £1.00 a day (the equivalent of living on the extreme poverty line) for five days on food (while raising funds to help combat poverty).

After half a year of finding the best way of making 500 calories fill me up in a day on an intermittent fasting diet, I was intrigued to see how it might be possible to approach this challenge and stretch the funds to get the most nutritious and filling meals possible.

I sat down this evening with my notional £5.00 for the five days and went on a virtual shopping expedition at Tesco to see how far my money would stretch. It soon became clear that I would have to cheat a little, because it’s impossible to buy certain foods in small enough quantities to last only five days (vegetable oil and spices, for example). So I’ve divided the cost of those by the quantity I’d use, on the assumption that I’d pool my resources with others and share the cost, if I were ever unlucky enough to be in this situation.

My experience with fasting tells me that legumes and brown rice would be good purchases for cheap protein and filling carbohydrates. so those were top of my list. Onions pack a lot of flavour for not a lot of cost, as do tomatoes in the form of passata. I spent the rest of my money on cheap eggs, vegetable oil and spices. Here’s the breakdown:

Quantity Food item Cost (£) No. of servings Calories per serving Total calories
500g brown rice 0.89 10 180 1,800
500g lentils 1.09 5 350 1,750
500g onions 0.32 5 40 200
15 eggs 1.34 5 190 950
1,000g passata 0.58 5 85 425
50g garam masala 0.50 5 0 0
100ml vegetable oil 0.15 10 81 810
Total cost 4.87 Total calories 5,935

It doesn’t look very exciting, does it? I think I’d be wanting to team up with three other people with slightly different choices in order to get some more variation in my meals over the five days. But at least I’d be able to fill up on the rice and make some basic soups and curries. With 1,187 calories for each day, I probably wouldn’t exactly be going hungry, but I certainly wouldn’t be eating enough to cover my total daily energy expenditure, even at a sedentary level of activity (1,600 calories for my weight and height).

How would you spend your money?