Archives for posts with tag: under 100 calories

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

I’ve done a pumpkin soup on here before, but this one is spicier and lower in calories (and quicker to make). It’s perfect for a really cold winter’s day, which is what we’re experiencing here right now. The spices are just suggestions – use whatever you have to hand.

Spicy Pumpkin soup (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 tbsp butter or oil 25
1 onion, diced 11
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2
1 tsp cumin seeds 2
1 tsp fenugreek seeds 3
1 tsp coriander seeds 0
1 tsp mustard seeds 4
1 tsp ground ginger 2
1 tsp smoked garlic powder 2
450g pumpkin purée (made from 1 small pie pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cooked) 38

Total calories per serving: 90

Method: Heat the butter or oil in a pan and cook the onions in it until they are going translucent (about five minutes). Meanwhile, heat the whole spices in a dry saucepan until fragrant, then grind (with pestle and mortar or in a blender). Stir the garlic into the diced onions, cook for a minute, then add all of the spices and cook for another minute before adding the pumpkin purée. Cook until the soup is warmed through. If you think it’s too thick, you can add some water or stock to thin it down. I like mine gloopy!


Omelette muffins

I found this recipe here and immediately thought that these low-carb muffins would make a good brunch for a fasting day, or even as breakfast-on-the-hoof if you made a batch at the weekend and ate them over the course of a week, either cold or reheated in a microwave. You can use whatever you have to hand as a filling, just like regular omelettes.

I had some sausages to use up, which raises the calorie content quite a bit, but if you replaced the sausages with the same weight of mushrooms (and a bit of butter to cook them in), these would be very respectable 210 calories for three vegetarian muffins, or 70 each.

Recipe for Omelette muffins (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
200g sausages, cut into 1cm pieces 106
50g sugar snap peas, chopped into small pieces 10
25g kale, sliced 3
8 eggs 126
¼ cup milk 8
½ tsp baking powder 1
salt and pepper, to taste 0
1 tsp oil 10
25g Parmesan, grated 22

Total calories per serving (3 muffins): 285 (95 per muffin)

Method: Pre-heat the oven to 375°F/190°C/Gas mark 5. Cook the sausage pieces over a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until cooked (do the same with 200g chopped mushrooms, in a tablespoon of butter, if doing the vegetarian version). Stir in the peas and kale (or whichever other vegetables you have to hand) and cook for another minute or two, until the kale is soft.

Grease a 12-muffin tin with the oil and distribute the sausage pieces and vegetables among them. Beat the eggs, milk, seasoning and baking powder together and pour into the muffin tin. Sprinkle the grated Parmesan over the top and bake for 15 minutes.

Asparagus and poached egg

This dish  is simple, delicious and very low in calories for a fasting day lunch!

Recipe for Poached egg and asparagus (serves 2)

Ingredient Calories per serving
2 very fresh eggs 63
180g (20 smallish spears) asparagus 18

Total calories per serving: 80

Method: Steam the asparagus for about 5 minutes or until tender. Bring a pan of water to a simmer and break in the eggs. Cook the eggs for 2 minutes, then arrange the asparagus spears on two plates and lift the eggs onto them. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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.

Pork, Mushroom and Cashew Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Adding mushrooms and nuts to ground pork gives some nutritious bulk to a basic meatball mixture. In this meal I combined the meatballs with a simple tomato sauce to make a total calorie count of 215 per serving. You could serve this over wholemeal pasta (a 75g portion per person would add 250 calories to each serving) or just use vegetables as side dishes.

Recipe for Pork, mushroom and cashew meatballs (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
250g ground/minced pork 89
170g mushrooms, diced 9
1 banana shallot, diced 8
50g unsalted cashew nuts 72
1 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried herbs (whatever you have to hand) 1
salt & pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 180

Pork, Mushroom and Cashew MeatballsMethod: Heat your oven to 400°F/200°C. Cook the pork over a medium heat until the fat starts to be released. Then add the chopped shallot and mushrooms. Cook until the vegetables are soft. Put the cashew nuts in a dry pan and roast over a medium heat until they are golden-brown. Put the cashews in a food processor and blitz until they are roughly chopped. Then add the pork mixture, herbs (I used parsley and sage) and seasoning and process until they are combined. Form the mixture into walnut-sized balls and place on a baking sheet (I got 16 out of this mixture). Place in the hot oven and cook until lightly browned (15 to 20 minutes).

Recipe for Tomato sauce (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
400g tomatoes (fresh or canned), blended to a purée 32
2 tsp smoked garlic powder 2
1 tsp paprika 1
salt & pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 35

Method: While the meatballs are cooking, combine the sauce ingredients in a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep warm and serve over the meatballs when they are done.

Definitely my strangest fasting day so far. We had visitors staying with us, so instead of skipping lunch as we have been doing, we made a tomato and vegetable soup from chopped-up tomatoes, carrots, an onion, a small Savoy cabbage, a courgette/zucchini and a litre of stock, along the lines of the soup we had on Day 13, but without pre-roasting the vegetables. Half a teaspoon of hot smoked paprika gives it a nice warming little kick.

Then I had to leave on a business trip, so I wasn’t able to do my usual thing of making a filling supper out of low-calorie ingredients. I grabbed an apple and weighed out a small bagful of blanched almonds. 60g of those comes to a massive 345 calories, so that was all I could have with the apple and the soup.

Spare almondsIt’s now 7.30pm and I’ve still got quite a few of the almonds left, without feeling hugely hungry. On a more normal fasting day I would have consumed all my calories by this time, so perhaps snacking on a handful of nuts all afternoon is just as effective at warding off hunger as dishing up a full plate of legumes and vegetables. It doesn’t feel quite as psychologically satisfying though, I will admit.

An experiment today, to make a change from having soup for lunch on a fasting day.

Recipe for Spinach and parmesan omelette (serves 2)

Ingredients for spinach and parmesan omelette2 eggs
20g spinach, chopped
15g parmesan, grated
freshly ground pepper

Total calories per serving: 95

Method: Put a non-stick pan on a medium heat. Beat eggs together and pour into the pan. Pile the chopped fresh spinach, parmesan and pepper on top of the eggs. As the eggs cook, the spinach will wilt down and the cheese will melt into it. When the eggs have set, divide the cooked omelette into half with a spatula, then fold each half in two and serve.

Spinach and parmesan omelette

It tasted great – now we just have to see if it will keep us fuller for longer than soup does!

Today marks the end of our sixth full week of following the 5:2 way of eating. At the weekend I’ll update our progress in terms of weight loss on the ‘Does it work?’ page so you can see how we’re doing (barring being overtaken by an enormous urge to binge between now and then, I’m thinking it will be good news!). After a bit of experimentation, we seem to have settled on a good way of measuring out the limited calorie allowance of the fasting days: a bowl of nourishing but low-calorie soup for lunch and a more substantial meal with some carbohydrates, a little protein and a lot of vegetables in the evening.

The trick seems to be to delay lunch for as long as possible and then try to do the same with the evening meal in order to avoid going to bed feeling hungry. There’s just something really miserable about trying to sleep on an empty stomach. A year or two ago I interviewed a lady who lived through the Great Depression here and she said that her mother made it a point to feed the children some toast before they went to bed so that they never had to go to sleep hungry. They were often hungry during the day – and the ‘Eat, Fast, Live Longer’ programme noted that life expectancy rates actually rose during the Depression, partly due to people having to live on fewer calories.

Anyway, Day 13. Here’s the recipe for the soup I made today. We had it at 1pm.

Recipe for roasted tomato and summer vegetable soup (serves 4)

Finished soup800g tomatoes, cut into evenly sized pieces
240g courgettes, sliced
2 small red onions, quartered
60g Hungarian hot wax peppers (or jalapenos), halved and de-seeded
½ teaspoon smoked paprika (I put a whole teaspoon in and it was a bit too hot!)
freshly ground black pepper
4 cups/1 litre stock

Total calories per serving: 70

Method: Put the sliced vegetables onto a baking sheet with a few grinds of black pepper and roast at 350°F/180°C for 30 minutes. After that time they looked like this:

Roasted vegetables

(and smelt amazing).

Blend them in a food processor or blender, then stir in the smoked paprika and stock. Heat until warmed through, taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.

Bean and tomato soup

Back to the soup-for-lunch plan today, as the fruit plan on Day 10 left us ravenously hungry by bedtime. The beans should make this soup filling enough to keep us going until later than we managed on Day 10 and still leave 400 calories for supper. If you’re using dry beans, you need to think about this dish a day in advance so that you have time to soak them.

Recipe for Bean and tomato soup (serves 4)

Haricot beans150g dried haricot beans
1 tsp oil
2 small onions (115g), peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 carrots (100g), diced
½ tsp smoked paprika
250ml tomato sauce (mine was made from blended fresh tomatoes, simmered for an hour or two to concentrate the purée – you could also use blended canned tomatoes)
300ml water or stock
1 tsp cider vinegar
salt and pepper
5g parsley, chopped

Total calories per serving: 75

Method: Soak the beans in water for 24 hours. Drain them, put them in a pan, cover with fresh water and bring to the boil. After ten minutes of boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for about an hour or until tender. When the beans are done, blend most of them along with the water they cooked in (for me this made about 500ml of liquid), reserving some of the beans to add whole to the soup.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions, garlic, carrots, and smoked paprika. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the onions are translucent and then stir in the tomatoes, blended and whole beans, and the water or stock (the quantity of water or stock will depend on how much liquid you got from blending the beans and how thick you want the soup: just add what seems right).

Simmer until the carrots are tender (about 20 minutes), then remove from the heat, stir in the vinegar, seasonings, and parsley and serve, putting a little parsley on top for decoration if you feel so inclined. The vinegar and parsley are there for flavour, but also because they can help your body to digest beans if you don’t eat them very often.

The soup felt very filling and hearty. Now to see if it will keep hunger pangs at bay until supper!

Last Friday started off as a usual day. I had my usual slice of toast for breakfast. Then my husband read an article about the 5:2 diet and the whole day changed into something strange. We watched the BBC Horizon ‘Eat, Fast, Live Longer’ documentary about fasting and the health benefits associated with it. Suddenly, we’re agreeing that this intermittent fasting sounds like a great idea and why not start right now?

The normal breakfast made it difficult to come up with two more meals in a day that were going to keep under the 600 (for him) and 500 (for me) calorie limits. So we decided to have just one more meal and I made a big pot of roasted tomato, zucchini and cayenne pepper soup which we ate in the late afternoon with one slice of bread each. Total calories for the bread and soup: 170.

I had one moment towards the end of the day when I came over a bit sweaty and dizzy, but apart from that, neither of us felt any ill-effects and we enjoyed our weekend of eating and drinking normally.

Recipe for roasted tomato and vegetable soup (serves 4)

1lb ripe tomatoes, quartered
2 small zucchini, cut into chunks
1 cayenne pepper, de-seeded
2 onions, peeled and quartered
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 pint chicken or vegetable stock
Herbs to taste: oregano, basil, thyme

Total calories per portion: 70

Method: roast vegetables at 375°F/190°C until browned at the edges. Blend in a food processor with the herbs. Tip into a pan, stir in the stock and heat through. Can be served hot or cold (we had it hot the first day and cold as our lunch on Day 2).

(I used the recipe calorie calculator at to get the calorie totals – it’s a really useful tool for estimating the calories in a prepared meal.)

We’ve decided to fast on Mondays and Fridays. Looking forward to it, in a perverse, up-for-a-challenge kind of way…