Take one tray of prawns…

I don’t usually like fasting when I’m at home – far too many temptations around.  But circumstances this week made it unavoidable, and in retrospect it was much easier than I’d imagined.  Largely down to a reduced 300g pack of cooked prawns I found for 75p in the supermarket, which I proceeded to turn into lunch and dinner.


Prawns are a faster’s friend – at only 65 calories per 100g it is possible to have a very satisfying meal within the 500 daily allowance.

For lunch, I took a good handful of rocket leaves, some chopped cherry tomatoes, 100g of the prawns, and a tub of grapefruit segments in juice (there are 40 cals per pot, and another of my fast day saviours). I garnished the lot with some slivers of sushi ginger, and the whole plateful comes in about 150 calories.  The taste combinations are superb – prawn and tomato are a tried and tested marriage, but the addition of the peppery rocket and the juicy bittersweet grapefruit, with a zing from the ginger, was a very refreshing and flavourful meal.


I noticed that my tomatoes were past their best, so for dinner I simmered them with a chopped stick of celery in a splash of red wine, and added a squeeze each of sun dried tomato puree, basil paste and umami. And a blob of minced garlic.

Image I sieved the resulting pulp to make a good flavoured sauce, although it was on the runny side.  I added the rest of my prawns to this, and served with zero-noodles, for a total meal of about 200 cals.  Next time I’d add some veg – sliced mushrooms, or diced courgette maybe.


5and2: Celeriac Mash

With the weather being so cold outside, I really fancied some comfort food in a sausage-and-mash style. Quorn based bangers are lower in calorie and pack a good protein punch, so I picked up a pack of Cauldron Cumberland Sausages from Sainsburys (75 cals apiece).

To go with them, I wanted to use up the half a celeriac that’s been lurking in the fridge ever since I tried emulating the sweet potato and celeriac soup we enjoyed on New Years Eve.

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For one person, I peeld and chopped a quarter of the celeriac – about 160g and 70 cals. I simmered it for about 25 minutes till soft, having added a squirt of marmite to the water for extra flavour. I drained and then mashed with a tablespoonful of light creme fraiche (25 cals), and a few chopped spring onions.

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I made a gravy by cooking some shitake mushrooms in some water that I’d soaked a sprinkle of porcini in. 1-2 mins in the microwave, for 25 cals.

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It looked very appetising on the plate, was a very substantial meal for under 300 cals.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to try this – I’ve certainly heard it discussed on MyFitnessPal and 5:2 groups before now. I guess I’m not that big a fan of pizza – it’s OK, I’ll eat it, but I wouldn’t be distraught if I lived in a world without pizza.

But the rest of the household fancied making pizza from scratch at the weekend, and I reckoned it would be a good opportunity to try this base, since we’d be preparing the same toppings.

2014-01-18 15.45.06 I nearly fell at the first hurdle – no fresh cauliflower in the supermarket!  But undaunted I got some frozen stuff instead.  I cooked 200g in the microwave until soft. I then blitzed that with an egg, some half-fat mozarella, some grated parmesan, a handful of basil leaves, and seasoned with spicy Sicilian salt, black pepper, and garlic granules.

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Formed that into a round shape, and baked in the oven for 10 minutes until firm.2014-01-18 18.30.10

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Topped with pizza sauce, sliced mushrooms, green pepper, artichoke hearts, olives and anchovies and some more half-fat mozarella.

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The result was absolutely delicous, and I’ll definitely be trying this again.  There’s obviously endless variations of toppings which could be used – cheese and salami will push the calorie count up, but the base is around 200-250 calories.

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5and2: courgettes and chorizo

Well, I’ve been 5and2ing for a whole year now, and it’s become a fairly easy habitual way of eating. But I’ve got lazy about sharing my recipes, so as there are lots of new adherents out there in Tinternetland (Hi mom!), my new year’s resolution is to share more fast day ideas.

Newpapers and magazines are full of January diet zeal, and amonsgt the unrealistic promises and hype, there are some good recipe ideas.  Here’s one I adapted from such a source.


Approx calories in brackets.

1 medium courgette (20), 20g chorizo (100), 6-10 cherry tomatoes (30), 1 tbsp tomato puree (10), garlic, flat leaf parsley. Total about 160 cals.

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Using a vegetable peeler, take a long strip off the courgette, and discard that bit.  Turn it over so that it now sits on a flat base, and peel a strip off the other side – discard.  Peel the rest of the courgette into thin ribbons.  I used a cheese parer, but a potato peeler would do, or else just use a sharp knife.

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Cut the chorizo into thin discs. Put them in a heated frying pan with no extra oil, and let them crisp.

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Remove the choirzo and set aside. To the oil it has released, add garlic (one crushed clove, I used a tsp of ready minced stuff from a jar), and a  tablespon of tomato puree – I used some fancy sun-dried tomato puree, but any would do.

Add the courgette and stir them over a medium heat until soft.

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Add the cherry tomatoes, halved.  At this point I remembered I don’t like tomato skins, but the end result wasn’t too annoying.  Life is too short to skin cherry toms, but if I were doing this with larger ones I might take the skins off.  A couple of tinned tomatoes would work also.

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Pile into a bowl, top with the chorizo crisps, and a spinkle of flat leaf parsley.  I always add parsley to garlicky dishes.  This one turned out very garlicky, so I might leave it out altogether next time.

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Scallop brochettes

Scallop brochettes

Little queen scallops wrapped in prosciutto, served over wilted spinach. Skewers seasoned with lemon pepper, some Sicilian salt and lemon juice on the spinach. Total calories 155.

5 and 2: zumba and trout

I was delighted this week to get in touch again with my zumba class – thanks to the magic power of Facebook. Since finishing the half-marathon last month I’ve been running less, so I’ve been looking for different ways to keep active.  I love anything even vaguely dance-related, and it’s hard to do zumba without a smile on your face.

My Monday fast this week went well, and I’d found a tub of Tom-Yum soup in the freezer which I used for my evening meal.

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I still have to battle my sweet tooth, but I’ve found these cereal bars are nicely chewy for only 75 calories and a few grams of sugar.  The Tesco caramel one is my favourite.

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Wednesday was a non-fast day, and the supermarket were selling 2 trout fillets for £4.  I had one wrapped in foil with a few sliced mushrooms and some Greek basil.  And the other for my Thursday fast meal – I cooked it in a bowl with a plate over the top in the microwave – I added a few slices of lemon and a splash of white wine.  I served it with some asparagus spears, also done in the microwave, and a sort of tartare sauce made with fromage frais, capers and finely chopped pickled onions.  It was absolutely delicious!  I’m glad I’ve been reminded about trout – half the calories of salmon, much less fat, and the same amount of protein.

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All in all, a good week!

5and2: summer meals

Like many others on this way of eating, the warm summer weather has been great for encouraging the eating of salads. and getting out in the fresh air for some exercise. Having had some disruption due to holidays and the like, I got back into the swing of 2 fast days this week – and couldn’t quite believe how easy they felt!

I’ve got into the habit now of pushing through the fast morning on just black coffees, Bovril and flavoured teas.  On Tuesday I had a miso soup for lunch – I really enjoy these, just the right level of savoury saltiness, and quite satisfying.  For dinner, I made a microwave omelette with one egg, 2 egg whites, some sliced mushrooms and leftover roast chicken pieces.  I served it on a bed of salad leaves and a dollop of hot sauce.  Actually, the hot sauce wasn’t necessary…

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On Thursday I had an unavoidable lunch date with a friend (she was lending me a costume for a fancy dress party on Friday night).  We met at IKEA, where I chose the gravad lax, but didn’t eat the dressing, and added some simple side salad items – tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, pickles.  It’s nice not to feel restricted, and be able to find SOMETHING to eat while being a lady-who-lunches.  Dinner was a simple salad plate – pastrami, mushrooms and cucumber, with some roast red peppers from a jar.  I followed this with a couple of tablespoons of cottage cheese mixed with 10 raspberries – very tasty indeed!

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I made myself a cooling drink of water infused with cucumber, Greek basil and lime, and swanned around in a maxi dress pretending I looked sophisticated 😉

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I had no headaches, no insurmountable hunger pangs – I do still feel quite tired on fast day evenings, but I sleep really well, which is a blessing in this heat.

5and2 the perils of online shopping

I decided to treat myself to a colour in my hair this time. At husband’s suggestion, I was keen to go blonde, but my hairdresser felt that it would be too harsh for my colouring, so I’m a fiery redhead instead.

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I’m finding more and more of my clothes are just too baggy on me, so I thought I’d replace the sackfuls I’d given away with some key pieces for a stylish new wardrobe.  I consulted the wise style counsellors of Mumsnet, and ordered a lightweight jumper from Warehouse.  I placed the order from the comfort of my sofa last Saturday night.  They tried to deliver on Tuesday, but no-one was in, so they left a card.  I rang the number and asked them to redeliver on Wednesday.  This meant asking my husband to stay near the house, despite the glorious weather that he was dying to get out on a motorbike in. On Wednesday at 10 to 6, I got a call on my mobile to say that they couldn’t find my house.  (I don’t believe this).  I asked them to redeliver the next day.  On Thursday I rang to see what time they’d be delivering, but a guy in the depot said no, it would be Friday afternoon.  Friday came and went with neither communication nor delivery.  I rang on Saturday morning, only to be told that the package hadn’t left there since it was returned on Tuesday – none of the 3 people I’d spoken to during the week had written the message down!  I find all of this very hard to believe.  But seriously, how does a courier company like this (DPD) keep going?  That is customer service at its very worst.  Still no parcel, by the way.

Tuesday’s fast food was unremarkable – miso soup for lunch, homemade vegetable soup for dinner, and a ginger beer after dog-training.

Thursday’s fast lunch was broccoli and chilli soup.  I’d made this a while ago, but husband wasn’t too keen on it, so I froze what was leftover.  I had it with half a bag of alfresco salad from Tesco (25 cals for the half bag – very good crunchy snack food!).  The weather was so warm I just ate it cold.  It wasn’t too bad, tasted just a little oily, but later in the afternoon my stomach started to really complain.  I was due to go out for a run, but didn’t think it wise to be too far away from a loo, so I came home from work and just dozed on the sofa.  Not ideal, but at least it stopped me snacking.

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Friday weigh-in, still at 133 pounds.  I’m Ok with that, I know those last 3 pounds will come off slowly, and I have a half-marathon coming up so I want to make sure I’m properly fuelled for that, and then Disneyland Paris at the end of June!  If I can ever get my holiday wardrobe delivered….

5and2: False lows and false economies

Why are people so hard on themselves? I think it was the Mumsnet lot (they are particularly self-critical) where someone wouldn’t record a new low weight seen on the scales after a fast because “it was a false low”.


Weight varies up and down during the day. It will increase depending on what food you’ve eaten and how recently, what kind of food it was, what exercise you’ve done, what clothes you’re wearing. But the lowest weight will be your empty and naked weight. To me, that’s the sensible one to measure and record – so that’s first thing in the morning, no clothes, after a pee. If that’s lower than the last time I measured, I’ll record it. If it’s not, I’ll ignore it.

And another thing – debates about where your waist is? It’s the smallest distance around your middle. Again, why all the angst about measuring such and such a distance from your belly button etc – go with the smallest. That’s not cheating. Sometimes it’s as if people are deliberately trying to find ways to fail.

New lows for me this week – 134 pounds, and a waist size of 28 inches.

And after last week’s enthusing about M&S, this week they’ve disappointed me:

Following recommendations from other forums  for the Delicious and Nutritious range, I’d enjoyed the tuna mooli wraps for lunch last week. But I felt they were expensive at £3.50. On Saturday, shopping for something else in the Lisburn store, I got a voucher for £1 off the D&N range. Great, I thought, I’ll have something nice for dinner on Thursday! I couldn’t find any calorie info about the range online, but during the day I’d left  200-250 calories for my meal. So here’s what happened next.

  1.  I went out of my way to go to the Forestside store where I thought there’d be the largest range.
  2.  It wasn’t easy to find the D&N range, seemed to be in several places.
  3. None of the main meals came in at under 350 calories, and most were 400-500 and above.
  4.  I went back to the mooli wraps, and chose a beef one. At the till, it transpired that the £1 off did not apply to salads and wraps. Just how petty a decision was that!
  5. The barcode when scanned into MyFitnessPal came up as the pork ones, not beef.

This was a thoroughly disheartening experience, and I will not be rushing back, even to utilise that £1 off voucher. To be fair, I emailed the above complaints, and they replied within 24 hours, but the whole frustrating business has left a bad taste.  I reckon I’m better making my own meals, rather than relying on ready made ones.

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The chicken souvlaki I mentioned last week were rather tasty, at 70 cals apiece.  I’d planned to eat all 4, but husband thought they looked tasty too, so I ended up sharing with him.  With a large salad, probably 150 cals for the whole meal. These can’t be too hard to make myself, surely!

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I cannot pass by a bargain, and these little smoked salmon appetisers were reduced to 99p – 25 calories for 3 miniature bites of deliciousness.

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Next week I think I might dig out those miracle pasta sachets, and try them with some home made bolognese I have in the freezer.



5and2: M&S ready meals

I had Monday and Wednesday as my fast days this week, as it was full on busy every day!

On Monday I was struggling to go completely without food, so I had Ryvita with low-low cheese during the day, and some Bovril and miso soup. For dinner I had some leftover boiled ham, along with a salad of cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pearls and a pesto dressing.  I’d bought some of the new Nakd bars with added soya chunks for protein (they’re much tastier than that sounds!) and had one of those as a very satisfying 100 calories sweet tooth calmer.

I was taking Thursday off to go to the Balmoral Show with my sister, so I didn’t really want to have that as a fast day.  Which left Wednesday.  But I was going straight to a governors meeting after work, and didn’t want to be too rumbly in the tumbly.  So I decided to try out the highly recommended Marks and Spencers delicious and nutritious mooli ribbon meal.

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This comes in duck, beef, or tuna varieties – I chose the latter as it had the lowest sugar content.  It also came with  edamame beans, which I love.  It was pretty tasty, filled its purpose for a mere 150 calories, but at £3.50 I balked at the price.  Luckily I’ve since picked up a £1 off voucher, so I may try another selection from the  range next week.

Another find was the little souvlaki chicken kebabs, at only 70 calories per skewer – very tasty indeed!

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It feels good to be fasting 2 days a week – I can tell that my body likes this approach.  My weight is still creeping down slowly – the afternoon girly shopping trip with my sister netted a lovely size 8 jacket (also from M&S, I really should buy shares in the place), and I’m currently wearing a pair of size 12 jeans which are decidedly baggy and which will be going in the charity shop bag after they’re washed.

Oh, and lovely surprise of the week – I received a phone call from my old University that I’d won an iPad in a draw, so I had to go over there and get my photograph taken being presented with it.  So I took the opportunity to wear an outfit I’d bought recently on the half-price rail at – yes, you’ve guessed it – from their Per Una range: indigo linen trousers, and ice-blue Tshirt with draped neckline, and a blue grey Chanel style edge to edge jacket.  I was pretty pleased with the published photo, the shininess of the jacket looks great.  And my son is delighted that he’s inheriting my old iPad.

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