Lentil and Cauliflower Dahl

For over a year now I have been following the 5:2 diet and although I have the odd slack week here and there I’ve generally fully incorporated it into my life. It’s something I actually get enjoyment out of (maybe don’t ask me to confirm this at 4pm on a fasting day!!) and if the research is to be believed it’s something that my body benefits from in a number of ways.

On my 500 calorie days I have opted for the tactic of skipping both breakfast and dinner (the midday meal) and just having one 500 calorie meal towards the end of the day, once I have gotten in from work. I know this isn’t the best option for many people, but for me, whilst I am busy at work, I find it much easier to go out without food than when I am home in the evening.

One possible downside of the 5:2 diet that I have noticed is that, if you’re not organised, fasting days are not conducive to cooking and it is easy to fall into the trap of living on shop-bought pre-calorie- counted food. This can often be boring and potentially not very healthy but very rarely do I feel like taking the time to figure out how many calories are in 7g of curry powder! Thankfully I did make the effort a couple of weeks ago because now I have an easy, nutritious, cheap and tasty meal that comes in just under 500 calories for my fasting days.

Dahl has always been a favourite of mine, it’s the mac and cheese of Indian food; comforting and warming. This recipe is pretty simplistic, obviously I had to cut it back to the basics in order to keep the calories low but trust me it tastes great!

Lentil and Cauliflower Dahl

This makes enough for one portion

Total calorie count = 492 calories

Ingredients

5g coconut oil (39 calories)

100g white onion (40 calories)

3 cloves / 9g garlic (13 calories)

1 stock cube (24 calories)

100g cauliflower (25 calories) – you can swap the cauliflower for 100g of almost any veg just make sure it comes under or around 30 calories with a quick Google search

7g (about 2 tsp) curry powder (22 calories)

60g raw red lentils (162 calories)

To Serve

Wholemeal Pitta (167 calories) and Fresh Coriander if you’re feeling extravagant (negligible calories…no one got fat off a few coriander leaves!)

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Method

  1. Add the coconut oil to a medium sized pan and melt over a medium heat
  2. Chop your onion and finely slice your garlic and add to the pan to soften
  3. Cut the cauliflower into fairly small florets and make the stock up with boiling water according to the packet instructions
  4. Once the onions are soft and translucent add the spice mix and fry for 2 minutes
  5. Add the lentils and cauliflower and coat in the spices and fry for a further 1 minute
  6. Add all of your stock (it should be about 500mls) and return to a simmer
  7. Leave it to bubble away, stirring occasionally and topping it up with water if it looks too dry
  8. After about 15 or 20 minutes the lentils should have totally softened to the point where they are no longer distinguishable little circles and more of a smooth mush
  9. Serve in a bowl (it will be quite liquidy) with a toasted pitta and a sprinkling of coriander leaves.
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Roasted Veg and Butter Bean Pâté

After a couple of distinctly non-vegan weeks (which included a cake sale, baking cookery course and a cheese & wine evening) I made a concerted effort get back into my mainly vegan ways last week – for my waistline if nothing else! One evening after my tea I decided I would roast a load of veg (peppers, onion, garlic and cherry tomatoes) along with some oregano and paprika (no oil) for my tea the following evening – I was planning on going to the gym so the more prepared I was the better. Now, traditionally I would have my roasted veg in a pitta with loads of hummus but this wouldn’t exactly work for my low fat meal plan. I peered my cupboard and spotted a small tin of butter beans – I would make my own creamy low fat accompaniment.

This is the meal that followed; Roasted Veg with Pitta bread and Butter Bean Pâté

Roasted Veg

I’m not going to insult you, you know how to roast veg…..get some veg (whatever you have), add heat!

Butter Bean Pâté

210g Butter Beans (a small tin) – other beans would probably work too. Whizz up the butter beans, I used a hand blender, crush a smallish clove of garlic and mix in, add lemon juice and mix, season with salt and pepper. Adjust the levels of lemon juice, seasoning and garlic to your taste. You could also add some chilli or herbs if you fancy it.

Toast a Pitta

Eat – your super low fat, tasty, creamy, zingy, vegan, garlicky, fresh, yummy tea!!

I haven’t tried this but if you wanted to I guess you could warm up your pâté and it would be more like a mash, give it a go and let me know if it works.

20150317_202202My veg look a little burnt in the photo but I promise they weren’t, oh and I added olives! Sorry for the omission! 🙂

 

Chickpea, Couscous, Apricot, Pistachio and lots of other tasty things Salad

I started a new job this week and yesterday the whole office took part in a shared lunch. This was no ordinary office shared lunch, my new colleagues are foodies!

A list was left in the office kitchen for everyone to write their contributions on, this way there wouldn’t be too much of the same food, a quick glance showed a huge variety of inventive and exciting dishes that ranged from mini calzones to filo parcels to pumpkin cake. The pressure was on and I was keen to make a good first impression, especially as word had got round about this blog! After a closer inspection of the list I figured a salad would be a good addition but as I say it needed to be impressive. When I got home I was immediately drawn to Veggiestan by Sally Butcher, I knew there would be some interesting salads in there…..I settled on Spinach, Apricot and Bulghar Wheat Salad.

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The following recipe is based loosely on this, it would have been an exact copy but as I decided to try and buy the ingredients from my little local supermarket at 8pm on Tuesday night I had to make a number of adjustments.

I have to say though the finished product was yummy and it all got eaten J

Makes a big sharing portion, probably enough for 10 as a side

Salad Ingredients

2 tins of chickpeas

Apple juice (optional)

1 sachet of lemon and coriander couscous (I only used this because I couldn’t get plain)

1 big or 2 small carrots

1 small bag of spinach

½ red onion

150g dried apricots

1 bunch each of parsley and coriander

75g unslated/shelled pistachios

For the dressing

Olive oil, 1 lime, Cumin, Chilli flakes and Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Drain the chickpeas and put in a saucepan, cover with 50/50 water and apple juice until just covered. Put on a medium heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Drain and cool. This step is probably optional but I like to make sure my chickpeas are really soft and the original recipe calls for the bulghur wheat to be cooked in apple juice.
  2. Roughly chop the apricots, cover in warm water and leave to soften up for about 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare the couscous according to the packet instructions. If you are using plain couscous make up about 110g and you might want to use vegetable stock.
  4. Shred the spinach, finely dice the onion and grate the carrot(s) and throw in a big serving dish or Tupperware (if taking to work). Sprinkle over the nuts.
  5. Chop the herbs and add to the veg and nuts.
  6. Grate the zest of the lime into a jug, add the juice and top up with twice as much oil. Stir in 1 teaspoon each of cumin and chilli flakes and season with salt and pepper.
  7. When the chickpeas and couscous are cool add to the bowl/tub. Drain the apricots and add to the mix – give it all a big stir at this point to combine everything.
  8. Finally pour over the dressing (I didn’t use the full amount so add a bit at a time and make a judgement)
  9. Stir again and serve or stick it in the fridge and don’t forget to pick it up on the way to work!

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300kcal Mexican Bean Pitta

About 2 ½ weeks into my weight-loss/fitness plan and I’m still pretty motivated. On my 500kcal days (5:2 diet) I’m having 200kcals of raw food (fruit/veg/nuts) for my breakfast/dinner. Today this consisted of – 1 carrot, 2 clementines, 100g cherry tomatoes, 100g red pepper, about 5 green olives, a few slices of pickled jalapenos, 2 spring onions and 8 almonds. This is actually quite a tasty and fulfilling lunch – I used to just eat a tin of soup for the same calories and it was nowhere near as satisfying.

Then for tea (dinner/supper….whatever you want to call it) I have 300kcals to play with.

*See my previous post for one option: Moroccan-style Vegetable and Chickpea Stew – I actually made this a 2nd time but changed the carrots & squash to cauliflower and substituted the cinnamon for curry powder and hey presto I had chana gobi for same number of kcals 🙂 *

Tonight though I tried something a little different….

Mexican inspired pitta pizza type thing

Ingredients

1 wholemeal pitta

150g re-fried beans (one of my favourite things ever)

2 or 3 spring onions

About 4 cherry tomatoes

1 heaped teaspoon of capers

2 teaspoons of jalapenos

Some fresh coriander

NB This is a rough guide! If you’re wanting to keep the calories down I wouldn’t mess too much with the amount of pitta or refried beans but an extra tomato or two isn’t going to make much of a difference. Also, if you don’t have capers or jalapenos or spring onions for that matter it shouldn’t impact too much; you could easily slice a bit of red onion or sprinkle a few chilli flakes on instead.

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C
  2. Slice the pitta in half so you have two thinner pitta-shaped pieces of bread – put them on a baking tray
  3. Spread over your beans
  4. Slice/chop the tomatoes, spring onions, capes, jalapenos (or whatever other toppings you may be using) and sprinkle across your beany flatbreads
  5. Cook in the oven for around 10 – 15 minutes, you just want them to be hot and a little crispy
  6. Sprinkle with coriander and enjoy!

For non-dieters you may want to add cheese/vegan cheese or sour cream

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This is another adapted recipe from 5:2 Vegetarian by Celia Brooks

Another Low Calorie Recipe for January

One of my new year’s resolutions this year was to try to eat healthier and lose some weight (original ey!?). I’m hoping that reverting back to a mainly vegan diet (only sometimes picking the vegetarian option when eating out) will automatically contribute to this but I’m also going to make an extra effort by doing the 5:2 diet.

I know it might be ‘faddy’ but to me intermittent fasting makes some sense and I feel like I need structure otherwise I too easily drift into eating rubbish again. So, twice a week I am only eating 500 kcals. I am also going to do ‘rawtill4’ on these days – any raw recipes welcome!

Anyway I made this for my low calorie evening meals this week and it’s pretty tasty and filling so I thought I would share….

Moroccan-style Vegetable and Chickpea Stew

Totals 600 kcals – either 2 large portions or 3 or 4 smaller ones

Ingredients

8 spring onions

600g vegetables – I used celery, carrots and butternut squash but you could also use cauliflower, courgette, celeriac, peppers, turnips or swede etc…

200g tomatoes – I only had baby but it would be easier to use big ones

1 tin of chickpeas

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp chilli flakes

4 tbsp tomato puree

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Method

  1. Slice the spring onions and chop veg into bitesize pieces
  2. Put the onions and veg in a pan on highish heat with 4 tbsp of water and a sprinkling of salt, cover with a lid (or baking tray like I did) and steam
  3. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes and assemble the rest of your ingredients
  4. When the veg is starting to soften around the edges chuck in the rest of the ingredients (nicely pre-assembled) and 250ml water
  5. Give it all a stir, bring to the boil and simmer until the veg is cooked.

Adapted recipe from 5:2 Vegetarian by Celia Brooks

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