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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Red lentil and vegetable soup

Lentil soup is my absolute favourite. I used to make it with my dad when I was younger and we’d have it on cold winter evenings, sat next to the coal fire, after a chilly walk around Easby Abbey. My dad’s version wasn’t much like the one I make now (apart from the lentils); we always kept it more like a broth with lots of chunky veg. When I came to uni I decided to blend it and now I always do, it makes the soup really creamy without adding anything naughty. Sometimes I add some spice (cumin, coriander seeds, turmeric, chilli etc) but I think I prefer it without.

This recipe makes about 2 servings

Ingredients

A splash of oil

1 white onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 peeled carrots

2 sticks of celery

2 bay leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

Red lentils – I have never weighed them but probably around 100g

2 stock cubes dissolved in 500ml of boiling water

Method

  1. Dice the onion, carrots and celery into small (1cm) cubes and finely slice the garlic
  2. In a large pan heat the oil over a medium heat and add the chopped veg
  3. Add the bay leaves and black pepper and sweat for 5 – 10 minutes until the carrots are starting to soften – don’t brown
  4. Add the lentils – there should be enough just to lightly coat the veg. Stir for around 1 minute – careful the lentils might stick to the bottom of the pan!
  5. Add the stock and top up with enough water to cover all the veg  and lentils
  6. Leave to simmer for around 20 minutes, until the carrots are soft and the lentils are cooked – you may need to keep topping up with water.
  7. Bring it off of the heat, leave to cool for 10 minutes, FISH OUT THE BAY LEAVES, and blend until smooth. Add more water if too thick and season if required

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