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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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