Category Archives: 5:2

Warming Chilli, Chickpea and Lentil Soup – 5:2 Diet

Although the weather here hasn’t been all that cold compared to all the snow we had last year, it has been rather damp and extremely windy, the rain doesn’t show any signs of letting up either.  This Warming Chilli, Chickpea and Lentil soup using the  homemade vegetable stock* I made yesterday is wonderfully filling and at around 250 calories per portion is ideal for a supper dish on fast days on the 5:2 Diet which I am doing again just for January then it’s 6:1 to maintain.  I’m also attempting the A.Vogel Fourteen Day Detox starting tomorrow, my first detox!



Both Chickpeas and Red Lentils are high in protein with the Lentils being able to absorb a variety of flavours from other foods too and the chilli kick  will definitely warm you up!  Add more or less chilli to your taste of course,  ½ tsp is just right for us.


Chilli, Chickpea and Lentil Soup

chilli chickpea lentil


Serves 4


1 large red onion, finely chopped
 900ml vegetable stock*
150g red lentils
400g chopped tinned tomatoes
400g tin chickpeas
 ½ tsp crushed chilli’s
Ground Black pepper to taste
½ tsp Turmeric (optional**)
1tsp golden & brown flaxseeds


Using a tablespoon or less of olive oil, fry the red onion for a couple of minutes to soften then add a couple of tablespoons of hot water to the pan to steam fry the onions for around 5 minutes on a gentle heat.  Add the crushed chilli once the water has absorbed a little and fry with the onions.  Add the vegetable stock, lentils and tomatoes to the pan and bring to the boil (stirring continuously to avoid the lentils sticking to the bottom of the pan), then simmer for around 20 minutes until the lentils are soft.

Cool the soup a little then blend roughly in a food processor, place back into the pan, add the chickpeas and place back on a low heat until the chickpeas are warmed through.  Season to taste with black pepper and if adding the turmeric, add now.

Garnish with a generous dollop of 0% fat Greek Yoghurt and a sprinkling of flaxseeds.

Bon Appetit!

Those who are not on the 5:2 diet can add a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese before serving with freshly warmed crusty bread

Quick Nutritional Info:

Red Lentils – Health benefits of lentils see this article from Mind Body Green
Chickpeas – Iron, Protein,  Fibre, Magnesium and B6.
Turmeric**  I like add to soups wherever possible for the anti-inflammatory benefits, Turmeric is such a potent spice that even a small amount will have huge benefits to health.

 Linking up with Feel Good Food with  A Kick at the Pantry Door  for ‘Tasty and Inexpensive’


Link up your recipe of the week

Tasty Tuesdays on







  and  No Croutons Required blogging challenge which this month is being hosted by Lisa over at Lisa’a Kitchen.


Butternut Squash Ginger Soup & the 5:2 diet

Soups deliver such concentrated nutrition, even the little girl is amenable to soup even if it is a few mouthfuls, I can be assured that my homemade soup is full of natural goodness.

Butternut Squash is one of my (many) favourite vegetables, with its dense, orange flesh, it is delicious and sweet with a nutty flavour.  I have wrestled with many a Butternut Squash and have now found the perfect peeler for the tough outer skin thanks to a visit to Lakeland, so now its less challenging and faster to prepare too!

Carrots can be used instead of the Butternut Squash or a mix of both is good too, soup has so many variations and each has their own place within each season.  Although this year the seasons have gone a little awry with snow in April here!

Butternut Squash Ginger Soup is satisfying and filling on my 5:2 fast diet days.  And just in case you haven’t heard about this yet, the 5:2 Fast Diet was brought to us by Dr Michael Moseley when he was researching the health and longevity claims for the BBC2 Horizon programme Eat Fast and Live Longer – for 2 days a week you aim for 500 calories for women and 600 for men.  I have got this down to a fine art now & can easily get around the 500 calorie mark with soups on the menu, I’ve gone a little soup loopy but they are just so easy and delicious, plus you can use up any lingering vegetables from the fridge so less waste!

I make up a pot which will last for the couple of days fasting and is extremely low in fat and calories.  The addition of Ginger gives the soup an interesting zing and warmth.  On non-5:2 days I add crème fraîche, chilli flakes and black pepper which lifts the flavours even more!

For my pot of soup, some of which can be frozen too, popped in ice cube trays for easy access to soup for kiddie meals, I used around 600g of butternut squash, I did weigh it for the benefit of this blog post but usually I just use a medium Butternut Squash.


Prep time:  15 mins

Cooking time:  20 minutes


half a tsp butter – I use unsalted
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
about an inch of root Ginger
600g Butternut Squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into small cubes
1 litre of homemade vegetable stock
black pepper, optional


Gently fry the Onion, Garlic and Ginger for a couple of minutes in the butter then add a few tablespoons of water to steam fry for another 2-3 minutes. 

Add the Butternut Squash and steam fry for a further 5 minutes.

Add the Vegetable Stock, I make my own which increases the nutritional value of the soup too, see my blog post on Stock.

Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the Butternut Squash is soft and tender.

Cool, then blend in a liquidiser. 

Nutritious and delicious.

Quick Nutritional Info

Butternut Squash – Vitamin A, C, E, B-complex – folic acid, vitamins, B1, B2, B3 and B6. Iron, zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.

Ginger – anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, carminative, anti-microbial properties.  Potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium.

Tasty Tuesdays on

Flavour Packed Vegetable Stock

I’ve been making my own vegetable stock forever especially in the colder months and this year being colder for longer I’ve made a small batch this weekend. It’s so simple to do and it’s a great way to use up excess vegetables.  Carrots, celery and onion make up the base of my stock and from there I add different vegetables depending on what’s usually in the fridge, parsnips, leeks and sometimes cabbage, swede and mushrooms have made their way into the pot.

I use parsley, bay and black peppercorns but also have used thyme, garlic and other herbs, there really is no set menu for making your own recipe vegetable stock.  The stock I’m making here is perfect for tiny tastebuds too, mine doesn’t like garlic very much yet so will leave it out of this batch.

Today’s pot of goodness includes:

2 organic carrots, chopped – I don’t peel, just give a good scrub
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1 parsnip, peel and cut lengthways
1 small swede, chopped
1 leek including the green part, trim the end off and cut lengthways
3 cabbage leaves, the very outer greener ones
small handful of parsley including stalks
a few black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Put all the vegetables into a pan, I’m using my trusty old (and it is very old but still so good) Le Creuset pan and add 2 litres of water.   Depending on the size of your pan you can add more or less water, more will, of course, produce a more lighter flavoured stock and with less the stock will have a more concentrated infusion.  2 litres fills my pot nicely and produces a delicious, well-flavoured stock.

Simmer for 1-2 hours, I know this seems a bit vague but an hour is fine but if I have the time I do like to give it a bit more simmering time.  Stir occasionally to further blend the flavours.

For extra depth of flavour you can also fry the vegetables gently first in a little oil before adding the water.  For soups though I prefer a simple, fresh and light stock.

Take off the heat and strain through a sieve and leave to cool.  The stock liquid can now be used as the base for soups or to make rissoto, quinoa, etc. 

Once cooled the stock can be frozen, mine is used up pretty quickly as I make a lot of soups which are fabulous for the 5:2 diet which I am still doing every week, it has become a habit now, part of my week and having low-calorie, highly nutritious soups to keep my appetite satiated has been amazingly helpful. 

The cooked vegetables can also be blended down and included in many recipes.  The vegetables will still contain plenty of fibre and a huge shame to waste.  I use them in soups for the tiddler, blended down or added to casseroles.  We also make veggie burgers, mixing the mashed vegetables with breadcrumbs and egg, seasonings and sometimes cheese.  So many uses for extra veg!


Almond Breeze Almond Milk – Competition

I have been using nut milks for some time as I have an allergy to cow’s milk, they are a great alternative for people who are also lactose intolerant and are vegetarians or vegans.  Almond milk can be used just like normal milk, in your hot drinks, on your cereal and is excellent in smoothies. 

Almond Breeze® is lactose free, dairy free and soya free and has no added sugars. It’s made using all natural ingredients, is a source of calcium and low in saturated fat.  When I saw the Almond Breeze® advert on TV (love the narrator’s soothing voice) I was pleased to see an unsweetened version for myself and the usual Original version for toddler ND. 

Almonds are rich in dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals and are packed with numerous health promoting phyto-chemicals, they are an excellent source of vitamin E, B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and folic acid.  They are also an amazing source of minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese and selenium.

Smoothies are a fabulous opportunity to infuse more nutrition into our children and ourselves too!  So many exciting combinations of fruits, vegetables (yes hidden vegetables!), nuts and seeds.  I also love a nightcap with warmed almond milk and cocoa for a seamless, soothing night’s sleep. The possibilities are seemingly endless! 

Some days a smoothie is all I want for breakfast, especially if I’m running late or on a fast day when I need breakfast to last until dinner! The unsweetened version of Almond Breeze®
has a mere 29 calories per 200ml and as I am still on the 5:2 diet with 11lbs lost and kept off simply by fasting twice a week I am keen to keep it up – a supercharged, supernutritious, superfood smoothie fits the brief!

Some days the toddler ND likes to copy mummy and drink her breakfast too, who am I to argue, have you tried arguing with a 2 year old, huh?

Smoothies are easy to put together and can be ready in record time.  I never get anything in especially, all the ingredients in my smoothies are in my store-cupboard and fridge.  The addition of Chia, Linseeds, superfruits, Avocado and Coconut oil bumps up the nutritional value significantly – healthy fats and concentrated nutrition.

Foodies100 and Almond Breeze® are teaming up with a competition to challenge us to come up with a super breakfast smoothie for a great way to start the day.  Here is one of mine plus an extra one for my child.

Healthier is a Breeze….. Goodness is now gorgeous!

Almond Breeze® Superfood Smoothie


200ml Almond Breeze® Unsweetened Almond Milk
1 tablespoon Chia seeds – see info below
1 tablespoon Golden Linseeds – rich in Omega 3
a good dollop of 0% Natural Greek Yogurt (for extra protein)
1 generous teaspoon of Coconut oil – see info below
half a small Avocado – see info below
Blueberries and Strawberries -antioxidant rich

half teaspoon Cinnamon – lowers blood sugar levels
Almond milk ice cubes

Add all of the ingredients except the ice to a smoothie maker or blender and whizz up for a couple of minutes till smooth.  The Chia and Linseeds will thicken in the glass if left but this does have the benefit of keeping you fuller for longer.  Chill in the fridge for a few minutes then add the Almond milk ice cubes.  Drink slowly and enjoy the health benefits!

Fruitful Almond Breeze® Smoothie Goodness – for toddler ND


100ml Almond Breeze®  Original Almond Milk
1 tablespoon Oatmeal
1 tablespoon (or so) Avocado
half a teaspoon coconut oil

As before, whizz up in blender or smoothie maker, add a splash more Almond Milk as necessary to adjust consistency, serve in plastic beaker with a straw! 

Quick Nutritional Info:

Avocado rich in monounsaturated (good) fats, vitamin A, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E, Folic Acid and Potassium.  Phytonutrient compounds found in avocados, such as polyphenols and flavonoids have also been found to have anti-inflammatory properties. 
Chia seeds twice the protein of any other seed or grain, the protein is a complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids and 5 times the calcium of milk plus boron.  With more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon, a wealth of antioxidants – four times higher ORAC value than blueberries and 3 times more iron than spinach.
Coconut oil contains lauric acid and medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs), it is thermogenic which helps to burn more calories to speed up metabolism and aid weight loss amongst other health benefits!

*I did not receive any free samples of Almond Breeze®, both cartons were purchased by myself.

5:2, Low GL – Breakfasts

Still on the 5:2/Alternate Day Low GL Diet.  Another lbs down, my BMI is now 23.  I am combining the two for a few weeks until I get to my target, total loss so far is 8lbs since the beginning of the year but the most important part is the health benefits of both diet plans.

I am currently doing 2 x fast days at 500 calories maximum and 1 day at 700 calories using Patrick Holford’s Low GL Plan. I find it much easier if I meal plan, below are a few of my breakfast choices. 

The rest of the week I try to keep to the Low GL plan foods following Patrick’s weightloss plan that I signed up for last week and try to count GL’s instead of calories.  All I can say is it’s working and I can carry on long term as a healthy weight control way of eating. 

All my breakfasts start with a mug of tea and 50ml of skimmed milk – 25 calories.

*Patrick Holfords Get Up and Go is a Low GL Breakfast Shake that has a wide range of vitamins and minerals with a blend of whole foods and is an ideal start to any day.  I have a shake about 3-4 times a week, sometimes for breakfast and sometimes for a light lunch.  On a fast day I make up a 20g serving which is 66 calories, made with 500ml of water, I can sip this slowly throughout the morning.

*A 30g serving is 99 calories and on non-fast days I will add a tablespoon of chia seeds and one of golden or brown flax seeds with 250ml of skimmed milk  for breakfast.

*A simple boiled medium egg on half a slice (22g) of toasted oatmeal bread = 139 calories. A lower calorie option would be to swap the bread for a slice of Ryvita crispbread (35 -44 calories).

*Total 0% yoghurt – 100g = 57 calories with 50g strawberries –14 calories or blueberries 28 calories or both would still only equal 99 calories!

*1 egg Omelette with 50g grated courgette = 99 calories, serve with a pile of watercress for an extra 5 calories.  And yes this is just one egg, the white is whipped up separately for a lovely fluffy filling breakfast omelette.

Alternate Day Fasting Diet

I’ve “known” Patrick Holford for years and years, I’ve read all of his books, I’ve been to his excellent talks, he’s signed my books, I’m always pleased to listen to what he has to say in the field of health and nutrition.

I’m also a member of his 100% health club which is an ongoing source of excellent information on all health subjects and up to date news.

I’ve been doing the 5:2 Fast Diet for 2 weeks now and have found the 500 calorie intake hard, I have a busy lifestyle like most of you and the freezing weather has not helped either!  I can keep the calories down but want to try the Alternate Day Diet which has a more realistic calorie intake for me – I still feel odd saying the word diet as I’ve never been on one, to me a diet is eating healthy foods with a couple of indulgent treats a week.

In the February 2013 issue of Woman and Home there is an article about the new Healthy Fasting Diet devised by Patrick Holford, it’s a low-GL plan (the Glycemic Load of a meal is a measure of what the foods do to your blood sugar) you fast on alternate days keeping your calories to 800 or less on fast days.  On the alternate non-fast days eat normally but keep the calories under control, my fitness pal has suggested 1210 calories for me on non-fast days this what I will aim for.

I will be joining Patrick’s 6 week low-GL weightloss programme this week to help me along the way, take a look at Patrick’s website here for details of what is included and involved in the programme.

Today’s breakfast was a 1 egg omelette with 50g of grated courgettes plus 20g of watercress = 104 calories.  It’s soup for lunch and fish for dinner.

5:2 Fast Diet – What I ate this week

I kept it very simple this week with my 5:2 Fast Diet meals, the week was set to be very busy so quick, easy, simple were my buzz words!  I even had to  tell the girls that I wouldn’t be there for our monthly girls night out this week which is probably just as well!

This week I managed to keep my calories down to 479 on day 1 and 493 on day 2.  I found it easier after my initial glass of water and tea upon rising to wait until I was actually hungry in the mornings so around 11am I had a late breakfast of 100g 0% yoghurt & fruit plus a boiled egg or 25g bacon (no fat) with a pile of watercress and rocket leaves and then through to dinner with only green tea, water and another cup of tea with carefully measured skimmed milk.

On day 1 I made baked fish with tons of steamed vegetables for dinner, day 2, 50g grilled chicken with a vegetable stir fry and another plate of steamed vegetables. 

It’s not been easy this week with the freezing weather when all I wanted was stodgy carbs and warming foods.  And food shopping for the family on an empty stomach was really hard!

Next week I am going to to meal plan for my fasting days as well as the rest of the week.  Everything I like to eat is far more calories than I am allowed so a bit of more forward planning is in order!

I do feel that the 5:2 Fasting Diet would be more suitable for me to do in the warmer months and with that said I shall be changing things next week – still fasting though!
Factoring in some exercise into the mix, its not that I’m not active, if you have or have had a 2 year old in your life you will know what I mean, just want to focus more on targetted exercise like a swim every week sans toddler (so I actually get a swim) and blowing the cobwebs off my home gym equipment which will speed up my metabolism and weight loss.  I have another 10lbs to go and 1-2lb a week is my target.

Total weight loss this week:  1lb

5:2 Fast Diet – Week 1, Day 2

After my first day of fasting I went to bed dreaming of food, never has this happened before, but awoke not making a tearing dash to the kitchen which surprised me.

For my second 5:2 Fast Diet day, I did things a little different – the great thing about this way of eating is that you can adjust the days to suit as long as you keep the calories around 500.

I had tea with skimmed milk as usual upon waking then around 11am more tea, a boiled egg with a heaped hill of cucumber, watercress and rocket.  Again, amazing how much “salad” you can eat for so few calories.

Because I found the middle of the day so hard to get through on my first day I split my calories so I had an apple and a glass of V8 mid afternoon until I can get more acclimatised to a longer stretch of not eating (& a busy life!).   V8 was quite a find, we buy a carton every week but have never looked how many calories it contains… 100ml – 20 calories!

A very large mug of Green Tea late afternoon filled the empty tummy void a little.

Dinner was by Mr M&S, a calorie counted meal of 215 calories, although this was a quick and easy choice it did not fill me up as much as I would have liked so as I had calories to spare I made a separate plate of steamed veggies which totalled another 60 calories.

Total calories for today:  504

Today I didn’t find myself quite as hungry, my tummy rumbled but not with such vigour this time, maybe it has adjusted itself to less food already.  I am definitely carrying this on long term.  I’m weighing myself once a week for now, usually once a year!

Friday morning weigh in:  weight lost:  2lbs

I don’t want my fasting to be all about weight loss, that is a bonus, I’m really more interested in the long-term health benefits of the Fast Diet and am re-reading the book to take in more of the science bit.


5:2 Fasting Diet – Week 1 – First Day

For my first day on the 5:2 fasting “diet” yesterday, I found it easier to work out the caloric values of the foods I was planning on eating in advance as I am so unused to counting calories.  The Fast Diet book has a great little calorie counter in the back plus myfitnesspal app filled in the gaps.

I kept it all very simple, Monday food intake went like this:

Morning:   Black tea with 50ml skimmed milk x 3 cups= 75 calories
Cucumber – 100g – 10 (yes 10!) calories
Cottage Cheese (70% reduced fat, usually buy full fat) – 50g – 35
calories.  Almonds – 10g – 65 calories

Late PM:  Black tea with 50ml skimmed milk x 2 cups – 50 calories
Half slice of Warburtons thin with 20g cottage cheese = 39 calories

By 5pm I was absolutely ravenous, hence the half slice & cottage cheese, I felt I just needed something for my tummy to get hold of until dinner plus I was getting a slight headache.

I drank a lot more water than I usually do too, probably close to 2 litres but it stopped the tummy rumbles more than once!

Dinner:   Alaskan Salmon – 100g – 150 calories baked with ginger, garlic and
lemon – 5 calories – Steamed Broccoli – 100g – 32 calories,
Asparagus – 50g – 15 calories and Courgette – 50g – 18 calories.

Blueberries – 20g – 12 calories

Dinner tasted fabulous (although I never usually eat this much at one sitting), it was really plain and simple apart from the ginger and garlic but I savoured every mouthful and ate much slower than usual.  I did find it hard going in the middle of the day but I think over time it will get easier once I get into the swing of two days fasting and expand my low calorie repetoire.

My total calories for the day were 506 which I am extremely pleased with especially as I thought I would not be able to come in under 600.


5:2 Alternate Day Fast "Diet"

I’ve been very interested to try the 5:2 Fasting “Diet” (also known as the Intermittent or Alternate Day diet) after watching the BBC2 Horizon documentary with Dr Michael Mosley some time ago.  The premise is that you can anything you like for five days a week and still lose weight as long as you also fast for two days a week.  By fasting I mean calorie restriction for those two days.  There are also the health benefits that may go along with it too, reduced risk of some diseases and even positive effects on the brain. 


So with his new book “The Fast Diet” just arrived I’m busy reading it to get some more inspiration of what to eat on my fast days and to give me more structure, I started yesterday with a mini fast where I counted calories loosely keeping them around 900 (the recommendation is 500 for women and 600 for men) to see how I felt and I am delighted to say it went very well.  I carried my day on as usual and did not feel faint or tired.  I did, however, feel the rumble of my tummy a fair bit but then I usually take in more than double the calories!  I drank my usual 1½ litres of water and my tea with skimmed milk which helped to stave off the hunger too.

I’m not a calorie counter but with a view to starting the 5:2 diet I’ve been seeing what the calorific value of my everyday and treat foods are, some of it is quite startling!  I’ve also signed up to myfitnesspal which is a free calorie counter app to track my daily intake and it gives you a countdown of calories, very useful!  After putting in my personal particulars with how much I wanted to lose each week it gave me my personal daily calorie intake of 1210 plus factor in 2 days of the 5:2 Fast Diet of 600-750 calories (I may have to work my way down to 500!) could mean greater weight loss each week.

I read recently that safe weightloss, shedding fat not lean tissue, is around 1% of body weight so if you are 10 stone that equates to 1lb per week ongoing.  To do this you need to reduce calorie intake by 500 calories a day which over 7 days = 3500 calories which is what is needed to lose 1lb in weight!

Monday this week is my official first 5:2 Fast Day, very much looking forward to it, my days are busy so I’m hoping I won’t notice the lack of calories, it’s the evenings when I find the urge to nibble and even though it’s healthy nibbles like almonds, they are still highly calorific!

For the first couple of weeks I will have to formulate menus as I’m not used to the calorie counting.  I’ll post every Tuesday and Friday about what I ate on the fasting days and the health benefits and weight loss that hopefully come along with it. 

Let the fasting commence!