5:2 diet: vegetarian fast days 3&4

I’m quite busy at the moment, so day 3 and 4 will have to be jammed together into one post. Fasting is getting both easier and harder, which, I know, is an oxymoron. It’s easier, because I now know exactly what to expect in the day, the hunger and moods and all. But it’s also harder, because I know exactly what to expect, the moods and hunger and all.

Then there’s fact that I’m not really loosing weight, which is making me question the whole experiment. In the two weeks, I didn’t even loose a kg. I lost somewhere between 5 dkg and 8 dkg, which seems like almost nothing and I’m not even really sinning on the non fast days. (Ok, maybe I am, but by drinking way too much craft beer which always seems better than cakes, even though it’s more or less exactly the same or even worse, with the alcohol and all)

Anyway, tomorrow I’m planning on day 5 and I feel a cold coming on. If I wake up tomorrow feeling like shit, I’ll probably give up on the whole diet. If I feel OK, I’ll definitely fast, because some friends are coming over tonight and I made banofee pie;)

Anyway, here’s my fast days 3 and 4.

Breakfast 3: Cinnamon apple oatmeal (142)

20 g oats (71 cal) + 1 apple (71 cal)

Breakfast 4: apple&yoghurt&cereal (162 cal)

10 g malted wheats (34 cal) + apple (71 cal)+ 0 fat yogurt (57 cal)

Lunch 3: Cous cous with creamy mushrooms (200 cal)

1 tso olive oil (40 cal) + 50g onions (20 cal) + garlic clove (5 cal) + 5 g dried porcini mushrooms (14 cal) + 150 g chestnut mushrooms (48 cal) + 50g 0 fat greek yoghurt (29 cal) + 25 g couscous (40) cal

Soak the porcinis in about 1 dcl of water. Chop everything that needs chopping, heat the oil, add the onions and garlic, saute for 5 minutes. Then add the chestnut mushrooms and the now rehydrated porcinis (chopped if they are big) and just enough of the water the porcinis were soaked in to cover everything. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes. Prepare the cous cous in the mean time. Just before serving, mix the yoghurt into the mushrooms. Serve topped with a bit of chopped parsley.

Lunch 4:Chick pea curry (141 cal)

100g drained check peas (72 cal) + 100 g frozen spinach (26 cal) + 100 g chopped tomatoes (22 cal) + 40 g white onion (16 cal) + 1 clove garlic (5 cal) + 1 tsp curry powder ,1/2 tsp fenugreek, ½ tsp cumin + ½ tsp mustrad seeds (lets say 0)

In a nonstick skillet saute the chopped onion, garlic and spice with a tbsp of water for 5 minutes. Add al other ingredients and cook for 20 minutes.

Dinner 3: Mixed baby greens and egg salad (140 cal)

2 cups mixed baby greens (15 cal) + 1 small egg (60 cal) + 15 g 0 fat greek yoghurt (10 cal)+ juice of half lemon (5) + 2 tsp mixed seeds (50 cal)

Dinner 4: Broccoli stir fry (204 cal)

1 clove garlic (5cal) 50g yellow bell pepper (16 cal) + 50g carrot (20 cal) + 150 g broccoli (49 cal) + 50 g tofu (38 cal) + 5 ml sesame oil (41 cal) + 1 tsp mixed seed (25 cal) + 1 tbsp soy sauce (10 cal)

Heat the oil, add garlic, add carrot and bell pepper, fry for 3 minutes, add broccoli, a bit of water and soy sauce, fry for 5 minutes. add tofu, cook 3 more minutes. sprinkle with seeds before serving.

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The 5:2 diet: my first vegetarian fast day

I have started a new diet. And if you’re from the UK, it’s obviously not going to surprise you that’s it’s the 5:2 a.k.a the fast diet. If you’re not and you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s a diet almost everyone around here has tried at some point since it became popular at the beginning of 2013 and it’s incredibly simple. 5 days of the week you eat as you normally would. You can even have guilt free cake and fired chicken and Franco Manca (I have yet to find another place that makes anything I’d call pizza here:)) and things like that. But two days a week (not one after the other), you fast. (Some people might think you starve, but it really ain’t that bad). You eat at most 500 calories, which, at the first glance, sounds like nothing. But as I’m going to demonstrate here, it’s really not. There’s even room for cheese. Cheese! I’m not saying I wasn’t hungry and everything felt wonderful all the time, but honestly, I’m always hungry. I’m hungry at this very moment and I had wholegrain pancakes with golden syrup and a ton of raspberries for breakfast two hours ago.

My only problem is that I’ve also started a new general diet, in which I only eat meat at most once a week. (I can never become a vegetarian, but I just had to stop pretending eating meat all the time is healthy and not bad for the environment). And most of the fast day recipes involved chicken, because, well, everyone loves it and it’s really low in calories. I, however, don’t love it that much, so I had to do without. And here’s what I ate:

Breakfast: 150 calories

brekfast1

25g porridge oats (90 cal) + 100 g/one half of a pear (60 cal) + tsp of cinnamon (0 cal) + green tea (0 cal)

Lunch: Creamy lentil, carrot and coconut soup: 160 calories

lunch1

30g red split lentils (90cal)+1 medium carrot (25 cal), + 50g leek (12 cal) + 1 tbsp desicated coconut (36cal)

If you want to make it, just wash the lentils, chop the carrot and leek and place everything together in a soup pan. Season with salt, pepper and coriander seeds to your taste, cover with water and cook for around 30 minutes. Then blend. If you don’t like tiny piece of coconut in your soup, use coconut cream, if you have it. I didn’t:)

Dinner: courgette “pasta” with tomato, garlic and aged cheddar (I didn’t have parimganio):180 cal

vecerja1

200g courgette (40 cal) + 2 cloves of garlic (8cal) + 180g fresh tomato (50 cal) + 1 tsp olive oil (40cal) + 10 g mature cheddar (42 cal) + basil (0, at most 1 cal)

If you want to make it, make the pasta out of the courgette with a vegetable peeler (google it, tons of instructions on line if you have no idea how to make it). Than fry the garlic in the oil, add the “pasta”, add chopped tomatoes, season with fresh basil and salt and pepper. Cook for 5-10 minutes. Serve with the cheese.

So, all together, I even had 10 calories leftover. (well, my scale is far from precise, so it reality, it was probably a calorie or two more than 500, but I think that’s not a problem).

I’ll have a report like this for every fast day, because even though the internet is full of recipes, there’s not really that many vegetarian meal plans for the whole day (this one could even be vegan, if you substitute the cheese with something) and I hope this might help some people. I’ll also report on the weight loss front:) My goal is 5 kg, which, I hope, I’m going to achieve in less then 10 weeks… I was extremely slowly losing weight anyway, even before I started this diet. I’m a new devoted runner (really started 2 months ago), and have a goal to run 200 km till the end of November, starting this week. I obviously don’t intend to run on fast days, because I’m not that kind of a masochist. I will do yoga and will have to walk the dog however…

If you’re also following the diet and write a blog, I’d love to follow a few people on the same journey, so please leave a comment:)

How to make ravioli at home (for beginners)

Home made ravioli is a staple of my fathers dinner party repertoire. Every time we celebrate something, ravioli have to be somehow included in the meal (e.g. the ravioli in the soup on Christmas eve). I helped him make (and eat) millions of them and I would say I’m quite experienced in the area (you know, in a home cook kind of way). I think one of the things that made Norb really fall in love with me was my knowledge of making home made pasta. He’s even more passionate about it now than I ever was, so for Christmas, I bought him a pasta maker and soon he had too add the ravioli maker to our arsenal of kitchen appliances. (I’m going to write a whole blog post about buying things for making pasta and taking care of them. There’s some things a novice should know, before they spend money on anything). Anyways, I wanted to write a guide on how to make ravioli at home for anyone who’s suddenly in possession of a pasta machine and a ravioli maker (I saw awesome imperia/titania sets in TK maxx for just 70 pound before Christmas, someone out there must have gotten it as a gift:)).

 For the dough, for about 4-6 people (this is a basic pasta dough that you can also use for noodles, tagliatelle, lasagne sheets, … but you’ll need more materials to feed 4):

  •  300 g of 00/pasta (or strong white bread) flour
  • 2 (medium) eggs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • cold water if needed (every flour acts a bit differently and one never knows how much moisture it will need until one starts working with it)
  • pinch of salt

 1. If you’re making the dough by machine, just add all of the ingredients to the flour slowly(one by one) until a dough forms and then knead it for about 10 minutes. Got to last step.

2. If you’re doing it properly by hand, pour the flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle (prepare to get your hands really dirty). Beat both eggs in a separate bowl a bit. Add half of the eggs to the flour and start mixing with your hand. When it has been mostly incorporated, add the other egg, then add the oil. Mix well. If the dough isn’t coming together, add water by tablespoons until a ball forms. If the dough is too wet (you can’t knead it), add a bit more flour.

3. Transfer the dough to a well floured surface and knead until you get a firm, but elastic dough, around 10 minutes.

4. Wrap the dough in a damp towel (or cling film, if you want to be all fancy and modern) and let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

 Rolling the dough:

 Rolling the dough is an art form in itself and the most fun and most time consuming part of making pasta at home. You can obviously do it without a pasta maker, with your hands and a rolling pin, but that takes even longer.

 1. Clear the biggest table you have in your house and dust it with generous amounts of flour. Clamp the pasta maker to one side very firmly.

2. Unwrap the dough and cut a small, egg sized piece of with a sharp knife. Rewrap the rest of the dough (be careful to never let any dough that isn’t in use sit unwrapped. It develops a crust and that kind of ruins it). Flatten the small piece with your palms a bit and cover it with flour. (Very generously. ) Put it through the thickest setting on the machine (fun fact, on a Maracdo that’s a 1, on a Imperia that’s a 6). It will probably come out in an awkward, shrivelled shape. Don’t worry, that’s not unusual. Fold it lengthwise and roll it thorough the thickest setting again. If the flour was absorbed during a roll, just dust the dough some more. There can never be too much flour when you’re rolling pasta- it should never ever ever get stuck in the machine (which can happen if it gets too sticky). Repeat the whole rolling on the thickest setting, folding, rerolling process until you get a nice, smooth sheet of pasta, almost as wide as the machine (that takes about 6 repeats usually)

3. Set the machine on the next thickness setting and carefully roll the dough through it. Then repeat that until you get to the second thinnest thickness (does that make sense? the one before last, whatever that is on your machine). Dust with flour between rolls. Again- we do not want the dough to stick to anything. The sheet will become longer and longer and if it gets too long for handling, you can cut it in half. Just be careful that you’ll get a sheet of pasta long enough for the ravioli maker at the end.

4. Start making ravioli with it immediately. If you’re making noodles, you let the sheets dry out a bit before you cut them, but if you’re making ravioli, the sheets have to be fresh.

Making the ravioli

 A lot of people (my father included, that’s how I know), make the mistake of buying a ravioli maker that attaches directly to the machine and is operated with the same little rolling handle. If you already have it, make the best of it. But if you don’t, do not buy it. EVER! My father bought 3 different kinds (for different sized ravioli) and they all had the same problems: you can’t really put as much stuffing in as you’d like, even if you try to squeeze it in each ravioli separately; the stuffing gets stuck to the plastic parts and then the dough gets stuck to that and then everything gets stuck together and you hate everything in the world and never want to make anything by hand again; there is no way of really cleaning this thing (you can not wash pasta makers with running water or god forbid in the dish washer. You should only ever use damp cloths). What you should buy is something that looks like this. It doesn’t necessarily have to be made by of the fancy Italian companies and you can get it for less than 15 pounds. It does take a bit more time to make ravioli with this (well, more then it would take for the other kind if it worked properly), but you have absolute controll of how much you stuff your ravioli and nothing gets tangled into anything.

1. Dip the metal part of the ravioli maker in flour and shake off the excess. Place a sheet of pasta, as long as the maker, over it. Now press in the plastic cup part, to make holes for the stuffing. Do that rather gently, you do not want to tear the pasta sheet, nor do you want the plastic to get stuck to the dough.

2.Fill each new little opening with a tsp of stuffing (or more or less, just be careful it’s not too much). Even it out on top.

3.Place another pasta sheet on top. Try and gently press any air that is between the two pasta sheets out.

4. Now roll over it with the pin until the metal edges show through the dough.

5. Gently press on top of each ravioli to get it out of the mould.

6. Roll another sheet of pasta and repeat the whole process until you run out of either the dough or the stuffing.

*cook in boiling water  for approximately 3 minutes