I watched Michael Mosley's Horizon documentary, Eat, Fast and Live Longer, on BBC2 last year with interest. Michael Mosley set himself the challenge to live longer, stay younger and lose weight. Goals that many of us can identify with. His research concluded that intermittent fasting could help achieve those goals and settled upon the 5:2 way of eating. That is 5 days of normal eating and 2 days of fasting (when you limit the calories you eat to 500 calories for women or 600 calories for men) each week. I'm no scientist, but the potential (not yet proven in humans) health benefits seem to make sense and, for that reason, I decided I was willing to take a punt and give it a go for a little while.
I have never counted calories before in my life. A little naive maybe, but I had no idea that foods like cucumbers actually contained much in the way of calories. Aren't cucumbers about 90% water? Don't get me wrong, it's not that I've never had to reign it in to lose the pounds that have crept on, but I've done that by reducing portion sizes, cutting out snacks, limiting my monstrous cheese intake and laying off the booze (...well, just a little). Never has the way I've eaten been so scientific. And believe me, for someone who abhors maths, all the calculating and counting had my head in a bit of a spin at the beginning.
I love food. I love cooking. I love creating new recipes. So I saw this as a challenge. Making nutritious food that is both delicious and low in calories. After eating the 5:2 way on and off since Christmas (with a big break thanks to pneumonia) I've found that the best way of approaching fast days (for me) is to abstain from food all day and then have a decent sized main meal in the evening, which means that sometimes I can even have carbs.
This is one of the tastiest, most satisfying fast day dinners I've had so far. A huge bowl of comforting, spicy soup.
Prep time: 15 minutes (excluding making the stock)
Cook time: 10 minutes
Calories per portion (approx): 360
100g king prawns (peeled weight - approx 4 large unpeeled prawns), peeled & deveined
100g pak choi, sliced
50g mange tout
30g oyster mushrooms, sliced
2 spring onions, sliced
1-2 bird's eye chillies, finely sliced
2-3cm piece fresh ginger, finely sliced
300ml good vegetarian stock (see more below)
1/2 tsp brown miso paste
1 tsp fish sauce (or soy sauce)
50g glass noodles (cooked according to packet instructions)
Put the stock in a pan with the miso paste and fish sauce and heat through. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Blanch the pak choi, mange tout and oyster mushrooms for 1-2 minutes, remove from the water and set aside. Then cook the prawns in the same water until pink and cooked through and set aside (again 1-2 minutes depending on the size of your prawns).
Put the glass noodles, vegetables, prawns, spring onions, chillies and ginger in a big bowl and pour over the stock. Add some roughly chopped coriander to serve.
Good vegetarian stock:
I use this recipe from Kellie's blog Food to Glow to make vast quantities of vegetarian stock which I then freeze in 1 person portions so that I have some to hand whenever I fancy noodle soup. I then add in whatever other flavours and seasoning I want before I use it.