Friday, 3 May 2013

Chat/Diary -- 03 May 2013

Diary -- 03 May 2013

I was away from home last week, so haven't been cooking for a while, which is why there haven't been any new posts recently. The 5:2 diet regime as generally understood seems to be that you fast two days and can eat what you like the other five. I wasn't really happy with the thought of that – it seems to me that the benefits of an improved diet require an awareness of what you eat every day. From the outset, I decided to restrict calories on non-fast days to about 1800, which is enough to lose weight slowly and not undo the weight-loss benefits from fasting.


About six weeks into the diet I've lost about a stone in weight, but it is now coming off much more slowly than it was at the beginning. I am aiming to lose another stone before switching to a weight maintenance diet.

More Pudding Recipes Coming Soon

I've been surprised that the most-viewed page so far is my low-cal chocolate pot, which has twice as many hits as the second most-viewed page, which is the rye crackers. I'm going to be thinking about more low calorie desserts because it's pretty clear that's what people like to read about.

Carbohydrates and Processed Food

One of the consequences of dieting is that I have become much more aware about what I eat – I am now especially careful with sugar, carbohydrates and saturated fats. I've re-read Dr John Briffa's book 'Escape Diet Trap', and he is convinced that over-consumption of sugar and processed carbohydrates is at the root of many diet associated illnesses, such as diabetes. His thesis in a nutshell is that we should eat foods that we have evolved to eat/digest; which in simple terms is a mixed diet composed of non-processed food, that avoid starchy carbohydrates and sugar. I don't agree with everything he says, but his approach seems to be heavily based on common sense – and that really appeals to me.   

Quick & Easy Mushroom & Sweetcorn Pancakes

Stuffed pancakes make a quick and easy supper. I make a batch of pancakes and freeze the ones I don't use (I roll them up in pairs separated by a piece of baking parchment and out them in a freezer bag). The stuffing is really quick to make so you can rustle up a supper in about 25 minutes. Using soya milk makes the pancakes less calorific and more nutritious than using milk.

Recipe (Makes 8 Pancakes)
Pancake batter
100g Plain Flour
2 Medium Eggs
1 dsp Olive Oil
200ml Soya milk
Pancake Stuffing
200g Sliced mushrooms
1 med Sliced/diced onion
80g Tinned sweetcorn
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 dsp Bouillon powder
2 dsp Corn Flour
1 tbspn Parmesan cheese

Beat pancake batter ingredients together in a bowl. Fry each pancake in a dry non-stick pan until just brown on each side. Fry the mushrooms and onions in the remaining olive oil, add the bouillon and enough water to cover the vegetables. Add the sweetcorn and thicken with the cornflour. Put 2 spoonfuls of the stuffing into each pancake and fold into square parcels. Place the parcels folded side down on a non stick baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little parmesan and bake for 15 mins at 150 deg C. Finish under a grill to brown. For more flavour and few extra calories, serve some of the stuffing mix on the side.

Nutritional Information (Per pancake)
Calories 155
Total Fat 10.9g
Sat Fat 1.9g
Poly Fat 0.4g
Mono Fat 2.8g
Total Carbs 15.9g
Fibre 1.1g
Protein 5.9g 

Friday, 19 April 2013

Canned Chickpeas vs Home-Cooked

Using pulses is a good way of getting protein and making a large portion on fast days. I have been wondering how home cooked pulses compare with tinned ones nutritionally, and not surprisingly home cooked ones contain fewer calories, more protein and less salt (apparently much of the high salt content in canned chickpeas is reduced by thoroughly rinsing but I haven't been able to find data on this). I'm not surprised that the commercial/canned chickpeas weigh more, because the convention is that each tin contains 240g drained weight of chickpeas. Heavier chickpeas have a higher water content, which is a common way for food producers to give us consumers less food for more money. (It's also the reason many processed meats and fish have a high salt content, because the higher the salt the more water the product will hold).

Here is the comparison for one cup home-cooked chickpeas vs canned :-                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
Home-Cooked Canned
Total Fat4.0g7.0g
Total Carbs45.0g39.0g
Vitamin A1%0%
Vitamin C4%0%
Sources are amalgamated from: and
Since I'm going to all this trouble to improve my diet and lose weight it would be daft to eat less nutritious food – especially on fast days – so I'm going to cook my own pulses from now on.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Quick Low Cal Chocolate Pots (60 Cals)

I felt like a bit of a treat last night, and thought that a chocolate pudding would fit the bill. These little chocolate pots are pretty good, considering they are only 60 cals each; and they're really quick and easy to make.  I'll put a picture up next time I do them

Recipe (Makes 2 Desserts)
2 dsp Options Chocolate Drink
2 tbsp Instant Coffee
30g Cornflour (about 1-1/2 dsp)

Add the chocolate and coffee to a pan with about 150ml water. How much water you add is a matter of preference, I prefer them smaller and more chocolatey. Gently bring to a simmer then take off the heat. Gradually add the cornflour to thicken and return to a very low heat stirring all the time. Simmer for 30 secs, pour into small mugs or ramekins.
If you have a few cals spare then why not a 1/2 tsp grated 70% chocolate (15 cals) or 1/2 tsp caster sugar and then flash over it with a blow torch to make a brulee topping (10 cals).

Nutritional Information (Per pot)
Calories 60
Total Fat 1.0g
Sat Fat 0.6g
Total Carbs 10.4g
Fibre 2.0g
Protein 1.8g

Home-made Sausages/Burgers (50 cals each)

Sausages & Sprouted Chickpea Salad 

When I make risotto. I often make an extra portion which I can then use to make these delicious sausages or burgers – depending on my preference for shape. 

Recipe (Makes 12 sausages)
1 portion Left-over risotto (Mushroom or other)
1 slice Wholemeal toast
1 Large whole egg
1tsp Grain Mustard
1tbsp Soy Sauce
2tbsp Flour

Break the toast into small pieces and blend in a food processor, add the egg and continue to mix. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the flour) and process until they reach your preferred consistency – I prefer them to keep a bit of texture. Dust your hands with a little flour and form a roll or burger shape. Fry in a little oil turning until all sides are crisp and brown. Put in a pre-heated oven at 200 deg C for 15 mins.

Nutritional Information (Per sausage)
Calories 50
Total Fat 5.6g
Sat Fat 1.8g
Poly Fat 0.4g
Mono Fat 2.5g
Total Carbs 16.9g
Fibre 3.0g
Protein 5.4g

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Sprouted Chickpea Hummus

Hummus, Salad, & Flatbread (about 200 cal)

Home-made hummus is really good – quick to make but heavy on the calories due to it's high oil content. This is a great version using sprouted chickpeas and no oil. It has a pleasant nutty flavour and the lemon is more noticeable than in regular hummus. I took this pic on a non-fast day, and you will see it includes 1/2 an avocado which is about 160 cals on its own. 

Recipe (4 servings)
100g Chickpeas - sprouted
Juice 1-1/2 lemons
4 Cloves Garlic
2 tbsp Tahini
1 tbsp Toasted Sunflower Seeds
0.5 tsp Paprika
0.25 tsp Cumin

Blanch chick peas in boiling water for one minute. Blitz all of the ingredient in a food processor, add small amount of water to bring to preferred consistency; salt & pepper to taste.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving)
Calories 97.0
Total Fat 5.0g
Total Carbs 10.0g
Fibre 29.0g
Protein 9.1g
Vitamin A 2.1%
Calcium 2.6%
Iron 4% 

Home-made flatbreads

These flatbreads are quick and easy to make, and when served immediately are much better than shop bought pittas and flatbreads. They are good with my sprouted chickpea hummus.

Recipe (Makes 6 flatbreads)
100g Spelt flour + 25g for rolling
1 tbsp Olive Oil

Mix the flour and oil in a bowl, add water to make a loose dough. Knead for a couple of minutes to make it stretchy. Spelt flour doesn't require much kneading. Divide into 6 equal balls and roll out as thin as you can. Heat a dry non-stick frying pan, cook each flatbread for a minute or two, when it starts to puff up turn it over and cook for another minute.  As an option use 2/3 spelt flour and 1/3 rye flour. 

Nutritional Information (Per flatbread)
Calories 75
Total Fat 2.0g
Total Carbs 12.0g
Fibre 1.3g
Protein 2.1g