EAT WELL

with delicious recipes and meal ideas

On 5:2, none of your favourite foods are banned - and cutting back twice a week helps you become more aware of flavour, good choices and your appetite itself. Here are some of our most popular and satisfying dishes for Fast Days, all taken from the inspiring 5:2 Books!

5:2 Veggie & Vegan: Vietnamese spicy pho

70 calories Suitable for vegetarians & vegans, gluten-free OK, this has a long list of ingredients, but it’s so fresh, light and spicy, and packs lots of vegetables into one uplifting bowl. The method is simple, too: make the broth, briefly cook the veg, then tuck in. The courgettes are prepared like ‘courgetti’ - fine strips/ noodles, and I use a small, inexpensive julienne peeler rather than a spiraliser – much less washing up, though do watch your fingers! You can make several batches of the broth in advance and freeze or keep in a container in the fridge to reduce the cooking time. You can make this with courgette noodles (which I prefer, it’s so light) or rice noodles. NB: The calories listed here don’t include the aromatics added to the soup, because they’re removed before you eat it.

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5:2 Veggie & Vegan: Dal with fried spicy onions

V/Ve/GF Is it a soup? Is it a curry? You can enjoy it as both! In India, dal means both the many different pulses you cook with and also countless lentil-based soups and curries. The dish has two parts: the cooked lentils themselves, which are incredibly comforting on their own, and the spicy fried onion dressing or ‘tarka’.

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5:2 Veggie & Vegan: Avocado chocberry mousse

91 calories * Suitable for Vegetarians, and vegans if agave nectar used * Gluten-free * This has an intense dark chocolate flavour, plus the richness of avocado, and bright jewels of berry fruit mixed through. I’ve allowed for a little agave or honey to sweeten but if your berries are really sweet, you can leave that out. The cocoa powder prevents the avocado discolouring, but it’s still best to eat these within a day of making. Keep them in the fridge, covered.

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5:2 Veggie & Vegan: Edamame, orange & ginger pot

Edamame, orange and ginger pot, 90 calories: Veggie, Vegan & Gluten-free: Simple but deeply flavoured, this pot of emerald-green beans with a sweet and savoury sesame dressing is great eaten either freshly cooked or at room temperature. It makes a good side or you can double the portion size for a very light lunch served with some bitter leaves, such as rocket or radicchio, and the flesh from the other half of the orange, cubed.
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90-95 calories

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Lemongrass & Ginger Pork or Tofu

Serves 1: Calories per serving: 356 with rice noodles/275 with shredded cabbage

Gluten free/nut free: The Eastern flavours in this dish go so well with the pork – and it’s a really satisfying supper dish that would also work very well, doubled up, for a casual meal with friends. Rice noodles are a good option if you’re avoiding gluten, though do check the soy sauce if you’re very sensitive, as traces of wheat gluten can remain in the finished sauce.

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Mustard & Cauli Soup with cheese crispy crumbs

Makes 4 servings, 85-101 cals (freeze leftover portions)

For me, cauliflower cheese is the ultimate comfort food, but making a proper cheese sauce involves lots of calorific ingredients like flour, butter and whole milk – not recommended on a Fast Day. So here, I’ve made a tasty, creamy soup with cauliflower and mustard, then added a cheese crumb topping at the last moment to maximise the Cheddar taste: all the comfort at around 100 calories per bowl. Recipe from my book, The 5:2 Good Food Kitchen.

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Egg-fried Cauliflower Rice

This is the more souped up version of cauliflower rice that makes a great main meal or side dish. It’s infinitely variable, depending on what you’ve got in the fridge or spice rack.
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Serves 1 as main (182 cals)/2 as side dish (91 per person)

This is the more souped up version of cauliflower rice that makes a great main meal or side dish. It’s infinitely variable, depending on what you’ve got in the fridge or spice rack. Recipe from my book, The 5:2 Good Food Kitchen.

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(Life-saving!) Cauliflower Rice

I don’t know how many calories this one dish has saved 5:2 people, but it must run into the millions. It seems weird the first time you do it, but it’s very easy and makes a great replacement for rice or couscous: it’s lighter, lower in calories, and you are getting a portion of vegetables. It doesn’t taste of much on its own, but that’s the point: you want it to soak up any sauce or juice from your main dish. You can keep the second portion, covered, in the fridge to eat later the same day.
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Serves 2, 25 cals per serving

I don’t know how many calories this one dish has saved 5:2 people, but it must run into the millions. It seems weird the first time you do it, but it’s very easy and makes a great replacement for rice or couscous: it’s lighter, lower in calories, and you are getting a portion of vegetables. It doesn’t taste of much on its own, but that’s the point: you want it to soak up any sauce or juice from your main dish. You can keep the second portion, covered, in the fridge to eat later the same day.

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Courgetti Fastonara

120-145 calories

A great low-cal alternative to pasta, with a rich sauce, than can also supply 2 of your 5 a day! Ready in under 10 minutes, too.

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Pink Peppercorn Risotto with Salmon/Fennel

Serves 2, Calories per serving: 357

This tasty dish is perfect for winter, and for entertaining. It makes sense to cook this for 2, because it’s a bit time-consuming: great for a weekend supper dish. Vegetarians can substitute their favourite vegetables for the salmon – mushrooms, asparagus, baby carrots or young leeks: or simply stir a little fresh pesto through just before serving. Did you know that pink peppercorns aren’t peppercorns at all, but come from a different type of shrub? Let’s not hold it against them – they look lovely and their spicy, fruity flavour is a great match for salmon, and also great in salad dressings. But you can simply use fresh black pepper if you don’t have want to splash out on the pink version.The Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon are beneficial to mental function, and fennel may balance female hormones.

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Feta and Chilli Vegetable Crumble

289 Calories

This is a really versatile, comforting dish. You can use frozen squash for this, or the pre-prepared packs in the veg aisle of the supermarket – and if you make several batches of the crumble topping, you can freeze the rest and use on top of any veggies that taste good baked, for an easy, delicious supper. Sriracha sauce is a hot and garlicky chilli sauce, originally made in Thailand, but it adds a lovely punch and is very cheap in Asian grocers. Or use any chilli sauce.

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Mushroom Stroganoff

Mushrooms, garlic and crème fraîche – no wonder this is one of my favourites! It really doesn't taste anything like this low in calories. You can make double quantities and chill one portion without the crème fraîche. It will keep for two days in the fridge. If you prefer your mushrooms with a kick, try the spicy version!

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Baked eggs with yogurt & Gruyere

Serves 1, Calories 250-265 per serving

This is really adaptable, warm and filling, with so many ways to adapt it to your own tastes: I adapted it myself from a much richer recipe in BBC Good Food magazine. Great for brunch or supper.

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Indian Spiced Tomato & Red Lentil Soup

130 calories per portion (makes 2 portions)

This is an adapted version of the Tomato and Lentil soup from The 5:2 Diet Book – I simply dry fried the onion with some Panch Poran spice blend, which gave it a delicious warming Asian flavour.

Cal count

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Spiced Squash with Pomegranate & Feta

Serves 1, Calories per serving 185

Ras al Hanout is a spice blend from north Africa – it means ‘head of the shop’ and should be the most aromatic spices the seller in the souk has to offer. You can try it with paprika or curry powder if you have them instead, but I love this combination: it’s sweet, spicy, salty, crunchy and soft… a real mini-feast if you like pumpkin or squash (I do: the boyfriend loathes it). The colours alone make the dish so uplifting – but squash can be a pain to prepare. I cheat by using frozen chunks, though the edges will caramelise more with fresh.

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Elderflower Jelly with Berries and Mint

Gorgeous to look at, even better to eat! The elderflower gives a sophisticated flavour that’s not overpowering, and the fruits look like little jewels in the individual serving glasses. Impress family or friends – or save them all for yourself (they keep for four days in the fridge!). If you are happy using sweeteners, then you can get a much lower calorie count. I’ve tried these with three different kinds of sweetener – Splenda, xylitol and a stevia-based baking blend. All gave excellent results. In all cases, follow the instructions on the pack as the quantities are different to sugar. Splenda, for example, substitutes volume but not weight, as it weighs very little.

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