The Ultimate 5:2 Recipe Book
Easy, Calorie Counted Fast Day Meals You'll Love
The Ultimate 5:2 Recipe Book was published in 2013. It’s a comprehensive and inspiring book which features 85+ delicious recipes, plus 10 fantastic case studies and tips from people who’ve transformed their lives. The book also includes Know-how sections offering advice on 5:2 with the family, travelling on 5:2 and how to keep the weight off! Recently serialised in YOU magazine in the UK.
I’ve always loved cooking. Actually, that’s not quite true. At school I dreaded Home Economics and produced one of the worst apple jalousie pastry cases my teacher had ever seen. Luckily, I’ve never felt the need to make an apple jalousie since.
Things improved immensely after I left home, which is lucky for readers of this book, but I do still remember the tricky process of teaching myself to cook the food I actually wanted to eat. This means that I’ve worked hard to make these recipes as clear – and as delicious – as possible. All the recipes, including those from our dieters, have been double-tested to make sure they work perfectly every time!READ MORE
When I started 5:2, I hated the idea of ‘diet’ food – I’d had my fill of cottage cheese and pineapple on cardboard crisp bread over the years. So at first, I relied on re-heating ready-made soups on Fast Days, but pretty soon I was tempted back into the kitchen to experiment. Of course, I realised that cooking for Fast Days couldn’t rely on sploshes of olive oil, or dollops of butter.
Instead, I focused on fresh, seasonal produce, clever cooking methods – and the most exciting flavours from all around the world. It’s been such fun to put together the book I wish I’d had when I started out.
Of course, the recipes aren’t just for Fast Days – you’ll probably want to make your favourites throughout the week, maybe adding a little extra cheese, oil or meat on a Feast Day.
I really hope the pages of your copy of this book will end up covered in cooking stains and notes or ideas of your own – so feel free to scrawl on the recipes, adapt, eat breakfasts for dinner or dinners for breakfast. And I’d love to hear what you think – my contact details are at the back of the book!
Before we get cooking, here are a few pointers to help you on your way…
Think Like a 5:2 Cook
When it comes to 5:2 cooking, there’s a compromise to be made between flavour and calories. Steaming and boiling don’t involve adding any fats, so they are safe bets calorie-wise. Whereas roasting and frying enhance the flavour of many meats and vegetables, but they do involve using fat (and, therefore, up the total number of calories).
My compromise is to use a 1-cal cooking spray, which you can buy in most supermarkets, for recipes where frying or roasting alone will add the flavour. These sprays are strange to use at first; you spray them on to a cold pan, and they’re white because they’re an emulsion of oil and water, with a few other ingredients added in (including alcohol that the makers say evaporates completely during the cooking process). They also help avoid food burning and sticking to the pan.
When I want a little additional flavour, I will use ‘real’ fats and count the calories – not just in cooking but also in salad dressings.
Whether you’re using sprays or small quantities of oil or butter, it’s usually better to cook at slightly lower temperatures than you’re used to, to reduce the risk of burning. This is particularly important for garlic, which can burn very quickly; burnt garlic tastes horrible and will ruin your entire dish. You can also add a little water or lemon juice if food begins to burn or stick.
For roasting, you can use 1-cal cooking spray or a little oil brushed over the surface of your food with a pastry brush (I like the silicon brushes because they’re easy to wash). If you roast your food wrapped in foil, you don’t always need to add any fat – use herbs or spices to enhance the flavour. (An alternative is to get a pump spray and fill it with olive oil, but it will mean you’re using more calories and it is harder to monitor).
I haven’t included 1-cal cooking spray in the calorie counts for the recipes because how much you use depends on the size of the pan and pan temperature. Generally, you’ll need two or three sprays (and calories) to mist the surface of a medium-large saucepan and two sprays on each side of the veg, meat or fish that you’re planning to roast.
Fats and oils
One look at the calorie chart later in the book will confirm how little fat it can take to completely derail your Fast Day. There are some oils and fats, however, which make up for their calorie count in flavour, even in very small quantities – I’m talking a quarter of a teaspoon. Here is a selection of the oils and fats I use most frequently.
- Extra virgin olive oil I don’t use this for cooking because high temperatures reduce its health benefits, but in salad dressings, the flavour makes it worthwhile.
- Sesame oil The strong nutty flavour that enhances stir-fries and dressings. I like the toasted sesame oil as it has the most intense flavour.
- Coconut oil This is actually solid at room temperature, like butter, and comes in a jar, which means it’s easier to control how much you use. It’s my new favourite fat – strange as that sounds – because it’s very stable at high temperatures and adds a very slight coconut flavour that’s really appealing in curries or spicy dishes. Research also suggests a whole range of health benefits including positive effects on diabetes, brain function and anti-microbial properties. It’s even great as a hand cream (probably best to get it out with a spoon though)! You can’t say that about margarine!
- Butter What? Yes, it’s true. I’d never use it on toast on Fast Days – too dangerously tempting – but for cooking, half a teaspoon will add extra flavour and butter is another fat that doesn’t deteriorate at high temperatures. Butter has had a bad press; in moderation, I think it’s one of the good guys. The tricky bit, of course, is the moderation . . . In baking, you can use the ‘lightest’ spreadable butters, which give the buttery taste and moisture but without as many calories as real butter. Check the labels carefully!
Having followed the 5:2 diet religiously since Christmas, I must admit I was getting a bit bored of what I had to eat. It's not that the diet wasn't working (I've lost a stone and a half), it's just that I'd run out of inspiration as to what I could eat. So I was extremely excited when it was announced that there would be a 5:2 Recipe Book to go alongside Kate's original diet book.
With a brief introduction and FAQ at the beginning of the book, there's none of the scary science to confuse, in fact this part is only 32 pages long, and is written in a reader friendly way, with the questions that have been asked frequently on the Facebook page, and a very brief introduction. If you want the science behind the diet, and more in depth instructions as to what to do, I'd suggest you buy Kate's other book.
The rest of the book is dedicated to loads of lovely looking recipes with a collection of beautiful photographs in the middle - thankfully there's not too many photos throughout the book (imagine looking at all those food pictures on a fast day!) as well as a handy calorie calculator at the very back.
The recipes are divided into sections: Great Starts (breakfast and brunch ideas), Super Soups, Hot Stuff (curries and other spicy dishes), Comfort Food, Salad Days, 5:2 To Go (packed lunches etc.), 5:2 On Tour (dishes inspired by travel), 5:2 Treats (dessert ideas) and 5:2 Extras (Salad Dressings etc.) and each section has a "5:2 Lives" page which has real life stories as to how 5:2 has affected different people. Great inspiration when you're feeling the fast day slump! Also in each section there are hints and tips as to how to fit 5:2 into your day to day life - from how to feed your family whilst you fast, to what kitchen essentials Kate recommends.
Overall, it's a great cookbook, with lots of alternatives which mean that there are probably far more recipes than is suggested, written in a lovely friendly manner - and all the recipes have all the ingredients calorie counted as well, so if you leave something out, or change something it's incredibly easy to alter the calorie count to what you have made!