Dining in and out on the 5:2 Diet – Sam’s Brasserie Menu and a simple but substantial 5:2 diet recipe for Celery and Pea Soup:
I love dining out. And, for the most part one of the advantages of the 5:2 diet is that I don’t have to worry about counting calories when I am on a 5:2 diet fast day. But, I also know how annoying it is when my friends want to meet up on a day I’ve earmarked as a fast day. Restaurants are generally quite unhelpful at indicating which dishes MIGHT be low calorie and even if you have a reasonable idea of what will work, it only takes a chef who is a little generous with butter or olive oil to change the calorie count of, for example, a fish dish. So, I love the initiative at Sam’s Brasserie and Bar to offer a 5:2 diet friendly set menu. And I was curious to see just how well it performed as a normal ‘meal’. Now, it wasn’t a 5:2 diet fast day for me, but if it had been, I could easily have picked the lower calorie options and still had enough for a bowl of soup and a little milk for my coffee. Three courses for under 400 calories sounds remarkable doesn’t it.
In fact I wasn’t fasting and so I didn’t even try to work out a way to have three courses under 500 calories. Although my choice of Chicken Satay, followed by Mussels with a Passion-fruit Pannacotta for dessert DID come in at just 469cals.
Starting with the chicken, it was a perfectly cooked portion of three skewers, coated in a nutty flavoured sauce and served with a fresh coriander and beanshoot salad and some fresh lime. Really delicious, while you might have guessed this was a ‘healthy’ dish as there was no oil or grease, the taste and quantity was in no way compromised.
Steamed mussels are an obvious diet dish when eating out and trying to keep the calories low. The only catch is that a wine and cream based sauce can quickly ramp up the calories. By serving a tangy tomato based broth as the base for the mussels, the calorie count is just 208 per portion.
On to dessert. The last time I tried a ‘diet’ dessert when I was eating out I did feel that the dish was a little sad. Here though, the pannacotta was lush, creamy and had the perfect wobble. Using passion fruit and vanilla as the flavour is a smart way to help keep the calories down, because the slightly acid passion fruit works very well with yoghurt which replaced cream as the base for this pannacotta, keeping the calories down under 150!
So all in, a great success, with no feeling on my part that my lunch was spoilt by my diet. I would happily have picked any of these dishes again and I REALLY didn’t need three courses to fill me up.
The menu is actually worth checking out in it’s entirety – I’m quite sure I will be making my own version of some of these dishes myself over the next few weeks. If you decide that you’d like to let someone else do the hard work, it’s available at lunch time or before 7pm and costs £13.50 for two courses or £16.50 for three. I love Sam’s Brasserie and Bar – it’s not quite on my doorstep enough for me to be a regular there, but it’s the sort of place you can take anyone – your parents, a business collegue or a date – and it’s a very child friendly place. So, next time one of my friends wants to meet up, it will be top of the list.
Sam’s Brasserie 5:2 Diet Menu
Watermelon & Feta Salad (99 calories)
Thai Style Fish Kebabs (230 calories)
Chicken Satay (117 calories)
Butternut Squash & Ricotta Frittata, Watercress & Mixed Seed Salad (298 calories)
Steamed Mussels, Tomato Broth (208 calories)
Lo-Lo Pork Meatballs, Cavolo Nero (264 calories)
Baked Honey Apricots, Greek Yoghurt (161 calories)
Passion Fruit & Vanilla Panna Cotta (144 calories)
Champagne Granita, Blueberries (86 calories)
Meanwhile, just in case you think I’ve given up, this recipe for Celery and Split Pea Soup with Thyme is my latest 5:2 Diet Recipe. Again, I am reworking an old favourite to try and create something that includes a little more protein. Like lentils, split peas help to thicken soups and stews but are also high in protein and low GI, so by adding in a handful here instead of potato or celeriac, I’ve made something that has more substance.
The perfect way to keep warm and avoid those hunger pangs on a 5:2 Diet Fast Day.