5:2 Diet Tips – Spicy Spinach and Chickpea Soup – Planning Perfect Fast Day Meals:
Despite a five day holiday, I’m trying my best to get back into a routine with the 5:2 diet. Last time round I developed something of a pattern with home-made soup for lunch and dinner of fresh white fish and green vegetables. While I will try my best to vary things up a bit more this time, today’s fast follows that pattern. And although the soup isn’t the prettiest one I’ve made, it is full of flavour, with the chickpeas adding fibre and protein.
I’m sharing a few tips today, which I find help me enormously on a fast day. Of course, I do have the luxury of not having to cook for anyone else or go out to work, but to counter that, by myself I can easily be tempted and there’s no-one here to stop me…
- I skip breakfast unless I wake up really hungry. Even then, I start by drinking a large cup of tea – and quite often find I’m not hungry just dehydrated. If I am still ravenous, I’ll eat half a pot of zero fat greek yoghurt (the unsweetened sort) with a few raspberries or a teaspoon of honey. I think it works for me because there’s a high level of protein in the yoghurt and it’s usually enough to keep me going till lunchtime.
- Spicy food seems to work well for me. Today’s spicy spinach and chickpea soup was designed to create a lunch soup that was substantial enough to fill me up while still being ultra low calorie. Tumeric is supposed to help your metabolism too, so there’s a double win there.
- White fish (not salmon or mackerel though) is very low in calories. I end up eating restaurant sized portions of fish for supper, though I do try to steam or bake it with just a little olive oil rather than frying it in butter or poaching in wine.
- Increasingly I try to make a chunky soup rather than one which is completely smooth. It seems to fill me up better and it seems more substantial
- Foods to avoid on a fast day for me include all bread, potatoes and almost all cheese (a little parmesan grated on top of a dish is the kind of exception I’ll make to that rule). Although you can easily make a meal which is under 400 calories and include all those ingredients I find I can create a more substantial dish using low fat, low carbohydrate ingredients.
- I don’t drink alcohol on a fast day. It might be possible to get my calorie count low enough to include a slimline gin and tonic or a glass of fizz, but personally I know I’d be tempted to have a second – and maybe a third.
I’m sharing my recipe for spicy spinach and chickpea soup because it’s the sort of comfort food we all need from time to time – whether on a fast day, as part of a calorie controlled diet or not. My supper of seabass with fennel and olives is a classic dish – all you need is a small whole seabass, a bulb of fennel, a lemon, a handful of olives and a little olive oil. Just trim and slice the fennel finely, slice the lemon and then put the whole fish onto a baking tray. Pop a few bits of fennel and lemon into the cavity of the fish and the remainder all round. Scatter over the olives. Cook for about half an hour at 170-180c and serve.
Delicious and really rather posh looking don’t you think? Meanwhile, here’s the recipe for the spicy spinach and chickpea soup. It’s around 130 calories a portion.
- 750 ml Stock I used fresh chicken stock, but you could substitute for vegetable stock or even use a stock cube
- 250 g Spinach Washed and trimmed of any woody stalks
- 200 g Canned Chickpeas A small can, drained - 130g drained weight
- 1 Medium Onion Finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds Crushed in a pestle and mortar
- 1/4 teaspoon Tumeric
- 1 pinch Chilli Flakes
- 1/2 tablespoon Rapeseed oil
- Gently soften the onion in the oil for 5 to 10 minutes
- Add the spinach and stir through
- Pour over the chicken stock and cook for 20 minutes or so before blitzing for a few seconds to break down the spinach a bit. Your aim is not to create a puree though.
- Add the chickpeas and cook through for a further five minutes
- Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste
Thinking of making this recipe? why not pin it for later