Monday, 13 June 2016

Fasting, weight loss and understanding why 5:2 alone may not always work for everyone!!

Let me introduce a fictional friend to you, I’ll call her “Samantha”. Samantha is aged 45, has a sedentary lifestyle (little or no exercise, desk job). She’s 5ft 6 inches tall and weighs 12 stone. TDEE = 1,709 calories. BMR is 1,424 calories. BMI is 27.1 For more explanation on TDEE, BMI, BMR see the link to the TDEE calculator Many people seemed to get disheartened about small losses, staying the same or… re-gaining weight lost following a Fasting day a day later! In order to lose 1lb in weight, you need to create an approximate deficit in your calorie intake (so over the TOTAL calorie intake or total TDEE calorie total for the week) of 3,000 calories. Clearly, there are other things that will affect this figure – how active you are, age, etc. Fasting (2 days per week @ 500/600 calories) will create a deficit. Using Samantha’s TDEE, she’d need to eat 11,963 calories a week to maintain her weight. Because she’s reducing the calorie intake on 2 days a week (2 x 500 = 1,000) she has created a 1,209 deficit on one fasting days – or 2,418 calories over 2 days. If she eats up to her TDEE on the remaining 5 days (5 x 1,709 calories) she’s consuming just 9,545 calories in a week – 3,418 calories BELOW her TDEE for the week (11,963 – 9,545 = 2,418).
BUT if Samantha completes two successful 500 day fasts and on the remaining days eats OVER her TDEE, then she’ll soon start eating into the 2,418 calories she’s “saved” through her fasts. She may just have a couple of things that take her over her TDEE on each non-fasting day – half a bottle of white wine at 635 cals and a Magnum (280 cals) = 915 calories! She may not do this every day…. But if she did, then potentially she may have completely negated the fasting days. Over 5 days, her wine and Magnum have totalled 4,575 calories!!! She’s actually eaten 2,157 calories OVER her TDEE. She probably believes that she’s doing ok, as she has absolutely no idea of how many calories are in a Magnum (she doesn’t count calories on non-fast days) and alcohol - well, there aren’t many calories in it are there? It was only half a bottle (she used to drink a whole bottle before 5:2) and.... it’s a non-fast day so she’s not counting calories.....
I am posting this, as someone who started off with logging food and calorie counting – 5:2 hadn’t been heard of in 2012…. At 50 years old, I weighed 14 stone. Was a size 24 and am just 4ft 9 and very sedentary because of a physical disability which severely impacts on my mobility. I use an electric wheelchair outside of the house. It took me 3.5 years to reach my goal weight of 9st 7lb. During the second part of my weight loss journey, I used (and still use) 5:2 as a “tool”. I have during the whole of that time continued to log all the food I eat. I’m posting this, because it may be that some people do need to “number crunch” and look a bit more closely at what they eat on non-fasting day – particularly the calorie count. Examining some of the calories in food (especially high calorie foods and alcohol) enables you to start making better food choices... “Is that 400 calorie slice of cake really worth it?”
You will also need to develop huge willpower to resist temptation! That lovely crisp warm sausage roll may smell nice and taste delicious! However, is eating it knowing that it may mean that you don’t see a loss at the end of the week really worth it? The feeling that you have “failed” stays with you much longer than a few moments and the more you experience that feeling of “failure”, the more likely you are to give up altogether. The TDEE comes down as you lose weight, so it’s important that you regularly check your TDEE calories. Yes, the beauty of this way of life is that it’s easy, it’s sustainable and for many, it works successfully. BUT sometimes it may be helpful to study exactly what a non-fasting day looks like and work out if this might be contributing to the lack of movement on the scales….. I am hoping that if you’ve made it this far in my post – it’s been helpful! :-)
More than anything, stay strong.... it’s not a race. You can get there in the end, and it will be sooooo worth it!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Butternut Squash Galette with Roasted Garlic and Thyme

So what is a galette? I hear you ask...  galette is a rustic tart with hand-folded edges... it can be sweet or savoury.

I absolutely LOVE butternut squash and have found many, many ways to enjoy this versatile vegetable.  But I have never cooked it in a galette.  In fact, I have never attempted a galette.

Today was the day!

Rolling out the pastry dough

Spreading the garlic infused ricotta cheese
Arranging the roasted butternut squash slices

Sprinkle over the Gouda cheese
Gently pull in the edges of the galette, pleating as you go
Sprinkle the edges with the grated parmesan
Bake at 200 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.  I think an egg wash
may have made the pastry turn out a little more "golden"!
The finished product.  Enjoy hot or cold - as a snack or with a salad

Butternut Squash Galette with Roasted Garlic and Thyme
Preparation Time:
1 hr
Cooking Time:
30 mins
Calories per serving:

Plain Flour
Ground Semolina
½ Tsp/2.5g
Freshly ground black pepper
½ Tsp/1g
Tap Water (cold)
Butternut Squash
Extra Virgin One Calorie Spray, Fry Light
30 Sprays/6ml
Fresh Thyme
2 Tsps/2g
Ricotta Cheese
Gouda Cheese, Grated
10 Cloves/30g
Parmesan Cheese, Grated
1½ Tbsps/15g

First, make the dough. Add the flour, semolina and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until it forms a crumbly mix.

Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time (between 2 - 4 tblsp), until the dough sticks together and forms a ball (don't make it too moist).

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it into a ball with your hands.  Cover it with plastic wrap. Place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let the butter harden.  You can leave it in the fridge for up to a day; if you want to make the dough in the morning, you can complete your galette later in the day.

Next prepare the filling.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Spray two baking sheets with 15 squirts of the spray oil.

Peel and cut the butternut squash into two halves, and cut each half into thin (5mm) slices.

In a large bowl, combine 1 clove of the peeled and chopped garlic and chopped thyme and stir. Add the squash slices and 15 squirts of the spray oil and toss to ensure that the slices are completely coated. Spread the slices onto one of the baking sheets. Scatter the remaining garlic cloves (whole and unpeeled) in between the slices. Put the baking sheets into the oven and bake until the garlic and butternut squash are tender, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool.

While that's baking, get your galette dough ready. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out into a large circle about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer this disk to parchment paper-lined baking sheet and put it in the fridge until ready to use.

Once the garlic is cooled, peel and put in the reserved bowl. Mash the garlic until it is a smooth paste, then stir in the ricotta cheese.

Now, we put the galette together. Pull your dough disk from the fridge. Spread the garlic-cheese mixture over the top, leaving a 1-inch border along the edges (this is what will be folded over).
Arrange your slices of squash over the garlic-cheese mixture. While you don't have to make it pretty, it's fun to do so and you can arrange the squash in a lovely spiralling circle. Just don't let the slices overlap too much. Too thick, and it'll be too heavy for the galette crust and it'll break when you serve it later.

Next, fold the edges toward the centre of the galette. Remember the tips I gave you above, if you're having any trouble getting the crust to fold nicely.

Sprinkle the Gouda cheese over the centre of the galette, and sprinkle the edges of the crust with the parmesan cheese. Place your galette in the oven and bake until the crust is crisp and golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.

Let cool slightly before slicing and serve it up warm. Yum!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Citrus blackened Cajun chicken breast fillet with a green bean and garlic salad and roasted celeriac

Healthy food doesn't all have to be prepared from scratch.  I have found a number of ready-prepared dishes that regularly feature on the menu.  Today is a Tesco Healthy Living Citrus blackened Cajun chicken breast fillet - only 25 minutes to cook (remove lid from foil dish, pop into pre-heated oven for 25 minutes...)  It's pretty decent quality chicken, and only 171 calories.

Now before anyone gets too concerned that I am eating food outside of it's best before date... the other great thing about these little beauties is that they can be frozen!

I've enjoyed this chicken with salad and other vegetables, but today I prepared a fine green bean and garlic salad (55 calories per serving) , and roasted celeriac (60 calories).  This provided a great tasting and filling meal for just 286 calories.

Here's the recipe for the green bean salad.

Green bean and garlic salad = 55 calories per serving
Recipe makes 2 servings

270g fine green beans
1 clove of garlic
1 x roasted red pepper in brine (comes in a jar)
50g of finely diced red onion
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper


Trim ends from beans and cut into 3cm pieces. Peel and finely dice red onion and garlic clove. Drain red pepper from brine and chop into fine pieces.

Cook green beans in a pot of boiling salted water until crisp tender, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Remove to a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and dry with paper towels then place in a serving bowl.

Toss with remaining ingredients. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature, at least 30 minutes.

Roasted celeriac = 79 calories per serving
Recipe makes 4 servings


750g celeriac
Virgin Coconut one calorie spray oil


Peel the celeriac and cut into 1.5cm cubes. Spread over a baking tray. Spray with the spray oil.

Cook for 35 - 45 minutes in a pre-heated oven (200 degrees), stirring half way through so that the cubes are evenly browned.

Great with fish and can be used to replace potatoes!