Believe it or not, sticking to 500 calories on your fasting days doesn't mean you have to eat bland and boring foods.
The 5:2 diet means fasting on no more than 500 calories two days a week. Sound depressing? Well, we were surprised to learn that it’s actually pretty easy to rustle up a tasty meal that contains less than 250 calories. See below for three of our favourite 5:2 diet low-calorie recipes that’ll help you through your fasting days.
Banana Oat Muffins
Muffins on a Fast Day? But these, my friends, are no ordinary muffins. Pop one in your bag with a flask of coffee for a breakfast on the go that will help you resist the sugary temptations of your local barista. The seeds and oats help keep you full, and they’re as low in sugar as we can make them without losing the taste. Add whatever seeds you have to hand. They freeze well: cool completely and freeze in a plastic box for up to one month. Defrost fully before serving.
Calories per muffin: 219
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20–25 minutes
100g rolled oats 355 cals
50g wholewheat flour 155 cals
150g plain white flour 503 cals
2 tsp baking powder 10 cals
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 5 cals
¼ tsp salt
75g muscovado sugar 300 cals
4 large very ripe bananas, mashed 480 cals
1 large egg, beaten 100 cals
4 tbsp light olive oil 540 cals
2 tbsp pumpkin or sunflower seeds or a mix 175–184 cals
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas mark 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Mix together the oats (keeping a tablespoon aside for the topping), flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar.
3. Mix together the mashed bananas, egg and oil and then pour into the dry oat and flour mix and fold together.
4. Spoon into the prepared muffin cases and scatter the top of each muffin with the reserved oats and the seeds. Bake for 20–25 minutes, until brown and slightly springy to touch.
One-Tray Baked Cod Provençal
Before you read this recipe, take a look at the photo. Don’t you want a dose of all that sunny Provencal flavour right now? Even better, it’s one of the simplest recipes in this book. What are you waiting for?
Calories per serving: 247
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into wedges 30 cals
1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into wedges 30 cals
1 courgette, thickly sliced 34 cals
1 red onion, peeled and sliced 38 cals
1-cal cooking spray
2 x 150g cod fillets, skin removed 288 cals
100g cherry tomatoes 20 cals
30g drained and rinsed pitted black olives 40 cals
zest and juice of ½ lemon 9 cals
1 tbsp fresh oregano or thyme leaves 5 cals
salt and pepper
1. Heat the oven to 200˚C/400˚F/Gas mark 6. Place the chopped peppers, courgette and onion in a shallow baking dish. Spray with a little 1-cal cooking spray, season well with salt and pepper and roast for 10 minutes.
2. Place the cod fillets on top, season and spray with 1-cal cooking spray. Scatter the tomatoes, olives and lemon zest around the fish, and squeeze over the lemon juice. Sprinkle with the herbs, season again, and bake for 8–10 minutes, until the cod has just turned a denser white colour (this shows it’s cooked). Scatter with the olives and serve immediately.
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Spicy Mexican Bean Burgers
These cheesy, beany, spicy burgers might not be quite what you’d find on the streets of Acapulco, but they’re so tasty you can forgive them a certain lack of authenticity. You can either enjoy them with all the trimmings, or just with the halloumi for a lower calorie count. The ingredients list is quite long, but they freeze well and are really handy to have on standby for a veggie dinner.
Calories per serving: 244 with halloumi; 459 with burger bun, halloumi, guacamole and salad
Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus chilling
Cooking time: 20 minutes
1-cal cooking spray
½ red onion, peeled and finely chopped 19 cals
4 spring onions, finely sliced 6 cals
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 8 cals
1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped 5–10 cals
2 tsp Mexican or Cajun spice mix 10 cals
1½ x 400g tins mixed beans, drained and rinsed 360 cals
1 egg, beaten 78 cals
50g fresh breadcrumbs 134 cals
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves 10 cals
juice of ½ lime 6 cals
75g low-fat feta cheese, crumbled 135 cals
80g reduced-fat halloumi cheese 204 cals
salt and pepper
optional extras per burger
1 toasted seeded granary burger bun 180 cals per bun
1 tbsp low-fat guacamole 17 cals
10g rocket leaves 2 cals
1 tomato, sliced 16 cals
1. Spray a non-stick frying pan with a little 1-cal cooking spray. Add the onion and spring onions, season with salt and pepper and fry over a low heat for about 5 minutes, until softened but not coloured.
2. Add the garlic, chilli and Cajun spice, then fry for 2–3 minutes. Tip into a bowl, add the beans and roughly mash.
3. Leave to cool slightly, then add the egg, breadcrumbs, coriander and lime juice. Season well, then mix to combine. Gently stir in the crumbled feta.
4. Wet your hands lightly, then shape the mixture into 4 large patties. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up.
5. Preheat the grill to medium. Spray a little more cooking spray in a grillproof frying pan and heat over a medium heat. Add the burgers and fry for 3–4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Top each burger with a slice of halloumi, then cook under the grill for 3–4 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and melted.
6. Serve in toasted buns topped with guacamole, rocket leaves and sliced tomatoes, if desired.
There are more recipes, tips and tricks in The Ultimate 5:2 Diet Recipe Book (Easy, Calorie Counted Fast Day Meals You’ll Love), by Kate Harrison, £6.99.