A week of Butternut Squash


So – at the beginning of the week I bought a medium sized squash, for around £1.04, some onions (30p) and some feta (£1.49).  I then used up a lot of store-cupboard ingredients (I am thankfully well stocked usually) and had five days worth of food out of the one vegetable.

Unfortunately all these meals were so good – I ate them before I had chance to take pictures!

In addition to the ingredients I bought I also used garlic, ginger and sage, risotto rice (barley would work as well for the risotto and tends to be cheaper – not so sure on the arrancini though), pasta twirls, green lentils, olive oil, frozen broad beans (instead of the green beans suggested in the veg hot pot), basmati rice, soy sauce, sugar, spring onion, stock cubes.

I could cost these – but as prices fluctuate I doubt it would be representative of what I actually paid, or what it would cost anyone else…

The meal I was most impressed with this week was the lentil and rice salad – it was so simple to do, and easy to keep for the next day, and tasty.  Plus – combining lentils and rice makes a complete protein, a very cheap protein.

This used 1/4 of my squash plus:

  • 1 and a half handfuls of rice
  • 2 handfuls of green lentils
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • Some sage, paprika, salt and pepper and garlic salt
  • some olive oil
  • a stock cube

I started off by roasting the squash (actually I roasted most of my squash in on go at the beginning of the week – with garlic salt, paprika and a few sage leaves.

Fry the chopped onion, about 5 minutes in add the garlic, and then cook until soft – meanwhile boil the kettle and make up the stock from the cube (I only needed about 50cl of liquid).  Add the lentils and rice to the onion, mix thoroughly for about one minute before pouring over the stock.  Bring to boil and then bring down to simmer – leave for about 10 to 15 minutes until the lentils are soft and the rice cooked.  The water should have been absorbed.  Stir through the roast squash.

If I’d had it to hand I would have added a squirt of lemon juice to bring out the lentils.

The following day I decided to add a little feta, and red wine vinegar (the only vinegar I had) to the left overs – which made an excellent lunch.

For the last two weeks I’ve sort of given up on the 5:2 diet.  This is partly because work has been quite erratic – and it’s been hard to plan for, partly because I’ve been working on a very tight budget for food, and partly just because I can’t seem to find the motivation.

I hope to get back into the rhythm of it soon.  I want to, and I need to.


Life goes on…


So – my sister is back in town.  And meeting up meant two or three pints of very nice beer.

Thank goodness I had taken the time to make those burgers up the night before – they needed to be chilled over night anyway, but it was nice to come back home to something easy to make

Boil – 100g(ish) of Squash, 200g of sweet potato for around 7 to 10 mins, add 2 tablespoons of red lentils and boil for a further 7 or 10 minutes.  Drain and mash, leave to cool.  Once they are cool enough to handle stir in enough flour to make firm patties.  I added 5 tablespoons – the more you stir the more gooey the mixture becomes, so simply fold the ingredients together.  For into patties and leave on a floured plate.  Cool in the fridge.

Cook in a hot frying pan – using a non stick pan will mean you don’t need any oil.  Ensure the pan is hot before putting the patties in – floured side down – so they don’t stick.

These ended up a little bland – so next time I’m going to try adding more chilli.  They’d be better with fresh coriander mixed through too.

These worked out at 574 calories for the whole batch – since I got 3 patties out of the mix that made them 191 calories each.


Had the other two the following night – with some blue cheese melted on top and a fig vinaigrette through the salad – I think the patties needed something acidic to lift them.

A Typical Fast Day

Today’s Menu:

  • Coffee (Black: lots) I’ve seen various reports that black coffee has no calories or between 2 and 5 – I tend to allow about 20 calories in the day for coffee
  • Beetroot Soup (See previous recipe) 64.8
  • Apple (1) 48
  • Noodles with garlic mushroom and spring greens (see below) 134.5
  • Yoghurt (1) 90

Giving a total of 337.3 calories or 357.3 calories if you allow for coffee.

I may have another yoghurt before bed – but right now I’m full.

When I first started fasting I’d have an apple for breakfast, and then a carrot with my soup – and I’d be starving constantly, and found it particularly hard around 4 in the afternoon.  Lunch time would barely make a dent in my hunger and dinner time seemed a long way off.  Now I don’t eat anything until around 2, when I have lunch.  I keep an apple or two in my bag and just knowing they’re there to have if I need to helps me get through the afternoon.

Now, I know you are wondering how on earth my Noodles with mushroom and spring greens could have been only 134.5 calories.  I took a lot of inspiration for this meal from http://5-2veg.tumblr.com/ Using her garlic mushrooms and adding them to noodles with some shredded spring greens.  I have been unable to find the noodles she uses, but I have found these:

109767Listed as 71kcal per 100g – at 70 g per pack that’s 50 calories in the pack.

I shudder to think what’s in them.  Thank goodness the ingredients are in Polish.

Now I’m going to go and make some Egg Mayonnaise for tomorrows sandwich, and boil and mash some squash and potato to make some burgers for tomorrow evening.  I should make some carrot soup too – but I think I’ll leave that for another day.

To the Hills!


I started initiative No.1 today.  Namely – I went for a walk.  Clearly if the dieting isn’t working alone, throwing in some more exercise shouldn’t hurt.  Much at least.

It was a glorious day, or at least turned into one.  The day began somewhat misty and over cast.  But one bus journey (to Balerno) and 7 miles of walking later it had finally burned off.  I stopped off at Flottestone for a quick half pint (small reward?) and realised about half an hour after setting off again that today was not a day to be out and walking in the midday sun.

Still, with only one minor detour (ie getting lost), I managed to find my way to Hillend and catch another bus back into town.  A total of 11.5 miles through beautiful countryside.  As you can see from the picture above, I never went too high up – but according to my phone app I burned 1351 calories. Not bad.

The day seemed to be full of these:


(Neither photo mine)

Beetroot, Soup for a Fast Day


I make my soups in batches, and freeze them in portion sizes in my tiny counter-top freezer.  I currently have very little in my freezer besides soup and bread.  I got the idea from MDOD (My Dear Old Dad) to freeze soup in beakers – I first worried about transporting them to work.  But it was 28 degrees here yesterday and the soup survived the journey (it was only 15 degrees here today, but I forgot to take the soup out of my bag in the morning and so created a red and gloopy mess on the floor).

I eat this soup both on fast and on feast days.  On fast days – it is all I have for lunch, on feast days I’ll have a sandwich as well.

Sour Beetroot Soup

  • Pack of cooked beetroot (no vinegar) 135 calories*, 85p
  • Small Onion (chopped) 28 calories, 13p
  • Two Cloves of garlic (chopped) 10 calories, 8p
  • Two tbsp red wine vinegar 6 calories, 3p
  • Stock 7 calories, 10p
  • One tbsp vegetable oil 135 calories
  • Rosemary (dried) – few sprigs 3 calories

Total Calories – 324 Total cost – £1.19

I got 5 portions out of this – so 64.8 calories at 24p per serving

Fry the onion for about five minutes, until soft – but not colouring. Add the garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes.  Meanwhile boil the kettle and make up a litre of stock. Splash in the red wine vinegar to the onions and let the liquid reduce.  Having cut up the beetroot tip this into the pan, stir briefly and then pour over the stock.  Sprinkle in the rosemary and simmer for about ten minutes.

Allow the soup to cool, and then blitz (I use a hand blender).

This soup is filling and complex in flavour so, although simple, is great for fast days.

The Beginning

Or not quite the beginning… since I started the 5:2 diet about a month ago.

So far I have lost no weight – and I’ve decided to start this blog in an attempt to track my eating, keep me motivated, and to share my recipes.  I’m vegetarian*, and have quite a tight (though not strict!) budget – and I enjoy cooking, good beer and wine, good cheese.  These constraints are not always reconcilable.

In the past 3 and a half to 4 weeks I have managed to stick to the diet quite well.  This is the first formal diet I’ve ever done so I can’t compare it to others.  The first 500 calorie day was very hard.  I caved and ate a sandwich at around 4 in the afternoon.  I have since changed the times I eat during a fast day and now no longer notice the hunger.

Depending on my meal plan for the day I have either two apples, or one apple and some celery for snacking on throughout the day.  Skipping breakfast my first meal is usually homemade soup – which I take frozen into work with me and microwave to heat.  My main meal is then the evening meal – which can be anywhere between 180 calories to 300.  If I have enough calories left over I then may have a low fat yogurt (90 calories) just before bed.  I started that after having a sleepless night one time and decided I did not want a repeat.

On feast days I don’t count calories.  And I drink.  And I think it is for these reasons that the 5:2 diet has so far been unsuccessful for me.

I do, however, enjoy the rhythm of the feast and fast days and the challenge of sticking to such limited calories while cooking.  So I intend to stick with the diet, and add a few other restrictions.


More to follow – including at least one recipe, maybe two.



*Vegetarian – technically pescatarian, though I have qualms about eating fish and always try to find sustainable options.  I also occasionally eat Venison.