My Favourite 5:2 Diet Recipes

When Euan was out here at New Year he told me about the 5:2 diet. Euan’s the sort of person who loves fad diets (he once lost a few stone on  the lemon detox) so I wasn’t paying much attention. But then after he left, I decided to Google it and see for myself.

Basically the idea is that you eat normally for five days a week, then for two days you restrict yourself to 500 calories like some kind of monk or something.

Those of you who know me personally will know that I have no willpower whatsoever. I tried the four hour body diet once, with disastrous consequences. Who in their right mind wants to eat nothing but pulses, meat, and vegetables for six days a week?

The thought of calorie counting all the time makes me a sad panda, so I figured this way I could have my cake and eat it and not have to throw it up in order to fit into a pair of size 10 Baxters **

**eating disorders are no laughing matter, kids!

I decided to try the diet for four weeks and see what all the fuss is about. Because I’m too lazy to count calories and come up with my own 5:2 diet recipes, I decided to look online. I’ve written this blog post to catalogue the 5:2  diet recipes I’ve tried during the first four weeks of eating like a supermodel for two days a week.

It’s mostly just a resource for me to look back on, as well as giving some great recipes a wee bit of love.

Jac’s Spicy Tomato and Lentil Soup – 123 calories

Photo care of Tinned Tomatoes

I love Tinned Tomatoes! I’m not a big fan of soup, usually, so I only whipped up a batch because it’s 123 calories a portion, it looked easy, and James was nagging me to make him lunch. I made a couple of changes; I put two cloves of garlic in because we love it, I ommited the turmeric because we don’t have any, I used green lentils instead of red ones, and I used chicken instead of veggie stock cubes.

Verdict? 10/10! It’s quite a watery soup but I actually quite like that. It’s refreshing, warming, filling, and very easy to eat. I would even eat this on a ‘feast’ day 

Karen’s French Tarragon Chicken – 227 calories

Photo by Lavendar and Lovage

I don’t like chicken breast. This has resulted in some comedy moments, for example my best friend’s mum thinking I’m vegetarian and then looking very confused as I stuffed my face with bacon rolls.  Instead of buying a big pack of chicken breasts I just bought a normal chicken and took the breasts off it myself. This meant we had one breast each, and two legs and wings to marinade in piri piri sauce for the next day’s barbeque. Yummers.

Anyway, back to this recipe: I didn’t have fresh tarragon so I just used jar stuff, but it tasted fine. I also substituted cottage cheese for creme fraiche,  and forgot to put the lemon in (d’oh!). Served with a garden salad.

Verdict? 9/10! The chicken was tender and moist, the sauce was light and zingy. Only complaint would be that the portion is rather small but what do you expect for 227 calories?

BBC Good Food’s Healthy Egg ‘n’ Chips – 218 calories

Photo by BBC

See what I mean about having your cake and eating it? This lovely brekkie for dinner boasts 218 calories, and is packed full of flavour. I added some grilled tomatoes and roast garlic cloves, and James got an extra egg because he’s a fat toad I love him. And he’s allowed 100 more calories than me, the sod. I parboiled the potatoes for around 5 minutes first because I was a bit cynical about putting raw tatties in the oven and only cooking them for 30 mins.

Verdict? 9/10! Super yummy and filling for a rainy grim day

 Karen’s cheese & tomato omelette – 170 calories

Photo by Lavender and Lovage

I’m so chuffed that some of my favourite food bloggers are doing the 5:2 diet. Otherwise I might never have thought to put a sprinkling of parmesan on an omelette. Parmesan is so strong that for a wee 22 calorie sprinkling you get a big hit of cheesy flavour. Unfortunately we only had three eggs in the house, so ended up only having a 1.5 egg omelette each. I also added a sprinkle of oregano.

Verdict? 7/10. I’m not a big fan of ommelettes, but this was pretty tasty.

BBC Good Food’s Squash and Chorizo stew – 264 calories

Image by the BBC

I used potimarron ( the seasonal squash here) but it’s a bit more like pumpkin than butternut. I also only had about 400 grams of squash, so I made up the other 100g with mushrooms after quickly googling a calorie counter to make sure mushrooms aren’t some kind of devil food.

For some reason I thought this would be nice, but I hate eating meals that don’t have any carbs in them. For that reason, I didn’t eat all of it and ended up only eating about 250 calories for the day in total, including my omellete. This made me go very quiet all night, and I had a bugger of a headache the next day, making it difficult to work. For some reason I didn’t think to take an ibuprofen until about 5pm.

Verdict? 1/10. Big fat NOPE.

Jemma’s Garlic & Mushroom Chicken  – 272 Calories 

I said I was too lazy to come up with my own recipe, and then I went and blindsided y’all with this low calorie chicken recipe! Oh yeah, I’m good.

This was inspired a bit by the aforementioned Lavender and Lovage  tarragon chicken recipe. Basically we had a whole chicken sitting in the fridge, and a pot of cottage cheese. I wondered if I could do something a bit different from the tarragon chicken and decided to use garlic instead and pad the dish out with mushrooms.

Verdict? 10/10 if I do say so myself! The chicken was moist and tender, there was plenty of sauce, and the garlicky mushrooms gave the dish a wee bit of oomph.

Mumsnet’s cumin and lemon roast cauliflower -51 calories

When I made my garlic mushroom chicken I’d had a big bowl of Jac’s 123 calorie tomato soup for lunch, meaning I could have a wee helping of cauliflower with my dinner. Because  cumin, pepper, and lemon juice basically have no calories, you can have a whopping 200g of this for only 51 calories.

Verdict? 9/10. Remember I said that I don’t like eating a meal without any carbs? Well, this tricked me into believing I was tucking into  a plate of roast potatoes. My only comment would be that I couldn’t really taste the cumin or lemon juice.

So does the diet work?

I did the 5:2 diet for four weeks and although I quite enjoyed the feeling of zen that I was getting on the fast days, and although I felt like my size 12 jeans were falling down a bit, the warm and fuzzies abruptly stopped when I jumped on the scales and saw that I hadn’t really lost any weight, half a kilo at most. I don’t know why I was expecting miracles, since on my feast days I was stuffing my face with baguettes and gooey cheese, but there you go.

Everyone else seems to be having awesome results, so don’t let me stand in your way! Go forth and eat low cal.

So Hungry I Could Eat a Horse

Despite going into self imposed exile in the South of France, I’ve still been hearing loads about the horse meat scandal. Food snobs are up on their high Aberdeen Angus bulls crowing that “it’s what you get for buying food that isn’t organic and locally sourced, fnar fnar!” seemingly forgetting that some people are actually living below the poverty line and don’t have heaps of cash to throw away on quality food, as much as they’d probably like to.

Then I thought “hey, I’m in France! Don’t they eat horse here anyway?”

I decided to bite the (sea)biscuit, and try horse meat for myself. Unfortunately our local Super U doesn’t sell it, so I had to wait for a chance to go into Tarbes and buy some pure, unadulterated cheval from the bigger supermarche, E.Leclerc.

The first thing that struck me about the horse meat was that it was cheap. For €1.31 we got two slices of rump steak, perfect for frying. A full on fillet was only €10.

The second thing that struck me was that the meat was imported from Argentina. The French don’t really like importing things, so that’s a bit weird. Maybe it’s because French supermarkets are as bad as their UK counterparts.

Gosh, I’m evil. Supporting a supermarket, having a huge carbon footprint, and eating Shergar. They should put me behind bars before I take out a rainforest or something!

I decided to eat it cooked rare on a baguette, with a dash of mustard, some tomatoes, fried onions, and a couple of slices of fried chorizo. In my hurry to scoff it, and due to the pish lighting in my house, I didn’t get a picture.

So what did it taste like?

  • It had a nicer flavour than the low quality supermarket beef you can buy in Scotland (don’t pretend you’ve never slummed it at the end of the month!). Low quality beef has an offensive, strong and fatty flavour and you can almost taste the growth hormones, whereas…
  • It was downright mild. It wasn’t offensive at all, it was just meat. It had a slight sweetness to it that was almost imperceptible.
  • It was lean. It reminded me a bit of ostrich.
  • It was a little chewy: but that might have been because it was a tough cut and I cooked it muy rare.
  • The only thing that put me off was the emotional realisation that it’s horse (of course, of course). Thinking about the horse that I refused to spank on the bum when I went horse riding made me feel sad eating it.

Would I eat it again? Maybe. I’d probably go to an artisan butcher next time though.

At the end of the day, it was wrong for Tesco and Aldi and Lidl and Findus to lie to their customers about what they were putting into their food. Personally I’m more concerned about the addition of pork; sucks to be Muslim.

We need to think about this sensibly. Although horses are companion animals and it’s a bit taboo to snack on them, I think that British supermarkets should consider stocking it properly so that their customers can try it if they want to; and so that lower income households have a better option for Sunday dinner.

Horse meat is low in fat. It’s low in cholesterol. It tastes a million times better than beef sold in the same price bracket. So what’s the problem? Should the only option for our poor be “go vegetarian”?

Think on it.

Krispy Kreme Edinburgh Launch Night!

When the lovely MC2 PR company got in touch with me to see if I’d like to attend the grand opening of Krispy Kreme Edinburgh, I knew it was a job for my roving reporter Euan. Unfortunately I made the mistake of asking him on Facebook, causing a flurry of “aww I want to go too!” from a few of my friends. So while I sat at home last night, restricting myself to 500 calories (it’s a long story…) Euan was doing this…

Euan: Jemma Eat World's official roving reporter!

Doughnut Look Past Krispy Kreme Edinburgh

I was obviously unsure about whether or not to take up Jemma’s offer of attending the Krispy Kreme Edinburgh launch night…NOT!

Hermiston Gait Retail Park opened its ‘doors’ in 1999 with great wonderment and anticipation. It was about as successful as the Glasvegas hotel I stayed in on Saturday night, whimpering disgracefully through the years with fewer and fewer customers. Fortunately Hermiston Gait’s future was saved when it was bought over in 2009 for a cool £66 million. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength with better transport links and new Tesco and B&Q super-stores opening!

The latest additions are the obligatory KFC (meh), and Scotland’s first Krispy Kreme Drive-Thru! I have followed the opening for the past year after being informed by my ever wise gran that Krispy Kreme Edinburgh was opening soon. Krispy Kreme did deny it for a while leading to much disappointment, but alas, they are finally here!

The pre-opening PR and Marketing has been unbelievable. Over the past couple of months there have been ‘Munros’ of free doughnuts given away left, right and centre. Many Edinburgers have been awash with excitement. There were obviously the haters, but as the wise ghetto folk say, “haterz gonna hate”.

Jack and I arrived to the Krispy Kreme Edinburgh launch night starving and ready to stuff our faces with the sugary delights. Early signs were good, a glass of champagne and a lemon meringue pie doughnut on arrival – thank you very much! Jack had a glass of orange juice and a glazed raspberry ‘nut. He was the designated driver, obvs.

Krispy Kreme Edinburgh

The inside is really swanky. Good lighting, plenty of Krispy Kreme branding, lots of different colours and a huge window where you can peer into the Wonka Factory of doughnuts. We found ourselves a ‘spot’ and I began nursing my glass as it became apparent that they weren’t topping up…

THEN I just about wet myself. Our strategic standing landed us a hot original glazed doughnut straight from the conveyor belt. Oh my bejeebus, that was the shiz! Those wee vans at fairs who have previously been my doughnut Mecca have nothing on this, however, the excitement then lulled slightly. The great doughnut famine had began.

The great doughnut famine of '13 (apparently)

We loitered, we sat, we looked sad (and took photos) but no doughnuts were thrust our way. It was quite clear that there was the ‘in crowd’ who the staff knew, and the non ‘in crowd‘. We were the latter.

Realising that I was now in the doughnut equivalent of Hunger Games, I decided that it was a man-eat-doughnut-world, and I had to fend for myself. The staff were great and friendly when you approached them front on and asked for a doughnut, or when you went back to the front door to get a second glass of champagne, but their hosting left a lot to be desired. The invite definitely said doughnutS and drinkS. Plural!

Anyway, my foraging gave us another lemon meringue pie, 2 apple cinnamons and a millionaire shortbread doughnut. All in all a good haul, I would kick Katniss’ ass in here. The lemon meringue pie was my most anticipated doughnut, and it didn’t disappoint. Citrus filling with sweet, crunchy topping. YUM. The apple cinnamon doughnuts were nice, but they aren’t going to rock your world.

They were definitely the rich tea of the Krispy Kreme range. Always there for you, but not the first name on the guest list. My millionaire shortbread doughnut however was definitely the VIP in my doughnut world, they were even sprinkled with gold! I could quite easily have impure thoughts about these ‘nuts…

We did have a tour round the Krispy Kreme Edinburgh kitchen booked for 7.45pm, but it wasn’t really the sort of place you could hang about awkwardly for too long. We lasted almost 2 hours though before bailing, and I could see all the kitchen from the restaurant anyway.

Krispy Kreme Edinburgh kitchen

The Lord Provost with his jewels didn’t last that long, and I bet he was being showered with doughnuts and champagne!  Mark Martin from Forth One was also there disc jockeying, Jack told me that I wasn’t allowed to go and get his autograph though.

All in all, I did enjoy myself. The doughnuts are delish and the dough part is very light. This was a major concern of my favourite uncle! My last bug bear was that some of the glitterati were getting a box away with them, but not us. Little do they know the influence Jemma Eat World has!

All in all, I will definitely be back. Even although I felt like the loser at a frat party, Krispy Kreme is well worth a visit. Welcome to Edinburgh, Krispy Kreme!

Visiting the French Countryside? Bring a Car!

When I invited Euan and Sam out for New Year, the first question these party animals had for me is “are there many pubs within staggering distance?”

If you count 10 kilometers as a drunken stagger then yes, there are plenty of pubs within staggering distance.

Caussade Riviere, the town we’re house sitting in, is small. In fact, it’s not even a town: it’s more of a hamlet. The main street consists of a gorgeous medieval church complete with fake flower adorned gravestones, a bus stop, a post box, and some bottle banks. There are no shops, unless you count the lady who sells butagaz from her front garden. If you drove through the town in a hurry, you could easily blink and miss it.

Caussade's gorgeous church

It’s probably not the most exciting place to spend your week’s holiday, but thankfully Euan and Jack both drive: and were able to get a car from, the car hire comparison search engine. For £229** they got a Peugeot 3008 for seven days. We called it “the space ship” because it was so spacious and techy. There was a sat nav system that popped out of the dashboard when the engine was turned on, a maaassive sun roof, and a big ice bucket to keep bottles of bubbly from Aldi in.  It was much better than the Fiat Punto I ended up with last March when I made the mistake of renting from Goldcar. Less said about that, the better.

Sam and Shara
Shara and Sam, enjoying the space ship!

Because they had the car, we were able to distract them with a number of adventures- although we didn’t quite get round to skiing (sorry Jack & Shara!)

It also meant we didn’t have to schlep to Toulouse to pick them up from the airport. It’s a four hour round trip, and since James’s parents and brothers had only just left we’d rather use that time to do a bit of cleaning. We are house sitters, after all, and we don’t want to neglect our duties.

We drove to Spain for the day…

Espana por favor!

And we drove to Plaisance for lunch at La Casserole Gourmand; a restaurant I’d highly recommend any of you visit if you ever find yourself near Tarbes.

Euan and Jack enjoying lunch - so much that they've licked the bowl clean. Dirty beggars.

We also popped down to the local supermarket a few times, where Sam turned her nose up at local food.

All in all, having the car was a real bonus and definitely made a difference to the holiday: although the weather was so unseasonably warm, the guys were happy just sitting in the garden all day playing card games and drinking their fill of French wine!

** Big thanks to ASAP Ventures, who very kindly reimbursed our car rental fee,  giving my pals a free car  on behalf of As is generally the case with sponsored posts, I’m in no way obligated to give a good review, and all opinions are my own