Earlier this year I tried out the 5:2 diet for around a month, and although it took me a while to find my feet, by week three I felt like I was ready to try my hand at coming up with my own low calorie 5:2 diet recipe.
Quick note: I cut the chicken breasts off the chicken myself, so they were quite small. Remember to weigh your breasts (heh heh heh) before cooking this to make sure the calorie count is accurate.
It’s really not the most photogenic of recipes, so I used a public domain pic. Thanks Jon Sullivan, whoever you may be
This 5:2 diet recipe is calculated to make enough to serve two hungry fasters, so don’t balk at the calorie count! Obviously if you’re just cooking for one you would halve the ingredients, or double it if you’re cooking for four people, etc. It should work out at around 248 cals per portion.
5:2 Diet Recipe :: Low Cal Garlic & Mushroom Chicken
Recipe Type: Main
Author: Jemma Porter
Low calorie chicken recipe, perfect if you’re on 5:2 or weight watchers or just fancy a light dinner.
200g chicken breast (308 calories)
200g low fat cottage cheese (160 calories)
100g mushrooms (13 calories)
4 cloves garlic (16 calories)
Slice your mushrooms thinly, and toss them into a frying pan with two crushed cloves of garlic. Give them a stir and let them sweat a bit.
Slice your chicken into strips or chunks, whatever you like.
Once your mushrooms are cooked, take them out of the pan and pop them on a plate.
Give the pan a quick wipe and stick your chicken in there. Fry for a few minutes until crisp, caramelised, and golden. Turn over and cook the other side.
Give it a minute then throw the mushrooms back in, as well as the cottage cheese.
Give it a stir. Add the other two cloves of garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Test to see if the chicken’s cooked through. If it is, stick it on a plate.
I decided to be daring and serve mine with a hearty 50 calorie portion of roast cauliflower. With the 123 calorie soup I had for lunch, I managed to keep hunger pangs at bay for only 421 calories all day.
I remember reading somewhere that you shouldn’t review a restaurant unless you’ve visited it at least three times. When I lived in Edinburgh this was pretty much impossible. For starters, I was having to scrape pennies together at the end of the month to pay rent, and for seconders there are so many amazing restaurants in Edinburgh to eat at that it would be a bit of a waste to go back to a mediocre place three times just to make sure.
Living in Caussade-Riviere, there aren’t many foodie options nearby. If we want to go out for dinner, there’s roughly three places within driving distance: and as a result we’ve been to Les 3B in Nouilhan five times.
Not that I’m complaining; it’s an amazing wee place. Located on the side of the D935, it’s part of the Logis stable of hotels and restaurants; and I seem to recall a sticker on the window boasting that they’ve caught the attention of the Michelin reviewers. Well, they certainly caught mine!
The majority of times we’ve been to Les 3B has been for lunch. There are two options at this time of day, starter and main for €14 or main and dessert for €12. Although the desserts are good, I’m more of a savoury girl so the slightly more expensive menu option it is for me. I always get a chevre chaud to start, and for the main it’s either fish cassoulette or bavette with pepper sauce.
The Chevre Chaud is something that I could eat every day for the rest of my life and never grow tired of it. Soft and zingy goats cheese on a small piece of toast, enveloped in a purse of filo pastry and then placed on a bed of peppery salad. You can tell that the French have different attitudes to food than we Brits, as the salad contains lashings of cured ham and plenty of walnuts: despite not having anything on the menu to indicate that it’s not veggie or nut allergy unfriendly. The whole thing is drizzled with honey and balsamic. I’d happily eat this as a main; I’m usually stuffed by this point!
I don’t have a pic of the fish cassoullette unfortunately, but it is lovely. The creamy rissotto base is topped with flaky white fish, plump mussels, and grated apple and celariac. There’s always plenty of juices for sopping up with your bread at the end, too.
The other option, bavette, is James’s favourite, and what my parents ordered when I took them out to lunch. I’ve ordered it once too, and it was pretty good. It’s basically just steak served with a lovely peppercorn sauce. On the side? A little parsnip souffle, grilled veggies, and some of the best potatoes dauphinoise I’ve ever tasted. Yum.
They also do a great line in local wines. Only one of us is allowed to drink though: despite drunken driving being considered pretty normal out here in the countryside, we’re not a couple of idiots. I’m actually really proud that we’ve managed to resist the temptation, clearly we were both raised properly.
That said, here’s me enjoying a lovely glass of 2008 Saint Mont Madiran from just up the road while James takes the picture and thinks about the bottle we’ll be opening once we arrive home. Usually I’m the designated driver, but it was my birthday so I got a whole bottle to myself (yippee!)
So if you ever take it into your head to explore Madiran wine country, head down to this wonderful little eatery just outside Maubourguet. It may not be the cheapest place to eat, but it’s certainly one of my favourites.
Oh, and if you both want to drink: never fear. This restaurant has rooms. Book yourself in for the night, stuff yourself silly on good food and great wine, and thank me in the morning.
The Société de la Chasse are basically a bunch of local men who grab their shotguns two to three days a week and wander into the woods to shoot at things. This can be a bit scary when you’re out walking the dogs and suddenly you round a corner to see a bloke with a shotgun, who gives you a nonchalant “bonjour”. It’s not so scary when they pop a leaflet through your door inviting you to their big meal; a six course extravaganza for the princely sum of €18.
If you’re a local food afficionado, it doesn’t get much more locally sourced than this!
So we packed our glasses, cutlery, and crockery into my handbag (it was ‘bring your own eating utensils’) and headed to the mayor’s office: where the meal and obligatory lotto was set to take place. This was when we realised that the man we thought was the mayor (a Santa lookalike) was actually just a friendly neighbour. The real mayor, to my delight, was the spitting image of Larry David. There was a bar selling port, beer, suze, pastis, and other aperetifs, and a Spanish keyboard player/80’s pop song crooner who reminded us both of The Wedding Singer.
Santa popped over, aperatif in hand already, and invited us to sit with him and his friends. Two lotto tickets bought for the raffle, and we were soon nestled at one of three long tables. Thankfully we brought our appetites with us! I didn’t take any pictures of the scran, because I didn’t want to look like a tourist. Also the food was all pretty ugly. I’ve found some creative commons images to illustrate, though, because who likes walls of text?
First Course: Garbure
This gascon soup/stew is very popular in the South West of France. It’s a cabbage and veggie broth, which often has a confit duck leg lurking somewhere within its murky depths. It’s not exactly my favourite thing to eat, but I managed to polish off a bowl. This one also had creamy haricot tarbais and a zingy hit of tarragon. The pot was left on the table, but I restrained myself and didn’t go for seconds.
Second Course: Assiette de Charcuterie
This is when I finally got the balls to pour a glass of Madiran red wine for James, Santa and myself from the big 2l bottle sitting beside me. There seemed to be one for each group of six, along with a smaller bottle of rosé (which they drink here instead of white, I’m sure Lynne would be pleased to hear!).
The charcuterie plate was lovely, and featured a couple of cured meats as well as a home-made game terrine. There was a vinegar and grated carrot salad that complemented the smokey chorizo and rich sausage. There was also a bottomless basket of bread to enjoy with the terrine. James noticed the other men at the table didn’t eat their lettuce, and he then felt a bit inadequate.
Third Course: Venison Stew
Big bowls brimming with rich stew were laid down in front of us, and we helped ourselves to a plate each. The tender, juicy venison was perfect in its rich red wine gravy, and we both decided it was the stand out dish of the night. There were no veggies in this stew, which made me a happy Jemma. Sopping up the last of our gravy with the fresh baguette, we didn’t take seconds. With three more courses to go, it would be unwise to fill up now, no matter how delicious the stew was.
You could clean more than just a palate with this! We were all handed a wee plastic shot glass with a potent mixture of pear sorbet and whiskey inside. It was similar to the Northern custom of the Trou Normand: breaking up a big meal with a shot of calvados brandy.
When I posted about this course on Facebook, my friend’s dad said “whiskey? Not Scottish then?” to which I could only reply that I had no idea and it was probably brewed in one of the hunter’s bathtubs. It was actually pretty good, and I noticed a few of the men going back for seconds.
Fourth Course: Grilled Wild Boar
Huge silver platters laden down with boar chops and potatoes arrived twenty minutes after our palates had been well and truly cleansed. The chops themselves were pretty tasty; like a gamier version of pork (no surprises there) but I really loved the potatoes. Creamy, garlicky, crisp, and delightful, I went back for seconds of these (although I refused a second chop!) I was a bit confused about what to do with the bones, as nobody would be clearing our plates away, then I remembered Cassie: the big German Shepherd waiting for us at home. Lucky girl.
Fifth Course: Cheese & Salad
The French have a bit of salad with their cheese course, which I think is a nice way to round out a meal. James was pleased to see that this time round, all the other men ate their greens too. The cheese was pre-sliced, and I think it was probably a Tomme Noir. I was a bit disappointed that there was only one cheese, but it was actually a really nice one. Creamy, piquant, and melt in the mouth, it went perfect with the cherry jam served with it. Pleb that I am, I whacked mine on a bit of crusty bread. At this point Santa, James, and I, had just about finished the wine…
Sixth Course: Custard and Biscuits
I’m not very good at desserts, and clearly the chasse aren’t either. We were all given a little trifle dish filled with crème Anglais with some wee shortbread biscuits for dunking. It wasn’t the tastiest dessert but with all the awesome food that came before, and with so many mouths to feed, who can complain?
Coffee & Lotto
The meal was officially over as the serving women came around with pots of thick, dark espresso and boxes of sugar. They poured the hot coffee into the now empty wine glasses. Although I’ve started taking a wee coffee after a meal, I decided to say no this time because it was well past midnight and caffeine isn’t the best idea when you want to get to bed before 3am.
We didn’t win anything in the raffle, but we were pretty thankful for that! There was a real feeling of community in the hall and as outsiders we wouldn’t want to butt in. It was honestly so lovely and I felt myself wishing that we had something similar in Edinburgh. Then I realised that our neighbourhoods are too big so it would never work.
The meal started at 9pm, in the village hall around the corner from our house. We staggered home at 1:30am. Awesome.
The last time I posted about Bossost, we talked about pintxos: the basque version of tapas which involves picking what you want from a line up on the bar and saving the cocktail sticks so that the waiter knows how much to charge you.
I know what my fellow tight-fisted Scots are thinking: why not just bin the cocktail sticks and look all innocent? Well first of all, the noisy foodgasm you just had probably tipped them off to the fact that you were munching. Second of all, at roughly 1 Euro a stick are you really going to cheat these people out of their money?
Our friends wanted to visit Spain, too, when they rocked up at New Year. So we diligently jumped into the car and headed back down over the border, passing through towns with names like Pinas.
This time we decided to have a more leisurely meal; plus Urtau was utterly rammed. Instead we headed to a restaurant with this tantalising offer in the window:
It took a wee while for things to get started. The waitress ignored us for about 15 minutes, and regular readers will know that gets right up my nose. At least offer us a drink and a plate of bread! Eventually it became apparent that they were just trying to clear a backlog of orders before starting on the feast that we were about to order…
To apologise for the tardy service, they started us off with some marinated anchovies and baguette. I have no idea how I managed to spend almost 27 years on this planet without trying a marinated anchovy. I used to sell them when I worked on a deli, for christ sake.
Tender and juicy, that tangy hit of vinegar as you bite into them is soon replaced with a rich fishy sweetness. If you haven’t tried one I suggest you hit your nearest supermarket, pick up a pack, grab a crusty loaf and munch yourself into a foodgasm.
We then experienced a food odyssey as platters of delicious food were brought to our table Unfortunately none of them looked very appealing, apart from the mussels, so you’re going to have to put up with my descriptions instead.
Fat, juicy mussels dripping with a tomato and red pepper sauce, massive grilled prawns, salty and crisp grilled sardines,flavoursome chorizo braised in red wine (perfect for sopping up with the seemingly unending bowls of ‘pan’). Creamy croquettas, tender chilli rellenos, crunchy and sweet patatas bravas, and a smokey cured ham. We had to wave away a few dishes because we were so stuffed.
Three carafes of wine were ordered, although Jack and myself had to settle for Coke (designated drivers) and as the plates kept on and kept on coming, a slightly sozzled Euan decided that it must be €27 a head, not €27 between two as the menu implied. Simply must be. But when the bill arrived, it certainly was €13.50 each for all that food (plus €14.25 for a liter and a half of good Spanish wine). As we paid the bill, our gobsmacked friends declared that they were going to move to Spain.
You can see more pics of the meal, and hear a different take on the day, over at Sam’s blog…
The English take booze cruises to France to get their hands on cheaper bevvy and fags. It’s might surprise you to hear that the French do the same thing, taking their cars over the Pyrenees and into Spain when they want to get their hands on the cheap stuff. We love Spanish wine and food, so we decided that since we’re only staying a couple of hours away from the border, we should pop over and see one of these border towns for ourselves.
Bossost is the nearest one. Well, unless you count Les, which appears to be just one tapas restaurant and a couple of off licenses. It’s a really nice little town, and it just doesn’t seem Spanish at all. I suppose because we’re in the mountains, it has an almost Alpine air to it. It certainly feels more Swiss than Spanish.
There are plenty of tempting tapas joints to choose from, but James and I always head for Urtau. Located in the Square, this small restaurant serves up that delicious basque speciality of pintxos; tapas on sticks. You choose what you want, the waiter counts the cocktail sticks at the end, and that’s how they know how much you owe them. You can also order a few hot pieces, too.
Usually James is in charge, and he can restrain me: usually picking up 3 pintxos to share along with the obligatory order of patatas bravas and calamares. The second time we visited Bossost we dragged my parents along, and I suppose having them around made me feel cocky as I nabbed the above platter from the bar (and shared them with my beloved, of course).
Being so close to France, the menus are often written in French and Spanish. It’s obviously a bit of a tourist town and the waiters all speak French to us when the realise we’re not from Spain. Even their pintxos are a bit French, although who’s going to complain about a fat wodge of deep fried camembert, drizzled with raspberry compote, on a stick? No me, my friends. No me.
We also ordered the beguiling cod tempura with egg yolk sauce: what a revelation in flavour! Tender chunks of cod, lightly coated in a crisp batter, with a just warmed egg yolk ready burst for a bit of dunking. Super yum.
There are a few other things to look out for in Bossost. There are some great little bakeries, an artisan touron shop (I love touron, btw), and more cheap booze than you can shake a stick at. You can just imagine the look of joy on Daddy P’s face when, after living his whole life in Edinburgh, he found a shop that sold white port at 2 Euro a litre.
But what happens when you don’t want your tapas on a stick? What happens if you’d prefer a more traditional tapa style meal? Stay tuned to find out, nibble fans.
AKA “Things I want to do but haven’t got round to doing yet”
I know some bloggers are totally against bucket lists because “sheesh, just get out there and do it already!” but the thing is, I’m not sitting in an office staring sullenly out the window thinking “one day, one day…” I’m already living life as a DIGITAL NOMAD (how wanky does that sound, seriously?) and am travelling at my own pace.
I know bucket lists are so two years ago, honey, but I like using this blog to share my experiences. Surely my hopes, dreams and desires are just as worthy of chronicling as that pizza I just ate?
Also it’s my birthday today, and on my birthday I get to do what I want. So there. And these are the things that I would like to do. I know it’s a bit of a short bucket list, but I am 27 this year. I think Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison et al would think I’m rather prudent for only having five things on it.
So birthday fairy, if you’re out there…
Swim with sharks
I’ve been fascinated with sharks ever since I was a wee lassie. My first computer came with an interactive encyclopedia and I used to spend hours reading articles about sharks. I remember getting pissed off that we didn’t do a shark project at school, and did my own project at home instead: printing out pictures of hammerhead sharks, boring my family to tears with shark facts, etc. Whenever we went to Deep Sea World, I used to drag my parents through the shark tunnel about four or five times. I didn’t like the eels though. Those things gave me the heebs.
I kind of forgot about my love of sharks, or put it to the back of my mind, until one evening when I was watching An Idiot Abroad with James. Karl was getting a bit antsy about swimming with a shark, and so was James. I said “what?! I would love to do that!”
For a few minutes James thought I was joking, because I’m a big feardie. Normally my idea of excitement is going to a restaurant and choosing something that I’ve never heard of before. But no, I told him. Sharks are so cool! I then began to rattle off all the reasons that sharks are basically the best things ever, and that’s when I realised that getting in one of those cages and being right beside an awesome shark would basically be the best thing in the entire world. I love them!
Visit Addis Ababa
Working as a freelance writer, I often have to write articles about destinations I’ve never been to. I can tell you anything you want about Istanbul, Rome, New York, and Thailand; but nobody wants to hear about Ethiopia.I think Bob Geldof and his chums have a lot to answer for! Aye sure, they might have helped out a wee bit in the 80’s but look what it’s done for the tourist trade.
I don’t remember where I read it (I’m sure it was on some reputable site), but Addis Ababa is apparently an awesome city. Full of life, bohemian attitudes, and great food, it sounds like exactly the sort of place I’d like to spend a few days in. I’ve also never been to a Third World Country before, so it would be nice to do some so called “real” travelling.
Go and see this big statue of Genghis Khan
I bought James a copy of Andrew Marr’s History of the World for Christmas, and he bought me Game of Thrones season 1. We both thought History of the World was a bit more exciting. I honestly have no idea how GoT is popular with people who don’t read! I only liked it because I read all of the books first. I genuinely cannot wait for The Winds of Winter. Oh but I must, I must.
Anyway, after blethering on about the Mongols, Mr Marr then took a daunder up to this GIANT HORSE STATUE IN MONGOLIA. Ehm hello?! I read travel blogs all day and write about travel for a living. Why haven’t I heard of this awesome freakin’ statue before?! I’m going to go and see it.
Fly with Etihad
As much as I enjoy squeezing into a cramped seat on Easyjet, I think I’d rather love a long haul flight with Etihad. First or Business class OBVIOUSLY (hey this is a fantasy list, after all).
Mmm award winning food, great service, comfy seats… they’d have to forcibly remove me from the aircraft, I think. James thinks I’m a bit silly for wanting to spend so much money on a flight, and I’m a tightwad, so this is probably the one item on my bucket list that I won’t achieve. But it’s here anyway because isn’t that the point of these big buckets?
Eat a Francesinha Sandwich in Porto
As you can tell from the title of this blog, I’m a bit of a glutton. When I found out about this amazing meat feast of a sandwich, I knew I just had to get one in my belly. It’s basically the cheese toastie to end all cheese toasties.
Wet cured ham, fresh sausage, smokey linguiça, and juicy steak, layered between two slices of bread and topped with oozing hot melted cheese, drizzled with tomato and beer sauce. Served with chips, of course. Doesn’t that just sound like something out of your deepest dirtiest foodie fantasy?
It’s a speciality of Porto. I’ve been to the Algarve countless times, and I’ve always been interested in visiting the North of Portugal too. Hearing about the Francesinha has sealed the deal. I’m hoping this is one bucket list item I can tick off this year, even if my insistence on slow travel means the rest of the items will probably have to wait until I’m passed 30.
So these are the things on my travel wish list. From what I can tell from speaking to James, his own big bucket consists of living in South America, having some kind of crazy adventure (not the Mongol Rally because too many people have done that already), and living in Greece or Turkey for a bit.
What’s on your travel wish list? Anything a bit weird and out there? Or have you done any of the things I want to? Make me jealous (and inspire me)!
When we first moved out to France and started working for ourselves properly, we went a bit mad. We decided to fly in the face of convention: why not take a day off midweek since everything’s closed on Sunday anyway? Why not get up at 10am and work ’til 6 instead of the yucky 9-5?
After a long 8 months of late nights, working weekends, and frantic catch ups, we decided that maybe there is something to be said about getting up first thing in the morning and finishing in the early evening. There’s something great about looking forward to Friday, and something fabulous about a relaxing Sunday.
The best part about it is taking a long walk in the country with the dog, and coming home for spot of baking. I love whipping up my own batches of bread, but I find the kneading part so tedious. That’s what boyfriends were made for though, eh? 😉
I had some prunes d’agen in the cupboard that needed using. I know what you’re thinking, “yuck prunes! That’s what old ladies eat!” but they’re actually quite the rage in France. You often find them chopped into salads or sprinkled into creamy sauces.
I decided to try putting them into my loaf of bread, along with some rosemary from the big bush in the garden. Obviously if you’re trying this at home you could use whatever dried fruit and herb combo you like- apricot and thyme could be quite nice. Or just use raisins instead. I’ve made this a few times now cos it’s super yummy; a nice, crisp, crust, and a light interior that’s springy and not even slightly doughy.
This bread is perfect for a Sunday afternoon snack, with a salty slice of blue cheese (I like Roquefort) and a drizzle of honey. It’s also lovely the next day, as the basis of a roast chicken sarnie.
RECIPE :: Prune & Rosemary Bread
Recipe Type: Bread
Author: Jemma Porter
This fruity loaf is the perfect accompaniment for cheeses, cold meats, or on its own with a cup of coffee.
325g plain flour
1 x pinch of Maldon sea salt
1 sachet of dried yeast
200ml of finger warm water
3tbsp olive oil
75g chopped prunes
1 tsp chopped rosemary
Sift the flour into a big bowl. Put the salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other.
Pour in the water and oil, then mix with your hands to form a dough.
Knead for 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface, until the dough is nice and smooth.
Pop the dough in an oiled bowl and leave it to rise somewhere warm for an hour or so, until it doubles in size.
Turn it back onto a work surface and knead in the prunes and rosemary until they’re well mixed.
Oil a loaf tin and pop the dough in to rise for another 30 minutes
Bake in an oven, preheated to 220C for around half an hour. It’s ready when it sounds hollow
Caussade Riviere: a quaint village slap bang in the middle of the French countryside. Idyllic. Peaceful. And not an ounce of bloody broadband to be found.
Thankfully, there’s a saviour. A saviour with golden arches and a penchant for fried food. Aye. That’s right. I’m talking about McDonalds.
Oh how I reviled McDonalds when I lived in Edinburgh. As my hungover flatmate begged me to drive her ten minutes around the corner so she could indulge her hunger for Big Macs, I said no. “Please!” Emma whined, “I’ll give you a tenner!” I just laughed in her face and went back to bed.
The first time I thought McDonalds was alright was when we were en route to an aparthotel in Toulouse and our sat nav sent us to the wrong street. After heading to the building that was apparently our hotel and seeing that it was quite clearly a residential house, we knew something was up. Quick bit of wi-fi stealing from McDo’s and we were on our way.
The second time I thought maybe McDonald’s wasn’t so bad was when I saw how many French people actually eat there. If you fancy a timely burger at lunchtime, forget it. Queues out the door. The French are supposed to have pretty good taste in food, so that’s a good sign, right?
We now live in a house with no internet. With a growing client list, a dwindling savings account, and only a few gigs of data on our 3G connection, their free wi-fi saved our bacon yet again.
So when James had to take a Skype call with a client last week, I skipped along behind him overjoyed that I’d be able to finally upload all of my Christmas photos onto Facebook. And that’s when I saw it.
The McCamembert. *
*not what it’s actually called, but what t’internets is referring to it as anyway so let’s roll with it!
The Guardian has already done a piece about it, and being just as highbrow as them I knew I had to order it.
In France, there are these cool little self serve kiosks where you can type in your order without having to speak to anybody. My French is good enough to order scran, thank you very much, but I’m an anti-social pig so the machine it was. After we ordered our meal it tried to upsell us coffee and dessert; cunning move, Maccy D’s, but not cunning enough.
So how was it? I think the best way to figure that out is to steal Adam Richman’s famous B.I.T.E scale from that highbrow piece of telly entertainment called The Best Sandwich in America. Hopefully I’m not going to get an angry lawyer letter.
I opened the box lovingly, and looked inside.
Bread: The Camembert burger arrived on a ciabatta roll. Lightly toasted, it had a soft interior. The crust was nice and chewy too and lended (loaned?) itself well to the burgeryness inside.
Interior: Inside was a standard McDonalds burger, topped with two slices of camembert, and a wee bit of frissee lettuce. I thought there was meant to be some sauce, but there wasn’t. Fine by me, I don’t like saucy burgers.
Taste: Damn good! Ok, maybe not ‘damn’ good, but better than standard McDonald’s fare all the same. I’d agree with the evaluation that it tasted a bit like brie but I didn’t mind. It went better with the fatty meat than the usual processed slices. This burger is very, very, very, rich.
Experience: All in all, a pleasant experience. I only had half because James is a cheapskate and only got one between us, but the half that I did eat left me feeling good. Unlike the inevitable McDonald’s headache kicked in half an hour later.