Fast Day Carb Alternatives
It may seem like an obvious statement – I love food. I really love food. And, as anyone who loves food knows, there comes a time when you have to figure out how to love food without eating All the Food. Since I met The Boy a year ago I’ve put on a couple of stone by stuffing my face with delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner with wild abandon. All the dinners out and new recipes cooked with love have taken their toll. So I started the 5:2 diet a while ago. For anyone who’s been living under a rock for the last couple of years it’s a pretty simple concept, 2 days a week (fast days) you restrict your calorie intake to 500 calories if you’re a woman and 600 calories if you’re a man, the rest of the time you eat normally. I’ve found the best thing for me is to have two fast days during the week, be fairly healthy and careful the other 3 week days and then let loose at the weekend. So far, so good. Rather than eat 3 tiny meals on a fast day (just makes me hungrier) I like to save my 500 calories and have a healthy, larger evening meal. Protein and veg is the order of the day, carbs use up just too many calories, so I’ve been looking at healthy carb alternatives to my usual staples and have put together a few of them with recipes here.
Cauliflower is amazing! Who knew the humble wee white tree could be so versatile and tasty. You can use it as a replacement for all sorts of things. So far my favourite ways to use it are Cauliflower Rice and Cauliflower pizza base.
To make a cauliflower pizza base I looked at a few different recipes – including this one – and then played around with them.
Cauliflower Pizza Base (serves 2)
- 1 cauliflower head, stalk, stem and leaves removed
- 1 egg
- Half a ball of half fat mozzarella, try and grate it but usually it’s too soft so just make sure it’s as small as you can get it
- Salt and pepper
- A handful of grated parmesan, pecorino or any other hard cheese
- A pinch of dried or half a handful of fresh oregano
- A few chilli flakes
Blitz the cauliflower in a food processor or grate it with the large side of a grater till it looks roughly like bread crumbs
Microwave it for 5 minutes then let it cool.
Squeeze as much moisture out of it as you can (I just did this with my hands over the sink in batches, bit messy and smells like school dinners but it works)
Mix in all the other ingredients with your hands in a big bowl
Spray a baking tray or pizza stone with a couple of scooshes of oil
Divide the mixture into two and spread them into rough circles, pushing them down and shaping with your hands, don’t worry if it still feels a bit wet
Bake in the oven at about 200 degrees celsius until they’re golden brown on top (15-20 minutes)
Take them out and top them with all your favourite things, you can make your own pizza sauce or use pesto but I like using an intense sun dried tomato and garlic pasta sauce. With these I topped them with a slice of proscuitto each, a quarter of a red onion each and the rest of the ball of half fat mozzarella. Don’t forget the salt and pepper. Be aware they turn out a lot squishier than a usual crusty pizza base but they are a whole lot better for you and they actually taste super yummy.
OTHER CAULIFLOWER RECIPES
Cauliflower rice is really good for a fast day. Again just blitz up a head of cauliflower in your food processor (I find that’s a pretty good amount for 2 hungry people, we usually have some left overs) and then use it as a rice substitute. If you stir fry it with lots of veggies, garlic, ginger, chilli and soy sauce just make sure you put a lid over and let it steam for a while. Otherwise blitz it in the microwave for 5-7 minutes in a bowl and it’ll be cooked. I find it can be a little bit wet so it’s nice to microwave it and then dry fry it a bit afterwards.
I tried this amazingly low cal cauliflower tabbouleh with halloumi recipe last week – it’s seriously tasty and has become one of our go to meals on a fast day.
Meet the Spiralizer of Joy. I bought it in Lakeland when I went nuts a couple of weeks ago (got a food processor and an avocado fun time tool thing too). Um. It’s totally awesome. It’s like a giant pencil sharpener with two ends, one has small teeth, the other slightly bigger teeth. And all you do is insert a vegetable (courgette, carrot, cut up butternut squash) and twist it and out comes vegetable spaghetti.
I’m sort of addicted to it. It means an excellent pasta or noodle replacement with a fraction of the calories. A large courgette (I find one courgette per person works perfectly for this) has 54 calories, 100g of spaghetti has 158 calories. The best way to cook it is in a frying pan or wok with a spray of oil. It only takes a couple of minutes.
COURGETTI WITH HOMEMADE PESTO AND GRILLED CHICKEN (serves 2)
- 2 medium courgettes, spiralized
- 2 chicken breasts
- A handful of rocket
For the Pesto (you can freeze any you don’t use in a cling filmed ice cube tray)
- Packet of basil
- Handful of grated parmesan or pecorino
- Handful of pinenuts
- Clove of garlic (crushed)
- Glug of extra virgin olive oil (though the normal stuff will do)
- To make the pesto put all the ingredients except the oil into a food processor and blitz until combined, add the olive oil slowly and pulse until it’s a nice consistency for you, some people like their pesto a bit oilier than I do.
Season the chicken (it’d probably be nicer if you marinaded it earlier in the day with olive oil, rosemary, mustard and lemon juice but I didn’t on this occasion) and then grill it under a medium grill, turning it once until it’s golden brown on both sides and cooked through in the middle.
Spiralize the courgettes then fry them for a couple of minutes in a wok, add the pesto, serve with the chicken cut nicely into strips on top with some rocket to garnish.
I’ve also been enjoying making this Nigel Slater simple thai broth but replacing the noodles with courgettes. It’s really simple and easy to make, tastes delicious and is really low in calories, particularly if you replace the coconut milk with half fat stuff.
Get yourself a spiralizer and a food processor and get involved. It’s honestly made a real difference to my fast day dinners.