Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The 5:2 Feast: Fabulous Filling Soup for a Fast Day

Fifteen lousy, rotten pounds. I've been trying to lose  them for the last 8 years or so. They just sneaked onto my body when I wasn't watching, because, well, before I hit 45 or so, I never had to watch. I always ate what I wanted and it was quite a surprise to watch the scale just creep up. Who knew pizza for lunch and dim sum for supper would start packing on the pounds? So I am a bit of a Judy-come-lately to the dieting game. What makes it rather ironic, is that as a nutritionist, I counseled others on how to lose and help keep those extra pounds at bay.

So a few years back I joined Weight Watchers, and I gained three wonderful friends and a ton of Facebook friends, but weight wise, I yo-yoed up and down with the same 10 pounds. I learned that for me, I can stick to a "Plan" for a few days, and then real life intervenes with croissants. Counting every bite, every day, no matter in Points or in calories is a giant pain in the butt. All those aphorisms like "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels" are baloney. Obviously, whoever dreamed that one up has never had a chocolate dessert in a fine French restaurant with a good pastry chef. Or fresh homemade bread warm from the oven slathered in butter. Good food is a wonderful thing. Watching every bite you take forever is not a life; its a life sentence.

Back when I was in my 20's, I was very thin, I ate like a horse some days, and others, I just wasn't that hungry, so I ate little. And somewhere, somehow, over the years, I'd managed to lose track of what was actual hunger, so I grazed all the time. I did manage to stop gaining by watching my sugar and grain intake, and held at the same weight for years. But lose, no.

I'm not much for popular diets. When clients would ask about them, I'd usually suggest they try something reasonably well tested, like Weight Watchers, instead of whatever guru had a book on the NYT Best Seller List. But I knew in my heart the success rates are low, because no one really wants to eat skimpy portions every day, or cut out favorite foods. Highly motivated folks, those who are obese, or with big health issues, whose lives depend on their losing and keeping their weight off may be able to do it, but for most people, those of us who are just moderately overweight, its tough. A chunk of Brie, with a few crackers and a glass of wine tastes much better and is more soul satisfying than a diet crispbread with tablespoon of non-fat cottage cheese and a glass of water.

I ran into a classmate last month from grad school who looked wonderful. When we were studying dietetics, she was trying every fad diet under the sun, both to lose weight, and to write her thesis. She had watched the documentary  called "Eat, Fast & Live Longer"  while she was in England last summer and was doing their fasting program, which calls for 2 days of fasting, and 5 days of normal eating. You heard me. Normal eating. She'd lost 15 pounds. And kept it off. The documentary showed here in the States on PBS. So of course by the time, I tried to find it online, PBS had already pulled it, probably saving it for one of their fundraisers. I couldn't find a link. My brilliant friend Michelle, got her also brilliant husband Chris to find it for me online. This is it, with commercials, but truly worth watching:  The book is called The FastDiet, and I highly recommend you get it and read it before embarking on this plan.

This is a lot the way I used to eat when I was thin, and I decided to give it a try. I've been on it 2 and a half weeks, today is my 5th fast day, and I have lost 4.5 pounds. And this week has included quite a few birthday treats  and dinners out.  Hunger really does just come in waves, and staying busy is good. Plus, I just tell myself I'm not going to starve to death missing a meal or two. I know that's true. Neither will you.

Since my buddy Amy keeps asking what I eat, here's a recipe for her. It's a very filling soup that I'll reheat at work tonight for my dinner. My 500 calorie fast day is usually 100 calories of Greek yogurt or a 100 calorie protein drink,  a lunch of a small green salad with a little tuna, tomato and balsamic vinegar, for another 100, and a 300 calorie dinner.

This Asian-inspired soup is very delicious,  spicy and satisfying. You can certainly use shrimp alone, or chicken alone or any other protein you like, if you keep the calories from the protein under 200.

A Fabulous 5:2 Meal in a Bowl
Spicy Chicken & Shrimp Asian- Style 5:2 Soup

Spicy Chicken & Shrimp Asian-Style 5:2 Soup
Serves 1
Note: to make this easy and fast to prepare, buy pre-frozen, individually wrapped, antibiotic free chicken breasts, and IQF bags of frozen, peeled raw shrimp. You can also use whatever vegetables you like or have, as long as they come to a total of fewer than 50 calories. Greens are good. A kitchen scale is also a good thing to have, if you truly want to be accurate.

1 8 oz. bag Shirataki noodles, spaghetti style
2 cups of water
1 teaspoon Thai Green Curry paste
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
dash of Thai fish sauce
1 teaspoon  grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3- 4 oz. raw, boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 oz. raw small or cut shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 medium zucchini,  coarsely shredded
1 small scallion, thinly sliced
2 cups raw baby spinach, loosely packed
2 Tablespoons shredded fresh basil
2 teaspoons lime juice

1. Drain the noodles into a strained and rinse well.  Drain, and place in a glass measuring cup and microwave for a minute or two, and then drain thoroughly, cut into spoon-manageable strands (I use a clean scissors) and set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, place the water, the curry paste, garlic powder, fish sauce ginger and salt, and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken breast,  cover, and cook for about 10 minutes until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the stock and  add the shrimp. Cook until just opaque, and remove the shrimp. Shred the chicken with two forks and set aside with the shrimp.

3. Add all the vegetables and bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute. Add the noodles, the shrimp and chicken, and stir well. Stir in the basil and the lime juice and serve hot.

Disclaimer: Just under 300 calories, approx. Your calculations may differ, so please run your own numbers and adjust your ingredients accordingly.

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