Not Chilli

I tweeted recently that I’d lost about 5 kilos whilst doing the fast day (5 and 2) diet – unless you’ve been under a rock recently you’ll know that’s where you restrict calorie intake on 2 days of the week. Well it’s been 6 months now, and I realised I hadn’t mentioned it here for a while. That’s partly because I wasn’t super impressed with it’s progress and partly because I’ve also been interval training 3 times a week. So who knows what the cause is, but the result is some weight loss, which seems to be reasonably sustained.

And also, curiously, pretty easy. I’d described my misgivings about ‘giving up’ food 2 days a week, my fears about it being unsustainable, unpalatable.

It was all nonsense of course. It’s not only sustainable, it’s actually pretty easy. I’m not going to say I’m enjoying it, mind, or that I feel euphoric (yes, I read that others do) on fast days, but it certainly wasn’t anything like as bad as I’d feared. And there’s probably a life lesson in there for all of us. Or something. What it hasn’t done, sadly, is improve my cholesterol levels, which is one of the main reasons I started, but hey ho, that’s another story.

There’s a few staples that we tend to do for our ‘2’ days; the Middle Eastern Eggs is one (though I’ve tended to drop the preserved lemon in favour of garlic, and herbs like thyme), and one of the others is this ‘almost’ chilli. I mean, honestly? It’s not the same as a lovely, rich, meaty beany chilli con carne – how could it be, for 200 calories per portion? But it’s pretty good, nonetheless. And it freezes well too. You do have to use Quorn, to get it down to the right calorie level as the stuff’s only 2% fat, but I’ve been able to pick it up even out here in the sticks so it should be reasonably widely available in Australia. It also has the advantage of being completely vegetarian.

Have I put you off yet? No? Righto.


Serves 4, about 225 calories per portion

  • 1 300g bag Quorn mince
  • 1 400g tin of red kidney beans, drained*
  • 1 400g tin of tomatoes, chopped
  • 200g onion, chopped
  • 300g red or green pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, dry roasted then ground
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, or fresh chillies, chopped finely (more or less, to your personal taste)
  • Worcestershire sauce (optional)

NB In order to keep the calorific value down, I haven’t added oil for frying. If you’re a chap on this diet, you’ve got 600 cals per day to play with, so you can afford to add a table spoon of olive oil, and fry the onions, garlic, pepper and spices gently until caramelised. That’s really going to improve the flavour.

In a large-ish saucepan, add all the ingredients except the worcestershire sauce. Top with sufficient water so that the ingredients are almost covered. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and add worcestershire sauce for a more rounded flavour if desired.

* using butter beans instead of kidney beans reduces this to about 200 cals per portion.


Spiced Lentil and Tomato Soup – 210 cals

5 weeks in and we’ve stuck to the 5:2 diet assiduously (that small glass of wine the other evening Did Not Count). So far I have lost an unimpressive kilo, but Mr C is slimming down a treat. Not sure what that means, or whether it’s too early to tell. But we have been lunching on a variety of lentil based meals and this one is a favourite.


Lentils are a great way to introduce protein without fat and I find help to keep me fuller for longer. Continue reading