A few months ago, I tried out the 5:2 diet. It never really appealed, but I figured that the best way to make an informed judgement was to give it a go, and see what all the hype was about.
As expected, the feast days were no problem.
But – also, as expected – the fast days were dreadful. I always try to eat healthily. To listen to my body, and give it what it needs, be that a piece of red meat, or a bowl of porridge so it’s an odd feeling having to ignore hunger, ignore cravings, and let your diet be entirely dictated by the magic number 500.
500 is the amount of calories you can eat on ‘fast days’. It’s not a lot. I’ve never counted calories before, but it’s a neurosis-inducing activity, trying to calculate how you can squeeze as much food into such tight parameters. It’s also tricky trying to work out how to stagger these little morsels throughout the day, so that your body gets the occasional hit of ‘sugar’ to keep it running. Just remarkable how quickly you become so excited by the prospect of three raisins.
Anyway – I’m wittering on. As you can probably tell, I didn’t really enjoy my almost-week of the 5:2. I’m more of a fan of moderation, rather than eating extremes – and starving yourself for two days, then gorging on the other five just doesn’t seem to be a healthy way to live, or a sensible way to cultivate a healthy relationship with food.
There’s not much scope for culinary experimentation on the 5:2, but one amazing discovery did come from the diet: scrambled tofu. Now, tofu has a bad reputation for all the obvious reasons. When unseasoned and tepid and floating in water, it’s pretty unappetizing. But a quick bit of trickery can turn tofu into something really very delicious.
In India, it’s not uncommon to kick-start the day with a spicy dish like Masala Dosa or Paratha with pickles. I’ve always thought that hot vegetal flavours with a steaming cup of coffee are an excellent way to kick the body into action. Far better than soggy, sugary cereal. Using dried spices is also a cunning way of introducing a lot of flavours into a dish, without introducing a lot of calories.
I think that this only has about 100 calories . It’s cheap to buy a big block of tofu from Chinese or Korean shops, and it’s really, really delicious – such a breakfast treat. If you’ve judged tofu in the past, then do give it another chance with this dish. It might just change your mind.
Recipe: Scrambled Tofu
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
Garnish: spring onion and green chilli, sliced
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan, and cook the onion until softened – a few minutes should do it.
2. Stir in the turmeric and chilli powder, and then crumble in the tofu, and stir so that it’s coated in the spices.
3. Tip into a bowl, and garnish with slices of spring onion and chilli.