Main meals on intermittent fasting

If you talk to people who follow the 5:2 diet you’ll find various approaches to fast-day eating. Some people have three very small meals, throughout the day. Others have nothing until a large-ish evening meal. My normal fast day routine is a bowl of porridge (90 calories), nothing until a dinner at about 6 providing about 300 calories, then another bowl of porridge just before bed. If I’m not at work I’ll have breakfast as late as possible.

In my opinion, the three best fast day meals are:

Spicy egg

The basis for this recipe is a dish which exists in a lot of different places. It’s a bit like the Italian dish called eggs in purgatory, or the Mexican dish “Huevos Ahogados” (drowned eggs), or the middle eastern dish Shakshouka. All these dishes involve making a spicy tomato sauce then poaching some eggs in it – normally with quite a bit of olive oil, but you can make a diet version fairly easily just by leaving that bit out.


Mine involves the following ingredients per person and weighs in at about 260 calories. An extra egg pushes it up about 70 cal for a medium egg so if you’re starvin marvin that is not a bad way to make it more substantial:

  • 1 tin value tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, 1 chilli, a teaspoon of cumin, half a teaspoon of turmeric, half a teaspoon of sweet paprika or smoked paprika, salt, pepper
  • A couple of spring onions
  • Half a pepper (yellow for colour but any will do tbh)
  • A couple of mushrooms
  • 2 eggs (not massive)
  • Fresh coriander

Put everything except the eggs and coriander in a nonstick wok and cook it for a bit. Once the veggies are done, crack the eggs in the top. Put a lid on, turn it down low, wait about 10 minutes (you want the egg whites to be cooked but the yolks to be runny – which always takes longer than I expect). Chuck on the coriander. Eat.

Mushroom ragu with polenta chips

This recipe (the ragu) comes from the Skinny Slow Cooker Vegetarian recipe book which is pretty great – no pictures, but reliable recipes which you can stick on in the morning and then eat when you get home from work. The ragu is about 90 calories on its own, and involves mushrooms (lots), a tin of tomatoes, a little bit of balsamic vinegar and a little bit of port to make it taste rich, and herbs and spices. It goes well with polenta chips baked in the oven with a bit of cooking spray and some fresh basil on top.

I like this a lot, but I cooked it for my mum once who took three mouthfuls then pretended that she wasn’t hungry after all. So maybe it’s just me.  I’m not going to put the recipe here because it comes from a book. But here’s a picture.


Asparagus and mushroom frittata

Asparagus spears come in at about 4 calories each. So do mushrooms. Eggs come in about 70 calories for a medium egg. So a large frittata can be 260 calories and still quite tasty. I don’t need to tell anyone how to make an frittata do I? It’s kind of like an omelette but bigger, and if the top’s not cooking properly you can finish it off under the grill.


Bonus feature for reading to the end

I have a spreadsheet (a spreadsheet! me! what a surprise!).

It is a recipe builder for fast day stuff. There’s a worksheet for things I make often and so I only have to update quantities instead of google the calorific values for everything or install an app or something. Worksheets are: Spicy Egg, Omelette, X+Salad, Veggie Curry, Veggie Soup, Tofu+veg, Veggie Chili, and Stew.

I’m not big on weighing stuff so it’s a bit vague (calories per medium mushroom rather than per gram) but hey. It’s here: fast day food spreadsheet and it should be downloadable and copy-able. If it’s of use to you, go ahead and take it.

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