Protect yourself from serious illness by losing weight with the new Fast 800 Easy diet


The fastest, easiest way to a healthy 2021:  Dr Michael Mosley’s Fast 800 diet just got faster, thanks to his wife Dr Clare Bailey, whose new book is full of delicious, nutritious meals based on the essentials we all have in our store cupboards.

Dr Clare Bailey shared a selection of delicious recipes and her top tips for losing weight. Pictured: Clare with her husband Michael Mosley

Dr Clare Bailey shared a selection of delicious recipes and her top tips for losing weight. Pictured: Clare with her husband Michael Mosley

With long queues at our local supermarket, shortages of fresh ingredients and my husband Michael and three of our 20-something children to feed, I was finding it as tricky as many others to prepare healthy meals at home in the early months of the first lockdown last spring.

Once again we’re facing the challenge of how to put a healthy meal on the table under increasingly harsh Covid restrictions, but the good news is that it is possible to find plenty of delicious ways to eat nutritiously and lose weight using the contents of your store cupboard and freezer – as we’ve discovered in the Mosley household.

Back in March, I began experimenting with ways to create quick, nutritious meals using ingredients such as a can of chickpeas, some tinned tomatoes or some frozen spinach. This rapidly turned into a Mosley family challenge with everyone taking it in turns to create a healthy lunch, based on foods we already had at home. The kids helped out too, with the cooking as well as with providing very honest feedback!

These were trying times for everyone, but it was satisfying to discover that when a trip to the shops was not an option, we could still conjure up simple versions of the low-carb Mediterranean-style Fast 800 meals that normally form the basis of the way we eat at home. 

The Fast 800 diet, which I helped my husband devise, involves eating a low-calorie, low-carb diet for an initial period to trigger rapid weight loss before switching to intermittent fasting and a sustainable Mediterranean-style way of eating.

I began posting our family lunches on Instagram (@drclarebailey), sharing recipes featuring ingredients that were likely to be found at the back of everyone’s cupboards. 

I was amazed by the positive response. Messages poured in from busy working mothers like me, people living alone and younger people too, all wanting inspiration for easy, affordable ways to lose weight the Fast 800 way. And eating a healthy diet has never been so crucial as it is now – as Covid-19 has so dramatically illustrated.

If you’re overweight – as two-thirds of British adults are – research shows you’re more vulnerable to becoming seriously ill if you contract coronavirus. You’re also at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes and dementia – something that, as a GP, I have sadly seen too regularly.

WHY 800 CALORIES? 

Recent studies have shown that sticking to about 800 calories each day is high enough to ensure you get all the nutrients you need for optimal health and to stop you feeling constantly hungry, but low enough to ensure rapid, safe, sustainable weight loss. 

Research also shows that rapid results are incredibly motivating and that people who lose weight quickly are more likely to keep it off.

Rest assured you won’t run out of energy – your body has a huge supply of fuel, stored around your tummy if you’re overweight. Most of us have enough body fat to keep us going for months. 

A low-carb, low-calorie diet prompts your body to switch into fat-burning mode – starting with the dangerous fat stored around your abdomen, known as visceral fat.

This is great news if you want to shrink your belly and excellent news for your long-term health. 

Too much fat around your tummy causes inflammation throughout your body, which then increases your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes and other diseases of ageing. Losing inches around your waist can bolster your immune system, energy levels and brain power.

Yet losing a lot of weight quickly on a diet like the Fast 800 can bring big health improvements. For instance, it can dramatically improve blood glucose levels and even lead some patients to reverse their type 2 diabetes, as we demonstrated recently with the exciting results of the ‘Diamond’ trial which I worked on with Professor Susan Jebb, a world authority on weight loss, based at the University of Oxford.

Our research, published last April, found that patients who followed a low-carb diet of 800-1,000 calories a day lost on average 20lb (9.5kg) in two months. 

They lost almost five times more weight than those who followed standard advice based on a low-fat diet. And, unlike the standard group, they also saw improvements in their blood sugar and blood pressure levels too.

And what we eat is also of paramount importance for maintaining an effective immune system to fight off infections – which is of particular importance during the pandemic. To shore up our immunity, we need to support our gut microbiome – those trillions of bugs that live in our large intestines.

If you eat a highly processed sugary diet then you will encourage the growth of pro-inflammatory ‘bad’ bugs in your microbiome. But if you eat a varied diet with plenty of protein, vegetables and fibre you will be sending reinforcements to bolster the good guys in your gut.

Realising that our lockdown home-cooking sessions were striking a powerful chord with many others, I set to work with acclaimed food writer Justine Pattison to test and refine the recipes – and the result is my new book, Fast 800 Easy, the latest in a series based on the Fast 800 programme and packed full of easy, practical ways to follow the diet often using affordable store cupboard ingredients.

Our simple but tantalising recipes are also at the heart of a brilliant new Eat To Beat Disease series, that Michael and I have put together exclusively for Daily Mail readers, starting today with a tempting array of our favourite dishes here in Weekend magazine. 

In tomorrow’s Mail on Sunday and all next week in special Daily Mail pullouts, we’ll bring you more advice about how the food you eat can help your body to beat disease in 2021 – as well as generous extra servings of delectable Fast 800 Easy recipes.

Food can be a powerful medicine, as Michael and I have learned from personal experience and years devoted to researching and writing about the impact of diet on our health. It all began when Michael was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2012 following a routine blood test. 

Rather than resign himself to a life on medication Michael vowed to find a way to improve his condition by changing his lifestyle; he lost 20lb in eight weeks and reversed his diabetes by following a regimen of intermittent fasting.

HOW IT WORKS 

One of the great things about the Fast 800 programme is its flexibility. With the health-giving principles of the Mediterranean diet at its heart, it offers two different approaches that can be tailored to suit your lifestyle and your weight-loss goals. You might want to start with The Very Fast 800 and move through to The New 5:2 as you lose weight, or you can jump into The New 5:2 from the start.

■ The Very Fast 800. We recommend you start with this intensive stage to kick-start your programme – you should see rapid weight loss which is motivating and which also triggers a number of other health benefits. Eat just over 800 calories a day, spread out over two or three low-carbohydrate meals, and try to avoid snacking. Stay on this plan for two to 12 weeks depending on how much weight you want to lose.

■ The New 5:2 incorporates intermittent fasting into your plan, which can slot seamlessly into your everyday life while promoting steady weight loss. You only eat 800 calories a day on two days of the week and eat a normal Mediterranean-style diet for the remaining five days. You can spread your calories over two or three meals but try to eat within a time window such as 8am to 8pm (see panel at the bottom of page 46).

■ The Maintenance Programme. Once you’ve hit your goal you can continue on the healthy Mediterranean way of eating, not calorie-counting but exercising portion control. You can add larger portions or double up recipes, or add extra protein, veg or less starchy carbs such as beans or lentils to a dish. Try to maintain a diet that’s low in sugar and starchy carbohydrates, however, to prevent the weight creeping back on. But if you find your clothes start to feel a bit too tight, you know what to do!

CAUTION: The Fast 800 is not suitable for everyone. If you have any health concerns, are taking medication or have significant mental health issues, speak to your health professional before embarking. For more advice and support see our online programme at thefast800.com. and read the faqs for more information

As his wife I supported his quest but as a GP at that time I also accepted the long-established medical view that diabetes was a lifelong condition – one to manage with drugs, but not cure. 

So I was both delighted and astonished by Michael’s success. And it led to him developing the 5:2 diet, which involved dramatically reducing his calorie intake for two days a week and eating a normal healthy diet for the remaining five. 

This went on to form the basis for the Fast 800 programme, which advocates an initial period of eating 800 calories a day to kick-start weight loss, followed by intermittent fasting along 5:2 guidelines following a low-carb, Mediterranean-style diet. Once people reach their weight-loss goal they remain on a moderately low-carb Med-style diet – which is the healthiest way of life and the one we follow at home as a family.

Meanwhile the effectiveness of an initial rapid weight-loss programme like the Fast 800 has been repeatedly demonstrated in authoritative recent studies. Research by Professor Roy Taylor at Newcastle University showed that participants who followed a diet of 800 calories a day for eight weeks lost on average 22lb (10kg), leading many to come off their diabetes medication.

WHY IT’S GOOD TO FAST FOR 12 HOURS 

You can intensify the fat-burning and health benefits of the Fast 800 programme by limiting your eating to a 12-hour window (such as 8am-8pm). This is called Time Restricted Eating (TRE) and there is evidence that going 12 or even 14 hours without food is good for your health and your weight-loss success.

Pioneering researchers such as Dr Satchin Panda at the Salk Institute in California have discovered that by giving your body downtime from the work of eating and digesting, you can unlock powerful repair pathways that protect against illness, ageing and obesity.

There’s no need to fast all day – just skipping breakfast or eating an early evening meal is enough to extend your night-time ‘fast’. TRE gives the body a rest from the work of metabolising food and allows it to focus on other functions, such as ‘spring-cleaning’ old and damaged cells.

But as Professor Taylor’s research involved trial volunteers consuming their calories in the form of meal-replacement shakes, I was eager to discover whether this weight loss could also be replicated by eating real food, based on a low-carb Mediterranean-style diet (which is high in protein, fibre, good fats and vegetables, and rich in nutrients)

So I began suggesting this approach to some of my overweight patients – and was excited by how quickly they lost weight and saw improvements to their blood sugar levels, blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. I was surprised when patients reported back after only a week or two that they no longer felt hungry all the time, despite eating only around 800 calories a day.

It’s so clear to me that the answers to many of the health conditions that trouble so many of us can be found at home, in our own kitchens. As a keen cook myself, I am always interested in finding tempting new ways to enjoy the ingredients that we’ve discovered are so good for us.

We had great fun researching and creating the recipes for the Fast 800 Easy as a family – on one occasion we even held our own family-and-friends version of Ready Steady Cook, competing via Zoom with other households to see who could make the best dish out of a tin of tomatoes and some sausages, courgettes and spinach from the freezer.

The winning result was a very tasty and filling Low-Carb Sausage ‘Lasagne’, topped with a crème fraîche sauce with a little nutmeg and some grated Parmesan, which takes only 15 minutes to prepare and has fewer than 400 calories a portion.

And while it’s wonderful to cook with fruit and vegetables that are in season, I do believe we can also get too hung up about the idea of ‘fresh’. 

Tinned, bottled and frozen foods are often not only cheaper but just as tasty and highly nutritious, as they are usually packaged as soon as they’re picked, capturing their nutrients in optimum condition – unlike fresh fruit and veg that might have been degrading for many days if you factor in transportation time, several days on a supermarket shelf and then sitting in your fridge at home.

Happily, many of the principal ingredients in the Mediterranean-style diet – oily fish, nuts, olive oil, beans, lentils and wholegrains – can be freezer or store cupboard staples. Fish is delicious fresh, but can be bought far more cheaply frozen or tinned. The same goes for summer berries, peas and other vegetables.

I hope you’ll find plenty of inspiration for ways to enjoy these glorious healthy ingredients in the pages that follow, many containing ingredients found in the cupboard or freezer.

Our tempting recipes today are quick to prepare – you’ll find plenty of fuss-free one-pot dishes, simplified classics and tips for how to add extra carbs and larger portions for family members who aren’t trying to lose weight. 

You could set yourself up for the day with a One-pan Breakfast (right); a glorious low-carb combination of bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach that’s under 300 calories a portion.

If you have a family to feed, try the Fastest Spaghetti Bolognese (page 50, which uses spiralised courgettes as well as wholewheat pasta, and is under 500 calories a serving), and simply double the portions for those who aren’t trying to lose weight. 

It takes only 15 minutes to prepare, plus cooking time. And that’s not forgetting delicious sweet treats either, such as a slice of light but luxurious Chocolate And Black Bean Torte (page 52). It’s gluten-free and you’d never guess it’s made with black beans which add fibre and protein – it’s under 200 calories a serving.

And there’s also another bonus at the end of it all: our pared-back recipes use fewer pots and pans and kitchen equipment – so that means less washing up, too! 

STOCK UP YOUR STORES FOR EASY MEALS

If you have the right foods to hand, you’re much less likely to get tempted or side-tracked by unhealthy ones. This list below is intended as a guide – please don’t feel that you have to go out and buy every item on it. Start with the items you think you’re likely to eat. 

 OILS & VINEGARS

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, or the least refined oil you can afford
  • Cold-pressed rapeseed (for high-temperature frying)
  • Coconut oil
  • Cider vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar

CANNED

  • Tomatoes
  • Chickpeas
  • Coconut milk
  • Beans (kidney, mixed beans, haricot, butter beans, black beans, Puy lentils)
  • Fish (tuna, sardines, salmon, mackerel, anchovies)

DRIED

  • Stock cubes
  • Wholemeal flour
  • Baking powder
  • Wholegrains
  • Oats
  • Brown/red/black or wild rice
  • Pearl barley
  • Quinoa
  • Puy lentils, red lentils

JARS & BOTTLES

  • Red peppers
  • Piquant peppadew peppers
  • Capers
  • Jalapenos
  • Stem ginger in syrup

 

  •  HERBS & SPICES
  • Oregano or mixed herbs
  • Thyme
  • Medium curry powder
  • Cumin seeds
  • Ground turmeric
  • Smoked paprika
  • Black pepper
  • Chilli flakes
  • Sea salt

NUTS & SEEDS

  • Mixed unsalted nuts
  • Ground almonds
  • Flaked almonds
  • Cashews
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Mixed seeds

FLAVOURINGS, SAUCES & PASTES

  • Harissa paste
  • Pesto
  • Thai red or green curry paste
  • Medium curry paste
  • Dark soy sauce
  • Tomato purée
  • Plum sauce
  • Soy or tamari sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Miso paste

 

  •  FROZEN
  • Chicken breasts
  • Prawns
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Edamame
  • Mixed veg
  • Raspberries, mixed berries
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • FRIDGE
  • Eggs
  • Full-fat live Greek yoghurt
  • Cheese (mature Cheddar, goat’s cheese, feta, Parmesan, halloumi)
  • Leafy greens and salad
  • Fresh garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Parsley
  • Coriander
  • Cooked chicken
  • Chorizo
  • Bacon
  • Smoked mackerel
  • Lemons and limes
  • Full-fat mayo
  • Mustard
  • Sauerkraut

SWEET THINGS

  • Soft pitted dates
  • Maple syrup
  • Vanilla extract
  • Dark plain chocolate (ideally 85 per cent cocoa)

 

 

THE FAST 800: BREAKFASTS & BRUNCH 

ONE-PAN BREAKFAST

The occasional fry-up is an allowable treat and with these ingredients it won’t expand your waistline. On a non-fast day, you could serve this with a thin slice of wholegrain toast.

Serves 2 l Prep 10 mins l Cook 7 mins

PER SERVING 227cals PROTEIN 15.7g CARBS 2.1g FAT 17g FIBRE 1.3g

  • 1tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
  • 2 rashers smoked back bacon, each rasher cut into 3-4 slices
  • 6-8 chestnut mushrooms (around 100g/3½oz), quartered, or halved if small
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 50g (1¾oz) young spinach leaves
  • 2 medium eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add the bacon and mushrooms and fry over a medium heat for 2 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Add the tomatoes and stir-fry for a further 2 minutes, or until the tomatoes soften.

Fold in the spinach leaves and move the whole mixture to the side of the pan.

Gently crack the eggs into the cleared space, reduce the heat to low and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they are lightly set.

Spoon the fried bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms onto two warmed plates and top with the eggs. Season with some ground black pepper and serve immediately.

FRUIT ’N’ NUT GRANOLA

This fruity, crunchy granola will power you well into the day. It’s perfect served with yoghurt and berries. Top your 35g serving of the granola with full-fat live Greek yoghurt (75g/100cals) and a handful of mixed berries (30g/11cals) for a breakfast bowl of 287cals.

Serves 8 l Prep 10 mins l Cook 35 mins 

PER SERVING 176cals PROTEIN 4.5g CARBS 18g FAT 9g FIBRE 2g

  • 30g (1oz) coconut oil 
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 150g (5½oz) jumbo porridge oats
  • 50g (1¾oz) plain mixed nuts, roughly chopped
  • 25g (1oz) mixed seeds
  • 2 dried figs (around 35g/1¼oz), roughly chopped
  • 25g (1oz) dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan over a gentle heat, add the cinnamon and stir. Remove from the heat and stir in the jumbo porridge oats until thoroughly mixed. 

Scatter evenly over a large baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and add the nuts and seeds. Return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool and crisp up on the tray. Stir in the figs and cranberries and store in an airtight jar for up to 2 weeks.

FETA, PEA & MINT CRUSTLESS QUICHE

This light and minty crustless quiche is lifted by the salty feta cheese. Perfect for a brunch, it will also keep well in the fridge for up to two days. Serve warm or cold with a lightly dressed mixed salad.

COOK’S TIP 

Quickly thaw the peas by putting them in a sieve and pouring just-boiled water slowly over the top. Drain well.  

Serves 6 l Prep 10 mins l Cook 40 mins

PER SERVING 340cals PROTEIN 17g CARBS 5.5g FAT 27.5g FIBRE 2g

  • 1tsp olive or rapeseed oil, for greasing
  • 200g (7oz) feta, cut into roughly 1.5cm cubes
  • 200g (7oz) frozen peas, thawed (see tip, right)
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 6 large eggs
  • 200g (7oz) full-fat crème fraîche
  • 1 heaped tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6 and lightly oil a shallow, round 20cm ceramic pie or quiche dish. It should be around 4cm deep. Arrange the cubes of feta and the peas in the dish and sprinkle with the spring onions. 

Beat the eggs and crème fraîche together in a bowl, then stir in the mint and season well with ground black pepper. (You probably won’t need salt as the cheese is salty already.)

Pour the egg mixture over the feta and peas and bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until just set. (Test by inserting the tip of a knife into the centre – there should be no liquid remaining.)

Leave the quiche to cool for a few minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.

SMOKED HADDOCK BRUNCH POTS

These brunch pots make a wonderfully indulgent start to the day. On a non-fast day, serve them with a thin slice of wholegrain bread.

Serves 2 l Prep 10 mins l Cook 20 mins

PER SERVING 249cals PROTEIN 22g CARBS 1.5g FAT 27g FIBRE 1g

  • ½tsp butter or a little olive oil, for greasing
  • 100g (3½oz) young spinach leaves
  • 125g (4½oz) smoked haddock fillet (undyed), skinned and cut into roughly 1.5cm chunks
  • 2 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 4tbsp full-fat crème fraîche (around 50g/1¾oz)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium eggs

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6 and lightly grease two deep ramekins or individual pie dishes – big enough to hold 250ml water. Place on a baking tray.

Place the spinach in a colander in the sink and pour just-boiled water over the top until it softens. Otherwise, you can soften it in the microwave. Leave to stand until cool enough to handle, then squeeze the leaves to remove as much water as possible.

Place the spinach in a medium mixing bowl. Add the haddock, onions and crème fraîche, season with ground black pepper and toss together lightly. (There’s no need for salt as the fish is salty enough.) 

Divide between the two ramekins and make a dip in the centre with the back of a spoon. Crack an egg into each dip, season again with black pepper and cover the dishes tightly with greased foil. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the eggs are just set. Leave to stand for a few minutes before serving.

THE FAST 800: LIGHTER LUNCHES

ROASTED VEG WITH CUMIN AND GOAT’S CHEESE

On a non-fast day you could serve this with a few tablespoons of lentils, quinoa or a thin slice of wholegrain bread.

Serves 4 l Prep 15 mins l Cook 30 mins

PER SERVING 340cals PROTEIN 16.5g CARBS 14.5g FAT 22.5g FIBRE 6.5g

  • 3 peppers (any colour), deseeded and cut into 3cm chunks
  • 2 large courgettes, trimmed, halved lengthways and cut into 2cm chunks
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into thin wedges
  • 2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 20 cherry tomatoes (around 200g/7oz)
  • 50g (1¾oz) mixed seeds
  • 200g (7oz) soft goat’s cheese, or any soft cheese
  • A handful of rocket leaves
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Place all the vegetables together in a bowl and toss with 1tbsp of the oil, the cumin, a generous pinch of flaked sea salt and lots of ground black pepper. Scatter everything over a large baking tray and roast for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, add the tomatoes and sprinkle with the seeds. Cook for a further 10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender and lightly browned. 

Break the cheese into chunky pieces and place on top of the veg. Scatter the rocket over, drizzle with the remaining oil and add a squeeze of lemon before serving.

TOMATO AND BASIL SALAD WITH WHIPPED GOAT’S CHEESE

The more variety in the tomatoes you use here – in terms of colour and size – the better this salad is for you.

Serves 2 l Prep 10 mins

PER SERVING 442cals PROTEIN 17g CARBS 6g FAT 36g FIBRE 1.5g

  • 200g (7oz) mixed tomatoes, halved or sliced if large
  • A small handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 125g (4½oz) soft, rindless goat’s cheese
  • 2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4tbsp full-fat live Greek yoghurt (around 50g/1¾oz)
  • 2tbsp pine nuts (around 18g/½oz) or 20g (¾oz) walnut pieces, lightly toasted
  • A few drops of balsamic vinegar, ideally the thick variety

Arrange the tomatoes and basil on two plates and season. Place the goat’s cheese in a bowl with 1tbsp of the olive oil and the yoghurt and beat well until light and creamy.

Drop spoonfuls on to the two salads, then sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts or walnuts. Drizzle with the rest of the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar just before serving.

SALMON BURGERS

A simple fish burger that can be knocked up in very little time.

Serves 2 l Prep 15 mins l Cook 8 mins

PER SERVING 304cals PROTEIN 25g CARBS 3g FAT 21g FIBRE 1g

  • 2 x 120g skinless salmon fillets, cut into large chunks
  • 15g (½oz) bunch coriander, leaves chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and grated
  • 15g (½oz) fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 2tsp dark soy sauce or 1tsp Thai fish sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red chilli, finely chopped, or ½-1tsp chilli flakes
  • 2tsp olive, coconut or rapeseed oil
  • Lime wedges and salad, to serve

Put the salmon in a food processor with the coriander, garlic, ginger and soy or fish sauce. Season with pepper and blitz on the pulse setting until it’s a thick, chunky paste. 

Don’t let it become too smooth. Remove the blade and stir in the spring onions and chilli. Form into two balls and flatten into burger shapes. 

Heat the oil in a nonstick pan and fry the burgers over a moderate heat for 3-4 minutes a side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Serve with lime wedges and a mixed salad.

LEEK AND CELERIAC SOUP 

A creamy comfort soup. Root veg such as celeriac or turnip last for ages in the fridge. Although root veg is starchy, the fibre in it is hugely beneficial. Include the skin whenever you can, as this contains most of the health-promoting nutrients.

Serves 4 l Prep 15 mins l Cook 25 mins

PER SERVING 123cals PROTEIN 2.5g CARBS 4g FAT 9g FIBRE 6.5g

  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large leeks (around 360g/12½oz), trimmed and cut into roughly 2cm slices
  • ½ a medium celeriac (around 375g/13oz), well scrubbed and cut into roughly 2cm chunks
  • 15g (½oz) fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 vegetable or chicken stock cube
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A small handful of chopped fresh parsley, to serve (optional)

Place the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the leeks and celeriac over a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until softened but not coloured, stirring regularly. Add the ginger and cook for 1 minute more, stirring. 

Crumble the stock cube over the top and add 800ml water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the celeriac is very soft, stirring occasionally. 

Remove from the heat and blitz  with a stick blender, or let it cool slightly and blend in a food processor until smooth. Season and reheat gently, adding extra water to thin, if needed. Sprinkle with parsley, if using, and season with more pepper to serve.

WARM CHICKEN AND AVOCADO SALAD

This is a popular go-to recipe in our family. Even better, our children make it for us. It’s a great meal to boost your protein levels and will keep you feeling full for longer, too.

Serves 2 l Prep 15 mins l Cook 25 mins

COOK’S TIP 

If making without the Parmesan, you can reduce the calories by 11 per serving.

PER SERVING 367cals PROTEIN 43g CARBS 5g FAT 19g FIBRE 3g

  • 2 skinless chicken breast fillets (each around 150g/5½oz)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices of Parma ham or prosciutto
  • 2 Little Gem lettuces, trimmed and leaves separated
  • ½ a small avocado, peeled, stoned and sliced (around 60g/2¼oz prepared weight)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 heaped tbsp mixed seeds (around 12g/¼oz)
  • 5g (¹/8oz) grated Parmesan (optional)
  • 4tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2tsp balsamic vinegar, ideally the thick variety

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/ gas 6 and line a baking tray with nonstick baking paper or foil. Season the chicken breasts on both sides with a little salt and ground black pepper, then wrap each one with a slice of Parma ham or prosciutto. 

Place on the baking tray and roast for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through. Leave to rest for about 5 minutes. Tear the lettuce leaves and divide between two shallow bowls or plates and arrange the avocado and tomatoes on top.

Slice the chicken breasts and place one on top of each salad. Sprinkle with the mixed seeds and Parmesan, if using. Drizzle with the oil and balsamic vinegar, season with more ground black pepper and serve.

THE FAST 800: DELICIOUS DINNER

FASTEST SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE

A versatile and quick to-prepare Bolognese made with turkey mince. This freezes well too.

Serves 4 l Prep 15 mins l Cook 15 mins

PER SERVING 426cals PROTEIN 57g CARBS 23g FAT 11g FIBRE 5.5g

  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 200g (7oz) small mushrooms, quartered
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) turkey breast mince
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 20g (¾oz) Parmesan, finely grated
  • Green salad, to serve

For the spaghetti 

  • 80g (2¾oz) wholewheat spaghetti
  • 2 large courgettes, trimmed and spiralised or peeled into ribbons, or use a pack of courgetti

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying or sauté pan, add the onion and mushrooms and fry over a medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the turkey and fry for 5-8 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling water for 10-12 minutes, according to the pack instructions. Tip the tomatoes into the pan with the mince, stir in 400ml water, the tomato purée, crumbled stock cube and oregano.

Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly, until thick. Season. Add the courgette to the pasta pan and cook for 30 seconds more. 

Drain and divide between four bowls or deep plates. Top with the Bolognese, sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve with a green salad on the side.

PESTO CHICKEN TRAYBAKE

Delicious hot or cold, this is a favourite with my co-author Justine’s family and a doddle to double up if feeding more. We use sun-dried tomato pesto but you could use basil pesto if you like.

Serves 2 l Prep 15 mins l Cook 40 mins

PER SERVING 333cals PROTEIN 40g CARBS 14g FAT 12g FIBRE 6g

  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into 10 wedges
  • 2 peppers, any colour, deseeded and cut into roughly 3cm chunks
  • 1 medium courgette, trimmed, halved lengthways and cut into roughly 2cm chunks
  • 3tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 skinless chicken breast fillets (each around 150g/5½oz)
  • 2tbsp sun-dried tomato pesto
  • ½tsp paprika, any kind (optional)
  • Green salad or steamed veg, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Place the onion, peppers and courgette in a large roasting tin. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of the oil, season with salt and ground black pepper and toss together lightly. Roast for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the chicken breasts on a board and cut each one horizontally through the middle so they can be opened out like a book. Spread with the pesto and close.

Remove the tray from the oven and turn all the vegetables. Nestle the chicken breasts among the vegetables, drizzle over the remaining oil and season with the paprika, if using, a little salt and lots of ground black pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and all the vegetables are tender and lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and serve with a crisp green salad or steamed leafy veg.

STEAK AND CHIPS

Yes, you can have steak and chips on the Fast 800! Only here, the chips are made from celeriac, to keep the starchy carbs low.

Serves 4 l Prep 15 mins l Cook 35 mins

PER SERVING 358cals PROTEIN 47.5g CARBS 5.5g FAT 14.5g FIBRE 8g

  • 2 large tomatoes, halved
  • 4 x 200g (7oz) beef steaks, such as rump or sirloin
  • 2tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
  • 3 large flat or Portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • Green salad or leafy greens, to serve

For the celeriac chips

  • 750g (1lb 10oz) celeriac, peeled and cut into 1-1.5cm-thick ‘chips’ (around 575g/1lb 4oz peeled weight)
  • 1tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7. Place the celeriac chips in a bowl, add the oil, a couple of pinches of sea salt and lots of ground black pepper, and toss them well together. Scatter over a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the chips from the oven and turn them. Place the tomatoes on the same tray, cut side up, season and bake for a further 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are softened.

Meanwhile, season the steaks on both sides with a little sea salt and the coarsely ground black pepper. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the steaks and fry for about 3 minutes on each side for medium-rare, depending on thickness. Divide the steaks between four warmed plates and leave to rest for 4-5 minutes.

Return the pan to the heat, add the mushrooms and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until lightly browned, turning regularly.

Serve the rested steak, mushrooms, chips and tomatoes alongside a generous green salad or cooked leafy greens.

CARDAMOM CHICKEN

This is a gorgeous, creamy dish, delicately flavoured with cardamom.

Serves 4 l Prep 15 mins l Cook 30 mins

PER SERVING 305cals PROTEIN 31g CARBS 8g FAT 16g FIBRE 3g

  • 2tbsp olive, coconut or rapeseed oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large red peppers, deseeded and cut into roughly 2cm chunks
  • 8 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 5-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (around 550g/1lb 4oz total weight), trimmed of fat and quartered
  • 20g (¾oz) fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • ½tsp crushed dried chilli flakes
  • 1tsp garam masala
  • 400ml (14fl oz) chicken stock (made with 1 stock cube)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4tbsp full-fat crème fraîche or double cream (around 50g/1¾oz)
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves, roasted cauliflower and cooked greens, to serve

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion, peppers and cardamom and fry over a fairly high heat for 5-6 minutes, or until the onion is browning, stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken and ginger and cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring. Sprinkle with the cumin, chilli and garam masala and fry for 30 seconds more, stirring. Pour the stock over, season well and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and the sauce is reduced, stirring occasionally.

Add the crème fraîche and cook for a final 1-2 minutes, stirring. Serve topped with coriander, roasted cauliflower and large portions of cooked green vegetables.

TUNA PROVENÇAL 

Fresh tuna steak is filling and packed with protein. Here we serve it with a punchy sauce. Anyone not following the Fast 800 eating plan can add a small portion of new potatoes.

Serves 2 l Prep 5 mins l Cook 5 mins

PER SERVING 279cals PROTEIN 30g CARBS 5.5g FAT 15g FIBRE 1.5g

  • 2tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1tbsp
  • 2 x 115g (4oz) fresh tuna steaks, thawed if frozen
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 40g (1½oz) slow-roasted tomatoes (semi-dried) from a jar or tub, drained and roughly chopped
  • 10 pitted black olives (around 30g), ideally kalamata, halved
  • 1tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • A small handful of roughly chopped fresh parsley, to serve (optional)
  • Salad or green beans, to serve

Heat the 2 teaspoons oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Season the tuna on both sides with a little salt and plenty of ground black pepper. Add to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.

Turn the tuna steaks and add the tomatoes, olives, remaining oil and lemon juice to the pan. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes, until the tuna is cooked to taste. Crush the tomatoes and olives to make a loose sauce.

Divide the tuna between two plates and spoon the tomato and olive sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the parsley, if using, and serve with salad or freshly cooked green beans.

THE FAST 800: TREATS & DESERTS

QUICK FRUIT SALAD

This may not be the most exciting fruit salad you will ever make, but it’s possibly the easiest. Serve at the end of a meal to increase your daily intake of fibre and vitamins, or add yoghurt and a handful of nuts for a filling breakfast – don’t forget to add the calories.

Serves 6 l Prep 10 mins

PER SERVING 59cals PROTEIN 0.5g CARBS 13g FAT 0g FIBRE 1.5g

  • 1 x 400g tin of peach slices in natural juice
  • 1 medium apple (around 150g/5½oz), quartered, cored and finely sliced
  • 2 clementines, satsumas or tangerines, peeled, halved from top to bottom and sliced
  • 100g (3½oz) seedless grapes, any colour, halved

Place the peaches and their juice in a large bowl and use the tip of a knife to cut each slice into 3-4 pieces.Add the remaining ingredients, and toss together lightly. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

GINGER COOKIES

Crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, these delicious biscuits are surprisingly guilt free. They contain a decent hit of protein and fibre, are lovely as an after-dinner treat, or you can enjoy them crumbled in yoghurt with a handful of berries.

Serves 14 l Prep 10 mins l Cook 25 mins

PER COOKIE 84cals PROTEIN 1.5g CARBS 6g FAT 6g FIBRE 0g

  • 2 medium egg whites
  • 50g (1¾oz) ground almonds
  • 50g (1¾oz) porridge oats (not jumbo oats)
  • 50g (1¾oz) coconut oil (or butter)
  • 2 balls of stem ginger in syrup, drained and finely chopped
  • 2tbsp stem ginger syrup from the jar

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4 and line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together using a stick blender. You could also tip them into a food processor and blitz briefly to combine. The dough should be fairly soft. Alternatively, you can mix together by hand.

Use two dessertspoons to scoop out a little mixture and drop on to the lined tray. Press down until around 1cm thick. Make a further 13 cookies this way. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cool for a few minutes before serving. Store excess cookies in an airtight container.

CHOCOLATE AND BLACK BEAN TORTE

Justine’s deliciously light chocolate cake has an ingredient that no one will guess. It’s also gluten-free and tastes luxurious without being too rich. Serve in small wedges with a handful of raspberries.

Serves 12 l Prep 25 mins l Cook 25 mins

PER SERVING 187cals PROTEIN 4.5g CARBS 13.5g FAT 12.5g FIBRE 2.5g

COOK’S TIP

Keep in the fridge and eat within a couple of days, or freeze in slices.

  • 100g (3½oz) dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), broken into squares
  • 100g (3½oz) coconut oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 100g (3½oz) soft pitted dates
  • 1 x 400g tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • ¼tsp cocoa powder, for dusting

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water – make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water. (You can also melt the chocolate in a microwave in bursts of 30 seconds, stirring in between.) Remove from the heat and leave for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas 5. Grease and line the base of a 20cm loose-based cake tin with baking parchment.

Place the dates, oil and black beans in a food processor and blitz until well combined. Add the egg yolks and blend until as creamy and smooth as possible. You may need to remove the lid and push the mixture down a couple of times. Add the cooled chocolate, followed by 100ml cold water, in slow steady streams, until thoroughly combined.

Next, whisk the egg whites in a large clean bowl with an electric whisk until stiff but not dry.

Stir a heaped tablespoon of the egg whites gently into the chocolate mixture to soften, then transfer the chocolate mixture to the bowl with the rest of the egg whites and fold in gently using a large metal spoon, until thoroughly combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and spread to the sides. Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes, or until risen and firm to the touch.

Cool for 30 minutes, then remove from the tin. Sift over the cocoa powder to dust and cut into small wedges to serve.

BANANA LOAF 

Many of us spent lockdown perfecting banana bread – including Justine. Here is a great one – nutty, delicious and surprisingly healthy.

Serves 12 l Prep 15 mins l Cook 50 mins

COOK’S TIP 

You can freeze the extra slices to enjoy another time. 

PER SERVING 241cals PROTEIN 8g CARBS 9g FAT 19g FIBRE 2g

  • 2-3 very ripe bananas (about 250g/9oz peeled weight), mashed with a fork
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 200g (7oz) ground almonds
  • 75g (2¾oz) butter, melted, or rapeseed oil
  • 50g (1¾oz) wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 75g (2¾oz) mixed nuts or pecans, roughly chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4 and grease and line the base and sides of a 900g loaf tin with non-stick baking paper. 

Place the bananas in a large bowl and add the eggs, almonds, melted butter or oil, flour, spice and baking powder. Beat together well with a large metal whisk or electric beaters. Stir in the chopped nuts, if using. (You will need to add 17cals to each slice, if you do.)

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out on to a wire rack. Leave for around an hour before serving in thin slices.

The Fast 800 Easy by Dr Clare Bailey and Justine Pattison, published by Short Books, £16.99. Copyright 2021 Dr Clare Bailey and Justine Pattison. To order a copy for £14.44 go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193. Free UK delivery on orders over £15. Promotional price valid until 24/01/2021.



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