The “healthy” lifestyle has become a big trend these years. There are many kinds of “diets” that you can engage in, and they are easily accessible through numerous books, articles and internet resources. The Ulysses Press sent me a copy of their The 5:2 Diet and The 5:2 Diet Cookbook for review. Note: I have not thoroughly read the whole book on the diet, neither have I tried the diet itself. Through reading its introduction, the term “5:2” means eating regularly for 5 days during the week, and “fast” in 2 days. The “fasting” aspect is not truly not eating anything for a day, but rather consuming about 500 calories on those “fasting” days. The book also suggests the health benefits of this diet and how it is easier to achieve results simply because you can eat regular meals instead of spending a long period of time cutting calories each day. I do like the idea of being able to eat real meals on this diet, and not some meal replacement or “cleansing” foods. The idea with this diet is not different from most – to create a calorie deficit in order to lose weight. With this method, according to the book, if you “fast” for two days in a week, even if you ate regularly for 5 days, you can still achieve that deficit. I have not tried this method of dieting, and as with all diets, they are not necessarily suitable for everyone, especially if you have chronic health conditions. So before dramatically changing your diet, you should consult your physician.
Having that said, I did try a couple of recipes from the book. The recipes are divided into breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks, and meal plans. I like the fact that the calorie/serving is including in each recipe so you know how much you are consuming. Most of the recipes are very simple to prepare, so if you cook at home regularly, you shouldn’t have problems with this book. However, you will need to stick with the measurements in the recipe because fasting days are strictly 500 calories a day. It might be helpful for those who want to restrict their calorie intake for weight management. For me, this book is quite handy for simply healthy meals, because the recipes are quite straight forward.
To begin, I tried the chicken, potato and spinach fritatta (page 79). I don’t have photo of the final dish because the recipe seemed to lack eggs to hold the other ingredients together.Nonetheless, it tasted fine, but it turned out more like scrambled eggs more than a frittata. It is quite balanced as a breakfast/lunch as it has protein, vegetables, and potatoes for carbohydrates in under 10 ingredients.
The other recipe I’ve tried is the savory muffin (page 25) in the breakfast section of the book, again, under 10 ingredients. You might wonder what is in this savory muffin, it is made with whole wheat flour, zucchini, carrot, yogurt, and pecorino cheese for flavour. I didn’t have pecorino cheese so I replaced it with a good Parmesan cheese and it turned out fine. I think it makes a good side for breakfast in place of something like a scone or biscuit if you want something lighter and more moist. It is also a good way to hide vegetables for kids. It tastes good fresh, but I had one the next day, toasted with some butter, it was even better. Of course, that would defeat the point of calorie restriction, but a little butter wouldn’t hurt.
Overall, I think this book offers some good recipes for meals under 500 calories. It even has sample meal plans to get you started for this 5:2 Diet. The reason I didn’t try this diet is because I have a physically demanding job and I like to exercise a couple times during the week so I’d probably be starving myself I ate just 500 calories a day. But for those who are interested, with this cookbook you can still cook low calorie meals without sacrificing flavour and some of your favourite ingredients.