Slow Days: Sourdough Pancakes

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while your can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

It is almost a joke now that during the Pandemic Lock-Down, people vowed that they would use the time to perfect the art of baking: specifically sourdough bread. It seemed to be the culinary equivalent of reading War and Peace — something to get around to when you had time. Early on, bread flour and yeast were GONE from supermarket shelves. New England’s flour-of-choice, King Arthur brand from Vermont, was not even available on-line. For those who have sourdough starter [don’t be a wimp — start your own starter!], be aware that there are many things to do with it, besides making bread. Recently, we made Sourdough Pancakes [click link for recipe] for Sunday Breakfast. A real treat and easy to do.

HINT: For two people, I cut the recipe in half. The night before, I combine the flours with the sugar, oil, buttermilk [substitute = soured milk], salt, and starter. This is left on the counter overnight to ripen.

The next morning, the batter is stirred. An egg and the baking soda are added in. The mixture needs to sit a few minutes while you heat the griddle, set the table, and make the coffee. By now the batter is foaming in the bowl.

This recipe resulted in 14 pancakes: enough for today’s breakfast, another meal later, and 2 for a snack with peanut butter and jelly.

Lightly butter the griddle and use a 1/4 cup measure to pour 3-4 Tablespoons of batter on the hot surface. Continue until there is no more space on the pan. When the top of each pancake starts to develop ‘eyes’ [little holes], it is time to flip them to the other side.

Served with maple syrup [our own, I’m happy to say] and sausages — what a treat! The breakfast is completed by the berry-yogurt smoothie and mocha cafe au lait which we enjoy every morning. Great start to a great day. A lot easier than making bread.

Slow Days: Bruschetta

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while your can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

“Bruschetta” … what does that word mean to you? And how do you pronounce it? The cookbook Diary of a Tuscan Chef gave us a recipe for this concoction, which we ate happily for years — a tomato relish on bread. And we called it ‘bruce-SHET-ta.’ Had we turned the cookbook page, we would have had the real story. When olives are being pressed into oil, [a late-Fall, cool-weather activity] one of the workers will toast bread over a fire, rub it with garlic, and drizzle the new oil over it so everyone can have a snack and a taste of the crop. THAT is bruschetta!

Bread, garlic, and olive oil = bruschetta

Of course, as the idea of ‘putting some food on toast’ moved around the world, something was lost in translation, including the pronunciation. When on tour in Italy, I asked the guide, a Roman, how to pronounce this culinary creation. Chuckling, he said that Americans always ask that and for the longest time he had no idea what they meant by ‘bruce-shet-ta.’ The correct way to say it? ‘bruce-KAY-ta’ The aforementioned Tuscan Chef Cesare Casella writes: “Americans seem to think bruschetta is chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil on toast. I don’t know why. For us that is crostini con pomodoro.” He concludes that there seems to be an “American craving for cubed tomatoes.”

On the right you see Cesare Casella’s ‘tomato relish’ on the bread.

When Older Son began baking, he sent us a recipe for his ‘no-knead focaccia’, which is great but makes more bread than Dear Husband and I can eat in a week. So Older Son prompted us to eat it as Bruschetta. I protested that there would be very little protein in that: just bread and tomato relish. Being wise, our son suggested additional toppings: herbed ricotta cheese, slices of chicken or turkey breast. Anchovies would be good.

So here is the evolution of a meal that is perfect in Summer or any warm evening. Perhaps we should call it ‘Crostini’ but we don’t. We’re Americans, you see.

Slow Days: Lobster Rolls

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

If times were normal, we might be at our vacation cottage right about now. Not to stay for a long time, but to see the place in late Spring, before the tourists descend. We used to go there during my school’s April Break: to open the cottage, move up some furniture, visit with local friends, and see what the Winter storms did to the beach. If we stayed into early May, then the ocean would be dotted with colorful buoys and small fishing boats — in other words: Lobster Season. Prince Edward Island has two very limited seasons, one for each of two different parts of the island. In full Summer, when we usually arrive, lobsters are still available. When Summer guests appear at out cottage, we treat them to a lobster feast. Afterward, the cephalo-thoraces [the front-middle part that everyone else throws away] are picked clean of the meat located in the ‘shoulder joints’: enough to make lobster rolls!! [Four thoraces produce enough meat for this meal of three rolls.]

1-1/2 cups of lobster meat, chopped celery and red onion, chiffonade of lettuce or spinach, mayonnaise, and celery seed make the filling. The rolls are ‘New England’ style hot-dog buns. That means they are sliced across the top, not along the side. Being New Englanders, we prefer those.

The buns are lightly toasted with butter on a griddle and served with fresh tomatoes or a light salad. If you want to know about the wine — we always serve ‘The Hermit Crab’ or a Viognier with lobster rolls — go to Dear Husband’s blog peterspicksblog.com.

Slow Days: Blueberry Muffins

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers.  Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

People get lyrical about muffins. On the other hand, James Beard had a dim view of them, saying “Muffins have been inordinately popular for years. I, for one, have never been able to understand why.” For a long time, I didn’t care for most blueberry muffins I ever had — they were too much like biscuits or they were gigantic and super-sweet. Finally I found a recipe from Maine for a coffeecake with blueberries in it. Inspiration!! It struck me that this recipe would be perfect when baked as muffins. Many fine breakfasts have resulted from that recipe, and here it is:

1 cup unbleached flour, 1 cup white whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup butter [fairly soft so it will mix], 1 cup milk**, 1 egg, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, 1 cup blueberries [fresh or frozen — frozen are better since they don’t mush up when stirred in which turns the batter a nasty grayish-blue] **You could use buttermilk or plain yogurt instead of milk, and then you would need to add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to the above ingredients.

Combine and mix all the ingredients except the blueberries. Lastly, gently stir them in. Put into muffin papers or greased muffin tins.++ Bake at 350F for 15 minutes or so. How many muffins you’ll get depends on the size of the tins. I use silicon cupcake forms [see below] and I get 13-15 muffins.

++I do all this the night before and leave the pan on the counter, covered, ready to bake in the morning. Works perfectly.

What isn’t eaten for breakfast is put into zipper-locking bags, as these freeze and reheat very nicely. Have a happy breakfast!

Slow Days: Breadcrumb Pasta

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while your can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

For years we searched for the right foods to eat during Lent. We wanted foods that were connected to the meaning of the season; foods that were good to eat yet not so fancy that we seemed to be ‘living it up’; foods that had a nod to the traditional austerity typical of the 6-week period of religious contemplation. One of the thorny decisions concerned Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which is a solemn day after the giddiness of Carnival before it. At last we decided: a breadcrumb pasta from the Puglia Region of Italy. The idea of dressing your noodles with a sauce of breadcrumbs struck just the right note of culinary penance. No meat, no butter: this is the perfect choice to begin Lent.

The ingredients are very simple: 3 oz pasta, 1/3 cup crumbs from day-old bread [we use whole grain for flavor and fiber], 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp sliced garlic, oregano, salt, 6 olives, 1 oz spinach leaves, grated pecorino cheese.

These ingredients are enough for two servings.

You will need a mise-en-place, this cools so quickly! Once you have prepared your mise-en-place, start cooking the pasta. Cook the pasta for about 4 minutes, then turn off the heat with the pasta still in the water. Stack the spinach leaves and cut them cross-wise [chiffonade]. Pit the olives and cut each into four pieces. Heat a cast iron skillet at medium heat and pour in the oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and briefly cook it until pale yet fragrant. Add the crumbs and stir into the oil. Add the oregano and take off the heat. Stir. Turn down the heat, then put the pan back on it. Cook, stirring until the crumbs are crispy. Take off heat again and stir in the olives. By now the pasta is ready. Using a slotted spoon, remove it from the water and put it in the pan with the crumbs. The trick is to incorporate a little of the noodle-water into the dish. Stir to mix. Add two pinches of salt and the sliced spinach. Toss it all together, then add the grated cheese. Plate. This took such a short amount of time that I barely called out a pre-dinner alert, than it was time to plate up.

Such an unusual combination of flavors and textures!

This is not a meal for a low-carb menu. But then, this is a Slow Day, so we don’t need to count calories. We eat this one time each year and we enjoy it.

Slow Day: Grilled Vegetable Pasta

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while your can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

Sometimes, there is a crowd to feed and that’s when we turn to one of our stand-by meals: Grilled Vegetable Pasta with Sausage. The vegetables include: zucchini/summer squash, yellow or orange sweet peppers, red onion, and or other colorful fresh items of the same texture. Choose any pasta you wish — 2 ounces by weight per person. Bratwurst or Italian sausage will do just fine. Make 1-1/2 cups of your favorite white sauce and add 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

The colors of the vegetables are echoed in the colorful pasta.

The sausages are grilled, then sliced. The vegetables are sliced or cut into chunks, as you prefer. In a grill basket, toss and shake the vegetables over hot coals until softer and starting to blacken, then empty into a large bowl. While one person is doing the grilling, the other preparing the cheese sauce. SLOWLY, over low heat. [Sometimes (often), my sauce ‘breaks’ and becomes clotted. The solution is to whisk flour into the milk to bind the sauce back together.] Cook the pasta and combine everything in the bowl with the vegetables. Easy to prepare and always a hit.

Often, seconds helpings are the norm.

Slow Days: Holiday Eating

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while your can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

I know what you are thinking: what does this woman eat over the holidays and what does that do to her weight? Here’s the ‘skinny’ [or not-so-skinny] on our eating during Christmas and the results of that. Now I’ll do the Bridget Jones thing: In early December, my weight was at my Target Weight.

Our Christmas Season begins on December 6 with St Nicholas Day. Dinner that day is always Gulyas, followed by some early cookies. See St Nick for recipe and food values.
Next, we celebrate Saint Lucy’s Day, which involves trimming the Tree while dining. I wrote about that as a Slow Day post on December 13 of 2019.

That morning, weight was below Target by one pound. All the while, throughout December, we observe two Fast Days each week.

On December 22, we always eat my Sister’s Christmas Pasta which I wrote about in a Slow Day blog. With a salad and good bread, it is a treat we look forward to. If you want to know about that wine, visit Dear Husband’s wine pairing blog: peterspicksblog
On December 23, we observe Little Christmas Eve, beginning at breakfast with a tree-shaped bread fashioned from Lussekatter dough. For dinner, our take on Smorrebrod: canapé-sized open-faced sandwiches with varied and colorful toppings on dense rye bread.
We begin Christmas Eve morning with my mother’s recipe for Cinnamon Buns. And end it with the Seafood Chowder seen below, prepared by Dear Husband and Wonderful Sons.

What is the result of all this good eating? Did my weight go up? Yes it did. But then it came down again. Exactly one month later, I am 0.3 [3/10] of a pound over my Target Weight. Not too bad, I’d say. Do I eat like this every Slow Day? NO. This is Festival Food. But the fact that I could eat like that and still keep my weight down says something about the benefits of the 5:2 Diet. Join me in Fasting in 2020. Eat well on Slow Days, Fast on the Fast Days — lose weight and keep it off.

NOW!

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

We are one day into the new year. The resolution-making game is fraught with dilemmas: which resolutions to make? what if I can’t keep them? does that mean I’m a failure? Since the new year seems to be a good time for new beginnings, people make wild pie-in-the-sky promises to themselves which are impossible to keep. Some suggestions: make the resolution concrete [I will lose 10 pounds.]; make the resolution achievable [I will clean the kitchen and do the dishes right after dinner]; make the resolution something you really want to do for you [I will take a one-hour walk once a week to savor nature by myself]. Drinking water, reading more, moving more in a day — all are good resolutions.

Now is the time to lose weight/get healthier and I am here to help you. Re-read the paragraph at the top of the page. Does that sound too simple? Brain scientists say people think that the more rules a diet has, the better it must be! Nope — those are fad diets. This one is easy and it works. How to begin? Start small — if you think you can’t possibly exist on 600 calories per day, then begin with dinner. One day this week, eat a meal of 300 calories for dinner. Then do not eat until the next day at breakfast, but you may drink as much water/ sparkling water/plain tea/herbal tea/coffee/decaf coffee as you want. You will find that the dinner was satisfying enough to carry you through ’til morning. Do that one day per week, then try two nights in a week. Weigh yourself once a week and see if there is a change for the better. Here are two suggestions for dinners under 300 calories:

Green Split Pea Soup: 262 calories 1.6 g fat 19 g fiber 20 g protein 46 g carbs [46 g Complex] 30 mg Calcium  PB GF  For years we have loved this soup from Picardy, France which comes to us via Anne Willen’s  French Regional Cooking.  The easiest recipe in the world!  HINT: Makes 6 [six] one-cup servings. What you don’t use today, freeze in serving-sized portions.

Very hearty. Very satisfying. And the recipe makes 6 servings!

16 oz bag dry green split peas [Goya is excellent] 1 quart water 2 slices bacon 2 stems of thyme salt + pepper to taste

Put the dry peas in a bowl and add water to cover them by 2”. Let them sit and soften for 1.5 hours. Drain. [TIP: you will not need the water for the soup, but use it to water the houseplants] Put the peas, bacon, thyme, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for 1.25 hours.  NB: Not all the liquid will be used upThat’s fine. Remove the bacon and the thyme stems. Using a food processor, blender, or immersion wand, puree the soup. There should be 6 cups. Soup should be loose enough to run off a spoon, but not too thin. Add water, if necessary, to adjust thickness. Taste for seasonings. Cook the bacon in a saute pan until it is crisp. Crumble it and add to the soup.

Fajitas with Chicken + Vegetables: 286 calories 5 g fat 3.9 g fiber 24 g protein 35 g carbs 183 mg calcium  PB  TIP: This recipe serves 2 [two] people. It is quick, delicious, and a good way to put vegetables into dinner.

Great for using odds and ends in the refrigerator — and it tastes great.
1 tsp oil + 3 tsp water 6 oz chicken breast 2 cups veg, including: >3 oz sweet pepper + 4 oz zucchini + >1 oz red onion + 1.25 oz broccoli 1 tsp chili powder + sprinkle AdoboCut the meat into strips. Cut the vegetables into strips or other edible sizes. Heat oil in wok, stir-fry meat, veg, and seasonings for ~ 7 minutes or until cooked and vegetables begin to brown
4 five-inch corn tortillasWrap in damp kitchen towel. Nuke 30-45 seconds. -OR- Warm on a griddle/ dry skillet until pliable and starting to brown.
¼ c plain nonfat yogurt [1 Tbsp per tortilla] Divide the meat/veg among the tortillas and top with yogurt.
1 lime + ¼ c cilantro leavesServe as garnish

Ingredients for next week: Breakfast, single portion for Monday ……… single portion for Thursday:

1 two-oz egg + pear1.5 two-oz eggs 
sprouts + crab meat
fresh chives
soy sauce + ginger
Parmesan cheese
garlic powder + scallions
kiwi fruit
Optional smoothieoptional smoothie
optional hot beverageoptional hot beverage

Dinner, single portion for Monday: …….. single portion for Thursday:

Assorted Asian foods for Dim Sum — examples:7 cloves garlic + butter
beef egg roll or shrimp spring rollbeef or chicken stock
chicken momo or chicken momo fillingpotatoes + parsnips + egg + marjoram
pork wonton + broccoli + Sriracharye bread + Swiss cheese
Sparkling waterSparkling water

Slow Days: Tree-Decorating Dinner

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while your can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

Here we are in early December with Christmas fast approaching — how can one fit everything in? Years ago we worked out a multi-tasking method for the day we trim the Christmas Tree, and it works so well that we still do it that way. We always decorate the tree on December 13. [Dear Husband grew up in a German family where the tree went up Christmas Eve and came down seven days later. He loves having the tree up longer. Me too.] Dinner consists of finger food which can be prepared ahead: salmon piroshki

, with cheeses, vegetables, and a dipping sauce [plain, fat-free yogurt + dill weed]. For dessert, the full array of our families’ cookies. And to add to the celebration, a glass of sparkling wine. The meal is for ‘grazing’ — nibble, hang an ornament, nibble, sip.

The salmon piroski are filled with cooked salmon mixed with enough Dijon mustard to make a moist pate. One tablespoon of the mixture is placed inside rounds of pie crust which are folded over and crimped, turn-over/empanada style. [Yes, I know this is very non-traditional, but that’s how Craig Claiborne made them.] Made a day ahead, they are kept cool until being baked at 400 F for 15 minutes. Each year we enjoy this very special little feast — and still get the tree decorated!

Dinners on the Wall

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

In May of 2016, I went for a hike with our cousin and her son. Nothing much…just walking the Hadrian’s Wall Path in northern England. [84 miles in 7 days] This was not an ‘all-inclusive holiday’ tour by bus with a guide and meals provided. Cousin Peggy found the places to stay and we figured out on the fly where we would have dinner each evening. Walking an average of 12 miles/day sounds arduous — but it wasn’t really, if you trained for it. You might think that this was no place for a Fasting Lifestyle. With all those calories being expended daily, surely one would need to chow down like a lumberjack every day. Again, not so. A Fast Breakfast can take you a long way into a busy, active day. The remainder is up to mind-set [like any diet plan]. And don’t forget — this was only two days out of the week — the rest of the time I could eat what I liked.

So what did I eat?

At Bistrot 34 in Brampton, I enjoyed this plate of legumes and goat cheese. It was really delicious and full of protein to fight hunger.
At the Gilsand Inn, the meat pie beckoned to me from the menu. The pie was small and tasty and the vegetables were abundant. Without the potatoes and gravy, it might almost be a Fast Meal. Ordering from the menu has limitations.

The take-aways? 1] With determination, one can Fast on vacation. 2] One will not perish by exercising on a Fast Day. 3] It is possible to order off the menu and still be true to the Fasting Lifestyle.

Did I eat salads while suffering from hunger all week? No way! The last day, we walked 21 miles from Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway. [The map says it is less, but taking the wrong turning adds miles!] We dined well that night at the King’s Arms. It was a Saturday so I could eat what I wanted. And I did.

The meal of fish & chips was delicious and I ate it all [I did share the chips with fellow diners]