I discovered my strategy of choice a few years ago when I read an article about a British physician, Dr. Michael Mosley, who was enthusiastic about the 2-day-a-week diet. It’s also known as the 5-2 diet or the Fast Diet (and has been featured on NPR). You basically enjoy your customary eating pattern five days a week. The other two, you cut down to 500 calories if you are a woman or 600 if you are a man.
It’s simple, and it works. I admit it’s a little hard to get used to only 500 calories. But it’s only for a day at a time. If you’re craving a corned beef sandwich or a chicken drumstick, you can have it the next day.
When I say I’m returning to the diet, I never totally abandoned it. But some weeks in December, it’s pretty hard to find two days when you’re not eating Christmas cookies and candy or going to parties. So yeah, I’ve let my willpower slip a little. But now that we’re into the new year, I’m back on the wagon. Lunch today will be a big salad with fat-free dressing, low-calorie vegetables and a little meat. Dinner will be homemade vegetable soup.
You probably know that if I get enthusiastic about food, I start designing recipes. When I first encountered the 5-2 diet, I wanted to figure out what I could make that would taste good but still fit into the plan. My friend Nancy Baggett, an excellent cookbook author, was also interested. She does a lot of baking, and the 5-2 helps keep her weight down while sampling the goodies she creates.
We wrote our first healthy-eating cookbook in the early eighties. With our years of experience, we were convinced we could develop a wide range of low-cal dishes that were palate pleasing and easy to make. Our seventy-five recipes in the 2 Day a Week Diet Cookbook include everything from soups, salads, sandwiches, and main dishes to side dishes, breakfast foods, and desserts. They all have 200 or fewer calories per serving, and they taste as good as they look in the book’s full-color pictures. We’ve also got daily menus and snack suggestions. Here’s one of our favorite main-dish soups. In fact, this recipe would fit into just about any low-cal / low-carb diet.
Tex-Mex Ground Beef and Vegetable Soup
Think of this hearty ground beef and bean soup as a cross between chili and mixed vegetable soup. It makes a hearty lunch or dinner entrée. For extra zip, top each serving with a little more salsa and a few fresh cilantro sprigs.
Makes 4 140-calorie servings, about 2 1/4 cups each.
4 oz extra-lean ground beef
6 cups fat-free beef broth or bouillon
1 cup mild bottled salsa
2 cups coarsely shredded green cabbage
1 cup chopped sweet green pepper
1/2 cup kidney beans
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 tsp each chili powder and ground cumin, or to taste
- In a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat, cook ground beef, stirring constantly until lightly browned all over, about 6 minutes. If it begins to stick to the pan, stir in a little broth.
- Add broth and salsa, then vegetables and seasonings.
- 3. Cook at a low boil, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes until flavors are well blended and soup has cooked down slightly.
Soup will keep refrigerated for 2 or 3 days. Or freeze for up to 3 weeks.
Our primary goal was to create dishes that taste good, because when you’re enjoying what you’re eating, you’re more satisfied. If you’d like to give the 5-2 diet a try, the 2 Day a Week Diet Cookbook is on sale for $1.99 until January 18.
And if you’d like to talk about January diets, I’d love to hear your strategies.
Nancy Baggett’s latest cookbook is The Art of Cooking with Lavender.
NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.