Felicity Cloake (who is on the 5:2 diet) tests readers' slimline recipes.
Sad though I am to admit it, the best job in the world has forced me to give the modish fast - or 5:2 - diet a try. It's a plan that restricts me to 500 calories (kcal) two days a week, freeing me up to happily pig out on your recipes for the other five.
Ruth Joseph's light-as-air lemon cake lost out on the winning spot this week, after I ate a quarter in one sitting, completely defeating the purpose, so I've gone for Claire Wilson's surprisingly filling, salty, spicy Korean pancake instead. Strong flavours are the novice calorie-counter's best friend, and this recipe has them in slimline spades.
The winning recipe: haemul pajeon (korean seafood pancake)
This Korean seafood pancake is one of my favourite things to eat on a fast day. The recipe comes courtesy of Anne over at the brilliant Uni Homemaker blog: I've simply adapted it to make it more 5:2 friendly. Because the flavours are so good, it feels like a treat rather than diet food. Claire Wilson, Johannesburg, underthebluegumtree.com
Serves 2 at 250kcal each
85g plain flour
100g prawns, peeled and cooked
1 red pepper, sliced
4 spring onions, cut into 3cm lengths
Small handful of fresh coriander, leaves and stalks roughly chopped
A splash of oil
For the dipping sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
½ tsp sesame oil
1 tsp caster sugar
A pinch of chilli flakes
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 Beat the flour, egg and 125ml water together to make a thick batter. Tip in the prawns, vegetables and coriander and stir to coat.
2 Spray a 20cm non-stick frying pan with oil and tip in the batter mixture. Cook on a medium heat for 7-10 minutes, until the pancake is almost set and the bottom crisp and golden.
3 Flip and cook for 2 more minutes, until browned on both sides. Cut in half, then cut each half into 5fingers.
4 Mix all dipping sauce ingredients together and serve with the pancake.
We first discovered this delicious dish in Barga - "the most Scottish town in Italy"! The proper recipe is much more calorific, but I've adapted it so it's suitable for a 5:2 dinner. Serve with bread to mop up the juices or baby potatoes roasted with garlic and rosemary if you have calories to spare.
Serves 2 at 335kcal each
5 sprays of oil
350g sirloin steak, trimmed of fat
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
20g fresh parmesan shavings
1 Spray a non-stick frying pan with oil. Season the steak on both sides and cook over a high heat to taste, turning occasionally. Put on a plate to rest.
2 Turn the heat right down then add half the olive oil to the pan with the garlic, rosemary, lemon zest and juice. Stir and leave for a couple of minutes. Cut the steak into strips and pour any juices back into the pan.
3 Mix the rest of the olive oil with the vinegar and drizzle over the rocket. Divide steak between plates, pour over juices, then surround with salad. Sprinkle over the parmesan and serve.
Limoncello, lemon and blueberry cloud-cake
I have always had a passion for creating cakes that taste naughty without the guilt factor. This one is based on a plava recipe from my late mother. It's still deliciously moist and lemony, with a creamy luscious filling, laden with summer fruit, but not as naughty as its rich cousins - just really, really nice! Ruth Joseph, Cardiff, veggischmooze.blogspot.co.uk
Serves 10 at 330kcal per generous slice
For the cake
150g caster sugar
A dessertspoon of vanilla sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Grated zest of ½ orange
75g plain flour
70g ground almonds
Zest of 1 lemon
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp limoncello (optional)
For the icing
500g low-fat Greek yoghurt
450g low-fat custard
3 tbsp icing sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
1 punnet of blueberries/summer fruit
1 Line 2 x 20cm sandwich tins with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3.
2 Separate the eggs. Put yolks in a large mixing bowl with the sugars and zests and beat until thick and creamy.
3 In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Sift the flour and almonds twice, then fold into the egg-yolk mixture, along with the lemon juice. Carefully fold in the egg whites, pour into tins and bake for 30‑40 minutes. Allow to cool.
4 Meanwhile, use a peeler to cut strips of zest from the lemon, and slice into fine shreds. Put in a small pan with the sugar and 6tbsp water and simmer until shreds are tender and the liquid syrupy. Add limoncello if using and simmer for a few more minutes. Cool, then use a tea strainer or similar to separate the shreds.
5 Combine the yoghurt and custard in a bowl. Add icing sugar and lemon juice to taste.
6 Pour half the syrup on to one of the cakes, then top with a third of the icing. Put the other cake on top and pour the remaining syrup over it. When it has been absorbed, spread the icing over the entire cake, and then decorate with blueberries and zest.
Lavender ice-cream with a parsnip tuile basket
I don't mind giving my family treats, but they have to be homemade and as healthy as I can make them. My toddlers love "ice-cream" made with bananas; this is a grownup version of their favourite treat. Katherine Hackworthy, Newark
Serves 2 at 320kcal each
For the baskets
A little oil, to grease
1 egg white
45g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp flour
¼ tsp almond extract
30g butter, melted and allowed to cool
5g flaked almonds
For the ice-cream
1 large, ripe banana, cut into chunks and frozen
A pinch of dried lavender, plus a little more to garnish
1 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line two baking trays with parchment paper. Grease the underside of a tray of muffin cups.
2 Finely grate the raw parsnip. Beat the egg white and sugar in a bowl until frothy, then beat in the parsnip, flour and almond extract. Stir in the butter.
3 Spread into 6 large rounds on the baking parchment thinly and sprinkle with almonds. Bake for about 6 minutes until brown at the edges, then immediately peel off the parchment and press over the upturned muffin cups to form baskets and allow to cool.
4 When you're ready to serve, grind the lavender finely with a pestle and mortar, then puree with the frozen bananas in a food processor for a few minutes until it is light and whippy. Serve in the parsnip baskets, with a few lavender buds to garnish.
Skinny minny eggs royale
Eggs Benedict is one of my favourite breakfasts, but with the buttered muffin and rich Hollandaise sauce, it's hardly a diet option. This version works out at around 230kcal a portion and I think it's just as delicious. Julie Friend, London
Per portion, 230kcal
1 large egg
A splash of white wine vinegar
1 tbsp low-fat creme fraiche
½ tsp wholegrain mustard
A squeeze of lemon juice
40g smoked salmon
1 Poach the egg in a pan of simmering water with a splash of white wine vinegar added.
2 Meanwhile, put the spinach in a sieve and pour over a kettle of boiling water. Drain well and season.
3 Mix the creme fraiche and mustard with a squeeze of lemon juice and ground black pepper.
4 Arrange the wilted spinach on a plate, and top with the salmon. Pat the poached egg dry and place on top. Spoon on the creme fraiche mixture.
I have been on the fast diet since August. The diet Cup a Soups I was having for lunch didn't taste good, so I decided to design my own from scratch. I make it in large batches then freeze it in portions (190ml) to defrost as needed. Kate Mackay, Radlett
Makes 7 at 70kcal per portion
100g red lentils
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
175g carrots, grated
2 onions, chopped
1 Simmer the lentils in the stock for about 20 minutes until tender, being careful not to overcook. Strain, reserving both lentils and stock.
2 Gently sweat the carrots and onions in the butter until softened, then add 500ml water and the stock from the lentils and simmer until the veg are cooked through. Puree until smooth.
3 Put back on the heat, add the lentils and season to taste.
Haemul pajeon (Korean seafood pancake). Photograph: Tricia De Courcy Ling for the Guardian