The 5-2 Challenge. Veering off Course. A Little. Pumpkin, Leek and Spinach Salad with Pine Nuts.


This week marks the end of school term. Looking at my diary yesterday it became apparent that I would need to reschedule my week. Substitute Thursday for my usual Friday fast day. The beauty of the 5-2 challenge is that it is very adaptable to changing circumstances. Perfectly agreeable to a change of course. All it asks is that two non consecutive days of every week are dedicated to fasting and the consumption of a  restricted 500 calorie limit.  If only my subconscious was as accommodating.

My day started well with my customary cups of tea. My menu plan was sorted. The calories counted in advance. A trip to the greengrocer the previous day meant my larder was well stocked . My carefully constructed eating plan revolved around  gorgeous, small, in season Shephard avocados, and a salad of pumpkin, spinach and leek. I had even incorporated a small, protein hit. My butcher had obligingly sliced lean, beef round steak into thin  minute steaks. Ready to be flash seared  in a griddle pan. My family would have a more substantial meal. Steak sandwiches with a side of the salad. There were even some leftover caramelised onions in the fridge.

The spanner in the works? A back up in my after school carpooling arrangements, an unscheduled catch up with a girl friend mid afternoon  and no less than two extraneous skim milk cappuccinos. It’s not the first time my 5-2 resolve has been scuttled by a cappuccino. My obvious Achilles heel. I recall a previous post with a note to myself right there in the title. Avoid Cappuccinos. I will definitely have to  make a bigger effort to heed my own advice.

That said veering off course put me over my 500 calorie limit by a mere 75 calories. Not too bad in the scheme of things. My saving grace? A very tasty and filling Pumpkin,Leek and Spinach Salad.

Breakfast 2 cups of tea


Lunch 1 small avocado 75g pitted


3 pm 2 skim cappuccinos


Dinner Pumpkin, Leek and Spinach Salad


75 g lean grilled minute steak


Total Calories


Pumpkin, Leek and Spinach Salad with Pine Nuts

Serves 5 (166 calories per serve)

5 cups butternut pumpkin, deseeded, peeled, cut into wedges (150 calories)
1 leek, white part only, sliced (38 calories)
2 teaspoons olive oil (60 calories)
2 teaspoons honey (42 calories)
4 unpeeled garlic cloves  (16 calories)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey, extra  (63 calories)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (240 calories)
2 teaspoon wholegrain mustard (10 calories)
1 x 150g packet baby spinach leaves (34 calories)
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts  (174 calories)

PREHEAT oven to 200 C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
PLACE the pumpkin, leek and garlic cloves in a large bowl. Drizzle with oil and honey. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Gently toss until the pumpkin and leek are well coated. Place in a single layer on the lined tray.
BAKE, turning once during cooking, for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with the sesame seeds. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes or until the seeds are lightly toasted. Remove from oven and set aside for 30 minutes to cool.
COMBINE lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, mustard, peeled oven roasted garlic and extra honey in a screw-top jar and shake until well combined. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
PLACE the pumpkin, spinach and pine nuts in a large bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and gently toss until just combined. Serve immediately.

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4 Responses to The 5-2 Challenge. Veering off Course. A Little. Pumpkin, Leek and Spinach Salad with Pine Nuts.

  1. Vinny Grette says:

    I’d say, still pretty good! Just curious, though… can you get skim milk cappuccinos? I drink them at home and they taste good to me. Never tried ordering out.

    • We can in Australia. And I do recall ordering them in New Zealand. Come to think of it I m pretty sure I’ve not seen them in any Asian cities I’ve travelled to recently. But that could be the language barrier. Sadly I haven’t travelled to Euripe or the US in a while. So can’t comment there.

  2. Jo says:

    OMG. Today is my first fast day, and this is my dinner. I love it, looking forward to more yummy fast days. Also had overnight oats and raspberries for lunch, wasn’t hungry all day. Glad I found you!

  3. Good to hear you enjoyed your dinner. The fasting does get easier the longer you persevere with it. It took me ages to work out how to get enough food on my plate to satisfy my hunger pangs. The oats are good. They fill you up! Good luck with the 5-2 diet. After 12 weeks I feel fantastic.

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