French 5:2 Diet Fast Day Recipe and Monday Meal Plan:
Provençal Chicken and Fennel Braise
Many people will have read “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle, it was the book that launched a thousand moves by Brits to France during the late 80’s and 90’s; the book is packed with idyllic “long French lunches”, pâté terrine, idle artisans, the “Mistral”, unwelcome London acquaintances and local idiosyncratic customs – along with a generous helping of boules, pastis and a smattering of lavender. It’s dry humour was subtle and yet it conveyed a lifestyle that thousands of work beleaguered Brits aspired to, avec vin bien sur. Many a time I have lingered over a “long French lunch, and silently thanked Monsieur Mayle for bringing this sybaritic lifestyle to my attention, whilst dallying with a moule ou crevette! There is a lot to be said for a nation where even the supermarkets shut for lunch, and, it has my fullest seal of approval, although I was astounded to be turned away from Poitiers airport once, as it was closed for lunch – I was advised to enjoy a “plat du jour” myself at the café, until it opened for check-in!
Whatever the image that a long French lunch conjures up, one thing is clear, there are some ingredients that just have “French” written all over them, and for me, fennel when matched with wine and tomatoes, is one of them. There is something very Provençal about the humble fennel bulb, maybe it’s the slight aniseed flavour that reminds me of a glass of cloudy pastis, I’m not sure, but I love it all the same. This latest recipe creation of mine is a bit of an “Arc de Triomphe”, plus it has all the elements of a fully laden, calorific meal, BUT is only a mere 255 calories per serving. I am, in case you’ve noticed, very pleased with it, plus, this is a recipe that can be served on NON fast days too, with a drop of wine and an hectare of crusty bread.
I enjoyed this today as part of my fast day menu, (the full week’s menu for the Lavender and Lovage household will follow on) and even Malcolm loved it, although I was kind and served his with some bread and a wee glass of wine! It’s an easy recipe to make, and it is truly redolent of hot summer days, with the heavy scent of lavender and thyme, the drowsy hum of bees, the creaking of an old deck chair, the chink of ice on glass and the idea of a postprandial nap looming on the horizon. The fennel bulb adds sophistication to the dish, whilst the solo rasher of bacon and the wee dram of wine adds a richness to the overall flavour. The original recipe idea came from an old weight watchers book, but I changed it enough to be called my own, and I am jolly pleased with the result.
The three core ingredients, apart from the obvious protein elements of chicken and bacon, are the “Holy trinity of Provençal cooking”, Shallots, Tomatoes and Fennel, and I love the way they all blend so effortlessly together, just like a South West France summer! If you are tee-total, omit the wine and add more stock. Chicken thighs would be amazing in this dish too, but, you will need to adjust the calorie count, as thighs have a higher fat content than chicken breasts, which makes them so tasty in my opinion. However, when I came to cook this dish today I only had chicken breast fillets, which were still amazingly tasty as they soak up all the fabulous flavours as they braise.
On to my weekly meal plan now, which as usual I am linking to At Home with Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday linky. I hope you all have a great week, apparently the weather is set to improve and it will be a few degrees warmer, thank goodness! See you later, and I hope my latest meal plan has some recipes to inspire you. Karen
NB: The recipe for the Provençal Chicken and Fennel Braise is at the bottom of the post!
Monday Meal Plan:
Monday 8th April (Fast Day – 500 calories)
Breakfast: Fat-Free yoghurt = 45 cals
Lunch: Provençal Chicken and Fennel Braise = 255 cals
Tea: Curried Carrot Soup = 85 cals
Supper: Milky coffee and small banana = 50 cals + 55 cals = 105 cals
TOTAL: 490 CALORIES
Wednesday 10th (Fast Day – 500 calories)
Breakfast: small boiled egg = 50 cals
Lunch: Roasted Moroccan Vegetable & Feta Cheese Salad = 200 calories
Tea: Low-Calorie Minted Pea & Vegetable Frittata = 200 cals
TOTAL: 450 CALORIES
And, I am also entering this into Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays too, as it was cooked from scratch, and with love!