Tag Archives: 52 diet

Breakfast in Manchester – A Five Day Tour

“It seems you can get an early breakfast in Manchester, great start to the day”

The Cooktwit only earns his keep in Manchester. It’s an hours jaunt to the ‘metrop’. Breakfast is normally an early morning affair comprising semi skimmed milk and some wheat grains. For variety the grains may be flaked, branned, crusted or boiled.

The Flame took off for a week leaving the hapless cooktwit marooned. However, he doesn’t quake, he dusts himself down, gets out his credit card and hits town. An experiment ensued, what can Manchester offer for a mid-week pre office feed?

First up Pot Kettle Black, bit of a cheat this, I go here quite a bit for a ‘52diet’ porridge. Lovely little independent coffee stop in the Barton Arcade.  I’ve tried a few porridges in town. I reckon at £2.50 its good value for money, so I reckon this is the best. A good portion, still with a bit of bite and comes with a cup of honey and dried fruit. Could do with being hotter but you can break walls down with this. Good start.


Tuesday I nipped down to Wholesome and Raw, one of the six new outlets awarded a stab at setting up full time at The Kitchens in Spinningfields. As the name suggests they specialise in organic, good for you grub. I had what turned out to be a cross between a salad and a toastie. Toasted sourdough bread with super scrambled eggs on one and sliced avocado on the other. Flanked by tomatoes and shrubbery dripped in balsamic and oils. An unusual breakfast but nonetheless another super start. Copped me £6.90 though.


Wednesday over to surprise entry Per Tutti. An Italian restaurant by trade, but here it is offering a super breakfast menu from 8am. I dined alone in smart surroundings with great coffee. I plumbed for a smoked haddock, kedgeree scotch egg. Set on rocket it was a fair size and was very tasty. Came in at £8.50 with the brew. A surprisingly good start.


Thursday its over to Bills. First chain of the week, but one I’ve always thought seems a bit better than many. Been to a few around the country. They all seem well thought out with an eclectic interior and a good menu. I had the eggs benedict. I love eggs benedict. I’ve had better than this to be fair; I prefer a thicker hand cut ham, rather than the thin sliced stuff. But I’m quibbling, there’s quite a few in here, the service is perky and smart and it’s a great view onto John Dalton Street. All in Dearest of the week £9.30.


Final day, it’s a sunlit Carlucci’s in Spinningfields. Another chain, but again another quality one in my opinion. Had a corking fry up in Leeds once as well as several decent pastas around the country. Had a simple muesli and yoghurt which came with a dish of honey and a dish of berries. Good portion, great crunch and taste. Lasted me well into the day. Coffee always decent as well, spent many a time in Piccadilly waiting for train with one. All in £7.35.


Have to say I thoroughly enjoyed my little tour of early doors eating in Manchester. Couldn’t fault any of them. If you’re on a budget probably best to stick to a simple independent. All in all I spent £34.65 but each time I was well set up for the day. Ill certainly be giving this a try again as a little treat.


The Fast Diet – Intermittent Fasting – 13 week update

“A week in Sicily eating pasta kills the early gains, but The Cook Twit bounces back”

Ah well seven weeks in to the Fast diet and it’s bad news I’m afraid. You may recall the first six weeks had yielded an impressive six pound loss from the Cooktwit frame. However, The wife has slipped a weeks hiatus in. I’ve had to endure a week in Sicily and have lived on a diet of granola, cream, scrambled eggs, pastries, gassy beer, cheese, ham, shed loads of pasta and tiramisu. Allied to a week slumped on a sunbed the whole excercise has meant that the six pounds of visceral lard that had found a home elsewhere has now clamped itself back on to the Cooktwits shambolic frame. In short I am back where I started.

Porridge and fruit for breakfast
Porridge and fruit for breakfast

Undeterred I have marched back to the front, strapped on the gauntlet of hope, the helmet of shame, the trousers of 36″ waist, the coat of…. Well you get the message, I’ve started again. It goes to show this idea of eating what you want on the other five days is a little bit of a misnomer. You still have to be careful. ‘Normal’ is not a weeks orgy of pasta, beer and sweet treats!
After a further six weeks of fasting two days a week though, I have lost eight pounds so I’m getting well back on track. I even went away on business one early morning and maintained discipline though I’m still to determine whether the porridge at Carluccis is under 300 calories, I’m not sure the caramelised apples, honey and berries are allowed!

Lunch! An apple
Lunch! An apple

I’ve even fasted on a day when I had a gig at night. My usual couple of pints and a burger was effortlessly swapped for a black coffee and a Mexican salad. I reckon I am starting to find it much easier to do now.
I have fasted a couple of times now on a Thursday when I do circuit training after work. I have got through it without any problems at all, in fact I reckon it helps to have fasted and drank plenty of water through the day. Even my trainer reckons the fast diet is good and heartily recommends it on a training day.

Hearty salad with mackerel
Hearty salad with mackerel

So all in all it’s still working out well. The only thing I am missing is my cooking. Missing two days a week means the opportunity to experiment and create something new and tasty starts to lose its appeal. My diet on a fast day has tended to become a bit similar. I have porridge with a pear for breakfast, an apple for lunch and a big, leafy salad with maybe a piece of chicken or fish. Some fruit and a dash of creme fraiche being the sweet treat.

Fruit and creme fraiche (not my pic)
Fruit and creme fraiche (not my pic)

In summary I still recommend. Perhaps I’ll measure my waist soon! I’ll keep you posted.


The Fast Diet – Intermittent Fasting to Lose Weight

As any followers will know food for The Cooktwit is a way of life. Depending on which paper you read or which government you listen to there is always news of a new find in the food world that helps or hinders the standard human to achieve weight equilibrium.
After years of combining the balanced diet with some fairly hefty exercise, a sedentary workload has left the Cooktwit drifting upwards in the poundage stakes. After months of steady drift steps were taken.

Anecdotes from close family and friends were spouting the virtues of the fast diet or 5:2 diet. In conjunction with the TV teachings of Dr Michael Mosely the evidence was compelling enough for the Cooktwit to give this scheme a crack. I armed myself with the books ‘Fast Diet’ and ‘Fast Cook’, (a modest £13 for the pair). Doc Mosely heads up the male half of the story whilst Mimi Spencer, a journalist, provides the feline take. Mimi seems to be the one who conjures up some of the recipe ideas, whilst the Doc clips in with the technical bits. The books are a good in investment and set the scene well.

The fast cook book and the Fast Diet book
The fast cook book and the Fast Diet book

The premise of this diet is that you fast for two days a week (or more accurately consume a max of 600 cals), eating normally for the remaining five days. A more accurate tag is ‘intermittent fasting’. Losing a modest one pound a week in weight is predicted using this practice.
Whilst at first you first may think that it is a obvious you would lose weight if you simply starve yourself for two days a week, the added bonus quoted, is that this idea of fasting provides a health benefit. The benefit latches on to the adage that as former cavemen we are not built to eat as regularly and as substantially as we do and that by fasting we give our system and in particular the pancreas a much needed rest.

Whilst by no means ‘morbidly obese’, the Cooktwit nonetheless started this binge with a bmi of 27.2 which is in the ‘overweight’ section of the dreaded chart. Another pointer often quoted by the weight Gestapo is that the male species should start to look over their shoulder at the grim reaper if the waist girth creeps north of 38″. The cook twits’ was gingerly noted at 41″. The fast diet seemed like a scheme worth considering. Whilst starving was not something I would naturally embrace I was intrigued to see if the associated ‘health benefits’ would manifest themselves. I’ve always fancied a healthy pancreas!

The BMI chart
The BMI chart

I have started this system choosing two work days as the dreaded fasting days. Monday and Wednesday seemed to be the days most favoured for the torture. For the first fasting day rather than my usual cereal with semi skimmed milk, I took a small sachet of ‘oats so simple’ porridge and a pear. Working in an office we have a small kitchenette equipped with all the mod cons associated with warming up some porridge and cutting a pear up! I ate that at 8.30am and from then on I was on my own. Water, black coffee, fruit tea was then consumed at regular intervals to stave off the hunger pains when they came. To be fair the ‘hunger pains’ are not that bad. The discomfort seems to heighten to a certain point but then stops. The most displeasure I felt was the lack of taste in the mouth and an above average thirst, but nothing that a hardy will can’t overcome.

Salad & sardines 220 cals,  Asparagus, haddock & egg,  Chilli on cauliflower. Rice, Veggie stew with cod
Salad & sardines 220 cals, Asparagus, haddock & egg, Chilli on cauliflower. Rice, Veggie stew with cod

As the weeks moved on the desire and ease at which the fast day approaches comes as quite a surprise. Whilst I can’t honestly say I look forward to a fast day, it does nonetheless come around with less dread. As a passionate amateur cook I have found the hunt for tasty, low calorie meals a source of interest and have managed in the first few weeks to create some fairly decent meals. The trick really is to use plenty of herbs and spices to give meals a kick. Dressings and chilli based flavourings being a fast dieters friend.
Ive created a few dishes over the weeks. Cauliflower Rice has been a staple carb replacer (see link). I’ve used it as an accompaniment with a light chilli and various veggie stews. Another good option is smoked haddock. Low calories, but high on flavour. Eggs score well, they’re packed with protein, low calorie and filling.

As I write I’m six weeks in and indeed it does appear to do what it says on the tin. Six weeks equals a weight loss of six pounds. I’m happy with that! Reading the book there are anecdotes suggesting that the fast day is something you start to look forward to. I can’t say I’ve got to that yet! I will admit to some mild euphoria at the end of the second day, when you realise you can crack on and eat what you want into the weekend though!

I think part of the reason it works is that you don’t actually eat what you want when you get the chance. I think moderation still plays its part as you don’t want to ruin the sacrifice you have made. Nonetheless it does the job. I’m off on holiday next week. I’m undecided what I will do, will I keep it going while I’m away? I’ll let you know in a few weeks. But in the meantime if anyone out there needs to shed a few pounds or indeed a few stones I would recommend this method. I will reblog in a few more weeks to see if I can validate the health benefits. So far so good.