Tag Archives: dinner

A New Recipe to Keep Me On Track!

I haven’t posted about my weight loss journey much lately.  My heart has been half in it.  I just felt like it was never going to end because there is just so much I need to do!  I let the mind game win.  But I didn’t throw the towel in completely.

This past week, I was 100% back on track.  I wrote down every BLT (bite, lick, and taste).  I was moving more.  I really focused on doing what I know I can do.  Last night, it paid off.  The scale rewarded me with a 4.2 loss. It felt good to have such a great loss.  Why do I depend so much on that scale dictating what I feel?  Why does it matter?

diet journal

I suppose the easy answer is that it is instant gratification.  The number pops up in a matter of seconds and then I know, for a fact, that something worked.  I know that even though I don’t feel like it, I am lighter than I was 7 days ago.  I don’t deprive myself, but I cannot eat whatever I want, whenever I want. I never have been able to.  Accepting that as life rather than a sentence that forever forces rice cakes and celery sticks on me is probably the biggest thing.

The scale is a measurable way for me to see that I’m getting healthier.  I suppose I could have my cholesterol checked every other month, or have my blood pressure taken every other day, but I really am all set with going to the doctor’s office so frequently.  I could take my measurements but to be honest, those numbers depress me.  Lots of people like to see the measurements as a great non-scale way to track the changes, but at this point, I just am not feeling those really high numbers that are known as my measurements.  Maybe someday.  So YAY for a great loss at the WW Scale!

Now…we tried a pretty good recipe recently and I thought I would share it with you all.  It was very low-calorie and very filling.  It was a success with half the family but part of that may have just been the topping choice.

Cheesy Polenta & Mushroom Pizza
(from the March 2012 Woman’s Day magazine)

Active: 25 minutes, Total: 30 minutes, Serves 4

1/2 instant polenta (I use Indian Head Old Fashioned Stone Ground Yellow Corn Meal to make my polenta)

1/4 grated Parmesan (1 oz) (Stop and Shop sells the good grated Parmesan in the cheese section or you can grate your own – I just try to avoid the kind that comes in the green tube because it does make a difference in taste)

2 oz Gruyère or Swiss cheese, shredded (1/2 cup) (I opted for the Gruyère because I love Gruyère!)

Kosher salt and pepper

3 TBSP Olive oil

8 oz small button mushrooms, quartered

8 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1 TBSP small fresh thyme sprigs

Mixed green salad, for serving

1 – Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cook the polenta according to package directions.  Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan, 1/4 cup Gruyère, and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper.  Scrape the polenta onto the parchment paper and spread out to form a 3/4 inch thick oval.

2 – Heat Broiler.  Heat 2 TBSP of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add half the mushrooms and cook, tossing often, until golden brown and just tender, 4 to 5 minutes; transfer to a plate.  Cook the remaining mushrooms with remaining TBSP of oil.

3 – Return the first batch of mushrooms to the skillet and toss with the shallot, thyme, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp pepper (I eyeballed the salt and pepper.)

4 – Scatter the mushroom mixture over the polenta and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 Gruyère. Broil until the cheese begins to brown, about 3 minutes.  Serve with a salad, if desired.

Switch it up: Use the polenta as a base for other tasting toppings. Try roasted tomatoes, or replace half the mushrooms with cooked sausage and spinach.

cheesy-polenta-mushroom-pizza-180

As I said, half the family liked it, the other half was not sure what to think.  If you like polenta, try it.  It’s filling and it’s low-calorie.

Here’s the NI per serving:

288 calories, 17g Fat (5g saturated fat), 20 mg cholesterol, 492 mg sodium, 10g Protein, 26g carbs, 2g fiber.

In the land of WW, it works out to 7 pts.  It’s a little higher than you would think but that is in part because you use two kinds of cheese.  You can probably try to substitute low-fat Swiss in place of the pointy Gruyère or use less Parmesan in the polenta which would also bring down the point value.  Either way, it’s tasty!

Do you have another polenta recipe you’d like to share?  Please do, because I love the stuff!

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Filed under Food, Healthy Me - Yay!, New Recipes, Weight Loss

Delicious New Recipe Added to the Repertoire

The last day of August wanted let us know it was still August.  It was a little humid, warm, sunny, a very beautiful summer day.  The Daughter and I did some errands and then went for a nice walk around the neighborhood with the Husband.  It was a nice Friday.

We saw the blue moon over the ocean and it was gorgeous.  I wish that I had a camera that could have done the sight justice.  The blue-gray waves with foamy white caps crashing on the sand saw the pink moon rise brilliantly while the sun set in a fiery glow in the opposite direction.  As the moon rose, it slowly went from a bright pink to a blush to a pale pink tint before taking on its normal glow.  There is something truly beautiful about the moon on the water.  For me, there are few things more beautiful than moonlight on the ocean.

Full Moon over the ocean – Susanne van Hulst

Before all of that though, I tried a new recipe.

It was quite simple but really delicious.   It was pretty easy to modify for less or more people if you need.

Pasta with Spinach and Meatballs

3/4 lb pasta like fusilli or gemelli – I bet though that any past would work if you were in a real pinch.

20 small meatballs (recipe to follow)

12 oz mushrooms, quartered

1 tsp chopped thyme

butter

grated pecorino (again – Parmesan works too if you like)

5 oz baby spinach

salt & pepper, for taste
How to make the meatballs according to this Real Simple article:

3 slices white sandwich bread, torn into large pieces

1/2 medium onion, cut into wedges

1 c fresh flat-leaf parsley

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1/4 c whole milk ( you could use lower fat milk too)

1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

2 lbs ground beef or turkey

2 large eggs

salt and pepper

Combine bread, onion, parsley, and garlic in a food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Transfer to a medium bowl, add the milk and Worcestershire, let stand for 5 minutes.

Add the beef , eggs, and 1TBSP salt and pepper and gently combine (get your hands into it – it’s the only way to really combine everything.)  Form into 40 meatballs (2 TBSP each)

To cook immediately –  place the meatballs on  foil lined broiler-proof baking sheet and broil, one sheet at a time turning once, until cooked through, 8 – 10 minutes.

To freeze and cook later: Freeze the uncooked meatballs on wax paper-lined baking sheets until firm, transfer to a freezer bag, and freeze up to 3 months.  To cook, broil the frozen meatballs as above adding 2 – 4 minutes to the cooking time.

These meatballs sound similar to my Grandma’s recipe so I’m sure they are delicious.  However, tonight I cut corners and used the frozen turkey meatballs.  They worked out wonderfully and cut the prep and cooking time down.

On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed…

Back to the pasta dish now…

Cook 20 meatballs (or heat up some frozen ones as I did).

Cook 3/4 lb of pasta of your choice (for a healthier alternative, there are some great whole wheat pastas that would be much better on the calorie counter), reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water.

Cook 12 oz quartered mushrooms (I used Portobello mushrooms because I like them) and 1 tsp chopped thyme in butter in a large skillet until tender, 8-10 minutes.

Toss the mushrooms with the pasta, meatballs, 5 oz of baby spinach, 1/2 c grated pecorino, and the reserved cooking water.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

It took no more than 30 minutes to cook and serves four people.  It was filling, got in a veg serving, and just really was a nice dish.  I couldn’t get the daughter to try it, though she did love the turkey meatballs which was a first for her.  The Husband declined this tasty dish also and opted for red sauce instead which I kind of expected.

So, the verdict…

I would definitely make this one again.  It was just so good!  I can only imagine how much better it is with the homemade meatballs.  Someday, when I have more time, I will do the homemade meatballs.  I bet it will taste even better!

Plugging this dish into MyFitnessPal gave me the following nutritional info per serving:

Calories: 642 – Kind of high so you can tweak it.  Thinking about it though, this recipe is supposed to be served between 4 people, that means 5 meatballs per person. That’s a lot of meatballs…

Carbs: 70 g – pasta.  Need I say more?

Fat: 5 g – low-fat though.  That’s good!

Protein: 19 g

Fiber 6 g

Sugar: 3 g

Making some minor adjustments to the recipe as written could really change this recipe.  Use whole wheat pasta, cut down on the number of meatballs, maybe use less cheese (not sure that one is too feasible since cheese makes everything better.)?

The Swedish Chef would know how to make this a little more calorie friendly. I just know it!

Plugging it into my Weight Watchers calculator showed that it was 10 PP.  I had the Points so it was ok.  Though this recipe did put me well over my calories for the day.  I wonder how that works?  It’s odd.  Tomorrow will be a light food day.  Going to stay under calories and under Points.  I find when I have a day like today and then go light, I keep my body guessing. At least in the past, when I’ve done that, it works.  So tomorrow I’ll be giving it a go!

 

 

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Filed under Food, Healthy Me - Yay!, Italian, New Recipes

30 Minutes to a Delicious Italian Dish

I like free stuff.  Most people do because if you can get it for free, it’s like a little prize.  I follow a lot of the coupon blogs and on very special days, these coupon blogs offer free magazine subscriptions.  I love those days because the magazines are usually great magazines.  Last year, I signed up for La Cucina Italiana, knowing that I love Italian food.  It might be my most favorite type of food on the planet.  I’m not just talking pasta and sauce (or gravy as some people are known to call it), but the flavors: the garlic, the tomato, the eggplant, the cheese, the meats, the olive oil.  So very delicious!

My most favorite foods on the planet.

This magazine features these flavors in so many wonderful ways and presents some amazing plates.  A recent issue featured about a dozen recipes on polenta alone. It’s no wonder I love looking over the pages of what a certain celebrity chef/travel show personality calls “food porn.”  Also, being someone who is always on the lookout for healthy ways to change my relationship with food, this magazine presents a whole new world of whole food cooking and fresh ingredients which is another great plus for me.

This month, the feature article was on fresh pasta but before the feature article, they always have a few recipes that they call “Cooking by the Clock.”  Basically, quick and easy meals to make on those nights when you don’t have time to cook a five-course meal.  I don’t know about you, but for me, five-course meals are presented on a nightly basis.   Ok, so that’s in my next life when I have a personal chef and the metabolism of a hummingbird.

I’m sure like a lot of you, dinner is decided late in the afternoon based on what is in the house and how long it will take to cook. That is why this new recipe was tried today, when there was time to kill.  We know now how long it takes, even though the magazine told us it would only take 30 minutes.

The recipe was called passato di ceci con gamberi in its original Italian.  For those who are not fluent (sign up for a class today and learn something – can’t hurt to learn a new language), that translates to creamy chickpea soup with shrimp and tomatoes.

The ingredients were all items that I liked:

12 large shrimp
2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas
1/4 cup plus 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil plus a little more for drizzling
3 leafy thyme sprigs
1 garlic clove, gently smashed and peeled
fine sea salt
1/2 TBSP unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
freshly ground black pepper

My Mother was home tonight and she was really the one who wanted to give the recipe a go so she took the job as master chef.  As she prepared the recipe, the smells from the kitchen made my mouth water.  Reading the steps below, you can understand why it would smell so wonderful.

First, Reserving shells, peel and devein shrimp.  Reserving liquid from cans, drain chickpeas.  Set aside 1 1/2 cup chickpea liquid discard remaining liquid.

Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans

In a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup oil, thyme, and garlic.  Heat over medium heat until fragrant about 3 minutes, then remove and discard garlic and thyme.,  Add Chickpeas and 1/2 tsp salt, cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add chickpea liquid and bring just to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook until chickpeas are very tender, about 10 minutes

Those smells just waltzed from the kitchen to the living room and filled our small house with an amazing tease of what we were in store for.  She continued to cook.
In a small skillet, melt butter over medium high heat.  When foam subsides, add shrimp shells and cook stirring occasionally until shells just begin to brown, about 3 minutes.  Add wine and pinch of salt, simmer until reduced by about half, about 5 minutes.  Reserving shrimp stock, strain and discard shells.

In a blender, combine chickpeas and their liquid and shrimp stock; puree until smooth, in batches, if necessary.  Return soup to saucepan and gently reheat.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

After the blender started whirring, I knew that it was almost time to taste what had been smelling so wonderful.  The anticipation was building.  She cooked on.

This is not my blender, but how cool is this?

In a large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add shrimp and cook, turning once halfway through, until opaque and just cooked through, about 4 minutes total.  Add tomatoes, 1/2 tsp salt and generous pinch of pepper cook, stirring occasionally, 30 seconds more.  Remove from heat.

Divide soup among 4 serving bowls.  Top with shrimp and tomatoes.  Drizzle with oil.

Now, in the magazine there was a picture of this dish.  It was colorful.  The soup was a golden yellow, the tomatoes a perfect red and shrimp a lovely pink.  The dish my Mother presented was close in color.  The only difference was the soup, it was a little darker – maybe because of the beans we used?

It was also a little thicker than we thought it would be.  For some reason, the word creamy means smooth and liquid to me.  This was closer to a humus/grits type consistency.  It wasn’t bad, just not what I expected.

The taste though, was smooth.  The creaminess of the soup was nice and not heavy.  The shrimp and the tomatoes brought out the creaminess that much more.  It was filling and perfect for this cool, drizzly August night.  A definite keeper and I’m sure it will come back out in the winter when we need something to warm us all up from the cold.

I wish I had thought to take a photo of it before eating it, but then I still have mixed feelings of taking too many photos of food.  Maybe next time I try a new recipe, I’ll remember to take a photo of it so I can post it.

I plugged the recipe into MyFitnessPal.com and came up withe following nutritional info per serving:

Calories: 401

Carbs: 38g

Fat: 23g

Protein: 11g

Fiber: 13g

Sugar: 1g

Not too shabby.

Plugged into my WW calculator and the value was 10 points.  I’m guessing because it was a little high in the carbs.  10 points though for a filling meal is not a bad thing when you have as many points as I do in a day.  This dish was worth every point!  On the plus side, all the main ingredients count as a Power Food so that’s a good thing too.

Try this recipe.  Your taste buds will thank you.  And if you really like Italian food, not what some chain restaurants tell you is Italian food, get a subscription to La Cucina Italiana.

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Filed under Food, New Recipes, Seafood

New Recipe Alert! (And It Tasted Good Too!)

The Husband works for a seafood wholesaler and from time to time, they get new fish that they sample.  The other day, he sent me a text saying he was bringing home barramundi.  I had only heard of this fish on TV on cooking shows.  I knew it was a Pacific fish and common near Australia (at least that’s what I thought I had heard).

Not knowing anything other than it was also called the Asian Sea Bass, I didn’t really know the best way to cook it.  Luckily, the internet is full of helpful chefs who graciously share their recipes.  If not, I would have probably just pan seared it with some butter and lemon, always a tried and true way to cook any fish really.

We found this amazing recipe on TheBetterFish.com.  After coming to an agreement that it sounded good based on the ingredients in it, I set to work making it.

I started with the Mango Salsa and here are the ingredients I used:

  • 1 mango, peeled and finely diced – I used a pre-cut and sliced mango to save time.  To be honest, I still stink at peeling a mango.
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro or mint – I went with cilantro.
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste

Using the pre-cut mango made the salsa easy  to make.  After I made it, I set it aside and moved on to the next step as directed.

For fish:

  • 4 barramundi fillets with skin, 6-8 oz each – The Husband cut ours a little smaller like 4 oz portions but that was ok with me since it was for me and my Mom and The Husband doesn’t eat fish.
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp olive or canola oil, plus more for brushing the grill – Olive Oil is always my oil of choice.
  • 1/4 cup duck sauce (or sweet and sour sauce) – We used duck sauce as directed.
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce (or Japanese soy sauce) – Oddly, we didn’t have any teriyaki sauce in the house so I used soy sauce.  Added a nice saltiness to the sweet.
  • 1 inch ginger root, peeled and finely grated – Next time, I’m going to use pre-grated ginger root.  Grating it was a PITA! Yes it probably tasted better but I’m lazy and it was time-consuming and annoying.  There I said it!
  • 1 tsp sesame seed oil

For avocados:

  • 2 avocados, halved lengthwise and pitted (don’t peel)
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp olive or canola oil
  • Salt and pepper

Then it was on to the grilling!

  1. Pre-heat the grill to high.
  2. Dry fillets well on paper towels, season lightly with salt and pepper and rub with 2 tsp oil (go easy on the salt since teriyaki sauce is salty).
  3. In a small bowl combine, duck sauce, teriyaki sauce, ginger, and sesame seed oil. Mix well.
  4. Pick up a wad of paper towel with tongs, dip it in oil, and brush the preheated grill. Immediately place fillets on the grill, skin side down.  Cover the grill and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Dislodge fillets from the grill using a fork, and then flip.  Brush the grilled side with teriyaki sauce.  Place avocados on the grill cut side down.
  6. After 2 minutes, turn avocados a quarter turn to create diagonal grill marks. Watch them carefully, as soon as they brown remove them off the grill and set aside. Flip fillets and brush with more teriyaki sauce. Cook 2 more minutes. At this point the avocados should be browned.
  7. Brush fillets with more teriyaki sauce and flip again. After 1 more minute, test fillets for doneness by inserting a knife in the thickest part of the fillet.
  8. In a small bowl, mix 2 tsp lime juice and 2 tsp oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Brush this mixture onto the cut sides of avocado. Stuff each avocado half with mango salsa and serve with fillets.

Can I just tell you – it was delicious?!  The lightness of the fish and the sweet and spicy salsa were a perfect combination of flavors.  Grilling an avocado was a first for me also and now it won’t be the last time I grill that wonderful fruit!  I can understand why this fish is a favorite of many.  It was light, not overly fishy, and is relatively easy to cook.

 

Picture from the website where I found the recipe…mine looked good but not that good.

I plugged the recipe into MyFitnessPal to get the individual serving info:

Calories: 369 Fat:12 Protein: 28 Fiber: 7 Carbs: 37

I then plugged it into my Weight Watchers calculator and it worked out to 9 Points Plus per serving. I’d call that a pretty awesome meal!

Tonight is weigh in so we’ll see how kind the scale is tonight.  I have been a nervous wreck about my surgery tomorrow but I don’t think I’ve been stress eating.  We shall see!

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Filed under Food, New Recipes, Weight Loss