Saturday, December 27, 2008

DON'T QUIT

I saw the following poem on a WW website and think it has a good message for such a tough time of year.


DON'T QUIT

When you've eaten too much and you can't write it down,
And you feel like the biggest failure in town.
When you want to give up just because you gave in,
And forget all about being healthy and thin
So what you went over your Points a bit -
It's the next move that counts...so don't you quit !

It's a moment of truth, it’s an attitude change.
It's learning the skills to get back in your range.
It's telling yourself you've done great up 'til now
You can take on this challenge and beat it somehow.
It's part of your journey toward reaching your goal.
You're still gonna make it, just stay in control.

To stumble and fall is not a disgrace
If you summon the will to get back in the race.
But, often the strugglers, when losing their grip
Just throw in the towel and continue to slip,
And learn too late when the damage is done,
That the race wasn't over and they still could've won.

Lifestyle change can be awkward and slow,
But facing each challenge will help you to grow.
Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint in the cloud of doubt.
When you're pushing to the brink, just refuse to submit.
If you bite it, you write it...
BUT DON'T YOU QUIT!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

5 A DAY! It's a health guideline.

To sneak in extra veggies I like to:

Use as a substitute. Spaghetti squash is great as a side dish instead of pasta. Or make ribbons of carrots and zucchini and add them to cooking pasta during the last minute. They can really make the portions bigger with not points.

To extend ground meats. I like to use chopped mushrooms or grated carrot, squash or zucchini for 1/2 the meat in a casserole or sauce. I get the texture and bulk I want and decrease the points.

Replacement. As you see in the recipe below for Mac & Cheese, I have substituted pureed winter squash for 1/2 of the cheese. That is a big savings!

Mac & Cheese - With Winter Squash

8 oz whole wheat penne
1 (10-ounce) package frozen pureed winter squash
1.5 cups fat free milk
2 ounces 2% Velveeta (it really works)
1 ounce Monterrey jack cheese, grated (about 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup fat free ricotta cheese or cottage cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 slice whole grain beard made into fresh crumbs in blender
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, divided
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender but firm, about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, place the frozen squash and milk into a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the squash with a spoon until it is defrosted.
  4. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture is almost simmering, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the Cheddar, jack cheese, ricotta cheese, 1 Tablespoon of the Parmesan, salt, mustard and cayenne pepper.
  5. When the cheese is all melted, pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the baking dish.
  6. Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until the top is crisp and nicely browned and the cheese is bubbling.

If you divide into 4 large servings, this is 7 points. If you do 5 (and really that is a good portion) this is 6 points. With a vegetable or salad side, this is a good comfort meal!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ribollita - Take care of yourself with soup!

Taking care of yourself is one of the helpful habits of a Weight Watcher...and it really pays off. I always keep some WW snacks in my glove compartment (1 and 2 point bars and some baked snacks too) and if I am out for the day I like to pack a snack so I don't get caught hungry or at "0" on the hunger scale.

I had knee surgery yesterday so I made some Jello with peaches, some sirloin beef enchiladas in corn tortillas and Ribollita (a hardy Italian vegetables soup) to have on hand for my recovery. I almost always have a pitcher of soup in the frig ready for a quick lunch or a snack.

Ribollita is one of my favorites and for only 2 points for a 1 cup serving it is quite satisfying.


RIBOLLITA

1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 cup carrot(s)
1 cup onion(s)
1/2 cup celery
4 clove(s) garlic minced
6 - 8 cups chicken broth
3 cup(s) Swiss chard, chopped
3 cup(s) kale, chopped (or 6 cups of one of these)
2 1/2 cup(s) uncooked new potatoes, medium dice
2 tbsp canned tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
2 cup(s) canned diced tomatoes
3 cup(s) Goya Navy beans
2 slice(s) whole-wheat bread, made into fresh crumbs


Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add carrots and next ingredients (through garlic); cook 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add chard and next 8 ingredients (through tomatoes); stir to combine. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes.
Place 1/3 cup beans in a bowl; mash with a fork until smooth (optional). Add mashed beans, remaining beans, and bread to soup; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Ladle soup into bowls.

Note: the extra 2 cups of broth can be added to make a thinner soup.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mary's Chili

Although Mary thinks this chili is 1 point per serving, it is still a good deal for 2 points for 1 cup or even 3 ponts for 1 1/2 cups, which makes a hardy serving. The little bit of meat makes the chili really taste meaty.

This recipe is easily doubled or tripled to feed a crowd or for freezing. It is the perfect thing to eat for lunch on a day when you have to "save" points for a special meal! Or eat this for dinner on a day when you have used too many points.

CHILI

1 tsp canola oil
5 oz ground beef or turkey - 93% lean or more
1 small onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 bell pepper (your favorite color), chopped
28 oz diced tomatoes
15 oz can of kidney, black or chili beans
15 oz can of Fat Free beef broth
1 package Chili Seasoning (McCormick or Aldi brand)
2 zucchini or summer squash, small dice
2 Tablespoons cornmeal
S & P to taste

  1. Heat a 3 or 4 quart sauce pan. Add oil to hot pan. Add meat and cook until no longer red.
  2. Add onions, celery and pepper. Cook to soften.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients, except the squash. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
  4. Cook 20 minutes then add the squash and corn meal. Cook 20 - 30 minutes more.
  5. Season to taste with Salt and Pepper.

NOTE: When I make this recipe, I add 1 dice jalapeno pepper, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp of nutmeg. These additions really add big flavor. If you have special ingredients that don't add points (like cocoa powder) go ahead and add them!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Try Polenta

When I was in cooking school I asked my chef where the polenta was (I couldn't find anything labeled polenta in the storage room). She pointed to large bin of cornmeal. I must have had a funny look on my face because she told me (in a very condescending tone) that polenta is nothing but cornmeal.
I had eaten and made polenta in the past but I had purchased it in a box marked polenta from Italy. I had no idea I was actually buying imported cornmeal. Of course it is ridiculous to buy imported polenta becasue we produce more corn than anyone. I was paying a premium for that Italian variety!

Polenta is a great substitute for pasta (I make a mean polenta layered lasagna) or mashed potatoes. It is also good for breakfast with poached or soft boiled eggs.

POLENTA

4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cornmeal
1 Tblspn olive oil

  1. Bring water and salt to a boil in 3 or 4 quart pot.
  2. Over medium - low heat add the cornmeal to the water. Pour the cornmeal in in a stream while stirring the water with a whisk.
  3. Continue stirring until the cornmeal thickens. It is done when the consistancy is like soft mashed potatoes.
  4. Stir in the olive oil.
  5. At this point the polenta can be served or you can place it in a 9 x9 pan that has been coated with cooking spray and allowed to "harden" covered in the refrigerator. When it is set you can slice and heat servings in a saute pan or bake in the oven to heat through.

To add more flavor (but this is not core) you can add 1/4 cup of Romano or Parmesan cheese to the warm polenta).

Cornmeal (polenta) Biscotti

This is a rustic Italian cookie. It has a good crumb and is not as hard as other biscotti.

3/4 c sugar
1/4 c each butter (melted) and canola oil
2 T fennel or anise seed
1 T rum (or water)
1 t each vanilla and almond extract
3/4 c egg beaters
1 3/4 c flour
1 c yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 c coarsely chopped almonds (toasted)

  1. In a bowl mix the sugar, oil, butter, fennel, rum, extracts and egg beaters. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl mix the flour, cornmeal and powder.
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix thoroughly (until it all comes together). Mix in the almonds.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
  5. Heat oven to 375.
  6. Spray a 15 x 12 cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  7. Divide dough in half. Roll / form each half into a log 14 inches long. Place the logs on the baking sheet and press the logs down so they are flat (1/2 inch thick).
  8. Bake the logs for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow them to become cool enough to touch (10 minutes). Reduce oven temp to 350.
  9. With a serrated knife, slice the loaves into 1/2 inch slices (about 30 from each loaf).
  10. Lay the cookies down on the baking sheet (you will need two sheets here).
  11. Bake a total of 18 minutes, turning the cookies over half way through.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Roasted Chicken

Here is a great way to roast a whole chicken. It is not as hard at is may sound and the results will be outstanding! I read about this method in a magazine and I liked the technique. It cooks quickly and it really boost the flavor profile.


I have not done this with a brined chicken, but I am sure that would make this go from outstanding to spectacular!


What is really cool is the chicken stays totally moist and when you remove the skin the flavor is all on the meat instead of the skin that you throw away!



PAN ROASTED WHOLE CHICKEN


1 whole chicken (3 - 4 lbs)

1 garlic clove, minced

the grated rind of one orange (lemon or lime)

1 tsp herbs (thyme, herds de Provence or other favorite)

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

2 tsp canola oil

cooking spray


  1. Prepare chicken by cutting out the back bone, rinse in cold water and press flat (butterfly).
  2. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Separate - but don't remove - skin from meat by sliding your hands between.
  4. Mix the garlic, rind, herbs and salt and pepper. Pour/stuff this mixture between the skin and meat. Make sure to work the seasoning underneath as much of the skin as you can (down to the legs and thighs). Set aside.
  5. Heat a 12 inch (oven proof) skillet. Spray surface with cooking spray and pour in two tsp of oil.
  6. Place whole chicken, skin side down into skillet. Saute on skin side for 8 minutes. (I know this seems a bit strange but it is going to work.)
  7. Don't flip the chicken, just slide the whole pan into the oven. Allow the chicken to cook like this for 17 minutes.
  8. Take the chicken out of the oven and flip it over so the skin side is up.
  9. Place the chicken back in the oven for 1- - 20 minutes (until the internal temperature is 160 or the juices are clear of any blood).
  10. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest 1- - 15 minutes before cutting it up and serving.

I suggest taking the skin off before bringing it to the table to avoid the temptation to eat the skin.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Deviled Eggs (2 Points for both halves)

6 large eggs - hard boiled
1/4 c finely chopped celery
1/4 c grated carrot
1 scallion (green onion) finely chopped
2 Tblsp plain, nonfat yogurt
1 Tblsp low (or nonfat mayo for Core)
1 Tblsp mustard (Dijon preferred)
1 tsp vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 packet Splenda (optional)

  1. Cut each of the eggs in half. Remove the yolks to a bowl and set the whites aside.
  2. Add the celery, carrot, scallion, yogurt, mayo, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper and Splenda to the bowl of yolks.
  3. Mash everything together completely.
  4. Put the yolk mixture into a small (sandwich) ziplock bag.
  5. Cut the corner off the bag and squeeze the filling into the egg white "cups".

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs - no green!

When I was an intern at a fine dining restaurant in Chicago for culinary school I was required to use hard cooked eggs on salads and a garnish for a few dishes. Quail eggs cook really fast but the regular eggs should have been no problem, right?

The guy who worked my station at the lunch shift was supposed to make the hard boiled eggs for his shift and my dinner shift. The first few times I used his eggs, I noticed they were green around the yolk. The chef noticed too and threw a plate of food at me the third time he came across the offensive green. From then on, I cooked my own eggs at the beginning of my shift and threw the prepared eggs out.

Here is how I cook my eggs.

  1. I start by putting a hole in the wide end of the egg with a push pin. This relieves the internal pressure to prevent cracks; it allows a bit of water to seep in so it is easier to peel; and it actually helps the yolk get centered because fat end of the egg is where the air sack is.
  2. Place the egg(s) in a pan of cold water.
  3. Bring the water to a boil.
  4. Boil for exactly 6 minutes.
  5. Remove eggs from heat and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
You now have a perfectly cooked hard boiled egg - no green and a hard but creamy yolk.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Message from: JUST ONE POUND of FAT

Hello, do you know me? If you don't, you should.

I'm a pound of fat, And I'm the HAPPEIST pound of fat that you would ever want to meet, Want to know why?

It's because no one ever wants to lose me. I'm ONLY ONE POUND, just a pound!

Everyone wants to lose three pounds, fivepounds, or fifteen pounds, but never onlyone. So I just stick around and happily keep you fat. Then I add to myself, ever soslowly, so that you never seem to notice it.

That is, until I've grown to ten, twenty, thirty or even more pounds in weight. Yes, it's fun being ONLY ONE POUND OF FAT, left to do as I please.

So when you weigh in keep right on saying, "OH, I only lost one pound." (As if that were such a terrible thing.) For you see, if you do this, you'll encourage others to keep me around because they'll think I'm not worth losing.

And, I LOVE being around you....your arms, your legs, your chin, your hips and every part of you. Happy Days!!! After all, I'm ONLY ONE POUND OF FAT!!!

(I didn't write this. I got it from the Weight Watchers staff information.)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pumpkin Pie in a Glass!

When the weather gets cool we start thinking about different foods. Recently I have been getting a taste for pumpkin pie. To satisfy that craving I have been drinking a pumpkin smoothie. What I like about this is it makes a good breakfast treat or a late night snack. It is also a milk serving and a serving of vegetable.

Here are two ways to make this:

Pumpkin Smoothie I

1 cup of ice
1/2 - 1 cup water
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not the pie mix)
1 Weight Watcher Vanilla Smoothie
1 tsp (or more) pumpkin pie spice

Dump everything into your blender and blend until it is smooth.
1 pt for the whole thing!

Pumpkin Smoothie II

1 cup of ice
1/2 - 1 cup water
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not the pie mix)
1/3 cup of nonfat powder milk
1 tsp (or more) pumpkin pie spice

Dump everything into your blender and blend until it is smooth.
2 pts for the whole thing!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Breakfast Polenta Pie

Sometimes it is hard to come up with fun ideas for breakfast. This polenta pie can be made ahead and kept in your refrigerator and heated in the microwave. Serve it topped with the egg of your choice for a core meal or a 5 point breakfast.

Serves 8

8 oz can mushrooms, drained
2 cup water, hot
20 oz frozen chopped broccoli, two 10 oz packages, thawed (or other frozen vegetable)
2 cup skim milk
2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup uncooked cornmeal, yellow
4 Tbsp grated Romano cheese
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 small tomato(es), plum, thinly sliced
Cooking Spray
  1. Lightly coat bottom and sides of a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan or iron skillet with cooking spray.
  2. Place broccoli in colander and squeeze out excess water; set aside. Heat oven to 400°F.
  3. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, combine hot water, milk, pepper and salt; bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and slowly drizzle in cornmeal, whisking constantly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until polenta is as thick as mashed potatoes, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Stir in broccoli, mushrooms, 3 tablespoons Parmesan and olive oil.
  6. Spread polenta mixture evenly in prepared pan. Top with tomato and remaining Parmesan.
  7. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool at least 30 minutes, or serve at room temperature.

This is great served with a poached or soft boiled egg. This can be kept in the frig and heated in the microwave for breakfast.

The Romano cheese is the only non core ingredient.

For Flex plan this is 3 points per serving.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lime (or lemon) Ade

This was shared at my Monday Weight Watcher meeting. I made it on Tuesday and it was refreshing and 0 points!

LIMEADE

1 cup water
1 cup splenda
1 cup lime juice (or lemon)*
6 cups cold water

Mix the water and splenda in a microwave safe glass. Micorwave on high until the splenda is completely melted. Combine everything and chill.

It took me 7 limes with my citrus juicer to get one cup.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Frozen Margarita

This recipe is from Margi. I was a bit skeptical before I tried it, but if you are craving a maragrita but don't want to drink up all those calories (a 12 oz maragrita is 12 pts) try this version. Because all the sugar is missing and the alcohol content is low so are the points.

FROZEN MARGARITA

1 12 oz can diet Sprite
1 single serving packet of WW Mixins lemonade or 1 t lemonade Crystal Light
1 lime (all the juice of)
2 Tablespoons tequilla
1 Tablespoon triple sec

Fill a blender pitcher 2/3 full with ice. Add all the ingredients above. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

This will make two large servings and only 1 point each. If you do a virgin version (which I am drinking right now as I write this) it is actually no points and quite refreshing!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Grilled French Onion; Soup in a Foil Packet!

1 large Spanish onion per person
1 beef chicken or vegetable boullion cube per person
butter substitute (optional)
1/4 teaspoon of dry sherry or brandy per person
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Peel and core (with your apple corer) a large onion - don't poke the corer all the way through.
  2. Place the onion on a sheet of foil.
  3. Put a bullion cube in the core, top with a 1/2 teaspoon of a butter substitute, sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Pour a teaspoon of dry sherry over all.
  4. Grill for 45 minutes or until completely soft. Open and enjoy!

- it will taste like sweet French Onion Soup! Make one for each person because you won't want to share!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ways to Trick Yourself into Eating Less

Eating less calories than you burn is the way to lose those extra pounds. Sometimes it is hard to be satisfied with less. Here are some suggestions from Weight Watchers!

1. I fill most of yourplate with foods that are low in energy density (think low in calories and hght in volume) and use foods with high energy density as “accessories.”

2. Avoid/minimize trigger foods that encourage youto override your Comfort Zone; they aren’t worth it!

3. Make sure you have adhered to the Good Health Guidelines before giving yourself the okay for ice cream, cookies, etc.

4. Eat more vegetables and smaller portions of meats and starches.

5. Eating foods low in energy density, like those on the WW Core Plan®, [helps you feel more satisfied with smaller amounts].

6. Eat facing a mirror, if possible. (It reinforces that I’m eating; I feel fuller faster.)

7. When you have the urge to eat, and your not really hungry, have a drink of water and enjoy a pack or less of Fruities (a Core Food). The urge will subsides – for only a POINTS® value of 1. Or simply wait 5 minutes before satisfying your urge (it may pass).

8. Remember that the first bite or two of a dessert (any food) are really the best, and if you savor them, they truly are. You don't have to eat more since you've already had the best part.

9. Drink a glass of milk before eating. The protein in the milk is very satisfying and filling and cuts your appetite.

10. Eat slowly… [and] try to chew each bite 10-25 times.

11. Slow down: Put your fork down between bites; use chopsticks (even for salad); drink water consciously between bites. Pace yourself with the slowest eater at the table.

12. Eat a broth-based soup before the meal and hot tea during or after the meal.

13. Use the “Stop, Rest, Assess” technique (p. 58 of Eat Wisely). It works!

14. Don’t get too hungry! Take a cooler bag and keep food with you in case you need something, such as Weight Watchers® Smoothie, yogurt, cut-up vegetables, unsalted whole almonds, microwaveable soup, or a higher-protein Weight Watchers snack bar. This way you won't be a victim to fast food cravings.

15. A friend‘s grandmother told her that a lady always leaves some food on her plate.

16. Plan a whole day’s meals and snacks. Knowing in advance what’s coming next helps you to stay on track, and not be as tempted with unplanned extras.

17. Tell yourself there’s no such thing as “taking a break” from following the plan – special occasions, holidays and times to splurge or loosen-up are worked into the plan.

18. Water, water, water – keeping up with this guideline alone will help you to eat less more often.

19. Set an attractive place at the table to eat, and arrange the meal in the plate or bowl for optimal eye-appeal.

20. Don’t let TV or other distractions divert focus away from meal time.

21. Use smaller plates, bowls, cups, [and silverware].

22. People tend to eat less if they leave their dirty dishes out than if they clean them up. Apparently, soiled dishes serve as a visual cue and reminder that you've eaten. (Of course, you wouldn't want to leave plates with food on them in front of you.)

23. Consider switching to cool dish colors like light blue or mint green. Reds, oranges and yellows may have an appetite-stimulating effect. You may actually eat more from a red or yellow plate than if you were eating from a darker plate. Why do you think fast food signs and wrappers are yellow and red?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Key Lime Pie

Here is a recipe from a WW member, Terri. Terri says to go ahead and change the recipe to any flavor you like by changing the flavor of the yogurt and the gelatin.


1 box (0.3) sugar-free lime gelatin
1/4 c boiling water
2 8 oz containers key lime light yogurt
1 8 oz container fat free whipped topping, thawed
1 9" reduced fat graham cracker pie crust
  1. Dissolve the gelatin in boiling water.
  2. Wisk in the yogurt until smooth.
  3. Fold in the whipped topping.
  4. Pour into crust and chill for 2 hours.
8 servings, 3 points

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jack's Easy Cheese Cake

15 oz container of Fat Free riccota cheese
1, 4 serving size, package of Sugar Free instant pudding (any flavor you like)
1/3 c Skim Milk

Blend all and divide into 4 individual dishes. Allow to set an hour or more.

Each serving is only ONE POINT!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New German Potato Salad

Another Salad? The women at ENH asked me to post my version of German Potato Salad.



I based this on a Weight Watcher recipe. I had to give it a flavor boost, and now it taste a lot like my Grandmother's version. My friends and family really like this and can hardly believe how great it taste with so few points!



2 pounds uncooked yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled & 1/4 inch sliced
4 slices turkey-bacon, chopped
1 tsp canola oil
1 medium onion(s), chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp SPLENDA
1 1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped


  1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan; add enough water to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender, about 15 minutes (tender but not falling apart). Drain potatoes and allow to cool; set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet; set aside.

  3. Add oil to non stick pan and cook over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

  4. Stir cornstarch, Splenda, salt, celery seed, dry mustard and pepper. Add water and vinegar; stir. Add mixture to pan and cook until thick and bubbly, about 1 minute. Stir in potatoes and bacon; toss to mix. Cook, stirring gently, until mixture is heated through, about 1 to 2 minutes more.

  5. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with parsley.

Yields about 8, 3/4 cup per serving. 2.5 pts each.
Notes: Can't find yukon potatoes? Use medium-size reds instead.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Marinading

Marinades are a quick way to add flavor to food. In reality a marinade usually only flavors the outer layer of the meat; even if the meat sits in the marinade for a long time. The only time the flavor really penetrates the meat is when a brine is used. The brine actually creates an electrolyte imbalance and then the cell tissues absorb the salty / sugary brine to equalize the balance in and out of the cells.

Therefore marinading only takes 30 minutes to an hour to be effective and add the maximum flavor.

If you are using ginger (as in the recipe below) you must be careful not to marinate too long...there is an enzyme in ginger that breaks down the meat tissues, making your food mushy.

ORANGE SOY MARINADE

1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c orange juice
1 T grated orange zest
1 t brown sugar (splenda brown sugar works great)
2 t sesame oil
1 t garlic, minced
2 t ginger root, minced

Mix all ingredients. Place in a plastic bag with fish or chicken.
Grill food as usual.

To increase the flavor impact of the marinade, pour it into a pan and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes to reduce. Use to baste the food as it cooks.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Yogurt Slaw

I love good cole slaw. In fact, if I am eating pulled pork or even sometimes on a sandwich or hot dog, I pile it on.

Here is a recipe that uses lighter ingredients but gets a kick from a bit of blue cheese. I have found that kids like this because they rarely realize the cheese there!

1/4 cup sugar - I use splenda
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup yogurt
1 - 2 oz crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 (10-ounce) packages finely shredded (angel hair) cabbage
1 carrot, shredded

Whisk together first 8 ingredients in a large bowl until blended. Add cabbage and carrot to bowl, and toss to coat. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

Feel free to shred your own cabbage, add bell peppers and diced celery.

Yield: Makes 4 - 5 servings

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Thai Summer Salad (dressing)


The nice thing about Asian salads is the lack of oil in the dressing. While traveling in Japan a 2 years ago we had a salad with our breakfast each morning. The salad was light and refreshing and the dressing was simple with no oil in it.

The dressing I have really come to fall back on (without oil in it) is a fresh summer thai dressing. This goes really good on shredded cabbage, bell peppers, any lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. If you add some fresh basil, mint or cilantro to the salad it becomes an expolsion of flavors.


Enjoy all summer long!


THAI SUMMER SALAD DRESSING

2 T sugar (or splenda)
2 T fresh lime juice
2 t lime zest, grated (the zest of one lime)
1 T soy sauce
1 T fish sauce *
1 T water
1 - 2 t chili paste **

Mix all and keep chilled. It only takes 1 Tablespoon for each serving. This makes 6 Tablespoons. You have to eat 3 T to equal 1 point!

* You can find the fish sauce in a wine shaped bottle in the oriental section of the market. It is inexpensive and last a long time. If you can't find it, use a T of soy instead...but it is not as good.

** The chili paste will be in the oriental section as well. The jar will say Sambal Oelek.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Grill Magic

Food sticks to the grill because of the moister in the grill. Often we hear that we should oil or spray or grill so the food does not stick...but the food still sticks. Why is that?

Food sticks to the grill because of the moister in the food being cooked in a dry heat environment. I don't want dry food so what can I do? Instead of spraying the grill, spray the food. The little bit of oil in the spray will create a seal on the food and prevent it from sticking. This will also keep the food moister, sealing the moisture in.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Oven Fried Chicken

I have always loved fried chicken but it usually has the skin on (that just adds up to more points, calories and fat) and of course that means a bucket of oil soaked up in that yummy crust.

This doesn't mean I have to give up this favorite. I just create a skinless fried chicken in the oven. And just like mom's fried chicken this one is good hot with a milk gravy and mashed potatoes or cold on a picnic.

If you are a little sceptical, don't be. One of my clients tells me her family thinks they will never have to eat "real" fried chicken again because this is so good and satisfying (that is a 3 kid endorsement).

OVEN FRIED CHICKEN

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 chicken breast(about 1 pound), skinned
2 chicken drumsticks
2 chicken thighs skinned
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Cooking spray
  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag or other container with a lid. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°.
  3. Combine flour, salt, peppers, garlic powder and cumin in a second large zip-top plastic bag or a bowl with a lid that seals. Remove chicken from first bag, discarding marinade. Add chicken, one piece at a time, to flour mixture, shaking bag to coat chicken.
  4. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour; lightly spray each chicken piece with cooking spray.
  5. Return chicken, one piece at a time, to flour mixture, shaking bag to coat chicken. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour.
  6. Place chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, foil or a silicon sheet. Lightly spray chicken with cooking spray.
  7. Bake at 450° for 35 minutes or until done.

Serve with milk gravy - an easy way to make this is to buy a packet of chicken gravy mix and make it with 1 1/2 cups of milk (instead of 1 c of water) adding one chicken boullion cube and a tsp of cider vinegar at the end to finish.

If you make this and want count points, I just add one extra point to each piece of chicken I eat (if a thigh is 3 points I count one more and make it 4).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cooking in the Bag - paper bag

The French call it En Papillote, meaning in paper. Cooking food in paper is fun, it can be elegant and best of all it is a really healthy alternative! In fact, what happens inside that paper is the food actually steams and the nutrients are trapped inside.

If you don't know how to cook in parchment papper, you can accomplish the same thing in foil or even in a small lunch bag (sprayed lightly on the outside with cooking spray).

Things that cook well in foil or paper are, chicken breasts, fish, sea scallops, and lots of vegetables. I usually cook these things at 400 - 425 degrees. I like to make one packet for each person dining. Timing is anywhere from 15 minutes to 22 minutes (or more), depending on thickness.

You'll want to add flavor to your packet and the options are endless. With Salmon, I like to lay my fillet on spinach or tomato slices, season the fish well and top it off with a teaspoon of pesto and a teaspoon of white wine.

Just imagine all the combinations you can come up with! Feel free to share them with all of us!

For more ideas about cooking en papillote see my January 20, 2007, post.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Muffin Tins

Use muffin tins or other small cooking pans for portion control. Did you realize a cupcake is really half a piece of cake? That's 1/2 the points and a really good way to control portion.

I also like to make mini meatloaves, which make good portions and freeze well. I sometimes bake mini egg fritattas in the tins too. That way everyone gets appropriate portions instead of eating a big fat slice of quiche with crust.

Blender Cupcakes

This is a simple recipe that you can fit into your points if you are looking for some thing sweet but not a whole piece of cake!

1 cup of flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup splenda
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cups hot coffee
1/2 cup of cocoa
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plain NF yogurt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Mix the cocoa and coffee to form a paste. Set aside.
  1. Heat oven to 375°. Line 12 regular-sized muffin cups with paper or foil liners.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, spices and salt in a blender. Cover with the lid and blend on medium speed until blended.
  3. Pour in the cocoa, oil, yorgurt, egg, and vanilla. Cover with the lid and blend on medium-high speed until smooth and well blended, stopping to scrape down the sides once or twice. Pour into lined muffin cups, dividing evenly.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of one cupcake comes out clean, 17-19 minutes.
  5. Transfer to rack to cool for about 10 minutes, and then carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and set them on the rack to cool completely before frosting.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

"We must use time as a tool, not a couch." It's by JFK.

"Living your life without a plan is like watching television with someone else holding the remote control." - Peter Turla

Saturday, April 26, 2008

“Forbidden fruit causes many jams” -- Unknown

Get some Folate into your diet! Eat Peas!

Peas are chock-full of folate, a mighty B vitamin known to lower blood levels of a stroke-promoting compound. Folate fights cholesterole in your system...thus promoting heart health!

Easy Green Pea Soup

Cooking spray
1 sm onion - diced
1 carrot - diced
1 rib celery - diced
16 oz bag of frozen peas
3 cups chicken broth
½ tsp tarragon
S & P to taste

  1. Saute the onion, carrot and celery with the cooking spray in 3 quart pot.
  2. Add all the other ingredients and bing to a boil.
  3. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Puree all in a blender of food processor.

Good hot or cold!
1 cup = 1 point

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Try adding some more activity to your life!

Jack Lalane says, “Dying is easy. Living is an athletic event. Train for it!”

Top 10 Reasons to Start Walking
Walking for 30 to 60 minutes each day is one of the best things you can do for your body, mind, and spirit.

1) Walkers Live Longer
The Honolulu Heart Study of 8000 men found that walking just two miles a day cut the risk of death almost in half.

2) Walking Helps Prevent Weight Gain
If you add just 2000 more steps a day to your regular activities, you may never gain another pound.

3) You Can Walk Off Weight
Exercise such as walking is an important part of any weight loss program.

4) Walking Reduces Risk of Cancer
Study after study has shown that walking and exercise reduces your risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.

5) Walking Reduces Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
Heart disease and stroke are among the top killers of both men and women. You can cut your risk of both in half by walking for 30-60 minutes a day.

6) Walking Reduces Diabetes Risk
Get out and walk for 30 minutes a day as your minimum daily requirement for health and to prevent Type 2 diabetes.

7) Walking Boosts Your Brain Power
A study of people over 60 funded by the National Council on Aging, published in the July 29, 1999 issue of Nature, found that walking 45 minutes a day at 16-minute mile pace increased the thinking skills of those over 60.

8) Walking Improves Mood and Relieves Stress
Walking and other exercise leads to the release of the body's natural happy drugs - endorphins.

9) Walking Can Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
What better reason for men to take a brisk two mile walk each day – a reduced risk of impotence from mid-life onward.

10) It's Easy to Get Started Walking
All you need is a pair of comfortable shoes and to get yourself out the door or onto the treadmill. You can reap the benefits of walking from doing several shorter walks or one longer walk during the day.

Appetizer...choose fruit

Eat a high fiber fresh fruit as an appetizer….you’ll get your fruit servings in and you’ll it should help you lose weight by filling you up just a bit before a meal.

Raspberries, 8.4 grams/cup.
Kiwi, 6 grams/cup.
Apricots, 4 grams/cup.
Oranges, 4 grams/cup.
Pears, 4 grams/cup.
Apples, 3.4 grams/cup.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Canned Potatoes - Who knew?

Canned potatoes seemed like a strange food (actually anything in a can seems a bit too processed to be good). But one day I was shopping and decided to try them. I openned the can and noticed that these little, prefectly peeled potatoes looked oddly familar.

I tossed the whole can with a bit of olive oil and some seasoning and roasted them....I popped one of these golden brown beauties into my mouth and I had a rush of memories! These are the same potatoes my grandmother served on Sundays with her roast when I was a child. I liked them back then and I really like them now.

These potatoes are an inexpensive convenience food that are low in calories and fat and therefore low in points! Check out the label. The ones I buy are 1 point per serving or 3 points for the whole can.

Serving suggestion:

2 cans of potatoes (14 oz each) drained and rinsed
2 tsp of canola or olive oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss potatoes with oil and spices. Line a pan with foil. Toss potatoes onto the foil lined pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.

Good enough for company!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

“Discoveries are often made by not following instructions, by going off the main road, by trying the untried.”

~Frank Tyger

Bread Crumbs

While I use bread crumbs in lots or dishes (especially for crunchy toppings) I have switched from using dried crumbs to fresh....here is why:

Bread crumbs – Dried vs. fresh

½ cup of dried crumbs = 4 – 6 pts
½ cup of fresh crumbs = 1 – 2 pts

To make 1/2 cup of fresh crumbs, tear up a piece of whole grain bread and toss it into your blender or food processor. A few pulses later you are ready to go!

(or how about oatmeal?) In meatballs and meatloaf use an equal amount of oats. Your dish will come out more moist and no one will realize you made a switch.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Every healthy eating choice starts in your mind - not in your mouth.
- Author Unknown

Drink your milk servings!

Milk is a good thing. In fact, drinking milk can help in your weight loss! Fat free milk actually helps pull undigested fat from your body...how cool is that?

If you make a smoothy you can get milk and fruit in at the same time! Who says you can't kill two birds wit one stone?

Try this treat for Breakfast or a snack. It is filling!

Chefkenneth’s mango lassi!

1 packet vanilla smoothie mix (Weight Watchers)
1 cup of ice
1 cup cold water
1 cup frozen mango

Blend like crazy in an electric blender.
Enjoy this 2pt drink! It is 24 oz of love!

Green Pea Hummus

This is quite a treat! Unlike Hummus, this version does not have tahini in it. Tahini is the sesame paste used in hummus which is even more fat dense than peanut butter! This recipe eliminates the fat and adds green peas which give sweetness and a beautiful color.

2 cups frozen green peas
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained (liquid reserved)
2 medium scallions, chopped
2 Tblsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tblsp olive oil, extra-virgin
3 medium garlic cloves, or more to taste
1 tsp ground cumin, or more to taste
1/2 tsp table salt, or more to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add green peas and return to a boil; simmer until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again.
  2. Place peas and remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Serve dip immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 7 days.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Asian Style Corn Soup

I love to eat soup all year long, but in the winter it is something I eat almost every day. Here is a soup that is easy (don't let the ingredients scare you) and has a bit of an exotic flavor. I find it very satisfying. It is a good soup to curb your appetite before a large dinner or to help you make it to the next meal.

4 ears corn (or 1 lb of frozen)
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
12 sprigs cilantro
5 (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and quartered
1 to 2 fresh lemongrass stalks, including bulb end, smashed and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon thai fish sauce or soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Thinly sliced lime (optional)
Thinly sliced jalapeño pepper (optional)
  1. Cut corn kernels from ears of corn; set aside. Reserve cobs if using fresh corn.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Cut each cob (if using) into 3 pieces. Add cobs, 4 cups water, and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.
  3. Strain broth through a colander into a bowl; discard solids. Add corn kernels, juice, fish or soy sauce and salt to broth; stir to blend. Return soup to pan; simmer 5 minutes or until hot.
  4. Garnish with lime and jalapeño slices, if desired.

If a thicker soup is desired, puree half of the soup (the corn) in a blender before serving.

Don't Drink Your Calories in Juice - Eat Citrus!

Winter is Citrus time...so go out and get some! Citrus, even though it is winter fruit, taste like sunshine. You can drink orange or grapefruit juice, but then all you get is water, sugar and some vitamins. If you actually eat the fruit you get all the fiber and it will fill you up much longer than the juice!

Here's some ways to enjoy the fruit:

1. Cut a few oranges into 8 wedges and throw them into a bowl in the fridge or into a baggy. Then just snack on the wedges during the day.

2. Get yourself a grapefruit knife. Cut your grapefruit in half (Indian River is the best grapefruit). Section the fruit with the knife. Drizzle 1 tsp of honey on each half. Place under the broiler a few minutes until it is hot and bubbling.
This makes a good breakfast treat or even a nice dessert.

3. Make some Sicilian orange salad. Cut the peel off an orange. Cut the orange flesh into slices or chuncks. Then season the orange with salt and fresh pepper. Drizzle with 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil. Even kids like this salad. It can be served on a bed of lettuce if you want to dress it up.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Beware of these words on the menu!

Certain words on any menu indicate high fat or hidden calories. Knowing these words can help you avoid these items. When you encounter these words, just pass the food by or ask for substitutions.

  • au gratin - In France this is the shape of an oval baking dish....here in the USA it means layered with cream and cheese
  • battered - Dipped in egg and flour (or beer or milk) and deep fried
  • beurre - French for butter. Usually this will indicate a sauce that has butter as its main ingredient
  • bisque - a soup made with butter, a tomato product and usually cream or milk
  • cream of - cream or milk and flour is used in the thickening
  • dipped - in what?
  • twice-baked - cooked once and then cheese, cream, sour cream, egg yolks or butter added and baked again
  • hollandaise - a sauce made from butter, egg yolk and a bit of lemon juice
    just like mom’s - keep in mind it was mom's cooking that got you into this mess!
  • pan-fried, seared, roasted - all of these mean the dish started out in a pan with oil or butter to develop and outer crust
  • crusted - careful, the crust may be nuts or cheese
  • parmesan - the coating contains parmesan cheese and then is typically deep fried before it is baked off
  • sautéed - pan fried in clarified butter. Clarified butter is butter fat with the milk solids removed.
  • tempura - one of the few Japanese foods that is deep fried in a light (oil absorbing) batter

All of these might be temptations and may sound appealing. But look elsewhere on the menu for healthy and satisfying options.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Make your own tortilla chips!

Tortilla chips are always a great snack, and they are especially good for dipping during a football game or movie!

I like to make my own so I can bake them instead of frying. I always use corn tortillas because I love the flavor and unlike flour tortillas, they are fat free! One whole corn tortilla is only 1 point!

Just take your tortillas and spray each one with cooking spray. Sprinkle with seasoning salt, sea salt, cumin, lime zest and / or garlic salt. Stack the tortillas and cut them into wedges (I like to cut each one into 8 wedges).

Place the wedges, in a single layer, on a sprayed baking sheet and pop them into a 400 degree oven for 7 minutes. Check to see if they are golden and crispy. If not, toss and bake a few more minutes.

Everyone will enjoy these as much as any you have had before! And for a special treat serve them with the 3 Layer dip below!

3 Layer Dip

When I was young my mother used to make a 3 layer Mexican Dip. We ate it with loads of fried tortilla chips. I have updated this recipe to make meat free and lower points.

1 8 oz block of Fat Free cream cheese
1 15 oz can Fat Free refried beans
1 small jar of salsa
1 cup of taco or Mexican blend shredded cheese

Baked tortilla chips
  1. Place cream cheese in a glass pie plate. Microwave 45 seconds. Spread across the bottom of the plate.
  2. Mix 1/4 cup of salsa with the refried beans in a bowl. Spread the mixture over the cheese.
  3. Sprinkle the top with the shredded cheese.
  4. Heat the dip in the microwave for 5 minutes or bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Get Pickled

The two following recipes are for pickles. When you buy pickles in the store they are loaded with salt (that and vinegar are the main pickling ingredients). These do have salt, but just a fraction of store bought pickles. And even though there is a lot of sugar, it stays in the liquid and just flavors the pickles.

If the sugar is a worry for you, just replace some or all of it with Splenda.

Please give these easy recipes a try. You will love both of them and I am sure you will be making them again and again!

Enjoy!

Dilly (pickled) Beans

This was my first adventure into pickling. It is so easy to do. And these go great with cocktails (especially bloody marys)!

2 qts water
1 Tablespoons salt
2 lbs green beans, whole and trimmend
2 Tablespoons salt
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp crushed red pepper
4 cloves garlic, bruised
2/3 cups sugar
2 cups vinegar
2 cups water
  1. Bring 2 qts of water to a boil. Add the salt. Add the beans and cook 5 minutes or until tender crisp.
  2. Drain off hot water and cool the beans. Pack cooled beans into a storage container (plastic or glass is fine) with a lid.
  3. Combine vinegar, 2 cups of water, salt, sugar and remaining spices in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 2 minutes.
  4. Pour over beans.
  5. Allow to cool then refrigerate 1 day.

EASY Refrigerator Pickles

I promise you will not be able to stop eating these. I realize there is sugar in this but very little is absorbed by the pickle so just enjoy!

6 cups thinly sliced pickling cucumbers (about 2 pounds)
2 cups thinly sliced onion (1 large)
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  1. Place 3 cups cucumber in a medium glass bowl; top with 1 cup onion. Repeat procedure with the remaining 3 cups cucumber and remaining 1 cup onion.
  2. Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan; stir well. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Pour over cucumber mixture; let cool. Cover and chill at least 4 days.

Note: Pickles may be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Beans - they are good for your heart!

Have you ever heard the rhyme "beans beans they're good for your heart; the more you eat the more you f*&t: the more you f*&t the better you feel; let's have beans at every meal!"?

Guess what? It is true. Well, they are good for your digestive track too! If you don't want colon polyps, beans should be your friends.

Worried about the gas? Try these things:
  • Rinse canned beans before cooking or eating them.
  • Pour off the soaking water for dry beans and use fresh for cooking.
  • Increase bean consumption gradually.
  • Offset the added fiber with plenty of fluids and exercise.

Here's an easy (5 pt per serving or core) bean dish to whip up!

Bolognese a la Beans (tomato braised beans)

1 14-ounce can white beans, rinsed, divided
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped, carrot
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons white wine
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
8 ounces whole-wheat pasta

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Mash 1/2 cup beans in a small bowl with a fork.

2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and salt; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add wine; increase heat to high and boil until most of the liquid evaporates, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes (with juices), 2 tablespoons parsley and the mashed beans. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Add the remaining whole beans; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes more.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in the boiling water until tender. Drain.

4. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls. Top with the sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan and the remaining parsley.

Note: To add additional flavor you can add a Tablespoon of Italian spice. This may also be served over polenta instead of pasta.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Velvet Vegetable Soup

1 (3-4 pound) butternut squash
Cooking spray
1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large turnip, large dice (optional)
1 teaspoons canola oil
6 - 8 cups fat-free, chicken broth (or bullion)
1/3 cup apple juice concentrate
1 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
white pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°.
  1. Peel squash; cut in half and discard seeds and membranes. Cut squash into large chunks.
  2. Toss all the vegetables with a teaspoon of canola oil.
  3. Place squash, and vegetables on a jelly-roll pan or roasting pan coated with cooking spray.
  4. Bake at 425° for 45 minutes or until squash and onion are tender.
  5. Place vegetables in a Dutch oven (stock pot). Stir in broth and the remaining ingredients (bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until completely tender.
  6. Place half of squash mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl or pot. Repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture.
  7. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Adjust seasonings.

Yield: 10 servings - only 1 point each

Going Green - skip the bottled water

Chicago chefs are going green. No more bottled water! That's right. The bottle that your water comes in requires 3X the water in the bottle to create that plastic bottle. Also the bottle is a petroleum product which creates harmful pollution in it's processing as well as requiring precious oil in it's creation.

The water from our taps in the United States is among the best in the world. The water in those bottles we buy may be (not even guaranteed) filtered. But we can filter our own water and use the same bottle over and over.

Since I try to have 6 8 oz servings of water everyday (or more) I use a Weight Watchers 24 oz bottle and fill it twice each day. That way I eliminate the waste of 3 plastic bottles each day; or 21 bottles a week; or 90 bottles a month; or 1095 bottles a year.

Even if I recycle that many bottles, the recycling process requires energy too. And we, at least in Chicago, have no proof or reason to believe recycling is actually occuring.