Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spiced Lentil Soup

Filling and nutritious, lentils are really a great food. They are full of protein and fiber. I think of them as starter legumes or beans. They are fast and easy to cook and don't need to be soaked. If you really like them you can use them for the base of a salad or even eat them like a grain with other proteins or vegetables.

Try this soup. It makes a lot and can be eaten for a quick lunch, heated in the microwave, or for the center piece in a healthy filling dinner.

If you feel intimidated by all the ingredients, notice this soup is simple and fast. Most of the stuff on the ingredient list are spices you probably have in your home already. This combination of spices is typical in Moroccan foods.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, coarse chop
5 small potatoes, 1 in dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lg carrots, cut to 1 in chunks
2 ribs celery, diced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne or red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup lentils
2 quarts stock (beef, chicken or vegetable)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup each cilantro and parsley

1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the oil; heat. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until translucent, 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, garlic, carrots and celery; cook 5 minutes. Add bay leaves, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, red pepper flakes and black pepper.

2. Sort the lentils; rinse. Add to the saucepan. Add the stock. Cover; heat to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer; cook until lentils and vegetables are tender, about 50 minutes.

3. Transfer 2 cups of the lentils with a little of the stock to a blender; puree. Return to the saucepan. Stir in the soy sauce, cilantro and parsley.

At just 3 points per cup, this is a good meal!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Baked Oatmeal

My friend Kevin made this version of baked oatmeal for me. I was not sure about baking oats but this is really good. He gave me the recipe and I made some modifications for you. I tried it out on my friend Arlene and it is a keeper! It is like a baked oat cake. When you get up in the morning you will look forward to putting a slice in the microwave. Top it off with fresh fruit and some plain yogurt for a real treat. You might even find seasonal substitutes for the blueberries.

BAKED OATMEAL WITH BLUEBERRIES 6 Servings

1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup egg beaters
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 1/2 cups old fashion rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 - 2 cups frozen blueberries

Optional toppings: fruit, milk yogurt

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly spray 1 ½ quart casserole (8 X 8) with no-stick cooking spray. In medium bowl, combine milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Mix well. Set aside. In large bowl, combine oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Add liquid ingredients, mix well. Let stand about 30 minutes - 1 1/2 hours (longer soak makes a softer cake like product). Fold in the frozen blueberries right before baking. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Bake, uncovered for 35 to 45 minutes or until center is dry and firm to the touch. Cool slightly before serving or cut into 6 servings and refrigerate to microwave later.

Top as desired.

6 Points Plus

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pho bo - Vietnamese beef and noodle soup

This may seem like a bit of work but it is super easy for a fantastic result. The portions are 10 points plus, but I promise you a big bowl that will fill you up and make you feel all good inside. If you like Asian food you will love this. Anyone you serve it to will think you are a genius!

Pho Bo Makes: 4 servings

5 whole cloves
4 thin slices peeled ginger root (about an inch)
3 star anise pods
1 stick cinnamon
8 cups beef broth (total – I used broth from Italian beef,
1 qt of broth and
2 cups of water)
26 ounce container of Italian style beef
1 onion, sliced
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoons soy sauce or nam pla (fish sauce)
4 ounces dried medium rice stick noodles
1 tablespoon cup canola oil
6 shallots, sliced
2 small red chilies, stemmed, seeded, thinly sliced (include stems and seeds if you like spice)
1 small bunch each: cilantro leaves, mint leaves, Thai (or other) basil leaves
1 cup bean sprout
1 lime, quartered
Hot sauce such as Sriracha

Combine cloves, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, broth, onion, peppercorns, Italian beef and soy in a large pot over medium-high heat; heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover. Cook until the broth is fragrant and infused with the spices, 10 minutes. Fish the beef out of the pot and set aside. Strain the broth into another pot. Meanwhile, place the rice sticks in a bowl; cover with warm water until very pliable, about 20 minutes. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots; cook, until evenly brown, 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Reheat the beef broth and beef over high heat to a boil and reduce to low. Add the rice stick noodles, chilies and shallots. Divide the beef soup among 4 bowls. Divide the herbs and bean sprouts among the bowls. Serve with lime wedges and hot sauce.

1o points plus

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Eggplant Parmigiana as good as Mom's

This is a recipe from Terri and John at my St. Bens meeting.

I have never been a big eggplant fan except when my mother made eggplant parmigiana. Of course, her version began by frying the eggplant which absorbs oil like a sponge. I usually avoid it just for that reason.

In this version the eggplant is baked not fried. The results were so good, we ended up eating double portions at our house. This is one of those things I make over and over again!


EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA

1 eggplant (1 1/2 - 2 lbs), peel and cut into 1/2" thick slices and lightly salted
1/4 cup egg beaters (or egg white) w/ 1 T water, lightly beaten
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs (or 1 cup fresh crumbs)
2 cups reduced fat pasta sauce (or your own version of sauce)
1/2 cup part skim mozzarella cheese, grated
3 Tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray two cookie sheets with cooking spray.
  2. Dip eggplant into egg mixture and then toss in bread crumbs. Don't worry if they are not completely coated with crumbs.
  3. Lay on baking sheets and cook for 25 minutes. Turn over and bake about 10 minutes more.
  4. Spread 1/2 cup of sauce on the bottom of a 8 x 8 baking dish. Arrange 1/2 the eggplant on the sauce. Top with 1/2 cup of sauce - you may have to spread it out. And sprinkle the top with 1/2 of each of the cheeses.
  5. Repeat with the next layer (using all the sauce). Cover the dish tightly with foil.
  6. Bake 30 - 40 minutes.

4 servings (that's a 4 x 4 square each)
4 points plus per serving

Monday, February 28, 2011

Tzatziki - Greek Yogurt Sauce

This sauce is so easy to make - so low in PointsPlus - and it tastes good on fish, chicken, vegetables and more! Whip up a batch and put some zing into your food. Cut up some veggies and enjoy a refreshing healthy snack. Use this instead of mayo on your wrap. Go crazy with this delicous sauce!

TZATZIKI

1 cup peeled, seeded and grated cucumber (this is the hardest part)
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup plain FF yogurt
1/2 tsp dill weed
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1/4 tsp salt


Salt the cucumber with 1/8 tsp of salt and allow to sit for 20 minutes. Squeeze out excess water.
Mix all ingredients together. Chill for an hour to let flavors come together.

1/2 cup of this is only 1 PointsPlus.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Asian Slaw

I love using spicy ingredients. They satisfy my taste buds, they help me feel physically satisfied and, I am told, they heat up my metabolism. One ingredient I really have be come fond of is sriracha (an Asian style chili sauce - think Thai Ketchup). When I stumbled upon this simple version of slaw with sriracha in it I knew I had to try it and share it with you.

This makes a good side dish for almost anything. It also makes a good topping for a sandwich or a turkey burger. You could put it in a wrap or dump into a pita for a quick, low points plus treat.

NEW ASIAN SLAW

4 cups cabbage shredded (any combo you like)
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 small onion, diced
pinch of salt and pepper
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp peanut butter
2 Tblspn rice wine or white wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil (you can use an extra tsp peanut butter instead)
1 tsp sriracha (or more)
1/4 cup FF Mayo
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp sugar

Toss the vegetables together; set aside.
Whisk remaining ingredients together until smooth.
Pour dressing over the cabbage and mix thoroughly.
Chill until ready to serve.

Makes 4 hardy servings for only 1 points plus each.

Toss in some cilantro and minced garlic for extra flavor.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Walt's Vegetable Soup

I love this easy soup recipe. It is super healthy (if you use low sodium tomato juice) and packs a ton of flavor. If you are tired of the WW Garden Vegetable recipe, this will really do the trick. At just 1 PointPlus per serving it is the perfect thing to take the edge off of your hunger. It can also be used as a low PointsPlus lunch if you are planning to save a few extra points for dinner!

WALT'S VEGETABLE SOUP

6 cups tomato juice
3 Tbspn oatmeal - ground
1 Tbspn rice polishings (ground rice)
16 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups celery chopped
1/2 cup green beans sliced
1/2 cup peas
1 cup spinach packed & shredded
1 1/2 cups cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup brown rice
1 bay leaf
1 tsp marjoram
2 Tbspn parsley
pepper to taste

Combine juice, oats and rice polishings. Cook until thickened.

Add remaining ingredients except the spinach. Cook until rice and vegetables are tender; 20 - 25 minutes.

Add the spinach and cook 5 minutes.

serves 8

Monday, January 31, 2011

SOFRITO - Spice Up Your Food

This basically vegetable mix is a great way to add a ton of flavor to your food. Many of us are aware of the trinity (onion, celery, and bell pepper) but this Caribbean version gives a good zip and base of flavor when used to start soups, rice, or meats. The two great things about this recipe are it has 0 points plus and it makes a lot. I keep it in 1/2 cup portions frozen in little snack bags for easy access in the freezer.

SOFRITO

2 medium onions
4 cubanelle peppers
15 - 20 garlic cloves, minced
1 - 2 serrano peppers
1 large bunch of cilantro
4 plum tomatoes
1 red bell pepper

Clean everything. Drop everything into a food processor. Completely puree. Use what you need and freeze the rest.

About 4 cups

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Slow Cooker Oatmeal

A few weeks ago Weight Watchers had a recipe for slow cooker (pumpkin) oatmeal. I was a bit sceptical because it called for 1 & 1/2 cups (only) of steal cut oats (I use old fashion). How could this be enough for 8 servings and for 5 pointsplus each? But some of my members claimed that they really liked steal cut and half the amount of steal cut is the same as old fashion oats.
I gave it a try. It was so good I tried it several more times!

SLOW COOKER OATMEAL - you can choose the flavor you want to make

6 cups water
3 cups apple or pumpkin or banana or ?, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups steal cut oats
1/2 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
(other flavorings can be use - vanilla, orange or lemon zest, ginger)

Put all into your 3 - 6 quart slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours. Stir - it will look watery until you stir and scrape up any oats stuck to bottom.

You can eat at this point (1 cup per serving), but I pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish and I chill. Then I cut into 8 servings. When I want to have it for breakfast I just heat in a covered bowl in the microwave for 3 - 4 minutes.
This makes a quick hot breakfast!

Just 5 PointsPlus for a satisfying portion!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Taco Soup

Time to bring back the taco soup! It is so easy and good it is ridiculous. Just a package of taco seasoning and 7 cans and you have a soup for a crowd or a batch in your frig for a week of good eating. If you shop at ALDI or get the cans on sale it is an extreme bargain too. You just have to watch the sodium content.

1 large onion, chopped
cooking spray
1 pkg of taco seasoning
2 cups whole kernel corn (or 1 can)
1 can fat free chicken broth
1 can black beans, undrained
1 can great northern beans, undrained
1 can fat free refried beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can spicy season tomatoes

Sauté the onion until soft in a large pot sprayed with non stick cooking spray. Add the other ingredients to pot and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

If you want to spice it up (and I always do) add one or two chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce - adds smoke and heat!

If you have a one cup serving this is 3 PointsPlus. It is especially good on a baked potato for a quick filling meal.