Friday, May 30, 2008

Gnocchi with Broccoli Rabe, Caramelized Garlic, and Parmesan

Gnocchi with Broccoli Rabe, Caramelized Garlic, and Parmesan

In general, I challenge myself to try new vegetables. When growing up, my mom made three or four different kinds of vegetables -- mostly frozen green beans, broccoli, and maybe corn. Rarely, because I didn't care for them much, frozen peas.

I was fine with that when I was young. I think some kids could eat the same five items over and over again. (Chicken nuggets, anyone?) But as an adult, I want to try as many new things as possible.

I usually breeze past the greens and lettuces along the wall of the produce department. But a couple of weeks ago (and before I started back on Core), I picked up a bunch of broccoli rabe. It has leaves but spinach, but with small florets like broccoli. And while slightly bitter, it seems to taste close to broccoli.

It paired in this meal with garlic, parm, and gnocchi. A delcious way to fit in your green veggies in my opinion. Add a ton of garlic and cheese to anything and I'll probably eat it. With it was a red onion and orange salad, a little weird, but ok. I'll make the gnocchi again, I'm sure, but I probably won't make the salad.

What are some new vegetables you've tried lately?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce

The other night I thawed out a pork tenderloin with the intent to make moo shu pork. But for some reason, two different stores were out of napa cabbage. Who knew it was so popular?

I didn't have anything specific planned instead, but I had just seen a pork tenderloin with mustard sauce in Everyday Food's Great Food Fast cookbook. And it was not only super easy, but really delicious, too. And I had all of the ingredients on hand. The pork gets nice and browned on the outside, but stays moist and tender on the inside.

It cooks on the stovetop, too, freeing up the oven to roast potatoes or veggies, if you like. I made smashed red potatoes with chives and steamed green beans because it's what I had on hand.

Do you plan your meals ahead or do you prefer to wing it?

Nutritional Info (for pork with mustard sauce only): 206 calories, 8.6 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of fiber

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Curried Shrimp

Curried Shrimp

I made this shrimp curry before I started eating Core, but it's a recipe that's completely Core as long as you make it with brown rice and use ff sour cream or ff plain yogurt in the dish.

And I must say, I really liked this dish. I can't say whether or not it's a good curry because I'm pretty much unfamilar with curries. But, I liked the flavors nonetheless. Plus, I love shrimp.

If you're on Flex, it's a good idea to cut back on the oil, but otherwise, it's a great dish even if you aren't doing Core. It's another homerun from Everyday Food.

Nutritional Info: Coming Soon

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Penne with Broccoli

Today, I'm starting the Core plan. There are things I like about the plan, and things I don't so much like about it. I like that it focuses on less sugar, lean meats, and whole grains. And I like that I don't have to count. In the past, what I didn't like wer the snack restrictions. I fully understood the reason behind it, but on the other hand, if I'm going to be eating meal more than four hours after a snack I'm going to want something more satisfying than a piece of fruit and a glass of milk.

And I'm reasonable about my snack choices. Sometimes, I like to snack on plain yogurt mid-morning. I realize it's easy to abuse some snacks.. like yogurt.. so I portion them out. It's no more calories than an apple and milk, has no more sugar or fat really.. and honestly weight loss is calories in and calories out. And while rereading my plan materials, I noticed there was no mention of the infamous snack rule. I feel so much better about the plan now.

A few nights ago I made a Core-friendly dinner of Penne with Broccoli from Everday Food. I used whole wheat penne instead traditional penne. If you can find ff ricotta cheese it's Core, otherwise, count points for the ricotta. I used part-skim here. And for those who count, the NI is below.

Nutritional Info: 362 calories, 12 grams of fat, 9 grams fiber

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Stuffed Poblanos

I've talked to a lot of people who have had trouble getting in their five servings of fruit and veggies or are getting sick of the veggies they're currently eating. I've actually seen people ask if a pickle counts as a veg. In theory, yes, but if you have to count a pickle to reach the WW healthy guideline of 5 a day, then you aren't getting enough.

Meatless entrees are an easy way to boost your fruit and vegetable consumption. Take these stuffed poblanos from Everyday Food magazine. This dish is slightly spicy, and is filled with a delicious black bean and cornmeal mixture with gooey pepper jack cheese. Want to make it less spicy? Use less jalepeno or try monterey jack instead. Want to make it leaner? Use less pepper jack or try 2% cheddar.

In this meal there's at least three servings of vegetables, including a side roasted cauliflower. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather down my vegetables cooked in a complete dish -- rather than plain and raw -- especially when that dish includes cheese.

What is your favorite way to get your fruit and veg requirement?

Nutritional Info: Coming Soon

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tortellini with Mushroom Sauce

I admit that I've gained weight back. Obviously, it's a significant amount because my mom looked at my the other day and told me I needed to lose weight. Awesome. My family is blunt like that.

My sister and my mom have both been successful on low-carb diets. My mom has been working with a nutritionist and my sister has been doing South Beach. But those diets would make me miserable because I love my carbs. I'm trying to make a better effort to watch my sugar intake, but I really do love refined carbs and while I make an effort to choose whole grains over the refined stuff... occaisonally the refined stuff just hits the spot.

One pasta dish I wouldn't dare make whole grain is tortellini. Here, I made it with a mushroom sauce. If you could find whole wheat cheese tortellini I'm sure it'd work out just fine, but I like it as is. Do I eat stuff like this every night of the week? Nope.

But the occasional pasta dish with white pasta and a slice of real garlic bread just hits the spot. If you're looking for a lower-point swap, you could try WW's garlic bread. It's fairly good.. but not as good as the real deal.

Nutritional Info: (coming soon)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Pancakes with Maple Syrup Apples

I've had this recipe for maple syrup apples in my recipe file for quite a while and I finally decided to make it. I hardly ever just like plain pancakes with syrup, so I'm always on the look out for a different fruit topping.

I had some apples in the fridge, so cooked them in the maple syrup, and voila. Instant fruit topping. I didn't have the recommended apples, though, so I tried red delicious. The weren't bad, but they never quite got soft. So, if you want an apple-pie like topping, go with the recommended variety. Also, I didn't make the accompanying pancakes. I made a more point-friendly version instead.

Otherwise, another kind of apple works just fine.

Do you have a favorite fruite topping?

Nutritional Info (for the apples) : 226 calories, 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Portabello Burger with Basil Mayo

It's been pretty gross out recently. Monday was a particularly gross cloudy, drizzly, cold day. And just in case it's been gross where you are, too, here's a warm weather sandwich to cheer you up.

Weight Watcher's Grilled Portobello Sandwich with Basil Mayo is a great vegetarian subsitute to grilling burgers. True, there's nothing quite like a big, juicy burger straight off the grill, but if you are looking for something leaner or meatless a portobello is delicious.

Most packaged vegetarian burgers scare me, especially the ones trying to taste like a hamburger (they don't!). Portobellos are my favorite vegetarian option. And this recipe has a nice basil mayo that really kicks up the flavor and adds a wow factor.

This time, I paired it with steamed corn on the cob. I can't wait for summer to officially get here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

I love dark meat chicken. It's always juicy and nearly impossible to overcook. And, it's actually healthier than you think. Without skin, it comes out to the same points as white meat.

I admit, most of the time I cook boneless, skinless chicken breast. But, when the boneless, chicken thighs go on sale, I grab up several packages. This time, I chose to make Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs.

It's hard to give this an objective review. I've learned in my wise old age of 26, that I can't really accomplish two things at once. I can't talk on a cellphone and drive, I can't pat my head and rub my stomach (kidding!) and I apparently can't talk to the boyfriend while cooking. If I do, I end up grabbing the cinnamon thinking it resembles cumin and dumping a whole palmful into the spice mixture.

Even with a mistake, they turned really well. Maybe not spicy, but the spice mi xture still worked out. Sometimes, I have happy accidents.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Baked Beef Ziti

Have you ever had a couple different boxes of pasta with too little left to make a meal, but too much left to actually bring yourself to throw it out? I have. And it can be used up in a baked pasta dish like this Baked Beef Ziti from Weight Watchers.

I'm generally not a fan of Weight Watchers' recipes. Most are bland, take too many shortcuts, or use a bunch of fake ingredients (fat free cheese or sugar substitute) in order to keep the points low. And I find many of their recipes to be too few calories to be satisying.

This is actually fairly good, though. All it takes is a little ground beef, some crushed tomatoes, spices, and a hodge podge of similar type pastas. I think this was rotini, whole wheat penne and some gemelli. Even with three shapes and two kinds of pasta, it turned out great. And with only 1/3 pound ground beef for 8 servings, it's economic, too.

What's your favorite economical dish?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Berry French Toast

I love French toast. Scratch that. I love all sweet breakfast foods. This Berry French Toast is a great weekend breakfast that's a snap to make.

Unlike a lot of berry compotes, this one calls for frozen berries. So, no need to make a last-minute shopping trip. Plus, at 374 calories, it feels like a splurge, but it's really not. It's certainly healthier than some of my favorite lazy-day breakfasts.

What are your favorite point-friendly weekend breakfasts?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Smoky Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Chorizo

I've always hated sweet potatoes. Probably because until a couple of years ago, my experience with sweet potatoes was the mashed variety topped with marshmellows. And I'm pretty sure they came out of a can.

This may not look like much, but I promise it tastes better than it looks. Sweet potatoes, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and peppers are all sauteed up with chorizo and chicken. The smoky spices create flavors that make the dish taste like to took a lot more effort to make than it really did.

You'll need a nice big pan, and some patience for peeling and chopping the potatoes, but the Smoky Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Chorizo is worth the effort. What's even better, is that this satisfying one-pot meal can be on the table in 30 minutes. This one could use some lightening up. Use less chorizo and less oil to cut back on calories and fat. The NI is for the recipe as written.

Nutritional Info: 577 calories, 33 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Creamy Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese

macaroni and cheese

Work's been stressful lately. And when times get stressful I reach for the comfort foods. Who doesn't like a giant hunk of meatloaf with mashed potatoes or a heaping bowl of gooey mac and cheese when you've had a bad day?

It's not a secret that comfort foods aren't all that good for you. Meatloaf is usually a fatty mix of meats, mashed potatoes have a heavy dose of cream, milk and butter and mac and cheese has the milk, cream, and tons of cheddary goodness. But there are more healthful alternatives that are close enough to the real deal that it satisfies the craving when you don't have the extra points to spend.

I've tried many light macaroni and cheese recipes with mixed results. Some were just OK and others were downright nasty. My favorite so far has been Cooking Light's Creamy Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese.

It uses light cheese, but has more flavor than some of the recipes I've tried, and still retains the creaminess of the real deal. Resist the temptation to monkey with the recipe even more by using fat-free cheese instead. It will definitely NOT work here.

If you know of a great light mac and cheese recipe, drop me a note. I'm always looking for new ones to try.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Soft Scrambled Eggs with Ricotta and Chives

I don't like things to go to waste in my fridge. And it seems like every time I use ricotta cheese for something, it never uses up the entire container. Sure, there's lots of uses for ricotta. For one you can spread it on toast and top it with a tomato and a little salt and pepper.

You can even make a dessert out of it.

Or, you can use it for soft scrambled eggs. The original recipe calls for fresh ricotta, which I'm sure if fabulous. But I really don't have the money or time for that matter to hunt it down. It's not the easiest to find gourmet-type foods in the 'burbs. At least not the burb I live in.

Despite the lack of fresh ricotta, this was fantastic. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about it... I like soft scrambled eggs, but with creamy cheese? I wasn't sold on the idea. But now that I've tasted it, yum. It didn't disappoint.

I put it on a slice of homemade whole grain wheat bread and it was tasty and filling. Just what I look for in a breakfast.

Nutritional Info: 399 calories, 22 grams of fat, 1 gram of fiber