- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove tough outer leaves of the fennel, cut a slice from the core end, and remove the stalks and feathery leaves, but please save them to dice and throw into a salad.
- Cut the bulb in half. Rub the outside with olive oil.
- Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lay fennel on the foil and sprinkle with balsamic.
- Roast 15 to 20 minutes, until fennel begins to caramelize. Makes 2 servings.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I just got an e-mail from the South Beach Diet folks, talking about four ways to handle sweet gifts. I've expanded on their ideas a bit, because I swear these four tips were not written by anyone with a sweet tooth.
- Regift the treat. Instead of eating the sweets yourself, place them on a decorative platter and bring them to a party. What South Beach fails to mention is that if you do this even 10 minutes before you leave your house, chances are some of the regift might be eaten. My advice is to place the treats on the platter as you are leaving for the party, all dressed and ready to go. Then put it in the trunk. Another suggestion is to bring the goodies into the office. Caution: Do this only if you can put them far, far away from your desk, in some corner you will never visit.
- Consider a gift swap. Here's the deal: If someone receives a carton of citrus, they just might be willing to swap it for your box of petits fours. Come on: Bring them to a nursing home.
- Tell your family and friends that sweet treat gifts are not acceptable this year. Instead, drop hints about things you really want. Sorry, but in this economy, that is rude. So many people are making gifts from their kitchen, and they are doing it with love. Accept graciously and then decide what to do.
- The next one will never work for me: It's OK to allow yourself a few bites of a holiday pie or a little dark chocolate. My brain does not compute the adjectives "few bites" and "little." I know everyone says that for a diet to work, you need to incorporate treats into your eating plan. For me, that's almost impossible. One bite leads to another — and another — and another — until that whole box of chocolates is gone. The folks at South Beach say these treats are acceptable if you continue to follow their eating plan and exercise.
For me, there are two solutions to sweet gifts:
- Immediately throw them out. Even if they stay wrapped, if I am hungry enough, there is nothing that will separate me from sugar.
- If my husband, Jack, wants the treat, I'll give it to him on the condition that he hides it from me.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
- If you haven't soak the lentils, cover them with hot water and set them aside while you start the rest of the soup.
- Warm the oil in a wide soup pot, Add the onion, carrot, red pepper and parsley. Cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, until the onion is softened and starting to color, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, then stir in the tomato paste and mustard, working both into the vegetables and cooking until there's a film on the bottom of the pot.
- Pour in the wine, scrape up the pan juices, then simmer until partially reduced after a few minutes.
- Drain the lentils and add them to the pot with the bay leaf and water, using the larger amount if the lentils were soaked only briefly.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook for 30 minutes. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and continue cooking until the lentils are soft, another 10 to 20 minutes. Taste for salt and season with pepper.
- Add the spinach to the soup and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Taste the soup and add the mint and a little vinegar to sharpen the flavors.
- Four serving ideas:
- Shave thin slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano or Asiago cheese over the soup before serving.
- Peel, seed and dice one or two tomatoes -- and stir them into the hot soup at the end.
- Add a cup or so of cooked pasta to the soup just before serving.The pasta may be tiny shapes like orzo or stars or bigger pieces such as little shells or snails.
- Puree the lentils until very smooth, then add the spinach and any of the garnishes suggested. Makes 2 quarts.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
- Bring rice and water to a boil. Add two pinches sea salt and reduce flame to simmer. Cover and cook for 40 minutes.
- Add a small amount of water to a frying pan and water sauté onion for 2 minutes. Add carrots and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add shrimp and broccoli cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Combine garlic, shoyu, water, maple syrup and toasted sesame oil. Pour over stir-fry, cover and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Dish out stir-fry on top of cooked brown rice and garnish with scallions. Serves four.
1 cup water
2 Tblsp. rolled oats
1 Tblsp. maple syrup or other sweetner
Splash of almond milk
- Bring rice, water, rolled oats, dried fruit and cinnamon to a boil. Cover and reduce flame to medium for 5-7 minutes. Add sweetener and a splash of your favorite milk.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
- Cut off the crown, then cut the pomegranate into sections.
- Place the sections in a bowl of water, then using your fingers, roll out the seeds into the water. You only want the seeds; discard the skin and the membrane.
- Strain out the water. Voila! Hundreds of ready-to-eat juice sacs.
1 large of 2 lbs. firm-fleshed, 1/2-inch thick halibut
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup olive oil or butter
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup pomegranate juice or 3 Tblsp. pomegranate paste
1 Tblsp. slivered candied orange peel, purchased or use the recipe that follows
2 Tblsp. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. ground saffron, dissolved in 2 Tblsp. hot water
2 Tblsp. chopped walnuts
2 Tblsp. pomegranate seeds
- Rinse fish in cold water. Pat dry with paper towel and rub both sides with 1 teaspoon salt. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large frying pan and brown onion and garlic. Add all ingredients except the saffron water, lime juice and garnish ingredients, and cook for 3 minutes. Mix well and remove stuffing from heat.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay fish out on the baking dish. Place a layer of stuffing on one end of the fish about 1 inch long and gently roll from the stuffing end and pin closed if necessary. If you are using halibut pieces, roll each separately. Pour the saffron water, the rest of the oil, and the lime juice over the fish. Place in the oven and bake 10-15 minutes (until the fish flakes easily with a fork), basting from time to time.
- Arrange the fish on a serving platter. Pour the sauce from the baking dish over the fish and garnish with walnuts and pomegranate seeds. Makes 8 servings.
Candied Orange Peel
4 cups sugar, divided
3 cups water
- Cut peel on each orange into 4 vertical segments. Remove each segment (including white pith) in 1 piece. Cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Cook in large pot of boiling water 15 minutes; drain, rinse, and drain again.
- Bring 3 cups sugar and 3 cups water to boil in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peel. Return to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until peel is very soft, about 45 minutes. Drain.
- Toss peel and 1 cup sugar on rimmed baking sheet, separating strips. Lift peel from sugar; transfer to sheet of foil. Let stand until coating is dry, 1 to 2 days. Wrap and freeze up to 2 months.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Which means I am not eating correctly. I am constantly exhausted, and for me, that translates into little exercise and making poor food choices. What a diffference a few days can make. Last week I was determined to eat correctly this holiday season. This week I am desparately trying to find time to fit in a healthy meal.
This is not good news for my body. But I am not giving up. Instead, I need to plan. I cannot leave the house like I did yesterday without eating breakfast. In fact, what I really need to do is eat three healthy meals a day, and include easy snacks to keep my blood sugar level. And drink water. This is so not rocket science.
And when I reach for something I really should not eat, I will give my hand a mental slap. I learned this trick years ago, and if you remember to do it, it works. As you see your hand reaching for something loaded with sugar and calories, imagine your other hand giving it a good slap. And make it a hard one. There are times when it can actually hurt. Or is that my mind screaming that it really wants that chocolate chip cookie? Whatever, the mental slap can be effective.
I obviously need some help!
Friday, November 27, 2009
The good news:
- I took a 3.5 mile walk, so that must have burned off something.
- I had oatmeal for breakfast, which I said I would do. I forgot to bring the salad for lunch, so I feasted on the hors d'oeuvres, which were amazing. But I did show some restraint.
- I remembered to chew each bite of food 25 times -- except I remembered after I scarfed down my full plate of Thanksgiving food. Next year.
- I had slivers for dessert -- a sliver of pumpkin, a sliver of coconut custard, and a sliver of key lime cake from Florida, which has the Oprah stamp of approval. Mary Ann had it shipped from http://www.wetakethecake.com/, so since she went to all that trouble, how could I resist?
But the best news: I woke up today and really ate lightly this morning. I am determined to make this a good day. A new day, a new day of eating. Isn't that what it is all about?
Only one: I've not been terrific about chewing food and eating slowly. I've got to learn this. I looked around the table at Thanksgiving, and the slim people still had more than half of their plates filled with food and I was done. And Jack, if you are reading this, you need to slow down as well. From now on, we are going to eat dinner at the table, talk, and eat slower. (This is my way to see if my husband is really reading my blog.)
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I owe my love of vegetables to my mom. I grew up in the Bronx, in the days when there was a green grocer on just about every block. You had your favorite, he was your friend, and he never steered you wrong. It was from our green grocer and my mom that I learned how to choose fruit and vegetables -- with your nose, eyes and hands -- and how to embrace the seasons. Even today, when some produce such as asparagus are year-round staples, I gravitate toward them when they are supposed to make the scene.
Now is the season for winter squash, and I eat my fill. And butternut is among my favorites.
Choosing: Butternut Squash is long, with a bulbous end and a tan-color. The flesh is deep orange. Look for well-shaped squash, heavy for its size and dry. Leave cracked or bruised butternuts as the market.
Storing: They keep at room temperature for about two months
Cooking: Wash outside, halve lengthwise, and remove seeds. Place squash, cut side down, in a baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Turn cut side up, cover, and bake 20 to 25 minutes more, until tender. You can also cook in a microwave dish with about 2 tablespoons water. Cover and cook, cut-side down on high about 9 minutes. If not tender, cook in increments of 1 minute each until tender. Let stand 5 minutes before serving,
When I was looking for a recipe for this week's Pick, I found this old favorite between my mom's version of lentil soup and a glorious Tuscan bean soup that I'll share later this winter. This soup is so creamy, you forget there is nothing fattening in it. But face facts: You're eating a bowl of veggies! But that's our secret. What really makes it extra special are the toasted squash seeds you sprinkle on top of the soup. Crunchy. Decadent, Different. Yummy.
Olive oil spray
1 large white onion, chopped
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped carrot
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 to 5 cups
Juice of one lemon
1 canned chipotle in adobo, minced (if this is too spicy, use half a chiptole)
½ cup nonfat
Salt, fresh ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds, discarding the stringy pulp. Put the seeds in a sieve and rinse. Set aside.
- Spray a baking dish with the olive oil spray. Place squash, cut side down, in the dish. Pierce all over with a fork. Bake 45 minutes or until tender. Let cool.
- While the squash is in the oven, toast the reserved squash seeds in a small pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until crunchy, about 30 minutes. Season heavily with salt and set aside.
- Spray deep pot with olive oil spray and heat over medium heat. Saute onion until soft. Add celery and carros tand saute 10 minutes more. Add garlic and saute about 2 minutes more.
- Scoop the flesh of the squash into the pot and stir. Add 4 cups broth and lemon juice. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender. Add the chiptole.
- Puree the soup in batches in a blender. Return to the saucepan, Add more broth, stirring it into the soup, until you get the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon soup into bowls, Top with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of seeds.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
In past years, Thanksgiving always begins the holiday eating frenzy, the day I decide to ignore my inner voice and begin eating in earnest.
Why? Simply because I always viewed a diet as something I go on, and then off, and then on again, and off again. What a recipe for disaster. My new mantra — Diet? Not again! — represents my philosophy: I am now eating for life. Sometimes I make great choices. Other days I make bad ones. But most weeks, the good choices are so outweighing the bad ones.
Now that's something to be really thankful for this Thursday. And here is my plan, which I am printing out to remind myself what I should be doing throughout Thanksgiving day:
- I will start the day with a bowl of oatmeal, followed by a long walk, which should keep me sated until lunch.
- I will make myself a salad for lunch, because I don't want to arrive at the feast starving.
- At dinner, I will eat everything I want, but will remember portion control and load up on the foods that are the least fattening. I will chew eat bite 25 times, and enjoy the wonderful conversations that I know will be happening throughout dinner.
- And yes, I will take a slice of pumpkin pie, and chew each bite 25 times, to make it last as long as possible.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
- Place butter and cream cheese in a bowl and beat on medium speed until well blended.
- Beat in Cheddar.
- Beat in chutney, lemon juice, lemon zest, Worcestershire and pepper.
- Form into a ball.
- Mix together cranberries and walnuts. Roll cheese ball in cranberries and walnuts. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate three or four days or freeze. Serve with a plain cracker, such as a water biscuit, and don't forget the celery!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
- In a large pot, bring the water to a boil and add the Brussels sprouts. Cover and cook until just barely tender, about 7 minutes.
- Whisk together the vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, parsley and pimiento in a small bowl.
- Drain the Brussels sprouts and transfer them to a serving fish. Toss with the lemon mixture.
- Makes 15 servings. Per serving: 36 calories; .3g fat; 7g carbohydrates; no cholesterol; 91mg sodium; 3g fiber.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
- Combine all ingredients except cranberries in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes, until the mixture is reduced to about 1 3/4 cups.
- Strain syrup into a large saucepan. Add cranberries and cook over medium heat until the cranberries burst, about 5 or 6 minutes.
- Transfer sauce to a bowl. Cool, cover, and refrigerate until cold.
- Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Mix well.
- Turn heat to medium-low, bring to a simmer, and cook until berries burst, about 10 to 15 minutes. It's good to stir the pot from time to time.
- You can serve as is, warm, with the turkey, or refrigerate, covered, and heat in the microwave a minute or two before serving.
- Combine all ingredients, except the nuts, in a saucepan. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce heat, stir in the nuts, and cook gently until cranberries burst.
- Poor into a bowl and cool. Can be refrigerated a few weeks.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Rinse turkey well, pat dry, and place in a baking dish in a single layer.
- Stir together the mustard, oil oil garlic, lime juice and Mrs. Dash seasoning. Spread evenly over turkey.
- Bake, uncovered, 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the turkey.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
- Place the onion in a saute pan, place over very low heat, and cook, stirring from time to time, for about 15 minutes, until onions begin to soften.
- While onions sweat, chop garlic and cilantro and juice lime.
- Turn heat to medium, add garlic, and cook about 2 minutes. Add lime juice and tomato and cook a few minutes, until hot. Add cilantro and cook a minute more. Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
- Set salsa aside.
- Beat eggs with milk. Add cheese. Add to pan and scramble.
- Serve eggs with salsa on top. Makes 2 servings.
There are many times when I overeat, but when I’m tired, there is no stopping me: Anything is fair game. For example, I’m not a fan of Saltines, but if I’m tired, a whole sleeve can disappear in seconds flat.
Perhaps I eat because I need the energy. But a sleeve of Saltines — or a box of cookies, a package of Twizzlers, a carton of ice cream — might cause a momentary burst of energy, but it’s just that: a Band-aid. Plus, all these goodies cause my blood sugar to peak and crash, and my inner voice to start the assault on how little willpower I have. And what does that cause? I just keep eating.
I started to think about the tired/overeating connection this past weekend, when we were visiting our daughter, Caitlin, our son-in-law, Jim, our darling granddaughter, Sammy, and our brand new darling, Bailey Kate. It was a perfect few days, except for my lack of sleep, which led to some overeating. I thought I was going to escape Halloween candy this year, but of course we were in trick-or-treat heaven down South, which meant lots of leftover Kit Kat bars, definitely not my favorite, but they sure tasted good around mid-afternoon. And Sammy’s stash of white chocolate covered pretzels — let’s just say I owe her a package the next time we visit. What grandmother steals treats from her granddaughter? Guess I do.
Flying home Tuesday night, I thought long and hard about what I ate, when I ate it, and why. My conclusion: I was exhausted, ergo I ate. I attacked the goodies late afternoon and after dinner, the two times I have always been prone to overeating. And why? Because the stuff tasted so good.
But here’s how my life has changed. I woke up yesterday and got on the scale to face the music. Never would have done that in the past. I would have waited at least a week to get my weight back to normal. But the biggest surprise of all: I guess I wasn’t as horrid as I thought, because I only gained a pound.
The other surprise: I packed my food for the day and ate really well. Oatmeal, lots of fruits and veggies, and a quinoa/red bean salad for dinner. And remember that pound I gained? Gone!