Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Could I have eaten anymore yesterday? Probably. But not too much. That's the bad news.

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, 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

Pick of the Week: Butternut Squash

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.


1 medium butternut squash

Olive oil spray

1 large white onion, chopped

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped carrot

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 to 5 cups chicken broth

Juice of one lemon

1 canned chipotle in adobo, minced (if this is too spicy, use half a chiptole)

½ cup nonfat sour cream

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

Remember my blog's name

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.
And when I go to bed Thursday night, it will be with a smile on my face for a job well done.

I'll let you know Friday how this worked out!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Monday, Monday....

Or should I say Sunday, Sunday, because I never sleep well Sunday nights. No matter how many cups of Sleepy Time tea I drink, or warm baths I take, the anticipation of the start of another week keeps me up most of the night.

Since I am trying -- desperately at times -- not to beat myself up about bad food choices, I thought I would try it with my Sunday-night insomnia. So last night, as soon as I turned out my light, I began repeating over and over: "You will sleep through the night."

And I did. I turned the light out at 9:30, and next thing I knew, it was 5:20. That's almost 8 hours of sleep, an unheard of amount for me even on a good night. I'm not analyzing why this worked, and I pray it will work again -- over and over.

Thanksgiving dinner

We are guests-with-a-list-0f-foods to prepare this Thanksgiving, and although I am trying to lighten things up a bit, there is nothing light about the hors d'oeuvre I am bringing -- a Cranberry cheese ball. The recipe is a take on one my mom used to make every Thanksgiving, so it's obviously been around for years. She called hers Raisin Walnut Cheese Ball, because dried cranberries had yet to make the culinary scene. I made the dried cranberry substitution years ago, simply because I like them so much better than raisins. The cranberry chutney was added a few years ago: I had a jar, and thought, why not? I promise it adds terrific punch to this cheese ball.

I make the cheese ball with light cream cheese and reduced-fat Cheddar, so there is a bit of calorie savings there. In addition to crackers, I put out celery slices. There -- I've done my part, but honestly....! Oh, the mind games we play.

By the way, I am making the cheese ball tonight, but will roll the ball in the walnuts and cranberries Thanksgiving morning. This is one big cheese ball, but don't worry. Leftovers make great sandwiches, especially on date nut or pumpernickel bread.

Cranberry Walnut Cheese Ball
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3 pkgs. (8-oz. each) light cream cheese, softened
8 oz. finely shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
2 Tblsp. cranberry chutney
2 Tblsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. finely diced lemon zest
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
  • 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

Thanksgiving countdown

My goal this holiday season is to maintain. I'm not trying to lose weight, and of course, if I drop a pound or two, I won't complain. But I don't want to see the 14 pounds I've lost creep back on my body.

This year, my wonderful son, Tim, and his perfect wife, Kim, are hosting Thanksgiving, and they've given me the list of sides to bring. There is nothing I can do to change my recipe for herbed nibbles, little bites of bread oozing with butter. I would rather not make the recipe than try to make it healthy. But the vegetables -- here's where I can make some changes.

I love my recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts, but when I analyzed the ingredients, I decided it does not fit into my new way of eating. The recipe I have chosen to make is from "Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook," by the Editors of Vegetarian Times, and each serving has merely 36 calories. It serves 15, which makes it a perfect addition to a large Thanksgiving gathering.

I found the lemon an interesting addition to Brussels Sprouts a la Grecque, providing the perfect balance with the sweetness of the sprouts. For traveling, I will cook the Brussels sprouts, combine the vinaigrette, and transport them separately. Just before serving, the sprouts will go into the microwave for a quick warming, and then be tossed with the lemon sauce. The pimiento is optional, but I think it adds a nice taste touch, plus it looks festive.

4 cups water
3 lbs. Brussels sprouts
3 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup pimiento, optional
  • 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

Pick of the Week: Cranberries

This column is for Jeannie, my newly transplanted Memphis friend who asked for a recipe for cranberry sauce. I have three favorites, and I love them all. Picking one would be like calling one of my three children my favorite.

And no, there is nothing dietetic about cranberry sauce. But for me there is no substitute. Cranberry sauce and portion control go hand in hand. Plus, I really have no idea how many calories are in each tablespoon of my recipes, and in this case, ignorance really is bliss.

Any of these sauces can be made a week or two ahead, and my advice is to do it one night when you have 20 minutes to spare. How good does that feel to check one item off your Thanksgiving to-do list? One of the sauces is served warm, so a simple pass in the microwave for a minute or two, just before the turkey is served, works well. The other two sauces are best served at room temperature.

Selecting: You really have no choice, since for most of us, cranberries come bagged. But do look at the berries to be sure they are plump and unblemished. In all my years of buying cranberries, I can count on one hand the number of berries I had to toss out. Color does not matter, since cranberries range from a light red to a deep cranberry color!

Storing: In the refrigerator, secure in the bags they are packaged in, cranberries keep about four weeks. If I am not using the cranberries within a week, I store them in the freezer, where they will keep about 9 months. I just double wrap them for extra protection. They can also go from freezer to recipes, since they thaw almost immediately.

1 3/4 cups red zinfandel
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed golden brown sugar
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
1 3-by-1-inch strip orange peel
1 12-oz. bag cranberries
  • 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.
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups cranberry juice
Grated zest and juice from 2 lemons and 2 oranges
3 cups packed brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 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.
1/2 cup brandy, preferably apple
1/4 cup cranberry juice
1 12-oz. bag fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 3-inch piece of cinnamon stick
1/3 cup walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 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

What a week

I know there are worst things than the flu, but when it hit me last week, I couldn't think of one. After 8 days, I've yet to reach the feeling terrific stage. All I really want to do is sleep.
And eat.
But that's understandable because I know I eat when I'm tired, a subject I blogged about recently. I also seem to lack motivation. Preparing my daily salad for lunch is too much trouble. I have no energy. It's much easier to open a can of soup, but for me, that's like Chinese food: two hours later I'm starving. I need something else with that soup, but anything that's appealing is too fattening.
This afternoon I screamed "enough," soaked a pound of black beans, cooked them up, and know that tomorrow night's dinner will be a mix of the beans, some brown rice, jarred salsa, diced scallions, with a sprinkling of diced black olives. Healthy? You bet. Easy? Absolutely. Filling? The complex carbs and protein will keep me sated for hours.
The way I'm feeling, this might just be my dinner all week.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Second down

It's official: I have dropped 14 pounds since starting this blog September 30. That's 14 pounds in 43 days. That's as much as I have ever lost on any diet, but this time, I am not dieting.

Friday I wrote about feeling free -- how being on my non-diet has actually kept me from popping anything in my mouth that I desire. I'm not obsessing about food. I am simply planning my meals and eating what I plan. Slowly eating what I have planned. Chewing each bite 25 times, for the first time, really tasting my food.

I have set a 49-pound weight loss goal, and divided it into seven mini goal of 7 pounds each. 14 pounds = my second mini goal. Wow!

Today's recipe is one of those perfect meals when you have no time. 30 minutes after starting preparations, you are eating dinner. While the turkey is baking, we eat our nightly salad, filling up on greens and veggies so we don't overeat at dinner -- not that this recipe is at all fattening. My calculations put each serving a little under 200 calories. Needless to say, you can also use chicken. I added brown rice and sauteed kale to our plate.

Turkey Dijon
1 lb. boneless, skinless turkey breasts
1 Tblsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. Mrs. Dash Italian medley seasoning
  • 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.
Told you it is easy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Goals for next week

I had one goal this week — to stay away from diet soda — and I slipped once. But one can in a week is so much better than the two cans of diet soda I used to drink daily, so I give myself an A. And next week, I'll try for an A+.

I wish I could say I didn't like the taste of the diet root beer I had with dinner two nights ago. I actually LOVED the taste. But I know the chemicals in the soda are just so wrong, so this week I'm aiming for perfection.

My second goal for next week is to increase my 20 minutes of daily exercise to 30 minutes one day. Three weeks ago, when I decided to start exercising daily to Leslie Sansone's "Walk Away the Pounds," I said I was not going to increase the 20 minutes until exercise became part of my daily routine. I'm there. There is no arguing with myself that I should stay in bed and skip the exercise. I am even waking up 10 minutes before my alarm goes off, so I am downstairs, walking with Leslie and her posse, when I could still be sleeping.

I've grown to love those 20 minutes. And I know that 30 minutes once this week will be OK. In fact, it will be better than OK.

When my kids were young, we had breakfast for dinner at least once a week, a tradition I still do, but now the star is always eggs. One of the easiest recipes I make is Mexican Eggs, which I serve with a salad for a quick weekday dinner.

Mexican Eggs
Half a sweet onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tblsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of half a lime
1 plum tomato, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs
1/4 cup low-fat or skim milk
1/4 cup reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 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.

I'm so tired: Ergo I eat!

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! 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pick of the Week: Pears

I can't explain why, but I only eat pears when there is a bite in the air. And then I crave them, just like I crave apples in the fall. And I love writing about pears, because its variety has its own distinct flavor and use.

Common varities:
Anjou: A winter pear, colored green, yellow green or red, it is very sweet and very juicy. I toss it into my noon salad or eat it as a 3 p.m. pick-me-up.
Bartlett: The yellow variety turns from bright green to golden yellow as it ripens; the Red Bartlett turns a gorgeous scarlet. Eat it as is, prolong the season by canning, or poach it for a a meal's grand finale.
Bosc: These are definitely one of winter's best fruits. The skin is golden brown, it's flesh creamy and richly flavored. This is the pear I bake or poach throughout winter.
Comice: Not as easy to locate, but when you see them at market, pick them up. I use this variety to perk up a cheese board.
Forelle: This is a small, golden pear, with speckled skin and a sweet red blush. Great snack, and again,the perfect pear to pair with cheese.
Seckel: The tiniest pear,it is always past of the cornucopia I use to decorate out Thanksgiving table. It is one of the sweetest pears, and this holiday, while others are eating their fill of pie, I think I'll first grab a Seckel. I'll let you know how that works!

Selecting: Pears should be free of cuts and bruises. For baking, pears should be firm. Pears are ready to eat when they yield to a gentle pressure at the stem.

Storing: To ripen pears, leave them at room temperature. Once ripe, in the refrigerator they go.

The following recipe is from It really is a keeper.

Mache, Pear, Parmesan and Wild Mushroom Salad

Mâche is an heirloom green that has a mild, sweet, nutty flavor and succulent texture, making it ideal for salads. The winning combination of pears, mâche and sauteed mushrooms makes this impressive salad a perfect choice for entertaining.


  • 2 tsp. prepared Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tblsp. sherry vinegar
  • 3 oz. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms,wild or domestic (lobster, portobello, chanterelles, etc)
  • 1 Tblsp. olive oill
  • 8 cups (2 containers) Epic Roots Mâche
  • 2 ripe red pears, halved, cored, cut lengthwise in thin slices
  • 1 cup (2 ounces) shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • * For vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk mustard and vinegar until blended. Gradually add olive oil until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • * For salad, sauté mushrooms in olive oil over medium-low heat until lightly browned.
  • * In a large bowl, combine Mâche, Red Pears, mushrooms, cheese and shallots. Toss in vinaigrette, coat thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6 to 8

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Souper soups

I started this blog because this time I wanted my journey to lose weight to be different. I am not going on a diet. I have started over, incorporating healthy foods and exercise into my life. But I did pick up a book, "The Skinny," written by David Letterman's doctor, Dr. Louis Aronne, and have been following some of his suggestions on how to eat dinner. You do it in stages: First, you eat a salad, followed by a low-calorie soup if you are really hungry. The entree is comprised of greens, protein and starch, and that's the order you eat your meal.

Soup: In our family, it is often the meal, especially on cold nights. But I do find that if I am starved, his multi-course approach to eating helps tremendously. Add to that a study by Penn State, that discovered soup is an appetite suppressant because it is made up of a satisfying combination of liquids and solids.

Trader Joe's and Pacific Rim soups in cartons, and Progressive Light Soups in cans are always in my pantry, ready to pop into the microwave when hunger pains start calling my name. Just the act of heating the soup and then slowly eating it with a small spoon clams me down and makes me eat less. Or, if you have a few extra minutes, try this wonderful seasonal recipe that I've been making for years.

Bean, Chorizo and Pumpkin Soup

2 15 1/2-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes, drained

1/4 lb. chorizo, removed from casings

2 white onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 16-oz. can pumpkin puree
1 Tblsp. apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Place 1 can of black beans and the tomatoes in food processor; puree until smooth.
• Add chorizo to soup pot and brown well. Set chorizo aside. Leave a tiny bit of oil in pot; remove most with paper towel. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft. Add cumin and oregano.
• Add pureed mixture and remainder of beans, stock, pumpkin, vinegar and salt and pepper. Mix until well blended; simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Serve.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Recipe Exchange

Last week I asked for some slimming sides and hors d'oeuvres to serve on Thanksgiving. No one responded, so until I start hearing from my cyber friends, it will be me sharing recipes each Monday. And -- I'm still looking for new ideas for this year's feast!

Today, two versions of string beans, one with tomatoes, the second, caramelized red onions. For my family, the holiday wouldn't be the same without green beans, but my usual way to serve them, all buttered up with lemon and almonds, does not fit into my new way of eating. Both of these versions does. They are from "The Essential EatingWell Cookbook," edited by Patsy Jamieson.
Braised Green Beans & Tomatoes
8 ripe tomatoes, see Note
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 Tblsp. fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil.. Dip tomatoes in boiling water. Peel and seed, then chop.
  2. Cook green beans in the boiling water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and refresh with cold water.
  3. Heat oil in a large nonreactive saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add fennel seeds and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds more. Add tomatoes and green beans. Cover and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes from a sauce and the beans are soft, 30 minutes. Season wiht salt and pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature.
  4. Makes 6 servings, 3/4 cup each. Per seving: 79 calories, 2g fat, no cholesterol, 14g carbohydrates, 3g protein, 6g fiber, 35 mg sodium.
  • Note: This time of year, I would choose plum or canned, and if canned, look for San Marzanos. They really are with the extra money.
Green Beans with Caramelized Red Onions
To make ahead: Prepare through Step 2. Cover and refrigerate onions for up to 2 days. Refresh beans under cold running water; cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.
1 Tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium red onions, about 1 3/4 lbs., cut into 16 wedges each
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 Tblsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Drain.
  3. Add broth to the onions, cook for 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pper, add the beans, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Serve warm.
  4. Makes 8 servings, about 2/3 cup each. Peer serving: 82 calories, 2g fat, no cholesterol, 16g carbohydrates, 2g protein, 3g fiber, 108mg sodium.