Cuban Crazy Quilt Pork Stew

You are likely to think I’m not quite in my right mind to be making a stew using winter vegetables in the summer.  But, honestly, there’s a method to my madness.  Some of you may recall my post about cooking for stays on our boat.  We have a barbecue on the stern rail where the captain can grill meats and vegetables, but I also prepare food in advance so that we can have variety and I don’t have to toil in the miniscule galley.

FYI: My husband is the captain, and I am first mate and cook.  When we’re on the boat, we share about 300 square feet of living space.  How does this work maritally?  Well, he has a shirt that says “Captain,” and I have a shirt that says “Don’t Yell at Me!”  Generally, the atmosphere is very pleasant although there have been moments…but back to the stew.

So, as you can see, it isn’t so crazy to make a tasty, filling, healthy, and crazy-quilt colourful pork stew whose leftovers can be frozen and then eaten when floating at anchor.  This recipe takes some chopping but it’s worth it!

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Pumpkin-Romano Risotto

Elegant enough for a dinner party, this risotto is smooth and creamy, enriched by pumpkin and romano cheese, but made without the traditional oil, cream, and wine—all ingredients which move it way out of the dieter’s range.

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Makes 4 1-cup servings


  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. chicken broth powder and ½ cup water
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1¼ cups pumpkin purée, unsweetened
  • 6 tbsp. sheep romano cheese, grated
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • Artificial sugar and salt to taste


  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan and then reduce heat, keeping it at a simmer.
  2. Using a large, non-stick pan, heat chicken broth powder–water mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened.
  4. Add rice and cook, stirring, until the outer shell is translucent, about 1 minute.
  5. Add 1½ cups of broth and stir until the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Continue to add broth ½ cup at a time, stirring each time until it is absorbed, until rice is just tender.  This should take about 20 minutes of steady stirring.  If you run out of broth, add warm water by ½ cups.
  7. Lower heat to medium.
  8. Mix in pumpkin purée, cheese, and spices.
  9. Taste and add artificial sugar and salt if necessary.

For Weight Watchers: 4 points for a 1-cup serving on the Points plan and 5 points for a 1-cup serving on the PointsPlus plan.

(Adapted from “Pumpkin Risotta” in Best of Weight Watchers Magazine.)

Sweet Cardomom-Carrot Pudding

We're happy to be your comfort food.
We’re happy to be your comfort food.

Shredded carrots and rice simmer in soy milk and are then sweetened and delicately flavoured with cardamom.  This pudding is related to carrot halwa, an Indian dish, but it’s lower in fat and sugar and doesn’t include nuts.  It’s filling and delicious whether hot, warm, or cool.

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Makes 5 ½-cup servings

 Cooking Tip:

 The key to this dessert is the stirring.  You should stir frequently during the first 45 minutes and regularly in the last 15 minutes.  Is this a lot of stirring?  Yes.  Is it worth it? Absolutely.

  • 4 cups soy or other alternative milk (your choice may affect the points count)
  • 2 cups shredded carrots (2 large carrots)
  • 2 tbsp. uncooked white rice
  • ½ cup artificial sugar
  • 1 tsp. margarine
  • ¼ tsp. ground cardamom


  1. In medium-size heavy saucepan, put milk, carrots, and rice.
  2. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered.
  3. Stir frequently so that milk doesn’t form a skin or burn to the bottom of the pot.
  4. Simmer for about 45 minutes until milk is reduced by half.
  5. Stir in artificial sugar and margarine.
  6. Continue simmering and stirring for another 15 minutes (mixture will be thicker).
  7. Pour into 1/2 cup serving dishes.
  8. Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.
  9. Serve hot, warm, or cool.

For Weight Watchers: 2 points per ½-cup serving on the Points plan and 3 points per ½-cup serving on the PointsPlus plan.

Nutritional Information for a ½-cup serving:

  • Calories 122.4 (33.2 from fat)
  • Protein 7.4 grams
  • Fat 3.8 grams
  • Carbohydrate 14.8 grams
  • Fibre 2.2 grams
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Sodium 68.8 mg

This food is very low in cholesterol. It is also a good source of Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid and Magnesium, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and Calcium.

(Adapted from “Carrot Pudding” in A Collection of Recipes Celebrating Ontario’s Flavours)

“Free Spirit” Fried Rice

"Free Spirit" Fried Rice with Asparagus and More Carrots

Tasty, nourishing, and filling—this rice and vegetable dish is for “free spirits” who like to experiment.

You'll like us in your stir fry!

You'll like us in your stir fry!

It can be expanded indefinitely with other fresh vegetables (I’ve provided a list of those I’ve used below) as well as firm tofu (cubed), or cooked shrimp, chicken, or turkey if you want a main meal.  In the picture above, I added leftover Sesame Asparagus with Carrots to the basic recipe.

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Cooking tips:

  • This dish cooks quickly so you should have all your ingredients prepared and measured beforehand.
  • If you add additional vegetables, you may have to increase the amount of soy sauce if your pan gets too dry.

Makes 4 servings of 1 cup each

Basic Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • ½ cup liquid egg substitute (equivalent of two eggs)
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup scallions, sliced
  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • ½ cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • ¼ cup low-sodium or other no-wheat soy sauce
Other Vegetables You Can Add
  • ½ pound daikon, chopped
  • 2 cups bok choy (any type), shredded
  • 2 cups napa, Chinese, or regular cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup enoki mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 zucchini, sliced and quartered
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 1 bunch asparagus


  1. Spray large non-stick fry pan with cooking spray.
  2. Warm pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add liquid egg substitute, tilting pan so that the liquid covers the bottom.
  4. Scramble the eggs and then break them into pieces (2-3 minutes).
  5. Remove eggs onto a plate and set them aside.
  6. Take pan off heat and spray again with cooking spray.
  7. Put back on medium-high heat.
  8. Add carrots and scallions (tofu and other fresh vegetables should also be added at this time).
  9. Cook until crisp-tender (2-3 minutes).
  10. Stir in rice, peas, and soy sauce.
  11. Cook until heated through, stirring once or twice (1-2 minutes).
  12. Stir in egg (and any cooked meat or shellfish).

For Weight Watchers: The basic recipe yields 4 servings of 1 cup each.

  • Points plan: The total count is 15 so each cup is worth approximately 4 points.
  • PointsPlus plan: The total count is 18.5 so each cup is worth approximately 4.5 points.


  1. If you add more vegetables, you will add quantity but no other points.  Therefore, you’ll be lowering your point count per cup.
  2. If you add tofu, meat, or shellfish, you will have to add on its value to each serving.

Nutritional Information for a 1-cup serving:

  • Calories 200 (13.5 from fat)
  • Protein 10 grams
  • Fat 2 grams
  • Carbohydrate 42 grams
  • Fibre 3 grams
  • Cholesterol .3 mg
  • Sodium 1106.5 mg

(Adapted from “Easy Fried Rice” in the 2010 Weight Watchers Points Plus Getting Started booklet.)

Chicken Dumpling Soup, Japanese-Style

This dish makes a tasty and filling soup for a lunch, or it can be expanded into a rich dinner meal if you serve it over rice or noodles.  In the picture of the soup below, the mushrooms are enoki, and the bowl includes a small amount of rice vermicilli.

Tasty and filling chicken dumpling soup

Tasty and filling chicken dumpling soup

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This dish cooks very quickly so you should prepare the three separate elements of the soup in advance:

  1. The broth
  2. The dumplings
  3. The vegetables

Creating the Broth

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup soy sauce made without wheat
  • 1 ½ tbsp. sherry, mirin, or sake

Mix together stock, soy sauce, and sherry, mirin, or sake into large pot. 

Preparing the chicken dumplings

  • 1 lb. chicken breast, either ground or skinned, boned, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp. miso (for helpful information about this ingredient, click here)
  • ¼ cup liquid egg substitute
  • ¼ chopped scallions

Place chicken, ginger, miso, egg substitute, and scallions in a food processor bowl.  Mix until the mixture becomes a coarse paste.  Form dumplings by gently rolling chicken mixture in cupped hands to create 20-24 dumplings, approximately 1” in diameter.

 Chopping the vegetables

  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced at an angle
  • ½ lb. daikon, cut into sticks approximately 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 cups mushroom, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup bok choy, sliced

Cooking Directions 

  1. Bring broth to a boil and then reduce to a lively simmer.
  2. Drop 6-8 dumplings (depends on size of your pot) into the simmering broth. 
  3. When dumplings pop up to the surface they are cooked (approximately 3 minutes). 
  4. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  5. Continue dropping, cooking, and removing dumplings until you have used up all of the meat mixture. 
  6. Leave dumplings on the plate.
  7. Add vegetables to broth and bring to a boil.  Then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Return chicken dumplings to broth.

For Weight Watchers: Points depend on how many dumplings you make and eat. Here’s the best way to calculate your points.

  • Each ounce of chicken is worth 1 point. 
  • 1 lb. of chicken is 16 points. 
  • If you make 24 dumplings, each dumpling is worth roughly .75 points. # 
  • If you eat 6 dumplings for a serving, then that serving is worth 4.5 points in both the Points plan and the PointsPlus plan.
  • Remember to count in the rice or noodles if you include either of them.

#Why “roughly?” Because the actual point count is .666 which is difficult to work with when adding up points for the day.  I’ve rounded each dumpling up to .75 points to make for easier counting and also to cover the points in the egg substitute, miso, and sherry which are spread throughout the dish. 

(Adapted from “Sumo Wrestler Hot Pot” in Japanese Hot Pots by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat and “Japanese Chicken Soup” in Ontario Chicken: Food for Living by Chicken Farmers of Ontario.)