Everything But the Kitchen Sink!
Ubiquitous (being found everywhere) is not a word I get to use very often, although I really like the way it sounds: the tart, hard consonants b, q, t and the soft vowels. The word reminds me of a crunchy, well-textured salad…but I digress. Ubiquitous is the perfect descriptor for tomato sauce, which is used in almost every North American kitchen.
In fact, prior to being a food refashionista, I always had jars of tomato sauce on hand. I used to make my own sauce back in the olden days when stores only stocked lousy-tasting canned sauces, but I had stopped because there was now such a good choice on the grocery shelves. Unfortunately, as we know, these choices are full of sugar, oils, and additives; healthy eating meant getting off the fast-food track and going back to basics.
So what makes this a dieter’s sauce? No meat, no oil, no sugar, no tomato paste—just tofu and loads of vegetables. And this is one of those recipes that invites variations, so have fun!
This week, I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting in almost two months. Fear lay heavily on my soul. I’d been careful with food when we were away, but even so…I hadn’t followed any particular diet or tracked what I was eating.
And there’s a confession too: I had a love affair with pistachio nuts while in Tucson. And Safeway carried these cinnamon sugar rice cakes we don’t get in Ottawa…
So imagine my delight and that of my WW leader to discover that I’d not gained a pound. Clearly, I’m terrific at maintaining my weight…now to take off 20 more pounds, but that is the subject of another post.
I attribute this weight maintenance to three things: I did a lot of walking; we didn’t eat out very often; I made roasted vegetables so that we always had some for every dinner, even if we had salad as a side dish; AND I ate the roasted vegetables, of which I always made a large quantity, in place of potatoes or rice.
I didn’t plan this strategy in advance. I ended up roasting vegetables because our rented apartment had no equipment for steaming vegetables but did have two shallow casserole dishes with covers. The result was that I cooked vegetables that were on sale or looked good.
This is what I learned from the experience, above and beyond what I wrote in my first post about roasted vegetables (DIY Roasted Vegetable Medley):
Looking for a quick, easy-to-make, low-cal lunch? When we were in Tucson (where we vacationed for a month), I discovered that Safeway carried broccoli slaw which we also have in Canada and which I’ve been using as the basis for a lunch salad. This salad is as healthy as all get out, covers all the food groups except grains, and has a great, crunchy texture.
I’ll add a photo when I’m a little more settled. (The photo is now added. In this version, I didn’t have any chicken or turkey so I threw in a hard-boiled egg instead. It’s okay, but I prefer the meats.) When we got home from Arizona three days ago, I discovered that my computer wasn’t working and that my hard drive was fried. I’m sure you can envision the ensuing rigamarole. In the meantime, get out the broccoli slaw… Continue reading
A confession: I’ve always liked beets but rarely cooked them—partly because they’re messy and partly because the spouse is not enamoured. “Well,” I say, “Too bad for him.”
I’ve decided to make beets part of my “DIY Roasted Vegetables” diet strategy, namely, to always have cooked veggies available for snacks and general noshing.
The result was this easy-to-make, very colourful, and deliciously sweet dish with a tang of savoury, thanks to some sharp cheese. Continue reading
Thanksgiving brings one’s thoughts around to sweet potatoes…at least, it does mine. I have to admit, however, that my family is split on the issue. On one side we have the sweet potato lovers; on the other side, we have those who would rather skip them altogether, if you don’t mind. Well, what do they know anyway? I am firmly in the sweet-potato-lover camp…three times over.
- First, I love the taste.
- Second, I love their nutritional value. According to Nutritiondata.self.com, sweet potatoes are low in Sodium, and very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol…a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6 and Potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Manganese.
- Third, I love the fact that, because of their high fiber content, sweet potatoes score lower in point value than regular potatoes in the Weight Watchers program. More food, less guilt!
So…what’s not to like? Especially in this easy-to-make dish, where sweet potatoes are blended with soft goat cheese and spiced with cinnamon and ginger. Continue reading
We Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on October 10 so our family had its groaning board yesterday, replete with turkey, stuffing, and all the usual wonderful and calorie-rich accompaniments.
In the past, I used to throw caution to the winds and dolloped lots of cranberry sauce (canned) on my turkey even though I knew it was chock-full of sugar. This year, I decided to make my own cranberry sauce and spend those calories elsewhere—on pumpkin pie, for example, and some stuffing. And this was a good thing for two reasons.
First of all, this relish was a much superior product to the canned variety: the cranberry flavour enhanced by spicy undertones of orange and spices. And secondly, I needed to save those extra calories because one daughter brought home-made coconut macaroons, which were to die for.
And, honestly? My diet did die a little…a smidgeon, really, dear god of weight loss. But then, such is the fate of diets when Thanksgiving rolls around.
As the weather gets colder, my taste buds yearn for hot, hearty soups. This tomato soup is thick, rich, aromatic, and a dinner unto itself. Two things set it apart from spaghetti sauce: the emphasis on fresh basil (it has no oregano), and the meatballs are made of spinach and three types of meat, rather than just beef.
This dish can be eaten simply as a soup or with noodles or rice. If you’re dieting and want to add noodles, consider using shirataki which is almost pure fiber and won’t add to your calorie count. Also, you can make the soup thicker (as I did) by using canned crushed tomatoes as well as diced tomatoes.
I was making this soup with two of my grandchildren who are avid beginner cooks. To keep them busy and feed their early teen appetites, I decided to triple the meatball mixture called for in the original recipe. Feel free to cut back if you prefer.
In a recent post on the food possibilities for roasted vegetables, I listed 16 different types of vegetables. Now, I’m not a math person in the slightest, but a bit of Internet research suggests that the total number of veggie combos (from any 2 to all 16) would be “factorial 16” or approximately 21 trillion different dishes! To put it mildly, we’ve got plenty of scope to experiment.
I’ve certainly been on a roasted-vegetable roll and suspect it will go on all winter. First, these vegetables are easier on my wallet; they tend to be plentiful and cheaper in the winter. Second, they’re good for me, being full of super-healthy nutrients. And, finally, I can just about eat them to my heart’s content. Ever heard of anyone overdosing or gaining weight on brussel sprouts? Me neither.
This recipe came about because I thought brussel sprouts would be delicious with leeks, which are sweeter than regular onions, and that fresh sage, which I love, would suit the combination. So I just threw them all together and then decided to sprinkle on some grated sheep romano cheese. Yum!
I love pumpkin pie, but it doesn’t love my diet. Think pie crust, and you’ll know what I mean. The flour and shortening…or if you’re inclined to alternative pie crusts, the very nutritious nut meal flours which are, unfortunately, high in calories. The day someone figures out a diet pie crust, that person should win a Nobel prize. Seriously!
Now, I also love cornbread (e.g., Sweet Quinoa Cornbread), whose calorie count falls within my dietary ambit. So why not combine pumpkin and all those pumpkin pie spices—cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger—with the nubbly texture and rich taste of cornbread? The result: a delicious, spiced bread, redolent of the best fall flavours.
Cooking update (April 10, 2012): I make this oil-free and it was still terrific. Just replace the 2 tbsp. of oil with 2 tbsp. of apple sauce.
That autumn thing is happening again. Every once in a while we have a day with a chilly breeze, and the nights are always cool. It’s no longer light until 9:00 or 10:00 o’clock in the evening. And the vegetable stores are outfitted with pumpkins, squashes, and gourds. When it comes to dieting, this is my season for hearty soups (see So Very Vegetable Soup) and roasted veggies.
Now, the thing about making a roasted vegetable dish is that what goes into it depends on what you like and what you have in the refrigerator. Just about any hardy vegetable (does not fall to pieces) will do. And the nice thing? This dish doesn’t use exotic, elegant, expensive vegetables. Nope, if you’re thinking “humble,” “cheap,” and “peasant fodder,” then you’re in the right mind-set.