Monday, November 22, 2010

Water and Weight Loss

I just read this article and found it interesting…

Apparently there is now research backing the idea that “filling up” on water before a meal can help you lose weight.  Maybe you can test it out on yourself this Thursday!  Report back with your findings!

Deliciously Golden…on TV!

Last Thursday I filmed a TV segment for the show Across Louisiana on the local Cox station.  The topic?  Healthy holiday eating of course!  The show will air on channel 4 each morning this week at 8:00 am.  If you can’t tune it, here's a recap of what I covered:

1.  The week of Thanksgiving try to eat “extra healthfully” at all the meals YOU have control of…the ones you eat at home or by yourself.

2.  The day of Thanksgiving, eat breakfast (and lunch if you have Thanksgiving at dinner).  Skipping a meal will only make you hungrier and then you will end up overeating.  For me? I’ll either have yogurt and fruit or oatmeal with fruit and milk (fiber/carbs & protein).  We eat our Thanksgiving meal at noon.  Then I’ll have a light dinner…salad most probably!

3.  At the meal, choose the food that you can’t have on a regular basis and the items that you love.  Skip the everyday dishes…for me that’s mashed potatoes and gravy…I can have that whenever I want.  But if you love mashed potatoes and gravy with your turkey, then go for it, and pass on something else.  Load up on the lean, protein packed turkey and any fresh vegetables that there might be.

4.  Keep portions small.  Serve yourself a “taste” of everything.  You can always go back for seconds.  But, If you put it on your plate you will more than likely eat it…ALL of it! 

5.  Offer to bring a lighter side dish.  A non-casserole vegetable!  I’m the salad girl at all family holiday meals.  That way I know that there will be a healthy, delicious side item that I can fill my plate with. 

6.  If you love dessert, then SAVE room for it.  During the main part of the meal, don’t go back for seconds or pass on the store bought dinner rolls…and then enjoy your dessert!

7.  Get back on track.  The NEXT day.  Don’t wait until Monday to end the holiday eating. 

Remember, holiday weight gain doesn’t happen because of one meal…its the combination of lots of “holiday” meals/snacks/treats.  Here’s an old post on holiday eating.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nana’s Beef Vegetable Soup

Beef Vegetable Soup 2

Around this time of year my mom’s mom, Nana, would get to work making a HUGE batch of her delicious beef and vegetable soup.  In her words “it grows” as you make it…she told me once that she kept having to change pots to accommodate all the veggies she wanted to add. 


I have lots of family recipes…a whole binder dedicated to them.  Most of my “Nana recipes” are in her handwriting on a scrap of paper.  On the other hand, many of my mom’s recipes are in the form of an email that I printed out…I only have 1 or 2 in her handwriting.  I love the fact that the text of the message reminds me of being in college and are signed love, mom: “I know you will do well on your test”…I must have been planning a post-test celebratory meal of spaghetti and meatballs.


Back to the soup.

Nana would bring containers of soup to our house, some to eat right away and some to freeze.  But these weren’t your typical Tupperware containers.  No!  Nana saved jars and plastic containers to use for occasions like this.  It was completely normal to receive a Cool Whip container or a Blue Plate jar full of soup (these types of containers also found their way to Thanksgiving dinner to package leftovers after the meal).

I loved this soup as a kid.  The beef was undoubtedly the best part.  My brother, sister, and I would fish it out of the pot, giving ourselves double servings of meat…same with the potatoes.
  PB051749 PB051753 PB051755

But really, I loved all the veggies too.  My version today has an even greater variety of vegetables (does that surprise anyone?).  I also played with the method a little and made a few changes to the tomato ingredients (she used canned tomato soup and canned vegetable soup…but I switched to diced & pureed – less processed!).  Browning the beef first was also a must for the added flavor from the caramelized bits left on the bottom of the pan.

But some things I didn’t dare mess with.  Nana added “dollops” of ketchup right at the end of cooking…so do I.  Nana added pasta…me too!  I’ve never tried adding a head of cabbage which she says is optional…maybe next year. 

 PB051757 PB051759

Like I said, this makes a ton of soup (the amount changes every time I make it…this batch made 36 cups!).  But it’s a flexible/forgiving recipe…add as much as or as little as you want.  Double the recipe or halve the recipe.  Any combination of fresh or frozen veggies will do perfectly.  You could leave the beef out (definitely wouldn’t recommend it though), or switch to chicken.  You could omit the pasta.   You could add fresh diced carrots with the onions and celery (my carrots were in the frozen veggie mix).  You could reduce the amount of potatoes and only do 1 pound.  Fresh herbs would be nice too…my herb garden bit the dust when I moved into an apartment. 

Just note, you will need to adjust the broth and water accordingly.  I leave mine a little thick (almost stew like) so that I have less to freeze…and then add water before reheating.

Beef vegetable soup 1

Nana’s Beef Vegetable Soup
adapted from my grandmother’s recipe

1 chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cubed (2-3 pounds)
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons of a neutral oil (grapeseed, canola)
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
5 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon salt, divided
2 teaspoons black pepper, divided
4 cups chicken broth (reduced sodium)
4 cups beef broth
4 cups water*
2  26oz cans tomato puree
1  26oz can diced tomatoes
2-3 zucchini or yellow squash, cubed
2 lb small red potatoes, cubed
16 oz bag frozen okra**
16 oz bag frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrots, green beans, peas)
16 oz bag frozen baby lima beans
2 teaspoons dried thyme & 2 teaspoons dried oregano (1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning would work as well)
2 cups whole wheat orzo, uncooked (or any pasta you like)
3 generous “dollops” of ketchup

In a bowl, toss beef cubes and flour until well coated.  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat.  Add 1/3 of the beef to the pot and cook until browned on all sides.  Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.  Repeat twice more, each time with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/3 of meat.  Reduce heat if browning to quickly.

In the now empty pot, add onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Stir, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, until vegetable are very tender; stir occasionally.

Add both broths and water.  Return beef to the pot and simmer on low heat for 1 hour.

Add all cans of tomatoes.  Add remaining vegetables (fresh and frozen).  Season with remaining salt (1 1/2 teaspoons), pepper (1 teaspoon), thyme and oregano.  Cook over medium heat for 1 hour, or until beef and potatoes are very tender.  Add more water if soup becomes too thick or if all the vegetables aren’t submerged.

Add orzo and ketchup.  Cook for about 20 minutes or until pasta is al dente.  Taste and reseason with salt and pepper if necessary.

Per serving (1 cup*) – 183 calories, 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 20 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 11 g protein, 518 mg sodium (exchanges: 2 vegetable, 1 starch, 1 protein, 1 fat; WW points: 3)

* The soup will be really thick, almost stew-like (the annoying Rachael Ray would call this stoup)…I do this on purpose because I freeze the soup “concentrated” which helps with freezer space and then add water when I reheat it.  It’s good both ways (thick and thin), but if you add the water, your 1 cup serving can become nearly 2 cups…for the same amount of calories.  And a tip…the potatoes for some reason will be mushy if you reheat in the microwave (after being frozen), so I use the stovetop which seems to reduce the mushiness.

** I used fresh okra in this batch, but usually use frozen…both are equally delish.

Monday, November 01, 2010

All Saints Day

I love when the first of the month falls on a Monday…it feels like such a fresh start…perfect opportunity for someone to get back on track (in more than one way). 

Someone (me) had a party filled weekend, which means lots of “party” food and beverages.  And I may or may not have had a Rally’s burger (w cheese…and fries!) last night after the Saints win over the Steelers…that is what exhaustion does to me! 

But today is the first and I’m about to head to the grocery so I can fill my fridge with healthy things and starting today I can get back on track (and feel better…fast food makes me feel sick!).  And I’m going to mass…fresh start number 2.

It’s All Saints Day, the day my mom passed away 6 years ago.  Time flies, but then again, it doesn’t.  It seems like forever ago on that Saturday night in Tiger Stadium where I saw her for the last time as I marched out with the GG’s.  The next night was Halloween and that was the last time I talked to her.  Seems like a lifetime ago…

atlantic city

Here is the post I wrote 2 years ago remembering her “food” influences.  And all other posts where I mention her for one reason or another.

Chicken Salad
Mother’s Day
Spaghetti Sauce
Spice Cake

I miss my mom everyday, but thankfully she still has a huge influence on my life.  This was written on her online “remembrance book”, I love this story…so true:

While the services for Sherrie were being held, one of the mourners was having difficulty with his leg while in church. He went outside of St. Peter's church so that he could not disturb others. As he stood in front of St Peter's Church a student from St. Peter's school was driving by with his mother. The mother stopped the car so the young man could go and ask why there were so many cars in all directions. The young boy asked the gentleman, "Is this a funeral?" to which the gentleman replied, "Yes." Then the young man asked, "Was it a celebrity?" The gentleman replied, "Yes"!