Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chèvre & jalapeño stuffed hamburgers

12 oz chuck steak, trimmed of fat, cut into 1-inch cubes (or 12 ounces ground chuck 85% lean beef)
1 t kosher salt
A few grinds black pepper

2 T Chavrie
Pickled jalapeños

2 hamburger buns (I found Sara Lee brand "80 Calories & Delightful" whole wheat hamburger buns. Normally I don't buy gimmicky crap like that, but decided to try them and they are just fine.)

Pulse the cubes of meat in a food processor 10-15 times, with the salt & pepper, until it is ground beef.

Divide into 4 equal amounts; make each into a thin patty.

On 2 of the patties, spoon 1 T of Chavrie and spread to 1 inch from the edge. Place pickled jalapeños on top of the cheese. Top each with the remaining patties; seal the edges well.

Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes (you may want to use a little canola spray or swipe the inside with a bit of high-heat oil).

Cook the burgers 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve on toasted buns.

Serves 2
400 calories per serving

Stuffed Peppers

4 large bell peppers, tops removed, seeded

2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped (more if you want it spicier)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 c cooked brown rice
2 chicken breasts, roasted and shredded
Half c each fresh cilantro and parsley, chopped
Quarter c grated parmesan
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a pot of boiling water, submerge the peppers until bright green about 2 minutes. They should be starting to soften, but still hold their shape. Remove to shallow baking dish.

In a nonstick skillet lightly coated with canola spray, over medium-low heat, cook the tomatoes, jalapeños, and garlic until soft and sauce-like.

Combine tomato mixture and the rest of the ingredients. Spoon a quarter of the mixture into each pepper. Bake for 20-30 minutes.

4 servings*
240 calories per serving

*Full disclosure: We are now both so accustomed to eating lighter meals that neither of us could finish an entire stuffed pepper (served with cucumber radish salad on the side). We each ate half of one before giving up.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cucumber radish salad

1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
About 8 radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 c fresh dill, chopped
1/4 c red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper to taste (optional)

Combine all ingredients well. Let marinate in the fridge for at least an hour before eating. Thinly sliced red onion or minced garlic would also be nice in this very refreshing salad.

Serves 2 (big servings)
30 calories

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Club sandwich

1 pita, halved and lightly toasted in a skillet
4 slices bacon, cooked and cut in half
2 slices roasted turkey breast
1 medium or half large tomato, sliced
Lettuce leaves
Good quality mustard

You know how to make a sandwich, right? Assemble 1 sandwich inside each of the 2 pita halves.

2 servings
225 calories per serving

*I can't stand mayonnaise. But if you love it, go ahead and use it. 1 T regular mayo will add 100 calories; light mayo, 50; and fat free mayo, 11 (according to the Lose It! application for iPhone).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rice noodle salad

This is a really delicious, simple, filling salad that is surprisingly low in calories. It’s rather like a deconstructed fresh spring roll.

8 oz rice vermicelli, cooked according to package directions and cooled
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 cucumber, skin on, cut into matchsticks
3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded*
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 small bunch basil, chopped
1 small bunch mint, chopped

¾ c white vinegar
Juice & pulp of 2 limes, well reamed
2 T fish sauce
1 T dark sesame oil
1 T tamari soy sauce
1 T sugar or honey
1 T hot sauce of your choice
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely minced
1 inch of fresh ginger, grated

Divide rice noodles among 6 bowls. Arrange carrots, cucumber, and chicken on top of each; sprinkle with herbs.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid or a bowl, mix all dressing ingredients until sugar is dissolved (should be equal to about 2 c; if you’re short, add more vinegar). Just prior to serving, pour 1/3 c of dressing over each serving.

6 servings
270 calories per serving

There are just 2 of us, so when I make this, I make 2 bowls of it for dinner, and make the other 4 servings directly into food storage containers for us to take to work for lunch the following 2 days. If you do this, keep the dressing separate; don’t pour it over the salad until you are ready to eat it. You could bulk up this salad even more with very few calories by adding shredded lettuce, Napa cabbage, or bean sprouts; or make it even lower calorie by substituting some of the rice noodles with them.

*I recommend buying split chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on. They are far cheaper than boneless skinless breasts and less prone to dry out. Arrange in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper. Bake in a 400°F oven for 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove & discard the skin and bones, and shred the breast with your fingers.

Pad Thai

This recipe is dead easy, fast, and way better than take-out. I adapted it from a recipe from my friend Jesse, who in turn adapted it from Real Thai Cooking (I think). To keep it lower in calories, I reduced the amount of sugar and peanuts, as well as eliminating the oil and cooking it in a large non-stick skillet rather than a wok. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference. If you use a wok, or a skillet that is not quality non-stick, I would definitely use a tablespoon or two of oil, NOT canola spray.

8 oz flat rice noodles (fettucine-style)
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks; or 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks (optional)

6 scallions, chopped
Dried Thai chiles
1 12 oz package bean sprouts
½ cup chopped peanuts
Cilantro, chopped

3 T sugar
6 T white vinegar
4 T fish sauce
2 T ketchup (yes, really)
½ T chili powder
1/8 t cayenne pepper

Soak rice noodles in very hot tap water for 20-30 minutes, until just barely al dente. Drain.

In a bowl or a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine sauce ingredients until sugar is dissolved.

Lightly coat a non-stick skillet over medium heat with canola spray. Add garlic and cook, stirring, about 10 seconds (careful not to burn it). If using, add chicken and cook 2 to 5 minutes, until chicken is no longer visibly pink.

Add sauce; continue to cook for about 5 minutes. Add noodles and cook, stirring, until they have absorbed most of the liquid (5 to 7 minutes).

Add scallions and enough chiles for desired amount of heat; cook another minute or two. Remove from heat and stir in 2/3 of the bean sprouts.

Sprinkle the rest of the sprouts, the peanuts, and the cilantro on top. Serve with plenty of lime or lemon wedges.

4 servings
450 calories per serving

Instead of chicken, you could also use dry-fried tofu or cooked shrimp. If using either of these, add them in at the end of the noodle step, before adding the scallions, just so they heat through. Chopped scrambled egg would be good, too.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday, August 20

167 lbs.

Down 3. Not bad.

It appears that my neighbors, from whom I have been stealing free wireless, have neglected to pay their bill. I therefore don't have internet access at home right now, making it tough to get posts up. I have a few written and will post them as soon as I get my laptop within range of a decent wi-fi network.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Brussels sprouts & apple salad

1 lb tiny Brussels sprouts
1 medium-to-large apple (Fuji, Pink Lady, etc.)

2 T good mustard (Dijon, stoneground, etc)
1 T olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon, well reamed

Salt & pepper to taste (lots)

Make this recipe only if you can get first-of-the-season, small, teeny-tiny, tender Brussels sprouts. Older ones will be too tough. You could also make this with very finely shredded green, red, or Napa cabbage.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid or a bowl, combine all ingredients except the sprouts and apple. Shake or mix until well combined.

Trim stem ends of sprouts and slice very thinly; place in large bowl. Quarter apple lengthwise and cut out the core; slice each quarter very thinly, crosswise, and transfer to the bowl. If you have a food processor with a thin slicing blade, you can use it to speed the process.

Mix or shake the dressing thoroughly again. Pour over shredded sprouts and apple and gently toss until evenly coated. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Put the bowl in the fridge and let it sit for an hour or two to let the salt and acid tenderize the sprouts a bit.

4 servings
85 calories per serving

This salad would also be great with shaved fennel in place of the sprouts, or with a firm pear instead of the apple. To make a light meal out of it, add some shaved parmesan or aged gouda and some toasted nuts (pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, or pinenuts). Cheese and/or nuts will add significantly to the calorie count. Finely sliced scallions or sweet onions would not be amiss here, either.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beets with dill

This is very easy, and if you like beets, very, very good.

5 medium beets, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
2 t canola or olive oil (optional)
1 T red wine vinegar
2 or 3 T chopped fresh dill
Salt & pepper to taste

Arrange the beets in a single layer on an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet. Cover with foil and roast the beets at 375°F until cooked through, about 20 minutes. If it is too damn hot to use the oven, like it is in August, steam them in a steamer on the stove top for about 10 minutes.

Place cooked beets in a bowl with dill, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Gently toss. Serve cold or at room temperature.

4 servings
60 calories per serving

*Also good sprinkled with feta cheese. 50 calorie increase per 1/8 cup of cheese.

Thursday weigh-in, August 13

170 lbs.

Breakfast pita

1 whole wheat pita, halved; room temperature or warmed in skillet until pliable
Egg whites equivalent to 4 whole eggs (6 egg whites or 3/4 cup egg whites from a carton)
Mixed chopped vegetables, about 1 cup total (This morning I used spinach and tomatoes; mushrooms, zucchini, arugula, onions, peppers, peas, garlic, scallions, etc. would work well also).
Chopped herbs (optional, but nice; I used parsley this morning)

Sauté vegetables in a non-stick skillet over medium heat with a little canola spray (I use Spectrum organic). When they are done to your liking and not too watery, add the egg whites, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, until egg whites are cooked.

Tuck half the cooked eggs and vegetables into each pita half. Add some hot sauce if you want.

2 servings
130 calories per serving

*You can use whole eggs, or a combination of whole eggs and egg whites. About 60 calories will be added per egg yolk. You could also use some meat in place of or in addition to vegetables; the calorie count will increase accordingly. Or, add a slice of turkey breast to each pita for a more substantial meal. Doing so will only add about 25 calories per serving.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Asianesque chicken & rice salad

2 c chopped leftover roasted chicken
3 c leftover rice
2 large carrots, peeled & chopped
1.5 c snow peas, ends trimmed
Chopped herbs (I used cilantro & basil, about 1 or 1.5 cups total), as much as you like

1 T honey
1 T tamari soy sauce
1 T fish sauce
1 T rice vinegar or red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime, reamed well
1 seeded, chopped jalapeño
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Mix first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl or jar with a tight-fitting lid; stir or shake well until honey is dissolved and ingredients well combined. Pour over rice & chicken mixture.

Stir gently until combined. Serve cold or room temperature. Good for lunch to take to work/school.

5 servings
260 calories per serving