Wish Upon A Dish: October 2015

October 20, 2015

Four Bean Turkey Chili ♥ better than Panera's

Yes, I am aware of the ongoing fight as to what constitutes "authentic chili" in America.
This is just as big as frying or baking your meatballs.
Texas uses chunks of meat and gags at the mention of beans, Tex Mex aficionados use black or red kidney beans, Cincinnati loves it sweetly spiced and poured over spaghetti, the North East uses  ground beef and serves it over dogs and burgers, Californians like it full of veggies and turkey, Chuck Wagon contests have them with only beans and spices and the rest of the population couldn't care less as long as it's chock full and spice-loaded.

I am from the latter. I love all chili's but this last batch I made went right to the head of the class.
Before I eat out, I find the nutrition content that by law, has to be posted somewhere, and choose the healthiest low-calorie option in the "I like" category.

Panera's has this 5 bean turkey chili at 280 calories that knocked my socks off. It also kicked my taste buds in the butt. This I could eat everyday as a starter, as a lunch, for dinner and even over pasta. Since I can't run to Panera's every time I have a craving and I know I can recreate it at half the price, I took out my Dutch oven and went to work.

Two things. First, I do not like edamame, or at least the ones I have tried to eat. They are just too crunchy for me to include a dish full of sexy, soft foods. They just don't scream COMFORT to me.
Second, they cost more than the whole of all the rest of the ingredients in this recipe.

Since I couldn't think of a respectable replacement this time, I simply left them out and added black beans to the mix.

Don't tell your football pals what's in it till after they ask you (and they will ask). Some frown down on poultry in their chili but even before I added the browned turkey tenders to the pot, it had so much flavor from the spices that I would even make this if I had no meat.

You will need:
A Dutch Oven or heavy bottomed stockpot
Ancho chili powder (McCormack glass bottles now carry specific chili powders - ancho, chipotle)
Regular chili powder (I like Simply Organic brand)
Cumin & Italian Seasoning
Kidney Beans
Cannellini Beans
Black Beans
Garbanzo Beans

I tried Bush's Chili Beans (in a light chili sauce) but regular beans will do fine. Bush's thinned the consistency (and the taste) of the sauce so I had to simmer an extra 30 minutes to evaporate the liquid and concentrate the flavor.

Let's get cooking......

Four Bean Turkey Chili
makes 10 (1 cup) servings at 166 calories per
Total cooking time: 2 hours

* 1 pound turkey tenders
* AP flour for dredging
* Adobo for seasoning
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* Pre-chopped container of onions, carrots & celery (or one each, chopped fine)
* 2 large cloves garlic, minced
* 1 small red & green pepper, chopped
* 1 (15oz) can Italian style stewed tomatoes in tomato sauce (pureed in blender)
* 3 tablespoons tomato paste
* 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
* 1 tablespoon cumin
* 1 tablespoon black pepper (yes, that is right)
* 1 tablespoon generic blend chili powder
* 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
* 2 tablespoon white wine or beer
* 1 carton vegetable or chicken stock
* Salt to taste (at the end)
* 1 can garbanzo (chickpea) beans (drained and rinsed)
* 1 can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
* 1 can black beans
* 1/2 can yellow corn

Heat the oil in Dutch oven.
1. Season tenders with adobo and dredge in flour.
2. When the oil is hot, saute the tenders until browned on all sides.
3. Remove to a platter.
3. Add the onion/carrot/celery mix and saute until they start to brown. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add the peppers and the seasonings (ancho, chili, cumin, pepper and Italian) to the pot and saute for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
4. Add the tomato paste and stir, then the wine to deglaze the pan.
5. Add the pureed stewed tomatoes and 3 cups stock. Stir and bring back to a simmer.
6. Add the beans and corn and simmer, uncovered until the liquid thickens and coats the beans.
7. Taste for salt and add more seasoning if needed.
8. If serving immediately, save the remaining stock for reheating. The beans will soak up liquid as they sit.
9. Serve with lite sour cream and Tostito restaurant style chips.

Yes, this can be done in the crockpot but the consistency will be soupy. This is when you taste. If the chili is flavorful thicken with crushed chips or masa harina. If the chili tastes watery with no flavor, you must spoon into a stock pot and simmer, uncovered, until it thickens. At least 30 minutes.

Let me know if you like it or not.
At 166 calories a cup, this would be the perfect starter to tame your hunger until the main meal is served.

October 15, 2015

70 Calorie Hashbrowns ♥ Perfect Poached Egg Perch

Hash Browns.....oh, my

On a diet? You betcha!

If I had a choice between a piece of toast or a crispy potato raft to put my poached egg on top of, the raft would win hands down.

I bought a 5lb bag of russets to test a recipe for America's Test Kitchen which only required 2 pounds and needed to use up the remaining 3 pounds.
I did some research and found that 2 3/4 oz of shredded potatoes were only 70 calories, so I shredded three potatoes and using a large top from a dry roasted peanuts container, I halfway fried 5 potato pancakes and placed them in the freezer. When I want one, I heat up the toaster oven and as I would bread, toast them for 8 minutes, yes, from their frozen state.

Here's my thinking.....
I can buy a thin sliced bread with 45 calories per slice with a minute amount of nutritional value or eat one 4 1/2" potato pancake at 70 calories that is loaded with potassium, fiber, Vitamin C & B-6, magnesium and iron.

First I sprinkle Adobe on the shredded potatoes, weigh out 2.7oz, load up a 4" baking ring with the shreds, spray a non-stick frying pan with a butter flavored release agent and cook them for 4 minutes per side.
I can top them with eggs, with salsa and guacamole or with Feta and Tzatziki sauce. All excellent choices for breakfast or lunch.

Tonight I ate one with a Swiss Cheese Egg Beater Omelet. Dinner was very filling, tasty and only 190 calories.

October 13, 2015

Thai Green Curry Mussels ♥ No longer a forbidden diet food

I ever take nutrition values verbatim. Not when every calorie counts.
I put each recipe through CalorieCount.com, an About.com subsidiary.

1 pound of mussels is over 500 calories and the recipe calls for 4 pounds (4 servings) how can their per serving value be 290 calories? Do they weigh the mussels with or without the shell?
Why don't they just list them as mussel meat? I mean, no one eats those shells, right?

Let's compare:
3.5 oz (100 g) of mussel meats contain 95 calories, 14.4 g protein, 2.2 g fat, 88 mg. calcium, 3.4 mg. iron and 289 mg sodium.

I ate 24 mussels for dinner last night. Total mussel meat was 2oz.
Those 2oz = 52 calories. The sauce was 111 calories per 1/2 cup.

According to every mussel dish I researched on-line, my Thai Curry Mussel dish with steamed mussels in their shells, clocked in at 4.7 ounces per dozen with 229 calories.
My calculations had me at 163 calories and that's what I logged in for dinner.

While EatiningWell.com said my portion was 289 if I had eaten 1 pound of mussels. Actually 100 over what I did eat. It would have been nice to have those extra calories. Maybe a 1/2 cup of pudding for dessert?

I ate 24 mussels with 1/2 cup sauce so therefore, I consumed a mere 163 calories.
No wonder I wanted a slice of bread to sop up that sauce (but I resisted) and many would do that. The Nudge ate two dinner rolls.

Here's the recipe....

Thai Green Curry Mussels 
Servings: 4 (1 pound mussels in their shell)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 14-ounce can “lite” coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons Thai green curry paste, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce, or 1tablespoon aminos or 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 pounds mussels, cleaned
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil and/or cilantro for garnish

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until just starting to brown, about 1 minute.
  2. Add coconut milk, lime juice, curry paste, brown sugar and fish sauce (or salt); bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in mussels. Cover and cook just until the mussels have opened, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat (discard any unopened mussels). Stir in basil (and/or cilantro), if using. Serve with the sauce from the pan.

October 12, 2015

How to Avoid that Pesky Diet Plateau

Best diet tip ever!!
This one changed the way I was thinking and dieting.
Those of us who hit that plateau where, even fasting won't make that scale move again, will be happy to know why for weeks and sometimes months, no matter how much we don't cheat (but are tempted too) our weight goes nowhere.
If you all know this next bit of wisdom, shake your heads yes and with my permission, find something more relevant to read. For those of you who were unawares, continue on.........
When a person eats half or more of their normal intake of daily calories, our bodies know and go into "starvation mode". That means, they actually store food calories in our fat so that it can feed us when we need it.
Example: In a month or two, you will no longer loose weight.
You will try to eat even less food and your scale will not budge. This is where diets fail.
It's not you people. Well, it is but it is nothing you are doing wrong.

Here's the great tip. You need to trick your body into thinking you are no longer starving yourself.
Your body actually gets comfortable with the skin it's in.
Change your routine. If you were walking, try riding a bike. Do strength training (weights). Start yoga. Anything new. Eat all your dinner calories for breakfast and your breakfast for dinner.
Cut out dairy for a few weeks, same with red meats. Try new foods.

In a week you should start to see the scale move. Keep up the new routine for a few weeks, and then go back to your normal routine.

I have decided that when my time comes, I will eat 1000 calories during the week and then up it to 1500-1600 calories a day on the weekends for one month, then back to 1000 a day all week.
I will dance instead of walk. The next plateau will be yoga (I should be slim enough to stay with it).

As the weeks continue, I will let you know how things are going, and if any of this really works.
In the mean time, I am preparing weekly meal plans at 1000 calories a day, for anyone who wants to join me.

Tonight I am making Thai Curry Mussels right out of EatingWell magazine. They have both a red or green curry version. Tonight it's green curry.

Tomorrow I will post a picture and the recipe, along with review.


October 6, 2015

Personal Tips & Hints to Maintain a 1000 Calorie-a-Day Diet

(6oz Marinaded & Roasted Coho Salmon with 1/2 cup Tuscan Lentil Soup Couscous)

Yes, I am still on a 1000 calorie a day diet, and while eating my way through the northwest for three weeks (including a 12 day cruise) could have seriously done some damage to the 11 pounds I lost right before, I am happy to report only a small gain of 4 pounds.

Soon as I got home, I resumed logging each morsel of food I ate and one week later I am back to were I was pre-vacation and have lost an additional 2 pounds. Yay for me!!
If I followed the experts using a 1500 calorie-a-day diet, I would simply half my usual intake and be happy with losing about a pound a week.

While not for everyone, I choose extreme dieting and consuming just enough calories to keep me full, alert and healthy.

Why am I speed dieting? My goal is to loose 40 pounds before my next pulmonary doctor visit (2/2016).
I was told that medication has done all it can for me, the rest was up to loosing 2x my BMI.
I do not want to carry oxygen in ten years.

Along the way, I have discovered a few tips to keep myself on track, exhibiting no cravings (so no cheating) while eating favorite comfort meals and a glass of wine (or 2) on the weekend.
Not a novice to the top 50 healthiest foods, my diet required careful planning of each calorie that went into my mouth and I found I needed to add new ingredients and replace others to meet my low goal.

I am not a professional nutritionist or dietitian, nor am I an expert on proper nutrition as it applies to various diets. I know my body and what my daily needs are. I base my diet on trial and error, testing and tasting along with careful comparisons to the government recommendations for daily values.
So here goes...........

1. Always eat breakfast.
My choice are -
A: a low calorie/high fiber English muffin topped with PB2 and sugar free jam or/
B. Protein shake with no more than 200 calories (for days when I hit the door running)
C. Homemade breakfast muffins (so many great choices on the Internet) with no more than 20g of carbs each
D. 100 calorie Yoplait Greek yogurt with 1/4 cup Oats N Honey granola
E. Denver Stuffed Egg Crepe Tortilla (the tortilla is a crepe of scrambled eggs)

2. Add tons of fiber to each meal even if you have to hide it -
A: Puree white beans to thicken
B. whole wheat flour replaces AP flour everywhere
C. Eat a 2 cup bowl of fruit around 3-4:00 every day
D. Twice the amount (in ounces) of high-fiber vegetables to meat/seafood (print list here)

3. Eat a snack mid-afternoon and for dessert 
A. Small salad before dinner or 1 cup of vegetable soup
hint: take one can of healthy/light soups, mix with equal amount of low sodium stocks, measure into 3 portions and refrigerate
B. Salsa/hummus and thin tortilla chips
C. 100 calorie popcorn snack packs
D. 100 calorie yogurt cup
E. A big bowl of fruit
D. Stock up on pre-measured containers of sugar-free puddings, gelatin, fruit cocktail & apple sauces 

4. Always make a menu and a shopping list!!
hint: find a great app for logging in your meals (I adore LoseIt!) with a shopping list built in and a bar code scanner

5. Measure & weigh everything and LOG EVERYTHING
A. I bought a great (& accurate) travel scale on Amazon
hint: my doctor told me something I will never forget "If I fed you under the door, you would loose weight".
If you have problems sticking to a diet but are extremely serious about loosing weight, try a gradual cut in calories. The first week make your favorite foods but put half the norm on your plate and immediately package the remaining in a container that is labeled and put in the freezer to be eaten another day. 
You may be surprised to learn you can be perfectly happy on half of what you used to eat. The second week, quarter that. 
Start to emit bad foods weekly. If you ate bread every day, limit to two days. Same with pasta and dairy. Trust me, in a few weeks you won't miss them.

6. Treat yourself on a low calorie day
A. Have a 5oz glass of wine (white is best at 120), a 1 ounce shot of liquor & diet fizzy (spiced rum and diet coke at 75 calories) or a low carb/calorie beer (Peroni is only 120 calories per bottle)
B. A scoop of frozen yogurt or sorbet
C. 1 ounce of cheese with 1 teaspoon honey or dried plums, dates or figs or/
a bowl of fruit

7. Eat each day at a time, there is no rollovers of calories 

8. Weigh yourself first thing in the AM but after you use the potty

9. Packaged dry mixes (sides, dressings, soups, spices) as well as bottled sauces and condiments are OK as long as you read and choose based on the nutrition label
hint: nowadays, there are some excellent helpers to make it easier to stay the course instead of grabbing fast food options

10. Find your favorite low calorie granola/nutrition bar and keep one in your purse/car at all times. 

I am sure there will be more tips as my diet progresses, but you need to customize your diet to your needs. I was never a big eater to begin with and always homemade. Last time I was in a fast food place (Micky D's or Burger Queen types) was over 15 years ago. If I need to eat out, I go to Panera's or a pizza place. I always read the calories in each selection and pick the lowest in a favorite (soups and salads). I take the meat out of the bread and always sub healthier versions (sweet potato fries and dressings on the side).

Hope this helps. If you have any questions, I will answer emails sent to wishuponadish@gmail.com.