Food and Weight: An Ongoing Journey

Archive for February 2015


I am a sucker, especially in winter, for a good, hearty, homemade soup or stew. A stoup, as defined by Rachael Ray, combines the best of both worlds. It’s real comfort food. I adapted this from Simple Nourished Living‘s recipe for “Mom’s Simple Hearty Lentil Sausage Stew”. I used a cooking method my friend Mamadeb had mentioned in her blog, Steadily On. It is a Weight Watchers friendly recipe; most of the ingredients are power foods. Beef and Lentil Stoup works for the Simply Filling plan and is 5 Points Plus per 1-cup serving for those doing tracking.

Beef and Lentil Stoup
Adapted by Deb Wunder (otherdeb)

12 1-cup servings
5 5 Points Plus per serving

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: About two hours

    Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, choped rough
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeds and stem removed, chopped rough
  • 1 lb beef chunks (round, trimmed)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups dry lentils
  • 1-1/2 boxes broth
  • 2 10-oz cans Ro*Tel, undrained
  • 5 ribs celery, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Directions:
1. Chop the ingredients that need chopping, cutting, or dicing
2. Put the olive oil into a Dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic, and pepper. Cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally
3. Add the beef chunks and cook for about 8 minutes.
4. Stir in the lentils, broth, tomatoes, celery, carrot, parsnips, Ro*Tel, and spices.
5. Partially cover pot and bring to a boil.
6. Preheat oven to 300∘ F.
7. Cover pot, and put in the oven on a rack for approximately two hours, or until stoup is the thickness you desire. If it gets too thick, add a bit of water or broth.
8. Divide into one-cup portions and serve.
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I bit the bullet and rejoined Weight Watchers this morning. Chose a three-month, online-only plan that gives me access to a coach at all times. I had a discussion with one of the coaches today – a lady named Janet, and we spoke about how I was feeling. I’m not sure how it will work out, but the pain of being out of shape and obese is, perhaps, finally stronger than the pain of doing the program again.

I finished an interesting book today: Fuschia Dunlop’s Shark’s Fin And Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China. She covers how she ended up becoming a certified Sichuan chef and a food writer specializing in the cuisines of China. IF you are interested in a look at the foods of China – in a context of life in China – I recommend it.

Anyway, that’s it for now.


I finally got to do a little cooking last night. Made two recipes from The Kitchn: Chicken Ragù with Bacon and Fennel and Cauliflower Couscous.

**Chicken Ragù with Bacon and Fennel**

**INGREDIENTS:**
6 ounces thick bacon, about 3 strips, diced
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into large pieces
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

**INSTRUCTIONS:**
Cook the bacon over low heat in a Dutch oven or heavy pot for 5 to 10 minutes, until the fat has rendered out and the bacon is getting crispy. Stir in the onion, garlic, and fennel until coated with the bacon fat, and cook over low to medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes or until soft and glistening.

Push the vegetables to the edge of the pan and turn the heat to medium-high. Sear the chicken thigh pieces in the center of the pot for about 3 minutes, turning frequently. The goal is not to develop a dark sear or crust on the chicken, but just to start the cooking.

Stir in the flour. Pour in the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and cook for 1 hour or until the chicken is very tender. Vigorously work through the pot with two forks to shred the meat fine.

Taste before serving and add salt or other seasonings if needed. Serve with gnocchi, as seen here, or pasta, brown rice, or roasted vegetables.

Leftovers keep up to 4 days in the refrigerator and they also freeze extremely well.

**Recipe Notes**
On Seasoning: I do not add any salt to this dish until the end of cooking, as bacon can be quite salty enough.
Fennel Tops: If your fennel bulb comes with its stalks and fronds, trim away the fronds and reserve for garnishing the dish. The stalks can be diced and added to the pot with the bulb.

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**CAULIFLOWER RICE OR COUSCOUS**

Makes 6 servings (about 1 cup each)

**Ingredients**
1 head cauliflower, any size
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter, optional
Salt, optional

**What You Need**
Equipment
Chef’s knife
Food processor or box grater
Spatula
Skillet with lid, optional

**Instructions**
Cut the cauliflower into large pieces: Cut the head of cauliflower into quarters, then trim out the inner core from each quarter. Break apart the cauliflower into large florets with your hands. If the core is tender, you can chip it into pieces and add it with the florets.

Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor: Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor. Don’t fill the food processor more than 3/4 full; if necessary, process in two batches.

Pulse the cauliflower until completely broken down: Process the cauliflower in 1-second pulses until it has completely broken down into couscous-sized granules. (Alternatively, grate the florets on the large holes of a box grater.)

Pull out any unprocessed pieces: Some florets or large pieces of cauliflower might remain intact. Pull these out and set them aside. Transfer the cauliflower couscous to another container and re-process any large pieces.

Serving raw cauliflower couscous: Cauliflower couscous can be used raw, tossed like grains into a salad or in a cold side dish.

Cooking cauliflower couscous: Cooking makes the cauliflower more tender and rice-like. Warm a tablespoon of olive oil or butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the couscous and sprinkle with a little salt. Cover the skillet and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the couscous is as tender as you like. Use or serve immediately, or refrigerate the couscous for up to a week.

**Recipe Notes**
Freezing raw cauliflower couscous: The couscous can also be sealed in airtight containers or bags and frozen for up to three months. Thaw on the counter for a few minutes before using or cooking.

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Both were very tasty, although the roomie preferred hers without the sprinkling of fennel fronds on top and had hers over rice.

The bad news is that I had a fair amount of trouble standing for longer than about five minutes at a stretch. My lower back was not happy with me at all. The damage at L5, S1 is enough to keep me in pain when I have to stand.

I’m in a quandary. I need to lose weight. I am now over 300 lbs. This is the heaviest I have ever been, and I feel it. I know Weight Watchers works, but the idea of counting every bite is just more than I can deal with right now. I know Atkins works, but I don’t like the idea of cutting out whole food groups — even for short periods of time. I need to figure out how to eat for where my body is now. I know I want to get back to being more flexitarian. I know I need to lose some weight to begin to do exercise. I want to get either a treadmill or an elliptical so that the weather is not a stop for me in terms of being able to exercise. (I have spoken to two cousins about this — one a pediatric gastroenterologist and one a sports medicine specialist, as well as my cardiologist).

I know that if I wanted to jump through hoops for a year, Medicaid would approve bariatric surgery, but I really don’t want to go that route.

I will get this figured out. It may take time, but I will. I didn’t go through an incredibly risky surgery just to end up vegetating.

In good news, I used some of a small windfall to get something I have wanted for about ten years: a Le Creuset 5.5 quart French Oven. I got very lucky one day and found it for sale on Zulilly for about 2/3 of the retail price and ordered immediately. Last night’s ragù was its initial use, and I was quite pleased with it. My next use will be a lentil and beef stew, which I will probably try tomorrow since my back is not up to standing today.

One other thing I’ve done is to decide that I need to get back to blogging more regularly. Don’t get me wrong, I like providing web content – at least most of the time. but I really miss blogging about the things I like, and I need to not let the web content writing take me away from the writing that keeps me sustained.

So that’s what’s happening over here in Brooklyn.


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