It wasn’t so long ago when I thought that dinner was supposed to be a rather grand affair involving some sort of protein, some sort of starch and some sort of vegetable. And, if I was really industrious, a salad would start it off. Well, that thinking started to change for me about ten months ago when I began the Weight Watchers program, yet again!
I vowed that this stint with Weight Watchers would be different from all the others. How? Well, for one thing, I recognized that in the past I had filled my day with some real food, but mostly garbage, processed food substitutes. Yes, I remained within my daily points allowance and lost the weight, but I felt hungry all the time. I never kept the weight off once I got to my goal. Not even for a day. Because once I hit that goal, I was so starved mentally and physically that I was out of control. I knew that I was doing something wrong.
This time I was fortunate. I happen to have a penchant for some of the “Housewives” shows and I happened to read a particular NYC Housewive’s book called “Naturally Thin.” It was in Bethanny Frankel’s book that I first came across the term “Volumetrics” and first saw a recipe for Zucchini Soup. THANK YOU MS. FRANKEL! I started to piece it all together . . . yes, I needed to eat fewer calories in order to lose weight, BUT I also needed to feel full and satisfied (that’s the volume part of the equation), AND my body needs lots of nutrients to give me all of the energy and vitality that I need to get through each day. How can you accomplish all of this? VEGETABLES
Is it true that there are magical weight loss foods? Heck, I don’t know. I’m not a doctor or even a nutritionist. What I do know FOR SURE is that if I fill my tummy with nutritious (read “unprocessed”), low calorie food (for you Weight Watchers out there, anything that is 2 points or less per cup of food) then I lose weight. Soups, salads, smoothies plus creative almost vegan dishes like the recipe below fill me up, taste amazing, and have turned my body into something it has never been before. And dinner got a whole heck-of-alot easier each night. No more hour and a half long sessions in the kitchen after work. Just a few minutes assembling a salad and warming up whatever soup or vegetable side dishes that fill up my refridgerator and freezer (more on how they got there in a future post).
The following is a scrumptious side dish. You could serve it with a salad and some crackers and a healthy dip for a low calorie lunch or dinner. If you simply can’t go without the meat, it is also fabulous served with chicken, turkey or fish (just ask my husband).
Braised Celery with Tomatoes, Olives and Capers
Makes 6 servings, each serving = 1.5 WW points (about 1.5 cups=1 serving)
based on a recipe by Mark Bittman
roughly 2 1/2 pounds celery, washed, trimmed and cut into 2″ lengths
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion or shallots
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 Tbsp drained capers
1 cup pitted and sliced or chopped black olives
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (can use fresh–just core, seed and chop them)
1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large, deep pan or pot over medium heat.
2. Add the onion or shallot and the celery to the pot and and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the flour. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes more.
3. Add the stock and stir. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low. Add the capers, olives and tomatoes. Cover and cook until the celery is very tender; 10-15 minutes. Uncover; if the mixture is very watery turn the heat up and boil off some of the liquid. When the mixture has a saucy texture, it is ready.
Refridgerates and reheats well. Some people don’t like capers–just leave ’em out!