A few years ago, the wife and I started Weight Watchers to shed off the pounds from years of eating too many over-indulgent foods too often. We have been very successful with the old WW program (as opposed to the new WW Points Plus program), and I attribute this to many things:
- I learned how to read labels for calories, fiber, and fat content, which really is an eye-opener when you realize what you’re putting into your body, or what you used to, anyway.
- It also taught me how to cook flavorful and exciting dishes without having to use massive amounts of fatty ingredients, like butter, which was the basis of many of my dishes before then.
- It taught me that seasonings and spices are what can tranform a blah dish into a kick ass dish.
- It taught me that fresh veggies and good products are the keys in cooking good food. The dish is as good as the ingredients you use, which I have heard on every cooking show a million times over, to be sure.
- It taught me about how portion size is the dirty little secret to losing weight. Listen to when your body is full, not to your plate that still has food on it that is calling out to you to finish it.
- Last, it taught me to branch out into new cultures and genres of cooking to find great dishes that are good for you too. My repertoire expanded at an amazing rate just because I wanted to find new flavors to substitute for the missing fat and bad stuff. If a dish sucks, don’t make it again. If it is ok but needs something (which it almost always does), play with it until you find the right formula. If you get it right, you have a new dish in the rotation.
I still follow a Weight Watchers guideline loosely to maintain some sort of self-respect in the weight category, but mostly because it’s ingrained in me now.
In any case, the following recipes are dishes that I regularly prepare together. General Tso’s Chicken is straight from Weight Watchers, and each serving is 4 points with a 1/2 cup of white rice on the side. I would estimate that the green beans are 2 points for a 1/2 cup, but I never really did the math on it.
Here is the actual recipe on Weight Watchers, if they let you on it: http://www.weightwatchers.com/food/rcp/RecipePage.aspx?recipeid=92581
If it doesn’t work, google “General Tso’s Chicken, Weight Watchers,” and you’ll find it in a snap because it’s popular. I only make a few changes in this, like I don’t use low-sodium broth and soy sauce, which probably bumps the points up a bit, but oh well.
General Tso’s Chicken
3/4 cup chicken broth, low sodium
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. oil
3-4 green onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups cooked white rice, hot
In a bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients.
Heat the oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the green onions, garlic, and the pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring a lot. Add the chicken and cook until its brown and mostly cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Now add the whisked sauce, get it bubbling, and let it simmer until the sauce is thick and the chicken is cooked, 3 to 5 mintues more.
Scoop a 1/2 cup of rice and 1 cup o’ the chicken and sauce. It says it serves four, but that’s bullshit. It serves 2 and makes a small lunch for the next day.
Note: For making chicken stock, I use this stuff because it rules:
This green bean recipe I found online somewhere and I have tweaked it a bit.
Asian Green Beans
1/2 to 1 pound of green beans, trimmed
1 tbsp. chopped garlic, or to taste
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. packed brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste (Or Salt ‘n’ Pepa, if you want music too)
1 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with some cold water
A sprinkle of sesame seeds or sliced almonds
In a pot of boiling water, cook the green beans until they’re almost done (how long depends on the size of the bean, so check until it just snaps when you bite one). Drain them, rinse with cold water, and let them cool and drain more while you make other stuff.
Stir together the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and pepper, and set it aside.
In a wok or skillet, heat the two oils over high heat and add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook this for a minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the green beans and stir fry them for a few minutes, like 5.
Re-stir the soy sauce mixture and add it to the green beans and mix it all up. After 2 to 3 minutes, add the cornstarch/ water mixture to thicken it. After a few more minutes, scoop them into a serving dish and top with sprinkled sesame seeds or almonds.
This dish is really quick to make, too, if you have everything ready to go.
And that’s it. This meal is filling, flavorful, and mostly good for you.
Drinks? A nice, balanced white does the trick here, like a sauvignon blanc. Again, it’s all about what you like and what kind of money you want to fork out.
Until later, eat, drink, and peace out