When it comes to keeping a healthy weight, I think 95% of people have an Achilles heel that makes it difficult to maintain the ideal weight and figure (the other 5% are actresses, supermodels, men named Troy, and women invariably named Jenni, spelled with an “i”). Through the years, I’ve noticed that many people’s downfall is sweets; when 9 p.m. rolls around, the ice cream beckons, the cookies croon, and the snack-size candy bars bare their chocolaty nipples (both male AND female candy, I might add). I’m lucky in that I can take or leave sweets. Every so often, I go through a peanut butter and chocolate kick, but it doesn’t last long and I remember that beer is much more fulfilling on so many levels.
No, my bad eating habit is primarily carbs. I love them. And I love bad carbs, too, like chips, French fries, bread, potato salad, more chips, and beer. I have actually made a ham and potato salad sandwich for lunch, and added a healthy side o’ Doritos to round it out, and I had no guilt whatsoever because I was too busy marveling at my hill-billy ingenuity.
In Ireland, for example, when the pubs close, often a food truck waits outside for its progeny. In this remarkable institution, they make something called a “Chip Butty.” It is basically a hamburger with French fries substituted for meat. I think I almost cried the first time I had it because it was like we were meant for each other and I had to go all the way to Clifden, Ireland, to consummate the serendipitous meeting. *sigh*
Anyhow, when I started trying to lose the weight, I realized that the potatoes and carbs had to go, not totally, but mostly. Whole grain breads and crackers (if any) are the norm for us now, and when I’m just maintaining weight (rather than losing), those Pop Chips or any baked chips do it for me.
But what the hell is a good substitute for potatoes? For us, it’s butternut squash. It’s high in fiber, counts as a veggie, is flavorful, and still has the “weight” of a carb-heavy potato. I probably butchered 3 of these a week for a year. When I lost a lot of weight, I attribute it partly to eating hardly any potatoes and a lot of squash. It makes a good mash (which I will share later), but to simply roast it with some spice is magic. It’s a staple on my Thanksgiving table and I never have leftovers.
Roasted Butternut Squash
Makes 4 servings depending on the size of the squash; 1 cup is an old Weight Watchers 1
1 good size butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cubed (see below)
1 to 2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
2 tsp. chili powder (or cayenne (careful), paprika, or smoked paprika)
Cooking spray (Pam works, but the olive oil one is best)
Preheat the oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with some cooking spray.
To peel a butternut squash, lay it on its side, cut off the ends, and then slice it into disks. Peel each disk, spoon out the seeds of the disks that have them, and then cut them into 1″ cubes.
Make one even layer of squash on the cooking sheet and give it a good spray to coat all of the squash well. Sprinkle on the salt and chili powder. Mix this up by hand to distribute the spice evenly. Spray a little more spray on it for good measure. Put it in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, tossing them after 20 minutes of roasting.
Remove from the oven and serve immediately. ‘Tis a piece of cake.
The keys to losing weight are cutting the carbs, upping the fiber, keeping the portion sizes down, and walking a bunch. It’ll work for you….and this recipe will make it more enjoyable for sure.
Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.
©Jon Marino 2013