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Tag Archives: fiber

Mashed Butternut Squash a la Weight Watchers

3 Oct

Weight Watchers Mashed Butternut Squash 5

Since I’m Italian, I get to tell Italian jokes. So there’s an old joke that goes something like this:

A Frenchman, an Englishman, and an Italian are lined up at the pearly gates to get into heaven. When they approach the gates, St. Peter says to them, “To gain admittance to heaven, each of you much pass a spelling test.”

The Frenchman, never daunted, goes first. “Spell ‘house,'” says St. Peter. “House. H-O-U-S-E. House.” The gates open and he enters.

The Englishman comes next, cocky bastard that he is. “Spell ‘goal,'” says St. Peter. “Goal. G-O-A-L. Goal.” The gates open and he enters.

Guiseppe walks up next and St. Peter asks him, “You’re Italian, right?”

“Yes.”

“Spell ‘onomatopoiea.'”

I felt like this a few weeks ago when I and my student partner were dismissed from the podium for my misspelling of the word “cromlech” (pronounced crom-lek) in my first spelling bee since I was probably ten. “Cromlech,” you see, is a word that describes prehistoric megalithic structures. Stonehenge would be an example of a cromlech. And of all of the people that could have been asked to spell it in that room, I would guess that I would be most qualified to do so correctly; I majored in English, my specialty is medieval and Renaissance British literature, I watch archaeological documentaries on ancient Europe whenever I can find them (I remember at least three focusing on Stonehenge, no less), I am an anglophile to the hilt. I actually touched a cromlech in Ireland, I later learned.

I spelled it “c-h-r-o-m-l-e-c-h,” and was thus stripped of a potential trophy for a good cause (“ch” at the end, so it should be at the beginning, too, right? No. It’s Welsh, and therefore makes little sense linguistically). What’s worse is that the team after us got the word “hoary,” as in hoarfrost, or the lichen and mossy stuff that hangs off of old trees. It’s also used to describe old, grizzled people, like Gandalf. Hoary I read regularly. It’s actually one of my senior English class’s vocabulary words because it’s so common in British literature. Cromlech vs. hoary? What the fuck. It’s my beard they distrust, I know it.

So how does this figure into a recipe for mashed butternut squash? I think that when I first started the Weight Watchers program, I would sincerely pine for certain items, mashed potatoes being one of them. How can there be a substitute, a worthy substitute, for buttery, starchy goodness? I was biased against them at first, saying to myself, “Those can’t possibly be good. And they’re hard to make, I bet. Too much work,” etc. In essence, I was treating the substitutes as the Italian at the pearly gates and I at the podium were treated: I didn’t give them a fair shake. And if I continued to be slanted against those recipes, I surely should have gone to hell, just like the whore-y female announcer, the one who picked “cromlech” for my team and “hoary” for the next team, should and will.

This recipe will have your cockles tingling. It’s got some substance, it’s unbelievably tasty, and it works well with roasted or grilled chicken. It screams “autumn,” which can get annoying when I’m trying to cook. I got it from a website called skinnykitchen.com and didn’t mess with it much. Each 1/2 cup serving is a 2 on the old Weight Watchers system (PointsPlus and 360° can go fuck themselves).

Mashed Butternut Squash a la Weight Watchers

Serves 5 or so, 1/2 cup servings (2 points on old WW)

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds peeled and cubed (if you want to know how to do this, go to the bottom of this recipe: https://dinnerwithjonny.com/2013/02/15/pasta-e-zucca-squash-and-pasta/)

2 tbsp. brown sugar

3 tbsp. lite margarine or reduced fat butter, melted

a dash o’ cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt or to taste

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 cup low-fat milk (I use 1%), heated a bit

Makin’ It:

Preheat the oven to 400°. Put the cubed squash in a big bowl and sprinkle on the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Pour on the melted margarine and toss this all together well.

Pour this onto a cookie sheet and spread it out evenly. Make sure you pour out all of the liquid over it, too. It’ll look runny, but that’s ok. Put this in the oven for 40 minutes, tossing them with a spatula after about 20 minutes.

Once they’re cooked, put the cooked squash, the pan liquids, and the heated milk in a food processor (a masher doesn’t work, kids. A blender? Maybe.).  Process this until the it’s pureed. Transfer it to a bowl and serve it hot. Bob’s your uncle.

Weight Watchers Mashed Butternut Squash 1

May you find a hoary cromlech on the road ahead of you.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino

p.s. This post is dedicated to the friend and colleague who got me to compete in the spelling bee and has been an inspiration in so many ways.

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Mexican Lasagna

16 Jul

Tortilla and Black Bean Casserole 008

I got this recipe out of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook and tweaked it a bit. The authors call this a casserole, but I heartily disagree. This is a lasagna, except that corn tortillas are substituted for lasagne and the fillers are Mexican-based frivolities. So I will call it Mexican Lasagna whether anyone likes it or not.

For the umpteenth time in the last few years, I have decided to seriously engage in the old Weight Watchers system (PointsPlus and 360° can fuck off thither).  I am excited about this because I really want to expand on the good dishes I can make…dishes that are good for you and fill you up. I thought about changing the name of this blog to “Thinner with Jonny,” but I would feel like a cock for doing that, so no.

The idea in Weight Watchers is to try to get as much bang for your buck, but in this case, bang for your POINTS. They have the “filling foods” concept, which is the list of foods with little or no caloric value but will fill you up, duh. Also, fiber is a good thing. This lasagna, for instance, has 8 grams of fiber per serving, so while it has 300 calories a serving and 8 grams of fat, the point value isn’t so high because of the fiber: it’s a 6, and this baby is a brick o’ food. I get 36 points a day, so this still leaves me with 30 points….not too shabby.

Furthermore, the leftover portions can be frozen and serve as a quick lunch or dinner. It’s quite easy to make and a crowd pleaser. If you want more protein, add a layer of shredded chicken or Mexi-meat, but it will change the points value, of course.

Mexican Lasagna

Serves 8

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. oil

2 cups chopped onion

1 bell pepper, seeded, membranes removed, and chopped

1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained

3/4 cup Pico Pica or taco sauce or something similar

2 tsp. ground cumin

3 cloves minced garlic (or more if you’re hardcore)

2 15 oz. can beans, drained and rinsed (kidney, black, pinto, whatever works)

12 6-inch corn tortillas

2 cups cheddar or jack cheese

Assorted toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, sliced black olives, green onions, sour cream

Makin’ It:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat and add the chopped onions and bell pepper. Saute this for 5 minutes until they’re soft. Next, add in the tomatoes, taco sauce, cumin, and garlic. Get this boiling, reduce the heat, and simmer it uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir in the beans.

In a 13″ x 9″ baking dish, spread 1/3 of the bean mixture on the bottom. Layer 6 tortillas on top of this, overlapping when needed. Top with 1 cup of the cheese. Add another 1/3 of the bean mixture, the remaining tortillas, and 1/2 cup of the cheese.

Bake this for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove it from the oven and sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Slice it into 8 pieces and serve. Top it with the fixin’s if you’re hip to it.

Fusion food at it’s finest.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013