Tag Archives: weight loss

WW Chinese Pineapple Chicken

27 Sep

Weight Watchers Pineapple Chicken 015

How many wagons have you fallen off of? Have you fallen off of the sweets wagon? The alcohol wagon? The Friends reruns until 4 a.m. wagon? The “I’m tired of being treated like shit” wagon?

Eventually, we all find ourselves looking at the tread indentations of that friggin’ wagon trailing away from us while mud is kicked up into our faces. We’ve fallen off. A particularly erotic eclair spreads its legs like an elusive crush, or that box o’ See’s candies bares its nickel-shaped nipples like a shameless Brad Pitt seducing Geena Davis; or a bad day requires a friend named Martini and the rest is Absolut history; or a sleepless evening can only be comforted by Ross and Rachel and Phoebe and Janice; or perhaps you don’t know what being treated nicely feels like, so you’ll take shit over nothing.

The expression is an old one (early 1900’s, to be exact), yet we apply it to so many areas in our lives that require restraint, reflection, admission, and determination, at some point. Should you feel misery and self-loathing when you fall off? Fuck no. Get back on when you can and try not to make the same mistake twice, and if you do, get back on and try not to make the same mistake thrice, and if you do, get back on and don’t make the same mistake…..you get it. Keep tryin’, kid. You’ll get there.

I fall off of the Weight Watchers wagon regularly. Do I get pissed at myself? Yeah, but not enough to damage me permanently or make me wallow in a maelstrom of guilt. I’ve learned to enjoy dusting myself off, to be honest. It builds character.

I mention this because this Chinese Pineapple Chicken dish was the first Weight Watchers meal I ever made when finally, at 60 pounds above my “normal” weight, I got on the wagon and actually tried to help myself. I signed up for Weight Watchers, weighed in, went to meetings, stopped being a pussy, started walking a lot, and, fifty pounds later, was healthier.

And I’m glad this dish was the first because it’s excellent. If it sucked, I would have fallen off the wagon within a week. This dish gave me some hope, and it also made me realize that my “cooking” mind was way, way too narrow. There are plenty of ways to enjoy and indulge in good food without feeling after every meal like a goose being prepped for foie gras harvesting.

I got this recipe out of one of the first brochures that I received when I signed up for Weight Watchers. This recipe serves four, and each portion is a 6 on the old WW system (PointPlus and 360° can fuck off non-haltingly).

Note: Asian Black Bean Sauce favors vary, so find one that you dig, and go with it.

Chinese Pineapple Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Cooking Spray

1 bunch of scallions (green onions), trimmed and sliced thinly

1 tbsp. chopped, fresh ginger (do not substitute for this)

1 tbsp. minced garlic

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes

2 cups crushed pineapple or pineapple chunks, packed in juice

1/4 cup Asian black bean sauce

2 cups cooked brown or white rice (I used brown rice in the pictures; it has more fiber, holmes.)

Makin’ It:

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and coat it with cooking spray. Add in the scallions, ginger, and garlic. Saute and stir this for about 4 minutes until it’s nice and pungent. Add in the chicken and saute it until it’s browned and almost cooked through, about 7-8 minutes, stirring regularly.

Add in the pineapple (juice and all) and the Asian black bean sauce. Stir it all together well. Get this to a simmer, lower the heat to medium, and cook it, stirring often, until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 5 to 8 minutes more.

Put 1/2 cup of rice on each plate, and divide the Chinese Pineapple Chicken amongst the four plates. You might get this:

Weight Watchers Pineapple Chicken 010

I put sriracha on the rice because I like spice to kick me in the nuts a bit.

It’s easy, fantastically tasty, and a good place to learn how to stay on the wagon.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

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Roasted Butternut Squash: The Perfect Side

19 Apr

Weight Watchers Roasted Butternut Squash (3)

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

Ingredients:

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)

Makin’ It:

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.

Weight Watchers Roasted Butternut Squash (4)

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

The Lose-Weight Soup

1 Apr

Lose-Weight Soup 011

A few years back, the wife and I decided to get healthy.  We signed up for Weight Watchers, went to meetings every week, and learned how to enjoy food without a deep-fried or Doritos element at every sitting.  I literally was schooled on how to eat healthy, how to read the labels on food packages, and how to stop eating when I’m full (rather than when I can move neither my mandible nor my torso any longer).  Did I work out like a madman?  Nope.  I walked a few miles with the stroller every day.  And I still drank wine regularly.  Those first few meetings changed me as a person, and even though I fall off the wagon here and there, it worked for me when I lost 50 pounds initially, and it continues to work for me when I decide that my belt’s getting a bit tight.

I’ve learned through the years that you can be anything: an asshole, a liar, a bad Christian, a worse husband or wife, a cheater, an avaricious bastard, an unintelligent bully.  But one thing you can’t be in this society is fat.  When it comes down to it (and I was guilty of it in my youth too), people will throw a fat insult at anyone because they can and, for whatever reason, they feel vindicated or superior.  It makes me sad, really, and I intervene on behalf of the person maligned 100% of the time, not because it will ever change the problem for good, but it can make a bit of a difference. If you’ve been on the receiving end of this, you know. But, “something too much of this”…

One of the most inspirational people I met at Weight Watchers was a gal named Cecily, who worked the front desk at the time. At our first meeting, our leader-dude introduced her and passed around her “before” picture. Our mouths dropped; she had lost over 200 pounds and, to this day, I can’t believe it. Another way to look at it is that she lost the equivalent of two of my freshman students. In that moment, she showed me that if you want to lose weight, you can, so just stick with it, learn when to say “no” and “enough,” and don’t be a pussy.  She’s right.

One of the best recipes I got out of Weight Watchers is their zero-point soup (this is the old system; the Points Plus and 360° program can both fuck off).  One of the ladies who signed us up even said, “It pays to join just for that soup recipe.”  I agree, lady.  I ate this soup everyday for a year. It packs in a few portions of vegetables (not eating enough veggies is one of my downfalls), it’s unbelievably filling, and it’s delicious.  I usually eat it with a wheat tortilla or a bagel thin and add on a point. As a snack or a sandwich accompaniment, it will make you feel fresh, to be sure.  Like everything, I’ve messed with the original recipe a bit.  If you look online, there are copious others zero-point soups, too.

I tend to make three or four batches at once and either freeze them individually for lunches, or keep a big container in the fridge for the week ahead.  It’s veggie, so it will last a good week before it gets a bit dodgy.  Lastly, you can put about any veggie in this soup if you want.  Remember, though, that peas are a starch (another aha! I learned), so they will raise the point value.

The Lose-Weight Soup

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

Cooking Spray

2/3 cup sliced carrots

1/2 cup diced onions

3 minced garlic cloves

3 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable broth (they say low sodium, but I used regular and it worked for me)

2 cups chopped green cabbage

3/4 cup green beans, cut into bite-size pieces

1 1/2 tbsp. tomato paste

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/2 to 1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 cup diced zucchini

Makin’ It:

Spray a large sauce pan or small pot with cooking spray (I admit, I use 2 tbsp. olive oil, but only I know that) and set it over medium heat.  Add the carrots, onions, and garlic.  Cook this until they’re soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add in the cabbage, green beans, broth, tomato paste, basil, salt, oregano, red pepper, and black pepper.  Raise the heat and get it boiling.  Once a-boil, cover it, reduce the heat to low, and simmer it for 15 minutes, or until the green beans are done.

Uncover it and stir in the zucchini.  Simmer this for another 5 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and you’re good to go.

Lose-Weight Soup 010

I made a huge batch of this soup as I wrote this post today and I’m almost finished with a bowl of it for a snack.  It still kicks ass, best of all because it’s a guiltless meal.  I added some habanero sauce, so I get a kick out of it too.

Let me know if it works for you and I can throw some variations your way.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013