Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Weight Loss Wednesday

Wednesday is my Weight Watcher's day. I had a fantastic week--better than I have in ages. I went to the gym, counted every point that came near my mouth, drank my water . . . it doesn't get much better. And I'm rewarded with 2.6 lbs down. I know I shouldn't be disappointed; 2.6 lbs is good, solid weight loss. I guess I've been watching the Biggest Loser too much, because I was really hoping for more.
Nevertheless, it is weight loss. And if I take a look at what 2 1/2 lbs of butter looks like, I am thrilled to have that off my body.
We have been eating fabulously this week, dusting off some favorite recipes that we haven't had in a while, and I thought I'd share. Here's one that never fails to please. We have to stop ourselves from licking the plate clean, and yet it is very filling and satisfying.

I first discovered this recipe in my Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen cookbook. I highly recommend the cookbook—it is hysterical, practical, and full of delicious and healthy recipes. I have made a few (but not many) changes to this meal. It tastes like wonderful, filling, hearty comfort food, but is very diet friendly.
A Ragu is a chunky meat tomato based sauce. This one is fabulous. Do not leave out the mushrooms—they add a richness and meatiness of their own.

Creamy Polenta and Chunky Ragu

Creamy Polenta

  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • ½ tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 cup coarse ground polenta (buy stone ground if you can)
  • ½ T. butter
  • ¼ c. shredded Parmesan (throw away the green can and buy the real thing!!!!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour broth into 1 ½ quart oven safe dish (not metal). Add salt, pepper, polenta, and stir. Add butter to the top. Put it in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes UNCOVERED. Stir it halfway through. It will be finished when the liquid is almost absorbed. Taste it—if it’s still gritty, give it a few more minutes. If it’s creamy, take it out.

Stir in Parmesan cheese. Serve with Ragu over the top.

Chunky Ragu

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, peeled and finely diced (shhh—Jared doesn’t know this has celery in it)
  • ½ lb. fresh mushrooms— use porcini or crimini, (or white if you must)
  • ¾ lb. extra lean ground beef (93%) or lean white turkey Italian sausage
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • ½ c. red wine
  • 28 oz. can peeled plum tomatoes (chop the tomatoes and reserve the juice)
  • ¼ c. loosely packed, roughly chopped herbs (I use basil, oregano, and parsely)
  • Coarse kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

In 3 quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and mushrooms and cook until softened, about 15 minutes. Add meat to pan, breaking it apart with the back of your wooden spoon, and cook about 6-7 minutes—it won’t all be brown yet. Add tomato paste, wine, tomatoes, and their juice. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 25 minutes, until thickened. Add herbs and cook 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This recipe is great if you are doing Weight Watchers, this recipe is Core (you might take a point for the Parmesan, butter, and red wine, but there’s not really much in each serving. If you are counting points, the polenta (this specific recipe) is 2 points per cup and the Ragu is 3 points per cup.


Rebecca said...

Ok, I'm gonna put my neck out on the line and admit I have no idea what polenta is. I guess I'll have to google it.

Michal said...

ooohh, rebecca, you are missing out. it's a coarse corn meal and it is so yummy. you have to try it.

Malia said...

Sounds great Michal! Good job on your 2 1/2 lbs! Keep up the good work... I told my self I was going to work out as soon as vacation ended... I've been a little slow to start so hopefully you have inspired me... my excuse right now is that I need to post about our trip... i'll get to the exercise soon!

Anonymous said...

Yeah for weight watchers Just think if we keep it up at 2lbs. a week mid March its 20lbs.... We can do it ....Mandy

Jen said...

Michal, I want to try this recipe this week. Can I use dried herbs? How much do I use? I confess, I will probably also use premade polenta from TJ's...but the ragu looks great, and if I start with polenta, I might actually put forth the effort to make the rest of it.

Michal said...

you can use dried herbs, just use less. the rule is generally one third the amount for dried. if you're at trader joe's, get the fresh basil and then use dried oregano!
i'm sure that the premade polenta at tj's is decent, but the homemade is very easy--i promise. you just dump it all in and bake.