Now, when I went looking for a good ham and lentil soup, I found as many variations for it as there are coffee stains on my camisoles. So, I aggregated the most likely recipes into one SUPER RECIPE, and gave it a go.

The result was an enormous pot of soup that had both the savory-homey feeling of a winter day in front of a fire, and the healthy-light feeling of a workout at the gym down the street that I never visit anymore.

That’s my husband’s fault.

Anyway, I’ve included the recipe and calorie breakdown for you below. At some points, I use grams to indicate how much of an ingredient I used. If you don’t yet have a food scale, let me take this moment to plead with you to get one. Even if you aren’t on a diet, it’s useful for cooking. You can make that baguette PERFECT if you know just how much water and flour to add.

I wish I had pictures to show you how delectably this soup – it’s so hearty I almost want to call it a stew – turns out. And did I mention it’s remarkably filling? Well it is. And you can’t argue with a set of instructions that takes up less than a paragraph.

Ham and Lentil Soup
SERVES 3

1 1/4 cup Green Lentils
1 cup celery – chopped
1 cup carrots – chopped
1 medium yellow onion – chopped fine
3 cloves garlic [I, of course, used much more!]
32 ounces low sodium vegetable stock (if you’re short, feel free to use chicken stock)
8 ounces low sodium chicken stock (or vegetable, for that matter!)
210g ham (shank), diced
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp tomato sauce (or a can of diced tomatoes)

In a 3.5 quart or larger crockpot, combine all ingredients. Stir together until seasoning and tomato sauce are well-distributed. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-12 hours. Discard the bay leaf before serving.

CALORIE BREAKDOWN
Per Serving

Lentils [190 calories]
Celery [5 calories]
Carrots [10 calories]
Vegetable Stock [30 calories]
Chicken Broth [4 calories]
Tomato Sauce [5 calories]
Ham (shank) [130 calories]
Yellow Onion [30 calories]
TOTAL CALORIES: 404 calories

That’s right. Only 404 calories. ENJOY!


One of the trickiest parts of weight loss is figuring out (1) how many calories your body burns every day just by you existing and (2) how many calories you should eat to lose weight.

Over the past year, I spent no small amount of time looking for a good formula to help me answer these questions. After reading through various studies, getting the advice of a certified nutritionist or two, and digging through copious websites, I settled on this calorie deficit calculator by PathtoFatLoss.com.

I can’t speak to the author’s credentials, only to the fact that all her formulas agreed with the general opinions online and the advice of nutritionists. What makes this calculator handy is that she compiled the various formulas into this easy form that makes finding your daily calorie goal, and your maintenance calorie levels, a piece of cake (so to speak). Simply enter the requested information into the red boxes, and it will do the rest.

Hope you find it useful!


Whether you’re on a low-carb diet, or a low-calorie one, you have the power to make it easier or more difficult for yourself. One thing I’ve found on this journey so far is that some people set out to sabotage their own efforts at dieting and find excuses for doing so. The reasons people might do this are many:

(1) Fear of losing the weight and having to come up with a new identity.
(2) Lack of real motivation/discipline.
(3) Lack of desire to develop motivation/discipline.
(4) Laziness.

People then cover over the real reasons they sabotage their efforts to get healthy with a myriad of excuses: “I just don’t have the time,” “I think it might be too expensive,” “There’s no way I can eat all that disgusting health food–it can’t really be good for you,” or “I can just start my diet again on Monday and eat what I want today.”

I know these excuses well because I lived each and every one of them, day after day. Sure, I have a thyroid condition, too, and *maybe* that made the repercussions more serious for me, but the thyroid problem wasn’t the reason I put on weight and KEPT putting on the weight. The painful truth of the matter is that nothing worth having comes easily, and excuses will always be easier to live with than that fact.

As you make your resolutions for the New Year, perhaps you want to live more healthfully, or even lose some of that extra weight that’s dogging your health and looming over your old age. Consider this: by this time next year, you can be a whole new person with an entirely new lifestyle. A lifestyle that reinforces your choices and has tangible rewards. Forget the shame and guilt, put aside the cycle of eating that has left you with regret and low self-esteem – determine today that you want to be the person who makes an active decision in your life tomorrow, who has control over what goes into your own mouth. Stop sabotaging your dieting efforts, stop living in denial, forget trying that unrealistic diet you’ve been attempting for five years that you end up cheating on the next day and has caused you to gain rather than lose, and make the choice to do what it takes to create a new lifestyle for yourself.

In the spirit of that homily, and because so many people asked me over the holiday season what I did to drop so much weight and still be HAPPY, I’ve compiled a few enormously helpful tips. These tips have been my allies in battle. You may see more posts like this one in future, since it occurs to me that it isn’t always about what you put in your mouth, but how you fill the time in between eating, that can make all the difference in the world.

THE REFRIGERATOR

Did you know that your refrigerator can be your friend? YES, IT’S TRUE! Human psychology is simple when it comes to food – we like to eat things right in front of our faces that look good. For this reason, by making a couple changes to how you organize and fill your refrigerator, your resolution to eat better will become that much easier.

(1) Be disciplined at the grocery store.

What you buy for the week at the grocery store is what you will eat for the week. A moment of pain as you put that fattening food you *really* want down and move to something else is much less than the pain of guilt and shame you will feel when you eat it later. I look at my shopping trip as an opportunity to take pride in my lifestyle change. I love to put my fruits, veggies, non-fat chocolate frozen yogurt ice cream, and whole wheat double fiber bread up on the checkout belt. Being disciplined with how you fill your refrigerator has several immediate rewards – you have less access to foods that will sabotage your efforts, your grocery bill will shrink, and your ‘fridge will look prettier (I’ll get to that in a moment). Limit yourself to one small treat purchase. Example: non-fat chocolate frozen yogurt, some chocolate pudding, a pricier but delicious piece of fruit, or a bit of dark chocolate.

(2) Clean out your refrigerator RIGHT NOW.

As you head into this new year and plan to eat better, you need to make an upfront sacrifice. As we speak, you have things in your refrigerator that must see the garbage can. For a Dutch girl like me, this one was painful. I tossed ice cream, full-fat dairy, and full-fat ground beef – just to name a few. You can also apply this to your pantry. Toss or give away those chocolate morsels, the potato chips, the terrible sugar cereal, and the candy bars tucked into the niches of the cupboard. Don’t justify keeping these sabotaging foods because they might be useful in the next several weeks or months, or because you cannot stomach the waste – these excuses stem from denial. You can always buy these things again on your weekly shopping trip, IF you really need them. Take pride as you clean out your kitchen and shine those shelves – make it an inviting place to put your new, yummy, healthy foods.

(3) Be smart about organizing your refrigerator.

If you do nothing else, do this. Keep the healthy stuff where your eyes will find it first. For example, I have a pic of my current ‘fridge setup.

We just went shopping today, so this reflects most the food we’ll eat for the week along with a few staple sauces, dressings, et cetera. Note that the refrigerator (a) contains almost entirely healthy food staples and snacks, (2) looks clean and tidy, so that almost all the good foods are visible, (3) the good stuff that will have the best impact for snacking are front and center.

Once you make that first leap and clean out your ‘fridge, tidy it up, it is remarkably easy to maintain. I don’t pretend that this is easy for someone with children at home, but it is still helpful. If you *do* have kids, I recommend giving them a little snack shelf, from which they can always be free to pilfer food. Fill it with carrot sticks, fruit, and string cheese. Doesn’t hurt to do the same for yourself. And presentation is a good tactic, too. Make sure those carrot sticks look fresh and delicious, those hard-boiled eggs so tempting, the apples clean and sweet. The best way to eat healthfully and be happy is to make the healthy stuff not just visible, but also easy to grab and nicely presented.

If you do have, by some necessity, sabotage food in your refrigerator, keep it out of sight. Stick it in a little shelf at the very bottom, or tuck it behind other food. This applies to your countertops as well.

If you must have crackers or potato chips, don’t leave them on your countertop. Leave out the good stuff–healthy breads, fruit, or cereal for munching (believe it or not, KIX is one of the healthiest cereals around).

NUTRITION

While studies and my own personal experience have proven that a low calorie diet trumps a low-carb or other novelty diet any day of the week, some elements remain consistent. Some foods will curb your hunger, keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer, and give you a lot of nutritional bang for the buck, especially when eaten at certain times of the day.

(1) Fiber

Fiber is the most important element to dieting successfully. Not only does it help those with constipation or chronic loose stools gain regularity, perhaps the two most important features of fiber are these: (a) it takes a lot of time and energy for your stomach to process it, which means you feel fuller and satisfied longer, and (b) it helps your body absorb nutrients and excrete the leftovers efficiently. You simply cannot do better than eating a bunch of fiber–at least 25g a day! Some days will be easier than others to accomplish this goal, but there is scarcely anything better that you can do for your diet or your health than get plenty of fiber. For those who do not get sufficient fiber currently, and haven’t been for awhile, the first few days that you DO get enough fiber might be a little uncomfy, but your body adjusts rapidly (because it loves it!), so don’t give up if you feel a little gassy. That’s normal.

(2) Protein

I hardly need to tell about the importance of protein, I’m sure. Though each gram of protein has exactly the same amount of calories as a carb, it takes more time and energy to burn that gram, which again, means you’ll feel fuller and satisfied for longer. A high-fiber, high-protein diet will feel like a breeze. Numerous studies indicate that starting your morning with a hard-boiled egg is one of the best ways to feel less hunger throughout the day and get a good boost for the morning. I like to get a good dose of fiber, protein, and a bit of natural sugar in the morning: I credit this morning breakfast routine for much of my success.

Toast 1 slice Oroweat double-fiber bread (70 calories), spread a wedge of light laughing cow cheese on it (35 calories), and top with 1 sliced hard-boiled egg (70 calories). You can serve with a banana or some light yogurt on the side. Total calories amount to between 250 and 275.

(3) Water

Diet foods are notoriously high in sodium. It’s just a fact. While sodium doesn’t necessarily hinder your body’s ability to burn fat, it *does* take a toll on your body’s willingness to shed weight. Not to mention there’s plenty of good reason to avoid sodium for the sake of your heart health.

For this reason, and so many others, aim to drink a gallon of water a day. This goal is a commitment, I know. I’ve been drinking between 1 to 1.5 gallons of water consistently for 6 months. Though difficult at first, it became routine rather quickly. Now I can’t do without it!

Water – along with fiber and potassium – helps your body excrete excess sodium, along with other toxins. Additionally, dehydration stimulates hunger in our bodies, and can leave us feeling exhausted by about 2pm. Hydrating well will dramatically reduce hunger pangs and leave you feeling more energetic throughout the day. You will pee a great deal at first, but over time, your body will adjust. You’ll find that you don’t struggle with water weight and that any indulgences you do have will have much less effect on your body. Did I mention your skin will improve, too?

ACCOUNTABILITY

The mind is a funny thing. It likes to shield us from painful truths, and we like to let it. Don’t kid yourself – you are responsible for eating that entire chocolate cake; you are responsible for downing that entire bag of chips; you are responsible for eating half of that pizza; and you will suffer consequences for doing so. Dieting doesn’t mean depriving. A diet is about a lifestyle.

And when it comes to lifestyle, it’s not just acceptable to indulge, it’s required for good mental health. But to enjoy an indulgence, you need to free yourself from internal feelings of guilt and shame, which will only drive you to eat poorly more often, and the only way to do that is to take responsibility for them. Don’t make excuses to justify an indulgence. Don’t try to deny its consequences. Being aware of what an indulgence costs will make it less appealing to have all the time, but will also free you to enjoy it more fully when you do choose to partake.

Peter and I adore the holidays because we can eat full-fat pies and chips and all that stuff we love but avoid. We can fully enjoy those indulgences because we know that we do well the rest of the time and that this indulgence is just that – a special occasion. I haven’t put on a single pound this holiday season and I ate a ton of pie and turkey and mashed potatoes and ham and all sorts of fatty foods. How did I avoid the holiday 10? I didn’t use the season as an excuse to eat poorly every day of the week: that doesn’t fit my lifestyle anymore. Rather, I relegated those delicious seasonal foods to the parties and gatherings and ate according to my lifestyle all the other days. I never once felt deprived. For me, it was a meaningful and tangible reflection of my year of hard-work. That can be your holiday season next year.

(1) Weigh yourself regularly.

Some people get discouraged weighing themselves daily. Personally, I do not. By weighing myself daily, I have learned how my body responds to high-sodium foods, how long it takes to get rid of water weight that results from them, and have seen the degree to which one day of healthy eating assists my weight-loss goals. It also helps me own up for days I fell of the wagon.

Others choose to weigh themselves less frequently than me, however, and that’s fine. I think there’s no solid, concrete recommendation for every person. However, you do need to weigh yourself – daily, weekly, or monthly. It needs to a routine for you. When you step on that scale, you cannot hide. You face the consequences and rewards of your actions in that moment.

Additionally, weighing yourself regularly helps you see when you’re in a plateau, when you’re really losing in high gear, and when you need to kick it up a notch. All around, it’s helpful and essential to the process.

(2) Educate yourself.

One way we like to sabotage our own efforts and continue living in denial is by keeping ourselves ignorant about what we put in our mouths. Whatever diet/lifestyle approach you take, it’s important to understand the caloric needs of your body, the nutritional values of your favorite foods and indulgences, and the best ways of putting your body to work for you.

If you’re taking the low-cal approach, track your calories every day, especially for the first six months. This doesn’t just keep you accountable, it also educates you on foods so that you can make right and healthful decisions on the fly. Look at nutrition labels and really compare fat, saturated fat, calories, and fiber content. Look for alternatives – like replacing the fat in baked goods with applesauce. I recommend Calorie Count or Livestrong as great free resources for easily tracking calorie intake and finding out about foods. They have great databases and communities!

If you’re eating low-carb, don’t neglect your fiber. Your body will have difficulty processing all the fats and oils without a good fiber intake, which will in turn hinder your weight loss and result in intestinal discomfort.

So that’s my enormous post on the matter. As other thoughts and suggestions come to mind, I’ll post them!


For the last several weeks, I have not been able to keep this stocked in my house. I make two dozen every Monday–by around Wednesday, they are gone. My husband eats them like candy and, I confess, I eat plenty myself. They make a delicious breakfast when halved and toasted. While I don’t wish to convey that the spray butter from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter is the most healthy alternative out there, when you need something buttery minus the calories, it’s the best option. I use it for things that don’t require the action of butter for cooking (some things–like pie crust–absolutely require oil, and butter tastes better than plain oil), but rather, for flavor. That means toast, egg salad, or popcorn, for example.

Anyhow, these muffins are easy to make (prep-time is 10 minutes or less) and only about 45-50 calories a pop. Without sweetener, they also have a decent amount of fiber, as well, not to mention they pack a punch with the whole wheat flour and fruit to keep your blood sugar steady and the hunger pangs away. The choice of sweetener is yours. I’m sure it would taste pretty good without any sweetener at all, but Peter and I have a sweet tooth. Likewise, we’ve tried it with real sugar, and while it kicks the calories up to about 80-100 per serving, it’s not too bad. To me, the real advantage of the sweetener we use is the added fiber.

I’ve tweaked this recipe to death to fit our taste buds, so you’ll see that some measurements go by weight and NOT by the cup–if you do not have a food scale yet, I cannot recommend one highly enough. They make dieting easy and accurate. Also, measuring by weight when baking is always the best way to go.

Dreamy Blueberry-Poppy Seed Muffins
22-24 SERVINGS

410g Whole Wheat Flour
4 tsp Double-Acting Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup Splenda granulated with Fiber
2 eggs
250g 1% Milk
140g unsweetened applesauce
240g frozen blueberries, unsweetened
3g Poppy Seeds

(1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Grease muffin tins with cooking spray (ex. PAM). Muffin papers do NOT work well here.

(2) In a small bowl, beat eggs. Add applesauce and milk, stirring until well-combined.

(3) In a larger bowl, sift flour. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt.

(4) Add egg mixture to flour mixture and mix until just combined–batter will not look smooth. DO NOT OVERMIX. Gently fold blueberries and poppy seeds into the batter.

(5) Fill greased muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake 20-25 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Let cool at least 10 minutes before removing from tins.

CALORIE BREAKDOWN
Per Serving

17g Whole Wheat Flour [27 calories]
.083 serving of Egg [6 calories]
10g 1% milk [5 calories]
6g unsweetened Applesauce [6 calories]
10g blueberries [5 calories]
TOTAL CALORIES: 49 Calories

If you use Livestrong to record your calories, you can also add it easily to your daily log by using the recipe I’ve included there: here.


For the last several weeks, I’ve been tinkering with this recipe and making it our own. Besides the gargantuan portion size of this recipe, I get to serve it in adorable 14 oz. red stoneware ramekins [see below].

I found these little beauties at Target for $10 per pair – one of the best purchases I’ve made, by far. In fact, I’m considering going back to get more, just in case I decide to make this meal for some guests in the future.

RECIPE NOTES: First, remember that you can switch out veggies in this meal. I have even used shelled edamame! After trial and error, I’ve settled on onions, carrots, and peas. Pretty standard ingredients, and that’s for good reason. I’m not too fond of cooked carrot every day, however, so on finicky days, I substitute an extra portion of peas or, as I mentioned, edamame. Second, this meals is not lacking for flavor, but you need to be bold! I expend most of my flavoring boldness in the mashed potatoes – I go to town. We’re talking basil, parsley, thyme, sage, extraordinary amounts of garlic, and a heaping tsp of pepper. I’ve toned down the seasoning for normal palettes in this recipe, but know that you can really explore with herbs and spices here and be pretty safe!

Lastly, you don’t have to use two 14 oz. ramekins. You can also use a standard pie plate. But oh, the ramekins are so fun!

Shepherd’s Pie
SERVES TWO

2 14oz. red ramekins – color optional
2 7.5 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cut into 1/2 to 1-inch cubes
1lb – 1 1/4lb russet potato – cut into quarters or sixths for quicker cooking
2/3 cup chicken broth (or, 1/2 cup water)
1 medium onion (160-180g)
1 medium carrot (80g) – diced to 1/2 inch pieces
2/3 cup frozen green peas (86g)
1 TBS Flour
1 TBS tomato paste
3/4 TBS Worcestershire sauce
4 TBS sour cream
1 TBS 1% milk
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp sage
1 tsp parsley
5 garlic cloves (or to taste) – minced

Set oven rack into top third of oven. Preheat over to 425 degrees. Fill bottom of double-boiler 1/4 way full, spread potato wedges evenly into top portion of double boiler, place lid, and turn heat to high [if you don’t have a double boiler, simply fill pot of water 3/4 way, toss in potatoes, and let boil]. Let steam or boil 15-20 minutes, or until potato is easily mashed with a fork.

Meanwhile, combine chicken cubes with 1 tsp pepper and lightly brown in non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Remove browned chicken from pan. Add chicken broth (or water) and deglaze. Add carrots, onion, and 2 garlic cloves. Cook 2 minutes.

Add flour by spreading it evenly over the mixture in the pan and stirring thoroughly. Be spreading it in a thin layer and then mixing it in, you avoid clumping. Add tomato paste. Combine thoroughly.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Return browned chicken to the pan and add Worcestershire sauce. Let simmer until liquid thickens and reduces – about five minutes. If you prefer more sauce, let it simmer just a minute or two or add more broth. Add peas and allow to simmer again – 1 minute [see Fig. 1 below].

Remove potatoes from heat and drain excess water. If you have a stand mixer, toss your potatoes into the bowl, along with the sour cream, milk, and remainder of herbs and spices. Set mixer to medium speed and let it whip potatoes for 3-5 minutes, or until fluffy [see Fig. 2 below]. If you don’t have a stand mixer, then put potatoes, sour cream, milk, and herbs and spices in a nice bowl. Proceed with a potato masher and a little elbow grease. A friend or significant other comes in handy for this task.

Remove pan from heat and divide mix evenly into TWO RED 14 OZ. RAMEKINS [see Fig. 3 below]. Heap mashed potatoes atop the mix and spread evenly to the very edges of each dish [see Fig. 4 below]. Put both dishes on a foil-covered cookie sheet and place in oven. Cook 25-30 minutes, or until potato is nicely browned on top [see Fig. 5 below]. Remove and serve!

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Fig. 5

Calorie Breakdown
PER SERVING

1 14 oz. red ramekin – [0 calories]
7.5 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast [200 calories]
9 oz. russet potato [205 calories]
1/2 medium onion [36 calories]
1/2 medium carrot [6 calories]
1/3 cup frozen green peas [35 calories]
1/3 cup chicken broth [3 calories]
1/2 TBS tomato paste [7 calories]
1/2 TBS flour [13 calories]
1/2 TBS Worcestershire sauce [5 calories]
2 TBS fat-free sour cream [20 calories]
1/2 TBS 1% milk [7 calories]
TOTAL CALORIES: 537 calories

ENJOY!


Pasta Pomodoro

12Oct10

I can’t say enough about this recipe, except that I inhaled it in less than 3 minutes. The serving size is ENORMOUS, the flavor is dynamite, it’s low-cal and low-fat, and you can make it in less than 30 minutes.

One bite of this recipe and the husband and I decided this one was our new regular.

RECIPE NOTE: You can use shrimp in place of chicken, or forgo the meat altogether; either way, you’ll find it filling and delicious. You can also add a little olive oil to this recipe to help prevent the noodles from sticking or to saute the chicken, garlic, and onion, but it’s unnecessary.

Pasta Pomodoro
SERVES 2

8 oz (224g) angel hair pasta – uncooked
1/2 medium yellow onion (120g) – chopped
1 (7.5 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breast – cut into 1-inch pieces
5 cloves garlic – or to taste
4-5 oz (1/2 can) chicken broth – try to find a low-sodium option
1/2 can petite diced tomatoes – or two fresh Roma tomatoes, diced
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
ground black pepper – to taste
red pepper flakes – to taste [I recommend about 1/2 tsp]
basil – 2 TBS fresh or 2 tsp dry
1/2 oz (14.5g) Parmesan cheese – grated

Boil lightly salted water and add pasta. Cook until al dente (about 4-6 minutes). Drain.

Meanwhile, heat pan over medium-high heat. Spray pan with calorie-free cooking spray. Saute onion, garlic, and chicken until lightly browned. Lower heat to medium.

Add tomato, chicken breast, and balsamic vinegar, stirring until well combined. Let simmer 2 minutes. Add pepper, red pepper, and basil. Let simmer until the liquid reduces by half (about 3-5 minutes).

Add cooked noodles to the pan and combine thoroughly with sauce [I recommend taking two forked serving spoons and attacking from each side of the pan, separating and lifting the noodles into and around the sauce]. Serve. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan.

Calorie Breakdown
PER SERVING

4 oz (112g) angel hair pasta – [420 calories]
3.75 oz chicken breast – [100 calories]
1/4 onion (60g) – [25 calories]
1/4 can (1/2c) petite diced tomato – [23 calories]
2 oz. chicken broth – [3 calories]
1/2 TBS – [3 calories]
1/4 oz (7.5g) Parmesan cheese [28 calories]
TOTAL: 602 calories

ENJOY!


So, my friend, ever been in the mood for some tasty savory-sweet chicken with a light crust? Well, then – you’re in for a treat. I’ve been vetting this recipe for a few weeks now, bringing it to a place of perfection. I think we’re there. The beauty of this recipe is its flexibility. Pears, apricots, and even DRIED apricots, make suitable replacements for the fresh apple in this recipe – though I recommend soaking dried apricots for 10 minutes or so in warm water, if that’s what you plan on using.

For those cooking for one, this dish keeps excellently. Pack the other half of the recipe in your tupperware and by the time you heat it up for lunch the next day, all the tasty juices will have marinated the chicken and made everything taste even BETTER than when you had it hot for dinner the night before.

And if you’ve had a day like mine, be encouraged. This recipe requires one to destroy something with a blunt object, even a rolling pin, if you prefer. It’s a good way to get out the day’s aggravation while practicing your ninja skillz.

This dish tickle your taste buds, but you’ll also find that you can pair just about any side with it. In the past month, we’ve paired roasted lemon asparagus, creamy mashed potatoes, spicy roasted red potato fries, and a broccoli-potato mash with this recipe, and all to great success. Drooling yet? I’ll get you the recipes for those sides soon, too.

Folks, you really can diet AND eat filling, tasty meals – yes, even mashed potatoes. It just takes some tweaks, a little experimentation, a few failures, and an entree intriguing and ultimately delicious enough to make it all worthwhile.

From my kitchen to yours…

Seared Apple-Apricot Chicken
SERVES TWO

2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts – about 7 1/2 ounces each
1/4 cup flour – about 40g, of which you’ll probably use only half
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 shallot – chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth – more, if you like more sauce
1 tbs white vinegar
1 medium-sized apple, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces – Fiji, Gala, and Pink Lady varieties do very well
1 tbs sugar-free apricot preserves
1 tsp tarragon
salt
pepper

Wrap your chicken breasts loosely in plastic wrap or place in a freezer ziplock bag. Attack that chicken with a rolling pin until each chicken breast is thinned to about 1 to 1 1/2 inch thickness. Chicken will look a little roughed up, but that’s okay. Season chicken breasts lightly with pepper.

Meanwhile, heat canola oil over medium-high heat in pan – non-stick is best, but you’ll be just fine with stainless steel or cast iron.

Dredge chicken breasts in flour, shaking off excess. A little flour will do: no need to cake the meat in the stuff. Place each chicken breast into the hot pan and cook each side until chicken is done – about five minutes for each side. Plate the cooked chicken and cover with foil for the time being.

Remove pan from heat. Deglaze with chicken broth, add shallot, and vinegar. Return to medium heat. Cook until sauce reduces some, about 3 minutes. Add chopped apple. Reduce further, another 3 minutes. Add apricot preserves and tarragon and mix well.

Return chicken breasts to pan, covering the top with sauce. Let sit for a minute or two so that the juices begin to permeate the chicken. Remove from heat and serve, heaping plenty of sauce on each chicken breast. Any side will do but roasted veggies or a serving of brown rice work particularly well.

Calorie Breakdown
PER SERVING

7 1/2 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast [200 calories]
10g flour [35 calories]
1 tsp vegetable oil [40 calories]
1/2 shallot [15 calories]
4 oz. chicken broth [5 calories]
1/2 medium apple [60 calories]
1/2 tbs sugar-free apricot preserves [5 calories]
TOTAL: 360 calories

ENJOY!




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.