If you're a regular reader, you probably understand why Chris and I each find ourselves at our heaviest-weight-ever. Clearly we love food (and wine!), almost to a fault, and we're no strangers to meals made with plenty of butter, cheese, breads and pastas. So now we are literally facing ourselves in the mirror and making those New Year's resolutions to lose some pounds and get healthier. We have a Wii Fit and have vowed to get on it at least four times a week. That isn't difficult; it's pretty fun and there are a wide variety of aerobic and strength-training exercises as well as balance games and yoga. The food thing, well, that's a little more difficult, but let me tell you about our decent start.
On Monday, I made my New Orleans-style red beans and rice but used brown rice instead of white. This may not seem like a big deal, but not only is it against Southern tradition, the fact is, I'm not a fan of brown rice. But sacrifices must be made, I guess!
Tuesday we had a very healthy dinner of tilapia with steamed broccoli. I'm not a fish-lover either (my friend J teases me about my "approved-foods lists") but thought I'd give it a try, omega-3's and all that. I adapted the recipe from a February 2009 issue of Cuisine at Home my mom gave me the other day (thanks, Mom!). We brushed the two fillets with a mix of olive oil and Chinese five-spice powder and pan-seared them for three minutes on each side. We made a sauce to accompany it which consisted of 1/4 cup of apricot preserves, 1/4 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, a dash of red pepper flakes, a clove's worth of minced garlic, and a tablespoon of fresh ginger, all of which we simmered in a small saucepan until it became thick (about five minutes). The five-spice and ginger offered a lot of warmth to the dish while the apricot and orange complemented the fish well, as acidity often does. The verdict? Chris really liked it and I would make it again.
Wednesday was (hurray!) a snow day and we had a gut feeling it would be, so Chris came home from work Tuesday with groceries from Hartford's Apple Tree, a famously inexpensive shop that specializes in excellent produce. We decided to do a simple, comforting, perfect-for-a-snow-day beef stew with plenty of vegetables. The beef came out a bit tough (not sure if it was the cut or the cooking time) but overall it was tasty and satisfying while being healthy and low-fat too!
1 lb. lean beef steak, cubed
3 tablespoons flour (divided)
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes (we used Muir Glen Organic)
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 cup pearl onions
1 cup beef broth
1 cup peas (frozen is preferable but we used canned)
2 ounces red wine
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 200. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof pot over medium heat. Season 2 tablespoons of flour with salt and pepper and dredge the beef in it. Brown the beef in the oil, then remove the beef and set aside. Add the chopped onions and garlic to the pot and saute until the onions are translucent. Add the remaining flour and thyme, and cook for a minute. Pour in wine, tomatoes and beef broth then add carrots, pearl onions, peas and the bay leaf. Mix well. Return beef to pot. Bring to a simmer, cover and place in oven. Cook until meat is tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 1/2 hour.