Thursday, February 21, 2008

sweet relief

It is such sweet relief to feel better! I've been on the mend for several days now and my appetite is back with a vengeance, unfortunately.

Pasta gets such a bad wrap. Underserved, because I think it's one of the best foods out there. Of course, I mean whole grain pasta, not the white stuff... and you have to measure it. Would you believe the plate above only contained 480 calories, along with 25 grams protein and 15 grams of fiber?

The key to a healthier whole grain pasta dish is to make your own sauce. It is really simple and also cheaper than the jarred stuff. Now, when I use the store bought stuff it seems very salty, sweet and just not very good. Here's a recipe for my simple marinara. If want to cut calories, then use cooking spray with a tiny bit of veggie broth or water or even wine instead of the 4 T olive oil, but whatever you do, don't skip the step of slowly bringing the garlic and spices up to temperature or the sauce won't be the same. I always add around 1 t of extra virgin olive oil to my plate just before eating because it tastes good and the fat in the oil allows your body to absorb the lycopene from the tomatoes. To make a chunky sauce, just add a bunch of sauted or roasted veggies. If you have a picky eater at home, try shredded zucchini, yellow squash and carrots in the sauce and puree. I have done this time and time again and my kid and their friends have never known the difference. It's a GREAT way to get veggies into your kids. If you want to hide some protein in your pasta, add a can of drained kidney or red beans and puree (make sure to add some water to thin it out. The sauce for the pasta above was tossed with a bunch of veggies cooked in my fabulous cast iron pan with olive oil cooking spray. I stirred 2 T of nutritional yeast into the dish. Nutritional yeast is more than a flavor enhancer. I use Red Star and buy it in bulk. 2 heaping T provide 8 grams of protein as well as the B vitamins it is famous for.
Veggies in my cast iron. Squash, mushrooms, onions and garlic along with spices and lots of red pepper flakes.
Here is a low fat version of my lemon rosemary potatoes. When I worked at Cafe Indigo we served them (not the low fat version, my original recipe) for brunch every Sunday. I'm not sure if they still do now that I'm not there, but I hope they do! The higher fat version is awesome, but these were great as well. I tossed these with a very low fat lemony vinaigrette, fresh rosemary and olive oil spray. They were baked until perfectly browned. 1 large serving came around 200 calories.
I'm in love with smoothies, even in the dead of winter. Frozen banana, frozen strawberries, soymilk, lemon juice and stevia tastes like a delicious ice cream shake. This 12 oz portion was around 200 calories. I usually add flax meal, but I'm out. For shame! Anyway, this breakfast is very good. Many of you add spinach or kale, but I eat so much in my daily salad, I don't find it necessary. In fact, sometimes when I'm counting calories I find myself eating an obscene amount of veggies. Many days, I get close to 75 grams fiber. Is that too much of a good thing?

Another 100 calorie snack. Actually, this was leftover, after my calculations it came out to 99 calories and was the perfect 10:00 am snack.
I used frozen lite firm tofu and sauted it in the cast iron with cooking spray, onion, garlic, ginger, chiles, snow peas and topped it with siracha and Newman's Own low fat sesame ginger dressing. (35 calories per 2 T). I am going to make my own low fat sesame ginger dressing this week as I'm almost out of the Newman's stuff and don't like buying processed foods if I can help it.

Weigh in tomorrow morning! I'll probably report in on Saturday or Sunday.
My youngest son is going to Florida for Feb. vacation with his friend's family. He'll be gone 9 days. I'm going to miss him and try to keep from worrying like crazy.


  1. Mmm. I can't believe that pasta dish is so low in calories! It looks amazing. I just ate dinner, but I could go for some pasta right about now.

  2. So glad your feeling better :)

    That's so true about pasta-even if it's ww, it still gets a bad rap. My problem is definitely eating too much ww pasta is one sitting-measuring it is a good idea.

    Good luck on your weigh in, girl!

  3. In your last pic I see the same kind of hot sauce that I buy! That stuff is so tasty and it adds a nice amount of heat!

  4. I love pasta--whole grain and even the white stuff. (If you cook it al dente, the glycemic index reains fairly neutral). VKO and Fcat tell me that Trader Joe's flax pasta is to die for--have to try it.

    BTW, I *love* your new profile photo. You are gorgeous, girl! How could you not be, with your healthy lifestyle and 75 grams of fiber? ;)

  5. Mel, I am so glad you are feeling better. Now I have it. Fever all night Wednesday and one heck of a sore throat. I have just been doubling up on greens and citrus. I love pasta and your marinara sauce is a weekly item in our home. I make it a freeze it too. Perfection!

    By the way I love your picture. You are beautiful!

  6. That pasta and those potatoes look AWESOME!

    I too think pasta gets a bad rap, I hate the plain ol 'enriched macaroni product', I go for the good stuff, whole wheat, kamut, quinoa, etc. Yum!

    That smootie too looks delish!

  7. Anonymous11:44 AM

    Oh, I'm definitely going to have to make those lemon/rosemary baked potatoes. They sound and look delish!!! I like your profile pic too. Very pretty!

    Traci Lynn

  8. It's crazy to me that pasta gets such a bad rap. I mean, "foods" (if you can call them that) like bologna, steak, cream, bacon, etc. aren't picked-on nearly as much, and they're so much worse for you!

    All I can say is, "Thank goodness the Atkins' diet-hype is dying down!"

    Oh, and I love Newman's Own low fat sesame ginger dressing! Speaking of pasta, I sometimes like to combine that dressing with some Vitasoy shells to make a yummy pasta salad lunch!

  9. P.S. I'm right there with you in the tons-of-fiber department!

  10. i love your new picture. i love your's perfect.

  11. I am so glad to hear that you are feeling better! That is such great news...being sick is no fun!

    Everything looks fabulous, as usual. By the way, no--there is no such thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to fiber, as long as you are drinking enough fluids to help it all move through your system...if you know what I mean!

    Courtney (MPH in Nutrition)

    PS thanks for the reminder about your tomato sauce...I am going to make a big batch this weekend! I love the stuff!

  12. I agree about pasta getting a bad wrap. Like everything else, it's about moderation. I measure out the amount to cook and put the rest away. That way i won't be tempted to overeat it, since I adore it. I'm sorry to hear you were unwell. Hope you're back to 100% really soon. :) By the way, did I miss your pic in the upper right of the blog. If so, I really like it!

  13. glad you are feelin' better! that smoothie looks soooo good. i know what i'm having for a snack!

  14. glad you're feeling better! Those potatoes have my mouth watering. And I love your photo - your so glamorous!

  15. I love that you posted your picture. Fingers crossed for you for a good weigh in.

  16. wow, I cannot believe i found another health-cautious spice lover :-) I liek your blog a lot, Melody. Are you of Polish backgorund, btw?
    I am slovakian, but live in Sweden. ... and a chili freak ;-)

  17. So thrilled to read that you're in good health once again!! Hooray!! And as usual, the food looks spectacular (especially the smoothies - I too love them in the dead of winter, haha) - and I love the new blog layout!! Very nice!!

  18. I love the new blog layout, that blue is beautiful! And your food is, too, as usual, especially that wonderful mountain of pasta and those lemony potatoes, yom!