This week we missed our Monday Weight Watchers meeting and rather than holding out for our Wednesday backup I suggested we check out the Tuesday crowd to see what they are up to.
The leader was bright, cheerful, and enthusiastic. She presented the material with a smile but there was something about the evening's topic that rubbed me the wrong way. She guided the group through a discussion of their favorite "on plan" foods. Foods that can be enjoyed but in a manageable way. The group seemed well trained. Various people raised their hands to share their low point "favorites." For example: canned tuna on a salad for lunch or a plain broth based soup with only zero point vegetables (nothing starchy).
Please don't get me wrong, I have been known to make salads with tuna and soup with only vegetables they are fine things to make a meal out of. But these are their favorites? REALLY??
If canned tuna over lettuce with a squeeze of lemon is the one dish that gets your lunch mojo going please continue to relish every bite. However, I got the distinct feeling that these well trained fellow Weight Watchers were fibbing. Their tell? Everyone who contributed looked and sounded bored while they described these "favorite" foods. I was certainly bored listening to them. I'm sorry but if you are putting yourself to sleep talking about your favorite foods it is time to start shopping for something new.
As a one time observer of the group, and a latecomer, I may have misunderstood the dynamic. When I talk about something that is my favorite I get excited and breathless. You will see me sit up and lean forward, perhaps my hands will begin to wave around. I have many favorites and they change on a daily basis. I try to bear in mind that my enthusiasm for trying new foods is not shared by everyone. Sometimes people just like what they like and that is a perfectly wonderful too*. I should also repeat something I have said before. When embarking on a life style change, find a community that you love. This group is doing their thing and finding success in their own way. Way to go fellow Weight Watcher peeps!
I recently heard a sentiment about healthy living that I just love. I wish I could remember the source. Essentially, can you see yourself still happily eating this food or engaging in this activity in five years? If the answers are yes then you are likely on track to creating a sustainable lifestyle.
In an effort to stave off boredom among my readers I have a saucy meal idea for you. This is for those crafty chefs who cook from ideas. Perhaps you see a recipe somewhere for crab cakes with bread crumbs and green onion then a week later find yourself making a leek soup with croutons. I know you are out there, we are kindred spirits you and I.
Saucy Pork Chops
This meal makes enough for four people and uses wine. It smells amazing while it is cooking and you can customize it to suit your taste and your pantry. The finished sauce is thick, rich, and tastes way more indulgent than it really is. Light enough for a weeknight and complex enough to impress company. Serve with whole wheat pasta such as penne or rontini and ever so slightly wilted greens.
Prep Time: about 30 minutes; Cook Time: 1 ½ - 2 hours
Tip: Prepare all the sauce ingredients before beginning to cook.
- 3 - 4 chops bone in or out, medium thickness about 1 ½ lbs
- flour, salt, and pepper - in a shallow dish for dredging
- A splash of cooking oil - 1-ish Tablespoon
- Pre-heat the oven to 325.
- Heat the oil in a dutch oven on the stovetop over medium high heat
- When the oil is hot - Dredge your chops in the flour so both sides are lightly coated. Sear in the hot pan so each side gets a golden color and then remove, 3-ish minutes on each side. The chops will not be cooked through. Remove them to a plate while beginning the sauce below.
- 1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
- 1 yellow onion cut in thin strips
- 1 lb or 3 -4 large carrots cut into 2 in. match sticks
- 2 Tablespoons of water - may be used for sautéing the vegetables
- 1 cup dry red wine - I used a fancy Chianti
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 jar of marinara sauce or 3 -4 cups of homemade - I had some Newman's Own open so I dumped it in
- 1 TB dry Italian herb blend
- 1 teaspoon smoked (Spanish) paprika
- a little salt
- a little more pepper
- Use the same dutch oven that the chops were seared in over the same medium high heat.
- Toss in the garlic to toast for a minute or two. Add the onion and carrots. Add a few tablespoons of water to the pot if it seems too dry. Reduce heat if needed to keep veggies from burning. Continue to sauté until the vegetables have begun to caramelize.
- Once the vegetables have softened stir in wine, tomatoes, marinara sauce, herbs, and paprika. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Nestle the seared chops into the sauce. Remove from heat, cover, and place into oven pre-heated to 325.
- Let everything cook for at least an hour and a half to two hours until the meat is fork tender.
- Serve over slightly wilted greens such as chard, kale, spinach, or beet greens and some whole wheat pasta. Top with fresh basil if it is available.
Please adjustment any of the ingredients listed to taylor this recipe to your family's diet and taste preferences. Skip the flour on the chops. Try this with chicken thighs. Skip the meat and go for more hearty vegetables like eggplant, portobello mushrooms, or squash. Omit the wine and add some balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce instead. Use all fresh herbs. Have fun and enjoy!
*If you are reading this and you happen to be my mother-in-law, you should know that your son and I have made it our business to make sure you try more new foods under our watch. You are welcome.