A Farewell to Carbs

A 30-something navigating the world of Type 2 Diabetes while remaining fun, fashionable and fabulous.

What’s cooking: Chicken stew 02/06/2012


I hate snow and I hate being cold. But I take pleasure in winter for two reasons — cute outerwear and delicious stews.

This winter, I’m rocking the cutest purple plaid wool pea coat. I stuck a big feather brooch on the lapel and, ta da! Super-cute.

And tonight, I made a batch of quite possibly my favorite winter meal ever: Coq a vin. As much as I love eating it, I hate stumbling through the pronunciation (French words unsettle me!) — so when I talk about it, I call it chicken stew.image

A good coq a vin has a few very important ingredients: A flavorful red wine, lots of rosemary and thyme and …. bacon. Just a little. Added at the end.

My favorite winter cookbook!

This coq a vin recipe, taken from Weight Watchers Slow Good cookbook, makes use of the crock pot, a kitchen gadget I tend to associate with winter. As an aside, I almost always plan to make this on a Sunday and I almost always realize too late that I don’t have a suitable wine. In Pennsylvania, liquor stores aren’t open on Sunday. So I always end up making this on a Monday morning and letting it cook on a low heat in the crock pot all day.

One note: This is really good over egg noodles or mashed potatoes. But the recipe’s nutrition facts only take into account the chicken and sauce. Also, it is a little fussy for a crock pot recipe. But I love it so much, I can forgive the few steps at the beginning.

What you’ll need:

2 slices turkey bacon

1 3-and-one-half pound chicken, cut into eight pieces and skinned

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

1 large carrot, chopped

3/4 cup of red wine

3 tablespoons tomato paste

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 bay leaf

1 10-ounce package of fresh mushrooms, sliced (I use shitake, but button or baby portobella mushrooms would work, too)

2 cups of frozen pearl onions

1 cup of reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Cook turkey bacon in a large non-stick skillet until crisp. Drain on a paper towel and refrigerate. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add half of chicken pieces to skillet, turn heat to medium-high and cook until browned, turning once, about 10 minutes.

2. Transfer chicken to 5- or 6-ounce quart slow cooker. Repeat with remaining chicken.

3. Add chopped onion to skillet, lowering heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened. Stir in carrot, wine, tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Pour over chicken in slow cooker. Add the mushrooms, frozen onion and 3/4 cup of broth. Cover and cook until chicken is fork tender, about 4-5 hours on high, 8-10 hours on low. Cover and refrigerate remaining 1/4 cup of broth.

4. At the end of cooking time and using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a deep serving dish. Cover and keep warm. Combine flour and 1/4 cup of broth in a small bowl until smooth. Stir in about 1/4 cup of slow-cooker liquid. Stir the mixture into the slow cooker. Crumble in bacon. Cover and cook on high until the liquid thickens, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Pour sauce over chicken.

Makes 8 servings (one piece of chicken and scant 1/2 cup of sauce)

Nutrition per serving:

194 calories

6 grams fat

10 grams carbohydrates

2 grams fiber

25 grams protein

 

Moment of Truth: Weigh in Week 2 01/31/2012

Filed under: Weekly weigh in — Diabetic Diva @ 8:59 am
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Let me preface this by saying: Last week was an abject disaster. I left my second Weight Watchers meeting a week ago raring to go, determined to cut out all the little cheats I made last week. I really wanted to see a 5 pound loss on my second weigh in.

Well, my eating plan went completely out the window. There’s absolutely no excuse, but I’ll offer a few anyway. I had a really weird work schedule. I was broke and skipped my weekly trip to the grocery store, so instead of actual meals I just snacked a lot — which led to a low-grade hunger that wouldn’t go away until I fed it some late-night Wendy’s action. I skipped the gym out of sheer laziness in the face of cold, drizzly rain.

So I wasn’t expecting anything good from my visit with the scale this morning. And I wasn’t wrong. I am back to where I started, which is so frustrating.

I guess I am starting over, again.

 

Human Guinea Pig: Weight Watchers Brownies A La Mode 01/30/2012


An occasional feature wherein Diabetic Diva reviews products that purport to help with a healthy lifestyle. She receives no compensation or sponsorship for these reviews. Curious about a product? Leave comments in the suggestions or e-mail diabetic.diva79@gmail.com.

It’s coming on two weeks now that I began Weight Watchers. And while the past few days were an utter disaster (more on that tomorrow), I rocked it the first week with a 2.8 pound weight loss.

Last week, I wrote about what should be in a healthy person’s pantry, fridge and freezer. I keep a couple (OK, more that a couple) of things on hand to help me stick to my eating plan. And the other day, I was stocking up on frozen meals that can stand in when I’m too busy to cook a full meal and am out of leftovers.

While digging through the frozen meal section of my local Giant to find diet meals that looked edible, I found some Weight Watchers desserts. As an unrepentant ice cream lover, I was curious whether these frozen sundae things would be good. So I bought a pack to try just so I could report back to you, my loyal readers. See what I do for you? See?

The brownie a la mode comes in a pack of four, as do most of the other frozen desserts WW offers. If you can limit yourself to one per day (and I know that’s a big if. I’m about to heat up my second one of the day. For research, you know? STOP JUDGING ME!), it’s a pretty good calorie deal: 130 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 24 grams of carbs and two grams of fiber. The sodium and cholesterol counts are good, too.

Underneath the plastic wrap, there’s a hearteningly generous amount of dark chocolate syrup covering the vanilla ice cream. The directions say to pop it in the microwave for 5 seconds (I swear to God. 5 seconds.). I did so and then dug in.

The chocolate sauce tastes slightly of chemicals, and the vanilla ice cream lacks the same character as you would get in, say, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. But the brownie on the bottom is pleasingly substantial and it takes more than a few petite bites to finish it. All in all, it’s not a bad alternative if you are craving  ice cream and don’t trust yourself alone with a bucket of Breyers.

Rating: 3 out of possible 4

Cost: about $3.49 for a pack of four

Available in the freezer section of most grocery stores. Visit http://www.eatyourbest.com/where-to-buy.aspx to find a location.

 

Taking stock 01/26/2012


If you don’t have it, you can’t eat it.

That’s one of the Weight Watchers mantras. When I first heard it at a meeting last week, I took it to mean that if you didn’t have the bag of chips or the box of chocolates in the house, you wouldn’t be tempted.

I joined WW about seven years ago and had a lot of success with it. I lost 75 pounds in about a year. I gained it all back, of course, as soon as I stopped going to WW meetings. I joined again last Tuesday because I had to admit to myself that I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing in terms of how many calories I was supposed to eat or how many calories I was actually consuming. WW makes everything fairly easy by converting nutritional values into “points” and then giving everyone a points value to hit every day.

Getting back to the point of this post, I had forgotten how  much planning went into the first couple of weeks of WW. Just planning a day’s worth of eating to make sure you’re staying within your points but not eating them before noon is exhausting at first. I spent large chunks of time last week contemplating committing armed robbery at fast food restaurants, but instead of making off with the cash drawers, I’d be demanding burgers and fries. (I decided against it after realizing I’d have some horrible nickname. Leave your suggestions in the comments. Best one will win a prize as yet to be determined.)

Back to the point again! As I acclimate to life on the WW plan, I came to realize that the mantra means more than “don’t keep tempting foods around.” It also means keeping healthy foods around for easy, healthy meals and snacks.

Because I was a former weight watcher, I haven’t lost the habit of buying certain healthy foods at the store and keeping them around to build meals. Here’s a few suggestions:

PANTRY

I think I’ve mentioned my obsession with Trader Joe’s. We don’t have one in my little corner of Pennsylvania (someone get ON THAT PLEASE!) but when I visit my folks in Virginia, I always go over and stock up. I usually get two boxes of Trader Joe’s brand Whole Wheat Couscous, which I use like brown rice. It takes literally 5 minutes to make. I also pick up a couple of sauces to add zip to meat and veggies. Among my favorites are the green curry simmer sauce, satay peanut sauce and pesto sauce. None of the three are what you would consider low-cal or low-fat, but used in moderation, they all fit into my eating plan. I usually also have some jarred spaghetti sauce, one that is low-salt and has no added sugar or fat, on hand.

Additionally, I pick up a couple of BIG bags of lower-carb trail mix when it’s on sale at Target or the grocery store and then portion it out into single servings with my trusty kitchen scale. I also have mini-bags of microwave popcorn (again, read nutrition labels carefully) for night-time snacks. Quick-cooking oats, Minute brand brown rice and whole wheat pasta round out my pantry basics. All three are high in fiber, which bring down their net carb content, and are easy to cook.

A quick note: With the exception of the TJ’s items, most of the pantry staples go on sale once a month or so. I stock up when they’re on sale, or find a coupon, to bring the cost down a little. I buy the Sunday paper each week and go through the grocery store sale circulars and the glossy coupons circulars and plan my meals and “stock up trips” around what’s on sale. A little planning and the store club cards usually saves me $500+ a year.

FREEZER

I buy family packs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts when they go on sale. Then I separate them out into packs of two in freezer bags (make sure you write the date on the freezer bag!). Then I can pull out one bag for each meal. Ditto on ground beef, steak and pork — wait until they’re on sale, portion it out at home and then fill your freezer with a month’s worth of meat.

I also buy frozen veggies, usually the kind you can steam in the bag but with no added fat or sugar. In addition to using these in stir fry dinners, I also can heat some up and eat them as a snack with a little pesto or cheese. Frozen edamame (the kind still in the pod) is a delicious snack. Heat it up and shake some low-sodium soy sauce on them to add a little more flavor.

Deli flats, small pitas and low-cal, high-fiber English muffins can stand in for toast, be used as a base for mini-pizzas or sandwiches or even as a snack with some hummus. I keep them frozen and just pull one out at a time. Twenty seconds in the microwave should defrost them, and then I toast them or stick them in the oven to warm ’em up.

I also buy sugar-free popsicles — usually fudgesicles and the cherry-grape-orange ones — as a sweet treat. It’s not the same as ice cream, but it’s often a decent substitute.

Finally, I keep a couple of frozen diet meals around. I know they’re high in sodium and they don’t taste as good as a homemade meal. But if it’s really busy at work, a Lean Cuisine can help me stick to my eating plan.

FRIDGE

I usually pick up some apples and a grapefruit because they have a longer shelf-life than more delicate fruits (like peaches and strawberries). Since I’m REALLY REALLY picky about fruit  (I will not eat fruit that’s the least bit squishy or brown. I know how weird it is), staying fresh for more than a few days is a good selling point.

I also buy a bag of lettuce mix for quickie salads and a bag of spinach, which does really well as an omelette filling. Sliced mushrooms (also for omelettes), roma tomatoes and a big bag of baby carrots are also regularly occurring cast members in my produce drawer.

Finally, I keep a bottle of low-sodium soy sauce and a bottle of minced garlic in the fridge, as well as some bottled sparkling water, a couple of containers of Greek yogurt and some low-cal string cheese.

And that’s about it, in terms of what I *ALWAYS* have in the house. I replenish these as I use them, so the spaghetti sauce might need to be replaced once a month or every other month. Fruit and veggies get used up faster, as does the chicken, the string cheese and (sadly) the popsicles.

Keeping a well-stocked pantry takes away some of the difficulty of planning a meal. Because (say it with me!) you can’t eat what you don’t have.

Your turn: What’s in your pantry, fridge and freezer?

 

Moment of Truth: First weigh-in 01/24/2012


I no longer fear this object!

I joined Weight Watchers a week ago and had to weigh in for the first time this morning. I didn’t know what to expect because I went off the path a couple of times.

But it was good news! I lost 2.8 pounds!! Yay me.

What I found hardest last week is that I didn’t have the right kind of snacks — I was low on portable veggies and I had a lot of high-calorie snacks around (like nuts, avocados, chips and chocolate). I remedied that problem over the weekend and I’m looking forward to another great week of eating healthy food and working out.

Your turn: Share your successes over the past week!