Tuscan Chicken Soup with Pesto and Orange Chicken

When I woke up to go to the gym yesterday morning, I forgot we were supposed to get snow overnight.  My first thought was “maybe I’ll just do something on exercise on demand.”  But the snow was fluffy, I was able to brush the car off in a couple minutes and off I went.

I think I am actually getting better at swimming!  I never took swimming lessons as a kid – my sister and I ruled the shallow end of the pool.  And as luck would have it, in high school you had to perform certain swimming strokes in gym class to pass, and the day I was to swim we had a substitute, Mrs. Chick who went to our church.  When I explained to her I couldn’t swim, she put check marks that I completed the swim test and said “we’ll just keep this between us!”

But I dream of swimming like Kerstin – she was an accomplished distance swimmer in high school college.  I think my main fear is the breathing – I tend to panic the second my head gets under water, but I am getting there!  I did 35 minutes with only about 1 minute break total 😀  Then 5 minutes in the hot tub 😀

For breakfast I cut a baked potato in half – my half was 5 ounces.  I scooped out the potato, sauteed that with baby spinach and 1/3 cup of egg beaters and then stuffed that mixture back in the potato skin and nuked it for 30 seconds.  I thought I had brought cheese to put on top, but I must have forgotten it, didn’t matter – I put spicy salsa over the top and it rocked.  This whole thing is only 4 points!

Tuesday is my strength training day – I checked my blood sugar before leaving and it was only 100, while a great number, too low to work out, so I had a slice of my high protein bread with a tsp. of no sugar added peanut butter for fuel for 5 points.

I did 30 minutes of strength, discovering that my hamstring muscles are almost non-existent, then did a 1 mile 15 minute walk.

So for day Two of Soup Club, I made what I am calling a Tuscan Chicken Soup.

Tuscan Chicken & Spinach Soup with Pesto

(printer friendly version here)

Course: main meals
PointsPlus™ Value:    5
Servings:  5

Preparation Time:  10 min
Cooking Time:  20 min
Level of Difficulty:  Moderate

Ingredients
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup(s) Carrots
1/2 cup(s) sweet red pepper(s)
8 oz  Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 tsp minced garlic
6 cup(s) canned chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
4 oz spinach, chopped
2 cup(s) canned cannellini beans
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp table salt
2 Tbsp store-bought pesto sauce
Instructions

Heat oil in a dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add carrot, bell pepper and chicken; cook, turning the chicken and stirring frequently, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring for 1 more minute.
Stir in broth and marjoram; bring to a boil ver high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring, until teh chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken and let cool.
Add spinach and beans to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Stir the chicken and the pesto into the pot, season with salt and pepper and heat until hot.
5 points for 2 cups.

I used 2 tablespoons of this prepared pesto

this was the first time I've ever used marjoram in a dish!

the chicken and beans sink to the bottom - this was really good, but I ended up adding crushed red pepper to my broth

I also had some delicious black berries and a clementine on the side:

One of me and Hannah’s (I am positive that is not grammatically correct! I never get that right – should it me Hannah and my?) favorite Chinese dishes is orange chicken.   While Trader Joe’s has a good frozen orange chicken, I was trying to find a healthier version to make at home.  But must of the recipes I found called for upwards of 1/2 cup of brown sugar!

I am posting this recipe, but we both felt that the sauce needed something else – now that I think of it, a couple tablespoons of orange marmalade would have made it perfect, we’ll have to try that next time (or you can add it if you make it and let me know if it works!)

Now I may get some flack here, but I deep fried the chicken that was tossed in a combo of flour and cornstarch.  Our deep fryer holds a temperature perfectly, so nothing is greasy, but to account for the deep fry, I added the one tablespoon of olive oil to the recipe – even though I know there is no way 1 tablespoon of oil was absorbed.  This may look like a lot of ingredients, but we were done within 30 minutes.

Orange Chicken (printer friendly version here

Course: main meals
PointsPlus™ Value:    7
Servings:  4

Preparation Time:  10 min
Cooking Time:  20 min
Level of Difficulty:  Easy

Ingredients
1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup(s) cornstarch
1/8 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
3/4 cup(s) water
1/8 cup(s) lemon juice, canned or bottled
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp unpacked brown sugar
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp garlic clove(s), minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp water
1 pound(s) Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into cubes
2 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup(s) Egg Beaters Egg Beaters
1/8 cup(s) teriyaki sauce
1 tsp Sriracha Chili Sauce

Instructions

Combine 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup cornstarch. Place chicken in egg beaters along with salt and pepper, then coat the pieces in the flour/cornstarch mixture to coat.
Deep fry in batches at 375 for about 5 minutes, until completely cooked.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan combine water, lemon juice, orange juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Blend well over medium heat for 2 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, orange zest, garlic adn red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil.
Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water. Slowly stir cornstarch mixture into the sauce until it thickens. Pour sauce over breaded chicken and add any additional red pepper flakes or garnish with green onions.
Server over cooked white or brown rice, and stir fry veggies.

the cornstarch is really a light coating, but it gets extra crispy

I had 4 ounces of the chicken, 1/3 cup of the sauce, and broccoli, zucchini and red pepper strips and 1/3 cup of cooked brown rice.  Dinner comes in at 10 points because I added extra hot stir fry sauce to mine 😀

it's not the real deal yet, but I am going to work on this one - so close!

And reason 1,521 that I love Tony.  Pretzels are one of my favorite snacks, I had no idea they were all fried though!  So he found me these baked pretzels with sesame seeds – delicious!  Thanks Tony!

Stats for Tuesday:

  • 29 points (including 2 cookies I had to eat because my blood sugar was 46 after dinner)
  • 12 flex points remaining
  • 20 activity points earned but not used
  • average blood sugar 89

Question of the Day:  I was surprised to learn that both Nicole and Gina’s husband’s don’t read their blogs.  Does your spouse or significant other read your blog?  Do they even know you have one?  Curious to see!  Tony is my #1 proof reader – just the other day he was like “you said kick it up a notch twice in the same sentence!”  I love you Tony!

p.s.  thanks to Tami (check out her last post about multi grain bread v. whole grain bread!) for telling me to copy my eTools recipes to a Notepad to remove the scripts that were driving me insane – it worked perfect today!

p.s.s. Don’t forget to submit your healthy recipes for a chance to win one of two AUTOGRAPHED copies of Rocco DiSpirito’s new cookbook – Now Eat This!  You have until Friday, January 14 to enter.

Have a great day!