Food, Health and Happiness

Tony used to make fun of me the way I “read” a cookbook like a great piece of fiction.  It’s true though.  I usually page through it from start to finish, with my little post-it notes flagging the recipes I’d like to try first.

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Oprah actually starts out the cookbook writing about her ups and downs over the years regarding her weight.   Nothing I hadn’t read before – the infamous liquid diet where she pulls out he big wagon of fat to show how much weight she lost, only to gain five pounds in a day after getting off the stage and out of the jeans she said felt like they were painted on.   But I remember thinking back then, that of course Oprah could lose weight – she had people cooking for her, she had personal trainers – she didn’t have to “think” about it – someone would tell her what to eat and how to work out – how simple?!

But it doesn’t matter how much money you make, or what conveniences you have in life, when it comes right down to it, you and only you can make the decision to lead a healthier lifestyle.  You can plan your meals.  You can decide what to eat.  You can decide what to say “no thank you” to.  

Oprah talks about how if Maya Angelou were here, she would ask her “Ok, if anyone knows better when it comes to dieting, it’s me.  So how do you explain my endless struggles with weight?  Why is it that with all this experience and information, I haven’t done better?”  She wrote “My guess is she’d probably smile, and in that commanding voice unlike any I’ve never heard, she’d say, ‘Well, my dear, when you’re truly ready to know, you will.’

“You can tell yourself to eat less and move more, you can cut down on carbs, and salty stacks, you can practice portion control and begin the day with a balance breakfast – at this point we all know the drill.  But it’s one thing to be able to recite the rules of dieting and quite another to fully internalize and know the truth of maintaining a healthy weight.  The reality is that for most of us, diets are a temporary solution at best.  They last as long as our willpower holds out.  But how long can any of us hold our breath before we need a gulp of air.” 

She goes on to say how when Weight Watchers reached out to her, for some reason at that point in time, she was ready to listen.  Something inside her shifted, and I feel the same way these last several weeks.  I’ve realized that I can’t trick the system by trying to play by my old “diet” rules (eat like a pig one day – hope to work it off in the gym the next six days) or feel guilty about eating a cheeseburger and fries when I had every intention of ordering a grilled chicken breast.   I now build my treats into my meal plan, so there is no guilt associated with the food I am eating.  I plan for it.  I balance out the other two meals to make it work.  I wake up the next day to a brand new day, and that’s exactly what it is.  No “falling off the wagon” for a few days (or weeks!) after an indulgent meal because I’ve convinced myself that I have no control over what I eat.

I am living.  I am eating really good food.  I am actually kind of glad that I got this cough because its made me focus on the food, when really that’s what it’s all about to get the scale move.  Yes, the exercise helps reshape your body, burn some extra calories – sure.  But you can never work out enough to overcome a crappy diet.  It’s just not going to happen.  Especially when you’d have to do an hour of high intensity cardio to burn off one chocolate coconut cake donut from Dunkin Donuts. 


So as I was thumbing through the cookbook, I was thrilled that the first 19 recipes are SOUP recipes!  You guys all know what a soup whore I am.  The first one that caught my eye was the tomato and guajillo chile soup.  Since Weight Watchers is promoting their #freshfoodsfeb, I thought this recipe would be a perfect addition to that challenge to use fresh ingredients.  Carrots, garlic, corn, ripe tomatoes – yes please! 

The only draw back I’ve noticed so far is that they don’t specify what a serving is.  The recipe says that it makes 4 servings at 4 smart points.  But how much is a serving?  Not that it’s that complicated, but I had to measure out one cup portions, to realize I had 8 cups of soup – so two cups was 4 smart points.  Well, that’s not enough for dinner, so I decided to add cheese tortellini and baby spinach to my bowl to make it more of a meal.

If you’ve never used dried guajillo peppers, they are really delicious.   You need to reconstitute them before using them in a recipe.  The seeds also hold the heat, so before soaking them, I tapped out all the seeds after cutting off the top.  They are cheap too – I got a bag of about a dozen for $1.69 at my local grocery store.  The cilantro I bought was bad, so I left that out, but feel free to add it to your soup!

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Tomato and Guajillo Chile Soup
Serves 4
A low point, spicy tomato soup that's perfect with a grilled cheese sandwich on the side, or add some cheese tortellini to make it more of a meal.
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
303 calories
18 g
93 g
11 g
34 g
3 g
365 g
601 g
8 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 303
Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
Saturated Fat 3g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 93mg
Sodium 601mg
Total Carbohydrates 18g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 8g
Protein 34g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 2 dried guajillo chiles
  2. 8 sprigs of fresh cilantro
  3. 2 teaspoons olive oil
  4. 1 small carrot, chopped
  5. 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  6. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  8. 3/4 cup corn (from an ear of corn, or canned)
  9. 4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
  10. 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped*
  11. 1/2 cup cooked hominy **
  12. 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  13. 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  1. Here is how I made this a quick weeknight soup.  In a microwave safe measuring cup – add two cups of water and the dried guajillo peppers (stems chopped and seeds removed) and microwave for three minutes.  Meanwhile, in a stock pot, add the olive oil, carrots, garlic, and corn and cook for about 3-4 minutes, just until the carrots are tender.
  2. In a blender, remove the hot guajillo peppers with tongs and put them in the blender – toss the water.  Add the cooked carrot mixture to the blender, along with the salt, cumin, tomatoes, hominy and tomato paste.  Puree until smooth.  Pour that mixture into the stock pot, add the stock and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Adjust salt seasoning at the end.  Using my method, this soup was ready in about 20 minutes.  And that included the time it took to cook my cheese tortellini to add to the soup.
  1. * I left the jalapeno out because I found the dried guajillo peppers to be spicy enough.
  2. ** The original recipe calls for "cooked hominy." I just used canned hominy (but can someone tell me why I can't find small cans of hominy?! 😀
  3. The soup by itself is 2 smart points per cup. I added 7 cheese tortellini (5) and baby spinach to my soup to make it more of a meal.
Adapted from Food Health and Happiness Cookbook
My Bizzy Kitchen
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My bowl would only fit one cup of the soup with the tortellini and baby spinach, and I thought I’d top it off with the second cup once I ate some of it, but I was really full.  The soup is flavorful spicy which I love!  And I like how the corn and hominy thickened up the soup.  Here is the perfect bite:

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I saved the leftover soup in one cup packages.  I can see having this as a late afternoon snack at work to tide me over until dinner before my long train ride home.  I’ve been eating a banana most afternoons, but this would be delicious too.

Because I love this cookbook so much, I am giving away a copy!  I’ll keep it simple.  You don’t have to tag five friends, tweet the giveaway, do twenty jumping jacks, just leave me a comment telling me what state you live in.  I haven’t done that one in a while and I always get a kick to see who is the farthest away (although Fran I already know that’s you – and Roz is a close second!).

I’ll pick a winner on Monday’s post.  Good luck – I know you’ll love this cookbook as much as I do!

Make it a great day!

105 thoughts on “Food, Health and Happiness

  1. Jennifer Olszowy
    I always love to get a new cook book. I am still living in Colorado. Thanks for doing a give away.
  2. Rachel Weber
    Well, you know I live in NC...a couple towns down from the town that shares a name with the town you live in! :-) Savory Spice Shop makes a guajillo chili powder that we like to use. Our favorite, though, is the pasilla negro chili powder!
  3. MaryBe
    Snowy Buffalo here! Not that far from you as the crow flies! That soup sounds good, but I'm not sure where the 34 g of protein comes from? I've noticed that WW stats are sometimes a little off. But I would try it! Happy Groundhog Day 😀
  4. Janette
    I love soup. I could live on it if my family would get on board. Hard when you are married to a meat and potatoes man. I am in Calgary Alberta Canada.
  5. Nan
    I've been thinking about buying that book- I have an old Oprah cookbook written by her chef Rosie at the time. It actually has some good recipes. I live in sunny Florida now but I've lived in these states: Iowa, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Virginia!
  6. Bullets today! (Whoa, it's been a while) ~ I do that with cookbooks, too - read them like novels and flag them. (Rob hates it when I start reading them TO him. ;-) ) ~ We've been a soup kick lately. I've just put myself on the wait list for this cookbook at the library. Also, I'll need to search your blog for a few others. ~ BTW - I live in Minnesota - you are welcome to visit anytime, Biz! :-) ~ I adore the flavor of guajillo peppers! ~ Tomato and Guajillo Chile Soup - Do you think I could do that soup without the hominy? Or with something else more common I might have in the house? Or just do tortellini? We have some on hand right now. But it's mushroom - so maybe that'd be a little weird... ~ I'm finally getting back out there to make some steak tonight. I'm using your best ever marinade and using your technique of 4 min one side, 3 on the other, 10 min rest and cut against the grain. Wish me luck. ~ Also, I have only 1/2 pound of stew meat left. What can I do with this? I know you are so good and throwing shit together. I thought about kabobs, but hubs doesn't like the meat if it's too tough. I used the other 1 lbs of it in the crockpot to make a Guinness Stew Mac & Cheese. He can handle that because it just falls apart... ~ Cheers!
  7. Allyson
    Mississippi and I could eat tomato soup in any variation every day I think. Really good summer tomatos are one of life's greatest pleasures. =)
  8. Joan K
    Hi! I am from the great state of...Illinois! lol Thanks for all of the encouragement you share on the blog. I look forward to reading every post!
  9. Kym
    (Heavy sigh) Here from Florida. The first day of fresh food February and what did I eat? Popeye's. I don't even like Popeye's. I actually got nausea just walking inside the place from the smell of grease. I only ate two tenders and coleslaw but my tummy felt so horrible after :( Anyway, your soup looks yummy as usual. I find nothing wrong with "reading"a cookbook and I don't say that as someone who does the same thing. :)
  10. Darlene
    Hi Biz! Thanks for the giveaway. I enjoy reading your posts every day. Wishing you lots of success on your WW journey. Louisiana
  11. This soup looks so yummy. The calorie count seems high--is that for the whole recipe? Anyway, I live in Pine Grove CA, and I would love to get Oprah's cookbook!
  12. Lisa
    Super proud of you! While we know that I'm originally from Cary, I live south of Champaign-Urbana now in Philo, IL.
    • Biz319
      Congrats on your daughter choosing U of I! So exciting - but now to figure out if you save $$ by having her home, or giving her the full college experience :D Decisions, decisions!
  13. I live in California! It's not just being ready - though my friend dietitian says that's the big part - took her years to be able to identify which clients were ready - it's also being able to adjust to changes in life. New jobs, babies, deaths, moving...all of these stressors can throw you off your game and you need to be able to handle them.
  14. ruth m.
    I'm in Pennsylvania. (And please don't blame me for Punxsutawney Phil and his 6 more weeks of winter!) I prefer Gus, the groundhog who's the mascot for the PA Lottery, although he hasn't been particularly kind to me either on the rare occasion I buy a lottery ticket!
  15. Helen
    Am I the first to say Connecticut? I am sitting here right now eating Campbell's Healthy Request Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup out of a can because I have exhausted my frozen homemade soup supplies. I'm sick for the 3rd time since October and when I don't feel well, all I want to eat is soup. Now to just feel better so I can make some... Do you think the calories on your recipe are correct? That seems like a whole lot of calories and fat grams for one bowl of soup - plus I think it would be more points than 4 at those amounts.
  16. Cory
    I am a soup whore as well, fortunately my family loves soup too. I have to read a cookbook from beginning to end because I don't want to miss anything! This soup looks wonderful, I think I'd add the tortellini too. I live in Washington. We are having good soup weather.
  17. Anne Belanger
    Vermont. And I need to say thank you because you have inspired me to get back on the band wagon with Weight Watchers....Thank You!
  18. Mary
    I'd love to win a copy of this cookbook. Thanks for the offering. I enjoy reading your blog and your photos make anything you make look delicious.
  19. Julianne (Pubsgal)
    Greeting from rainy (yes!!!! Finally!!!!!) California, Biz! That soup looks very tasty. There was a place we used to go to before we moved called "La Fiesta" and Guajillo chiles were the secret to one of their sauces that we liked. I can't wait to try the soup. Would you say that the hominy adds much flavor to it? It's not an ingredient we use much.
  20. NicoleG
    I always look forward to you're posts. Even though I'm not on WW, I do try to eat healthy and keep at my goal weight. I live in NY!
  21. Janie
    hi Biz!! Following you all the way from Washington State. I'm a fellow weight watcher and I Love All of yor honesty. I've fallen off the wagon here recently and I may hoping to get my groove back on. Keep up the awesome work!
  22. Karen
    Ohio! I love checking in with your blog during the week. Lifetime WW'er here and maintenance has been a struggle but I'm holding on! So happy to be with you on your WW journey. Care to share your Connect handle? Feel free to follow me - karengetstogoal :)
    • Biz319
      Hey Karen 👋🏻 I'll find you on connect - I forget to post there, but am getting better about it - my Bizzy kitchen - pretty much my handle across social media 😂 (Pinterest, Connect and Instagram)
  23. Tracey
    I'm in Western Pennsylvania! I've been toying with the idea of doing Weight Watchers, maybe this book would help push me over the edge!
  24. Valerie
    Spokane, Washington... where we have about 12" of snow on the ground and it is snowing now..... soup sounds great!
  25. Cll
    I've been reading your blog for several years and really look forward to it. You've inspired me to give Weight Watchers a try again. After dealing with Type 1 diabetes for over 20 years I gave up last year from burn out and just being overwhelmed. I'm back to myself and am ready to take control of my health and my weight once and for all. One day at a time! You are a great inspiration. Thank you!
  26. Avishan
    Hi biz! I live in canada...don't know if the giveaway is open to us but thought I'd give it a shot anyway ;)

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