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.
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!
- 2 dried guajillo chiles
- 8 sprigs of fresh cilantro
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 small carrot, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 cup corn (from an ear of corn, or canned)
- 4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped*
- 1/2 cup cooked hominy **
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 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.
- 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.
- * I left the jalapeno out because I found the dried guajillo peppers to be spicy enough.
- ** 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?! 😀
- 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.
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:
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!